Social Concerns Notes – January 2017

A love letter to PNG, where it was my destiny to be born  by Emma Wakpi

MY motherland, I am writing this letter on the eve of Christmas to let you know how much I love and appreciate you. This time of the year reminds us of what we should be thankful for and of what love is really all about.Often times we argue so much about what is wrong and right and how it’s supposed to be done nowadays but at the end of the day, you are family, you give me my identity and I find my comfort in your coarse gruffness which conceals a heart so fiercely loyal to me.

At times I pine for things other nations can offer their children and am ashamed to admit that in my youth I’ve oft rued the fact that destiny saw fit to make me a Papua New Guinean.

But as I have grown and experienced what life has had to offer – as opportunities have allowed me to visit other countries and cultures; I have discovered that no one is perfect and even the most ideal of situations have their faults. Looking back I realise the privilege of growing up as a Papua New Guinean and the unique traits that helped create my identity.

Nowhere else on earth can I find a family so diverse and realise the feat it takes to congregate hundreds of nations into the single entity known as PNG and to keep it functioning.individual identities are not smothered but like jigsaw puzzles are being pieced together to complete a picture. How this picture will turn out, only God knows. ….. [See the url above for the complete article….]


2016 saw a lot of achievements in combating Gender Based Violence
Post Courier, December 31, 2016

SOME of the greatest achievements in getting gender based violence to zero tolerance by 2050 have happened this year  (2016) alone. Despite the argument that gender-based violence is prevalent in the country and a growing epidemic, collaborative and extensive efforts by many stakeholders to address this issue continues to grow. This year has seen some fruits of the hard work from the Youth, Religion and Community Development (implementing department), Department of Justice and Attorney General, UNICEF, UNDP, UN Women, Family Sexual Violence Action Committee, academia, faith-based organisations and other relevant Non- Government Organisations.

Only recently the National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender Based Violence (2016 -2025) was approved by Cabinet last Thursday. It aims to strengthen and institutionalise the work on GBV in order to achieve zero-tolerance towards GBV as per Papua New Guinea’s Vision 2050.

The strategy captures four key objectives;

  • To ensure long-term ongoing high level national and sub- national government commitment and accountability to end GBV aligned with the PNG Development Plan, Papua New Guinea Vision 2050 and with the Sustainable Development Goals 2016-2030.
  • To standardise and institutionalise data collection, and facilitate ongoing in-depth research to support evidence based planning, budgeting and programming to end gender based violence.
  • To ensure quality, continuity and sustainability of coordinated responses, referrals and service delivery for survivors of gender based violence, and
  • To scale-up, decentralise, and standardise inclusive, quality initiatives and messaging for prevention of gender based violence at all levels and in all sectors of society.

Mid this year, Parliament passed the Lukautim Pikinini Act. This act ensures children are protected and have access to their rights. It also emphasises parental responsibility and duty to maintain a child.

This law states that ‘all children have the right to be protected from all forms of abuse, neglect and maltreatment and have access to equal opportunity and access to education’.

Addressing the scourge of gender based violence is a communal, clan, family, national, social and individual responsibility. When everyone plays their roles in ensuring the policies are implemented, gender based violence can be reported and addressed.


Agnes has a heart to serve

January 9, 2017 The National

BEING a true Christian does mean one is present in church every Sunday for service but to practice the teachings of the Bible. This is what charity worker Agnes Haro Harihi was told when she was growing up in Leseoalai village in the Malalaua district of Gulf province. Her Catholic upbringing hatched in her the love and patience to help others. For 12 years she dedicated her time, resources and heart to serving her people in the remote villages of Malalaua. She brings with her a team of dedicated and committed women who share a similar faith as her and youths who also help them. These youths are drop outs who have nothing to do so assisting the mothers keeps them busy. They travel long distances, climb mountains and ride high waves to bring small gifts and the Gospel to share with the villagers.
Each year she makes four to five visits to mostly remote villages in the district not accessible by roads. She has connections with mothers on the ground who assist her along the way.
During their pastoral work her team came across people who desperately need basic government services such as health (access to medical assistance), infrastructure development like roads and bridges. Upon arrival they pray together with the villagers and later have meetings to find out what problems and concerns the people have and have discussions on how to address it.

Deserted health centres were not the only thing they came across; there were also schools with empty classrooms and play grounds. They believe the teachers left because life was difficult for them or because of landowner issues. Some school children of Lakekamu, another remote community in Malalawa, use the ground as books and they write on the dirt using sticks as pens and pencils.
Agnes and her team wish for government and relevant authorities to help these children so they can have access to education resources just like other children in the country…..


Kuvi: Citizens have right to privacy
Post Courier, January 12,2017, 02:58 am

CITIZENS have the right to resist raids if the police personnel show up at their doorsteps without search warrants. Magistrate Laura Kuvi emphasised this yesterday when a defendant told the Boroko District Court that such was her situation but she allowed policemen to enter her home “because they were policemen.” On December 22, they told Medii Morehari, 23 of Lese in Gulf Province that they were looking for several male suspects so she allowed them access to her parents’ house at Taurama Bay. Inside, they confiscated eight 330ml containers of steam and charged her with being in possession of illicit spirit and later released her on a K500 bail.

According to Magistrate Kuvi, this also is wrong. A search warrant should state items that are expected to be found, and if a search produces other illegal items, it is not to be confiscated.

Instead, another search warrant should be taken out for that. Magistrate Kuvi said unless there was an immediate pursuit or search warrant, citizens have the right to deny police access to their properties. This is a constitutional right. “Broken english, spelling errors, no warrants. What are we teaching them up at Bomana?”


Manus Island refugee who had mental breakdown found ‘hungry and homeless’
Post Courier, January 11,2017

Behaviour of Hamed, who has been released from Lorengau prison following an acute mental health episode, described as erratic and bizarre. Hamed’s deteriorating mental health came to authorities’ attention as long ago as June, when he was found wandering the detention centre, distressed, naked and screaming incoherently. He was put into “managed accommodation” where he was allegedly assaulted by, and assaulted, guards, before being put in the Lorengau jail for the first time. Leaked “psychological support” files from within the Manus Island detention centre refer consistently to Hamed’s “chaotic presentation” and report he was “agitated, aggressive, verbally abusive, pushing boundaries constantly, and has required police presence on numerous occasions”. He has since been jailed several times after suffering severe mental episodes and behaving unpredictably or aggressively. Detention centre staff have told Guardian Australia Hamed is “a very sick man. He needs serious help”. Manus MP Ron Knight, who arranged for Hamed to be released from prison so he could access mental health care, said he was receiving none. “To be blunt, the guy is dangerous to all around him and he needs psychiatric help. There is none for him here.” Knight said he approached the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby about Hamed being committed to a psychiatric facility. “The response to me was basically that our authorities should handle it.” A spokesman for Australia’s department of immigration and border protection said Hamed was housed at the East Lorengau refugee transit centre, and his care was the responsibility of PNG’s immigration authorities.

The political solutions to the crisis may be complex, but that does not mean we should abandon our humanity


The beginning of the end of “free education” in PNG?

The government has done its best to protect its flagship Tuition Fee Free (TFF) policy during the current fiscal crunch in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Despite substantial funding cuts to many core government services in recent years, government funding of around 600 million kina for the TFF policy has been maintained in the 2017 budget at much the same level (in nominal terms) since its introduction in 2012. But there is a difference between budget allocations and actual release of government funds in a timely matter, as is becoming increasingly apparent in PNG.

Cash flow problems have meant that salary payments to public servants have been late, teacher holiday leave fares unpaid, road funding delayed, and payments of MP funds delayed. TFF payments to schools have not been immune; for example the Department of Treasury only released the warrants for the release of the last quarterly TFF payment of 2016 in December, only days before the end of the school year. The problem is that schools in PNG have been directed by the National Department of Education (NDoE) to not charge school fees, and so delayed TFF payments to schools have resulted in reports of schools closing and students sent home.

In May 2016, one of us – Grant – witnessed the impacts of problems with school funding first hand in Central province. On the way back from fieldwork in Gulf province, he and other researchers came across a throng of young people clutching bags and slowly walking along the Hiritano highway, which links Port Moresby to the capital of Gulf province, Kerema (see photo above). In response to questions about why they weren’t in school, students said that their teachers had sent them home to collect money for school fees from their parents. Students in lower secondary school were asked to bring back 50 kina, and those in higher grades were to return with 100 kina. According to the students, the school had run out of money; this, it was suggested, was likely due to late payment and poor management of TFF subsidies.

There is some dispute about the ability of provinces to themselves set school fees independent from the national government. A letter contesting NDoE’s ban on any imposition of schools fees was published in the Post-Courier newspaper by the Catholic Church in May this year. The letter – addressed to the prime minister and signed by the President of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of PNG, Bishop Arnold Orowae – argued that NDoE’s order transgressed the national Education Act, and Provincial Education Acts in the 13 provinces where these are in place.

The TFF policy’s unravelling would likely impact on post-election wheeling and dealing associated with forming a coalition government. The current TFF policy was a key part of the government’s 2012 Alotau Accord [pdf] (which laid out the priority areas for the new then government), and was a likely (but certainly not the only) factor in current Prime Minister Peter O’Neill securing a strong coalition of MPs to form government in 2012. The TFF policy also helped O’Neill differentiate himself from his predecessor, Sir Michael Somare. If the TFF policy is seen to be failing, this may give MPs one more reason not to back O’Neill to head the government after the 2017 election.


College construction delayed due to funding
Post Courier, January 16, 2017

THE Milne Bay Teacher’s College which was supposed to be completed last year has been delayed due to funding issues. According to Bishop of Alotau-Sideia, Rolando Santos, work has ceased on the buildings. Government funding has temporarily stopped since there are no funds left to pay contractors for the completion of the classrooms.Presently, some preliminary work is being done for the provision of water and electricity. The St Mary’s Teachers College project was initially established to provide a teachers college that would serve the people of Milne Bay Province so they would not incur expensive air fares and difficulties associated with living far away from family and community.

The project initially cost about K22million. The Catholic Diocese of Alotau and Milne Bay provincial government entered into a partnership agreement where the Church would provide the land and administer the college while the government would provide the funding.

Bishop Santos said to date the funding received was approximately K4 million from the provincial government and the Church-Government Partnership Program for education.

“With this money we were able to put up a concrete two-storey female dormitory with 50 individual rooms, a two storey concrete building with four classrooms which is 85 per cent complete, do site clearance and put up roads, and pay maintenance and consultancy fees.


Slight progress in corruption rate

January 26, 2017The National

PAPUA New Guinea’s ranking in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) – showing the world’s most corrupted nations – has changed from 139 out of 176 countries in 2015 to 136 last year.
According to the CPI, the new ranking indicates that PNG has taken a step forwards in being rated as one of the highly corrupted countries in the world. CPI scores countries on a scale of zero to 100, with 100 perceived to be very clean and zero perceived to be highly corrupt. PNG was ranked 136 with a score of 28 out of 100 compared with a score of 25 out of 100 in 2015 during the launch of the CPI by Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) yesterday.
“Countries emerging from wars and civil strife have made great advances in the CPI while PNG remains where it has been for years,” Take the example of Timor Leste in the Asia -Pacific region which had improved by seven points – scoring 28 out of 100 in the 2015 CPI to 35 out of 100 this year. Stephens said TIPNG believed that failure to protect national assets was likely to be one of the reasons PNG was not ranked higher. “The Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) was promised and it has still not been delivered,” he said. “K8 billion from trust funds have gone missing and our government has no sign of any plans to recover it.” Meanwhile, Stephens said that the Government had taken steps to improve PNG’s ranking and promote accountability and transparency in development by recently passing laws to fight money laundering and terrorist-financing activities.


Yuri tribe continues peace-building after a history of conflict

A TRIBE in Papua New Guinea is like a nation. The tribe shares common language, territory, history, myths and culture. The people of the Yuri tribe of the Gumine District in Simbu Province, Papua New Guinea, speak Yuri, share the rivers Mon and Maril, walk across the plateaus of Pildimna, Dia and Yoya, and know all the gorges and gullies.

Yuri people share land borders with the Golin, Dom, Era, Bari, Nauro and Kumai tribes of Simbu. The exact number of years the Yuri have occupied this part of the world is unknown. However, Yuri people know they are a warring tribe.

The first tribal war laid a foundation for destruction. Revenge and payback became an accepted way of life in Yuri tribal territory. Homes and gardens were destroyed. Many people were killed. Schools and health centres were forced to close. Roads and bridges fell apart.  Cash crops like coffee became useless due to lack of transport. People walked long hours to reach town. These long walks carrying household goods landed the Yuri a nametag. They might be called ‘white horses’ or ‘back page’.

‘White horse’ was coined because the Yuri people carried white bags on their backs and resembled white horses. ‘Back page’ was a reference to the back page of a book that is last to be read. The nickname referred to the government’s trend of service distribution where the Yuri were the last to be considered – or were neglected altogether. A back page that was never read.

Many Yuri people fled their tribal lands in search of peace, better schools and health care. Some even sought peace in the ghettos and peripheries of urban areas or among other tribes.

The beauty of the rivers, ranges, flora and fauna was disregarded by a tribal people who became disillusioned by their own destructive action and lack of basic services such as roads, bridges schools and health. Law and order was almost non-existent. The churches struggled to hold a bunch of disillusioned people together. The people feared building permanent houses in their villages; their minds were preoccupied with revenge and they did not want to see their houses torched by an enemy clan.

People did not make gardens and young people stole from other people’s gardens. Hard working people were discouraged and disillusioned. Weak and vulnerable members of the community were blamed for the deaths of others. In some instances, Yuri people could not accept that their members were shot dead in a tribal fight and shifted the blame to sorcerers. The number of uneducated people increased. Many people in their thirties and forties had left school never to return. Their children followed the same pattern. A few children attended school in the last 10 years but the schools in Yuri were branded remote and did not attract good teachers. There were many school drop-outs at Grades 10 and 12. These students joined their peers in the village to gamble all day, smoke marijuana, abuse alcohol and often turn to violence; screaming, threatening, using abusive language.

The village authorities lacked the capacity to deal with them. The men’s and women’s houses, that used to provide guidance and counselling for young people  and promote tribal norms and values, ceased to exist. They were replaced with kas (cards) and video houses. The small kids watched movies with their parents and lay on their laps while the parents gambled after the video show. The smoke from rough tobacco rolled around the faces of sleeping children.

It was this destruction, pain and suffering of the Yuri that laid the foundation for the birth of Yuri Alaiku Kuikane Association (YAKA) in 2013. YAKA is committed to promote reconciliation, reuniting, rebuilding and restoring – our 4Rs Yuri. Every Yuri person across space, culture and time has a duty to contribute to this cause. It is about saving their community from the scourge of tribal fighting, fear and disillusion. In the last week of December and on 1 January each year, YAKA initiates activities that promote the 4Rs and celebrates its anniversary.


House tax moves in
January 27,2017, 01:13 am

THE PNG Trade Union Congress has now joined in expressing serious concerns on the new housing tax which will come into effect next fortnight. The new taxation measures was supposed to be effected as of January 1, but most companies got the notification from the Internal Revenue Commission on January 20 and will take effect next pay day, which is next week. Hundreds of working class Papua New Guineans living in company-provided housing could lose up to two-thirds of their fortnightly salary. This is because the rent value of the employer-supplied accommodation will be included with the actual salary component. So, if a worker earns K600 a fortnight and lives in accommodation valued at K700 a week in any of the country’s larger cities like Port Moresby, Lae or Goroka, for example, the worker will be taxed on the sum K2000 (total benefits of K600+K1400) – even though he or she does not actually receive the extra K700 in cash every week. PNGTUC general secretary John Paska said it was unfair. He said the Government had failed to provide housing for workers and is now passing the cost to private sector provided housing.

“It cuts deeply into the savings ability of workers. The housing tax is not well thought out or calculated” He said all revenue measures place a burden on workers’ pay which trigger off a ripple effect that force on claims for wage rise, industrial action of wage claims are not settled, disruption to services and a hike in prices of goods and services. “The cruel irony to all of this is that, the state and much of the private sector have absolved themselves from providing homes to employees and they want to tax workers living in homes.”


PNG in 2017: a year of redefining democracy?

By Bal Kama on January 27, 2017

The Papua New Guinea national elections, due in June this year, promise to be momentous. Like many democracies, the people have always looked forward to the opportunity of choosing their political leaders through a process of free and fair elections. But elections in PNG over the years have fallen short of this ideal standard. Those who believe in this ideal demand an election based on policy-driven ideological contests, rather than material wealth and tribal allegiances that often create disharmony.

Yet these latter practices have increasingly been part of PNG’s political system, rendering the notion of trouble-free democratic elections a facade. But controversies surrounding the electoral system are not unique to PNG. Many countries, including the established democracies as demonstrated in the recent US elections, face similar challenges.

Some challenges for the PNG Electoral Commission

The PNG Electoral Commission (PNGEC) has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks for some of its decisions. For instance, its recommendation for changes to electoral laws that sought to increase the 2017 candidate nomination fee from K1,000 ($450) to K10,000 ($4500) has raised concern among potential candidates. A primary reason for this proposed law is to offset the high cost of running elections. PNG is known for having one of the most expensive elections in the world.

However, the proposed law may be argued as unconstitutional on the basis that the increase in the nomination fee is unreasonably excessive and suppressive of the constitutionally guaranteed right of ordinary citizens to stand for public office. A fee of K5,000 may be more reasonable.

The Electoral Commissioner’s decision to print the ballot papers in Indonesia also warrants scrutiny. It is the first time electoral ballot papers are fully outsourced to private companies overseas. The Commissioner argued that PNG Government printery is nearly three times more expensive when compared to the costs in Indonesia.

But the Commission’s cost saving measure is open to risks. There are concerns of electoral fraud such as printing of extra ballot papers. The government printery is not immune to this concern as it has been an issue observed in previous elections but the use of private companies overseas, and away from public view, may heighten the risk.

Stability, community awareness and social media

The call out of police and defence force personnel to curb tribal fights in the resource-rich Hela Province at the beginning of this month indicate the kinds of challenges law enforcement officers may face more of this election year. With the suspension of police recruitment in 2017, apparently due to funding issues, there could possibly be a strain on law enforcement officers during the election period.

Public activism and protests marred much of 2016. While the O’Neill government is commended in some quarters for leading development in areas like mining and resource exploration, building infrastructure and organising international sporting events, it is mostly criticised for significant setbacks in the economy through over spending and maintaining a deficit budget, and a lack of respect for rule of law.

The bloody protests of 2016 exemplified the growing discontent. Whether this will lead voters in the coming election to oust O’Neill’s People’s National Congress party (PNC) is yet to be revealed. But if history is anything to go by, both the Somare and Mekere governments, under similar spotlight, lost power after the 2011-2012 impasse and the 2001 shooting of university students respectively.

The new cybercrime legislation comes into effect this year. It will be interesting to see how this is enforced against PNG’s active social media community whose activities will mostly likely intensify during the election period. Depending on how this law is enforced, its compatibility with the constitutional right to freedom of speech may be a subject of future court proceedings.


Traditionally, tribal allegiances often played a critical role in deciding voters’ preferences. People align with a candidate in their own tribe or clan despite the candidate lacking meaningful leadership qualities to successfully represent them in parliament. This was predominant during the ‘first past the post’ system where a voter has only one preference.

However, the introduction of preferential voting in 2007 saw a shift in this practice. A voter now has three preferences. It has certainly allowed greater freedom for voters to choose a better candidate. But in some areas, the comfort of having three votes means voters can auction two of their three preferences to the highest bidder (an intending candidate), shrewdly encouraging bribery. The increase in DSIP funding over the last five years might give the incumbent MPs an advantage in this election either if they have invested in development or if they are able to siphon off the funds as ‘campaign money’. Normally, only about one half of PNG’s incumbent MPs are returned. It will be interesting to see if this ratio increases this time round.


Papua New Guineans have long waited for the year 2017. It promises challenge as well as change. Will the people reinstate Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and the PNC party to government despite the serious allegations of corruption that are yet to be cleared by the courts? In the absence of the anti-corruption team, Task Force Sweep, some have even wondered if the Prime Minister will ever get prosecuted. O’Neill is confident that PNC will return to power.


IMF analysis shows PNG has overstated economic growth

Until last week, Papua New Guinea was the only country in the East Asia-Pacific region, and one of only a handful of countries worldwide, refusing to release its 2016 IMF Article IV report in which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) assesses each country’s economic health. The Bank of PNG (the reserve bank) offered six “critical issues” for refusing to release the IMF’s review but recently changed its mind – KJ

A JUST released IMF report reveals the O’Neill government has overstated the growth rate of the PNG economy by 12.7% since its election in 2012.

The IMF analysis indicates the PNG economy is K6.3 billion smaller in 2017 than claimed by the government. This means, according to the IMF, that the debt to GDP ratio is 33.5% – which is above the 30% limit set in PNG’s Fiscal Responsibility Act. The greatest concerns about economic management relate to the Bank of PNG’s control of the foreign exchange rate and reserves, with more breaches of international norms than previously admitted. While commending the government for its actions in the 2016 supplementary budget and a “prudent” 2017 budget, the IMF expressed a number of concerns. These included the areas in which expenditure cuts have been made, the lack of effort to raise revenue (particularly from the resource sector) and the need to improve public financial management. The IMF’s forecast is that short-term risks are tilted to the downside, although there are medium-term prospects of further resource projects that may balance this out.

Even if countries disagree with IMF assessments the accepted international norm is that they release them along with their own alternative views.


Accountant gives up career to help homeless kids

Post Courier

Over a hundred underprivileged street kids living in Port Moresby will be given a chance at a decent education thanks to the efforts of a local nongovernmental organization. Life PNG Care announced over the weekend that it will be sending 106 street children to school this year as part of its ‘Strongim Pikinini Education Program’. Over the Christmas period the NGO gave over six hundred street children a hot meal and a Christmas present giving them a small but memorable taste of what children in stable homes experience. Indeed, it goes without saying that Life PNG Care has since its conception, done wonders for the seemingly forgotten children of PNG. Yet all this work could not have been done if not for the efforts of the organization’s founder; a humble man with a big heart who dropped his professional career to try to alleviate problems associated with street kids. Collin Pake founded Life PNG Care in November 2013 after ten prior years of volunteer work with various Church based organizations. Back then and as a young CPA certified accountant, he had a well demanded skill set, the papers to go along with them and a good attitude; traits that could have got him a job anywhere. Yet, even with the ability to get a decent job and a comfortable life, he chose a life of selflessness and an interest for others; in particular under privileged children and orphans. Mr Pake said when interviewed by Post Courier yesterday that most of his life he has seen the struggles of children on the street and as a professional starting out his life as an accountant, he was baffled at the way society ignores homeless and orphaned children. “These children have a right to an education and a future but more importantly, they are our children. The you, me, the doctor in hospital, the taxi driver doing his rounds, the Government of the day. Us,” said Mr Pake. “We should give a damn when we see a five year old standing at the traffic light selling peanuts, or a ten year old seating on the curbside begging for food.” Mr Pake said it was sights like the mentioned that gave him the passion and desire to make a difference that ultimately resulted in him leaving accounting practice to start Life PNG Care. “Life PNG Care can only do so much and I am not the savior of the street kids. “There is only so much I can do with the limited resources at my disposal, but as long as I have the energy and support of donor companies and agencies who have supported Life PNG Care’s work in the past, I see no reason why more and more street children can’t be helped,” said a determined Mr Pake. He said that Life PNG Care’s main focus is giving underprivileged children an education. “You give a child education, and you give him or her the world,” said Mr Pake. The nongovernmental organization started by sending 14 children to school in 2014, almost tripling this number to 45 the following year and raising the number to 75 children last year. With over 200 hundred street children now registered pending placement under Life PNG Care’s ‘Strongim Pikinini Education Program’ Mr Pake said his organization would see that 106 of the 200 get an education for the 2017 academic year. He reported that k70,000 was used last year for the 75 children, all of whom did well and are adjusting to a life of normalcy. “This year it will cost K95,000 for education and housing fees for the 106 children,” said Mr Pake.


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Social Concerns Notes – December 2016

Respect builds safe society, says Parkop

December 13, 2016 The National

NATIONAL Capital District Governor Powes Parkop says respect is the value that can build a safe society. “In the past, men respect women as it is part of our culture,” he said. Parkop said this was no longer the case today as men had adopted a culture of not respecting women and girls. “Women are human beings. They are not subjects or some kind of creature that can be accused of sorcery, raped, or you do things to them at any time as you please,” he said.
“We are not fruits that fell from a tree or people who came from animals,” he said.
“We came from women and we should show them the greatest respect.
“Our culture is to respect women. “We have adopted a culture that is unacceptable and contrary to human dignity and we need to put an end to it.

Police yet to quell Tari fighting due to lack of funds
Post Courier, December 15, 2016

THE under siege Tari, capital of Hela Province, remains in a stalemate with police unable to mobilise firepower and resources as yet to quell uncontrolled tribal fighting, mayhem and destruction to property there. Police Commissioner Gari Baki yesterday held urgent meetings with his operational commanders citing lack of funding and logistics preventing any rapid deployment by personnel to deal with the situation. The National Security Advisory Council has also discussed the situation and given directions on what urgent actions the police should take. The National Airports Corporation is not budging in re-opening the airport because of the chaotic situation and unpredictability of safety of commercial aircraft and staff. Acting police commander Inspector Daniel Yangen confirmed the stalemate issuing cautions that combatant groups were re-grouping to continue fighting. “Rumours have also spread that the other factions are regrouping and police are keeping watch on possible areas the warring tribes may attack. “Injured victims are scared to receive treatment at Tari Hospital as they feared being attacked and killed,” he said.


Volunteer programme leaves a lasting legacy for young people

Post Courier, December 12, 2016

In Papua New Guinea, young people make up almost half of the urban poor population. Within the region, the World Bank has estimated that 70-80 per cent of young people were unemployed, with studies indicating that urban youth were adversely affected by high levels of poverty.

Studies also showed that young people engage in risky activities such as crime, drugs, alcohol and violence as a result of inequalities. As part of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup legacy, young people from 20 settlements in Port Moresby were engaged in a three-month training and work experience programme, which has given them hands-on work experience, exposure to a workplace setting and life skills training in health and hygiene, financial management and communication.

As part of the training, volunteers engaged in a workshop on ending violence. The training was part of a broader campaign being delivered alongside the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup with the aim of developing respect, understanding and tolerance among girls and boys, women and men and the community as a whole, with the overall goal of reducing risk factors associated with gender-based violence in the Pacific. Fifty of the 1,000 volunteers will be selected following the tournament to be #ENDviolence ambassadors in their communities. They will receive further training and support a broad-based community awareness campaign in the 20 shanty towns of Port Moresby in the months following the competition.


NEC approves bid to tackle GBV
Post Courier December 16, 2016

THE National Executive Council (NEC) has approved the long-awaited National Strategic Paper on Gender-based Violence, drawing praise from gender advocates and women leaders. The document is a framework to guide the Government to tackle the problem in the country where GBV rates remain some of the highest in the world.

The paper was presented to the NEC by the Community Development Minister Delilah Gore. She confirmed when contacted by the Post-Courier yesterday afternoon that the Cabinet had approved the paper. The establishment of a special parliamentary committee on GBV and a national GBV council and secretariat – with similar functions to the National AIDS Council Secretariat which was set up to coordinate government and donor efforts to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS– is part of the national strategy.


PNG LNG landowner royalties – why so long?

By Sam Koim and Stephen Howes on December 16, 2016

The recent protests by Hela landowners and their latest ultimatum in relation to their non-receipt of royalties and other benefits have the potential to derail PNG’s prestigious and important LNG project. But they also beg the question: how did it come to this? How is it that after more than 200 ships of LNG have left PNG’s shores no royalties have been paid to landowners? How can the situation be resolved, and what are the implications for future projects?

For the rest of this interesting article see the url above. It treats topics such as social mapping and landowner identification studies, clan vetting process, the judicial process, and the present stalemate.


Advocating for women in Porgera: an interview with Everlyne Sap

By Camilla Burkot and Everlyne Sap on December 9, 2016

It is well known that gender-based and sexual violence are major problems facing Papua New Guinea. What is less widely recognized are the grassroots efforts underway to combat these problems, and the individuals leading those efforts. Everlyne Sap is one of those individuals. She is a gender advocate and chairperson of the Family and Sexual Violence Steering Committee of the Restorative Justice Initiative Association (RJIA) at Porgera in Enga Province, PNG. Camilla Burkot interviewed Everlyne during the State of the Pacific 2016 conference. You can listen to the podcast here, and read the full transcript here [pdf].


Quality education? It’s a thing of the past in most of PNG   15 December 2016     Bomail D Witne

STRUCTURAL and curriculum reforms at lower levels of the education system have established a foundation that will shatter the dreams of children in public schools. Elementary schools were introduced in the absence of a proper curriculum and a sufficient number of trained teachers. Many elementary school students in public schools just sing Christian songs all day. Not even their own songs; teachers don’t know them. Some elementary students graduate without being able to understand the difference between a ‘tree’ and ‘three’. They’re often taught in three languages – English, Pidgin and the local vernacular – which seems progressive but it’s done in an unsystematic way. And then the children move on to Grade 3, leaving the teachers at that level to pick up the pieces.


What used to be community or primary schools were rebranded ‘top-up primary’, meaning they were permitted to continue to Grades 7 and 8 and take students from other primary schools.

Prior to the ‘reform’, these students would sit a competitive national Grade 6 examination to graduate into high schools – and they were taught by teachers trained at that level. Since the ‘reform’, the Grade 6 examinations are no more. What the so-called reform did was to allow primary teachers to instruct at Grade 7 and 8, which used to be the province of trained high school teachers. This was the beginning of a new learning experience for both teachers and students. Increasing enrolments as a result of the government’s ‘tuition fee free’ policy led to a shortage of classroom space as well as learning materials. So the ill-trained, ill-equipped Grade 8 teachers do what they can. They have a deadline to meet and so the students graduate are left to the Grade 9 teachers in secondary schools who are expected to pick up the pieces.


Forgotten – the vulnerable populations of Papua New Guinea

The majority of Papua New Guineans live in rural areas and spend most of their time involved in subsistence gardening or fishing or other economic activities to sustain their livelihoods. They have access to safe drinking water, food and a place to sleep. But this way of life changes drastically when a natural disaster occurs and what is normal is no longer there to sustain their existence. PNG is situated along a volatile seismic band known as the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’ which makes it susceptible to natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis. Other disasters include droughts, floods, landslides, tropical cyclones and king tides. When natural disasters occur, sometimes affected communities adapt to the conditions but in other cases life is never the same. These are the vulnerable populations in emergency situations.

In PNG’s history, one of the worst natural disasters occurred on 17 July 1998 when a tsunami struck near Aitape in the West Sepik Province and proved to be one of the deadliest on record. The tsunami devastated the villages of Sisano, Warupu, Arop and Malol and more than 2,000 people lost their lives. The 10,000 people who were affected and survived were clearly vulnerable. While many moved on with their lives, others had to make the bold decision to move.

Tavurvur and Manam are PNG’s most active volcanoes. Mount Tavurvur, erupted in 2014 and also recorded eruptions in 2013, 2011, 2010, 2006, 2005 and 2002. The most notable eruption occurred in 1994 and affected many people living in East New Britain. It was a devastating time in which people lost their homes and food gardens and had no access to safe drinking water. Evacuation programs were implemented which assisted people recover and make new homes away from their traditional villages.

Manam Island in Madang Province experienced similar devastation in 2004 when its volcano erupted. The Manam islanders’ situation was far from being a success story. Almost 10,000 residents were evacuated to care centres on the mainland where they have now been living for over nine years.

Many social issues have also emerged as they struggle to live their lives – an example of a vulnerable population. The natural disasters experienced in PNG mostly occur unexpectedly and nearly all have devastating effects.


PNG’s 2017 Revenue Forecasts – A Detailed Analysis   Paul Flanagan.

PNG’s revenue collapse is likely to continue with estimated additional shortfalls of K1.5 billion for both 2016 and 2017. This will add to the budget deficit, debt levels and financing pressures.

The major reason for this collapse in revenues is not the fall in international commodity prices The reason is the fall in domestic tax collections as a result of PNG’s domestic recession.There have already been enough expenditure cuts in key sectors between 2015 and 2017 (a 52% real cut in infrastructure, 45% in education and 40% in health with large on-going cuts already planned in future years).

Better policies are needed to restart growth and additional tax measures should be considered.

In 2014, it was forecast that 2017 PNG revenues (so excluding international grants and after adjusting for accounting changes) would total K15.2 billion. This has fallen in each subsequent budget so that by the time of the 2017 budget these were K4.7 billion lower than initially forecast – a drop of 31%. And if we look at 2018 figures the fall is K6.3 billion or 38% from expectations of 2014.

The 2015 budget removed K3.3 billion in resource revenues even prior to the fall in commodity prices. This is the K3.3 billion “missing revenues” referred to in the much condemned but broadly accurate blog (see here) predicting the fall in oil prices would hurt revenues and the balance of payments. This early diversion accounts for 22% of the total revenue fall. Too much emphasis has been placed on cutting expenditures in key sectors such as health, education and infrastructure (and not enough on administrative costs or constituency funds).

[For the rest of this article, see the url above]


Bougainville youth have historic role in building its future 19 December 2016

BOUGAINVILLE’S future depends on the ability of its young generation as it will increasingly engage with the global community, says chief secretary Joseph Nobetau, who is encouraging young Bougainvilleans to play a bigger role in the province’s future.

“You are not tarnished by history or prejudice – your journey is just beginning,” Mr Nobetau told a recent graduation ceremony. “As young people you each have a role in writing part of our future. “You have the opportunity to take on leadership roles and help build a stronger, united and more prosperous future for us all. “You can do this regardless of the path that you choose to take, whether as young corporate leaders, public servants, community leaders, academics, members of your church and so on.” Mr Nobetau said that by committing to a collective future, youth can play an important role and he was confident they will make a significant contribution. “Ask yourselves what you have done to demonstrate leadership and ask yourselves what you can do in the future. “As young Bougainvilleans I have faith that all of you will make a very significant contribution.”


The sad story of Investigation Task Force Sweep 20 December 2016   Bal Kama

A LETTER to prime minister Peter O’Neill on the morning of 16 June 2014 started off what would become the most controversial anti-corruption story in the history of Papua New Guinea. Then police commissioner Tom Kulunga requested that O’Neill attend a police interview on allegations of fraud regarding payments of an estimated K71 million by the State to a national law firm, Paul Paraka Lawyers. But the scheduled interview never happened.

For many years, PNG has faced allegations of corruption and often ranked unfavourably in corruption indexes. In 2012, O’Neill promised to address the issue and, to his credit, established the Investigation Task Force Sweep (ITFS). ITFS was an inter-organisation agency that included the Police Fraud Squad. Little did the prime minister know that he himself would become a person of interest, engulfing a considerable amount of ITFS work. But the case against O’Neill was never going to be easy. Since it began, two and a half years ago, a series of convoluted legal cases have jammed the path of the investigators. An interview, let alone any resolution of the serious allegations of fraud against the prime minister, now looks unlikely in light of recent national court judgements against ITFS.

I want to briefly reflect on the most significant court cases against the ITFS this year and assess their implications for anti-corruption efforts in PNG.

The first significant case was in February 2016. The issue was whether or not members of the Fraud Squad (itself part of ITFS) should engage the service of private lawyers instead of the state prosecutors. The prime minister argued that members of the Fraud Squad should engage the service of state prosecutors because they are acting in their capacity as police officers. Further, it was argued that the Attorney-General Act 1989 (PNG) prevents brief-outs to private lawyers unless approved by the Attorney-General and that approval was not given. The Fraud Squad, however, questioned the neutrality of the state prosecutors in light of the successive appointments of Police Commissioners and the consensus among the lawyers acting for the police and the Prime Minister as evidence of a concerted effort to frustrate the case. They argued, inter alia, that the engagement of private lawyers was to ensure that the case against the PM is not derailed or suppressed as often seen in many high-profile cases in PNG.

