Social Concerns Notes – October 2019

PNG Demographic and Health Survey Report

Click to access PNG_DHS2016-2018_KIR.pdf

The Papua New Guinea (PNG) National Statistical Office (NSO) recently released the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) 2016-2018 key indicators report. The survey on which this report is based was implemented by the NSO, the National Department of Health and other PNG agencies with support from Australia’s aid program, the DHS program, UNFPA and UNICEF. There are positive aspects to this particular PNG report. First, the survey on which it is based is relatively comprehensive, collecting information on, “fertility, awareness and use of family planning methods, breastfeeding practices, nutritional status of children, maternal and child health, adult and childhood mortality, women’s empowerment, domestic violence, malaria, awareness and behaviour regarding HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, and other health-related issues.” The DHS also collected information on household agricultural activities and household food security. Second, the vast majority of the tables in the report disaggregate the survey data by age brackets, sex, residence (rural vs urban), region (for example, highland provinces vs island provinces), education levels; and wealth quintiles, thereby providing some insight into equity of access and outcomes in the health sector. Third, the use of a standardised methodology provides the evidence base for PNG officials to themselves track progress over time (and compare trends with other countries.

A decent education is a human right

01 October 2019 

I am not trying to compare the Australian system with our Papua New Guinea system. And Australia is not perfect. PNG has the potential to invest in education as a critical tool to enable our country to become economically viable and healthy. Regrettably, we take education for granted in the way we set up our systems, distribute our resources, teach our children and reward our teachers. Education is a basic human right for all individuals regardless of where they are in the world.

I would argue that the education system in PNG has deprived our right and our children’s right to gain the education we deserve. If you stand back and take a thorough look at the way our children learn, you discover that the education system has pushed out many young people with ability and potential to be leaders. They roam the streets. Our school system has many drop-outs – children who fail exams and return to the community. In PNG, what paid employment can anyone get with a minimal education? I doubt there is any. The multinational, multimillion dollar developments such as oil and gas projects have opened up roads and access to nearby towns and cities and our children develop the tendency to explore city life, which is perceived to be better than village life.

Obviously with no proper education, dreams for a better life are thwarted. Many of these young people go on to steal, vandalise, take drugs and alcohol and even end up in jail. Then these young people are blamed as bad and evil. We have created bad people in our society in the way we manage our education system. All humans are the same regardless of gender, age or behaviour because we all have a soul. So where does the blame really lie?

The festering wounds of Manus and Nauru

30 September 2019


PORT MORESBY – Yesterday was World Migrant and Refugee Day and a message from Pope Francis to mark the day was particularly meaningful for our part of the world. The words of the Pope help uncover a sense of truth about what has been going on for the past six years in Nauru and Manus. “Migrants, refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking have become emblems of exclusion,” he said.

“In addition to the hardships that their condition entails, they are often looked down upon and considered the source of all society’s ills. “That attitude is an alarm bell warning of the moral decline we will face if we continue to give ground to the throw-away culture.” So let me mention here some critical language and facts associated with the festering wounds of Nauru and Manus.

Regional Processing  Not a bad idea in itself, but not credible. New Zealand, New Caledonia and possibly Fiji are not involved, only the very remote, hot and mosquito-infested islands of Nauru and Manus. Besides that, nobody knows what the agreements for ‘regional processing’ in these two countries include in terms of the duties and conditions of the contracting parties. It is probably not a ‘regional processing’ exercise, but a punitive measure against less fortunate individuals made unwelcome by the better off white tribes of the continent, more precisely of Australia.

Mental Health. It is outrageous what is being done in Manus, Port Moresby and Nauru by actively inducing mental health issues into young and vulnerable people. People are driven into anxiety, depression and, in a number of cases, permanent insanity by the unexpected turn their lives have taken, the traumas they experienced at home, indefinite detention, tough conditions of life in the camps and the distance from their families. The medication offered is cosmetic. It makes no sense to spend about $A1,400 per person per day in off-shore detention with the outcome of ruined human beings.

Medevac Law  This Australian legislation allows for medical transfer to mainland Australia of asylum seekers and refugees requiring medical care outside Nauru and PNG. It was passed narrowly – and against the government’s wishes – by the Australian parliament in February this year. The legislation covers the 90% of offshore refugees whose conditions have remained unattended for many years. Given the new composition of the Australian government since the May election, refugees still in PNG and Nauru, and the Samaritans who care for them, now live in terror that the provision may be repealed with the support of a handful of Australian senators in exchange for electoral favours. This would be another instance of the detainees in Nauru and Port Moresby falling prey to money and de facto human trafficking.

Stopping the Boats  I am someone who believes nobody should board a people smuggler’s boat, although occasionally, and in very dire circumstances, it may be the only way to escape death. The international community should establish procedures that put human smugglers out of job. But it is not being done, and that’s why those individuals still exist and are probably growing in number and power. The Nauru and Manus asylum seekers and refugees have served the purpose of stopping the boats at high personal cost; 12 having so far paid with their lives. It’s time to say that they have been used (and abused) enough for very highly questionable deterrence proposes. Why still pick on them?

Since 12 August this year, 53 of these men have been detained at the new Bomana immigration facility on the outskirts of Port Moresby under heavy security and in total isolation.    [See the url above for the full article…..]

Rich paradise or poor third world nation?

05 October 2019


LUFA – There’s disagreement about whether Papua New Guinea is rich or impoverished. Many people, including leaders like Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and current prime minister James Marape, support the view that we are in fact rich. Many others, including myself, differ. We believe Papua New Guinea is a poor nation. Perhaps the difference in opinion stems from the definition of ‘rich’ that each group subscribes to. Let me refer to the two groups as Group_Rich and Group_Poor, where the former supports the rich PNG view and the latter supports the poor PNG view. The Group_Rich definition of being rich sees Papua New Guinea as a nation with fertile land that sustains lush tropical forests and great biodiversity. In their eyes its land has, without fail, fed its growing population for over 40,000 years, perhaps 50,000.

In recent times, minerals and hydrocarbon wealth have been discovered across the breath and length of the land, giving it the unofficial title of an ‘island of gold floating on a sea of oil’. Simply put, in this more optimistic view, the land provides sufficient free food and its people own the land and everything on and in it. So by virtue of this, Papua New Guinea is rich.

The Group_Poor definition of being rich is very different. It perceives Papua New Guinea as a part of the modern world that relies on complex international trade and economics. Its place and value in this world is determined by international standards and rules. And these set out clearly the criteria that defines how rich or poor a nation (and its people) really are. Simply put, a nation is rich if its people not only have assets like natural resources, education, skills and capital, but are able to meet their basic daily needs of health, education, water, and food security without difficulty. Now, if one uses the Group_Rich definition alone, Papua New Guinea is a filthy rich country. But is this true? Consider the plight of countless people seeking medical treatment who die trying. How about those people who continue to face countless adversities just to get an education despite the low quality it comes with? Do we even care about the long walks mothers and daughters take almost every day to fetch water for drinking and cooking? Perhaps the most honourable thing to say is not that Papua New Guinea is rich, nor is it poor, but rather challenged in every way possible.

Abuse of minors a concern

October 7, 2019The National

POLICE say sexual abuse of children aged 16 and below is growing significantly and crippling society. “That is the reality and of grave concern.
“Reports have been received daily nationwide,” acting Asst Comm (Northern region) Peter Guinness said. He said in an interview on Thursday that “this is now a very big problem in Papua New Guinea” and called for stiffer penalties to help curb the crime. “Heavier punishments will at least help deter such criminal-minded individuals,” he added.
He said another measure to help check the growth of such crimes “is raising public awareness”.
“Raising public awareness is not only about the impact of such crimes on children, family or community,” Guinness said. “It must include the punishments and the laws.”
“Awareness campaigns and projects should be targeted at schools, settlements and workplaces to drive people to understand the issues. “Currently, only a small number of perpetrators were prosecuted successfully but the majority of them got away. “Those in remote areas find it difficult to report. “They are being suppressed by compensation payments or by fear.
The young and fragile victims of sexual abuse then fear to report their assailants.
“This, in a way, emboldens perpetrators,” he said. Guinness urged individuals and communities to help curb or eradicate cases of child sexual abuses by reporting such crimes against minors so that the police can act swiftly.

Wagambie says alcohol-related violence ravaging city

October 22, 2019The NationalNational

THE majority of violence in Papua New Guinea, including Port Moresby, is alcohol-related, National Capital District (NCD)/Central acting Asst Comm (ACP) Anthony Wagambie Jr says.
“Alcohol consumption and intoxication are also the main causes of ethnic feuds and violence in the city,” he said. “Such alcohol-related violence is on the rise and the problem is posing a big challenge to law and order and the police.”
Wagambie said some parts of the city had seen on-going fighting and drunken brawls that needed police to quell such violence. “In the past three weeks, alcohol-related fights were reported in the ATS settlement, 2-Mile Hill, June Valley and 9-Mile. “But quick police action managed to stop the fights from deteriorating into serious and tense conditions.”
Wagambie said that was why NCD Met Supt Perou N’Dranou had initiated a special operation targeting drunk and disorderly behaviour in the city. “The operation, code named Drunk Patrol is aimed at arresting and locking up drunkards causing public nuisance and unrest in public places.
“Every Friday night, NCD police will continue to patrol the streets of Port Moresby to contain drunk and disorderly behaviour. “Some drunkards are locked up for their own safety and for the safety of others as well. “In some cases, due to the high number of arrests, drunkards fill up police lock-ups.
“When they are sober, they are cautioned and released. People who are overly intoxicated and clumsy to a point where their own safety is at risk in a public place, we detain them for a short period and release them when they sober up.“We understand their rights, but we have a duty to protect lives and properties too; that’s exactly what we are doing.”

The Challenge of Tribal Conflict

30 October 2019

AHMAD HALLAK | Australian Institute of International Affairs

CANBERRA – It is often said that tribal fighting in the Papua New Guinea Highlands is part and parcel of the socio-cultural fabric of the region. With a history stretching back hundreds of years (if not more), it can be seen simply as an indivisible feature of the Highlands way of life.

While to some extent true, tribal fighting in the last 30 years has become more akin to conventional warfare on the battlefields of the Middle East or sub-Saharan Africa than the pitched battles using the bows and arrows that characterised pre-colonial confrontations in the Highlands. In the last 30 years, modern weapons, along with other accoutrements of modern technology, have made their way into PNG. They have disrupted the traditional rules of tribal fighting that had historically limited the effects and consequences of the fighting and restrained fighters from going too far.

While in the past, a decision to go to war with an opposing clan or tribe would have been taken collectively, now young and disillusioned men with access to modern weapons can unleash devastation on their enemies and their own communities almost single-handedly. The presence of these modern weapons and their destructive firepower has also meant that the number of casualties is much higher, making it harder for opposing sides to reconcile (and the traditional exchange of compensation prohibitive) and leading to completely unprecedented tribal fighting dynamics.

Instead of pre-arranged battles between warriors in designated areas as in the past, villages are now attacked under cover of darkness as part of a scorched earth policy to kill and destroy with abandon. And while previously fighting was restricted to the geography of the tribes’ involved, targeted killings can now occur against random members of either side almost anywhere. Schools and clinics are frequently attacked and destroyed, and most recently in Hela pregnant women and children were killed and some burned alive.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been present in PNG since 2007 and opened its offices in Mount Hagen and Bougainville in 2012. Since then, we have progressively grown our presence. ……..

S[ee the url above.  It concludes with description of work of the Red Cross working with the challenge of Tribal Fighing.]  “Our teams spend countless hours listening, conversing with and persuading widows and community leaders, policemen and tribal fighters, provincial bureaucrats and church leaders to become partners in an age-old struggle to lessen the inevitable human suffering arising from conflict.”

Illegal acts in clubs: Police

October 29, 2019The National

POLICE have warned people involved in luring young girls into prostitution to stop as such illegal activities are being monitored around the country. Acting Deputy Police Commissioner (Operations) Donald Yamasombi told The National police were targeting foreign-owned nightclubs. “We already have reports of illicit activities taking place in nightclubs which employ young girls as prostitutes under the guise of employing them for genuine jobs,” he said. He recently issued a notice to be distributed to all foreign-owned nightclub owners warning them to stop exploiting young unemployed girls. “Such illicit activities are not allowed in this country,” he said.
“It is against PNG laws to conduct such activities.” He said the activities were not confined to only metropolitan centres such as Port Moresby because they had been detected too in other town and cities. “We have reports that these foreign-owned nightclubs are operating as brothels,” he said.
“There is also illegal gambling and use of hard drugs.”
Prostitution is illegal in the country, although there have been moves to have it legalised.
In October 2016, a Private Member’s Bill was introduced to Parliament by then Sumkar MP Ken Fairweather to instigate legalisation.
The concern is about the exploitation of young local girls who may be looking for money.
“I am now warning these nightclubs to stop enticing young girls to use them as prostitutes in your nightclubs to promote your businesses. Such illicit activities are done in nightclubs overseas, not in PNG.”

Magic hands & a vision for peace

06 October 2019


KUNDIAWA – A new era dawned for the United Nauro-Gor tribe in 2002 when Fr Jan Jaworski, a medical surgeon-cum-priest, responded to a divine call for the purpose of serving humanity and entered a place many called a ‘no-go zone’ because of the warring clans. Fr Jaworski, dubbed ‘the man with magic hands’, has made an outstanding contribution as a medical doctor throughout Papua New Guinea where he has conducted many medical surgeries and procedures on many patients. His former patients speak of him in admiration and awe and to a certain degree believe the work of his hands is miraculously aided by a supernatural power as well as his wealth of experience and specialised knowledge in medical procedures.

Fr Jaworski is renowned for conducting complex surgeries and procedures, particularly mending fractured bones and cartilage, cutting off flesh from different body parts and stitching them on another, treating cancers, hernias, bowel infections and neurological problems, and expertly performing surgeries on newborns with congenital malformations and women with obstetric emergencies.

Professor David Watters, chair of surgery at Geelong Hospital and a former professor of surgery at the University of Papua New Guinea, describes Fr Jaworski as “a remarkable and wonderful man who has served the people of Kundiawa and Simbu Province well and whose breadth of surgical ability would be hard to match anywhere”. Watters has written about the priest in a book on the history of surgery in Papua New Guinea, recognising him as “a true general surgeon, who could plate bones, perform laparotomies or open a head”. Fr Jaworki is loved and respected not only by the people of United Nauro-Gor but right across Simbu and PNG. But leaving a legacy in medicine and surgery was not enough for this intelligent and hardworking man, so at the age of 55 he became a social entrepreneur and a peace builder.

His initial posting was to Yombar Parish, located in the heart of Nauro-Gor, a place of warlords and gruesomely uncompromising warriors; an area exposed to the use of high-powered guns and bows and arrows that caused massive destruction in human lives and property over three decades. This mostly emanated from the regular political upheavals occurring every five years during national elections and took the form of overwhelming jealousy, greed and pursuit of power amongst the factions that existed within different clans. Fr Jaworski’s astute leadership clearly manifested the scriptural words, “Go therefore and save those that are lost and in need”. He demonstrated with certainty and passion, the serenity and humility needed to serve a community that had become victims of their own actions. So he served as the Yombar priest through fierce and bloody tribal conflict. He saw his entire congregation damaged by the fighting, their homes razed, girls raped, women and children go hungry because food gardens were destroyed and school children miss their education for many years.

As he watched their suffering and patched their physical wounds, he wondered deeply about his mission and about what good he might achieve and he would prayerfully encourage his parishioners and others to believe in his vision and ambitions for sustainable peace, equality and economic development in the tribe. Against the backdrop of his own psychological and spiritual trauma, Fr Jaworski focused on trying to ways to stitch together this brutalised community to help it heal and find new ways of survival.

And about a year after the 2002 national elections, the Nauro-Gor people did begin to regather their botched lives, and start building new houses, schools and aid posts, maintain roads and bridges, and encouraging each other to put away their guns, bows and arrows and talk about making peace and uniting the tribe for a better tomorrow. In January 2006, with the help of church elders and clan leaders and support from the police and the Catholic Diocese of Kundiawa, Fr Jaworski arranged for a reconciliation ceremony (‘katim suga’) in which the warring clans came together and made peace amongst themselves. With his guidance, a community-based association, United Nauro-Gor, was incorporated and successfully introduced the concepts of community-based laws and community policing. Young men and women were selected to become community protection officers or auxiliary police officers. The associations interim directors and management adopted the 32 community laws to guide their conduct and ensure peace. The laws covered major areas: peace and stability; politics and national elections; witchcraft (sorcery); drug and alcohol (home brew); rape and adultery; domestic violence and child abuse; compensation payments; gambling; stealing; and much more.

The people remained steadfast in the belief that they would be guided by the laws that they introduced themselves and accorded with their own local customs. It was the foundation of the community-based law we still take pride in today. The association pioneered numerous community projects particularly in coffee, agriculture and farming, poultry and inland fisheries; skills training, carpentry, sawmilling, sewing, cookery, mechanics and muany others. Fr Jaworski’s main aim was to build a highly resilient community driven by peace, cooperation, tribal unity and success for a once dilapidated community. The people believed that a stable, caring and respected population can create an agile environment, breeding law-abiding citizens who are hard-working, responsive and lead better lives.

The first notable breakthrough made by United Nauro-Gor was our fight against sorcery and we continue to maintain peace, harmony and a carefree community. As a result, cases of rape, drug abuse, stealing, bushfires and destruction to schools, health clinics and bridges have enormously diminished. In 2014, United Nauro-Gor won the Tomorrow’s Peace builders Competition Award from Peace Direct, a global peace building organisation based in the United Kingdom. We were the first Pacific organisation to win this prestigious award. As a consequence of Fr Jaworski’s work, both social and surgical, he is spoken of with such deference that he seems more myth than a man. His work has reverberated to transform this tormented and war torn community to an enviable place with peaceful people united in their beliefs and aspirations and a model community in the Highlands region and PNG.

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Social Concerns Notes, September 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bougainville (John Momis – 3 part presentation)

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Social Concerns Notes – August 2019


‘Shocking’ levels of child violence in Pacific, says new report

AUCKLAND – A report has detailed shocking levels of physical violence and neglect towards millions of Pacific Islands children, sparking calls for better-targeted aid programs from countries like New Zealand and Australia. The report team, from combined aid agencies, investigated child-rearing practices in seven Pacific countries, as well as Timor-Leste. The report found as many as four million children experience violence at home across the Pacific – a staggering 2.8 million in Papua New Guinea alone.

More than half of all sexual violence referred to medical clinics involves children in PNG, where almost one in three parents report beating children “as hard as they can”. The research also outlines a range of factors that contribute to the abuse, including Pacific societies with high levels of gender inequality; social acceptance of physical punishment of children, weak governance, and growing poverty and inequality.