[For the rest of this instructive article, see the url above.]

600 neglected and homeless children

Post Courier, December 23, 2016

PORT Moresby, capital of PNG with a population of one million people, shockingly has 600 homeless children. This ugly truth came to light when local humanitarian organisation Life PNG Care conducted its annual “Kilo of Kindness Christmas Programme”. The program is an annual event where the organisation go out to certain locations in the city and invite unfortunate children to go to them and have a hot meal and receive a Christmas gift. Life PNG Care director Collin Pakerevealed this yesterday saying many organisations had endeavoured to help the growing number of unfortunate children who live on the streets but few actually go out to assess and bring out changes in the lives of these neglected children. These children, more than 5000 of them, are the invisible generation that our government is neglecting. “There are so many children on the streets now and the number is only growing with each year.

“The Pikinini Act of 2009 clearly highlights that children unattended to should by right, be taken care of by the government. “We cannot keep on lying because the evidence is irrefutable and at our door step,” MrPake said. Post-Courier found – boy in the tunnel- Jerry Owaamong the other children who happily had a meal at Five-Mile recreational park. The program started at Five-Mile at 4pm, then Boroko at 5pm and Koki-Ela Beach at 6pm.


Cuban doctors to assist ten district hospitals
Post Courier, November 28, 2016

UP to 30 primary health doctors from Cuba will be deployed in 10 district hospitals during the next three months. There would also be an immediate deployment of a cancer specialist at Angau Memorial Hospital in Lae, and employment of some biomedical technologists. Cuba would also provide professors to the proposed new stand alone and revived School of Medicine and Health Science that would be done by the Government and be called “PNG Medical & Health Sciences University”.

These arrangements and more were made possible through a Cuba-PNG Health Diplomacy; a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed last Wednesday between the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and the governments of PNG and Cuba in Havana during Mr O’Neill’s official visit.

The MOU also includes other following categories:

  • Cuba would assist in health research and collaboration. Assist PNG in training PNG Medical University post-graduate students in Masters and Post-Masters training. Assist to train our biomedical technologist and others in health;
  • Cuba to assist PNG with medical drugs and vaccines for general medical diseases and non-communicable drugs in diabetes, cancer and hypertension. Assist PNG with medical supplies and diagnostic technologies;
  • Cuba to assist PNG with health information and technology; and
  • Cuban to assist PNG with asset and infrastructure development.


Transparency needed on Seabed mining
Post Courier, November 25, 2016

Some non-governmental organisations are concerned about the lack of transparency behind the world’s first seabed mining project set to begin operations in 2018 in the Bismarck Sea. It was claimed yesterday that Canadian company Nautilus Minerals, responsible for the project dubbed Solwara1, had kept its operations and plans secret from the Papua New Guinea public.

“We are not saying that the project is some evil thing that is utterly bad, all we hope to have is a report and if possible a second opinion on what environmental impacts could be wrought from the project,” she said. Ms Tony said that there remained strong opposition to the project among local communities and environmentalists, the World Bank included.

According to Mr Mesulam, “Nautilus does not have the consent of local communities. We still don’t know what the impacts of this experimental mining will be.

According to Minster Chan, PNG stands to gain US124million from the mining project, and describes the expected environmental impacts of the project to be “relatively small”.


Doctor calls on govt to upgrade rural maternal facilities

December 1, 2016 The National

A SENIOR doctor has urged the Government to upgrade birth units in rural health facilities and to equip them properly. Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at PNG’s School of Medicine Professor Glen Mola said the Government’s plan to address maternal and newborn deaths by making it compulsory for women to give birth in proper health facilities needed to be carefully thought through.
He said it was important that Prime Minister Peter O’Neill discussed such issues more with local maternity care professionals to help strategise the goal of supervised births to reduce maternal and infant deaths.
“There are about 260,000 births every year in PNG,” Mola told The National via email.
“Of these, about 104,000 women come to health facilities to have a professionally supervised birth.
“But this also means that 156,000 women deliver their babies in their villages without professional assistance. “If we are to reduce the risk of maternal and newborn deaths, the parts of the health system that the prime minister says he is planning to bring the women for supervised births in (urban) hospitals are already overstretched and many are unable to cope with the numbers.”
Mola said the Government should up-skill community health workers and nurses to provide quality birth care for women in rural health facilities. He said more doctors, nurses, midwives and community health workers should be trained to provide quality healthcare for the expanded rural health service to enable the majority of women to access supervised care close to their villages.

5000 bench warrants pending
Post Courier, December 01, 2016

FIVE thousand bench warrants are outstanding in Papua New Guinea. This was revealed by the country’s Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia who said that bench warrants did not include the warrants of arrest issued by the district courts of the Magisterial Services.

Sir Salamo said that 60 to 70 per cent of these 5000 bench warrants were from National Court crime cases. “The oldest bench warrant goes back to 1983 and 1984.


More than 40,000 living with HIV

Post Courier, December 01, 2016.

MORE than 40,000 people are living with HIV and at least half of them are receiving lifesaving antiretroviral drugs provided free of charge by the Government. The Health Department said that between 2001 and 2011, the rate of new HIV infections in PNG fell by 53 precent and the death rate among people living with HIV are on antiretroviral drugs (ART) earlier. Despite this, more than 2000 people are diagnosed with HIV each year while many people still do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others and stigma and discrimination remained a reality for many people living with the condition.

Health Secretary Pasco Kase says while HIV and AIDS remained a health problem and the risk factors for contracting the virus still existed, the number of people affected by HIV had not reached the very high levels initially feared. This was due, in part, to an increasingly co-ordinated and co-operative approach to responding to HIV. Health Minister Michael Malabag said early PNG projections estimated that the HIV prevalence among the adult population would reach more than 5 per cent but improvements in the scale up of our HIV testing and surveillance in the past 10 years had demonstrated that HIV had had limited impact as a whole with the current national prevalence rate of 0.8 per cent reported last year. Further recent evidence suggested that the epidemic was concentrated in key populations with HIV prevalence among this group estimated at more than 15 times the national average. There was also recent evidence showing the prevalence in certain provinces like the National Capital District and Highlands provinces going over the 1 per cent mark. This meant that the epidemic was generalised in these provinces.


Trump and the PNG 2017 elections

By Bal Kama on November 25, 2016

Donald Trump’s election as the 45th President of America took the world by surprise. It was certainly one of the defining moments of the 21st century. Many assumed the United States would continue to herald liberalism, led by the ‘establishment,’ an almost unassailable cohort of conglomerates and political high flyers apparently interested in safeguarding the status quo and advancing the ideals of the democratic world. By their standards, Trump is an outsider. But he unexpectedly found favour with those disenfranchised with the liberal ideal. His election may not be one of celebration for those in the Pacific region, especially given his reluctance to act on US commitments to climate change and regional treaty obligations. But it should rouse some rethinking in our traditional assumptions of domestic politics.

Papua New Guinea’s 2017 National Elections will be an event to watch closely. How will it affect the current political ‘establishment’? PNG has always had a high turnover of politicians [pdf] and this trend will certainly continue, but this time with more zeal and purpose. It will be a test especially for those who have clung to political power and have well-established links. Trump’s election is an outcome of voters disillusioned with the status quo.

Unlike previous elections in PNG, many voters in 2017 will be more informed. Politicians have often been accused of maintaining their grip on power by bribing or deploying ‘sweet policies’ to entice the voters. While both strategies will undeniably be at play, voters will mostly likely be persuaded by a deeper conviction for change. Like the US elections, many PNG voters will most likely call for change on the back of someone ‘new’, someone who appears to be free from corruption. That is already evident in social media discussions.

At the district and provincial level, voters may be reminded of the complacency of their political leaders on these national issues and question the continued lack of development despite much-increased funding allocations under the District Services Improvement Program (DSIP) and Provincial Support Improvement Program (PSIP). It remains a serious question whether security would be sufficient to allow a free and fair election given the lack of funding for the PNG electoral commission. And the massive DSIP and PSIP allocations may give incumbents a greater advantage than they earlier enjoyed.

The 2017 PNG election is an opportunity for change. Like the Trump story, it is likely that the election will breed a new generation of leaders for PNG. Breeding new leadership is not always bad if it serves as a reminder to those already in power not to get too comfortable in their seats and forget the very purpose of their mandate.


PNG one of world’s most ‘fragile’ nations says report

05 December 2016

THREE of the world’s most fragile countries are on Australia’s doorstep, according to a new report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development that implores the international community to maintain its aid commitments. The OECD’s States of ‘Fragility 2016: Understanding Violence’ report identifies 56 countries or regions as being fragile based on how exposed they are to risks like economic shock, youth unemployment, disease, corruption, crime and violence. Three of Australia’s closest neighbours – Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste (East Timor) – are assessed as fragile.

PNG is rated as more fragile than countries that have endured recent coup attempts such as Egypt, Libya and Burkina Faso. The report calls on the international community to provide adequate, long-term development assistance for these countries and focus funding on the real drivers of fragility. It also wants countries to develop better financing strategies. According to the report, PNG and Timor-Leste are more vulnerable to political risks, while the Solomon Islands most substantial vulnerability is to environmental and health risks. Together with Indonesia, these three countries represent the largest four recipients of Australian aid. PNG was given $554.5 million in 2015-16, the Solomon Islands $175.9 million and Timor-Leste $95.3 million.

Despite ongoing conflict from West Papuans over Indonesian rule, Indonesia was not deemed fragile by the OECD.


Church decries demand for land compensation

December 5, 2016 The National

THE Catholic Church does not entertain or pay compensation to landowner groups for services it is providing on their land, according to Mt Hagen archdiocese’s archbishop Douglas Young.
He told the Kumdi tribe, which owns the land on which the Notre Dame Girls Secondary School in Baiyer, Western Highlands, is located, that people must stop thinking that the church would pay compensation for their land. The tribe organised a reconciliation ceremony last Tuesday to say sorry for locking the gates to the school. They apologised to Young, the Catholic Church, parents and students for demanding land compensation.
Their demand for compensation began in 2010.
This year, after the Term One break, the landowners refused to allow anyone into the school.
Young explained to them that the church had never paid compensation to landowners.
“I’m talking about the world, not only here. The Catholic Church does not pay anything to anyone as land compensation,” he said. “Anyone who thinks that the Catholic Church will pay compensation for the land at Kumdi is wrong because the Church does not get involved in that.” He said people must understand that the church was helping the Government by providing schools, health services and job opportunities. “You should raise your concern with the Government – not with the church,” Young said.

Evicted settlers face difficulty in resettling

December 5, 2016 The National

MORE than 3000 settlers from Morata One in the National Capital District were forcefully evicted by the city authority to allow construction of a new road from Gerehu to Waigani. The evicted settlers were now finding it hard to resettle and start a new life again after their homes and properties were destroyed by the city authority last week. Morata One committee leader Eric Steven said National Capital District Commission (NCDC) failed to allocate new land or pay them compensation to start a new living prior to destroying their homes and properties and forcefully evicting them. “We have been living in that piece of land for almost two generations now because it’s a customary land and not state land,” Steven told The National. “However, we were issued a stop- work notice by NCDC on Aug 23, 2016 and a week later on Aug 30, 2016 we were issued a demolition notice. “There was no eviction notice and now more than 120 houses were demolished, which include rent houses and about 3500 people are displaced and we are helpless.

Disability does not stop young Cornelius

Post Courier, December 7, 2016

HE was born with a medical condition known as cerebral palsy, but that did not stop him from developing his passion in computer graphics. Twelve-year-old Cornelius, also known as Datii Yalamu, from Lae-Madang-Goroka parents, may have difficulty in walking but he has dreams, hopes and ideas he wanted to share on the International Day for Persons with Disabilities at Cheshire disability Services compound at Hohola, in Port Moresby. According to his father Philemon Yalamu, Cornelius was taught how to use a computer at the age of three, and although not at school is familiar with anything to do with digital graphic artist programs, Photoshop, and other office work programs to do with typing. He knows them all, very well. “As parents, it was a challenge for my wife and I but we never gave up and thought beyond his disability to make him do things like an able bodied child would do, think out of the box and try to come up with creative ways to help Cornelius.

“He does all this with his legs and toes because we believe that he has the potential and ability to do so,” he said.

Cornelius can create invitation cards for birthdays and other events using the graphic design software, Adobe Photoshop and other programs. He uses his toes to do all the typing for the various programs that are in the computer.


Arawa hospital in dire need of medical supplies
Post Courier, December 07, 2016

ARAWA hospital in Central Bougainville is in dire need of medical supplies, Dr Joe Vilosi said yesterday. Dr Vilosi said that the hospital is also unable to attend to emergency cases as whatever limited stock left is being reserved only for desperate cases where a patient is about to lose his or her life. He iterated that the Government must respond quickly to the matter and see health as a priority because without proper health facilities in Bougainville, the dreams and aspirations of Bougainville will turn to dust. Dr Vilosi said the full autonomy depends on a healthy workforce therefore without a healthy workforce there will be a sick Government. The onus is now on the Government to intervene and address the situation in which the Arawa Hospital is in without medical supplies and see it fixed immediately.


Muddle to leave hospital

Post Courier December 07, 2016

PAPUA New Guinea’s biggest referral hospital has transformed during the past three years under the leadership of chief executive officer Grant Muddle as he prepares to leave this month.

The hospital will regret his departure over suggestions that he was too expensive to keep. Mr Muddle spoke yesterday of how he had changed the hospital by enforcing existing rules that had not been enforced before for various reasons. He said that from 2013, when he arrived, to this year, hospital admissions were 23,000 and in 2016 admission has climbed to 45,000. In 2013 the hospital saw 66,800 hospital outpatient consultants and in 2016 consultants numbers increased to 170,000, that is, 100,000 more consultants. Roughly, the hospital sees 680 patients at its outpatient clinic daily.

“Patients are fixed faster, we have gone from an average length of stay of 20 days to 8.6 days, which is less strain on the public health system, people are much healthier and return home or work to become more productive,” he said. “Death rates at the hospital were 5.2 per cent in 2013 and in 2016 the rate is at 2.8 per cent. It is important to remember that the people that come here are very sick, extremely medically and surgically unwell and the hospital tries their best to keep everyone alive,” Mr Muddle said.


TFF funds has not been paid as planned
Post Courier, December 07, 2016

THE Government’s ambitious Tuition Fee Free (TFF) money have not been received freely and on time as planned. A lot of school administrations are confused about partial dispatches of fees during the year as the last dispatch is due this Friday when many schools have already closed for the academic year. Last week, the Government announced that it would remit the last lot of TFF money – that is K113 million – for schools. This announcement comes late as many schools have rising debts to pay and others are still looking into their accounts for the arrival of any money.

In Kimbe, West New Britain, Catholic Education Secretary Silpaga John Francis said yesterday that as far as the Catholic Church agency in the province was concerned, more than half of the 300 schools in the province had not received their full tuition fees promised. He could not specify the exact amount owed to the schools. The Catholic Church agency in the province has the biggest number of schools which is 163. These schools have not received their fees for the last batch and the earlier batch.


Child sexual abuse high

Post Courier, December 09, 2016

SHOCKING increase in the number of child sexual abuse in the National Capital District has raised concerns for more strategic approaches to address the situation. In addition, there have been increases in gender-based violence or intimate partner violence reported at Port Moresby General Hospital Family Support Centre. Social worker and clinical manager Tessie Soi and head of the support centre said yesterday that up to 70 per cent of patients who are received at the day centre are sexually abused children under 18 years old. Mrs Soi also reported that the centre receives and treats 100 survivors of intimidate partner violence or gender based violence cases every month. In a day the support centre sees 12 new cases and offer among other essential services physiological first aid to those who need it.

“We see survivors for two to three hours, just imagine the workloads my staff have but they are fighters in their own rights and rights against gender based violence and HIV.”

Health Department’s Technical advisor gender and men’s health Sebatian Robert said there are 17 Family Support Centres in 15 provinces, two in Simbu and two also in Autonomous Region of Bougainville.


Article from the New York Times on Manus detention


Asylum seekers riot after death at Papua New Guinea detention camp   Post Courier, 25 December 2016

Asylum seekers held at a Papua New Guinea detention centre briefly took control of two compounds and expelled guards following the death of a refugee who fell ill at the centre, Papua New Guinea police said on Sunday.

A 27-year-old Sudanese man, who was identified as Faysal Ishak Ahmed by refugee advocates, collapsed at the centre and was evacuated to hospital in Australia this week. Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection said he died on Saturday.

The man’s death is not being treated as suspicious by Australian authorities, but detainees and refugee rights groups have claimed the man was seriously ill for months and had made repeated requests for medical assistance before the emergency.

A total of 872 asylum seekers are held on Manus despite Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruling in April that their detention was illegal and ordering the camps to close.


How not to address maternal mortality

By Camilla Burkot on December 2, 2016

Papua New Guinea is often referred to as the ‘land of the unexpected’. I sometimes wonder whether it might be better referred to as the ‘land of the extreme’. Extreme is certainly an appropriate adjective to describe the country’s maternal mortality ratio, which is the highest in the Asia-Pacific region: 215 deaths per 100,000 live births. To put this in perspective, in Australia the maternal mortality ratio is 6 per 100,000 nationally, and 14 per 100,000 among Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Extreme also seems an apt descriptor for PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s plan to address maternal and infant mortality in his country. As reported by the ABC on Tuesday, O’Neill plans to introduce legislation in early 2017 that will make it mandatory for women to deliver their children in a clinic or hospital. To enable this, women will be paid to attend those clinics or hospitals.

What I assume to be the underlying impetus of this hasty policy announcement – the desire to ensure that all women have access to skilled attendance at birth – is a sound one. The most recent data available from the WHO (2013) indicate that less than half of women in PNG deliver their children with the assistance of a trained midwife or doctor. Globally, about 15 percent of women will encounter unexpected complications during or shortly after birth which require emergency obstetric care (EmOC). Skilled attendance and EmOC save lives.

The key question that policymakers must grapple with, then, is how best to enable access to those services in their particular context. While encouraging women to deliver at health facilities is key, doing so cannot be interpreted as a magic bullet for reducing maternal mortality. Indeed, pushing women to give birth in overcrowded and under-resourced facilities may put them at an increased risk of potentially life-threatening infections, such as sepsis.

Even in the face of a strong, evidence-based plan for improving the rates of supervised births in PNG, it’s difficult to see how the government will be in a position to implement it. As noted on this blog last month, PNG’s health budget was cut by 21% (K315 million) in the 2017 budget (this followed cuts to health of more than 30% between 2014 and 2015). The number of health facilities that are fully operational in PNG, particularly at the aid post level in rural and remote areas, has dwindled. Health professionals are also few and far between; PNG has just 0.5 nurses/midwives per 1000 people, while the WHO now advocates for a minimum 4.45 skilled health professionals (midwives, nurses and physicians) per 1000. Glen Mola, a professor of obstetrics at UPNG, confirms that the main problem facing the PNG health system is a lack of funding for health staff and facilities; “If we’ve got the money, let’s see it please… we desperately need it,” he told the ABC. In this context, requiring women to travel to facilities to deliver their children simply cannot be automatically equated to their accessing skilled attendance.


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Social Concerns Notes – November 2016

Economic dip to hit PNG next year, Lupari says

November 17, 2016 The National

CHIEF Secretary Isaac Lupari says next year will be a tough one for Papua New Guinea due to the financial situation of the country. He reiterated what Institute of National Affairs executive director Paul Barker, Finance Minister James Marape and Treasury Secretary Dairi Vele said at the time of the announcement of next year’s budget a few weeks ago.
Lupari said public servants’ wages alone expended almost K4 billion – about 30 per cent of the total annual budget.
“By anyone’s standard, that’s a lot of money,” he said.
“People are investing K4 billion in wages and salaries but are we getting the productivity?


Govt and church must work in unity to curb violence

Post Courier, November 15, 2016

‘‘I looked after a Department who deals with family and our focus is on ending violence and strengthening relationships.

As a child growing up, I know the stories, talks, and fears of sorcery related stories.’’

Community Development and Religion Secretary, Anna Solomon said this at a conference in Lae yesterday aimed at addressing sorcery related issues in the country. She said the government and the Churches must work together to address and solve sorcery related killings and violence in the country.

“The Churches were the closest to the people and people respect churches more than the government so it’s good churches take the lead role in addressing sorcery,” Ms Solomon said. She said that in the past, when there were no proper health services and even no health posts, people die of sickness and blamed sorcery but today, sorcery cannot be blamed because there are health services and sickness can be cured. She said many educated and working class people still fear sorcery and don’t want to send their kids or even themselves to the village for holiday because they fear they might be killed if they go back to the village.

Head Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea, Rev. Jack Urame said sorcery related violence remains a huge phenomena and the Highlands region is leading with Sorcery related violence followed by Momase, and other parts of the country. “We are facing a new reality in a shift in our beliefs,” Rev. Urame said. He said when bad things happen; people quickly release their frustrations without thinking of the consequences and whether their actions are right or wrong. Rev. Urame said life style diseases are another big problem in the country and when deaths are caused by lifestyle diseases, it is always blamed on witchcraft and sorcery because there are no alternative reasons.

PM: Govt against prostitution

October 31, 2016 The National

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says prostitution will not be legalised in the country.
He told Parliament that although the world’s oldest profession was practised in PNG, “we (as a Christian country) do not condone this kind of practice happening”. “There are other means in which we (Government) can protect some of these people who are engaged in this industry. There is no need for us to legalise prostitution in the country,” he said. “If we are talking about the safety of individuals, we have got enough laws under the criminal code and other laws that can protect issues like assault and abuse of individuals. “We do not need to have a specific law to legalise prostitution in the country.” O’Neill was responding to a question from Usino Bundi MP Anton Yagama on the Government’s position regarding a proposed bill to protect sex workers in the country.


Report Violence Cases – PPC

The National 31 October, 2016

SORCERY-related violence and violence against women are major problems in the Highlands and victims are urged to report them to police. Enga police commander George Kakas said he has set up a sorcery-related violence (SRV) task force in Enga and it would be dedicated to reducing the crime in Enga. “This hateful darkness is not customary and has swept across several provinces and towns like a copycat cult that leaves behind tortured and murdered women and men,” Kakas said. “Additionally, families and children are branded with the lifelong stigma of sanguma and communities are left with deep wounds that will only turn to scars in time. These crimes usually centre around someone falling ill and illness being blamed on sorcery, or more troubling, sorcery is used as an excuse to target someone – usually a woman.” Kakas said a combined operation by members from SRV task force and National Capital District police arrested a man on Oct 24 for the torture and murder of a woman accused of sorcery from a remote village in Enga. He said the accused posted photos of the victim on facebook and that was how they tracked him down and he was arrested and charged with the alleged torture and murder of the village woman.


Budget Fails Credibility Test

See :

PAPUA New Guinea’s 2017 budget, which was brought down today in Port Moresby, was a key opportunity to demonstrate the credibility of the O’Neill government’s economic management before next year’s election.  It fails. Foolish games with numbers and unrealistic assumptions severely undermine the budget’s credibility. Indeed, the level of deception arguably approaches fraud.

The biggest winners from the budget are overseas petroleum shareholders with proposed cuts in the company tax rate from 45-50% to 30%.

These are interesting choices by government given major cuts in key areas such as health, education and infrastructure, with further foreshadowed cuts of 11% in nominal terms and 37% in real terms from 2017 to 2021.

In stark contrast to the government’s claimed priorities, the real cuts to health are 29%, to education 18% and to transport 35%. Of course, key election elements are protected. For example, K20m is still provided to fund the “free health” policy.  This represents less than 2% of the total health budget and is miniscule relative to the K315m cut in health in this 2017 budget. The K20m “free health” policy is a smokescreen for the major cutbacks in health that are hurting church services and the level of assistance provided by health centres.  There is essentially no mechanism for distributing these funds down to rural clinics – so simply banning the collection of fees means that these clinics are forced to operate without basic medicines or to close down altogether. “Free health” becomes “No health”.

See also:

PNG Economy – Forecasting Confusion Undermines Confidence but recession confirmed.

LNG values are assumed to increase in the 2017 Budget by 16% while recent World Bank forecasts indicate a fall of 35%.

Using official BPNG figures, and updating them for the lower growth forecasts in the 2017 budget, a recession is confirmed: (using the measure most relevant for measuring progress on PNG’s living standards) real non-resource GDP per capita is expected to fall from K2,479 in 2013 to K2,282 in 201 7 this is a fall of 8% in average living standards in PNG.

According to official estimates from Treasury and BPNG, it will now take until past 2023 to get back to 2013 standards of living standards.

[For full article, see the url above]


Prepare for climate change: Cardinal

November 2, 2016 The National National

CARDINAL Sir John Ribat wants the Government and United Nations to make it a matter of policy that victims of climate change be given space for resettlement. He said Pacific Islands were experiencing climate change, rising sea level covering more land and land becoming too salty to grow crops. “Here in Papua New Guinea, we have an island, the Carteret Island (Bougainville), that is showing signs of this, part of the island has been washed away,” Sir John said. “People are living there but some of them have gone out of the island, some are staying there saying they want to remain on the island until whatever happens to them because they feel that they have been born there.
“We also have another island that is facing the same difficulty and that is Tuvalu.”
Sir John said Kiribati was also experiencing rising sea levels.
“We are seeing signs of this coming and we must prepare as a nation about how to accommodate our people whose islands are being washed away by rising sea level. How are we going to cater for them, not ourselves but those from the Pacific.” Sir John appealed to the developed nations to look into the situation to assist. “Our understanding of refugees, UN defines refugees as people who are running away from a situation in the country that forces them to come out and they name that as war that is affecting them,” he said. Sir John said global warming would be discussed in the 2018 Oceania Bishops Conference.


PNG needs more midwives

November 23, 2016 The National

THERE is a critical shortage of midwives in hospitals and clinics throughout the country, according to the president of the PNG Midwifery Society, Jennifer Pyakalyia.
Speaking at the start of a Midwifery Symposium of the society, Pyakalyia said that the country had about 700 midwives which were not enough considering the large number of vacancies in rural health facilities, and the increasing number of midwives reaching retirement age. “We need to train more midwives because their role is very critical if we want to improve the health indicators and improve the well-being of women.” Pyakalyia said that amidst the challenges midwives faced, there was no excuse to turn a blind eye to the many lives that were lost through pregnancy and childbirth because every woman had the right to a safe delivery.
“The incoming midwives are catalysts for change to bring improvement in the lives of women and infants so it is our vision to have at least one to two midwives in all the 89 districts which will provide up to 82 per cent of all the maternity care requirements for pregnant women,” she said.
She highlighted that in 2011-2015, 400 midwives graduated under an Australian government supported training programme, however, that number decreased in 2015 with the closure of the programme.


Surgery restores girl’s sight

November 25, 2016 The National

A BLIND six-year-old girl from the Trobriand Islands in Milne Bay had her sight restored this week following a successful cataract surgery aboard the YWAM Medical Ship, mv YWAM PNG.
The medical ship was on a collaborative outreach patrol to the Kiriwina-Goodenough district.
The young girl, Mandy, has been blind for the last three years from bilateral cataracts.
She could only see light and dark shades and was heavily dependent on family members for her everyday needs. Following the operation, Mandy was greeted by elated uncles, aunts, siblings, grandparents and friends – in tears and overjoyed by the result. Mandy chose her favourite pair of sunglasses and received distance and reading glasses before returning to her village following the surgery.

More girls in school: Kuman

November 25, 2016 The National

THE tuition fee free (TFF) policy has seen an increase in the enrolment of the female students in rural areas in the last four years, Education Minister Nick Kuman says. He told the newly-appointed National Education Board that it was one of the positive outcomes of the TFF policy and he urged them to work with the government to strengthen its policies to make education accessible and of standard.
“Our main focus as the government is first to give accessibility to our students of this country and we have seen in the last four years. We were tracking about 17 per cent growth in the enrolment we also saw an increase in our female students going to school, particularly in the rural parts of PNG.”
Kuman said a number of students continuing from Grade 8 to 12 had also increased.


Transferring HIV treatment to the PNG government: a good idea?

By Stephen Howes on October 31, 2016

Despite its size, Australian aid is rarely front page news in PNG. But it was earlier in the month when the Post-Courier ran a story that aid funding was to be cut to a number of NGOs providing HIV treatment and other health services. The story was based on a briefing note prepared by the affected NGOs outlining the impact of the foreshadowed cuts on their services. The Australian High Commission in Port Moresby responded (in the same article) that funding for HIV treatment would run to the middle of next year (no mention of whether there would be any respite for the providers of non-HIV reproductive health services). The statement also said that Australia was working with the PNG government to help it “better and more sustainably deliver health services, including HIV/AIDS and reproductive health programs.” The implicit expectation that the Australian government expects, or at least hopes, that the PNG government will pick up the tab after June 2017 is consistent with the statement in the September 2015 Australian aid PNG strategy (and reiterated as recently as last month) that “Our investments in HIV will progressively shift to PNG Government responsibility.”

I certainly recognise that Australian aid to PNG is small and faces many demands, only a few of which can be met. But I think the intention announced in the aid strategy, and apparently conveyed to the NGOs involved, to pass responsibility for funding HIV treatment to the PNG government is ill-considered. Indeed, as I argued in my presentation at the ACFID National Conference last week, it illustrates some of the ailments in the Australian aid program revealed by our 2015 Australian Aid Stakeholder Survey. [For the rest of this article – see the url above]

Even if PNG had the fiscal capacity to manage the HIV treatment program, institutional weaknesses should give pause prior to any transfer of responsibilities. The same Post Courier article that reported the cuts also noted the in-fighting in the National AIDS Council, and the dispute over its leadership.

And don’t forget that the Global Fund used to transfer its funding for HIV, TB and malaria to the PNG government, but a few years ago stopped doing that due to abuse. There is, sadly, little to show for the decades of effort and millions of dollars that the Australian aid program has invested in capacity building in PNG. And there is no reason to think that the current emphasis (in the 2014 strategy) on “system strengthening” and (in last month’s portfolio review) on “the development of core public health capacity” will fare any better.

A more realistic approach in a difficult environment such as PNG would be to build on success: to try different things and to stick with what works. If NGOs have been able to make effective use of aid funding to provide treatment to those with HIV, then keep funding them to do so. In the process, the aid program actually will be building the capacity of a range of service providers.


Archdiocese plans housing project

November 4, 2016 The National

THE Archdiocese of Rabaul in East New Britain plans to start a housing project for low income-earners. Archbishop Francesco Panfilo told an Islands region mayors conference in Kokopo on Wednesday that the project would benefit its employees. But he said it would also benefit the people who had worked in Kokopo for a long time and had proved to be faithful and reliable employees.
The archdiocese will make land available behind the Kokopo sports field for the project. It will also be responsible for surveying the land and funding infrastructure development such as drainage, roads, water and electricity. “We foresee the project to develop into three to four stages with the hope that at the end, we may have about 250 houses,” he said. Panfilo said there was also a need to protect the common areas, landmarks and urban landscapes which increased a sense of belonging, of rootedness, of “feeling at home” within a city.


All SABLs cancelled: O’Neill

November 7, 2016 The National

THE Government has cancelled all Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABL) due to irregularities in various land and forestry laws that allowed the devastation of forests, parliament has been told. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill urged the landowners to revisit the leases signed with companies and if possible negotiate better benefits. He was responding to a series of questions by Pomio MP Elias Kapavore in Parliament last Friday. Kapavore asked if the commission of inquiry report into the SABL would be tabled in Parliament and if the Government could consider landowners of forestry impacted areas being given similar benefits as those in the extractive industry.
O’Neill said the Government was still waiting on the final report from the commission members.
“We have received reports on SABL from two commissioners out of the three that were tasked to carry out this inquiry,” he said. “While waiting on last report, cabinet has taken some recommendations based on recommendations from the two commissioners who were able to lodge their report. “I am pleased to say that all the SABL leases to be cancelled, instruction has now gone to the Lands Dept and as of today (last Friday) I can assure you that leases are now being cancelled and where there are projects now existing, we’ve encouraged the landowners to renegotiate many of those leases arrangements that they have made with the developers.

Nissan islanders await reply

Post Courier, November 11, 2016,

AUTHORITIES are yet to respond to the plight of Nissan islanders in Bougainville who are facing a critical food shortage. Every day is a struggle for the children, mothers and their families to look for food. Some children have become victims, encountering accidents while in search for food.

According to an officer with the ABG department of community government that deals with the Bougainville disaster office, the last relief supplies delivered to the people was towards the end of 2015. No food suppliers had been delivered to them this year. No further comments could be obtained from the Bougainville Disaster Office because the head of the office is currently seeking medical treatment in Port Moresby.


Please help us

SCHOOL children are falling off trees in desperate search for food for Nissan islanders as climate change takes its toll on low-lying islands in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. Relief supplies have not reached Nissan district, which comprises mostly atolls, despite repeated requested in the past 10 months, says Nehan community government member Conrad Willy. In June, a Grade Six student at Pinepal fell from a mangrove tree as she was picking the mangrove beans to eat, and was rushed by dinghy to Buka General Hospital, treated and discharged. Last Friday, Raphael Alben, 4 and a half years old, fell from a coconut tree and broke both arms while searching for young coconuts. Mr Willy warned that more children would be hurt as their parents send them out to look for food.

He said yesterday that the continuous call for relief aid for the people of Nissan District has fallen on deaf ears. Mr Willy said the people started facing food shortages towards the end of last year.

He said that numerous reports had been presented to the disaster relief office in Bougainville, the Community Government Office and Members of Parliament regarding the situation at the atolls, but they had not been addressed.


Man charged, detained for alleged sorcery killing

November 9, 2016 The National

ENGA police have charged a man with wilful murder and locked him up after he allegedly posted on Facebook photos of a woman being tortured, a hot iron rod being pushed into her private part and killed. The woman was alleged to have been practising sorcery. Police commander acting Superintendent George Kakas said pictures of the tortured woman on Facebook went viral and painted a bad picture of the province. He said that his investigation officers followed up on the posting and tracked the man down in Port Moresby. They arrested him last week and took him back to Wabag.
Kakas said the man from the Kombiam-Ambum district was charged with wilful murder and detained in Wabag. He said that his investigation team was collecting evidence. He said the Kombiam-Ambum district was known for sorcery-related killings and torture of innocent people which was a major concern. “Sorcery is not part of Enga’s culture, it’s adopted from outside people and their belief on sorcery is slowly growing roots in the province,” Kakas said.
Meanwhile, Kakas said that he formed a sorcery violence-related unit in the province this year to deal with any sorcery-related problems.

We are not denying citizens on nomination fees, says O’Neill

PNG Today / National Broadcasting Corporation

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says his government is not trying to deny the rights of Papua New Guineans to stand for public office. Responding in parliament to a series of questions concerning the proposed changes to the law to increase election nomination fees, Mr O’Neill said candidates who want to contest must sacrifice something because of the ever increasing costs of running elections in the country. “Now we are reaching close to K400 million to run the 2017 elections and the cost keeps on going up because the number of candidates is increasing,” he said. “So if candidates want to run for public office, there must be certain sacrifices we all have to make. One of them is cost.”

Mr O’Neill said the money will go back to the Electoral Commission help it conduct the election.

Opposition leader Don Polye says the opposition will take the government to court if parliament passes its proposal to increase the nomination fee from K1,000 to K10,000.


And a comment from Andrew Lattas:   The increase in the nomination fee from K1000 to K10,000 will further consolidate corruption in PNG. It will substantially help candidates supported and funded (either directly or indirectly) by foreign companies like RH which are appropriating land for logging and oil palm. It will help to exclude grass-roots activists who campaign against corrupt local members, activists who have limited financial resources.  The local landowner companies (a misnomer, for they represent select interests) are funded by the foreign developer and are active in supporting and mobilising votes for chosen candidates (e.g. Paul Tiensten now in jail and part of the Kitchen cabinet). These local landowner companies operate as a local shield to hide, defend and advance foreign interests. The increased nomination fee will force potential candidates to seek a powerful wealthy patron, and will help restrict the candidates to those who have such patronage.