The report’s authors said the research shows the critical lack of overseas aid invested in programs aimed at ending violence against children, and programs by countries like New Zealand and Australia need to be more targeted.

Carsten Bockemuehl, World Vision’s advocacy campaigns lead for the Pacific, said violence against children will make societies less prosperous and will exacerbate risks to health and criminal justice systems and that there needed to be a “rebalancing” of aid priorities in the Pacific.

“It’s actually an economic issue, it makes countries poorer, so that’s why, out of the many competing priorities in developing countries, we just advocate for violence to be recognised as a critical development issue.”

Hefty fine, jail for abusers

August 7, 2019The National

PEOPLE committing violence against children will be fined up to K5,000 or jailed up to two years or both under the Lukautim Pikinini Act, says Community Development, Youth and Religion Minister Wake Goi. He made the statement following reports of recent child abuses in Port Moresby.
Three children were beaten and locked up in the cell two weeks ago at Boroko and last week, four children were stripped, beaten and poured paint on after they were allegedly caught doing graffiti.
And recently at Gordon bus station, a grade eight student in school uniform was allegedly beaten by police officers. Samuel Kolas, 18, a grade 8 student at the Wardstrip Primary School, was allegedly beaten by three policemen while he was waiting for a bus. Goi said that these reports spoke volumes of negligence, abuse and violence perpetrated against children.
Under the Lukautim Pikinini Act section 78, for all forms of violence other than sexual violence the penalty is K5,000 fine or imprisonment not exceeding two years or both,” she said. “The perpetrators must be arrested and charged under the Lukautim Pikinini Act.”

Bishop slams forms of violence against children

August 12, 2019The NationalNational

THE head bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran church of Papua New Guinea Dr Jack Urame has condemned physical violence and other forms of violence against children in Papua New Guinea, adding that this is a serious issue and a sign of the breakdown of family and societal values.
He was referring to a new report on child protection crisis in the Pacific released at the United Nations High-level Political Forum in New York last month.
The Unseen and Unsafe: Underinvestment in Ending Violence Against Children in the Pacific and Timor-Leste report shows that over 70 per cent or four million children across eight countries experience violent discipline at home, including a staggering 2.8 million (75 per cent of the child population) in PNG. The report details, for the first time, the shocking levels of physical, emotional and sexual violence, as well as neglect faced by children living in the Pacific and Timor-Leste.
“If the report is true about our country, then it does not reflect well on our society, a so-called Christian country,” Urame told The National. “We will face a lot of problems in the future because we are not helping the children, who are the very future of this nation.
“I appeal to mothers and fathers to be responsible for their children.
“We must change our attitudes when caring for our children.”
He called on all churches in the country to speak out on the issue.
“The church condemns and does not tolerate all forms of violence and abuse towards children. We must all work together now to ensure our children are given the rightful and proper care they deserve.”

PNG: Look to agriculture not minerals to strengthen economy  02 August 2019

LONDON, UK – Papua New Guinea should look to agriculture to strengthen growth as the economy recovers from a series of external shocks, the World Bank has said. Structural transformation was needed in the country to bring about the inclusive and sustainable development that would enable its economy to become more resilient, the bank suggested in a report. Real GDP growth in Papua New Guinea dropped gradually from 13.5% in 2014 to -0.5% in 2018. During this time there was a commodity price shock, a particularly warm El Niño climate cycle and a 7.5-magnitude earthquake that hampered the economy, the World Bank pointed out in the report, released on Friday last week.

But now, real GDP growth is forecast to be about 5.6% in 2019, and hover at just over 3% in 2020-21 – a recovery mainly observed in the resource sector, dominated by liquefied natural gas. Ilyas Sarsenov, World Bank senior country economist for Papua New Guinea, said: “PNG’s growth outlook remains positive but fragile due to rising economic uncertainties ranging from the domestic political economy to the recent escalation of trade tensions between the United States and China. “To mitigate downside risks to the outlook and better weather external shocks, it is recommended that PNG authorities adjust macroeconomic policy and focus on structural transformation of the economy, especially in agriculture as a potential economic driver for more diversified and inclusive development.” About 87% of the country’s population live in rural areas, with three quarters of them involved in subsistence and cash income agriculture – including fresh foods, coffee, cocoa, palm oil, copra and copra oil.

Pacific leaders want their summit to focus on climate, not China

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Pacific island leaders insist climate change, not China, will top the agenda when they meet in Tuvalu this month as western-aligned nations push to curb Beijing’s growing influence in the region. Once regarded as a sleepy backwater of the diplomatic world, the islands are now a hotbed of aid projects and charm offensives as anxiety over China’s presence grows. Australia has labelled its campaign the Pacific Step-Up, New Zealand has the Pacific Reset, and Britain the Pacific Uplift, while the United States, Japan, and France have also intensified their efforts to court the region. But local leaders attending the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Tuvalu from August 13 to 16 are wary their concerns will be sidelined if they become pawns in a wider power struggle. The 16-member forum mainly consists of small island nations, along with Papua New Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand. PIF secretary-general Dame Meg Taylor said the forum, whose members collectively refer to themselves as the Blue Pacific, was at a pivotal moment in its history.”While we are the subject of the geopolitical maneuvering and strategies of others, the Blue Pacific collective remains focused on charting our own destiny,” she said.

The primary concern for island leaders – many of whom live in low-lying nations threatened by rising seas – is climate change

PNG needs to depreciate exchange rate, academic says

August 12, 2019The NationalNational

Papua New Guinea’s economy showed signs of recovery last year but it has not been sustained this year, according to survey results presented at the 2019 Update PNG Forum in Port Moresby last week. Australian National University director of development policy centre Stephen Howes told the forum PNG needed to depreciate its exchange rate.
Howes said PNG was the 10th most resource-intensive economy in the world, reliant on petroleum, oil, gas, coal and minerals, the Saudi Arabia of the Pacific.
“In order to recover after the boom, PNG needs to depreciate its exchange rate.
“Until it does that, PNG is going to suffer from foreign exchange shortages and that will drag on growth. “The rising salary bill, rising interest burden and revenue is flat which makes fiscal adjustments and management difficult. “The Government cannot pay bills because it has to pay salaries and interest obligations. State-owned entities debt and some of the guarantees were adding to the fiscal stress.”

Mobile phones have seen rapid rise in off-grid solar in PNG

CANBERRA — The use of off-grid solar products has skyrocketed over the past five years in Papua New Guinea, with 60% of households now using solar lighting — up sharply from just 2% in 2012, according to a new report by the International Finance Corporation. As a result, PNG now has one of the highest rates of use of off-grid solar lighting in the developing world, according to the report ‘Going the Distance: Off-Grid Lighting Market Dynamics in PNG’. Part of this is due to the fact that 87% of the population — or 7.2 million people — are not connected to the electricity grid. But the increased use of mobile technology has also played a major role. The report showed the transition happened at a time when mobile phone penetration was growing rapidly, but the means to charge phones was lagging. Off-grid solar products on the PNG market now include generic battery powered torches and lanterns, as well as IFC quality-verified off-grid solar products — with many providing the ability to charge a phone.  “This is because people need the energy to charge their mobiles, and there is also an attempt by mobile companies to launch initiatives for mobile charging. It is important to remember that the revenues of mobile companies are directly related to handsets being charged.”

Sori: Teachers having sexual relationship to be terminated

August 13, 2019The NationalNational

 Article Views: 1

TEACHERS who abuse their position of trust and have sexual relationships with female students will be terminated, Teachers Service Commissioner Baran Sori says. Sori told The National that teachers engaged in sexual relationships with their students was not just a serious offence but also criminal in nature. He made this statement after three male secondary high school teachers in New Ireland were terminated for having sexual relationships with their students. “The three teachers were charged with the offence by a senior provincial school inspector after complaints were raised and the matter was referred to the provincial education board, who recommended their immediate dismissal,” Sori said.

‘Condom’ cops jailed

August 15, 2019The NationalNational

TWO police officers were jailed 18 months by the Waigani National Court yesterday for forcing a woman to chew and swallow three condoms in 2015. Justice Panuel Mogish also ordered Joshua Yawijah and Jacklyn Tanda to be dismissed from the force. “Police officers are supposed to uphold human rights, not abuse their powers,” he said. Yawijah and Tanda, both probationary police officers, recorded a video of the woman’s ordeal of chewing and swallowing the condoms and posted the it on the Internet.
“You did not formally arrest and charge the complainant for an offence, but instead you forced her to eat and swallow the condoms,” he told the duo.
Yawijah, 25, from Pangia, Southern Highlands has two children and Tanda, 26, from Wabag, Enga, has a three-month-old baby. “Before you commit a crime, always think about your family.”

University will fix doctor shortage: Minister

August 15, 2019The NationalNational

HEALTH Minister Elias Kapavore said the issue of shortage of doctors in the country could only be addressed with a standalone medical university and the training of medical students at other major institutions. Kapavore said given the current ratio of one doctor for every 20,000 people, the Government was trying to address the shortage of doctors in the country and had taken several measures. He had instructed the new Medical Board of PNG with the support of two Australian medical professors to visit the Divine Word University next month to assess the curriculum and its facilities related to the teaching of medicine. Kapavore said while the DWU medical programme had its critics, the curriculum and training offered at Madang institution the two professors would be able to give him a clear understanding what the school needed to produce qualified and quality graduates. He said based on their report, a review of the curriculum would be done if needed to ensure the changes were made in order for DWU to graduate its first doctors in 2021 which he said would double the number of annual graduates.