Strong mood of patriotism courses through Bougainville 09 November 2016

THERE is a strong feeling of patriotism reverberating throughout the Autonomous Region of Bougainville as people become inspired about the prospect of choosing their political future.

“I have always been a strong advocate of participatory democracy where all parties through a consultative and consensually process agree on an issue,” said President John Momis. “In our case, there will be a referendum to decide our political future. “I have made the call that Bougainvilleans are leaders in their own right, we must not be followers who meekly become passive recipients of change. “We must actively participate in the referendum process and take responsibility for our actions,” he said. Dr Momis said all Bougainvilleans must help shoulder the burden that Bougainville is currently bearing and that the people must learn from the mistakes of the past as they work towards the future.

Dr Momis said that it is important that Bougainvilleans prepare well for the referendum: they must unite, be fiscally self-reliant, make Bougainville is weapons free, and ensure that good governance prevails. The Bougainville Peace Agreement is the legal framework that defines the parameters of Bougainville’s move towards forging a new political future. Dr Momis said there had been long standing animosity between the Bougainville and PNG governments on the implementation of the peace agreement because of development funds owed to Bougainville and the national government’s failure to help in the region’s capacity building. However both governments had agreed that 15 June 2019 will be the date of the referendum to be held on the future political status of Bougainville.


IMF puts true cost of APEC Summit at K3 Billion kina, to be financed largely by debt.  by Lowy Institute
It was October 2013 when PNG was given the go ahead to host the 2018 APEC leaders’ meeting. At the time, Prime Minister O’Neill argued the event would deliver immense tourism and investment value by in elevating PNG on the global stage. The meeting, which brings together heads of state from 21 Pacific-facing nations including the US, China and Russia, is one of the few events on the annual international summit schedule that heads of state regularly attend. It is however, perhaps tellingly, most famous for decking leaders out in traditional, often colourful, attire.

Drawing up to 10,000 delegates and media for more than 180 planned meetings (as noted on page 46 of this budget document), the security, logistics and accommodation demands of the event are daunting for any city. Australians will no doubt remember the controversies surrounding Sydney’s 2007 APEC meeting, while last year’s Philippines APEC was also controversial and its value a source of debate. The challenges will be even more acute for Port Moresby, the 3rd least livable city of 140 measured by The Economist Intelligence Unit.

[See the URL above for the full article]


TIPNG wants to see SABL investigated

November 11, 2016 The National

Transparency International PNG hopes to see that the blatant injustice highlighted in the special agriculture business leases (SABL) commission of inquiry report are investigated and appropriate action taken against the perpetrators, “The SABLs are a national betrayal, a tragedy and news of its cancellation shines some ray of hope for landowners affected by the scheme,” Transparency International said in a statement. “The commission of inquiry into the SABLs findings produced detailed information of massive corruption, mismanagement and lack of coordination by key agencies including the departments of Lands and Physical Planning, Environment and Conservation, Agriculture and Livestock, Provincial Affairs and local level government, Investment Promotion Authority and the grant for forest clearance authority by the Papua New Guinea Forest Authority.
“The reports stated that the entire land management system in Papua New Guinea was in a mess and recommended that the apecial agriculture business lease process be done away with or a workable policy be formulated on SABL that benefits local landowners.” TIPNG said that back then, the SABL scheme was described by many including the prime minister as “a total failure to landowners” that involved a lot of illegalities. “Now that the Government has made a firm decision to cancel all SABLs, TIPNG calls for the political and administrative will from all departments and organisations responsible for rectifying the issue.”

A Litany of the Corrupt – Johnson Makaen

“If you can’t assure me of my money, you can wait a long time in the hall”

“It’s gavman payday so the staff usually get two and half hours for lunch”

“Highlands election is like coffee season, make money with little effort”

“Donated by Hon Con Artist MP” – Sign on district hospital ambulance

“My clansman is department head, so my claim will get the nod”

“If you want your paper work done, throw some lunch money at the clerk”

“First, I collect my 20% commission on the contract or I look elsewhere”

“I’m the CEO of this Department so I say my wantok gets hired”

“It’s simple, kiss my arse or get passed over for promotion”

“No fuel in the trooper so we can’t respond to your local crime”

“Need money for bride price or compensation? Come to me, your dedicated MP”

“Not much to do at the office so let’s chew buai, gossip and read the paper”

“You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours….

“As long as I remain as your Hon MP, your problem will always be mine”


Meeting focuses on addressing sorcery
Post Courier, November 15, 2016

THE Constitutional and Law Reform Commission (CLRC) in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) three days conference on sorcery and the Churches roles in addressing sorcery gets underway in Lae yesterday.

The conference is to hear from the churches their views and their role in addressing sorcery, a follow up of CLRC’s work on the review of the Sorcery Act of 1973 carried out in 2010- 2011 that resulted in the repeal of the Sorcery Act 1973 in 2013. Heads of churches and government departments all around the country attended the conference starting yesterday. It was highlighted at the conference that a study carried out by CLRC on sorcery and related violence in 2010 found out that many women were victims and survivors of sorcery and sorcery related violence.

CLRC said it was then recommended that the Sorcery Act 1971 be repealed and the churches deal with sorcery given, it is a belief system. “In 2013, Parliament repealed the Sorcery Act 1971 as deterrence measure to address the heinous and tortuous violence subjected to citizens suspected of practicing sorcery, particularly the women and the vulnerable,” according to CLRC.

Unfortunately, the legal measure was not effective as Sorcery related violence and killings continued to increase at an alarming rate. “This prompted the National Government to establish the Sorcery National Action Plan (SNAP) in 2015 aimed at addressing the increasing related violence and killing. The SNAP codes are; advocacy and counseling, health, legislative review, and research.”

According to CLRC, the SNAP Committee comprises of key government agencies headed by the Department of Justice and Attorney General and CLRC is a member of the SNAP Committee and its endeavor to address the issue of Sorcery related violence and killings including gender based violence, with the support of United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) who hosted the 3 days conference to hear from Church Leaders and their views and experiences on this pressuring issue.

With the theme of the Conference ‘Churches’ role in addressing sorcery’, they anticipated that this forum will provide valuable insights to assist CLRC and the SNAP develop appropriate policies and legal frameworks to address Sorcery and its related violence and killings, including gender based violence.


Diabetes prevalent in PNG communities
Post Courier, November 15,2016, 02:14 am

MORE than 3000 people die from diabetes every year, according to the World Health Organisation.

Globally, diabetes is a growing epidemic among non-communicable diseases and a significant number of cases remained undetected. According to WHO officer-in-charge in PNG Dr Paulinus Sikosana, the latest WHO estimates show the prevalence of diabetes in Papua New Guinea is 11.8 per cent (11.9 per cent for men and 11.6 per cent for women. It is also estimated that one in two people remained undiagnosed, making them particularly susceptible to complications.

These alarming figures were revealed yesterday marking the annual World Diabetes Day celebrations in Port Moresby. As part of the event, WHO and the Health Department set up on-site treatment for diabetes patients at Jack Pidik Park. This year’s theme was Eye’s on Diabetes. Dr Sikosana said: “Going beyond the figures, we must develop policies for prevention and control of non-communicable diseases to address the unhealthy behaviour of people including tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol. We need an effective public health policy instrument that consists of a series of multisector interventions which aim at improving population diet and physical activity and changes risky habits.”


PNG among world’s highest gender violence, sorcery killing
Post Courier, November 18, 2016

PAPUA New Guinea has one of the world’s highest rates of gender violence and sorcery killing.

This is according United Nation Population Fund (UNPF) program analyst Steven Paniu at a gender violence conference in Lae. “From our little data that we have collected on gender violence and sorcery killing especially against women, the result is alarming, PNG is one of the countries with a high number of violence against women cases in 2016,” Mr Paniu said. He said from a research conducted at Divine Word University, two out of three women experience violence daily, from another survey and research carried out in Bougainville, 61.9 per cent of men do admit violence again women. These are reported cases and do not include the unreported ones, especially in the remote areas. “A lots of mothers and women who are victims of abuse and violence find it hard to go to police stations for they fear their lives, if they do report their husbands might do more harm to them, or even kill them, and that is the biggest fear that becomes a barrier for women who are victims of violence going to police stations and report,” Mr Paniu said.

In addition, PNG Tropical Foundation deputy director Ruth Kisam said the Highlands region was the main area in the country with women becoming victims of violence. “W have rolled out awareness programs on gender violence and recently into awareness on sorcery related killings, for sorcerers killed or burned to death are mainly women and girls,” she said.


Health survey rollout not going well
Post Courier, November 18,2016, 02:53 am

THE third National Demographic and Health Survey project currently rolled out in the provinces is not progressing well as anticipated. The project which is conducted every ten years by the Department of National Planning and Monitoring, with one of its key divisions, National Statistical Office, has not kept up with payments for interview enumerators. Interviewers, who signed a 90-day contract with NSO, were volunteers who had gone on board on the understanding that their consecutive allowances would be paid in fortnightly installments but this had not happened and the project was stagnating in limbo. An interviewer, who cannot reveal his identity, said they had signed their contracts on merit and in good faith however, NSO had not lived up its agreement.

The National Demographic and Health Survey is conducted every ten years, the first in 1996, the second in 2006 and third this year 2016.


Canadian Mining’s Dark Heart

Tallying the human cost of gold in one of the most remote places on Earth By Richard Poplak  Oct. 24, 2016

Even in the best of circumstances, PNG is not renowned for law and order. But this was a gold rush, and in the absence of state enforcement, Placer/Barrick tried to curtail incursions with a combined corps of police and hired guards. The illegal miners would not be so easily curtailed. And so the locals and PJV’s security apparatus went to war. It appears that sexual violence had been perpetrated on an industrial scale. …. [For those interested, see the url above]


If we want to change PNG, we first must change the boys’ club  21 November.

[See the url above.]


Office focuses on tackling online violence
Post Courier, November 22, 2016

THE Office of Censorship has directed its focus to tackling online violence and child abuse. Chief Censor Steven Mala has highlighted that given the modern environment, it was time to think of online violence because the psychological violence is greater than physical violence. “Here in PNG, the Office of Censorship has striven to provide online protection to our children from unsolicited materials, sex abuse, trafficking and portrayal of children for commercial benefits,” he said. Mr Mala said that every year children had become victims of untold violence and faced various forms of abuse, neglect, exploitation and danger. One form of abuse was online abuse which was what the Office of Censorship was focusing on in its respective awareness programs nationwide. “Our children today are being exposed to undesirable programs through television broadcasting, radio broadcasting and the daily indecent language used on the street. “We want to ensure that information flowing through the internet is clean and safe when our children are accessing it; we want them to grow with a healthy attitude toward the use of internet so they can better understand it and use it to their benefits and not to abuse the knowledge of internet or technology when they grow up. “Because of this we are working towards implementing a program that can provide the country with a clean Internet feed – which is the Internet Filtering System currently in progress,” Mr Mala said.


Plan aims to fight sorcery violence
Post Courier, November 22, 2016

AN ACTION plan aimed at overcoming sorcery related violence will soon be ready for implementation but much support is needed on the national front. A three day conference held in Lae last week by the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission saw representatives from the government, faith based organisations and other non-governmental entities converge to tackle the issue. Long serving Catholic priest Father Philip Gibbs who has committed much of his time to countering the ill effects of sorcery said during the conference that the Sorcery National Action Plan (SNAP) was just about ready but needed much support. The action plan dubbed SNAP, focuses on five strategic outcome bases. “SNAP will see us focus on counselling those who have already experienced sorcery related incidents, education for the already identified communities with highest rate of incidence, health for general understanding of the unnecessary loss of life, law and order to better control the violence wrought from such practices and research to better track the effectiveness of the SNAP efforts,” Father Philip said.   He said that in order to implement the plan, much work was required and with that monetary support. He said that the government’s current fiscal predicament meant that financial support must be sourced from supporting agencies which were willing to overcome this serious endemic. Fr Philip said churches, Health Department, Education Department, research facilities, and faith-based organisations and interested NGOs must come together and provide support financially and on the human resource front. “At the moment, because of the financial constraints, we are looking for organisations and entities that are willing to provide people or finances, not for profit or gain but for the purposes of seeing our action plan carried out.”



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Social Concerns Notes – October 2016

Outlaw forced evictions
Post Courier October 05, 2016

HARSH and oppressive eviction on citizens is a breach of International Human Rights law which unfortunately is becoming more prevalent in major towns and cities in PNG.

United Nations resident co-ordinator Roy Trivedy expressed this concern following continuous media reports over a growing number of forced evictions, either in settlements to make way for development or of individual residents to make way for new owners.

Mr Trivedy urged the Government to legislate to protect vulnerable home owners from forceful evictions.

“The right to adequate housing, which is widely recognised under international human rights law, includes the right to be protected from forced eviction.”

Mr Trivedy said the Government has signed the Sustainable Development Goals which includes ending poverty, ending hunger, health, education, water, inclusive cities, inclusive societies and 10 others to make Papua New Guinea a better place.

“However, forceful eviction is totally against the international human rights law.”

“When people are being evicted from their comfort zones, whoever evicts them must provide necessary surviving needs such as adequate place to stay, water, power, education, job and other necessities in order for them to have a decent lifestyle. This will help reduce poverty,”

Mr Trivedy said developers of Paga Hill, Paga Hill Development Company, faced this very problem.

But they did very well in that rather than simply evict the settlers, they gave alternate land, provided financial assistance and logistics support to relocate to Moresby Northeast. Despite all the resistance (the settlers took the matter all the way to the Supreme Court), the developers persisted, providing literacy, business, and self-governance training, as well as key infrastructure of ablution blocks, power and water at the relocation site, at Tagua Village.


Internet price affects economy
Post Courier, October 05, 2016

DELOITTE manager Todd Mclnnis said this yesterday in Port Moresby when presenting the National Research Institute’s latest report on why internet rates are high in Papua New Guinea.

The report identified key issues that have caused high prices of internet rates which includes infrastructure, wholesale, regulation, retail and competition and PNG specific issues.

McInnis said that despite considerable improvements in PNG’s technological architecture including competitions, PNG’s internet infrastructure appears to be reaching its limits and remains among the lowest in the world. According to a 2013 report by the International Telecommunication Union PNG is ranked 163 out of 169 countries in terms of internet infrastructure. The findings however revealed that PNG had an entry level fixed broadband package estimated to cost a high 266 per cent of gross national income per capita. “Since that time internet prices have fallen markedly,” McInnis said.

“In 2014 NICTA estimated that the price of a 1GB (Gigabyte) package ranges from around 20-80 per cent of GNI per capita while current estimates suggest a 1GB package can be obtained for 10 per cent per capita.

“It’s very costly to do business in PNG due to a number of reasons and the high infrastructure maintenance costs which are a direct impact to higher prices,” he said.

McInnis added that another issue is reliability or the lack of it which does not have a direct impact to prices but all contribute to a higher cost environment which obviously leads to higher prices.


Jimmy Drekore honoured with ‘Nobel Prize for children’

06 October 2016

JIMMY DREKORE, founder of Simbu Children Foundation, has been awarded what has been termed the ‘Nobel Prize for Child Advocates’. The World of Children Award is the highest recognition for people who contributed exceptionally to the betterment of children and Papua New Guinea is the first country in the Pacific to receive this global accolade. Jimmy Drekore is well known to PNG Attitude readers as an entrepreneur, philanthropist and an established poet. As well as his vital work with the Simbu Children Foundation, he is PNG’s Digicel Man of Honour and President of Simbu Writers Association.

He comes from the rugged mountains of Giu-Emmai in the Sinasina Yongomugl District of Simbu Province and this internationally honour reflects his commitment to improving the lives of sick, orphaned and otherwise disadvantaged children in Simbu over the last 12 years.

Jimmy started SCF in 2004 while working at the Newcrest gold mine on Lihir Island. In May 2013, he resigned from his lucrative job as an analytical chemist to work fulltime on the foundation raising and deploying funds to help children receive specialist medical services that were not available locally.

Through Jimmy’s work, many children with heart disease have been saved by cardiac specialists from Australia who come each year to Port Moresby. SCF also addresses other health issues affecting children’s health and wellbeing like providing CT scans and preventing parent to child transmission of HIV.

“I didn’t think it was real,” Jimmy said when asked how he felt about the award. “It took a while for me to digest and when I accepted it I showed the email to my wife and we were humbled. “The Drekore family dedicates this World of Children Award to Simbu and all who have supported Simbu Children Foundation,” he added.


Wealthy Australia ‘outsourced legal & moral obligations’ on Manus

06 October 2016

‘Money, Manipulation and Misunderstanding on Manus Island’ by Joanne Wallis and Steffen Dalsgaard in the Journal of Pacific History. Download ‘Money, Manipulation & Misunderstanding on Manus

A PAPER by two Australian academics says that the impact of the asylum seeker camp on Manus has “inextricably involved a manipulation of the democratic process and the rule of law”.

Wallis and Dalsgaard write that, even though the so-called “regional resettlement arrangement” has delivered substantial funding to Papua New Guinea and, probably as a result, improved PNG’s relationship with Australia, the burden of the policy “will continue to be borne by ordinary Papua New Guineans, who already face myriad challenges exercising their democratic rights and receiving the protection of the law.”

The authors conclude that “overall, costs arising from the money, manipulation and misunderstanding generated by the regional resettlement arrangement seem likely to outweigh the benefits, particularly for Manusians [who are unlikely to see any benefits once the detention centre is closed] and other ordinary Papua New Guineans.”

They also say that the PNG government bears some responsibility. “It has both failed to live up to democratic processes in agreeing to host the centre and to legally as well as practically ensure the rights and security of those affected by it.

But they see that most of the responsibility lies with Australia, “a wealthy country that has outsourced its legal and moral obligations concerning asylum seekers and refugees.


Rehabilitation of prisoners is a challenge in our 19 jails.

Post Courier, October 07, 2016

PNG Correctional Services deputy commissioner operations division Stephen Pokanis said that the rehabilitation program must be supported for a better understanding of what to do in assisting prisoners before their release.

“So many resources are committed to looking after prisoners then on rehabilitation. There is no money for prison industries, technical and professional programs to prepare prisoners before they leave the prisons.” He said that personal relationships for each prisoner were helpful in ensuring the prisoner has good support before facing a parole board.

“When any relationship the prisoner has with his or her family is successful their report will show that, their behavior too in the prison will be considered as well. This is where prisoners many a times face issues when facing the parole board because they have no support inside or outside the prison, they are left frustrated.

We have church activities but that looks at the spiritual side of a person, you need to look at the intellect and physical aspect of any prisoner,” Mr Pokanis said. He reiterated that many factors caused prisoners to go back to jail but lack of rehab was a main factor.


Health, church to work together

October 7, 2016, The National

THE Health Department and the Catholic Church health services signed an agreement to work together to deliver services. CCHS board chairman Archbishop Stephen Reichert said the agreement would allow the department to provide funding to provide better health services, with more transparency and accountability. He said the church had parishes in all parts of the country and it would be easier to use their connections to provide service directly to the people. “By having a direct responsibility for funding from the government and the national office and CCHS, we believe that we can introduce our financial governance that will ensure accountability, more responsible use of resources and better outcome,” he said. Reichert said they wanted to strengthen governance and financial management to allow closer adherence to department and CCHS standards. “Catholic Church Health Service has a long history of providing health care to people and the majority of health care offered in remote rural areas and we already mentioned that we are committed to continue. If possible, we can expand to those areas if funding is available in future.”
Department’s strategy policy executive manager Ken Wai said since the passing of the public-private partnership policy in 2014, they had gone into partnership with  churches, non-governmental organisations and other industries to deliver services.

October 2016

PNG political parties must promote more women in politics

IT IS up to political parties to boost the number of women in parliament, says Dame Carol Kidu, a former Papua New Guinean opposition leader and minister. Dame Carol said PNG could not be called a representative democracy while half of its population only had a 2.7% stake in parliament.

In 2011, PNG passed a bill sponsored by Dame Carol to establish 22 reserved seats for women but enabling legislation was not passed in time for the 2012 election. Dame Carol entered politics in 1997 and was the only female member of parliament from 2002 until her retirement in 2012, when three women MPs were elected.

She said the chance to reserve seats for women was gone. “It is going to come back to political parties now,” she said. “It is not going to happen by legal reform anymore.”

Dame Carol said this was because an increase in the number of seats would also increase the district service funds that are distributed through MPs. The increase in funds required for 10 extra members would be large and “never get through” parliament, she said.


Six men held captive and allegedly tortured over sorcery claims
October 11, 2016

ABOUT six men are held captive, allegedly tortured and threatened with death at Rongoma village in Kagua, Southern Highlands province.  Situation is tense as the men held captive are publicly humiliated and interrogated in an open-air kangaroo court in the center of the village in the full presence of the members of the public including the police. The men are alleged to have practiced sorcery that resulted in the sudden death of one time Kagua Erave MP and peace advocator late Charles Miru Luta who passed away last month.

Late Luta as chairman of the district peace and good order committee was negotiating for peace over the vehicle accident deaths at Koali-Lombo village when he returned home, collapsed and suddenly passed away one evening last month.  Frustrated and suspicious of his sudden passing, angry relatives burnt down several houses and captured the six men suspected of practicing sorcery that resulted in Late Luta’s death. The sorcery suspects are believed to be from the Kulumbu tribe of Kala, Kunu, Koali Lombo, Rongoma and surrounding villages.  Southern Highlands Provincial police commander Supt Sibrom Papoto did say in the media that police are trying to save the men held captive as it was illegal.

An eyewitness who requested anonymity for fear of possible repercussions said the relatives have intoxicated the two main suspects (named) with drugs and forced them to reveal the names of fellow accomplices and sorcerers.  He said the alleged suspects are pierced with hot iron roads and threatened with death.  The source said police are simply outnumbered and over-powered and cannot do much to stop the relatives from hurting the suspects.  Catholic Bishop of Mendi Diocese Donald Lippert posted on his social media face book wall condemning the actions of the relatives to attack the alleged sorcerers.


Man escapes sorcery torture
Post Courier, October 14, 2016

ONE of the six men held captive, tortured and threatened with death over sorcery allegations at Rongoma village in Kagua, Southern Highlands Province, has escaped from the jaws of death.

Five others are still held captive while police are out-numbered and over-powered and cannot do much to rescue the men. The victim, Samuel Minapa, 54, of Koali Lombo village is among three others Rodney Yama, Hipson Yama and Kevin Yamo of the Molerepa clan in Koali Lombo. Mr Minapa said he is lucky to be alive after he escaped from his heavily armed captors.

He was among the three men who had their names called out by the two main sorcery suspects Roka Pola and Pendeta Kunu as accomplices in the alleged sorcery related death. Mr Minapa said they were blind-folded and whisked away last Tuesday evening, hidden and were watched by heavily armed guards.

“It was like in the movies.” He and all the three victims denied their part in the sorcery that is alleged to have caused the death of the late Charles Miru Luta, a former Kagua-Erave MP and peace advocate who passed away suddenly, last month. Mr Minapa’s denial only infuriated the kidnappers who continued to torture them and beat them up. “We were stripped naked and hung on the cross while the beating and interrogation continued,” Minapa said, showing his body and his private parts which has been burned with hot irons pierced.

Mr Minape said they were held captive for nearly a week since last Tuesday, and when word went out of their capture, police came in 10 truckloads last Saturday to the village, but did not even make any attempt to rescue them. Mr Minapa said he was lucky to have escaped from his captors after being assisted by a young man. Minapa is pleading with Police Commissioner Gari Baki to intervene and rescue the five others still held captive at the village. He said they were also forcefully intoxicated with illegal drug marijuana by his kidnappers, in order to reveal their part in Luta’s death.

Mr Minapa was treated with burns, bruises and other injuries to his body and private parts yesterday at the Rebiamul Catholic Health Centre in Mt Hagen, after he escaped by hiding in the bushes and jumping onto a passing vehicle to Mt Hagen on Wednesday evening.


HIV dilemma
Post Courier, October 14, 2016

UP TO 10,000 people living with HIV (PLHIV) face an uncertain future and thousands of women and children will be exposed to health risks after the Australian Government announced it will discontinue funding for recipients of HIV and reproductive health grants across Papua New Guinea.

The lives of the PLHIV are prolonged when they go on antiretroviral therapy (ART) as it suppresses the virus and stops the progression of the disease that leads to full blown AIDS. However, access to that life-saving treatment will end after the Australian High Commission announced its intention to discontinue funding for recipients of HIV and reproductive health grants. The discontinuation of funding will mean women and children loosing access to critical reproductive and child healthcare services, especially in rural and remote communities.

The Post-Courier has obtained a confidential Australian Government Briefing Note titled “The Potential Impact of Australian Government Funded Grant Closures on HIV and Reproductive Health Services in Papua New Guinea”, which was prepared on October 7, 2016 and contains details on 19 NGOs and civil society organisations that will be affected by the funding cut and recommends a smooth transition.

A Papua New Guinean woman living with HIV, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told this newspaper yesterday that she was not aware of the Australian Government’s funding of the life-saving medication and the discontinuation of its funding until last month. The ART has kept her alive for the last 14 years. An Australian High Commission spokesperson told this newspaper yesterday that Australia is not withdrawing support from PNG’s HIV response. “Australia is not withdrawing support from the HIV response in Papua New Guinea. All grants related to HIV/AIDS treatment will continue to the planned conclusion date of 30 June 2017, after which new arrangements will be put in place. We are working with the PNG National Department of Health and other stakeholders to help strengthen PNG’s ability to better and more sustainably deliver health services, including HIV/AIDS and reproductive health programs,” she said.

But the response from the National Government to the looming funding shortfall will be haphazard as its lead agency – the National AIDS Council Secretariat (NACS) – is currently at the center of a tug-of-war between NACS director Peter Bire and the council board. Mr Bire, whose contractor as director expired in March this year but continues to hold himself out as the legitimate appointee, told this newspaper that the Australian High Commission did not consult NACS and relevant State agencies before making its decision and the news is shocking.

The Australian Government Briefing Note states that there were 22,548 PLHIV receiving ART as of mid-2016 in PNG. The cessation of grants from the Australian government will affect 8-10,000 PLHIV.


Australia halts maternal child health initiative in PNG
Post Courier, October 17, 2016

AUSTRALIA has pulled the plug on one of its most successful health programs in PNG which helped to reduce infant mortality rates since 2011. This follows the announcement last Friday of the cessation of AusAID’s partnership with the Government’s maternal child health initiative program. Papua New Guinea Midwifery Society president and Port Moresby General Hospital maternal unit co-ordinator Jennifer Pyakalyia revealed this during the 13th PNG Nurses Research Symposium in Lae last Friday.

Mrs Pyakalyia said there are 73,000 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in PNG, and this has been the stepping stone for the PNG Government to the MCHI program commencing with AusAid support in collaboration with the Health Department in 2011.

She said the MCHI initiative had brought 11 overseas midwives, two obstetricians and in 2015 a New Zealand midwife to further coach and train midwives and nurses at PMGH, including the building of five midwifery schools that train more than 400 midwives with an average of 80 a year.

She said however, the program ceased this year and she is appealing to the Australian Government to reconsider its decision in ceasing this partnership and continue the relationship with midwives in PNG to work collaboratively in reducing the high mortality rate in the country.

Mrs Pyakalyia said to date, Papua New Guinea tops the list for maternal mortality rates in the Pacific, and is second in the world. She said high mortality rates still remain a challenge in PNG’s health care system currently seen with 800 midwives attending to 250,000 delivery cases annually, which is not good.

Mrs Pyakalyia said the high child mortality rates can only be reduced if there are enough midwifery nurses at all health facilities in PNG.

She said the focus now to reduce infant mortality rates is to develop competent and autonomous clinical midwives to be available in all 89 districts of PNG with the vision of ensuring all pregnant women have access to a safe supervised delivery.


Election 2017: Tribalism, ‘Nere Tere’ & voter exploitation of LPV

19 October 2016

THE EMERGING hype and calculated manoeuvrings in the run-up to the coming national elections of May-June 2017 have brought to light how limited preferential voting (LPV) can be exploited.

LPV was introduced to empower voters to choose candidates without being forced to select just one who would be the favoured candidate of tribe or clan and who must be voted for as an act of loyalty.

But unintentionally, LPV has empowered shrewd voters to find a way to aggrandise themselves during those months leading to the elections. The ‘Nere Tere’ (South Simbu slang for vote selling) system, referred to in a recent article by Mathias Kin, puts venal voters in a good place. They are effectively able to sell their LPV votes. Not once or twice but thrice.

A smart voter can easily make good money given the gullibility of candidates to do anything they can to secure the chance to step into the parliamentary chamber, that which now houses the ‘Big Book’.

There are some voters who can only sell their second and third preference votes. They do not have the liberty to sell first preferences as tribal responsibility binds that one to their tribe’s chosen contestant.

But smarter voters, equipped with slippery tongues and efficient lies, can sell their LPV votes to more than a dozen candidates; praying on the credulity of power-hungry and less vigilant wannabees desperate to buy their way into the Haus Tambaran.

How much a voter earns, monetarily or in kind, is a function of geography. Voters in the upper highlands of Papua New Guinea, with their proverbial sharp teeth, are set to bite away at anything coming their way. Brace yourselves, intending 2017 candidates. The LPV has empowered voters to become selfishly corrupt. It will be an intending candidate’s nightmare but a voter’s golden harvest time. Selling those preference votes multiple times to multiple candidates can yield a rich crop.


Agency to use bicycles to boost outreach activities

October 19, 2016 The National

The Catholic Health Service in Bougainville will introduce bicycles to carry out health programmes in rural areas. The agency has purchased 30 push bikes from Australia for workers to use in outreach activities, mainly immunisation programmes.
In the past years, Catholic Health Service had low immunisation coverage with most of its 13 health facilities reporting below 60 per cent coverage monthly. They are hoping that the bicycles would boost the service. The bikes will be presented to the sisters and officers in charge of respective facilities next month during their annual meeting at Hahela Parish, Buka Island.

‘Let’s show the world we’re as good as anyone,’ says Drekore

21 October 2016

JIMMY Drekore will refer to it as “a nation’s achievement” when, next Thursday, he receives the 2016 World of Children Health Award in New York City.

“Even though it’s Jimmy Drekore receiving the award, I will be proud to represent this beautiful country,” he told the media before leaving Port Moresby for the United States with wife Merlyn In 2005, Mr Drekore founded the Simbu Children Foundation, which strives to provide hope for sick and disadvantaged children. It is a charity that funds airfares, medical costs and expenses for sick village children from Simbu Province to enable them to travel to the city and overseas hospitals for medical tests, operations and other treatments that are unavailable locally.

Mr Drekore was also recognised in 2014 by the Digicel Foundation who gave him PNG’s Man of Honour Award.

In April, he was invited by World of Children to apply for the global award, referred to as the ‘Nobel Prize for Children’s Health’. He was among more than 20,000 nominations from 100 countries screened by 39 judges around the globe. “To convince them, I think, is something this country should be proud of that we are as good as anyone out there,” Mr Drekore said.

“Despite everything else, I think it’s about time there’s a good story being told to the world that we are like the rest of the world, doing something for our people and humanity across the globe.

“All in all, it’s something this country should be proud of,” he said.


An insider’s view on education reform (and corruption) in PNG: an interview with Peter Michael Magury

By Peter Michael Magury and Grant Walton on October 18, 2016

An insider’s view on education reform (and corruption) in PNG: an interview with Peter Michael Magury

What does it take to implement the biggest education reform in PNG’s recent history? As Statistical Manager with PNG’s National Department of Education (NDoE), Peter Michael Magury – who currently works with the PNG National Research Institute (NRI) – is well positioned to answer this question. Peter was in the engine room of education reform as the Tuition Fee Free (TFF) policy rolled out in 2012. In a conversation with the Development Policy Centre’s Grant Walton, Peter reflected on the magnitude of the challenge that faced him and his colleagues, and some of the ways they coped with the complexity, long hours, and even offers of bribes, as they oversaw the roll-out of this large-scale policy.

One of the key challenges the NDoE faced in implementing the TFF was the short timeframe in which they needed to deliver it. As outlined here, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced the policy in August 2011, which caught the NDoE by surprise – they’d been planning to increase student enrolments much more slowly. Despite this, the response was quick: by January 2012 the NDoE had released a policy outlining how the TFF would be administered.

This time pressure jolted many in the department into action. To get subsidies for enrolled students out to schools before the start of the school year, Peter and his colleagues spent long days and nights at the office. NDoE officers took turns sleeping at their desks (often without pillows or blankets), while working through the night. While Peter sorted through payments for thousands of schools across the country, he barely saw his family. Dedication of this kind is not generally associated with the PNG public service, but on this occasion many NDoE staff went to extraordinary lengths to get funding to schools.

The tight timeline made explaining the policy to key stakeholders difficult. This resulted in confusion, particularly amongst school management and parents. Peter devoted a lot of time to explaining how the payment would be calculated and how much schools should expect. Yet a number of schools failed to provide enrolment details on which the subsidy payment were to be based, making it difficult for the NDoE to get funding out to schools. Despite these challenges, according to Peter, three-quarters of all schools registered with the NDoE had their funding delivered before the start of the school year, a figure that he claims – and the NRI and ANU’s Lost Decade? report confirms – rose through the first year of implementation (2012). With the promise of more funds and confusion about how subsidies would be calculated, some principals and school managers thought they could influence their allocation. Peter said:

There were a lot of demands coming from principals, and school’s board of management. Sometimes they wanted to get the school fee urgently. And so they would try to give you some money to speed up the process or inflate the fees, so they would get more money.

Despite this pressure Peter insists he did “not accept cash for inflating the TFF [enrolment] counts” (which would result in higher payments); however, he believes many others have been seduced by the lure of a quick kina. The revelation that subsidies worth 50 million kina were paid to ghost schools was, he believes, caused by high levels of collusion between education officials: People in the district, and the province, they knew that those schools were closed or suspended, they still submitted the census forms to get more funds. They also knew that schools without school codes are not registered schools.


Violence activist needs help
Post Courier,
October 26, 2016

GENDER-based violence survivor Joy Wartovo’s help desk needs help.

Joy Wartovo was featured in Post-Courier, in 2012 after her plight to save her two children and herself from her violent policeman husband brought a huge public discussion, including the international community on PNG’s gender-based violence.

The following year, she won the bravery and courage award from the City Pharmacy Pride of PNG Women’s awards. Joy now lives in her home in Raluana village, East New Britain, and has created an outreach program that reaches out to survivors of gender-based violence.

She is not a trained counsellor but calls herself a “brukim bush” counsellor, she’s found home to be a place full of women, girls and children in need of support. Outreach Violence Desk was set up last month.

Prior to that, Ms Wartovo has been counselling victims like close friends and giving advice to people enquiring on complaints they have that needs to be reported. She also helps the illiterate people write up affidavits and statements for their complaints.

“I have had challenges on what I was doing but I knew it was the right thing to do,” she said.

A September workshop on GBV gave her insights through networking with participants on how to help each other set up projects to curb gender violence.

She picked up lots of training on how she could educate the Tolai women and girls on issues relating to gender-based violence, human rights and child abuse, which she says is on the rise in East New Britain Province.

In the lead up to the Universal Children’s Day on November 20, Ms Wartovo is empowered and plans to further educate her community raise awareness about child abuse.

“Where do you go to report if you fall victim to any form of abuse? Who should you seek help for counseling? These are some questions we need to answer.

“We plan to use any possible venues to raise the awareness toward and celebrate.

“My aim is to educate children of all age groups on what child abuse is? Where do you go to report if you fall victim to any form of abuse? Who should you seek help for counseling?” she said.

She said education and awareness starts at home and that is the emphasis she is making.

Ms Wartvo plans to work with schools and raise the awareness with children.


Trafficking in PNG
Post Courier, October 26, 2016

PEOPLE really need to understand the meaning of human trafficking before we can talk about efforts to combat human trafficking.