Marape govt begins to address PNG’s grim cancer battle

23 August 2019


PORT MORESBY – We are all susceptible to cancer regardless of age, sex, race, health and socioeconomic situation. Cancer strikes indiscriminately. It takes alike the old and young, weak and robust, eliminating a former common misconception- one of many myths of cancer – that it is mainly an ailment consigned to the older age bracket.

Unlike death and its inevitability, cancer can be fatal, but is also avoidable and treatable, given the right drugs and equipment. And it can be curable as well if diagnosed and treated at the earliest stage. I was privileged to speak to the late Dr John Niblett about this in July 2013. At the time this great and selfless man was director of the Angau Memorial Hospital’s cancer treatment centre.

Dr Niblett (God rest his soul) died on 4 July 2017 – an especially tragic passing given his cruel expulsion from the treatment centre by an ingrate National Department of Health and the Health Minister at the time. In light of the Marape government’s recent announcement of a sizable capital injection of K60 million into the country’s two top hospitals to ensure cancer treatment will be available next year, I am prompted to revisit my enlightening conversation with the late Dr Niblett.

Then a leading cancer specialist and the only resident radiation oncologist in PNG, Dr Niblett said given the underdeveloped, underfunded, understaffed and under-informed cancer response by the health department, early detection was the only hope anyone afflicted by cancer had to be given a fighting chance to survive. Back in 2013, the statistics painted an almost hopeless picture of the cancer situation in the country. Of an estimated 2,000 cancer cases each year, an average of 400 were detected and referred to the cancer centre for treatment management. This was a mere 40% compared to the outstanding 60% of undetected cases, implying that some 1,200 unfortunate people suffered in what can only be described as dreadful circumstances without treatment and without hope.

26 August 2019

Peace in the valley – and it all started in the home

BRAD WATSON | Adventist Record | Edited

KUNDIAWA – The air is filled with smoke rising languidly above mounds of black ash. Women and children hide in the forest, terrified of those who have stripped their fields and herded away their pigs.

In the distance, a decrepit school stands idly, empty of laughter or the sounds of teachers scolding students. A small church, recently filled with sounds of song and praise, is the only building that is untouched. Over a ridge, a widow watches a sweet potato roasting on a bed of glowing ash. She is worried. Her hands tremble. Recently a man in her clan died after a long illness. Some of the relatives are saying she is responsible.

They huddle together and whisper. A witch, one says. A sorcerer, says another. A Dracula. For that is the new word they use for the likes of her. She has done nothing but fears what will happen when the relatives of the deceased man return to her house.

She is still grieving, for her own husband died two years earlier, and a daughter died recently in childbirth. It was too dangerous to go to the hospital.

This was the recent, harsh reality of life for the 3,000 people of the Guna-Goreku tribe in Papua New Guinea’s rugged and beautiful Simbu Province. According to Benjamin Kola and his wife, Agnes, few Guna-Goreku people had gone to school because of constant fighting for more than 25 years. [See the above url for the full article]

Progress may be inevitable but human dignity should prevail

PORT MORESBY – The fate of about 100 families residing in 64 units of National Housing Commission flats at Gordon in Port Moresby hangs in precarious balance as they face eviction from their homes of 20-30 years by a private property developer.

The matter is the subject of a bitter and protracted legal battle that has taken up the better part of the last 12 years and is still awaiting a final court decision.

But the political leadership of the National Capital District (NCD) must be lauded, and loudly, for standing up for the families who are agitated and distressed about the future. Governor Powes Parkop and the MPs of Moresby South and North-East have made considerable efforts to address the adverse effects of physical developments on affected communities in and around the city.

Moresby North-East MP John Kaupa recently told the affected Gordon families that, if an eviction is compelled to happen by law, it will take place, but that it is incumbent upon leaders to ensure it occurs in a just, orderly and humane manner.

Essentially, the MP captured and amplified the collective view of local political leaders led by Governor Parkop.

In the last two years alone, there have been a number of NCD-sanctioned relocation of entire communities displaced by commercial developments.

A human rights lawyer prior to taking up politics, Governor Parkop consistently champions the cause of powerless people caught in the aggressive cross currents of progress and development. That is certainly the sentiment of Francis Irai, an elderly man of about 70, living with his family in a makeshift home constructed of rusted metal sheet walls and canvas for a roof. The squalor in which the family is living is shocking and degrading, but the family has no place else and the future is devoid of hope as far as Mr Irai can see, which unfortunately is not too far as he is losing his sight. They are victims of progress taking the form of a brand new four-lane road linking Gerehu and 9 Mile, purportedly to reduce the traffic congestion on the nearby main highway.

Irai is now a broken man without a job, without a home and without hope. He sought me out to air his story in his firm belief that Governor Parkop will heed his plea.

Kase’s admission of health system failure 10 years overdue

14 August 2019. . 

SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country..LAE – For the last five years, I have been repeating the same story: ‘We have a crisis in the health system.’The rest of the country can see it. The people who are victims of the medicine shortages all over the country keep speaking out about it. Health workers have cried while being interviewed because they simply can’t save lives. And we’re not talking about the expensive cancer treatment and operations families have to pay for. 

It’s the basics that are lacking. Antibiotics, malaria drugs, family planning drugs and consumables. The clinics don’t have them. Or even if they have them, the supplies are not enough for their catchment areas. Personally, I have emailed the health secretary, Pascoe Kase, about the cancer unit in Lae, the ill-treatment of the late Dr John Niblet and the medicine shortages. I have called and sent text messages. No reply.

I found that the only way  get the (former) government’s attention was to produce a series of live videos on Facebook berating the health minister and the ‘higher ups’ until the issue got discussed on the floor of parliament. It took a change of government before health workers truly felt free to openly discuss the medicine shortages.  When the new PM, James Marape, travelled to Lae on his second visit, he came with health minister Elias Kapavore and secretary Kase. We put the question of medicine shortages to him yet again. The health secretary was indeed quick to defend saying the medicine shortage was a “broad” assumption and that the problem was with the area medical stores.He went on further to state that a lot of the blame lay with staff at the clinics.

I said: “You have to go to the clinics and talk to staff because the information you are giving me here is wrong.”  (I have the video).  It turned into a tense exchange which we later had to cut short. After more than five years, secretary Kase is now ‘admitting’ that there are problems.  I could say better late than never.  But…no.  We wanted that admission earlier. We wanted an acknowledgment of the problem and it is almost 10 years overdue. Senior doctors like Sam Yokopua, Ludwig Nanawar and Alex Peawi have all threatened to resign over the unresolved problems that continue to hurt their patients. 


I liked the last sentence of Scott’s article. Luckily in my sojourn in PNG I didn’t spend too long living in the capital but the few years remain etched in my memory-bank.

I can still the recall the delightful appearance of the Waigani public servants and ministerial bag-carriers or ‘gofers’.

They looked quite sharp in their nice clothes complete with an air of officialdom that impressed the peasants who sought answers in shabby government offices or when these so called public servants accompanied their ministerial masters often helicoptered into the sweaty backwaters of the nation and thus avoiding nasty spray from a dinghy trip or inhaling the road dust and pothole bumps along neglected mud roads.

Having been a mostly rural inhabitant for my 32 years in PNG I had witnessed the terrible shortcoming of the Health Department at first hand:

The lovely dental building at Taskul with no electricity connection and the second-hand dental chair which would send you somersaulting backwards onto floor as it had a damaged rear support. Two officers stationed there to carry out 19th century extractions.

Daughter with cut finger arrived at 1610 so no treatment until next day.

Never ending lack of correct tablets so aspirin for malaria.

No antiseptic.

On and on it goes with the poor old aidposts having rundown buildings with even less medial necessities. Not even a water supply for some as collecting gutters broken or tank rusted and leaking.

Reports in PNG media now in my health file continue to grow and every year appear articles on the failure of the health ministers and their secretaries to solve the greatest problem of drug supply in their fiefdom.

011203 Medical drugs run out in NG Islands region:

INTRAVENOUS fluid, an essential medical drug, is reportedly running short in the New Guinea Islands Region. Saint Mary’s Vunapope Hospital paediatrician Dr Pomat told of one patient, who was very sick and needed IV treatment but hospital staff could not administer IV because they did not have the fluid in stock and the patient died. “It is a crisis situation. We are out of intravenous fluids,” Dr Pomat said.

020624 THE Port Moresby General Hospital is critically short of drugs There are no anaesthetic drugs and laboratory reagents.

020102 Goroka needs steriliser to fight typhoid epidemic

040114 Cancer, silent killer -UP to 10,000 Papua New Guineans die every year as a result of cancer

060721 Moresby hospital runs out of drugs

080608 2nd hand cancer machine that Lae hospital bought in 1979 eventually gave up ghost in 1999

081212 Tari hospital runs out of drugs

081231 In dire straits POMGH forced to accept donations to stay in business

090107 Babies miss out as drugs run out at Well Baby Clinic in POM

091016 Drug supply short at urban clinics

100223 Drug shortage in Lae clinics for newborn babies

100520 Last three months before ART drug supply ceases

119221 The acute shortage of basic medical drugs in rural aid posts in Madang and Karkar is now into its second month as the province’s medical store and supplier remains closed.

110722 Drugs shortage kills nine in Kandrian

111107 A$1.4 million given to pursue snake-bites study

110130 Papua New Guinea Health Report – The worst state of health in the Pacific region

120217 No immunisation vaccines for babies in Lae

120412 Nonga Base hospital short on oxygen supplies

120418 Wewak General Hospital is sending away patients seeking X-rays because its machine is not working.

131201 Internal DFAT documents identify Borneo Pacific as PNG’s largest provider of drugs from manufacturer North China Pharmaceutical Group, a known offender in China’s fake drugs crisis.

140109 Health is PNG Government’s priority says Sir Puke Temu Minister for Public service

140115 Central Supply & Tenders Board backs NEC award to Borneo because it is not a manufacturer and did not require the ISO 9001 accreditation

140522 Burst pipes rats taint Modilon, Madang hospital food

140605 Medical kits here next week from Borneo Pharmaceutical Company in Indonesia

140722 Hospitals receive 300 second hand beds from John Hunter Hospital in OZ

150331 Shortage of BCG vaccine for babies at POM G Hospital is unacceptable

151106 PM seems to be deluded when he says ‘no drug shortages in PNG hospitals’

160413 Critical drug shortage at POM G Hospital for six months

160415 ‘Hospitals not short of drugs’ says Secty. Pascoe Kase

160517 Laloki short of vital mental drug Olanzepine

160623 K50 Millions owed to suppliers and distributors of medical drugs acknowledged by health Minister Michael Malabag & his Secty. P Kase

160926 Hospitals lack cancer drugs

170103 Nogat marasin

170315 Lack Of Anti Venom In PNG A Concern at www.

170320 Shortage of pap smear tests because of lack of pathologists

170412 Half a million funding for drugs not enough for 6 months

170609 Drugs crisis being fixed says Secty. Kase

170808 K15,000 anti-venom fee will cause deaths says Dr Sam Yockopua

180222 Medicines running out as supplies stuck without distributor as Sir Puke dithers

180525 Sir Puke Tuma Health minister NOW admits medicine, needles, gauze, cotton often run out

181031 Oro Clinic serving 2000 people: No antibiotics, no painkillers or other basic supplies such as gauze, gloves and adhesives.

190319 Ways sought to improve supply of medicine says Sir Puka Temu

These mere headlines tell a sad tale of political neglect either from idiots, uncaring or corrupt elites who turn up to work in their nice clothes but often disdaining to answer the pleas of the masses crying out for a decent health system throughout the nation.

We are all aware how the top lot somehow afford trips to overseas hospitals or at the very at least access private medical care.

Sadly May 2019’s misnamed ‘change of government’ saw O’Neills recent supporters who had just publicly railed against him happily coalescing into almost the same political swamp dwellers.

Nothing new under the sun in politics: ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same’

If you’re pregnant, very unwell, suffering from cancer, TB or with mental illness don’t hold your breath waiting to see improvements in your rural health facility.

Posted by: Arthur Williams | 14 August 2019 at 09:48 PM

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Social Concerns – July 2019

Jiwaka police gets training to deal with sorcery violence

July 1, 2019 The National

PERPETRATORS of sorcery accusation related violence (SARV) in Jiwaka are increasingly likely to face the law after local police received some intensive training. Thirty-two police officers in Jiwaka were briefed on the latest laws and legal framework regarding SARV crimes at a recent workshop in Minj. Participants took part in discussions and activities on efficient ways to identify and charge alleged perpetrators in sorcery accusation related violence cases.
Constable Alice Bureng, from Banz Police Station, said they attended to SARV cases on a weekly basis. “After attending the workshop, I now understand that it is important to attend to minor complaints of SARV such as calling someone a sanguma (sorcerer) before it escalates into arson or murder,” Bureng said. She added that witnesses in most SARV cases did not give statements or turn up to court in fear of retribution, making prosecution difficult.

Overcrowding cause of outbreak

July 1, 2019 The National

TUBERCULOSIS (TB) is spreading among prisoners in Buimo and it is getting worse because of overcrowding, jail commander Supt Judy Tara says. Tara this said on Thursday in Lae that after the death of an inmate , caused by TB, a few weeks ago. “I am calling on the authorities to allow parole for detainees who are eligible for this release to free up space,” she said.
Buimo prison reduced the number of its inmates by sending some to prisons in other centres last month.

Bishop wants fair deal for customary landowners

July 18, 2019 The National 

A CATHOLIC bishop has called on the Government to tell companies both foreign and local to renegotiate agreements relating to customary land. Archbishop Francesco Panfilo told the annual Singkai Lecture on July 5 at the Bomana Catholic Theological Institute that it must be done to “Take back PNG” which the Government has to do.
Panfilo said most Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABL) were not fair on indigenous owners who had little or nothing to gain despite the use of huge portions of their land and the harvesting of its resources.
He urged the Government to push for renegotiation to ensure:

  • A fair rental payment for the land;
  • fair royalties paid for the export of resources;
  • environmental devastation is addressed;
  • policies are in place to ensure sound environment practices;
  • the respect for sacred sites; and,
  • An appropriate contribution to sustainable community services by the company

Panfilo said Papua New Guineans as Melanesians depended on the land as it was their life.

At least 15 women and children killed in tribal massacre in Papua New Guinea

Joe Chandler

Australian National University anthropologist Dr Chris Ballard, who has spent many years living with and researching the area’s dominant Huli population, agrees with local observations that the massacre falls outside even the eroded rules of tribal warfare. Before European contact, these constraints “managed fighting quite effectively,” he says. “Even in the worst cases of warfare where entire clans were forced off their territory, casualties were pretty minimal and they were almost always fighting men.” Given dense webs of social connection and strict requirements around paying compensation for deaths, random killing were considered “truly dumb”.“Nobody was interested in mass death. The cost of having to fork out pigs for compensation for death placed limits on what people were prepared to even envisage.”

Explosive anger over broken promises

Today locals live in constant fear and Hela is a virtual no-go zone to outsiders despite the fact that the recent atrocities played out barely 30 kilometres, as the helicopter flies, from the fortified compounds that are the heart of the nation’s largest resources project, the $US19 billion Exxon-Mobil led PNGLNG (Liquefied Natural Gas).

There is widespread distress in the highlands over unrealised promises around this enterprise and explosive anger at the failure of royalties to flow to landowners in the gas fields despite five years of operations. The Huli, famous for their elaborate wigs and face paint, are also fearsome fighters. Sharing, caring and loving, says Janet Koriama – just don’t take what is ours.

The maelstrom of the LNG fallout, old enmities, new jealousies, deteriorating basic services and, last year, a devastating 7.5 magnitude earthquake, underwrites a spiralling social emergency in which tribal fighting has razed villages, closed schools, displaced communities and caused an unknown toll of casualties. The old rules constraining warfare have broken down in recent decades, , Ballard says. By 2008 – when the PNGLNG building phase was at its height – Medecins Sans Frontieres installed a surgical team at Tari Hospital because casualties from tribal and family violence were equivalent to a war zone. Janet Koriama says traditional protections for women have eroded notably over the lifetime of the LNG project.

Patients urged to report hospital staff charging fees

July 3, 2019The National

PORT Moresby General Hospital acting chief executive officer Paki Molumi wants the public to report any staff, nurse or doctor who demands fees for services. He said the admission fee for the hospital was K5, surgery K15 and K50 for CT scan. “However, the charges have been waived for children and senior citizens. “Doctors may also use their discretion to waive the charges for those who could not afford to pay,” he said. Molumi said it was illegal for any staff, nurse or doctor to collect fees for hospital services. “Please report immediately any staff who demanded payment so that we can make the system better for our patients,” he said.
Molumi also said a new policy had been implemented for accepting donations to the hospital.
“Food donations are not accepted due to the risk of contamination while donation of clothes and toys will go through the Department of Social Works for distribution.
“However, charitable donations for pharmaceuticals, equipment or infrastructure are most welcome.”

Priest: Better options available than death

July 8, 2019 The National

A CATHOLIC church priest is calling on the Government not to consider death penalty as an option for punishment but to fund rehabilitation programmes to change the people.
Chaplin of Baisu Jail in the Western Highlands Fr Robert Nolie said the Correctional Services was established to rehabilitate offenders and Government should focus on that aspect of the penal system. He said the death penalty was not the solution for penalising law breakers.
Nolie said he supported Prime Minister James Marape for suggesting a way forward for prisoners. Nolie said everyone made mistakes and rehabilitation through the state correctional system as well as faith and social programmes were better alternatives than ending a life.
He said leaders could not impose laws to kill wrong doers but rather help change those who broke the laws. Nolie said he was currently running rehabilitation programmes at Baisu and had seen firsthand the positive impact on a wide range of prisoners including serious offenders.
He said the rehabilitation programmes had prisoners engaged in were piggery, poultry, goat farming, agriculture and now the Baisu Technical Education Vocational Training (Tvet) centre.
“After working with the prisoners for six years I can see that they can change if they are taught to live better lives through the rehabilitation programmes,” he said. “I make prisoners feel at home, after they leave they go as changed person, this is why the Government should consider funding these programmes to help law breakers.”

He said the Catholic church of the Archdiocese of Mt Hagen was willing to work with the Correctional Services department in developing and running rehabilitation and reintegration programmes in jails.

06 July 2019

Part of the solution or part of the problem? Private security in PNG


CANBERRA – In a surprise move, Papua New Guinea’s new prime minister, James Marape, appointed member for Madang Open, Bryan Kramer, as the country’s police minister.