“Often people think trafficking requires movement because of the name of the crime but actually people don’t need to be moved in order to be subjected to human trafficking.

The technical definition is the use of force, fraud or coercion to exploit a person for profit,” explained Ms Kreider.

“My office, they coordinate the U.S Government’s anti-trafficking efforts but then we also lead our foreign policy efforts to try to help countries all around the world to better combat human trafficking because this is really a problem that happens in every country around the world.”

I’m here this week to meet with the government and nongovernmental organisations and other stakeholders to talk about human trafficking.

“To talk about the law that was passed a couple of years ago and how those efforts are coming in to address the issue and to try help people as they make progress on combatting the crime and to raise awareness to the issue.

“The Criminal Code was amended in 2013 to add an amendment that prohibits all forms of human trafficking. “And that was the first time that all forms of human trafficking were criminalised here in Papua New Guinea.”


Special report


Cheats cheated

The National, October 25

A GROUP of Grade 12 students went on a rampage in their school after realising that the answer sheets they had bought from a man before the national examinations started last week were fake.
Eastern Highlands provincial police commander Superintendent Alex N’Drasal said police were investigating the incident involving the students from Asaroka Secondary School outside Goroka.
He said the students had collected K1000 to buy the answers sheets from the man.
They realised after the completion of the national examinations last Friday that the answers sheets were fake. “They had memorised all the answers and (used them) in their examination papers,” he said.

“So after the examination, they destroyed school properties. The principal called the police. But the students had escaped (when police arrived). We are now investigating the damage and will soon round them up.”  He said reports reaching his office indicated that many Grade 10 and 12 students in the province had been buying fake answer sheets which they thought were genuine.
Meanwhile, N’Drasal said a man arrested earlier for attempting to sell Grade 10 and 12 students at the Lufa Secondary School “answer sheets” had been released from police custody.
Margaret’s Return – Positive Initiative by Catholic Church in Enga

Margaret, from Pina in Enga, was tortured after having been accused of causing a young boy to faint. The boy on recovering said that his fainting had been caused by witchcraft from Margaret.  She was rescued by the diocesan youth coordinator and an expatriate Lutheran Missionary along with help from Bishop Arnold Orowae and Sr. John Mary, FIHM of the Catholic Diocese of Wabag. Margaret was admitted to the Yampu Health Centre with severe burns over much of her body on 29th August 2016. She was discharged from the hospital on 20th September and was given a place to stay in a community near Yampu. On 29th September there was the first attempt at mediation with people at Pina asking how they could solve the issue in a Christian way.  The Diocesan Papa Group coordinator John Yukus and the Diocesan Youth Coordinator worked together to resolve the issue. The Catholic Bishop of Wabag instructed the Catholic faithful to say sorry to Margaret on behalf of their tribe and to welcome her back to the community.

On the 23 October 2016 the Diocesan Papa Group brought Margaret to Pina. The Bishop (in his absence) sent a Deacon with the group and let them use his car. The group included

Diocesan Papa Group Coordinator John Yukus

Pompobus Parish Chairman: Joe Berom

Pompobus Parish:  Lazarus Pitu

Pompobus Parish:  James Pyarangae

Pompobus Parish:  James Pyamban

Sari Parish: Timothy Kurai

Sari Parish: John Pambu

Sari Parish and OMS chair: Anton Yongapen

Deacon Stephen Yange (Sikiro)

Fr. Louis Kandamain – Pina parish

Pina Parish:  Dickson Tanda

Pina Parish:  Andrew Lukas

Par Parish: Petrus Andanda

Pina (Lakopenda Health centre OIC): Ted Dale

At the meeting John Yukus said how he had taken care of Margaret for a month but that it is difficult because he has many children to take care of. He wanted the people of Pina, especially the Sikin clan to take her back to her community.

Anton Yongapen, magistrate with OMS told the people not to do anything against Margaret.  Any concerns should be raised before the court. He warned all people especially the man that, you will be charged or arrested if the matter was taken to court. Therefore, i encourage you not to believe any Sanguma around in your community.

The men’s group told the people at Pina not to believe in “sanguma”.  They urged the people at Pina to do away with belief in sanguma because it is a false belief.  “Our forefathers had no belief in such a thing so we should not believe in such things.”

The brother of the “victim” said sorry to Margaret for what had been done to her. He said he was sorry for what they had done to her because of the sickness of his small brother.  He joined with the others declaring that “sanguma” is a false belief. He gave Margaret one pig, and the Christian community at Pina gave her some money (K100) to support their apology. The deputy chairman of the parish apologised to Margaret for not being around when she was accused in August.  They were elsewhere attending the funeral for a catechist and were not present when she was tortured by some boys from the village.  The church leader gave her K100 along with the apology.  He said that “if anything happens to you Margaret we will die with you. Those who are sanguma believers can kill us all. “

In accepting their apology Margaret said that she had nothing to do with sanguma.  It was people who believed in sanguma who accused and tortured her. “What you did you did it to your own sister. In the eyes of God and the people of God I forgive you for what you did to me your own sister.  I forgive you and I pray that God will forgive you for what you did to me.”  After that she accepted the pig and the money. All people welcomed Margaret with tears and huge her and welcome her back to the community.

A man from the Sikin people said that they were mistaken and they had done wrong.  They conveyed also their apology to Bishop Arnold Orowae.  They asked the Bishop to forgive them and that he could come to Pina again as usual.   They concluded that belief in sanguma is wrong and that if anyone dies and they want to accuse Margaret, that they will take the matter to court. If anyone from neighbouring tribe of Pina dies and try to blame Sikin or accuse  Margaret we will take the matter to court. This warning message must clear and every people living around Aiel valley must understand the cause for the death and do not try to accuse anyone in future.

The head of the local Health Centre said that people in the village are not going to work, but they spend their days playing cards and then they complain that Margaret “did it to us.”  He warned the people of Pina not to talk about sanguma and that they should take people who are sick to the health centre for treatment. He warned that if anything happens let doctors and nurses tell you the cause of the sickness or death.

[Phone interview with Dickson Tanda 24th October 2016]

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Social Concerns Notes – September 2016

Australia & PNG warn Manus detainees: ‘No future for you here’

AUSTRALIA and Papua New Guinea are escalating efforts to clear the Manus Island detention centre, telling refugees they must settle elsewhere in PNG, while warning they are preparing to deport asylum seekers whose protection claims fail.

A four-page “communication guide” given to Manus Island detainees on Tuesday tells them “there is no future for you here”: The purpose of this centre is for refugee status processing. All processing will end soon If you are a refugee, you can either settle in PNG or depart from PNG to any country where you have a right to live. If you are not a refugee, you can either voluntarily depart from PNG to any country where you can have a right to live. The police may direct the movement of those who refuse to cooperate

Those found to be refugees will be moved to Foxtrot compound. Those with a ‘negative’ assessment will be moved to Mike. The document hints at “changes to the services and conditions” for the different groups. Those inside the detention believe those found not to be refugees will have their conditions significantly worsened in an effort to encourage them to leave. Their rights to limited movement, and their ability to access cigarettes, phone credit at the internal store, are expected to be cut.

“We will give you further information about these changes soon,” the document says. The inducements for people to leave PNG – in the form of cash payments – have been raised, reportedly up to $20,000, though this is denied by the immigration department. Efforts to resettle refugees in PNG have foundered. PNG told the UN last week more than 70 people had been resettled but the Guardian understands this figure includes refugees with severe medical conditions who have been moved to a Port Moresby hotel so they can access the capital’s hospital. They remain dependent on Australian government-funded support. Fewer than 20 have successfully found houses and ongoing employment.

Many of those who were moved, mostly to Lae, have been assaulted, robbed and, in one case, left sleeping on the streets. Several have travelled back to Manus and tried to break back into detention.

 Eviction Attempt on West Papuans    Distraught West Papuan refugees in Port Moresby are pleading with the Government of Papua New Guinea to send them to a third country following another eviction attempt on them. The refugees say the eviction attempt and the court battle that they are pursuing over the property under dispute shows a distinct lack of government support to them as refugees. The eviction exercise began around midday today on a property in Port Moresby by members of the Hohola police station. Donatus Karuri, has been living on this property for over 30 years. He says they were not give any prior eviction notice. The police showed up this morning and forced them to start vacating the premises.

“Where will we go?” he asks. The property in Hohola, has become an informal refugee camp for West Papuans who have come to PNG seeking safety and protection. Donatus said this eviction attempt and the fact that they are representing themselves in court shows the lack of PNG government concern over their plight. “If the PNG government is not concerned, send us to a third country,” Donatus pleaded, repeating a plea he has been making for some time now because of the lack of government support to them as refugees. More than 50 men, women and children live on the property in Hohola. While the title of the property is a matter before the courts, the bigger question remains; How best will the PNG government provide practical support towards people who have been recognised as refugees, and are living on PNG soil.


Australia Sounds Alarm on Rice

Sometimes all the hallmarks of an impending disaster are plain to see. The course of action has been charted and the engine is running at full steam, but a myriad of obstacles both big and small cover the tracks. Is there anything that can stop the train before it is too late? In this case the proverbial train is PNG’s proposed rice policy which aims to make the country’s rice production self-sufficient by 2030. This is no small task. However, it seems that the PNG government is determined to press ahead.

The challenge is to increase domestic rice production by 20-fold, from around 15,000 tons currently to 300,000 tons by 2030, according to the Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, Tommy Tomscoll, in his introduction of the policy in parliament. Despite a poor track record of previous government attempts to increase rice production by smallholder farmers, the government seems convinced that a new super-sized approach of focusing on large-scale highly mechanised irrigated farming will generate success.

Under the proposal, pioneering status will be granted to the investor willing to commit a large amount of funds (at least K200 million but possibly over US$2 billion) to build large scale rice farms in PNG. The pioneer investor will then receive protection and concessions to help it establish production, brand recognition and a customer base.

It just so happens that an Indonesian backed company – Naima Agro-Industry Ltd – has been negotiating with the PNG government over the last eight years to invest US$2 billion in a Central Province rice project. This project was approved earlier this year, and it may not come as a surprise that Naima has been slated to receive pioneer status. According to Trukai Industries, which currently commands an 80 per cent share of the PNG rice market, the PNG government is planning to implement an import quota system which would provide Naima with control over 80 per cent of the PNG rice market, clearly at Trukai’s expense.

There are two important points to note here. First, the proposed quota system will not require Naima to supply 80 per cent of the PNG rice market with domestically grown rice but instead allow it to supply it through imported rice. Second, Naima’s 80 per cent share of the PNG rice market would be the result of protective measures provided to it by the PNG government. This is in contrast to Trukai’s current 80 per cent market share, which according to the ICCC’s Review reflects its product quality, strong distribution network, and marketing efforts, rather than any exercise of market power.

Under the proposal, total rice imports will be restricted, and because increases in domestic rice production are unlikely to occur for many years, the amount of rice supplied in PNG will fall relative to demand. The likely result will be an increase in rice prices in PNG. There is no guarantee that these profits will be used to invest in domestic rice production in PNG at all, and if anything there may be a strong incentive for Naima to limit increases in PNG rice production to the extent that it keeps rice prices high.

How high can the price of rice in PNG go?  [See the url for the whole article].


PNG spots high rates child violence in Asia-Pacific region
Post Courier. September 08,2016, 02:12 am

ALTHOUGH there is no reliable national data on violence against children, the few available small scale studies have demonstrated that children in Papua New Guinea experience some of the highest rates of violence in the Asia Pacific Region, a study has revealed. According to United Nation International Children’s Emergency Fund PNG End Violence against Children Campaign: 2016-2017 Strategy Summary, these children experience physical, sexual and emotional violence and around 80 per cent verbal abuse. The study also revealed that general lawlessness contributed to around 50 per cent of children feeling unsafe in their communities at night. 85 per cent of men reported that they beat their children while 29 per cent of children were beaten at least once a week by male family members.

The report also summarised that sexual violence is also perpetrated against children where in some areas in the country, 55 per cent of children experience some form of sexual abuse. Young girls and those living with relatives and step parents are at higher risk of sexual violence perpetrated against them by male relatives, the study showed. Available evidence from a domestic violence center in Port Moresby indicates that 60 per cent of children who went to the centre with their abused mothers had been abused as well. As a result of these, many more children are made vulnerable through the endemic rates of violence perpetrated against women. According to the study, some of the things that are linked to increased vulnerability of girls and women to violence and abuse are forms of sexual exploitation such as early marriage, polygamy, and the payment of bride price remains legal and are commonly practiced in many communities in PNG, with some girls forced to marry as early as 12 years old.


Madang settlements progress
Post Courier. September 06, 2016

Three urban settlements in Madang province that are notorious for crime have turned a new leaf.

Pilot poultry projects were established recently at Sisiak 3, Finch road and Kerema compound with their youth taking ownership and pushing for more participation by their peers.

According to project coordinator Chris Torot, the project is an initiative of the crime prevention and restoration justice office, which the Madang provincial government has undertaken to facilitate.

“These projects are a window for other projects that the provincial government will look forward to carry out in the settlements and other areas in the province. The team is grateful for the support of the provincial administrator who has been supportive to see the project is carried out,” said Mr Torot.

Under the Department of Justice and Attorney General, the poultry project is a priority area and would enable the engagement of youths in development projects such as a poultry business to sustain their livelihoods. “The main aim of the project is to see that youths could take responsibility to participate in the projects therefore could reduce bad social behavior and crime rates in the province,” he said.

Meanwhile youths in the three pilot project areas have vowed to work together with stakeholders in similar projects to reduce law and order issues in the province.


B’ville family finds refuge in Australia
Post Courier, September 09,2016

THE family of a primary school teacher beheaded for allegedly practicing sorcery in Bougainville in April, 2013, are now Australian refugees.

Former primary school teacher Helen Rumbali was beheaded by a mob in Lopele village, Southern Bougainville, after being accused of sorcery. The ordeal involved torture for three days and nights, before finally being beheaded. Houses were burnt down and the immediate family of the accused fled the village and eventually evacuated to a safe house out of Bougainville. The ordeal has been traumatising for the Rumbali family who have now found a new home outside of Bougainville. This week, it was officially announced that the family have successfully sought refugee status in Australia.

It was reported in The Australian newspaper this week that the Refugee Review Tribunal ruled that PNG police were unable to guarantee the safety of the man and his family, who fled their remote Bougainville village after attacks on their immediate and extended relatives over sorcery claims.

But The Australian newspaper reported that an unpublished copy of the case determination, seen by The Australian, suggested the use of sorcery as a justification for violent attacks which may actually be increasing despite a law change following the 2013 torture and murder of a school teacher in southern Bougainville by a mob convinced she was a witch. “The beheading of Helen Rumbali was the catalyst for the repeal of the Sorcery Act 1971, which provided a partial legal defence to a defendant charged with murder if he or she suspected the victim of black magic,’’ the tribunal noted. “(However) more recent reports indicate that in some parts of the country, sorcery-related violence has actually increased after 2013.” Experts on PNG also said sorcery claims were sometimes maliciously levelled at individuals during disputes about money or between families.


Rural health centres in Chimbu reduce operations

September 9, 2016 The National

TEN rural health centres run by the Catholic Church in Chimbu have scaled down operations.
That has put pressure on the healthcare system in the province, the chief executive officer of the Kundiawa General Hospital, Mathew Kaluvia, says. Kaluvia told The National yesterday that Catholic Health Services secretary Sr Elizabeth Koai advised KGH in a letter that the shutting down of 10 rural health centres was due to lack of resources and funding from the Government. Koai said they could not continue to provide health services because there was no funds to pay staff and no money to sustain operations.
She said they tried to continue to operate with limited resources available until they were exhausted.
Kaluvia is concerned about the impact it was going to have and has requested urgent intervention from the Health Department and the Government. “All the patients in these rural health centres are seeking medical treatment at the hospital and we are now running out of medicines,” he said.
“Our medical personnel are also becoming exhausted and it’s a very tough situation for us here on the ground.

Understanding needed on violence against children

September 9, 2016 The National

LITTLE priority is given to child protection due to a lack of general understanding about violence against children. This is among a list of findings from the Save the Children report on The Children Protection Systems in PNG which was launched yesterday. Family PNG operations manager Denga Ilave said there was a big need for crisis accommodation for children while their cases were processed. She said more than 10 child abuse cases in Lae had been committed through the national court and two of them were prosecuted.
“Two of those cases have been prosecuted and we are happy for those results and it’s the collective efforts of everyone that’s working together,” Ilave said.
“Our programme is to provide case management services to family and sexual violence survivors and child abuse.
“Children’s Crisis Centre in Lae has very limited space to accommodate children needing immediate crisis accommodation. “Child abuse cases are very critical and have to be placed where they are safe and we still have child abuse cases that need crisis accommodation.” Ilave acknowledged the many non-governmental organisations and faith-based organisations that were providing services and awareness in terms of prevention. “I would like to recognise many of these NGOs that we work together. I hope that with all these challenges, we can work together. “With the report that Save the Children has launched, it helps me feel supported.

Addicts come clean

September 9, 2016 The National

MORE than 1000 people in Western Highlands have admitted publically that they are marijuana addicts and promised to change. Of that, 35 are women, 70 high and secondary school students and 16 others appear to have lost their senses, according to an advocate against marijuana. The figures were released on Wednesday by the chairman of the Stopim Drug Marijuana (SDM) association Ps Johnny Mawa from Western Highlands.
Mawa said the association was formed in 2011 at Kolge village outside Mt Hagen city and the purpose of it was to deal with the use of marijuana and save the affected population. He said marijuana was becoming a major problem and with awareness, it could change the people. Mawa said law enforcers such as the police and the court could impose heavy penalties but this would not do much as people would still get to live their lifestyles. He said there could be more addicts adding that the association was carrying out awareness with the support of SDM members who were using their own resources and money.
“My team is reaching out to the entire province as we have seen that marijuana is the root cause of every problem here,” Mawa said.


Violence cases increasing, Soi says

September 9, 2016 The National

THERE is an increase in cases of violence against women and children being reported to the Port Moresby General Hospital Family Support Centre, clinic manager Tessie Soi says. Soi said 70 per cent of children under the age of 16 have been brought to the centre and the rate was alarming since people from all over Papua New Guinea resided in Port Moresby. “I like to urge Papua New Guineans out there, please, if anyone is sexually abused or violated, bring them to the centre within the 72 hours to prevent HIV, pregnancy, hepatitis B,” she said. “We continue with the psychological first aid then we just do counselling then just trying to tell them that they are not at fault especially children.”
She said in a month they received over 30 patients and every year they saw over 1000 patients and that has increased compared to past years. “The severity of physical abuse is getting worse, before we were seeing just a black eye and now it’s cut and chopping and all those sorts of things and gang rapes are becoming high again,” she said.
Church Partnerships Program supports training for HIV counsellors
Post Courier, September 08, 2016

People living with HIV are being trained to become HIV-counsellors under a church-led initiative to improve the level of support to available to those with the virus. Twenty-five people living with HIV and their carers from across the Highlands region attended a recent counsellor training session in Mt Hagen hosted by the United Church of PNG. The session was funded by the Church Partnership Program – a successful partnership between the Australian Government, Papua New Guinea’s seven mainline churches and their seven respective Australian faith-based NGOs. HIV-positive woman Monica Joe, 40, from Hela Province, was one of 25 participants who attended the HIV and AIDS counselling session, hosted by the United Church of PNG. She said she was grateful for the assistance she received from the Kupari Voluntary Counselling and Testing centre, run by the Catholic Church. “In 2013, I took a rapid blood test at the Kupari VCT centre, as this was the only centre in my area offering care services to people living with HIV,” Ms Joe said. “When I found out about my status, I realised I had to do more to sustain my life for the sake of my children.” “I started to take the antiretroviral drugs which were introduced that year then worked for the centre as a counsellor and mentor for women living with the virus. Ms Joe said networks already existed in churches – such as youth ministries, and women’s and men’s fellowships – which could be used to sensitise congregations to the needs of HIV positive people.


Church’s health services in crisis

September 13, 2016 The National

CHURCH health services in Northern will shut down at the end this month if Government funding is not forthcoming, Anglican archbishop Clive Igara says. He said that 50 per cent of the health services in the province were run by the Anglican Church’s health services. “We are in a crisis situation because we have not been receiving the regular monthly grants for almost four months now,” Igara told The National yesterday. “The last grants we received were in June this year and that was it. “We have not received any funding since and we are in a very critical situation. “The church health services have started scaling down their manpower and the next step would be to shut down.”

Schools yet to get full funding

September 13, 2016 The National

SCHOOLS in National Capital District have not received their full allocation of funding under the Government’s tuition fee free (TFF) policy and most of them are just surviving. One of the biggest schools in NCD, Wardstrip Primary, with a roll of more than 3,000, is struggling, like others, to keep up with expenses and general operation of the school, head teacher Emily Ricky says. Ricky said the policy for the allocation of the TFF had changed over the years and this year the schools were receiving funding in three components. “They said they were going to pay the cash for administration. Commodity and infrastructure would be held back,” Ricky said. “They have confused us, this term for this quarter we received only K93,000 which is just one bit of the payment. They paid us K97,000 and then K73,000 (in the first and second quarters).
“Last year, we were paid K400,000 in the first batch and now we are receiving much lesser.
“They would pay one component from the ratio that they accumulated for the number of children we had and we would receive about K400,000.
“This year, the policy has changed. “We are only getting 30 per cent for the cash component so that’s not enough to run the school administration and all the little expenditures like bills. “When that cash component comes, we are expected to cover everything, maintenance, buy text books and administrations.” School treasurer Matthew Kulimbao said in 2013 and 2014, the Government paid in two batches. “The costs should cover all the damage, property repair and all these expenses but that’s all being excluded now,” he said. “As the biggest primary school in NCD with an enrolment of 3100 and a large number of teachers, we are struggling to manage within our means. “They paid 70 per cent for the first lot and 30 per cent towards the end of the year. But starting last year and this year, we don’t know what component they are paying.
Keep it below 1.5 – impacts of climate change on the Pacific

THE CALLS by Pacific small island developing states to curb emissions and reduce climate change impact are gradually being heard post the 2015 Paris Agreement. The reality is that some of these islands are headed for total annihilation. A 2014 United Nations report has locked in a 1.3 meter sea level rise, even if we reduce emissions tomorrow. This was a conservative estimate and other projections suggest that it may already be too late for some populations. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a 2 meter rise in sea level will see a displacement of close to two million people. This would wipe out atoll nations across the Pacific.

Extreme weather events such as the increased frequency and stronger intensity of cyclones, extreme and prolonged droughts, ocean acidification, water table contamination by salt water and coastal erosion are all threatening our Pacific people. In February, the Fiji islands witnessed the strongest ever cyclone in the southern hemisphere with an estimated $US1.4 billion of damage. As many as 40% of Fiji’s population was affected and many villages are still recovering in the wake of the destruction. Tropical cyclone Zena also wreaked havoc on Tonga and Fiji in April, killing three people. A similar disaster, severe tropical cyclone Pam in 2015, inundated and destroyed two of Tuvalu’s islands.

Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Kiribati have recently faced similar disasters and the terrifying consequences have led to redefining the concept of security in the 21st century. The 2015-2016 El Nino events affected 2.7 million people in Papua New Guinea, where the government spent more than $US60 million in development funds. This was one of the worst droughts to hit the Pacific. The UN estimated around 4.3 million people in 12 Pacific countries were affected.

We must respect the right to live and exist and to save our future. As stated by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the small islands are a magnifying glass; exposing the vulnerabilities that all countries around the world may face in the future. And they know the world needs to act now because, if it fails to do so, it will condemn our future and the future of everyone on the planet.


EU Launches ‘2016-2020 Human Rights and Democracy Country Strategy’ for Papua New Guinea

Port Moresby, 9 September 2016 The European Union (EU) and two of its Member States, France and United Kingdom, have recently endorsed a five-year ‘2016-2020 Country Strategy on Human Rights and Democracy for Papua New Guinea’. The main activities to drive the strategy will be financed under the European Instrument for Human Rights and Democracy (EIDHR), other relevant financing instruments, and through targeted public diplomacy.
The strategy identifies three priority areas which the European Union, jointly with France and United Kingdom, willpursue in PNG. These are to:
· Promote a Human Rights culture in Papua New Guinea society,
· Support the ratification and implementation of Human Rights international conventions and instruments, and
· Strengthen good governance, democracy and rule of law.
In announcing this strategy, the EU Delegation and its Member States, France and United Kingdom, issue the following joint statement: “Papua New Guinea society is going through a vibrant transformation and the human rights landscape is evolving, while adequate responses and implementation by Government agencies are still progressing. Against this background, the EU Delegation and EU Member States will explore opportunities to align with government efforts and support areas where meaningful impact can be achieved.” The strategy targets to promote activities in two separate ways. It aims to build on former and ongoing projects, in particular initiatives to prevent violence against women, through awareness raising, targeting leadership and decision makers and empowering survivors. It will also promote activities that support Human Rights Defenders, provide technical assistance to counter People Trafficking or assist with the development of the Public Finance Management Road Map. Moreover, the strategy will also explore issues such as empowering women, raising awareness of LGBTI rights, advocacy of death penalty abolition, international treaties compliance, establishment of a Human Rights Institution and support to the Referendum on Bougainville.

Read more:


PNG’s economic history: a failure to deliver to the people   Paul Flanagan | Edited extracts

The PNG economy, after allowing for inflation, is 3.3 times larger than in 1975. Many people doubted that this would be possible at the time of Independence given the challenges and uncertainties facing the new country. This growth is probably clearest in Port Moresby – it is a much more modern city with freeways, flyovers, luxury hotels, traffic jams, pollution, large shopping complexes and many taller buildings downtown. This in part reflects the strong urban bias of PNG’s economic policies.

For PNG, almost all of this real growth can be accounted for from population increase. Since Independence, the population has risen from 2.9 million to an estimated 7.6 million. For every Papua New Guinean at the time of independence, there are now 2.6 people. The number of people in the formal sector has more than doubled according to Bank PNG business surveys. While jobs growth is positive (a 2.1 times increase from 1978-2014), it is disappointing that it has not even kept up with population (a 2.6 times increase). In other words, the share of working-age people getting jobs in the formal economy has been falling. This is not inclusive growth.

The start of production from the Kutubu oil fields and new mines in the early 1990s led to massive increases in GDP of around 36% between 1991 and 1994 (even larger than the 25% increase in 2014 and 2015 driven by the commencement of the PNG LNG project). However, by 1994, PNG had fallen into recession.  And, since 2015, history is repeating itself as PNG has probably fallen into recession again after the promise of rivers of resource revenues led to poor fiscal, monetary and structural policies.

A better measure of economic performance is to focus on non-resource GDP which grew very slowly for the first two decades from 1980. Over the late 2000s, there was more rapid growth, but this had slowed by 2010. An even better measure of economic performance is to use per capita figures – how much income is available per person. This trended down through both the 1980s and 1990s.

The sharpest decline was related to the economic crisis of the late 1990s. A pattern of recovery slowly commenced from 2005, but this has flattened out since 2012 and is now in serious decline.

By 2015, using a five-year average, incomes are 4% lower than they were in 1980 and the drop in real incomes is larger if the comparison is made between 1980 and 2015 – a drop of 8%. On this key measure of economic well-being, real incomes in PNG have gone backwards. And emerging data for 2016 indicates this is getting worse. This is very disappointing, and a long way from the aspirations of people at the time of Independence. It is also a long way from future aspirations shown in Vision 2050. [See the full article at the url above]

Sorcery related killings on a rise
Post Courier, Sept 19, 2016

NORTHERN Province police commander Lincoln Gerari has received a threat on his life.The threat was issued following the deployment of police to his Katuna village in the North Coast area of the province, which saw his fellow clansmen threaten him with death through sorcery.

This has now earned the ire of the PPC who said that with such threats, people who believe in sorcery have gone on to kill innocent people without any evidence. “What these people have done, they have killed another person after claiming they (deceased) killed another through sorcery. You cannot prove a sorcery killing so why should you kill another person which will land you in jail. I cannot comprehend what these people are thinking,” MrGerari said. He added that the recent barbaric killing of a 45-year-old father and his 29-year-old son who had their heads chopped off by villagers at Mora in the Ijivitari district as suspects of sorcery was not right. He revealed that the two blamed each other openly over the killing of a young man by a crocodile. They were then brought before the village and without evidence and suspecting sorcery they had their necks chopped off. “It is high time the government reintroduced the repealed Sorcery Act. This will allow police to act upon sorcery related cases which will in turn save innocent lives and stop unnecessary sorcery killings,” he said. In another case 12 men in the same district are on the run after they accused a man of sorcery and killed his brother. They also destroyed his house and his food garden at Uvivi village. Mr Gerari said people are openly accusing others of sorcery so the government should reintroduce the Sorcery Act and allow the police to deal with it. He said that with sorcery cases there would be cause to look at the circumstantial evidence presented and thus get an elder in the village to describe what can be used in sorcery. This would then allow for the evidence to be presented as admissible or opinion evidence. I want the government to intervene and do something about sorcery related killings, Mr Gerari said.


Delay of TFF to affect students
Post Courier, September 21, 2016

THOUSANDS of students attending five secondary and seven high schools throughout Bouganville will be going home early because the schools are yet to receive their term three tuition fee free school subsidies. Principals of these schools met yesterday and decided to send all students home one week early before the Term Three break and not to return for Term Four after the one-week break.

The slow release of the term three TFF school subsidies has frustrated many service providers in the autonomous region who were longer willing to supply the schools on credit basis because they have already incurred high debts for their services. Secondary and High Schools Forum chairman Martin Takali, who is Hutjena Secondary School principal, said at the meeting yesterday that if the money did not reach the schools by week’s end “we will not continue Term 4 and this will greatly affect the Grade 10 and Grade 12 examinations coming up in week two, three and four next term.” Mr Takali said that if the Education Department did pay, then it must pay for both terms Three and Four in full because the Term Three payment will cover the expenses that had already been incurred by the schools from service providers.


Govt owes Church agencies
Post Courier, September 21, 2016

THE church health agencies have not received funds to pay for staff salaries for the month of August and operational cost for more than K8 million, says Christian Health Services chief executive officer Joseph Sika. He said that despite an assurance by Health Secretary Pascoe Kase that some money had been released for July and August, the information was incorrect because staff have not been paid for the past three pay days which is a total of six weeks.

On Monday Mr Kase confirmed the released of funds and K20 million captured in the Supplementary Budget, was sufficient enough to take the Church Health Services right through the end of this year. Mr Sika said that K9.4 million was released to the agency headquarters in July which included a shortfall from the previous month. For the month of August, the church agencies have not received just over K8 million to cater for staff salaries and the operational component. The agency receives about K8 million monthly under revised budget from a previous K12 million. “Government is not serious about the funding. This is affecting service delivery,” Mr Sika said. Mr Sika said that from verbal reports reaching his office, scale-down of services and cuts in staff ceiling have happened for Jiwaka (Kujip), Chimbu (nine facilities), Southern Highlands, West Sepik (Raiho), Madang, and Milne Bay and Northern.

These health facilities have scaled down services but not totally shut down. Christian Health Services has a staff ceiling of 3290 and 780 health facilities nationwide


Battling TB on the frontline in PNG
Post Courier, September 19,2016, 06:00 pm

For Papua New Guinean health worker Celestine I’Ova, tackling the tuberculosis (TB) epidemic in her country has become somewhat of a personal crusade, after losing both of her parents to TB and contracting the disease herself. More than 9,000 people have died from TB in PNG over the past three years – including hundreds of children – and it is people like Celestine working on the frontline who urgently need support to tackle this terrible but treatable disease. “I always wanted to help sick people get better, but I never wanted to work with TB patients. I was afraid I would catch it,” says Celestine.  Celestine is a health worker at a small rural clinic in Papua New Guinea’s Central Province. The clinic is a basic shack, typical of many across PNG. There are just six staff to provide support for around 15,000 people, some of them travelling six hours by boat for medical attention.

In PNG, TB is a growing epidemic. Over the past three years, it has killed 9,000 people in the Pacific island nation, with children particularly susceptible to the most disabling forms of the disease. By comparison, the Ebola virus, which galvanised such international fear and concern, killed 11,300 people globally in the same period.


Article on economy


Refugees refuse offer

September 23, 2016 The National

FOREIGN Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato says most refugees based at the Manus regional processing centre have refused to be resettled in PNG. They want a third country to accept them, he said. Pato, who co-chaired a recent United Nations General Assembly meeting to address the huge movements of refugees and migrants, told of the constraints PNG faced in dealing with refugees and migrants. “Papua New Guinea currently hosts 1,007 refugees and other migrants from around the world at the regional processing facility on Manus Island,” he said. “And of these, 671 are prima facie refugees, 204 asylum seekers and 132 migrants.” He said the Manus centre was also a demonstration of PNG’s humanitarian gesture, goodwill and recognition of its international human rights obligations. He said PNG and Australia were in the process of closing down the Manus centre following the Supreme Court ruling in April declaring the detention as unconstitutional and in breach of their personal liberties and freedom.
Pato said the refugees were allowed to move around freely.


Five women get pride awards
Post Courier, September 24, 2016

Five Papua New Guinean women were the recipients of the prestigious 2016 Pride of PNG Awards.

The annual awards are funded by the City Pharmacy Group and co-sponsored by media organizations Post-Courier, PNGFM and EMTEK (EMTV) and are given to women bringing change in their communities and have little to no media coverage.

This year’s winners were Enid Barlong Kantha (bravery and courage), Mary Pakore Tore (care and compassion), Anna Hilda (community spirit), Sister Pauline Marie Kagl (education/role model) and Stephanie Paraide (young Papua New Guinean). For the environment category, the judges said there was no clear winner. The awards patron, Governor General Sir Michael Ogio, said the women had shown the ‘true spirit’ of PNG by intervening and changing their communities with limited resources. “They have, instead, stood up, used whatever limited resources they had to and serve their communities, oftentimes, at personal expense to themselves and their families. In their selflessness, they have shown the true spirit of Papua New Guinea,” he said. “And they do all this without expectation, without applaud, and sometimes, without reward. They do so, simply because they saw a need in their community and knew that they could meet it. They do so, because they care. They do so because they had to.” Sir Michael said this year’s winners are heroes and should be the inspiration for Papua New Guineans. “For the rest of us tonight and for all the people of Papua New Guinea, let these heroes, and all the past heroes of the last 10 years of the Pride of PNG Awards for Women, be our inspiration.


PNG supports Paris agreement

September 26, 2016 TheNational

MINISTER for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Rimbink Pato has deposited PNG’s instrument of ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change to the United Nations in New York last week.
The special event was hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the UN General Assembly in New York which Pato attended on behalf of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
Pato said depositing the instrument followed PNG’s support for consensus to adopt the Paris Agreement in Dec 2015 in Paris and the subsequent signing of the agreement on April 22, 2016 in New York.
“Parliament made a unanimous decision in Aug 2016 to ratify the accord, where 68 members of Parliament voted in support of the accord’s ratification with no votes against it,” he said. “So the deposit of the instrument of ratification now formalises the application of the Paris Agreement in Papua New Guinea.” He said 60 countries out of 185 signatories have ratified the accord. “This accounts for 48 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions and needs a further 7.2 per cent for the Paris Agreement to enter into force.” Pato said one of the two requirements for Paris Agreement to enter into force was fulfilled, which is for 55 parties to the accord to ratify it. “The second precondition not met yet is for at least an estimated 55 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emitters to deposit their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with the depositary.”


Momis urges B’ville unity as O’Neill government plays hard ball

BOUGAINVILLE President John Momis has made a call for unity to Bougainvilleans as the autonomous region prepares to decide its political future through a referendum. “Bougainvilleans must unite to peacefully implement the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the referendum and let it be a process of integrity,” Dr Momis said.  “Due to the Bougainville crisis it is only in Bougainville that we have the unique opportunity to develop a new socio-economic political order and determine our own political future.” He said it was imperative that Bougainvilleans make an informed decision to determine their future and they must be prepared to except the consequences of their decision in the referendum.

“If we mess it up now, then we are bound to fail and not realise our aspirations,” he said. “But if we follow through with the Bougainville Peace Agreement and respect the rule of law, promote good governance and accept responsibility for our actions, then we will be able to liberate ourselves.”

The referendum to determine Bougainville’s political future has been tentatively scheduled for 15 June 2019. Meanwhile the ABG and the PNG national government remain at loggerheads over the O’Neill government’s continued delay in releasing funds owed to Bougainville.

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Social Concerns Notes – August 2016

Controversy as Tjandra company seeks monopoly over PNG rice  29 August, 2016

PAPUA New Guinea’s trade minister Richard Maru warned the government that its proposed rice policy could have a drastic impact on PNG in terms of its trade ties with Australia.

Mr Maru was responding to questions from Rabaul MP Dr Allan Marat, who asked if a policy which will give a single company a monopoly will strain ties with Australia. PNG imports K700 million worth of rice annually and Australian company Trukai is the major importer. The government has recently decided to implement an import substitution policy and awarded a tender for a K4.8 billion project in Central Province to Naima Agroindustry, against competitors including Trukai. Naima’s principal is the colourful entrepreneur Djoko Tjandra and it wants a 20-year tax holiday and the imposition of an 80% duty on all rice that it does not import. This will hike the price of rice by 60% and lock Trukai and the other major suppliers out of the market.


TB in PNG: the impact on children

August 25, 2016

A new report released by ChildFund Australia draws much-needed attention to the impact of Papua New Guinea’s tuberculosis (TB) epidemic on children. The report, authored by journalist Jo Chandler, notes that 26 per cent of confirmed TB cases in PNG are in paediatric patients, but that this likely underrepresents the true burden of disease among young Papua New Guineans. Globally, children represent about ten per cent of TB cases.

Though it is well-established that PNG is in the grip of a serious TB epidemic, an important contribution this report makes is to highlight the fact that infants and young children are more vulnerable than adults to developing extrapulmonary TB (TB in parts of the body other than the lungs, also known as disseminated TB). Not only is this form of TB more difficult to diagnose, but it can result in profound physical and/or intellectual disability – conditions for which there is little formal social support in PNG. Even those children who make a full recovery often miss out on months or years of education while they undergo treatment.

The report also explores some of the reasons why children are susceptible to TB infection. Among them is the fact that TB case finding is largely a passive endeavour in PNG: rather than health workers actively going out to screen those who have been exposed to TB – including children and other family members and relatives who share a home with a confirmed TB patient – and providing preventive therapy where appropriate, most cases are only identified when patients present to health facilities. Distance from health facilities and the costs of seeking care may prolong the length of time that they are infectious (once on treatment patients are no longer infectious).

Addressing the TB epidemic will require substantial investment in PNG’s healthcare systems as well as across the broader social determinants of health, including nutrition, housing, and access to basic services. Given the current economic situation in PNG, including major cuts to health services, foreign donors will no doubt continue to play a significant role. Only AU$3.3m (K8m) has been released by the PNG government to respond to TB, and a loan request has reportedly been made to the World Bank (p.13). Australia has committed $60 million in aid for TB control in PNG since 2011 through to 2017; as of April this year, $29.2 of that had been spent. And in June, USAID announced a new package of support for diagnosing and treating multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) in PNG. In addition to in-country health systems support, the ChildFund report also recommends investment in medical research and the development of TB vaccines and improved treatments, especially those targeted at children.

Childfund report see


Ministerial bribery attempt highlights forestry corruption

01 August 2016

WHEN Papua New Guinea Forestry Minister Douglas Tomuriesa last week confirmed an attempt to bribe him with “a bagful of money”, it once again brought to light the illegal exploitation of PNG’s forests by foreign interests. In this case, the Malaysian national who offered the bribe was deported but Tomuriesa admitted that many people, especially foreigners in the forestry industry, had tried to “entice” him in the past. But he said he had performed his ministerial duties “based on his ethical values and conscience”, adding that the main factor was his wife’s plea for him to live an honest life.

“This is the kind of stance I’m taking at Forestry and I wish to leave a legacy of a corruption- free office during my term,” Tomuriesa said, saying he was “cleaning up a mess in the office” including and the deportation of the foreign national who tried to bribe him.

In PNG, the Land Act facilitates much forest clearance in addition to much illegal logging. The Act was supposed to help customary landowners convert forested land into agriculture, in partnership with investors but logging companies, mainly from Malaysia and Australia, saw it as a potential bonanza.

According to a Greenpeace report, between 2003 and 2011 over five million hectares of land, mainly along the Papuan coast and the islands of New Britain and New Ireland, was leased under Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABLs). This equates to more than 11% of the country’s land area and over 16% of its accessible forests. Exports of logs grew by 20% in 2011 alone, mostly from within SABLs and mostly headed for China. Because of growing international concern over the improper leasing of customary land, the PNG government in early 2011 issued a moratorium on issuance of SABLs and ordered a commission of inquiry.  This inquiry made recommendations but left existing SABLs in place.

Unfortunately, the improper leasing of customary land — referred to by many in PNG as ‘land grabs’ — is still playing out.

According to a 2014 report from Chatham House in the United Kingdom, which monitors illegal logging, the findings of PNG’s commission of inquiry into the SABLs and associated logging showed that over 90% of them were illegal and that the process was entirely corrupt.


Sorcery killings have increased, says Kwa
Post Courier, August 04, 2016

SORCERY-related attacks and killings have increased since the Sorcery Act was repealed in 2013 according to Constitutional & Law Reform Commission secretary Dr Eric Kwa. He did not say by how much but said that it was not the repeal but the belief in sorcery that had fueled the increase in the past three years. He said that the evil of sorcery-related killings has now taken on an ugly form in the hiring of killers. “I can tell you that it’s taken on a very ugly form now, in the sense that, now they have got hired people. “You can hire them to target sorcerers and kill sorcerers, so you’ve got people on hire.

“That’s how extensive it has grown now. “We’ve got someone who has now placed on Facebook on how to kill a sorcerer and how to extract confessions,” Dr Kwa said. He said it was believed that the Sorcery Act should be removed and that sorcery-related killings be treated as assault or murder. “Unfortunately incidents of sorcery have actually increased since 2013. “Now we think that it’s not because of the repeal of the law but it’s because of the changing socio-cultural economic situation of the country,” Dr Kwa said. “There are a lot more other things that are happening. We think that the increase in the incidence of sorcery-related killings is attributed to so many other factors and not law alone.”


Contaminated water sources in PNG blamed for stunting and malnutrition in children
Post Courier, July 28, 2016

Story courtesy of ABC Radio Australia Children in the country are rated among the most stunted in the world in a report from WaterAid which cites a shortage of clean water and decent sanitation as one of the main reasons for the root cause, widespread malnutrition. PNG rates fourth on the international development charity’s list, while nearby Timor Leste is at the top. More than two in four of the child population there are considered to be suffering from restricted growth, and the knock-on effects on their physical, cognitive and emotional development. The chief executive of WaterAid Australia, Paul Nichols says while the general population might not make the connection between water quality, poor sanitation and child development, governments certainly should.


NRI releases report on its assessment on residential property market prices in Port Moresby
Post Courier, July 28, 2016

The Papua New Guinea National Research Institute (PNG NRI) has released its latest report today.

The Issues Paper 19, “Assessment of market prices for residential properties in Port Moresby: Do location and property type matter” presents a snapshot of residential property market trends in Port Moresby. The report examined the supply and prices of residential properties in Port Moresby and investigates whether property type and location influence the prices. The article revealed that more houses were available in areas where people with medium to high income live and housing and land prices were higher in and near the central business district than in other areas. It also highlighted that the construction phase of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project played an important role in driving housing prices up. The report recommended that in order to promote an efficient housing market, it is necessary to make customary land more accessible, reduce import duties on building materials, train more people in property development and support research on uses of local building materials.


Australia and PNG launch braille machines
Post Courier, July 29, 2016

The Australian Government today launched four braille machines with the National Department of Education (NDoE) in Port Moresby. This support will assist NDoE to emboss PNG teaching and learning material and examination papers that can be provided to blind and vision-impaired students.

The machines will help blind and vision-impaired students in PNG attend and remain at school by providing the department with the equipment it needs to develop the materials that blind and vision-impaired students need to learn.

The machines can also be used to print exam materials, which is particularly important for blind and vision-impaired students who are undertaking national exams to progress to further study.

Ms Edgecombe said the launch of the braille machines reflects how the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea are working together to make education more available to people with a range of disabilities. “Australia and Papua New Guinea recognise the importance of including people with disabilities in their development cooperation activities. Research shows that some 15 per cent of the world’s population have disabilities and that people with a disability are at greater risk of experiencing poverty.”  “We know that educating people with disabilities brings more knowledge and different perspectives to the decision-making table, whether it be in government, business or the local community. This leads to better-informed, more inclusive policies for promoting economic development,”  Ms Edgecombe said.


Nuns, inmates reconcile
Post Courier, August 02, 2016

PRISONERS at Bihute jail near Goroka have reconciled with Catholic nuns of the order of Sisters of Mercy Works. The reconciliation means that the sisters will resume their programs inside the jail. They were stopped at the beginning of the year after the nunnery was attacked and ransacked by ex-convicts and escapees from the jail. Yesterday’s events were organised by the jail commander Superintendent Simon Lakeng at the jail.

Sister of Mercy country director Maryanne Kolkia, who was brutally beaten during the holdup, told the prisoners that the services the nuns were providing in jails were charity works which the prisoners should appreciate and make use of. “We the Sisters of Mercy and other churches and non-governmental organisations are doing these work for you the prisoners to benefit from,” Sister Kolkia said. “We do not expect anything from you in return but the way several criminals are targeting us is a concern that needs to be addressed.”

The sisters said they will continue with their programs at Bihute which encompass FODE courses, adult literacy courses, sewing and many other programs for the benefit of the prisoners.

Superintendent Lakeng thanked the Sisters of Mercy for their faithfulness in assisting prisoners. He told the prisoners that due to financial constraints, many rehabilitation works in the prison are not offered.

“But I want you the prisoners to keep yourselves busy with the programs provided by the Sisters of Mercy and other organisations and respect these people who are spending their time and resources to help you,” Supt Lakeng said. The prisoners, both men and women, apologised to the Catholic sisters, adding that they will support and respect them. In April earlier this year, 12 fully armed men drove into the Sisters of Mercy compound in Goroka, brutally assaulted three sisters and stole personal items like laptops, mobile phones and cash money. One of the attackers had been caught after a police road block while the others are still on the run.


Rio Tinto’s billion-dollar mess: ‘unprincipled, shameful and evil’  22 August 2016

Extracts  Read the complete article here

THE gaping hole carved into mountains was at one point the world’s largest open-cut copper mine.

Right on Australia’s doorstep, it delivered riches beyond imagining and a mess big enough to tear a country apart. This controversial pit became the flashpoint for a bitter civil war in Papua New Guinea in the 1990s that cost as many as 20,000 lives. Now, 27 years after the war forced the closure of the Panguna mine on the island of Bougainville, resources giant Rio Tinto has finally made the decision to cut its losses and walk away. In a decision slammed as “remarkably unprincipled, shameful and evil”, the mining giant has also side-stepped demands for a billion-dollar clean up. Furious local leaders on Bougainville – struggling for cash and contemplating forming an independent nation – are threatening an international campaign to shame the company into making a contribution. But they also want Australia – as the former colonial power responsible for authorising the mine – to contribute to a special fund to repair rivers poisoned by toxic sludge and compensate the people who lost their homes. “It would be a big amount of money that would be required to restore as much as possible the damaged environment and relocated villages,” John Momis, president of Bougainville’s autonomous government, told Fairfax Media.

“Probably a billion dollars. Nobody really knows, but that would be about the amount of money required.” Rio Tinto has refused. Correspondence obtained by Fairfax shows the dual London-Melbourne listed giant insisting it has no responsibility for environmental or other consequences from the mine.

“We believe that [the company] was fully compliant will all regulatory requirements and applicable standards at the time,” Rio Tinto executive Joanne Farrell wrote to Dr Momis on August 6.

Dr Momis said Rio Tinto must take responsibility for the mess it left behind, and has challenged the company over its claims of corporate social responsibility. “They justify their position by saying they operated under PNG law, although everybody knows the people of Bougainville never accepted [that] PNG law was a just law,” the Bougainville president said. “When Rio walks away like this, the resource owners are left high and dry for no fault of their own. They are now going to be left with this hugely destroyed environment.” “It is a major disaster which the people of Bougainville do not deserve


Marriage laws to be amended
Post Courier, August 23, 2016

CHANGES to marriage laws are ready to be presented in Parliament, probably during the current session. On the eve of their presentations, the Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2015 and the Matrimonial (Clauses) Bill 2015 were discussed at a child protection workshop in Port Moresby yesterday. These Bills when passed by Parliament will be vital for the implementation of Children Protection Law, or Lukautim Pikinini Law, because they correlate.

Religion, Youth and Community Development Secretary Anna Solomon told provincial welfare officers about the Child Protection law, and briefly explained that her department and stakeholders were not looking at the children alone but family as a whole and the issues that affect children. Currently, there is no definition of marriage applicable to both customary and non-customary marriages. Thus, a definition is required to ensure that all marriages regardless, meet certain basic requirements regarding consent and marriage age before they are legally valid. Proposed clauses 2A and 2B of Matrimonial (Clauses) Bill achieve this purpose. The changes also synchronised the age of a child (18 years) with the Lukautim Pikinini Act 2015 that was passed by Parliament this year.

The proposed changes deal with minors who are being forced to marry before the age of 18. The penalty for the offender range from a fine of K10,000 to K20,000 and jail terms of five and seven years.

Ms Solomon noted that the civil registry will only recognise first customary marriages but will recognise children as those who have not yet turned 18 years old, that is, in the best interest of the child – that in itself is child protection.

The new laws also recognise the effort of the stay-home spouse – either man or woman – in caring of the household. “We are now recognising that service and have strengthened that in the best interest of our children,” Ms Solomon added. “Some of the custody considerations outlined are for courts to consider parental responsibility. Many of our women or spouses who are not working are left very vulnerable when there is a marriage breakup. And not only are they left vulnerable but are left with all other issues, they really have nowhere to go.” Under the proposed law, a spouse’s indirect contributions as home-maker to the economic stability and security of the family, including in particular the acquisition of the property, will be recognised. The court is required to take into account any financial and non-financial contribution made by a party to the marriage.


Malabag releases birth log

The National, August 24, 2016

A MERE 36 per cent of pregnant women delivered their babies in health facilities last year, according to Health Minister Michael Malabag. He said this yesterday when presenting the Department of Health 2015 Health Sector annual management report. Malabag revealed that:

  • 138, 442 out of an estimated 263,545 pregnant women (or 60 per cent) visited antenatal clinics; and,
  • 81,718 (36 per cent) of pregnant women delivered their babies in health facilities.

The figures represented 86 per cent of last year’s activity reports from the Health Department’s 2608 facilities countrywide. This was made up of 1860 aid posts, 530 health centres, 78 urban clinics, 11 district hospitals and 20 hospitals in the country, with churches partnering health to manage 47 per cent of the facilities.
“While this figure excludes Port Moresby General Hospital, more needs to be done to encourage mothers to come to health facilities to have a supervised delivery to prevent unnecessary death resulting from complications during childbirth,” Malabag said. “Despite our achievements in a number of reforms and programmes, we are still faced with challenges in the areas of maternal and child health, communicable and lifestyle diseases.”


PNG lawyer in new bid for Manus detainees
Post Courier, August 24,2016, 05:00 pm, Story Courtesy of RNZI


A Papua New Guinea lawyer Ben Lomai is expected to apply for the Supreme Court today to make a ‘summary judgment’ on the plight of the refugees sent by Australia on Manus. The court ruled in April that the Manus Island camp was illegal, but it is still running and the fate of the asylum seekers and the refugees remains unclear. Mr Lomai had been seeking rulings for several months asking the courts to order the closure of the camps and for the inmates to be taken to Australia. But the Supreme Court discharged his most recent application on Monday, saying there was no proper application before it containing the required question for clarity.

The Post Courier said that because there were also other proceedings before other courts dealing with the same issue, the court discharged part of Mr Lomai’s application. Mr Lomai now wants to obtain a summary judgment to be able to proceed with his bid to secure the release of the refugees and to win compensation for them for being held by Australia illegally. The court repeated its ruling that both the PNG and Australian governments are responsible for following the court order that the Manus Island detention centre must be closed.


John Momis brutally rebuts Peter O’Neill’s BCL share ploy

Post Courier, 25 August 2016

BOUGAINVILLE president Dr John Momis has given PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill a “final opportunity” to transfer the 17.4% equity in Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) bequeathed to it by Rio Tinto to the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG). If this does not happen, Momis said, “the ABG must use other means to keep clear control of decisions on Panguna. “The ABG cannot allow your bad decisions to stand,”Momis said. “In particular, we will cancel BCL’s exploration licence under the Bougainville Mining Act [and] seek a new developer by inviting tenders using powers under our Mining Act.”  Momis said the cancellation of the licence are likely to make BCL shares almost worthless, including the 19.2% equity PNG has held in the company since 1972.

He said if Panguna re-opens, the national government could retain its equity involvement. “But if interference in ABG control of mining continues, we have no choice but to cancel the licence and completely end PNG involvement in Panguna.” Momis accused O’Neill of purporting to “know better than the ABG about Bougainville’s mining policy needs; you substitute your views for ours.” He pointed out that, under the Bougainville Peace Agreement, responsibility for Bougainville’s mining policy was transferred and that this now a matter solely for the ABG.

“We have given careful attention to mining policy,” he said. “We give landowners veto power over the grant of mining licences, giving them real and direct involvement in decision-making. “They must be satisfied with conditions and benefits before a project proceeds.” “A minority 17.4% BCL equity that you propose will not give them any control over decision-making,” he added. Dr Momis said the ABG believes O’Neill is making ill-informed decisions about a complex situation that he does not understand and which does not benefit landowners. “Bougainvilleans ask why you interfere in our mining policy,” he said. “Do you fear that ABG control of Panguna could provide the revenue needed for Bougainville independence? “Interfering in mining issues only causes deep anger in Bougainville. That is likely to cause increased support for independence.

“The only way you can now reduce support for independence is to work in cooperation with the ABG to make people see that autonomy really meets the needs of Bougainville. “Supporting our mining policy is an essential start. “That will not reduce landowner involvement in decisions about Panguna, or their sharing fairly in revenue, for the Bougainville Mining Act ensures their full involvement in both.”


Backfire: Panguna landowners refuse O’Neill’s offer of shares

PANGUNA mine-affected landowner associations and the Meekamui Government of Unity, meeting at Kuri village in Bougainville late last week, have refused to accept Peter O’Neill‘s transfer of Rio Tinto shares to them rather than to the Bougainville Government (ABG). O’Neill’s offer, made two weeks ago, was seen as a crude attempt to aggravate divisions between the ABG and groups with which its relationships have not always been smooth. But the move has backfired, instead drawing once dissident groups closer together and probably moving more Bougainvilleans to contemplate a future without Papua New Guinea. A referendum on independence is due to be held in the autonomous province before 2020. While “appreciating” the PNG government’s decision to transfer 17.4% of BCL shares to landowners, the assembled leaders requested O’Neill to transfer them to the ABG “to hold on behalf of all the people of Bougainville”.


Cervical cancer is avoidable: Hukula

The National August 25, 2016

Cervical cancer is preventable yet thousands of Papua New Guinean women succumb to it, often leaving behind their children and loved ones. Apart from the mainstream health services,  private clinics and non-government organisation efforts to fight the dreaded illness, a retired nurse has decided to dedicate her retired life to doing her part in a small way to save her fellow Papua New Guineans. “My greatest passion is to make sure women do not die from cervical cancer because it is the most preventable cancer of all cancers,,” says Sr Hellen Hukula, owner of the Well Women Clinic in Port Moresby.
That was the motivation that drove Hukula to start a women’s clinic after retiring from nursing.
After 30 years of serving as a nurse in  hospitals and health centres, the mother of six and grandmother of nine from Tuvi village in East Sepik is determined to see women access  information and service to prevent deaths from cervix cancer. Hukula had worked in the gynaecology section of the Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH) for 19 years, an experience that has continued to remain beneficial for womenfolk in this country. After seeing the need to do something away from routine, Hukula started the Well Women Clinic on July 11, 2011. The clinic conducts Pap smear tests, checks blood pressure, weight, blood sugar, treats sexually transmitted infections, does pregnancy tests, breast cancer checks, family planning ovulation and do referrals to PMGH. It is located at Waigani, just behind Anglicare.

In 2014, Hukula was offered a scholarship by the New Zealand government.
She underwent four weeks of intensive training on Pap smear testing competency skills in Auckland.
After the training, her confidence was boosted to keep doing what she had been doing.
“They taught me so many things, how to recognise the symptoms, how to recognise women with cervical cancer, read results and send them off – those kind of things.

PNG’s revenues collapse – and recovery is a long way off 26 August 2016

PAPUA New Guinea’s revenue base has shrunken back to where it was a decade ago despite the economy having doubled in size in that time. The PNG Treasury’s 2016 mid-year outlook shows a collapse in revenue for a second consecutive year. Australian economist Stephen Howes, who is director of ANU’s Development Policy Centre, said a central reason for the reduction is a disappearance in taxes from the mining and petroleum sector. Dr Howes said that amid a general economic slowdown with a fall in global commodity prices, PNG is caught between old, declining resource projects and newer ones that are not generating tax revenue. “It’s an unfortunate situation, but it’s one that is going to last for several years,”Howes said. “The new projects, like PNG LNG, are not going to generate a lot of tax for say another seven or eight years. “So PNG’s going to have to get used to coping with a much more revenue-constrained environment than it has been in the past,” he said.


Where to with betelnut? Beyond bans and spot fines

By Busa Jeremiah Wenogo on August 25, 2016

Where to with betelnut? Beyond bans and spot fines

Port Moresby residents are now warned not to chew betelnut in public places as the National Capital District Commission (NCDC) imposes a 500 Kina spot fine on chewing and spitting. A combination of the nut mixed with powder lime and mustard produces the infamous “colour red” that is now responsible for drawing ire from the public and now the hefty spot fine. The spot fine came into effect on 1 August 2016, just a couple of months ahead of the FIFA Under 20 World Cup to be staged in Port Moresby. It seems a trend is developing where the city commission toughens up on the sale and consumption of betelnut when a major event is about to take place in the city. We saw this last year when the city hosted the 2015 Pacific Games and a ban on betelnut sale in Port Moresby was introduced.

The betelnut ban forced people to resort to illegal means to earn income, often at the expense of poor farmers back in the villages, particularly along the Hiritano Highway of the Central Province. In Port Moresby the ban gave rise to a thriving “middleman” business, most of whom used the law to their advantage. The imposition of the K500 spot fine against chewers means that the war against betelnut will come to its complete cycle.

When the betelnut ban came into effect last year, a mother was run over by a vehicle while fleeing from the pursuing betelnut enforcers. The picture of her child sitting next to her lifeless body on the side of the road, captured on the front page of one daily newspaper, was heart-wrenching. Her death was tragic yet it heralded the beginning of the ugly, and I might add fatal, side of the ban. No one was immune to the ban, including the Motu Koitabu villages. The death of a Hanuabada man and several injuries sustained by the villagers are remnants of the harrowing impact of the ban, another tragic story. A few weeks ago a youth from Tari in Hela Province was shot dead by police when he was alleged to have smuggled betelnut bags into the city in his vehicle. Since then, his relative can be seen marching up and down the street in Erima with a wheelbarrow seeking donations from the public allegedly to repatriate the body back to the village, and a “laplap” placard demanding retribution from the government.

The commission itself needs to also make it clear whether it is imposing a “total ban” on the sale and consumption of betelnut, or only “restricting” its sale and consumption to designated areas within the city. In spite of the ban the betelnut trade is thriving in all parts of the city and at times in full view of the public, including the betelnut enforcers.


Carteret climate refugees seek home

Post Courier, August 11, 2016

At only 1.5 metres above sea level at their highest point, the Carteret Islands are some of the first to succumb to the rising ocean tides. ABC reported that the grassroots Tulele Peisa group, which means “sailing the waves on our own” in the local Halia language, is hoping to relocate more than half of the population by 2020. They have secured land for new homes on the main island of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, to the east of mainland Papua New Guinea. Tulele Peisa formed in late 2006 after the Council of Elders on the islands decided to establish their own relocation program. The group’s chief executive, Ursula Rakova, says the encroaching tides on the islands have a major impact on people’s health. “We’re beginning to get more requests for people wanting to move because of the situation and the dire need for food,” she says. “People are not able to eat what they should be eating,”

The storm surges not only wash away houses, but also vegetable gardens, which are critical for the islanders’ survival. With no cash economy on the Carterets, the only source of food is what people are able to grow for themselves. Ms Rakova says the relocations are also vital to give more space to those who want to stay on the islands. “Giving justice to the elderly is the most important thing that Tulele Peisa can do. They elderly people do not want to move,” Rakova said

According to ABC reports the group initially secured 25 hectares of land from the Catholic Church — enough to resettle about 100 people from 10 families. The church has just made another 60 hectares of land available, where Ms Rakova says they’re hoping to relocate 25 more families. But the access to safe and secure land is only half the battle. “Building houses for the families to live in is our biggest hurdle at the moment,” she says. “We have to keep looking for funds to build homes before we can actually move islanders to mainland Bougainville.”


Raihu health center scale down staff

Post Courier, August 11, 2016

The Raihu district hospital in Aitape Sandaun Province which is the major referral hospital to Aitape-Lumi and Nuku districts has started scaling down of its staff due to insufficient funding. The district hospital is currently facing funding insufficiency from the outstanding grants from the National Christian Health Services Arm of the national department of Health in Port Moresby. According to Medical Superintendent and Chairman Dr Athanasius Kari since May this year the funding for the hospital operations and staff salary has not been given. Kari added that due the current situation he health service has exhausted all means of financing the hospital operations and staff salaries which the hospital has taken action to scale down on administration and clinical services. The hospital staff will continue to work to assist dying emergencies and referred dying emergencies including women for obstetric care only. Thus, other services including outpatient and clinics will be closed for an indefinite period until further notice. The Raihu district hospital board endorsed this decision to scale down services with the Diocese of Aitape administration to cope with the financial situation.


Budget cut hurts health services

The National, August 16, 2016

THE Government’s budget cut of nearly K50 million this year for church-run health services has affected the service. Madang provincial health director Marcus Kachau told The National yesterday that because of the budget cut, health workers’ salaries had not been paid. Kachau said health workers at Josephstaal Health Centre in Middle Ramu district had not received their pay since early this year. The health centre is operated by the Catholic Church. Kachau said he was still negotiating with the Health Department for the use of K90,000 from the province’s health budget to help Josephstaal health workers. They were still awaiting response from headquarters. The health centre caters for more than 10,000 people in the Middle Ramu district and remote inland parts of Bogia. Kachau said the Madang provincial government wanted to help the health workers, but the two warrants released this year did not have funding. “Warrants for the release of funds were received but they came without cash flow … “pepa nating, no money,” he said.


Bainings win SABL court battle
Post Courier, August 30,2016,

LANDOWNERS in East New Britain Province have won a landmark legal battle to retake their “hijacked” land from the controversial Special Agriculture and Business Lease (SABL). The people of Baining in Gazelle district had taken the State and developer to court over the SABL deal which has now been declared null and void by the National Court in Kokopo last Thursday.

THE proceedings before the court was for a judicial review of the decisions of the State and developer over the process of acquiring the customary lands for SABL, described and known as Baram-Gransait land over Portions 908C and 909C comprising 10,980 hectares and 23,556 hectares in the Inland Baining area.

The landowners sought judicial review alleging that the process of acquisition of customary land for Business and Agriculture Leases pursuant to Land Act 1996 were not followed, that there was no diligent and no meaningful consultation with landowners taken by Minister and Secretary for Lands and that the Minister had failed to comply with the statutory preconditions for acquisition of customary land by the State and for granting of lease for special agriculture and business purposes.

Justice Lenalia Selatial said in his 37-page decision that “the process was hijacked from appropriate landowners” as shown in evidence presented during the proceedings and breached the Land Act and the Constitution. He said the Minister can only grant SABLs when he is satisfied that reasonable inquiry has been carried out by officers of his department and the provincial lands office to establish that landowners agree for the land to be compulsorily acquired.

“I am not satisfied that the three-day meetings held at Malabonga High School community hall on September 1-3, 2010, met the requirements of meaningful consultation.” with landowners. “Those decisions cannot stand and having discussed the evidence by all parties and issues involved and the position in law, the court declares that decisions are null and void,” Justice Lenalia ruled.


Goroka University reconciliation: No other way but peace

13 August 2016

IT IS always a proud moment for peace advocates when they see peace being built and maintained in society. One such moment came for me when I had the opportunity to witness the peace and reconciliation ceremony between Papua New Guinea highlands students at the University of Goroka late last month. The master of ceremonies took the stage and took the microphone to make few announcements while the pastors’ fraternal and the choir sang. The event took place about four weeks after a serious fight among students.

The ceremony opened with a word of prayer and Bishop Francisco of the Catholic Diocese of Goroka gave a sermon on peace. He said peace was a gift from God and it must come from one’s own heart.

For three-quarters of the day various speakers then offered words of wisdom to enable the students to reconcile. When everyone finished speaking, the student leaders were called to come forward and pledge peace. The Chimbu and Eastern Highlands students apologised for what had happened while the upper highlands students accepted their apology and pledged everlasting peace on the university campus. They then proceeded to sign the peace treaty. Student leaders from each highlands province came forward to sign before the magistrate and police commander. They pledged to maintain peace at all times and were presented with a bible each by a senior pastor.

While the crowd was watched eagerly, the Chimbu student announced he would compensate the Western Highlands and Enga students K20,000 which he presented in an envelope.

The Eastern Highlands student leader presented another K20,000. The Western Highlands and Enga students humbly accepted the compensation and promised they would pay back after speaking to their parents and respective provincial and local level governments.


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Social Concerns Notes – July 2016

No graduating doctors to put strain on health services – Health Secretary

Post Courier, June 28, 2016

Papua New Guinea public health system will feel the effect as no new doctors will graduate from the University of Papua New Guinea School of Medical and Health Sciences next year.

The country has one of the worse doctor to patient ratio in the world, a World Health Organization report showed the worrying statistics in its 2008 Report as, density of physicians per 1,000 population is 0.05.

The UPNG medical school had already resumed class but, the weeks of boycott of classes by students have affected its learning hours. Higher Education Secretary Prof. David Kavanamur revealed that “The UPNG Medical School is in full swing teaching but there will no graduates in 2017, but in 2018 because of learning hours being lost (due to the student boycott).” Health Secretary Pascoe Kase said the delay of producing doctors to serve in the public hospitals is serious.   “Any delay will mean that the health sector, which already have workers shortage become worse off,” Kase told Loop PNG.  “We need doctors to graduate on big numbers so they can address the critical work force shortage.


In praise of those dedicated & skilled rural health workers

29 July 2016

WITHOUT Papua New Guinea’s rural health workers I wouldn’t be alive today.  Lavongai Island never had its own doctor during my more than 40 years connection with the place. The best we had were health extension officers who had to be able to deal with all sort of medical emergencies and were generally as good as a doctor. Here in far off Wales where I now live, if I ring for an appointment to see a doctor they ask which one. After the PNG years of my life, I always say anyone will do and give thanks. Similarly with dentists. I can recall lowly aid post orderlies living a long distance from any town who gave their services 24 hours a day if necessary. I also think of the many nurses who did lifesaving work which elsewhere in the world would be done by doctors. And, sadly, these nurses were working with few facilities nor even the right drugs or equipment. God bless them all who, even as I type, are facing unimaginably traumatised patients, perhaps by torchlight.

I was once asked to cash a government cheque for Vevien. It was his overtime payment for a month of ferrying seriously ill patients from Taskul to Kavieng in an open dinghy. Often this would be done in the dead of night with a monsoon blowing its torrential rain. A wantok would hold a waterproof torch  that Vevien had bought himself and stocked with batteries he also bought with his own money. Holding a drip in the torchlight would be a young nurse or nursing aide. Sometimes they failed to reach the beach near Kavieng Hospital before the patient died. But, thankfully, often the person would recover thanks to the dedicated rural health team that had braved the elements. Vevien’s overtime cheque was for a meagre 75 toea. I never banked it to reclaim the money but kept it as a memorial to a good man who served his country for a pittance while the spivs were busy ripping off  the nation and lining their pockets and when venerable MPs even PMs were lauded for what they did during their time in parliament.

 If you have ears and eyes, listen and see

Published: 10 July 2016

The police commissioner Frank Prendergast on Friday last week revealed that 10 people have been arrested as a result of the first usage of breathalyzers. The first ten are going to face tough consequences under the newly passed laws. When parliament was about to pass this new traffic laws, the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force has embarked on a widespread public awareness regarding the use of breathalyzers and possible punishments. The police force explained the processes, how police willWhen police prepared to put to use the instrument, they even announced it and warned drivers to avoid drink-driving. Yet the first implementation exercise managed to net 10.
Congratulations RSIP for the first successful usage of breathalyzers. We do not know what else can be introduced to get people to stop drink-driving, but maximum punishment must be imposed on those caught by breathalyzers. The penalties for a driver being at or above the prescribed level or for failing or refusing a breath test are severe and include the following;
• For a first offence of being at or above the prescribed level of 0.05% BAC, $10,000 or 12 months imprisonment or both, and disqualification of driver’s licence,
• For a second offence of being at or above the prescribed level of 0.05% BAC, $20,000 or 2 years imprisonment or both, and disqualification of driver’s licence,
• For refusing or failing a breath test, $10,000 or 12 months imprisonment or both, and disqualification of driver’s licence.

Does PNG want 19% of a mine or 36.4% of a conflict?  03 July 2016

President John Momis | Edited extracts

THE Rio Tinto decision to divest its shares in Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) is a remarkably unprincipled, shameful and evil decision. Yet this is a decision by an international mining giant, a company that holds itself out internationally as bound by quite different standards. The shame and evil does of Rio Tinto’s decision does not lie in the withdrawal from BCL. Rather, it relates to two key aspects of the way in which Rio has withdrawn from BCL.

First, Rio has directed that of its 53.8% equity, 36.4% should be offered to the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and 17.4% to the PNG Government. So the ABG and the national government will be equal minority shareholders in BCL, each with 36.4%. The remaining 27% will still be held by small shareholders all over the world. The evil involved here is that it constitutes completely unwarranted Rio Tinto interference in Bougainville’s affairs, and in the complex relationships between the PNG government and Bougainville. All issues about the Panguna mine are deeply sensitive for Bougainvilleans. The mine was imposed on Bougainville for the benefit of PNG as a whole. But it was Panguna landowners, as well as other Bougainvilleans, who bore the cost, and received very little in the way of benefits. It was resentment about the unfairness of the mine that led to the terrible loss of life and destruction of the Bougainville conflict. Because of that background, Bougainvilleans are determined that they must control all future decision-making about not only Panguna but also all other mining in Bougainville. That is why, from the time that the ABG was established in 2005, it has insisted that all powers over mining must be transferred to Bougainville control. So we cannot accept the unilateral Rio Tinto decision to make the ABG and the national government equal shareholders in BCL.

In two long meetings with senior Rio officials, in July 2015 and February 2016, I made it clear to them that national government control of Panguna is unacceptable. I insisted that if Rio Tinto was to divest its majority shareholding in BCL, it must transfer the shares to the ABG at no cost.

But in their arrogance and ignorance, Rio decided that it knew better. It made its decision without discussing with us what it unilaterally decided to do.  Joint control of Panguna with the PNG government can never be accepted by Bougainville. Already, I am hearing from Bougainville of deep anger amongst my people about the BCL decision.