Soon after his appointment Kramer promised to reform PNG’s police force, the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC). The one-time member of the opposition and critic of the O’Neill government has outlined a range of measures, including providing more opportunities for women, addressing corruption and improving discipline. He is also encouraging citizens to report crime and police misdeeds through social media, which has already resulted in an arrest.

While Kramer’s promised reforms are encouraging, improving security in what is often depicted as one of the world’s most dangerous countries will not be easy. PNG’s police force is massively understaffed, poorly resourced, ill-disciplined and heavily factionalised. Even if reform were to improve the state’s police force, PNG’s serious fiscal crisis means that Kramer, and the still-to-be-appointed new police commissioner, will need to look beyond the RPNGC to find answers to PNG’s security problems.

One possible place to start looking will be PNG’s private security industry, which although intersecting with many areas of public policing has been largely ignored in policy and development discussions to date. The private security industry has become the largest provider of security in the country. According to PNG’s Security Industries Authority (SIA), which is the designated regulator under the Security (Protection) Industry Act 2004, the number of licensed companies grew from 173 in 2006 to 464 in 2016, with a total workforce of around 27,709 security guards.These official figures don’t include what are believed to be the much higher number of unlicensed security companies and personnel operating in different parts of the country.

The industry is a major employer, with some claiming that it is now the country’s third largest source of employment. While available figures are rubbery, the SIA estimated the value of the industry in 2016 as between K833 million and K1 billion.

New curriculum brings mixed reaction from officers

July 11, 2019 The National

THERE have been a lot of discussions, including mixed reactions, about the new curriculum citizenship and Christian values education (CCVE) at the senior education officers’ meeting in Eastern Highlands this week. However, most of the participants agreed to the introduction of the new curriculum as a compulsory subject due to moral breakdown in the PNG society.
CCVC has come about because of widespread concern regarding lack of prominence in teaching and learning of CCVE in school curriculums. Acting Education secretary in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville Mary Remi raised an implementing issue on how the department could address teachers with attitude problems to teach Christian values education. Church education representative Michael Ova also agreed and said earlier aspects of confusion of CCVE was cleared during the conference presentation. First assistant secretary curriculum and measurement with the Education Department Annmarie Kona, when updating senior education officers about the curriculum said: “CCVE came about due to evidence in society about the disrespect for law, disrespect and denial of human rights, disrespect of environment, non-appreciation of cultural beliefs and values, growing practices of corruption and total breakdown of civic participation. Kona also shared that Christian religion education that was being taught currently by church representatives was about Christianity, unlike CCVE for which teachers are trained to teach.

Power elites behind brutal Highlands slayings must be targeted 12 July 2019

PORT MORESBY – Sixteen children and women slashed to death by warlords and their tribesmen were laid to rest in Hela yesterday.

And towards the eastern edge of Southern Highlands in the Kagua-Erave area, a massacre said to be much larger continues unabated, perhaps 50-100 victims have lost their lives as warring tribes ransack villages and orchestrate guerilla warfare. With limited reliable reporting, the number of deaths is likely to be much higher. Roads have become dangerous to travel and as a result schools, aid posts and other basic government services have come to a standstill.

With the use of high powered guns and hired hit men, tribal fights are much more deadly than those fought in traditional times. In the Highlands where the payback system and bigman mentality are still dominant, battles among the elites for power quickly spiral into all-out tribal and ethnic war. It gets complicated when political differences and tribal conflicts intertwine. Lurking behind the images of men with guns and piles of bodies is a battle among the elites for power, prestige and wealth. Money and drugs are used to procure high powered guns for the foot soldiers who follow orders from the top. It’s continuing warfare, there’s no sparing the innocent and there’s no contemplation of peace. As aptly described by one observer, the situation in Hela and other parts of the Highlands is not just chaos, it’s organised chaos. The killing of women and children is an emerging trend in tribal warfare and may reflect a change in the rules of engagement. It seems warring tribes are after children, especially male children and their mothers, in the hope of exterminating future threats. However, we all know that will only lead to a vicious cycle of revenge, death and continuing violence in the future.

Churches, community leaders, ward councillors, village court magistrates, tribal leaders and police all have an important role to play in ensuring that peace prevails. The organising elite must be held accountable. They are the ones bankrolling these battles and killings. They are responsible and they must act to stop the slaughter.

 PNG tops Pacific in child abuse

July 31, 2019 The National

PAPUA New Guinea has the highest number of child abuse cases of the estimated 2.8 million children facing violence in the Pacific and Timor-Leste, according to Unseen and Unsafe report.
Save the Children acting head of policy and author of Unseen and Unsafe, Kavitha Suthanthiraraj, says the report reveals the child protection crisis in the Pacific and Timor-Leste and the devastating lifelong impact this has on children. “Violence against children has been ignored and there has been inadequate levels of funds and policy measures to address this epidemic,” she said. “Children who face violence and abuse often suffer from serious physical injuries, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, mental trauma and even death.”
A research, conducted by Save the Children, World Vision, Plan International and ChildFund, demonstrated that in PNG:

  • More than half of all sexual violence cases referred to medical clinics in Port Moresby and Tari were against children;
  • 27 per cent of parents or carers reported beating their children over and over as hard as they could;
  • physical violence against adolescent girls is between 30 per cent and 25 per cent; and,
  • sexual violence against adolescent girls is between 15 per cent and 10 per cent.
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Social Concerns Notes – June 2019

My message to prime minister James Marape

01 June 2019

Scott Waide – As the new prime minister, you have your work cut out for you.

You have to try to get a lot of it done within two years before the 2022 elections.

That’s a big job. Do what is right by the people.  Listen to their voices through social media. Not all of it is fake news. Take counsel from those who disagree with you, publicly and privately, in the interest of your eight million people.  Be brave enough to listen to the criticisms and find the threads of truth in them. Be truthful about the state of Papua New Guinea’s health system.  The people of Papua New Guinea deserve a Government that tells the truth. There is a severe shortage of medicine. Puka Temu did a bad job and he did not admit to it as health minister.  Many of our aid posts are closed and our hospitals don’t have medicine.  Yet the media is accused of ‘being political’ when we highlight these ‘open secrets.’

Be truthful about tuition fee free education.  It’s not working for us. Our schools don’t get the money on time.  If we have to pay for school fees, tell that to the people straight as it is.  Papua New Guineans are resilient and hard working.  They do not deserve to be lied to. Please appoint an education minister who will find out why teachers continue to have their pays cut when they do not have outstanding loans.

Remove the companies that are benefiting from the cumbersome procurement processed in the health and education at the expense of our people. Investigate and prosecute the kaikaiman and kaikaimeri who suck the systems dry.  Send them to jail.

Provide housing for our people. …

Papua New Guineans deserve government that has the guts to dump the garbage and restore integrity.

Prison infrastructure falling apart: Official

June 4, 2019 The National

SOME prison facilities still being used today were built during the colonial days and badly need to be renovated and upgraded, a senior prison officer says.
Correctional Service College commander Chief Supt Kiddy Keko said some of the infrastructures were falling apart including buildings, staff quarters and offices. He called on the Government to increase the Correctional Service annual budget to cater for the upgrading of its facilities. “There are 22 State prisons around the country with over 1000 staff and their families,” Keko said. “In order to rehabilitate convicts like murderers and rapists, officers need proper facilities to use. It is their right to be protected under a proper roof to do their jobs effectively.” He said the Correctional Service was allocated about K166 million annually which was not enough for the rehabilitation process.

Call to revisit legislative issues

June 4, 2019 The National

TRANSPARENCY International PNG (TIPNG) has urged newly-elected Prime Minister James Marape and his cabinet to revisit five legislative issues of national interest to reduce corruption and restore good governance in the country.
There are five crucial legislative actions that are of national interest that Transparency International PNG would be urging the Marape Government to take to reduce corruption and restore good governance in the country:

  • Establish a fully-empowered Independent Commission Against Corruption, with the power to investigate, arrest and prosecute perpetrators of corruption;
  • pass amendments to the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates to ensure it follows the constitution and is ensures greater accountability in how MP’s conduct themselves;
  • address the tangible deficiencies identified in TIPNG’s 2017 Election Observation Report through reform of the Electoral Law;
  • use Open Government Partnership to pass Access To Information Legislation and strengthen accountability in service delivery through civic participation; and,
  • Establish the outstanding Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) so that benefits from the country’s natural resources can be transparently managed.

06 June 2019

Marape’s pledge of hope & reassurance to the people of PNG

Daniel Kumbon – “To all our citizens, we are prepared to work, can I ask of you one thing? “Give me a good law and order environment, stop crime, stop tribal fights (my Hela, please), stop torture of mothers and daughters, stop corruption at all levels, honour time by being punctual, do little things like stop littering and spitting the red stain of betel nuts. “Let’s all contribute. I am willing to make few hard calls going forward as the chief servant of my country, Papua New Guinea.

“Those of you who want to work with me please align here or offer me better solution to make PNG the Richest Black Christian Nation on earth, where no child in any part of our country is left behind.”

Help sought to remove implants

June 7, 2019 The National

IMPLANTS are a modern and effective method of family planning lasting up to five years and used worldwide for more than 20 years, says Health secretary Pascoe Kase.
Kase made this statement after a group of women called on the Health Department to provide avenues for them to have their family planning implants removed due to side effects. More than 20 women called on the Health Department to provide a safe avenue for them to remove their implants without being turned away or verbally abused by health workers. Spokeswoman Mary Hulova told The National that they had been trying to remove their family planning implants since the end of last year but were turned away by both the public clinics and other partner service providers. “It’s been five years now, the implants have grown into our flesh and we have been suffering from all sorts of side effects like migraines, severe backaches, itchy skin and weight problems,” Hulova said.
“We went to Susu Mamas Clinic at 3-Mile but again we were turned away and told to go back to the service providers because the implants were placed by them, so many have given up and have just continued on living with the implants. “We are now calling on the government to help us and provide avenue for us to go to and remove these implants,” she said.

Election flawed to an unforgivable extent: Report

June 7, 2019 The National

THE 2017 National General Elections were “flawed to an unforgivable extent” according to a published report. Transparency International Papua New Guinea (TIPNG) chairman Lawrence Stephens said the nation had allowed far too many of its people to be robbed of their basic rights during the election. The report also stated that voters were not able to vote as their ballot papers were used by other persons or groups without their permission; many instances of threats and intimidation and vote buying was observed to have been common place during the elections. Stephens said that PNG needed to stop making excusing for failing to honour its own Constitution and laws.

Three years on: Let’s not forget the brave students of 2016

10 June 2016  Scott Waide – This week marks three years since students at the University of Papua New Guinea were shot at a public gathering. In the days leading up to the shooting they were belittled, scorned and told their opinions on good governance and corruption did not matter. The students were campaigning for greater transparency in government, a stop to overseas borrowing and the resignation of the prime minister.

Ideas whose time has come three years later.

… ‘Adults’ mocked them. The public servants told them to go back to school and forget about politics because they were ‘not qualified’ to talk about what was happening in the seat of power. On Wednesday 8 June, police shot into a crowd of students wounding a number of them, some badly. It was fortunate there were no deaths. Students were chased and teargassed and NBC journalist Rose Amos, reporting on the protest, was assaulted by police. The university administration later penalised students for being part of the protest even as their comrades lay injured in hospital. Some were told they would not graduate that year. They stood up for democracy when everyone else was too afraid.

Papua New Guinea on the chopping block

By Roberta Staley June 10, 2019

Eight members of the Kimadi tribe stand, crouch or sit on the hard ground, knotty with exposed tree roots, enjoying the relative cool offered by a verdant canopy of leaves overhead. Just a few metres away, the quiet clear waters of a Bismarck Sea lagoon, filled with small schools of striped tropical fish, lap against the grassy bank. The setting is tranquil and bucolic – but not for the Kimadi, who have travelled from their traditional territory in Madang province in Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific to consult with an NGO, the Bismarck Ramu Group (BRG). Founded in 1996 and headquartered just outside the town of Madang, BRG provides consulting services and advice to Indigenous groups like the Kimadi who are fighting ever-growing threats from logging and palm oil development on their lands. …

Signs that the Kimadi’s subsistence lifestyle is under threat first appeared last July when Malaysian company Woodbank Pacific began logging about 10 kilometres upstream. Roads were cut into the steep, hilly wilderness to allow logging-truck access. Then, clear cutting began of softwood and hardwood trees, such as the kwila, which grows up to 50 metres high and is used in a variety of products, from furniture and musical instruments to building bridges. But the loggers were cavalier as they felled these forest giants, letting some logs fall into the waterways and leaving them to rot, contaminating the water flowing downstream to where the Kimadi villagers live, says Lawun. “All the communities downstream are being affected.” …

The Kimadi have reason to be worried about the pernicious ubiquity of logging in their home province. In 2010, Madang province had 2,000,000 hectares of tree cover extending over 76% of its land area. In 2017 alone, it lost 15,900 hectares of tree cover, Global Forest Watch reported.

In PNG, the roots of the deforestation problem lie with Special Agriculture and Business Leases (SABLs), which have weakened Indigenous Papua New Guineans’ claims to customary landownership. Before the Land Act (1996) came into existence, about 97% of PNG was controlled by Indigenous peoples. However, provisions in the act enabled the state to lease land from customary owners, then re-lease it to private companies or individuals. According to Father Philip Gibbs, a professor and vice-president of research and higher degrees at Divine Word University in Madang, this “lease-leaseback scheme” has resulted in 10% of the country’s total land area ending up in private hands. The national and provincial governments of Papua New Guinea encouraged landowners to enter into the strategy, giving up their land, often based upon false promises of community enrichment or employment, Gibbs says.

Kwa: ICAC Bill awaiting endorsement

June 11, 2019 The National

DEPARTMENT of Justice and Attorney-General Secretary Dr Eric Kwa says the Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) Bill is with the National Executive Council for their endorsement. “We are hoping that the ICAC office will be established soon to fight corruption,” Kwa said on Sunday during the Sir Anthony Siaguru Walk Against Corruption in Port Moresby. “We are ready to fight corruption and Prime Minister James Marape wants to push through the ICAC Bill so I want to say that we have cleared the bill and it is now with NEC and hopefully we will have this organisation to help fight corruption.” Kwa said the bill was first tabled in 2009.

Plea to Marape: New PM asked to reinstate sacked whistleblower

12 June 2019

PORT MORESBY – “Dear Prime Minister,” wrote Martyn Namorong in an open letter on Monday. “Please reinstate Brian Alois or, even better, appoint him as the secretary for works so we taxpayers don’t get ripped off.”

Now in case you don’t recall this matter, Alois was suspended by the Works Department last year after he blew the whistle on how the Papua New Guinea government was being cheated on inflated road contracts. At the time, Alois was the Momase regional works manager and also president of the PNG Institute of Engineers. Speaking as Institute president at a national planning summit, he had highlighted how the government was paying well in excess of what it should for road construction and maintenance projects.

In doing so, he mentioned a 300-metre stretch of road in the National Capital District which had cost K80 million to construct. In the audience was works secretary David Wereh and a number of government ministers and departmental heads. Within hours Brian Alois had been suspended from his job. More than a year later he remains sidelined.

Paul Barker, director of the PNG Institute of National Affairs, commenting on Namorong’s letter this week, commended Alois as a “capable and honest talent that PNG cannot afford to miss out on. “His message on overpriced contracts must be heeded and addressed,” Barker said.

Can the Marape government reverse PNG’s ‘resource curse’  Paul Flanagan

Link here to the full version of Paul Flanagan’s latest article

It is too early to tell whether the new government will make the important and politically difficult policy changes required to reverse the ‘resource curse’ approaches of the O’Neill government. Recent PNG National Statistics Office figures confirmed that the PNG Treasury was over-estimating the health of the PNG economy in 2016. The new figures increase the gap between PNG LNG promises and actual outcomes relative to if there had been no PNG LNG project at all.

The average outcome remains that PNG’s industries were just over one-fifth worse off in 2016 than if they had simply continued ‘business as usual’ growth prior to the PNG LNG project. Overall, the PNG LNG project massively over-promised and then failed to deliver. This is not because of the fall in oil prices – indeed LNG export returns are higher than predicted. Resource projects should be good for development – but this requires good policies. The PNG LNG project induced poor policies under the O’Neill government. These poor policies overwhelmed potential PNG LNG benefits….

Uphold laws, live in harmony & achieve prosperity, says Marape, 12 June 2019

James Marape

I am motivated by leaders who refuse to accept money to see change and good governance. They are offered money, they are offered jobs but they stick to their commitment for the good of the people and country.

I appeal to Papua New Guineans, the least you can do is to respect your children, the girls and women amongst us.

You respect society by living peacefully, respecting each other despite our ethnic differences, our political differences, our religious differences.

You will realise where we are. We need greater incursion into how we harvest our natural resources.

Many of our corporate citizens will feel a little bit doubtful, will feel a little bit intimidated, a little bit insecure. But you must not feel that way.

When PNG is safe, when PNG is secured economically, when PNG is robust and growing, businesses will flourish and reap deserved rewards.

You need PNG to be strong, stable, prosperous and wealthy. And that is why I am in the business of making huge decisions in as far as resource laws are concerned.

We will do it very slowly. I’m looking at 2025 in which we will migrate to a new legislative framework.

Whatever changes we intend to do in the next one or two years will be prospective.

I appeal to Papua New Guineans to respect and uphold the laws so the country can prosper harmoniously.

Every extra kina spent on maintaining law and order could otherwise be saved and spent on schools, education, health and infrastructure.

I appeal to everyone nationwide, especially my people of Hela and the region, to help transform communities into peaceful and law-abiding citizens who can contribute to nation-building unabated.

30,000 TB cases a year makes PNG a regional health issue

17 June 2019

PORT MORESBY – Investing in health is one of the best ways to build a better future. Healthy societies are more stable and equal and have stronger and more productive economies. In today’s increasingly interconnected world, improving public health is a global common good.

Since the turn of the century, there has been significant progress in the fight against HIV and malaria in PNG. Investments by international donors and partnerships with faith-based organisations and other civil society groups have reduced the number of malaria cases and deaths through national mosquito net distribution campaigns. The country has also made big strides against HIV by making lifesaving treatment available to thousands of HIV-positive people.

However, PNG’s 8.5 million people continue to face very serious development and public health challenges. We have the highest malaria burden in the world outside Africa, with the entire population at risk, affecting primarily pregnant women and children under five. We also have the highest number of new tuberculosis cases in the Pacific Island region – around 30,000 new cases each year, with TB now the leading cause of death in PNG. We have alarming rates of drug-resistant TB, a more aggressive form that does not respond to existing medications, resulting in fewer treatment options and increasing mortality rates for illnesses that would ordinarily be curable – including TB.