The second shameful and evil aspect of the Rio decision is its determination to walk away from the Panguna mine without in any way recognising the company’s contribution to the terrible environmental and social impacts of the mine. …

What I propose is fully consistent with the Bougainville Peace Agreement. Under the Agreement, the two governments have committed themselves to resolving our differences and working together cooperatively.

We seek the understanding of the National Government, and of Papua New Guineans generally, of the burning desire of Bougainvilleans to control this, the most sensitive of areas of economic activity in Bougainville.


No genuine government motivation to curb corruption, says survey

2 July 2016

TRANSPARENCY International PNG (TIPNG) has released its latest publication on levels and consequences of corruption in Papua New Guinea and the response to this of state and society. In presenting the findings of 53-page public opinion survey, TIPNG membership coordinator Yuambari Haihuie explained the report gathered data from 1,250 participants in the National Capital District and Central, East New Britain, Eastern Highlands and Morobe provinces. “Ninety-nine percent of participants think corruption is a serious problem in PNG and 90% think it is getting worse,” said Mr Haihuie. He went on to say that 81% of respondents thought that members of parliament are the cause of corruption while 25% believed everyone was to blame for the spread of corruption. Mr Haihuie said 53% of participants had paid bribes to get a service or better service in education (22%), police (18%), health (18%), courts (7%), land (7%) and 4% for traffic inspectors. Another 77% believe that the government’s effort to combat corruption was all or mainly for political gain with no genuine motivation. “The key finding from the report is that Papua New Guineans are aware of the very damaging costs and consequences of corruption,” Mr Haihuie said. “They are often paying that cost directly in terms of often unavoidable payments and degraded services.”


PNG’s 2015 agriculture exports less than half 2011 levels

David James | Business Advantage PNG | Edited extracts

PAPUA New Guinea’s agriculture export income in 2015 was less than half of 2011 levels, according to recent Bank of Papua New Guinea data. Income from palm oil exports was at its lowest level since 2009, while coffee exports were less than half the value of four years ago and income from rubber exports almost halved in a year. Some of the decline is attributable to lower export prices. The bank’s most recent Quarterly Economic Bulletin says in 2015 coffee prices were down from 2014 levels by 1.2%, palm oil prices fell by 18.5%, tea by 5.8% and rubber by 16.7%. Cocoa prices rose by 14.4% and copra by 1.3%.

The lower income was also the result of significantly lower production levels. The Bulletin noted that coffee export volumes declined by 11.6%, attributed to lower yield from ageing coffee trees combined with the adverse impact of the El Niño drought. Cocoa volumes also declined by 8%. Higher coffee production from Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia put downward pressure on global prices with income being only 42% of the 2011 level. Coffee accounted for 29% of PNG’s agricultural export income last year. The combined effect of the decline in prices and volumes resulted in a 22.9% decline of palm oil export sales. Palm oil constituted 61% of agricultural export income last year. Rubber performed poorly. Volumes in 2015 declined by 31.3% from 2014. The Bulletin attributed this to the adverse impact of El Niño. Prices also fell significantly.


Rachael’s bid to save lives

The National, Tuesday July 26th, 2016

RACHAEL Tom grew up witnessing people carry the sick from their village to Nipa station to be treated.
Tom is from Poiye village in the Nipa-Kutubu district of Southern Highlands and is the sixth child in a family of eight. Her village has two aid posts but one was closed due to landowner issues.  The aid post has one community health worker but most times they lacked medicine so they would have to travel to the station. The walk from Poiye village to Nipa station takes about two hours and in emergency cases it’s always a matter of life and death. Sometimes they would seek assistance from the Gutnius Christian Church for transport. These experiences etched in Tom’s mind and inspired  her to become a health worker, even before she started school.“I grew up witnessing my people carry the sick from my village to Nipa station to receive health service. “This inspired me to become a health worker and serve my community,” she said.
Tom’s ambition will soon be a reality as she is now studying diploma in general nursing at the Asia Pacific Institute of Applied Social, Economic and Technical in Port Moresby after completing her Grade 12 at Tari Secondary, in Hela.
She has also encouraged her cousins and her younger sister to take up biology and chemistry so they could pursue the field of medicine to become doctors or nurses.
Tom is currently on a three-month internship with Kaugere Clinic in the Moresby South electorate.
She is expected to get some hands-on experience on what she was taught in the classroom.


Team rescues mother, child

The National, Monday July 18th, 2016

IN the remote Karamui sub-district of Chimbu, life for a 15-year-old orphaned girl and her seven-month-old pre-mature baby has been an uphill battle. The baby boy, Kuman Bewa, was not able to feed off the mother, Noni Bewa, whose complications were compounded by a lack of motherhood knowledge.
A Medical Outreach Team from the Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial Kundiawa General Hospital led by director Dr John Tonar visited the Negabo health centre. They found the struggling mother and son.
“We uncovered that their lives were under serious threat because basic services like health, education and others were not available in this remote part of Chimbu,” Tonar said.  “The mother was confused because she was too young to know motherhood, we squeezed her milk into the baby’s mouth and it started to feed.”  The teenager was the firstborn in a family of four, two girls and two boys. Their parents died of a sickness she has no knowledge of.  As the eldest, Bewa took responsibilities to care for her three siblings.
“I was like the father and mother for my younger siblings,” she said. Unfortunately, she encountered an experience with a man she refuses to reveal in fear of her life. She became pregnant which resulted in the birth of Kuman Bewa. After  medical screening of mother and baby, Tonar recommended that they be airlifted to the Sir Joseph Nombri Kundiawa General Hospital for treatment and care. When the team returned last week, Kuman Kewa had passed away. “Since the baby has passed away, the mother will eventually regain strength – we cannot do anything. This is not an isolated case in remote areas like Negabo. “I am sure there are many similar cases like this in many remote areas,” Tonar said.


Momis slams miner’s refusal

Post Courier, July 01, 2016

BOUGAINVILLE President John Momis has expressed deep anger at Rio Tinto’s refusal to accept responsibility for the environmental and other damages caused by the Panguna Copper mine in Central Bougainville. This comes as Rio Tinto announced it is divesting its shares in Bougainville Copper Limited, former operator of the mine. Mr Momis met with two Rio Tinto officials in Port Moresby on Wednesday in what has been described by an insider as a “very tense meeting”. Mr Momis said yesterday that in previous meetings he had insisted that Rio Tinto accept responsibility for mining legacy issues.

“When I met their officials last night (Wednesday) in Port Moresby, they flatly rejected any responsibility for their contribution to the damage done by the Panguna Mine,” he said. “Rio’s officials gave me two reasons for not accepting responsibility for mine impacts. First, Rio operated under the PNG law of the day. Second, they were forced out of Panguna by the conflict. “But the truth is Rio Tinto generated huge revenues from what we all now know were the terrible injustice of its Bougainville mining operations.”


Post-War Truth and Justice Still Elusive in Bougainville

Almost every family in the islands of Bougainville, has a story to tell of death and suffering during the decade long civil war (1989-1998), known as ‘the Crisis.’ Yet fifteen years after the 2001 peace agreement, there is no accurate information about the scale of atrocities which occurred to inform ongoing peace and reconciliation efforts being supported by the government and international donors. Now members of civil society and grassroots communities are concerned that lack of truth telling and transitional justice is hindering durable reconciliation. “I believe there should be a truth telling program here and I think the timing is right,” Helen Hakena, Director of the Leitana Nehan Women’s Development Agency, a local non-government organisation, told IPS.

“It is nearly twenty years [since the conflict] and some people have moved on with their lives, while there are others who have just cut off all sense of belonging because they are still hurting.” Bernard Unabali, Catholic Bishop of Bougainville, concurs. “Truth is absolutely necessary, there is no doubt it is an absolutely necessary thing for peace and justice,” he declared.

“There is a lot to be done on truth telling. When we talk about the Crisis-related problems our ideas are all mangled together and we are just talking on the surface, not really uprooting what is beneath, what really happened,” said Barbara Tanne, Executive Officer of the Bougainville Women’s Federation in the capital, Buka.

Judicial and non-judicial forms of truth and justice are widely perceived by experts as essential for post-war reconciliation. The wisdom is that if a violent past is left unaddressed, trauma, social divisions and mistrust will remain and fester into further forms of conflict. Failure to address wartime abuses in Bougainville is considered a factor in resurgent payback and sorcery-related violence, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reports. A study of 1,743 people in Bougainville published last year by the UNDP revealed that one in five men had engaged in sorcery-related violence, while one in two men and one in four women had been witnesses.

“A truth commission must be established so people can tell the truth before they make their choice for the political future of Bougainville. Because when we decide our choice, problems associated with the conflict must be addressed,” Alex Amon Jr, President of the Suir Youth Federation, North Bougainville, declared.

Hakena believes there are repercussions if transitional justice doesn’t occur.

“It is happening now. Elderly people are passing on their negative experiences to their sons, who have not experienced that, and who will continue to hate the perpetrator’s family. Years later some of these kids will not know why they hate those people and there will be repercussions,” she elaborated.

The government is planning a review of its peace and security framework this year during which there will be an opportunity to explore people’s views on transitional justice, Elizah said.

The benefits of establishing a truth commission include a state-endorsed public platform for everyone to have their stories heard, give testimony of human rights abuses for possible further investigation and for recommendations to be made on legal and institutional reforms.

At the grassroots, people also point to the immense potential of implementing more widely customary processes of truth telling that have been used for generations.

“We do have traditional ceremonies where everybody comes together, the perpetrators and the victims and all others who are affected and they will thrash and throw out everything. That is very much like a truth commission, where, in the end, they say this is what we did,” Rosemary Moses at the Bougainville Women’s Federation in Arawa said.

Unabali agreed that durable peace should be built first on traditional truth telling mechanisms, which had widespread legitimacy in the minds of individuals and communities, even if a truth commission was also considered.


Environmental group fight to conserve land

Post Courier, July 12, 2016

ILLEGAL logging has sprung up over all over the country and many of the operations have gone unnoticed. Fast money overrides all even if there are laws to conserve the environment for future generations. Ignorant landowners have taken sides with illegal loggers and have multitudes of excuses to give when confronted by lobby groups and authorities. In a recent sit-in meeting over the encroachment on the wide life management area over illegal logging in the hinterlands of Kairuku and Goilala in Central Province, Post-Courier witnessed a meeting with parties; including the logging company, officers from Environment and Conservation and National Forestry office, a lobby group and landowners.

The meeting ensued after constant illegal operations over the past years despite the area- Inaina wildlife management area declared a protected site by the Environment and Conservation Authority.

Wildlife Management Areas are established on customarily owned land on the request of the landowners for the conservation and controlled utilisation of the wildlife and its habitat.

“What is environment,” one irate landowner told an environmental lobby group to get out. He was referring to the protected site when he said there were no benefits if the protected site was to go ahead.

“I get money from logging for school fees and for my bread and butter.

“What government services do you have for me here,” he asked.


 Homebrew lead cause of disorder: Leader

The National, Tuesday July 12th, 2016

Homebrew is the main contributing factor to social disorder in rural communities, a prominent woman leader from the Highlands region says.  She told The National that villagers were getting drunk every day because homebrew was cheap and “available in every corner and that is very dangerous.”  That led to immense law and order problems, she said. Women in Politics regional president Dere Cecillia from Kerowagi in Chimbu, said mothers and young girls were no longer feeling safe in the area  or even in their own communities.  She said they were being harassed and intimidated by young people under the influence of homebrew every day. “I do not know when we womenfolk will settle down well in our community without fear and be able to move around at any time of the day or night,” she said.
Cecillia said many villages in her district and other parts of the province that she visited suffered from similar problems.
She said community leaders, with the support from police, tried their best over the years to stop the cultivation of marijuana and production of homebrew but people had stopped only for a while.
She said some leaders were afraid to report the matter to police for fear of retaliation.
Cecillia said they should not allow the drunken and marijuana addicts to control their lives.


Archbishop urge politicians to unite for the nation

Post Courier, July 14, 2016

ALL leaders of the National Parliament need to remain united for the good of the nation and its people, says Catholic Archbishop of Port Moresby Sir John Ribat. In light of the current political situation in the country, Sir John said leaders involved should set aside their differences and work together for the betterment of the country. “On behalf of the churches in the country, I call on our leaders to put our nation first and all the issues happening should be set aside and think of ways, how, they want PNG to be like from now on and in the future.” The archbishop said leaders should work together despite their differences for the good of the people. “There are many people suffering in parts of the country and such situations do not create something important but delay in service delivery. “With all these court cases and recent situations in the political arena, let the judiciary make its decision and let’s hope it will be the best decision for the nation and its people. “All leaders should focus to see how they want PNG to be like through their leadership and see what is best for the country. “Let us hope and see what will be the best that will come out of such political situations that the country is facing,” he said. He is also encouraging other churches in the country to continue to pray for our wonderful country and the leaders of parliament as they continue to represent the people in their various provinces and districts to serve the people in the several services they deliver.


GOOD News for People Living With Disabilities in the Hela province

Post Courier, July 13, 2016

After living in the dark and struggling with their discomforts for many years without any devices to aide them, a truck load of very needy aiding devices are now on the way to Tari for distributions to People Living With Disabilities (PLWD) in the Hela Province. Mr Don Waipe, officer in charge (OIC) of Deafness and Hearing Services with the Mt Sion Center for the Blind in Goroka today transported the devices to Tari. Mr Waipe said over 27 000 devices were purchased for distribution throughout the country by Strongim Pipol Strongim Nation (SPSN) under AusAID after being approached in 2014 by the National Board for Disabled Persons (NBDP). He said Hela missed out on the first delivery of these devices as the devices were delivered to Mendi and never reached Tari. Mr Waipe said the second lot of supplies for Hela arrived in Lae wharf early last year and he made it his business to travel from Goroka to Lae to pick them up and stored them at his office in Goroka. Mr Waipe said due to lack of funds for vehicle hire, fuel and other logistical support, the 250 plus devices bound for Hela remained idle at his office for nearly a year until Hela provincial administrator William Bando intervened.

Mr Waipe said the devices include elbow crutches, crutches, walking sticks, eye glasses and hearing aids.

He said 22 wheel chairs are also at Tari hospital now after being transported by Tari hospital CEO Dr Hamiya Hewali.


Over 600 in Manus get refugee status

The National, Tuesday July 19th, 2016

MORE than 600 asylum seekers in Manus have been processed and given refugee status.  That was made known in the Supreme Court yesterday by lawyer Laias Kandi. Kandi, representing Immigration and Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato and Chief Migration Officer Mataio Rabura, also informed the court that 203 asylum seekers were yet to be determined.  He said out of the 203 asylum seekers, 129 had been assessed and were awaiting the minister’s decision while 74 were still undergoing a merit review process. The court has given the respondents 14 weeks to process the remaining 203 asylum seekers, including 30 who are in Australia for medical treatment. The respondents were told to provide a report to the court. Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia told lawyer Ben Lomai, who is representing the asylum seekers and the refugees, to produce five cases from the 636 refugees granted refugee status to be tried as test cases on Monday.  Sir Salamo instructed parties to inform the court on Monday on jurisdiction issues regarding the resettlement of the confirmed refugees.
According to the  information given to the court yesterday, 636 from a total of 1010 asylum seekers in Manus were given refugee status, 128 identified as non-refugees, 43 were in Australia for medical treatment of which 13 were refugees.

Court strikes out rape case involving handicapped girl

The National, Tuesday July 19th, 2016

THE Bomana Committal Court struck out a rape case on Friday because police failed to provide files on time. The case of Mathew Tusala, who allegedly raped a girl with disabilities at 9-Mile in Port Moresby, started on March 9. Magistrate Cosmas Bidar said police had failed to serve files on the defendant although more than three months had elapsed. Bidar said offences against disabled people  in the form of sexual harassment had become prevalent. He said it was also the constitutional right of the defendant to have his case dealt with in a reasonable time.


Family support is truly priceless

The National, Wednesday July 20th, 2016

Ever wonder why people from villages in and around Central province camp outside the Port Moresby General Hospital?  Under brightly coloured tents, they faithfully and tirelessly bear the cold and heat.
I ponder about it every time I passed by them but just didn’t have the time to sit and  ask questions.
I didn’t think it would be difficult to get answers until I enquired. “We are going through a situation right now, please, no stories,” was one of the first response I got.
I was still curious so I walked up and asked a woman but she too refused to share her story with me.
Finally, I came across an elderly man who was sitting outside his blue tent, casually chewing betel nuts.
I met Tau Dairi Hehuni last month. He is from Gaire village just outside Port Moresby. He said he was living outside the hospital for more than a month. He did not mind the noise and every other annoying things. He was sacrificing the comforts of home to wait for his son Belesa Dairi to recover.
“I’ve been living here for a month. I’m taking care of my child who has liver problems. I’ve asked my friends and relatives to come so we can donate 10 bags of blood to my son for an operation at the Pacific International Hospital),” Tau explained to me. The first and perhaps the most important reason why Tau is here is because of his family. For Tau to be there for his son was a sign of hope and faith that Belesa would recover and although his illness was grave, there was still light at the end of the tunnel.
Tau worried about his son but he was blessed with the company of his family, relatives and friends who had visited him. Not only that, but it’s  part of the custom of the Central people. “When I’m in trouble or one of my family members is sick, my wantoks and fellow tribesmen or family members visit me at the hospital and buy food and I would do the same for them. This happens every day,” Tau said.
“If my wantoks or family members don’t visit me now and when they fall sick, I will not visit them.
“That’s life in Central province. It’s a norm in Central.” A month later I called Tau and found out that Belesa had passed away.

Peter O’Neill lied to me about Rio’s decision to quit BCL 22 July 2016

WHEN I met prime minister Peter O’Neill on Saturday 2 July, I was not aware that the national government had already accepted the transfer of 17.4% equity from Rio Tinto.

I was initially reassured that he understood the serious dangers involved in the national government accepting the equity. I believed he understood our concerns and was ready to consider the shares coming to Bougainville. But later that day, I received the information that the national government had already accepted transfer of the shares. I immediately wrote to the prime minister, demanding that the shares be transferred to Bougainville. I became much more concerned by the statement of the former minister responsible, Ben Micah, reported in the Post Courier of 12 July. He alleged that the negotiations with Rio Tinto about equity transfer had been under the direction of the prime minister. Micah said that he had “been in discussions with Rio together with the prime minister and we have kept Mr. Momis abreast of our discussions”. If there was cooperation between the prime minister and Mr Micah, that would be very worrying. But more importantly, it is completely untrue that the prime minister and Mr Micah have kept me advised of their discussions. To say so is a complete lie…..


How our country is run: A government that lies to the people – Sir Julius Chan  21 July 2016

MY POSITION on the current political situation is very simple, and very firm. I stand for the good of the nation. I stand for the good of my province. And above all; I stand for the good of the people.

I support good government. I support the opposition. I support the people. I ask all other members of parliament to do the same. For the last few years, I have seen governments mad for power, spending their money buying support but forgetting the needs of the people. The Constitution says, “All power belongs to the people.” It says “our national wealth, won by honest, hard work, shall be shared equitably by all.”

We must never betray the Constitution or crave for power. Whether the government or the opposition wins this filthy battle, we must see change. The words of our leaders cannot be trusted. In 2009, Vision 2050 was launched with great promises – “By 2050 PNG will be in the top 50 countries of the world in the UN Human Development Index.”

But just seven years later PNG has dropped from 145th in the world to 158th, from the medium human development category to the low human development category. We are on the same level with basket cases like Rwanda and Burkina Faso. The national government never keeps its promises. Just look at New Ireland. In the 1995 Lihir memorandum of agreement, the government promised a Kavieng international airport, a Kavieng international wharf and a fully sealed Boluminski Highway. They promised Namatanai Power, Namatanai Water, Kavieng Power, Kavieng Water and 18 other projects. In 20 years not one was delivered. Not one! The entire nation was promised tuition fee free education, but the money is always too little, too late. Education in PNG is in chaos. We were promised free primary and subsidised secondary health care. Where is it? Government cannot even pay the DSIP and PSIP on time. Districts and provinces have no funds for services and infrastructure. Meanwhile our resources continue to be stolen, enriching foreign companies, filling the pockets of politicians, but bleeding the people.

Our royalties are among the lowest in the world. Billions of kina flow out, but only liklik toea comes back to the province, to the people. And look at our forests. A 2013 commission of inquiry on special agriculture and business leases (SABLs) reported fraudulent contracts to companies who clear-felled our forests, undercounted and underpriced the logs to avoid tax, and never developed a single agricultural project.

The commission of inquiry recommended most SABLs be revoked. Cabinet agreed in 2014. The prime minister then said the revocations would be done. What has happened since? Nothing! This is how our country is run. The national government simply lies to the people and spends their money. The bureaucracy sucks up money but has no idea what is happening on the ground. Meanwhile in the provinces we try our best. In New Ireland we have spent hundreds of millions on services and infrastructure the State promised but failed to provide. Other provinces have done the same.

So you ask what is my position? My position is clear. I support honest government, not one for sale to the highest bidder. ….


It is time to heal and build a better Papua New Guinea 23 July 2016   Martin Namarong

YESTERDAY I was disappointed. Not because the opposition didn’t win the vote of no confidence, but because of the lack of a better alternative to the status quo.  I’ve noted how some have demonised the speaker of parliament for quelling debate but let’s be realistic – the opposition did not have the numbers on the floor. Many commentators may have their opinions on why the status quo wasn’t changed. To my mind, change did not occur because there was no better alternative. Change did not happen because the whole of Papua New Guinea wasn’t inspired by a better alternative, to move for change. The challenge presented to the opposition and critics of the current government is to articulate a better alternative that everyone (including the crooks) can believe in. The default attitude that some may take following the failure of the vote of no confidence may be to create further obstacles. Whilst this may generate headlines and cause disruptions, as we have seen from previous experience, such efforts have been futile. Indeed, ordinary Papua New Guineans have paid are high price without a single dent on the current regime.

Now is not the time to further polarise the country but to heal the wounds and build bridges. Now is the time for more moderate voices articulating a better alternative? One cannot bring about change using the same methods that have failed previously. Our people want change but it’s not just the change of personalities but a holistic change that improves their livelihoods and wellbeing. Such change does not just come from removing a prime minister but from redefining Papua New Guinea’s model of development. It’s about social, economic, political and cultural reforms that create an inclusive and just society. Critics of the current regime have been experts at highlighting its sins but have yet to convince the people of Papua New Guinea how they can lead the country into a brighter future.

Sure we have overcrowding in classrooms but how do we address the issue without borrowing to build more infrastructure? Do we increase government spending by building more hospitals and buying more medicines or do we empower our people to prevent themselves from getting ill?

To replace some individuals with other individuals without redefining the underlying model of development is a band aid solution.  Wholesale changes to the philosophy of government, investments in human capital and institutional reforms are needed alongside changes to faces.

Yes we can talk about the abuses and terrible things our nation is going through but we must also give our people hope about the future. We must empower our people so that they themselves are capable of participating meaningfully in all aspects of national development so as to maintain national sovereignty and promote self-reliance. Our people don’t just need stories about how bad things are in PNG but also empowering stories about Papua New Guinean ways of achieving sustainable human development and creating a nation of which they can be proud.


Buk bilong Pikinini makes book donations to rural and remote schools to increase literacy across PNG

Post Courier, July 27, 2016

Buk bilong Pikinini (BbP) is currently producing a documentary to highlight the great need for books and literacy materials in rural and remote schools across Papua New Guinea.

The documentary will showcase Buk bilong Pikinini’s work to get books to the most remote part of PNG and will also feature the inspirational personal stories of Eric Morova (Kanabea) and Grace Mungkaje (Tarawai), who have collected books in Australia and have received assistance from BbP and donors to bring the books back to their respective villages. Buk bilong Pikinini, which usually establishes libraries and conducts Early Childhood Literacy classes has introduced a new program Buk bilong Komuni-, which seeks to assist schools to re-establish libraries with high quality book and literacy material donations. BbP receives the donation of books in Australia from publishing houses, schools and individuals and is able to make donations to schools across PNG upon request. The donation kits consists of; children’s picture books, readers, teachers reference books, young adult books, dictionaries, activity books and stationery.

Media enquiries Contact: Elizabeth Omeri, PR & Marketing Manager Phone: 73771224


Concerns raised by the CBC-PNG/SI on Deep Sea Mining (DSM)– 19 July 2016

The bishops of the Central Committee of the Catholic Bishops conference of PNG/SI met in Port Moresby on 18-19 July 2016. In this two day meeting, they discussed, among other things, about the proposedDeep Sea Mining (DSM) called Solwara1 and Solwara2 close to the shores of Papua New Guinea.

Following are the concerns raised by the Central Committee on the DSM:

  1. Why was PNG chosen as the testing place for DSM and why not a developed country such as the US or UK, Canada or Australia? Seabed Mining is a 30 month project and is only an experiment on the technology. There have been many other experiments in the Pacific that have brought no benefit for PNG. It appears this one won’t either.
  2. Critics maintain that Deep Sea Mining will cause a direct physical destruction of unique ecosystems; noise generated by the intended 24 hour per day operation will have a negative effect on the dolphins, sharks, tuna, whales and leatherback turtles in the area. We don’t know whether or not this is true, but why allow a project that offers no perceptible benefit for PNG to go ahead in PNG waters?
  3. It is alleged that the Government of PNG borrowed money to buy shares in DSM. It is incurring a high financial cost expecting high returns. PNG does not need to add more debt burden to our already struggling economy.
  4. How will DSM benefit communities in the region. We see potential negative outcomes for the people and environment in the area of DSM but no positive ones given the scope and nature of the experimental project. In addition, the DSM project is already dividing communities which disagree concerning Solwara 1.
  5. There is no act of Parliament governing DSM in Papua New Guinea. Rich sponsoring countries are shifting the responsibility of care to small countries such as Papua New Guinea.
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Social Concerns Notes – June 2016

Papua New Guinea: students shot, country damaged

11 June 2016 Author: Bill Standish, Canberra

On Wednesday 8 June, Papua New Guinea police fired on a peaceful student demonstration at the University of PNG (UPNG); four students received bullet wounds, 20 were injured and hundreds tear-gassed. Thankfully there were no fatalities. PNG has again made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Even UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed his concern, appealing for calm and respect for peaceful protest, freedom of assembly and a commitment to the rule of law.

How did this happen?

As I flagged in January, public concern at political corruption has escalated under the government of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill. He has refused to be interviewed by the police over US$22 million payments to lawyer Paul Paraka, thus provoking a court-issued arrest warrant. And he is fighting an investigation over US$1.2 billion worth of loans borrowed without parliamentary approval. The state is in fiscal trouble. Foreign exchange reserves are short as income from liquefied natural gas has effectively been garnisheed to repay the loans. Budget cuts are severe. Health and education, for example, have been hit by cuts of around 35 per cent. UPNG students have been boycotting classes for five weeks due to concerns about government corruption and PNG’s precarious economic position as well as a desire to preserve democracy and the rule of law. They have petitioned O’Neill demanding he step down (or at least step aside) while the charges are dealt with according to the law. The prime minister, who dominates the parliament, has stated that there is no case against him. But, as former Chief Justice Sir Arnold Amet points out, that is for the courts to decide. The students and the prime minister appear to have angrily painted themselves into opposing corners. No third party mediator has emerged yet.

[See the url above for the full article]


Investigation must be transparent: UN
Post Courier, June 15, 2016

THE United Nations has urged the importance of transparent and thorough investigations into the events of last Wednesday in which police shot at protesters, mainly University of Papua New Guinea students, at the Waigani campus entrance. The UN said in a statement on Monday that it was deeply concerned about the unrest in PNG, and particularly the events of Wednesday when police opened fire at the protestors who were preparing to march to Parliament in Port Moresby, injuring a number of students, some of whom remain hospitalised. It said that it was aware that Police Commissioner Gari Baki had announced an inquiry into the incident. “It is important that the police inquiry examines the use of force by law enforcement officers, including the use of live ammunition, and takes in consideration relevant international human rights laws and standards as well as recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteurs who recently visited PNG. We stress the importance of these inquiries being conducted in an independent, transparent and thorough manner resulting in a just process,” the UN said.


Behind the shooting of Papua New Guinea student protesters  By Peter Symonds 14 June 2016

Heavily-armed police in the Papua New Guinea capital of Port Moresby last Wednesday opened fire on hundreds of protesting university students with live ammunition, injuring nearly 40, several seriously. Initial reports of four dead proved incorrect. The police crackdown followed weeks of student protests, including widespread class boycotts, at the University of Papua New Guinea that were joined by students in other parts of the country….. [See url above for full article].

Frictions have developed between O’Neill and Canberra over a series of issues, including his decision to direct some Australian advisers to leave last December. Nevertheless, his government has retained Canberra’s backing throughout the current crisis. In response to last week’s shootings, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop called for “calm.” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull rang O’Neill to offer assistance, but was politely declined. It is not difficult to imagine a completely different scenario if O’Neill no longer enjoyed Canberra’s support. Not only would the corruption allegations be used to paint a picture of a dysfunctional government, but the shooting of unarmed student protesters would be seized upon to denounce O’Neill in the blackest of terms, paving the way for his removal.

The latest crisis in PNG is a harbinger of the worsening social and economic crisis and sharpening geo-political tensions wracking countries throughout the region, particularly the small, vulnerable island states of the South West Pacific. The police shootings are a warning of the draconian measures that will be used by the local ruling elites to suppress any resistance to their agenda


DWU students condemn 8th June shooting

Post Courier, June 28, 2016

Students at Divine Word University’s Madang campus have strongly condemned the alleged police shooting of unarmed students at the University of Papua New Guinea on the 8th earlier this month.

The DWU Student Representative Council met with the leaders of provincial associations on campus recently and all voiced concern about the shooting and strongly condemned the action.

The student body also raised funds on campus and had sent it to the UPNG students to assist those injured with their medical expenses last Friday. The SRC President Jackson Kane Mulupe and his vice president Issac Ramson said: “We condemn the alleged acts of the police against unarmed students.

“We want the law to deal with individual policeman allegedly responsible. Police are not there to serve the interest of individuals or politicians but for this country and therefore, we call on the Ombudsman Commission as the constitutional watchdog to fully investigate. The action of the law enforcement officers was disgraceful and disrespectful to us as students,” Mr Mulupe and Mr Ramson said.

Mamose students’ representative Jason Imbong said we see the act of police as deprivation of the democratic human rights and freedom of speech and movement of the people.

“We want an independent Commission of Inquiry to be carried out especially by individuals outside of the government system to find out who authorized the shooting,” he said. He adds, we recommend that police must be trained and resourced with proper crowd control ways and equipment such as water cannons and batons rather than tear gas and live ammunition.

Issac Sukua representing New Guinea Islands and Southern region students said that under the Human Rights Act 1998, human have rights to live, respect, have freedom of speech and the police must act in a harmonious way. “We feel that the students’ rights were deprived at that time. Thus, they had the intent to kill by using weapons, so we condemn these actions,” Mr Sukua said. He added that they feel that this act was not a mistake but was ordered by somebody and must be investigated. The SRC believe that under the Police Act of 1998 Section 23 Division 3, where there is reason to believe that a member of the force committed a disciplinary offence other than an offence that is or intended to be dealt with as a minor offence shall be dealt with as a serious offence.The DWU SRC therefore have condemned the acts of the police that they have and are urging if the higher authority cannot maintain the rule of law, then it becomes meaningless to everybody else in the lower levels of society. Meanwhile, the SRC and students have carried out fundraising on campus and sent the money collected to the UPNG students injured and hospitalized to assist them with their medical expenses. “To show our solidarity and care for our fellow students who were injured we have made some contributions and sent it to them to assist with their hospital expenses,” said Mr Mulupe.


PMGH needs blood donations every week

The National, Friday June 3rd, 2016

COORDINATOR of the Port Moresby General Hospital’s  ANZ Corporate Blood Drive (CBD) Anna Megueria says the hospital requires  at least 400 screened bags every week to assist those in need.
“At any time PMGH has a stock of blood at hand, however we need at least 800 to 1000 people to try to donate blood so that we can collect about 400 bags of blood every week. “Individual donors can donate blood every three to four months if they are in good health and are aged between 18 and 60 years old, weigh at least 45kg, and have not had symptoms of infection such as sore throat, cough, runny nose and diarrheoa for at least one week, and have not had a fever in the last three weeks. “Blood donors can come to donate blood either during corporate blood drives or to PMGH’s blood bank. The blood bank centre is open every day from 9am to 3pm except for public holidays. She said that a lot of Port Moresby businesses are happy to support this worthy cause and mostly got in touch with the CBD team to organise a blood drive for their staff. ‘Donate blood and save a life’ is the message from the Corporate Blood Drive supported by the Port Moresby General Hospital
Any organisation wishing to arrange a blood drive can contact Anna –


‘Outlawed and abused’: human rights abuses against sex workers in PNG

By Camilla Burkot on June 1, 2016

A new report issued by Amnesty International last week paints a deeply troubling picture of the human rights abuses commonly endured by sex workers in Papua New Guinea, including at the hands of police.

Based on interviews with nearly 30 sex workers in Port Moresby and Mount Hagen, as well as a selection of representatives from NGOs, health services, police and the Ombudsman’s and Public Solicitor’s offices, the report’s findings largely confirm and extend previous research conducted on the subject within PNG, as well as the global experience of sex workers in countries where sex work is criminalised and stigmatised. The evidence gathered of common police indifference to – and in some cases active perpetration of – crimes committed against sex workers in PNG is particularly disturbing.

Though sex work itself is not technically illegal, the report notes that a number of PNG’s laws – many of which are colonial-era legal transplants from Queensland’s criminal code, with provisions that have since been repealed in Australia – discriminate against and disadvantage sex workers. Because they focus on the act of selling rather than buying sex, laws against ‘living on the earnings of prostitution’ and ‘keeping or owning a brothel’, among others (p. 19-20), leave sex workers but not their clients legally culpable.

Interviewees (including representatives of the police’s Internal Affairs Unit) recounted numerous cases of unlawful detention (p. 27-8) and of police treating possession of condoms as evidence of sex work or of intent to spread HIV/AIDS (also a criminal offense in PNG) (p. 28-30). But most harrowing are the testimonies of direct abuses of sex workers by police officers, including rape and extortion (p. 30-3). Though in most cases sex workers are not charged with an offence, the criminal code enables corrupt police to use the implicit threat of arrest against them (p. 30). Despite the severity of the abuse, many sex workers express reluctance to file complaints against the police out of fear of further retribution.


Beon Jail running out of food rations

Post Courier, June 07, 2016

THE BEON Jail in Madang is currently facing an acute food shortage for its inmates. This was revealed today by a senior Correctional Services officer from Beon Jail who was supervising the stall set-up for this weekend‘s Madang Festival at Laiwaden oval. The CS officer who requested anonymity. said the food ration to feed the inmates is running so short and they are making desperate appeals to business houses in Madang town and the provincial government for possible assistance. He pointed out that the short fall in government funding is one of the major contributing factors that lead to food rations running out.


More specialist midwives needed
Post Courier, June 14, 2016

MORE than half of the 250,000 annual births are delivered under recognised supervision in facilities, a health conference has been told. The conference heard that only 102,000 births – around 40 per cent – are supervised in facilities. According to the Health Department standards, supervision of these numbers of birth requires at least 600 to 800 midwives. At the moment, there are about 500 practising midwives nationwide. Aid agency AusAID support for midwifery education has facilitated the training of the current 400 new midwives since 2012. However, due to the older age structure of the current midwifery workforce, this number barely has an impact on the total stock of midwives for the country. Almost as many midwives have retired, moved out of midwifery, died or have been retrenched.

The review showed that between 2010 and 2014, the school of medicine and health sciences at the University of PNG and Port Moresby General Hospital had trained 40 doctors in the post-graduate diploma of obstetrics and gynaecology, and 15 specialist obstetrician gynaecologists. Unfortunately, the program at the school to train doctors with specialist maternity care skills ended last year. In general nursing and community health workers training in obstetrics, the curriculum only provides for reasonable basic care training in maternal and new born care. It is estimated that about one-third of these general health staff end up providing midwife and obstetric care. The shortage of skilled health workers is most stark at the district level. Only 39 of 88 districts have access to a doctor. This translates to over five million people without a direct access to a doctor, according to the report.


Lodge owner bans alcohol

The National, Friday June 17th, 2016

THE owner of a lodge in Jiwaka has decided not to sell alcohol because alcohol-related problems have become a very serious threat to business houses and the community. Gibson Yuants who owns Molka Lodge in Minj cleared all his stocks of alcoholic beverages last week. Molka Lodge is a popular lodge in the province and the highlands region. Yuants says Molka provides accommodation and other facilities and entertainment services but alcohol has become a major concern. He says he used to make “heaps of money” from the sale of alcohol because the lodge was located just along the Highlands Highway.
“I’m sacrificing to stop the sale of alcohol because people are not behaving when under the influence of alcohol. “I have been dealing with drunkards all my life and this time I have decided to find a solution and that is to completely stop the sale of alcohol,” he said.  He says nowadays people under the influence of alcohol behaved in a very disorderly manner. “Molka Lodge will only provide accommodation, conferences center and other services but it won’t sell alcohol.”


Lack of funds affect St John Ambulance’s operations

The National, Friday June 17th, 2016

Some branches and divisions of St John Ambulance are now under different managements because of insufficient funds to manage all of them, acting CEO Mollen Molki says. Molki said due to financial problems, the branch in Wewak and some other centres had been handed over to the provincial governments. He said the St John Ambulance branch in Port Moresby looks after some parts of Gulf and Central. Molki said St John Ambulance was also located in Bougainville but was forced to shut down during the Bougainville crisis. He said negotiations with the Bougainville government were underway to have the branch there re-opened.  “We also had other services such as caring of the blind and the blood bank which were taken under the care of the Government because there were no funds available to keep them in operation.” Molki says that institutions such as the Gordon and Gerehu clinics used to be under St John Ambulance but were recently handed over to the Government due to the same reason.

Bougainville Women Turn Around Lives of ‘Lost Generation’

HAKO, Buka Island, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea , Jun 13 2016 (IPS) – Finding a sense of identity and purpose, as well as employment are some of the challenges facing youths in post-conflict Bougainville, an autonomous region in eastern Papua New Guinea in the southwest Pacific Islands. They have been labelled the ‘lost generation’ due to their risk of being marginalised after missing out on education during the Bougainville civil war (1989-1998), known locally as the ‘Crisis’.

But in Hako constituency, where an estimated 30,000 people live in villages along the north coast of Buka Island, North Bougainville, a local women’s community services organisation refuses to see the younger generation as anything other than a source of optimism and hope. “They are our future leaders and our future generation, so we really value the youths,” Dorcas Gano, president of the Hako Women’s Collective (HWC) told IPS. “There were no schools, no teachers and no services here and we had no food to eat. I saw people killed with my own eyes and we didn’t sleep at night, we were frightened.” — Gregory Tagu, who was in fifth grade when the war broke out.

Youth comprise about 60 percent of Bougainville’s estimated population of 300,000, which has doubled since the 1990s. The women’s collective firmly believes that peace and prosperity in years to come depends on empowering young men and women in these rainforest-covered islands to cope with the challenges of today with a sense of direction. One challenge, according to Gregory Tagu, a youth from Kohea village, is the psychological transition to a world without war….

In Hako, women are particularly concerned for the 70 percent of early school leavers who are unemployed and in 2007 the collective conducted their first skills training program. More than 400 youths were instructed in 30 different trade and technical skills, creative visual and music art, accountancy, leadership, health, sport, law and justice and public speaking. Two-thirds of those who participated were successful in finding employment, Gano claims.


Women’s economic empowerment: the importance of small market stall vendors in urban Papua New Guinea

By Michelle Nayahamui Rooney on June 16, 2016

Women’s economic empowerment: the importance of small market stall vendors in urban Papua New Guinea

…Evidence already tells us that a significant number of people in urban areas rely on the informal sector, and that women dominate this form of economic engagement [1]. A similar pattern is shown in the findings of a small survey I conducted during my fieldwork in Port Moresby in 2013. Men dominated income earning activities in waged employment while women were the key players in the informal sector (Figure 1).


Figure 1: Types of income earning activity, by gender (%; n=82)


When the family falls short they turn to the informal income earner – usually the mother whose income is earned on a daily basis from her small market stall – to supplement income until the next payday. Because the income is earned daily, the family is able to buy food in smaller portions on a daily basis.

For many — perhaps most — women in urban areas, small market stalls are usually their most viable option for making a bit of money to support their families. These intimate spaces of economic and social empowerment have been long neglected, but deserve to be better understood.


O’Neill’s home province provides 70% of defence force recruits

PRIME minister Peter O’Neill and defence minister Fabian Pok have been accused of pursuing recruitment policies that skew the composition of the PNG Defence Force to personnel from their own highlands provinces. Deputy opposition leader Sam Basil says that since Mr O’Neill came to power 70% of defence recruits have come from his Ialibu-Pangia Electorate in the Southern Highlands while 30% have come from Jiwaka Province, home of Dr Pok. O’Neill became prime minister and Dr Pok’s appointment as defence minister. “Peter O’Neill is from Southern Province and Dr Pok is from Jiwaka Province and it is obvious that the recruitment of soldiers are based on those two provinces with Ialibu-Pangia dominating,” Mr Basil said. He stated that he had “reliable information leaked from the PNGDF to the opposition” adding that he had challenged Dr Pok in parliament to provide lists of soldiers recruited since 2013 “to prove that I am wrong”. Mr Basil also said he had PNGDF documents that instructed recruitment officers to overlook “minor issues such as marital status and false education certificates to allow for soldiers from Ialibu Pangia to be recruited”.


Refugee Day celebrated
Post Courier, June 22, 2016

WORLD Refugee Day is a time to remember the struggles that refugees go through and also to remember countries or states who have provided humanitarian support to refugees in their times of need.

With the theme “PNG Welcomes Refugees”, the event was coordinated by International Organisation for Migration and Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority. Speaking at the World Refugee Day commemoration were deputy chief migration officer of the Refugee Division Esther Gaegaming, Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis, the Catholic Bishops Conference general secretary Father Victor Roche and United Nations resident coordinator Roy Trivedy. Also attending were invited guests from the private and public sector, refugees from West Papua as well .


Millions owed to medical contractors
Post Courier, June 23, 2016

THE Government owes millions of kina in outstanding payments to suppliers and distributors of medical drugs. The payments are more than K50 million and owed for more than six months. That figure was given by contractors, suppliers and distributors of medicine in the country. The figure could go higher but the Health Department says it does not have exact figures. Health Minister Michael Malabag and Secretary Pascoe Kase are both aware of the outstanding payments and met on Monday to discuss the matter on outstanding payments. “I am aware of the outstanding payments and have expressed my concern to Finance and Treasury. “I have instructed the Health Secretary to do daily follow ups with the departments to ensure some payments are made,” Mr Malabag said. Mr Kase said: “We have talked with our suppliers and distributors of medicines and they appreciated the financial situation we are in so we are managing and we pay as we receive funds from treasury.


Liquor shops increase along sections of Highlands Highway

Post Courier, June 22,2016, 02:00 pm

POLICE in Chimbu province are concerned at the high number of liquor shops that have suddenly mushroomed along various sections of Highlands Highway in the province.  Provincial Police Commander Supt Albert Beli said liquor is being sold publicly like any other trade store commodities in the province and this has inflicted more social problems and lawlessness. Supt Beli said this when commending businessman Gibson Yuants, owner of the famous Molka Lodge at the Minj road junction in the neighboring Jiwaka province for banning the sale of liquor at the lodge last week. Supt Beli said ‘money is not everything’ and the manner in which Mr Yuants prioritised human life and well-being ahead of fast money making business in the sale of beer must be emulated by all aspiring businessman and women who opt for liquor trade. Supt Beli said Chimbu has serious law and order problems that stem from the consumption of alcohol, adding that unlike in the past where beer is sold at restricted places, today clubs, pubs and taverns have mushroomed all over the province from Miunde on the Jiwaka border to Magiro on the Eastern Highlands boarder.


Parts of country facing food shortage

The National, Thursday June 23rd, 2016

CERTAIN parts of the country are still facing food shortage months after the drought hit the country, according to Dr Mike Bourke of the Australian National University. He told The National yesterday that this was particularly true in parts of Western and Milne Bay. “The drought is well and truly over. All over Papua New Guinea, it’s been raining,” Bourke said. “This has been going on for almost a year now, and also down in Morehead. “Food is also short in Milne Bay, particularly in many small atolls and small islands, and also in the north coast towards Rabaraba.” He said the high-altitude areas badly hit last July by frost included Kandep and Upper Lagaip Valley in Enga, and across the provincial border into Hela.
“Food is still scarce. Food distribution is going on as we speak.” Bourke said international organisations such as the World Food Programme and CARE were involved in food distribution. “Even now in 2016, the impact of food shortage is still happening,” he said. “A limited number of areas, but we are talking about 250,000 to 300,000 people. “There are about 80,000 people in Milne Bay and there are maybe 40,000 people in Western. The numbers are reasonably large.” Dr Bourke said things would get better soon. “Our understanding is that by September, this will be all over. But that’s three months away and still a long time to be short of food,” he said.

Stitched mouth extremist granted freedom
Post Courier, June 28, 2016

The foreigner who shook Papua New Guinea two weeks ago when he stitched his mouth up to protest being deported has been granted freedom. Mohamed Dahan Ghagadali from Western Sahara in Morocco, Africa’s bizarre display of extremism made headlines when a picture of his stitched up mouth was circulated over several media platforms including social media. The African was released from Bomana Prison yesterday on the conditions that he has the stitches removed, refrain from going on hunger strikes again and report to the PNG Immigration office every Wednesday for evaluation. Ghagadali’s lawyer Mr Ben Lomai told the press that his client’s fingerprint’s and photo have been taken and that the immigration office is in the process of reassessing Ghagadali’s application for fulltime residency in PNG.

Ghagadali was found to have been an illegal immigrant in July 2015 and was as a result detained at Bomana prison for the past six months awaiting deportation. The foreigner has three children and is married to a Papua New Guinea woman to whom he lived with for five years prior to his incarceration.


Clinic records 1000 HIV cases

The National, Wednesday June 29th, 2016

Kundiawa General Hospital has recorded over 1000 confirmed cases of HIV/AIDS at the hospital’s special clinic. Director of the Prapra HIV testing clinic, a branch of the hospital, Dr John Tonar confirmed there were 1030 cases recorded. He said these were cases reported at the clinic but estimated that there could be an equal number of cases still out in the communities. “This unreported cases also have their partners, therefore I anticipate that there are some 3000 to 4000 people infected and are living in the communities,” Dr Tonar said. He said the confirmed cases recorded at the clinic were mainly from unprotected sex.Dr Tonar gave these statistics during a  school HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis (TB) exposition at Gembogl station in upper Chimbu last week. He said knowledge was a powerful tool to avoid contracting HIV and TB. He praised Gembogl district disease control officer Willie Gene Michael and teachers from Goro, Denglagu, Gembogl, Womatne and Bongugl primary schools who staged the exposition.  The event involved students who took part in dramas, debates, marches, poems and essays on the reality of HIV/AIDS and TB. “I thank you teachers for being instrumental in disseminating health messages through various means, you are working very hard to educate our future generations on the dangers of HIV/AIDS and TB. Your effort will go a long way to save our future generations.”
Dr Tonar is also the leader of the rural outreach team of the Kundiawa hospital that goes out to districts and villages to provide health care for patients who could not travel to the hospital.

Brexit: What lessons are there for PNG and the Pacific?  Economist | Edited extracts

EUROPE is in shock as Britain votes to pull out of the European Union in what is now termed the ‘Brexit’. Britain is important to the EU because it is its second largest economy, and the world’s fifth largest. Thus her exit is raising fears that a domino effect could follow with other countries leaving the union. Questions are now being asked if the EU will survive. There is evidence indicating that right wing ‘nationalists’ in other countries are now pushing for an exit from the EU. One could argue that this is rather premature given Britain and the EU have not yet seen the full extent of the Brexit outcome.

The EU is currently negotiating a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with all 14 island states in the south Pacific. The comprehensive agreement will cover trade in goods and services, development cooperation, food health and safety, agriculture, sustainable development and competition.

The Brexit looks as though the EU might put a temporary halt to this negotiation. Britain, for its part, is going to have to negotiate an exit strategy with the EU which seems likely to have effects in this part of the world including a renegotiation of the terms of the economic partnership agreement.

The interim agreement provided PNG with duty free access into the British and European markets; a renegotiation could potentially turn this around and affect PNG’s economy – especially its foreign reserves which are already under pressure. This would spell disaster for PNG given its current economic condition where problems in the foreign reserves have forced the government to pursue extraordinary borrowing measures. The decision by Britain to hold a referendum to decide its future in the EU has brought to the forefront the important question of whether the Pacific could emulate a similar economic union. There is merit for such a set-up to facilitate trade and labour mobility – and it is an issue that has recently gained recognition. There is also a need to establish a common security policy to address terrorism, illegal fishing, transnational crime, human smuggling and border protection. Most Pacific Island nations have just a tiny military to protect their borders or exclusive economic zones.

The Pacific islands nations could explore introducing a common currency. However, as we have seen with the Greek crisis, such an option is not presently viable in a region which is prone to global market shocks. Nevertheless, having a common currency could ease payments for trade in raw materials and reduce transaction costs to boost tourism.


Statement on the current political tension in Papua New Guinea

Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG/SI.  9 June 2016

The Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinean and Solomon Islands views with concern the recent escalation of the political struggle currently taking place in Papua New Guinea.

Political disputes must be handled in the appropriate forum: parliament, guided by the Constitution. However every person in Papua New Guinea is obliged to follow the rule of law and the Melanesian Way, practicing restraint in times of conflict, avoiding escalation and the resort to violence.

We therefore appeal to all parties to express their legitimate concerns, even anger, without recourse to violence. In particular we appeal to the disciplined forces to follow correct procedures and never to use armed violence against our own unarmed citizens.

It is time for cooler heads to prevail, and for all parties to come together, mediated by a neutral third party, to work together for a peaceful outcome that follows the civil and gospel principles of honesty, truth and justice.

We repeat our appeal for Parliament to genuinely address the growing curse of corruption in our country. There appears to be not only a lack of political will but even sometimes a deliberate avoidance of tackling the issue, which we believe lies behind much of the anger and unrest felt by students and the wider population.

Strengthen the Ombudsman Commission. Fast track the Independent Commission against Corruption. Depoliticize the public service and the disciplined forces.

The knife that cuts out corruption must cut cleanly and quickly.

Catholic Bishops Conference PNG/SI

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Social Concerns Notes – May 2016

More health workers and doctors needed

Post Courier, May 02, 2016

The dire need for doctors and health services in the rural parts Papua New Guinea where the majority live was highlighted in the annual Open Day of Divine Word University in Madang yesterday.

This message came out in the displays and information provided by the pioneer Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS students) plus their peers from other programs in the faculty of medicine and health sciences. The MBBS program was introduced in DWU this year with 29 pioneer students enrolled. The MBBS students were out in force at the Open Day advocating for the program and highlighted the poor health indicators that characterise PNG at this time. According to the 2012 Health Service Delivery Report compiled by the Health Department and World Health Organisation “PNG has low numbers of health professionals per head of population. The report highlights that there were “5.3 nurses/midwives and less than one doctor per 10,000 people,”

Dean of the faculty of medicine and health sciences, Dr Clement Malau said the public demand for doctors and other health care workers will only increase with the growth in population and PNG must plan and prepare to meet the demand.


Call for Widows Act

The National, Monday May 2nd, 2016

THE PNG Widows Association wants a Lukautim Widows Act passed by 2017 to give widows a voice. The association, through its awareness and findings in two regions, Highlands and Southern, provided evidence that there were more than half a million such women in the country. “They are facing discrimination in their everyday lives mainly caused by their own family members”, association president Maria Unde said. “Their numbers tend to increase when Papua New Guineans are dying in hundreds nearly every day.” Unde said urgent partnership was required to start drafting a widows national policy as requested by the Department of Community Development, Youth and Religion.

She pointed out that the piece of legislation would be the first in any country, therefore, needed urgent support from partners to address issues of discrimination. Unde suggested that the Government could use the legislation and offer it as a gift to the world by presenting it as an important discussion matter to its world partners who could provide support and consider it as a top issue apart from climate change during the 2018 Apec meeting. “We see infrastructure development taking place in all the districts in rural areas but we see nil support in human development,” she said.

“Widows are the poorest people living on this planet and are not considered useful anymore and are therefore secluded and excluded in all activities and become the planet’s invisible women,” Unde said.


Unit lacks resources: Report

The National, Monday May 2nd, 2016

FAMILY and sexual violence units have not been allocated resources in police budgets although there is an increasing demand for their services annually. Ashlee Betteridge, a research officer at the Development Policy Centre in Australia highlighted this in her report published last Tuesday.

She said a recent evaluation of family sexual violence (FSV) units in PNG had painted a grim picture of the operating environment in which they were not allocated resources in police budgets.

The report also indicated that the units were not recognised within official police structures, under-staffed and in some cases under-trained.

Betteridge added that the report had also shown how low the arrest rates were in cases seen by FSV units. “For example, in Lae, Morobe, in the first quarter of 2015, out of 49 cases only two arrests were made,” she said. “In Waigani, out of 411 cases in 2014, there were only seven arrests and no follow-up at all in 109 of those cases.”  She said the evaluation has argued that the low arrests made so far were linked to the fact that most officers involved were female and that they were not in a position to arrest people due to potential threats to their safety.


Many difficult challenges face a recovering Bougainville

02 May 2016  PATRICK NISIRA | Edited extracts

MANY of the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s (ABG) leadership challenges are inherent in the general situation of Bougainville in 2016. In a real sense it is a post-conflict situation – in that Bougainville’s violent, destructive, and deeply divisive nine year civil war ended almost 19 years ago, in mid-1997. It’s hardly surprising that, in the aftermath of such a violent, bitter and divisive conflict, that many opposing factions and divisions exist in Bougainville, and that consequentially, there is still much mistrust. But there are also significant new developments.

While the mainstream former Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) and Bougainville Resistance Force (BRF) elements that supported the peace process now largely work well together, at the local level there remain many unresolved divisions where reconciliation is still required. Since about 2010 former combatant organisations have emerged as significant political voices in Bougainville. …

A complicating factor here is the various business and other economic interests of several key former combatant leaders. Some of them use their ex-combatant networks to advance such interests.

Of course, there are other sources of significant division and tension. They include several different Me’ekamui factions, none of which participated in the weapons disposal process under the Bougainville Peace Agreement and so remain in possession of numerous firearms.

Another source of tensions is a group led by former BRA leader, Sam Kauona, who has long had interest in establishing mining operations in association with dual Australian/Canadian citizen Lindsay Semple and who – whenever they fear their mining interests are not sufficiently guaranteed – attacks the ABG as being under the control of Bougainville Copper Ltd and its 53% majority shareholder, Rio Tinto….

The much slower than anticipated progress in transfer of powers has resulted in frustration, and contributed to widespread criticism of the ABG for lack of performance, and failure to meet expectations. …If the ABG is to achieve real autonomy, or to have independence available as a real option in the future, achieving fiscal self-reliance is essential. But the challenges of achieving that goal – so strongly emphasised by the Bougainville Constitution – are immense.

Full version of Mr Nisira’s speech –  Download ‘Challenges facing the Bougainville Government’ by Patrick Nisira

Patrick Nisira is vice-president of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.


Forced marriage a form of human trafficking

The National, Tuesday May 3rd, 2016

FORCED marriage, as it happens quite frequently in PNG, is a form of human trafficking and those responsible can face criminal charges, the International Organisation for Migration says.  The organisation’s chief of mission George Gigauri said: “If a girl is forced into marriage or some one is locked up and forced to work, all that qualify as human trafficking.  “Labour and sexual exploitation is a form of trafficking human beings.”

Gigauri said they were involved with government border agencies to deal with Burmese and Thailand fishermen along the PNG-Indonesian-Australian border last year. “These fishermen came into PNG through the dogleg area in Western Province from the Indonesian side, while  fishing and most the people were victims of trafficking,” he said.

“They were forced to work by the owner of the company and we went in with the PNGDF (Defence Force) and police, got them out and returned them to Burma and Cambodia.

“Our mission there (Burma and Cambodia) helped to integrate them in their families. This is a form of labour exploitation.”

Government budget cut affects church health services

Post Courier, May 04, 2016

Due to the reduction in health funds by the Government the Daru Kiunga Diocese Catholic Health services has minimised their service delivery to the rural areas according to their service budget.

According to Sister Anna Sanginawa, the diocesan health manager in Western Province, the Christian Health Services (CHS) funded the diocese health service K10,000 to carry out its health services in the Church health facilities in North Fly district. The Catholic diocese in Kiunga had to carry out its services delivery within the K10,000 from CHS but Sr Anna said that they are struggling to provide health services to the rural areas in the North Fly district. “We are planning to carry out our pastoral plan in health services however due to shortage of funds we cannot carry out our integrated patrols which will involve doctor services to the rural people, carrying out MCH and MCV testing including HIV and other health outreach programs.” The Christian Health Services draws its membership from 23 different denominations and its services cover 47 per cent of health facilities in the urban and sub-urban areas. Thus, 80 per cent of the rural health services are provided by the churches in which they have reached the most remote areas providing health services and medical care.


Online exploitation concern

The National, Thursday May 5th, 2016

AN advocate against child exploitation says digital technology and internet penetration in Papua New Guinea is growing rapidly and children are being easily exposed to harmful contents online.

“There’s been a rapid growth in digital technology which provides incredible opportunities for young children to socialise and network but there are also some risks in children being exposed to harmful contents,” Afrooz Kaviani Johnson said. She said these developments offered a potential for huge benefits and opportunities in the education and development of children.  But the internet and digital technologies can greatly expand girls’ and boys’ opportunities to access information and education, chat and socialise with friends through social networks, and access entertainment. Johnson said at the same time, there was a risk that through their use of the internet and digital technologies, children may be exposed to different forms of risks and new forms of harm – whether it is through the internet, mobile phones, digital TV, or platforms for games and videos. Johnson said children exposed to internet were exposed to a number of risks and potential perpetrators of sexual abuse online.

These include online grooming, live streaming of a child sexual abuse in real time, sexting (texting with sexual content), sex extortion (sextortion), child sexual abuse material or child pornography and many more others.


Constitution under siege. Judiciary to exercise inherent powers to administer the law. Posted: 03.05.2016

Members of the Community Coalition Against Corruption (CCAC) met last Friday (29/04/16) concerned that Papua New Guinea is facing a constitutional crisis orchestrated by individuals who seem to think the public offices they hold entitles them to undermine the basic principles of PNG’s democracy. The CCAC, co-chaired by Transparency International PNG and the Media Council, called the meeting in the light of more attempts to prevent investigations of alleged misuse of public office.

The CCAC does not accept the closure of the National Fraud & Anti Corruption Directorate by the Police Commissioner. It cannot be seen as coincidental that, immediately following court decisions regarding the work of senior police officers, action was taken to close down the office and place it under siege by police officers who do not appear to understand the implications of their actions.

The CCAC reminds members of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary at all levels that efforts to obstruct the legal process can result in the Judiciary executing its inherent powers to administer the law and ensure that justice is served for the best interest of the nation. …

Finally, the CCAC appeals to elected leaders to demonstrate moral and ethical leadership and responsibility. It is not acceptable that any public office holder, whether Constitutional Officer holder or holding other executive office of responsibility, should be permitted to use that office to undermine democracy and justice. Yet sackings, defiance of court orders, cynical refusal to face questions concerning illegal payments and many more serious attacks on our institutions appear to be occurring.

Papua New Guinea is being dragged into a constitutional crisis which creates division within society and even within the institutions established to protect the people and their constitution. The CCAC has confidence that public officials can see the danger and their obligations.

Authorized By: Lawrence Stephens & Alexander Rheeny  – CCAC Co-Chairs


New Zealand reveals the emperor’s new clothes

May 5 2016 Canberra Times  6.5.2016

The recent decision of the Supreme Court of PNG, and new legal action now being brought by detainees on Manus Island, suggests that Australia’s asylum seeker policy is unravelling under the weight of its own contradictions. Particularly revealing of its underlying logic was the announcement by the federal government last week to again refuse New Zealand’s offer to take 150 asylum seekers from Nauru and Manus Island. According to our Minister for Immigration, the honourable Peter Dutton, Australia rejects this offer because it would encourage the people smugglers “to get back into business.” But does Australia have a legal right to say no? Doesn’t the government insist over and over again – including (with a straight face) before the High Court – that the detention facilities in these places are the responsibility of an independent sovereign country? Earlier this year, the High Court accepted this argument. But the minister has given the lie to the government’s claims. If the matter is truly one for the local authorities, who bear the burden of these refugees, then how come the Minister for Immigration exercises a veto on who can accept them? What is his legal basis for trumping the decision of local authorities as to where certified refugees can be placed? This smacks of meddling, or suggests that the whole arms-length argument was fraudulent and dishonest to begin with.


UNHCR calls for immediate transfer of refugees out of Manus Island, Nauru to ‘humane conditions’

Post Courier, May 05, 2016  Story courtesy of ABC Radio Australia

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has called for the immediate transfer of refugees and asylum seekers out of the Australian-run detention camps on both Manus Island and Nauru. A team from the UNHCR was on Nauru when Omid Masoumali, a young Iranian man who died later in a Brisbane hospital, set himself on fire. Days later a 21-year-old Somalian woman set herself alight and remains in a critical condition. “There is no doubt that the current policy of offshore processing and prolonged detention is immensely harmful,” UNHCR said in a statement. “There are approximately 2,000 very vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru [and] despite efforts by the governments of Papua New Guinea and Nauru, arrangements in both countries have proved completely untenable.” It added: “UNHCR’s principal concern today is that these refugees and asylum seekers are immediately moved to humane conditions with adequate support and services.” Over the last few years, the UNHCR has undertaken regular visits to offshore processing sites to monitor the situation of refugees and asylum seekers, including seven separate occasions to Nauru since 2012.


Manus Island: Asylum seekers and refugees no longer in detention, PNG authorities say

Post Courier, May 12, 2016

Story courtesy of ABC Radio Australia

Some 900 asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island are no longer in detention, according to PNG authorities who say the men are free leave the centre during the day and can resettle in PNG if they want.  PNG’s Immigration and Citizenship Advisory Service says this means the 898 men are no longer in detention, in compliance with a Supreme Court ruling last month. The detainees on Manus Island say they now have the option to catch one of three buses into the main town each morning, but must sign agreements taking responsibility for their own safety. They are not allowed to walk out of the centre, because it is on a PNG naval base. They also say they may stay at an Immigration-run transit centre overnight.

Refugee Behrouz Boochani said the changes had not allowed true freedom of movement. “They are still controlling us,” he said. “Even when we want to go from Oscar to Delta [internal compounds] we should give our ID cards to the officers. “It means we are not free to walk.” Mr Boochani said the refugees and asylum seekers were still being separated inside the centre and refugees could not visit the compounds where men who were unsuccessful in their refugee applications were housed. The men are only allowed to leave Manus Island if they sign an agreement to be resettled in PNG, and the ABC understands only eight men have done that. Of those, three have returned to Manus Island, saying they had been robbed and threatened when they were resettled in Lae, and did not earn enough money to support themselves. Two of those refugees were arrested upon returning to Manus Island, one for trying to get back into the transit centre for refugees and another for repeatedly asking for a phone and credit to call his family. Another refugee remains in hospital in Lae after being violently robbed twice in two days. Only three men are still working, while a fourth is about to start his new job.

12 criminals bash, rob Catholic nuns
Post Courier, May 11, 2016

FOUR Catholic Sisters and two security guards were brutally bashed and robbed allegedly by 12 armed criminals in full police uniforms in their own house outside of Goroka in Eastern Highlands Province. The incident happened on Sunday night between 9pm and 10pm in Bihute, several kilometres outside of Goroka town where the Catholic Sisters from the institute of PNG and Australia Sisters of Mercy Works reside. They were in their house watching television when 12 armed men in police uniforms entered their premises after badly bashing up the two security guards at the gate.

Sister Maryanne Kolkia, the country program coordinator for Sisters of Mercy, said this was the fourth time criminals have attacked them. Sister Maryanne, who received heavy blows to her nose, lips and other parts of her face said the criminals were after a safe, which the sisters had no idea of.

“There was a knock on the door and I opened the door and saw several policemen so I thought they were regular policemen and opened the door and that is when they came in and demanded that I tell them where the safe for keeping the money was,” Sister Maryanne said. “I told them we are a non profiting NGO and we do not have any money or safe in our house but that explanation provoked them to really beat us up very badly.” The two security guards, who are now at the intensive care unit at the Goroka Hospital, were beaten up and were tied to a tree.


Barker links lack of jobs to crime

The National, Wednesday May 11th, 2016

AN economist says the lack of legitimate jobs and the restriction on informal sector income-earning opportunities are the main contributors to crime. Institute of National Affairs executive director Paul Barker said excessive alcohol or other drug consumption also encouraged crime and lawlessness.
“Job growth has not kept pace with population growth or perhaps growth expectations, especially of younger people, in the face of reports of big LNG projects and high reported economic growth rates,” he said.  “Urban areas suffer from extensive poverty, notably driven by the high urban living costs and low household incomes.” He said family and tribal disputes, including domestic violence, were crimes. “But (they) also partly reflect the pressure from inadequate opportunities in the face of population growth from large family sizes and lots of wantoks moving to town and burdening households,” Barker said.  “This is reinforced by the lack of official social protection for children and others (who either stretch the traditional wantok system, or can’t be supported by it). “But it largely comes down to lack of jobs, income-earning and education opportunities to keep individuals (and their dependents) surviving or engaged.” Barker said the restrictions on betel nut sale, a major incomes sources for rural farming households and urban, largely unskilled households, had added pressure on income-earning.

Samaritan Aviation saving lives along Sepik River
Post Courier, May 13, 2016

BLEEDING heavily she quickly described her symptoms to her friend in Australia, suspecting a pregnancy complication, Samaritan Aviation were called in which time she was saved along with her child. This is but one of the many life-saving operations, the aviation organisation has done to save many lives along the mighty Sepik River. It began as a dream by an American teenager in 1994 while on a trip, and by 2010, the first of many flights commenced. Samaritan Aviation president and pilot Mark Palme said lives have been saved and are continuing to be saved not only by the aviation services but by the medicines distributed to the 38 health aid posts along the Sepik River. Since April 2010, 24% of life flights have been for trauma patients, 44% have been patients suffering from diseases and illness while 33% have been women suffering from complications from pregnancy Mr Palme said. “Close to 55,000 kilograms of medical supplies have been delivered to the 38 Aid Posts and Health Centres along the Sepik River and has been saving thousands of lives.” Supporting Mr Palme and his team are the local members of parliament and supporters of the New Samaritan Aviation flights. Along with the plane they have, a new Cessna U206 which have been fitted with floaters to assist with their job.


Commodity price falls creating currency volatility, says analyst

12 May 2016

The kina has fallen in value this year, but Papua New Guinea’s dependence on commodity exports means that it can be expected to fall further, says Rohan Fox, Lecturer and Research Fellow at the University of Papua New Guinea’s Division of Economics. He tells Business Advantage PNG that the country faces a difficult task managing the impact of sharp fluctuations in commodity prices.

Fox says this year the kina has depreciated, in some cases further than its competitors. But he believes

‘A lot of the problems associated with Dutch disease exist in PNG.’

‘Accounting for inflation differences is important because these reflect the differences in costs between countries. For example, inflation averages around 5-6 per cent in PNG while it is more like 0-3 per cent in its major trading partners. ‘This means that every year, even if exchange rates were kept exactly the same, PNG’s produce would become some 3 per cent more expensive than its major trading partners. Lowering the PNG exchange rate by 3 per cent per annum would correct for this.’

‘A high exchange rate also affects investment flows.  It makes it more expensive to invest in PNG relative to other countries, and it makes it cheaper to buy a house in Cairns or send one’s children to an overseas school.’


Rampant drug & alcohol consumption has PNG on a slippery slope

18 May 2016.

IN FAST growing cities such as Port Moresby and Lae, weekends are no longer safe and peaceful.

This is particularly the case for settlement residents. A typical weekend in settlements in major centres around PNG is often characterised by alcohol and drug-fuelled nuisance and violence. In Lae, this dangerous lifestyle sees regular fights among different ethnic groups which have led to the loss of life and destruction of property worth millions of kina. Recent confrontations between Sepiks and Western Highlanders brought the once peaceful Madang to a halt. Port Moresby too has its fair share of problems like recent ethnic tensions that led to the temporary closure of Gordons Market. Yet Port Moresby, unlike the other centres, has benefited from quick intervention by law enforcement agencies. Nevertheless, this does not seem to be enough. Amidst the high rise buildings and freeways, a time bomb is ticking away as drug and alcohol consumption among youth are out of control. ….

Uncontrolled alcohol and drug consumption among youth is now one of the most pressing issues confronting PNG. What is more concerning is the reality that there seems to be no controls which would prevent underage and youth drinking. On the street, many youths can be seen consuming alcohol in broad daylight with no fear of being reprimanded by the authorities. Such acts of open defiance pose a threat to the public and to the future of this country. The thought of having PNG run by drug and alcohol addicts is frightening but looks more ominous as each day goes by. Putting statistics aside, a visit to any urban settlement makes one realise that we are only scratching the surface of a very big problem. In broad daylight, thugs armed with pocket knives or sharp objects prowl the bus stops of the cities in search of victims. In Port Moresby, the Tabari bus stop and Gordons Market are regarded as no-go zones for city residents due to the high frequency of petty crime, harassment and abuse.

Kids in this settlement, like any typical kid, long for a happy life. Echoes of laughter can be heard amongst the shabby houses with leaky roofs as kids frolic happily. Their smiles are a breath of fresh air in the humid atmosphere. But with rampant juvenile delinquency a norm in most settlements, you can’t help but wonder when this innocence will be replaced by the harsh realities of life. Even the kids in schools cannot fully develop their innate abilities because of our government’s failure in introducing reforms. A government that thrives on disunity and problems governs not by its conscience but by its ego. PNG is not for the few elites to enjoy but for all of us to take pride in and excel using our innate abilities.


Diabetes cases on the increase

Post Courier, May 20, 2016

The number of patients suffering with lifestyle diseases is said to be increasing every week at the Port Moresby General Hospital. This was according to the physician in charge of hemodialysis at the hospital, Dr Steven Bogosia. Dr Bogosia said that in the 1980s, the hospital treats about 20 patients a week. Last week he had to see 80 patients who are suffering with diabetes and kidney failure. He said the minimum that they would get in a week would be at 17 while 20 would be new cases mainly average to low income earners. “In terms of chronic failure cases when they come we know that diabetes is the leading cause of the chronic failure now hypertension at least gives some cases but not as much as diabetes alone,” Dr Bogosia said. He said that PNG is no different from other countries because many of them have these diseases and diabetes leads together with stroke or heart attacks do contribute to the LCD (Low Communicable Diseases). “Statistics that have been put up by the Government show that these LCD leads to about 63 per cent of deaths worldwide and that’s about 38 million people dying every year since 2013 and that’s what we have collected. “They have realised the dilemma that the entire globe is facing now and they have developed programs to help.” Dr Bogosia said that the Accidents and Emergency section of the hospital is the main point of access every night on patients being admitted with LCD. “We get about three to four admissions every night that are related to diabetes or heart attacks and the numbers don’t seem to be decreasing and if we get ten admissions for one night half of the admission will be diabetes cases,” he said. He said it was difficult to treat all the patients because there is lack of resources available at the hospital.


 Decline in health services delivery and supplies

Post Courier, May 23, 2016

The National Doctors Association and the Health Sector Unions during the media conference on Wednesday have also expressed their dissatisfaction to the government that had stripped off proper health care service in PNG. Dr. James Naipao said that the government action by slashing the health department budget and expenditure by 30% has greatly affected the health sector. Thus, the government then again introduced the Free Health Care Policy in which there was no prior consultation, preliminary assessment and infrastructure and training that were in place for such services. He added that, almost 80% of the public hospitals are barely surviving due to the insufficient and inadequate medical supplies and consumables, while some hospitals have already reduced some of the core activities in the health services to the public. Since the reduction of health funds, there has been halt in the recruitment of the workers in the public service and have also had an effect on the doctors and health workers that are employed. This has also added stress on the existing work force and those trained work force will not be employed. Mr. Naipao said in his statement that the provision of the health services in the country is a vital essential service in which the government should have not touched or reduced any budget money for the health department and the health sectors. “The government should have used budgetary money which was allocated to non-essential services instead of using the health budget. However, they have spent a lot of money on infrastructure developments, road constructions and other expenditures at the expense of essential services such as the health care provision,” he said.


Lack of funding forces school to close

The National, Friday May 27th, 2016

A vocational school in Madang sent home 282 students yesterday because it has no money to continue operating.  St Benedict Danip Vocational School principal John Paul Malangen said the school had no funds to operate anymore, forcing it to send students home and close. Malangen said he sent a letter informing the provincial education office of the issue and students would remain at home for an indefinite period until such time when there is funding available.  He said the school was located outside town and was a boarding school that depended on the Government’s tuition free-fee (TFF) subsidies. Malangen said the school only received K23,000 in TFF money  in the last quarter of last year. “This year we got nothing since the beginning of the year so we cannot continue operations,” he said. Education Minster Nick Kuman announcement in this paper yesterday for K75.6 million term two school subsidies would be released to schools today. Malangen welcomed the announcement but added that his staff were concerned whether their school would be included among the recipients of the TFF funds.


Crisis book

Summary of Analysis of PNG Financial situation by Sir Mekere Morauta



Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands

Statement: Christian faith, values, and principles in parliamentary Elections

Papua New Guinea proclaims itself to be a Christian Country.  It is manifest in the Constitution, in the National Anthem and the National Pledge.  Important Government officers make their oath of office on the Bible. However, are we really a Christian nation?

When the time for general and local level elections comes, the candidates may invoke their faith and pray for God’s blessing upon the country but, for many, Christian faith, values, and principles are practically put aside. The citizens who will exercise their right to cast their vote and elect candidates of their choice may have a similar attitude.

It is the duty of the Church to guide the moral conscience of Christian citizens. We, the Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea, would like to appeal to the faith of the people of PNG, and to their conscience, to use those Christian values when it comes time to cast their vote and elect leaders that will represent not only their interests, but the common good of all citizens. Pope Francis, in his Pastoral letter The Joy of the Gospel, said: “An authentic faith – which is never comfortable or completely personal—always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better than we found it”. No 183

What are the qualities of a good leader who will truly represent people’s expectations and lead the country forward?  We can name some of those qualities.  First, the country needs competent leaders who are able to fulfil their duties, people who have proved themselves already in serving the community successfully.  A second quality is the personal integrity of the candidate. They should be God fearing, God loving and honest. Honesty means first of all an absolute commitment to uphold the human rights and freedom of others and be accountable for the assets of the country and the provinces and all public funds.   Honest leaders will not let themselves be dragged into corrupt dealings. They are leaders that people can trust. These qualities are fundamental for good leadership.  Then there are also other characteristics of good leaders that are to be considered: someone who has a vision for a better future for their people and put the common   good of all the people first.

During the election campaign candidates make many promises: delivery of services, better living conditions for the people, better roads and communication and so on.  Voters at this time must consider carefully the words and actions of the candidates.  They must try to discern what is true and what is just. They must know where the candidate stands in regard of certain issues that for the Church are not negotiable: respect for human life, education for the love of truth, health and other social services, preservation of the natural environment, and many other issues that affect the life of the people.

During the election campaign many immoral, corrupt and dishonest practices take place.  Many candidates “buy” votes with cash or goods. By doing this and many other dishonest practices they compromise their integrity and credibility. They may gain supporters but they lose respect; they show that they are entering into the cycle of corruption that is prevalent in our country.

It is the same for the voters who accept a bribe of cash or good or favours.  He or she enters in the same cycle of corruption, accepting a little money or rice but at the same time selling their souls and the future of the nation in exchange for his/her vote.

Another factor that adversely affects a free and fair democratic election is the “wantok system”. The “wantok system” is part of the culture of Papua New Guinea. If it had great value in the past, it is not so today because it is often abused for selfish motives.  Unfortunately, the practice has spread into high places and has serious consequences in our society.  Again, when it comes to voting and electing leaders, people often vote for a wantok even if this candidate does not have the qualities to lead. People who cast their votes should do so free of any undue pressure, internal or external.  Everyone should be able to vote in conscience for the candidate they consider the best servant leader.

The 2017 Elections are crucial for the future of Papua New Guinea. The conduct of a free, fair and safe election within the boundaries of the law is central to establishing a healthy democratic society in PNG.   Let the Christian principles and values of honesty, respect and integrity be our guides during this coming election.  It is time to get rid of the cycle of corruption through improper and illegal means of soliciting votes and underhanded political practices.

We, the Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea wish by this letter to appeal to the consciences of all citizens of Papua New Guinea. The honest vote of each citizen is important for the future of this country. All people have a moral responsibility to make this nation a great nation and a truly Christian nation.


Bishop Arnold Orowae

President of CBC-PNG/SI

15 April 2016

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Social Concerns Notes – April 2016


PNG’s fiscal woes: where has all the money gone?   STEPHEN HOWES | Dev Policy Blog | Edited extracts

THERE are widespread reports these days from Papua New Guinea of budgetary difficulties, from budget cuts to church health services to government salary payment delays. Why?

Total expenditure is budgeted in 2016 to be slightly below the 2015 level. But it is still 50% above 2012 levels. That’s massive growth. So what is the problem? There are three.

The first is a big shift in allocations. Since 2012, there have been big increases in interest payments (due to increased borrowing), payments to members of parliament through district and provincial funds, payments to schools (in lieu of school fees), and compensation to employees.

Deduct these and there is an 18% increase in spending compared to 2012 to fund everything else, which includes critical things like maintenance and church health spending….

The second problem is revenue. The budget assumed that 2016 revenue would equal that of 2015. Given the slowdown in growth, this is realistic. Indeed, things may be worse, given that the oil price is below the level assumed in the budget. The budget assumed an oil price of $US54. In fact, oil prices are much lower. UK Brent crude, for example, averaged $53 per barrel last year and only $31 a barrel so far this year. Unfortunately, 2015 revenues were not the K12.5 billion estimated at the time of the 2016 budget. In fact, according to the final numbers just released, they were only K11 billion. ..

The third problem is borrowing. PNG needs to raise K2.1 billion in net borrowing this year to meet its budget targets. Domestic sources are limited, and the budget assumed K2.8 billion in a sovereign bond: almost 20% of total spending. But that plan has apparently been shelved, presumably assessed as infeasible, leaving a huge hole in the government’s financing plans. PNG can borrow more domestically than it assumed in the budget, but will find it difficult to fill the gap entirely.

These three give a sense of the situation PNG is in. Its current fiscal problems are due to the big shifts in the way the budget is spent, an inability to finance the deficit and much lower than expected revenue receipts.

What needs to be done? There are no easy answers. Expenditure reforms are needed. Nothing can be done about the interest bill, but the other “non-discretionary” items could in fact be put on the table.

Reform options include a freeze on salary increases, further cuts to district and provincial MP funds, and cuts to the school subsidy program. Revenue reforms should be re-examined. And a new borrowing plan is needed.


PNG’s frightening Final Budget Outcome

by Paul Flanagan 
PNG Treasury released last Thursday an update on what may really have happened with the 2015 budget. Like the mid-year Treasury MYEFO update, this is a frightening document that points to a collapse in government revenues of 20 per cent in 2015 relative to the budget, and reveals 2015 expenditure reductions of 37% in health, 36% in infrastructure and 30% in education, areas the government said would be protected. The combined budget deficits over the last three years of 24% of GDP are the largest for a three year period in PNG’s history. …

The fall in international commodity prices was outside of PNG’s control. However, spending so much up-front in anticipation of higher PNG LNG was a risky and, in the end, irresponsible strategy. The pattern of expenditure reductions in 2015 suggest that not enough is being done to protect priority sectors. Especially with the likelihood that there will be no sovereign bond, the FBO, and the collapse in revenue that it confirms, add to the arguments that PNG is in a fiscal cash crisis. PNG should be reaching out to friends for assistance, accepting that this will involve some conditions for getting the house back into order.
[For the full article, see the URL above]


CIMC: Be wary of violent male partners
Post Courier, March 31, 2016

BOYFRIENDS and husbands or males in teenage relationships do not have the right to inflict serious bodily injury upon their girlfriend, wife and partners. This is the concern expressed by the Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council’s (CIMC) family and sexual violence action committee in response to Post-Courier’s front page story last Thursday of a lady being hospitalised after being bashed by her boyfriend. The CIMC’s family and sexual violence action committee expresses concern that such behaviour by males has become so common today.

Women are cautioned that if they notice such behaviour from husbands or partners who are possessive, insulting, demeaning, harassing or impose movement limitations and rules around personal or work life, limits your words, ability, ideas and action, digital abuse, sexting, cyber-bullying or threatening you through the social media you are encouraged to think carefully whether to still remain and become a continuous victim of violence, leave or move out of that unhappy relationship. “Many of us in PNG mistake these actions as a partner showing love and protective attitude,” it added. National program coordinator Ms Ume Wainetti said women tend to make excuses for their husband or partner and often blame themselves as causes of the violence inflicted.

“These women stay in such violent relationships hoping and believing that their partners will eventually change one day and some have died in these relationships,” she added.


PNG’s TB prevalence in top 10

The National, Thursday March 31st, 2016

PAPUA New Guinea has the highest tuberculosis prevalence in the Western Pacific region and the 10th highest globally, according to the World Health Organisation. In 2014, WHO estimated the TB incidence to be at 417 per 100,000 people (31,000 new cases every year), with a prevalence of 529 per 100,000 (39,000 cases every year), and a death rate of 40 per 100,000 among HIV-negative people. WHO medical officer Dr Tauhid-ul Islam told The National in Port Moresby yesterday that TB was the fourth highest cause of death for those admitted in PNG hospitals. It was also the major cause of mortality among HIV/AIDS patients. “TB is a social disease and a disease of poverty,” he said. “So obviously, this is very expensive for poor people, especially M/XDR-TB which is super expensive (costing between K15,000and K30,000 per patient only for drugs).” He said prevention could be achieved by cutting the transmission chain through detecting cases early and getting effective treatment. “The community can play a big role by raising awareness and assisting in the completion of the treatment,” he said.

Married too young

The National, Friday April 1st, 2016

A PUBLIC servant has advised parents in two Highlands provinces to stop marrying off their sons and daughters at an early age because they often end up in problems. Peter Nepil, an acting manager for the Community Development and Welfare Department, said some parents in Western Highlands and Jiwaka gave away their daughters before they turned 18 because of what they would get in return, such as money and pigs. He said early marriages often ended up in broken marriages, with couples failing to cope with community obligations. He said girls under 18 often came to the welfare office seeking assistance after their husbands deserted them with the children.
“Don’t think about the pigs, money, cow, cassowaries and force your daughter to get married. These things will still be there when your daughter reaches 18 and above,” he said. He said some married men lured girls with money, lying to them that they were single and looking for a partner. Nepil said many of these men had wives and children waiting for them at home. And most times they chase away the girls after they had used them.


Increase in number of young people involved in illegal activities
Post Courier, April 05, 2016

The number of young people taking part in illegal activities has swiftly increased in PNG, says Juvenile Justice executive Director Paul Wagun. Mr Wagun raised this concern when stressing on the type of crimes that children make to end up in jail or the Juvenile Justice Centres. “Children, especially those living in squatter settlements and rural communities cannot survive the advancing society and as a result, much younger people are now involving in illegal activities like selling marijuana rolls, pick-pocket, selling betel nut, taking part in pornographic activities and prostitution forced by adults and many more,” he said. He said the result of wanting more causes disparity, leading them to involve in illegal activities that they think money can be made quick so that they can have enough like others in urban areas do.


Bougainville’s lost generation is a ‘time bomb’ – John Momis

BOUGAINVILLE president John Momis has said he has concerns at the impact of under-resourcing and other large problems affecting the province’s education system. In an interview with Radio New Zealand International’s Don Wiseman, Dr Momis admitted that Bougainville has “a big percentage of our youth who can effectively be called a lost generation. “They are very, very frustrated, traumatised, and unless something is done soon it’s a total injustice to them and we are sitting on a time bomb.”

Dr Momis agreed with Wiseman’s observation that many of those children and their parents would not have gone to school because of the civil war, resulting in two successive generations without any opportunity of schooling. He also agreed that part of the problem was that the PNG government was not providing Bougainville with promised funds. “But even with the allocated funding, it just wouldn’t be enough to address the backlog of young people — kids — who have had no education,” Dr Momis said.

“Probably the most responsible way to deal with this problem would be to, if we had the funds, have more vocational schools to improve our current system of primary and then secondary education.

“But apart from vocational schools we might have to embark on a program of popular education, not just vocational, but even just having a mass education system of raising awareness, trying to encourage values, giving people a sense of hope, and then engaging them in simple socio-economic activities to get them involved so that they don’t become frustrated and become totally anti-social.”

Dr Momis said the Bougainville government could not itself go to overseas donors to solicit funds.

“Unfortunately donors are also beholden to the national government, which I think is wrong. Donors are not involved in any subversive activity and are probably our only other viable alternative way of obtaining some funds.”


Baisu jail food supply cut
Post Courier, April 08, 2016

THE Baisu Jail in Western Highlands Province has run out of food supply for the month of April due to none payment of monthly ration fees to the supplier. The only supplier Whisky Fresh engaged by the PNG Correctional Institution Services (CIS) through Central Supply Tender Board claimed that CIS was yet to settle over K700, 000 for previous supplies. The Managing Director of Whisky Fresh, Berry Maip who was engaged to supply food ratios to Bundaira Jail in Kainantu, Bihute in Goroka, Barawagi in Simbu and Baisu in Mount Hagen told Post Courier yesterday that his company will not supply food ratios to these jails until his previous payments are made. Mr Maip said he was not happy with the management of the CIS for mistreating him by terminating his contract on the 2nd of April for supplying food ratios to Bundaira and Bihute Jail in Eastern Highlands Province. He said his company was loyal with the Department of CIS and supplied the food rations on time and even sometimes spending his own money in making sure prisoners have food on daily basis.

“Since I was engaged in 2013 to supply food ratios to four jails in the Highlands, I never failed them. I make sure food supplies were provided on time in every month,” Mr Maip said.


Critical drugs shortage
Post Courier, April 13, 2016

THE Port Moresby General Hospital has been without life saving drugs for more than six months, forcing patients to buy their own prescribed drugs. “The Port Moresby General Hospital is in need of essential lifesaving drugs for close to six to seven months now,” clinical services executive director Dr Umesh Gutpa said yesterday. Dr Gutpa said patients are being checked and are prescribed medication so they can buy their medicine in pharmacies because the hospital has run out of essential lifesaving drugs. He said this is because the Government has cut the health budget by 40 per cent and the hospital was not able to buy the medicine to provide for the patients. Dr Gupta also spoke about the use of antibiotics sold on the streets, warning that these are not safe for use. He urged the public not to buy these antibiotics, including amoxicillin and Panadol, which are sold on the streets without prescriptions. He said that is why antibiotics are sold on the streets in the city which is risky as people could become drug resistant when they use too much of the medicine and asked the Government to give more money


See us as partners: Bishops

The National, Tuesday April 19th, 2016

THE Catholic Bishops Conference has called on the Government to consider churches as partners in delivering health and education services. The conference’s general-secretary Father Victor Roche, said in the 1970s, the Catholic Education Services joined the Government to form an association of equals in a unified system of education in PNG. He said this partnership had lasted but there was little respect shown to the church by the national and provincial education authorities.
“They rarely consult their partners when setting new policies and making changes in the education system,” Roche said. “In this context, we find that for PNG, the partnership we entered into with the State many years ago is now in crisis, even in chaos. “Now as the years went by, it looks like the Catholic Church and the other churches were more considered as the church giving service which is good. But we have to be treated as partners to ensure that the services are delivered effectively and efficiently.” He said national leaders including ministers talked about the church playing an important role in delivering health and education services. “But they do not consider the churches, especially the Catholic Church, the important player, to be a partner at present.”

Mainline churches launch booklet

Post Courier, April 20, 2016

THE seven mainline Christian churches receiving aid from the Australian government for its social programs have launched a booklet on gender equality. Called the Theology of Gender Equality, the booklet was launched in Port Moresby yesterday and is part of the PNG Churches  Partnership Program.

Leaders from the seven churches and their counterpart Australian church-based non-government organisations attended the event which coincided with a  two-day forum on the PNGCPP that is under review. This is the second document that has been produced by the seven churches under PNG CPP, the first being the Theology of Development statement which was launched at the Parliament in 2014.

Church leaders speaking at the launch agreed  that prevalence of violence and gender inequality is high in this country.


Woman donates food to drought areas

Post Courier, April 22, 2016

SHE was waving a printed copy of the Summary of Assessments of Food Supply Situations in Kandep, Enga Province and Panduaga, Hela Province. She is Maria Peter and she had an assessment which was produced by the Church Partnership Program food security assessment team at end of March. “I just read about the alarming situation and stories of children in drought-affected areas. Is this your work?” she asked. Ms Peter has just walked into the office of the Hela Community Good Action forum on March 30. James Kinu Komengi confirmed that he had led a rapid assessment team into the communities and the report was theirs. The dire situations expressed in the report were also real. People living in the Panduaga and Tengo Valleys of Hela Province and many more in the entire Kandep valley of Enga Province needed food. Mr Komengi told Ms Peters that many families were feeding mainly on green leaves like cabbages and watercress. Then, she listened to some stories of Panduaga Elementary School students taking extreme risks to find food. Nearly all children came to school without breakfast and lunch. “Weak and dehydrated children were sleeping in classroom in front of us. Many fainted but recovered to go into the bushes to find wild food themselves. One girl stole sweet potato and accepted a beating by the owner. “Then, she stole again the next day and accepted another beating again. “It was obvious this mother of many children was not going to hold back her tears as I shared more stories,” he said. Maria Peter said she had 10kg of very good corn seeds in a bag and wanted to share with those people in need. She asked to give it to a church pastor who will share with the needy families. That was her contribution to the Churches’ Christian Ministry. She also said she will transfer K500 into the United Church account Hela Region disaster relief to buy more seeds for families.


SHP setup medivac services for health

Post Courier, April 21, 2016

SICK people from remote communities throughout the Southern Highlands would now have access to health services from four major hospitals in the province through the establishment of a Medivac service of the Provincial Government. The Southern Highlands Provincial Executive Council has passed a resolution to establish the medevac service to assist rural communities where many die silently due to lack of proper health facilities. Announcing the decision, Southern Highlands Governor William Powi said the Provincial Government will enter into an arrangement with local airline company South West Air to provide medevac services to remote communities. He said a 24 hour hotline service would be established at Mendi town to receive phone and two-way radio calls from the remote communities when there is a need for emergencies services. He said after receiving the emergency calls a team of health officials and the airline will fly to the remote communities and retrieve the sick people to access health services in four of the hospitals in the province.


Can Rimbunan Hijau’s powerful grip over PNG be broken? 22 April 2016

JAMES Sze Yuan Lau and Ivan Su Chiu Lu must be extremely busy men. Together, they are listed as directors of some 30 companies involved in various activities and services related to logging or agribusiness in Papua New Guinea. The former is the managing director of Rimbunan Hijau (RH) PNG and son-in-law of RH’s founder Tiong Hiew King; the latter is executive director of RH PNG Ltd.

All but two of these 30 companies have the same registered address at 479 Kennedy Road in the national capital, Port Moresby–the headquarter of the RH group in the country. Their ability to magically fit into a relatively small office space on Kennedy Road is not the only puzzling fact about the subsidiaries of the Malaysian group, Rimbunan Hijau. Out of the 30 above mentioned companies, 16 subsidiaries that are directly involved in logging or agribusiness have one other thing in common.

According to their financial records, they don’t make a profit. Most of them have been working at a loss for over a decade. During the 12 years for which financial records were available to the Oakland Institute’s researchers, all together, the subsidiaries declared an average loss of about US$ 9 million every year.

How the group – the largest logging operator in PNG – manages to operate at a loss for so many years, and yet still remains in business? If it were unprofitable to log and export timber from PNG, why would these companies continue their operations? These are some of the critical questions raised in a report released in February 2016, The Great Timber Heist: The Logging Industry in Papua New Guinea, by the Oakland Institute. The report exposed massive tax evasion and financial misreporting by foreign logging companies, allegedly resulting in non-payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes.

Recovering tax revenue would be certainly welcomed by PNG given the acute budget crisis the country has been facing in recent months. Yet, it is unclear whether the government of PNG will decide to take action following these revelations.

After all, despite the promises made by the Prime Minister, still no action has been taken two and a half years after the damning report on recent land leases, produced by the Commission of Inquiry, which identified all sorts of malpractices and irregularities and concluded that most leases were illegal.

RH is controlled by Tiong Hiew King, one of Malaysia’s richest men. Although logging is the core business of the group – ‘Rimbunan Hijau’ ironically means ‘forever green’ in Malay.


Papua New Guinea First to Finalize National Climate Plan Under Paris Agreement

On March 29, Papua New Guinea became the first country to formally submit the final version of its national climate action plan (called a “Nationally Determined Contribution,” or NDC) under the Paris Agreement. The small Pacific nation’s plan to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 is no longer just an “intended” nationally determined contribution (INDC) – it is now the country’s official climate plan.
Papua New Guinea’s NDC marks a step forward in the process of implementing the landmark international climate agreement adopted at COP21 in Paris last year. In the lead up to COP21, countries submitted INDCs, setting out what climate actions they proposed to take to contribute to the global community’s collective effect to limit global warming. To date, 161 INDCs have been submitted representing the national climate plans of 188 countries and covering 98.7 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The Paris Agreement provides a legal framework for these climate plans.

Papua New Guinea’s leadership in taking this important next step towards implementing the Paris Agreement should be widely noted and applauded. We can now to look forward to many other countries formalizing their national climate action plans and further building the momentum for a low-carbon, climate-resilient world.


Mt Hagen city changes for the better

The National, Thursday April 21st, 2016

MT HAGEN, third largest city in the country, made the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Now it is changing for the better. Over the last five weeks, streets have been cleaned, petty crimes on the streets are largely gone, sale of animal in public spaces have stopped along with store goods, betel nuts and cigarettes.The harassment of the travelling public at the main bus stops like Jiwaka to Lae, Enga or Mendi to Tari are down significantly. Criminals who usually armed themselves with screw drivers, pocket knives and long swords and surviving on other people’s efforts or food and property, are also disappearing fast. Positives changes in the city started after the establishment of the new Hagen city authority by an act of parliament passed last year.

Authority’s chief executive officer Leo Noki and his team have taken control of the city.

Their efforts to clean it up was boosted by police and women’s groups living in city suburbs.

The city is now like in the past, during the 1980s when Late Rapheal Doa was the Lord Mayor and people used to call Hagen  beautiful and one of the cleanest cities in the country.


PNG Journalist Threatened

By Scott Waide – EMTV News   24 April

Another low point came yesterday when another Papua New Guinean journalist was threatened by senior members of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary for maintaining contact with the suspended head of the Police Fraud Squad, Matthew Damaru. The seasoned journalist working for a daily newspaper was threatened with arrest simply for doing his job and doing what is a fundamental part of his job – maintaining contact with an important source. It is infuriating that we, as a country have allowed arms of government to stoop low to threaten those whose job it is to speak out for those who are unable. While the arrest did not eventuate, the fact that a threat was issued has struck at the heart of constitutional rights of freedom of the media and freedom of speech.

A free media able to challenge a government and those in positions of power and to hold them to account is vital for a vibrant democracy to thrive and to ride out political and economic turbulence a country many be going through. A people cannot be silenced. The act to silence the masses by silencing the media is – as history has shown – always unsustainable and always short lived.

While Papua New Guineans have not protested violently, it does not mean a dissenting voice cannot be heard. Silencing a journalist is so old school and reeks of 70s and 80s Latin American military dictatorships. It is what is done by 21st century, Asian regimes that attempt to stifle and control public opinion in the age social media. It simply does not work.


Minister: Malaria goals reached

The National, Monday April 25th, 2016

THE country has achieved the Millennium Development Goals set for malaria by reducing the incidence rate to 48 cases per 1000 people and mortality rate to 48 deaths per 100,000 population.

Health Minister Michael Malabag, in a statement, said the Government realised the impact of malaria on people and singled it out as one of the priority diseases.

“Papua New Guineans must seriously reflect on this single disease that affects up to 90 per cent of our people and this great achievement that has been made through the efforts of the government and the many partners,” Malabag said. He said from 2005 to 2009, the Global fund provided more than US$20 million (K61 million) under the round three grants. “In the current round eight grant, the global fund has again made available another US$120 million (K264m). AusAID has provided A$3 million (K7.3m) in the last three years.“The Government alone cannot win this battle but it will require the efforts of all partners, the private sector, NGOs, communities and individuals.”

Malabag said factors needed to combat malaria were for:

  • The Government to remain engaged in the fight to control malaria;
  • Donors who pledge funding to fulfil these commitments;
  • Delivery of malaria control interventions from the private sector, non-governmental organisations, community-based organisations and faith-based organisations

“I challenge my colleague members of parliament and provincial governments to recognise the impact of malaria on our people and take action.”


More doctors needed

The National, Tuesday April 26th, 2016

MORE doctors are needed in rural hospitals, Dr David Mills from the Kompiam Hospital in Enga says. Mills said the Master of Medicine rural doctors training programme   was one way more doctors could be lured to rural hospitals. He said the churches were behind the programme because they noticed the small number of doctors in rural hospitals, which were set up by missionaries. Mills said because of this programme, the Christian Health Services had five specialist doctors in rural hospitals.

“We thought of setting up our own programme. We partnered with the University of Papua New Guinea to make it a full specialist programme,” he said. Mills said the programme was well known in other countries as well. “In fact, there is no other programme in Asia Pacific where rural doctors are educated to be specialist medical doctors,” he said. Mills urged rural hospitals to start thinking about taking on board medical students and train them. “We’ve got good hospitals so start thinking of getting those students because they will come and work with you in the rural hospital.”


Manus shutdown ordered

Post Courier, April 27,2016, 02:37 am

Australia’s detention and processing of asylum seekers in Manus Province are unconstitutional and illegal, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday. The five-man bench ruled that the detention breached the right to personal liberty in the Constitution. Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika, Justices Sir Bernard Sakora, Ambeng Kandakasi, Don Sawong and Terence Higgins also ordered that both Australia and Papua New Guinea Governments take all necessary steps to stop the operations of the regional processing centre.

The decision was made following an application by then Opposition Leader and Vanimo-Green MP Belden Namah in his capacity as the then Opposition Leader. The transfer of the asylum seekers was done under an arrangement between the Australian and PNG Government in the form of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on September 8, 2012. A second MoU was signed on August 2013. Later, the two Governments sought to validate the arrangements by an amendment to Section 42 of the Constitution (now declared unconstitutional). The court found amongst others that the undisputed facts clearly reveal that the asylum seekers had no intention of entering and remaining in PNG. Their destination was and continued to be Australia. They did not enter PNG and remained in PNG on their own accord. The court found that their transfer was done forcefully and outside the Constitution and legal framework of PNG. The court therefore ruled that the transfer and processing of the asylum seekers be deemed unconstitutional and illegal.

Read more:


10,000 teaching positions vacant

Post Courier, April 27, 2016

THERE are about 10,000 vacant positions for teachers in schools nationwide. The Teaching Services Commission chairman Baran Sori revealed the startling figures yesterday and admitting that there was no urgency in filling these positions. “With the figure in hand, Government’s policy on basic quality education for all may never be achieved if those positions are not filled,” Mr Sori said. Mr Baran Sori explained the sad reality faced by the education department and the entity that looks after the interest of teachers (Teaching Services Commission) that struggles each year to fill the gaps but cannot do so because it is hit by unwilling teachers, a small number of graduating teachers each year and the increased number of children searching for school every year. “Quality education can only be balanced with enough resources and manpower. But the reality now is that we lack manpower.” On top of the issue is the lack of teachers, there is the lack of school infrastructure. In a recent governor’s conference on education, a call was made for 600 grade nine spaces to be created each year to address education for all. Mr Sori said there are just not enough teachers to make such initiatives work for the Government. He said the Government wants every child to receive quality education but it will take a long time to close the teaching position gap. These vacant positions are mostly in remote and unattractive primary, high and secondary schools where many teachers refused to live and work. Some of those remote schools are in Provinces such as Western, Gulf and West Sepik. The chairman also noted that teachers do not want to move out of any Province at a given time and are left unattached which create a position. He gave an example that in 2013, teachers in East New Britain Province did not want to move out of the Province to new schools. Also it has become a norm for teachers to migrate to towns and cities for better living conditions as well.


Bougainville in financial crisis

Post Courier, April 26, 2016

THE ongoing dispute between Bougainville and the National Government over more than K600 million in unpaid grants has caused a financial crisis in Bougainville. The revenue shortage in the Autonomous Region is causing civil unrest that could lead to instability. Businesses are experiencing severe slowdowns and service providers are not being paid by the Autonomous Bougainville Government due to a lack of funds. Some disgruntled providers have started possessing government property – in particular vehicles – due to lack of payments. The ABG has an annual budget in access of K350 million made up of grants from the National Government and aid donor funding. But this year’s budget remains a piece of paper without substance. Bougainville President John Momis said in January that the National Government owes his government K635 million in unpaid grants.


Are PNG’s family and sexual violence police units working?    When women in Papua New Guinea experience violence and try to access help, the police can often be just another challenge to surmount. Under-resourced, slow to act, and sometimes dismissive of domestic violence cases in particular, the police response has been criticised in report after report on the family and sexual violence (FSV) challenge in PNG, despite the dedication of some individual officers to the issue.

Family and Sexual Violence Units (FSVUs) within the PNG police have been one of, if not the main attempt to improve the response that survivors receive when trying to access justice. The Australian aid program has been a particular supporter of this approach and, through the PNG-Australia Law and Justice Partnership (PALJP), has supported the establishment of 15 FSVUs across the country since 2008.

A recent evaluation of FSVUs provides some insight into whether they are working, exactly what police officers and survivors are up against, and what more needs to be done.

In many ways, the report paints a grim picture of the operating environment for FSVUs – not allocated resources in police budgets (this was bluntly stated: “The Evaluation Team found no evidence of budgets allocated for FSVUs”), not formally recognised within official police structures, under-staffed, and in some cases, under-trained. Although the report notes the major problems with data collection at many FSVUs, particularly case data, the data tables in the report show increasing demand for services year-on-year. They also show just how low the rates of arrest are in cases seen by a FSVU—something that earlier research in Lae also demonstrated. For example, in Lae in the first quarter of 2015, out of 49 FSV cases only two arrests were made. In Waigani, from 411 FSV cases in 2014, there were only seven arrests, and no follow-up at all in 109 of those cases.

The evaluation argues that the low arrest numbers are “linked to the fact that most FSVU officers are female and they are not in a position to arrest people due to potential threats to their safety” – but it cannot show that arrest rates would change if the gender profile within FSVU staffing did. …

Officers volunteer to work in FSVUs, and women have been more willing — and they were also willing to go out and make arrests.

Both Lusby’s research and the evaluation show that the overwhelmingly female FSVU officers struggle to get assistance from their overstretched colleagues when they need it and ask for it. Their resources, such as cars, are often poached by other police units (and the evaluation shows that many officers working in FSVUs don’t know how to drive). They are also swamped with cases. Adequate resourcing, of FSVUs and the police more broadly, would seem to be the biggest constraint on arrest numbers and case follow-through, rather than the gender of officers.


Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands 2016

Statement on Catholic Education and Health Services


In light of our desire to bring the mercy of God to the poor and vulnerable and empower them also to witness to Gods mercy, the Catholic Church needs urgently to address the consequences of the collapse of our partnership with the State in the delivery of education and health services. This historical relationship, which has great potential for good, is poorly understood today, lies in tatters and needs repair without delay.

The task of all

There are many Catholic men and women in the national and provincial public service departments and many others who hold political positions of great influence. The Catholic communities call on these Catholic lay people and others of good will, who hold power and distribute services, to carry out their responsibilities with honesty, fairness, and justice, while also exercising a preferential option for the poor. We appreciate the support of members of the PNGSI Federation of Religious who work tirelessly for the poor and also speak for them on many occasions. We are also greatly encouraged by the “Catholic Professionals”, which has spoken out on a number of social issues in recent months. We hope their words will translate into positive action, and that their movement will grow and prosper for the benefit of all. The Catholic community would also like to see Divine Word University become a more active participant in the promotion of Catholic social teaching and the training of social workers to assist and provide advocacy for the poor and disadvantaged..

Catholic Education Services

The traditional spiritual works of mercy we reflect upon during this Year of Mercy include offering instruction to those in need of guidance. This clearly applies to our children and is the reason the Catholic Church runs hundreds of schools at all levels, especially in the remote rural areas. Teaching and guiding the young is a sacred task and solemn obligation of parents and families. But they need help. Thus, through the years, at the village and community level, the Catholic Church has established schools, some of which are over a hundred years old. For economic and other reasons by 1970 Catholic Education Services had joined with the Government system to form an association of equals in a unified system of education in PNG. This partnership endures but seems little respected by National and Provincial Departments of Education, since they rarely consults their partner when setting new policies and making changes to the education system. In this context, we find that, for PNG, the partnership we entered into with the State many years ago is now in crisis, even in chaos.

For example, it is well known that there are major problems and imbalances in the provision of tuition fee free education (TFF). As a result of the TFF policy, a large number of classrooms are over-crowded and many older children have been inappropriately accepted back into lower primary grades, to work their way through the system as adults. Infrastructure has not kept up with student population and funding has not kept up with student population. Teacher morale is at an all-time low and absenteeism on the part of teachers and students is high. TFF and other policies connected with it is an example of an idea introduced and implemented without Churches Education Council and Catholic Agency involvement, and consequently the system faces many problems that could have been avoided.

Despite many attempts to discuss issues related to education with the State of PNG, we feel that we are steadily losing control of our schools. They become less and less a means by which we can evangelize, catechize, educate and share God’s mercy with, our children. The Catholic Church is now at a critical point of frustration, so that if there is no change for the better in this situation, for PNG, in the light of the mercy that demands justice, those dioceses with no functioning Memorandum of Agreement with their respective Provincial Education Boards, may not be able to open as Catholic schools in 2017.

Catholic Health Services

Catholic Church Health Services (CCHS) are also important to our Catholic communities because we see them as a means by which we carry on the healing ministry of Christ. Mothers, babies and children are the major recipients of these services, especially through antenatal and immunization programs. The recent cuts in funding for church run health services, salaries and operational, is a shockingly ignorant and insensitive decision by Government. The cuts will have a major negative impact on our healing ministry in general, particularly in rural areas where population concentration is high and mobility to seek health care outside the area very low.

A broken promise

In 2013 the Prime Minister of PNG visited the Bishops during their annual meeting which was that year held in Madang. He promised to arrange a meeting between representative bishops and respective Education and Health Ministers and Secretaries to discuss problems and iron out difficulties. Unfortunately these meetings did not eventuate, so urgent issues still remain unresolved. We renew our desire to hold such meetings.

In all of this, we are more and more aware of the rather sad state of the PNG economy and wonder why this is so.

Bishop Arnold Orowae

CBC President, 15 April 2016

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