Marape’s dream

June 18, 2019 The National

PRIME Minister James Marape is getting up and close with Papua New Guineans by sending messages through social media – Facebook. He highlighted the target of being economically self-sufficient.

  • Key economic benchmarks and tasks to undertake includes:
  • Re-assessment of the 2019 budget and deliver state of economy statistics to ensure our budget for the rest of 2019 and going forward is anchored on solid achievable numbers;
  • make redundant lesser priority areas in budget, including taking control of salary overrun and office rental expenditures;
  • stop non-economic stimulant programmes, including loans to projects of insignificance;
  • ramp up access to international grant facilities already open to PNG like the EUs and other global grants available as well as drawing down on productive loans already secured;
  • do a forensic audit into all levels of companies operating in the country to ensure they are all tax and fees compliant;all resource projects coming up for reviews to be negotiated with the view to gain now for our country with no more concessions, tax deductions or wavering of fees etc; and,
  • Promulgation of policies and legislations to ensure downstream processing of our natural resources be given highest order of priority and all resources companies in all sectors that want to participate in harvest of our resources must come up with clearer and quicker ways to do downstream processing. Gone are the days when someone was telling us you can’t do gold bullion in the country or you can’t process timber in the country or we can’t have petro chemical industries in the country, or we can’t grow rice and cattle in the country. (These) are some examples of adding value to our resources.


How decentralised funding became decentralised corruption

Centralized funding becomes decentralized corruption. 20 June 2019

Over the years, successive Papua New Guinea governments did well in decentralising power from Waigani. The establishment of District Development Authorities signified the completion of the decentralisation process, and also showed that the distribution mechanism for funds was ready to roll. Disbursements of K10 million each year to the districts was the highlight of decentralisation. These funds not only enabled districts to implement their development goals without having to face the Waigani bureaucracy, it also gave them financial power and, ultimately, the freedom to choose and fund projects and deliver services according to home-grown plans. With this freedom and power, rather unfortunately, followed endless impairments of virtue and moral principles.

The K10 million became everyman’s object of envy: district government officials, local businessmen, village leaders, church pastors, recent graduates, and village illiterates. In fact every Tom, Dick and Harry. Beyond the scrutiny of government departments, which themselves are allegedly corrupt beyond measure, abuse in broad daylight grew.

Evidence of this is seen in the half completed classrooms that litter many rural schools across the country. In addition, many other projects didn’t see the light of day.

People who succeeded in obtaining a portion of the K10 million suddenly became household names and role models. Imagine the impact this connivance and greed had on children, who are the future of Papua New Guinea. If corruption was bad in Port Moresby, at the district level it was worse. If corruption was secretive in Port Moresby, in the district it was in plain sight. Decentralisation of power had also become the decentralisation of corruption. …And this will continue if the established system is allowed to continue. …

What life is really like in (very expensive) Port Moresby 21 June 2019

Scott Waide

Anyone living in Port Moresby without institutional housing, or support from relatives or parents, knows it’s an absolute nightmare. Port Moresby is the most expensive city in the Pacific. The rental price structure is like that in Australia and yet the wages employers’ pay don’t match the cost of living and housing is skewed towards the high end market. Real estate companies charge a minimum K1,000 – K5,000 a week in rental. The vast majority of Papua New Guineans don’t see that kind of money in a fortnight or even six months.  A salary of between K35,000 and K50,000 is next to impossible to live on if you have a family. The figure looks great on the payslip. But it can’t pay rent. You can’t save enough unless someone else is paying the rent or your company pays for accommodation. In Port Moresby, the buying power of an K80,000 a year salary is limited if you pay your own rent. Quality of life diminishes once reality sets in after the first year of work. It’s a painful reality that many young graduates have to face. What appears to be a big salary is ripped to shreds by the reality of big city life. …

Becoming a rich black nation: Are we not rich already? 21 June 2019

Many of us feel deprived of certain opportunities and privileges and therefore miss or forget that we are rich already. As a country we didn’t have to struggle to become an independent democratic nation….Our land holds rich mineral and natural resources that today, in some parts of the country, have become the cause of our various divisions and tensions. What we need is to appreciate this richness. …

Papua New Guinea needs to distribute its wealth equally so that our children can have free good quality education that is relevant for our sustenance and growth and that our sick can access good quality health care in our country and at no cost.

We are rich when our women are appreciated as equals and are free from violence and our youth are an integral part of our decision making. …

We cannot continue to rely on foreign consultants to tell us how to run our country.

Our ways are unique, diverse and deep and only we understand why we do things as Papua New Guineans. We must stop relying on borrowed concepts and ideas.

… We have adopted a belief system that commands us to look after our God’s creation. And when our forests, rivers, sea and land are free from abuse and exploitation, we will know we will be rich forever. We are rich already. We just need to care more and look at our distribution mechanisms and make decisions responsibly.

Triads threaten new government’s desire to ‘take back PNG’

Daniel Kumbon 26 June 2019

While the ‘Look North’ policy introduced by the Wingti government was good for the economic prosperity of Papua New Guinea, a sinister development has hijacked those good intentions. The policy has evolved into a Pandora’s Box of counterfeit goods, gambling, prostitution and drug trafficking.

This threatens to negate the bold declaration made by the Marape-Stevens government to ‘Take Back PNG’ and make it “the richest black Christian nation on earth”.

Drug trafficking is already entrenched in PNG, which is reported to have become a transit point for international drug cartels helped by poorly policed, open borders, isolated islands and outdated drug laws.

Seven foreigners experienced how weak our laws were when they were deported last month after spending just 18 months in jail for drug trafficking and illegally entering the country. One of the men, Lam Tse Lik, was wanted by Hong Kong police after his name appeared in Interpol’s international criminals’ wanted list. Of the others, five were from mainland China and one from Montenegro. They were caught on Budubudi Island in Milne Bay province in May last year with 55 kilograms of cocaine worth about A$1.5 million (K3.4 million). On Saturday 15 June they left Jackson’s International Airport with broad smiles on their faces and high-five victory signs. Imagine if they had been caught in Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Philippines or Singapore where the ultimate penalty for narcotics offenders was death. People caught in these countries with more than an ounce of drugs are considered drug traffickers. But in PNG, police enforce the Drug Act of 1954 which allows a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.

According to The Age newspaper, the Chinese mafia has infiltrated and corrupted the highest levels of PNG’s police force, crippling the nation’s attempts to tackle law and order problems. The report said an investigation had uncovered alleged links between 16 of PNG’s most senior police and Asian criminals implicated in people smuggling, money laundering, prostitution, illegal gambling, fraud and theft. The police minister at the time, Bire Kimisopa, refused to discuss the report but acknowledged that PNG faced an organised crime crisis that implicated senior police.

“It goes right to the top,” the minister said. “Chinese mafia have bought off officials throughout the system…. they are operating illegal businesses, they are siphoning money out, corrupting government officials, colluding with police and making attempts to kill officials as well.”

Asian organised crime syndicates include groups from Vietnam and Japan (generally referred to as yakuza or boryokudan), Taiwan and China (sometimes referred to as triads). They are nothing like the opportunistic raskol gangs in Port Moresby.

Triads trace their history to secret political societies formed in China during the 17th century to restore the Ming Dynasty to power and who used secret forms of identification and communication.

The ‘Look North’ policy must be revisited to ensure a more suitable program is adopted to deal with importation of defective products, prostitution, drug trafficking and other illegal activities. If not, Asian organised crime syndicates can very easily cripple this country in its efforts to ‘Take Back PNG’ and make is “the richest black Christian nation on earth”

Mt Ulawun erupts -135,000 to be moved

June 28, 2019 The National Main Stories

KIMBE disaster officers and volunteers are working round the clock to mobilise the evacuation of some 15,000 people in East Nakanai following the eruption of Mt Ulawun in Bialla, West New Britain (WNB), on Wednesday morning. Papua New Guinea (PNG) National Disaster Centre has declared a Category 2 volcanic eruption, making evacuation mandatory for all villagers.
More than 120,000 other villagers staying further away from the volcano are also expected to be affected and evacuated as Mt Ulawun continues to spew thick black ash with growing intensity by the hour. Hoskins Airport is reported to be covered in 4mm of thick volcanic ash and both Air Niugini and PNG Air had cancelled all flights since the eruption at 7am Wednesday. The WNB highway to Kokopo, East New Britain, is also closed to traffic due to thick black ashes. Disaster officers and volunteers and six trucks of food and water supplies have been mobilised to leave Kimbe town for Barima, Bagara, Mandi and Soi. However, the supplies would only last for about a week. Governor Muthuvel is also appealing to opportunists not to take advantage of the situation to loot abandoned residential houses or business houses.

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Social Concerns Notes – May 2019

Press Statement from Catholic Bishops Conference

30 May 2019

An appeal to the new government of Papua New Guinea

The Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea appreciate the peaceful development of the political debate on the floor of Parliament and hope it immediately turns to the benefit of the vulnerable people, of our society, and our environment:

  1. The rural poor and the urban poor expect improved public services, better education for children, medicines in the health centers, farm to market roads, jobs, entertainment and sport facilities to reduce the impact of alcohol and negative behavior among the youth. Resources and assets must now benefit the marginalized and the peripheries rather than the wealthier and the centers.
  2. The illegal detention of asylum seekers and refugees in Manus and Port Moresby since 2013, at the request of the government of Australia, is a cause of shame and embarrassment that the new PNG government must denounce in its first day in office. The Regional Resettlement Arrangement has proven to be unsustainable with people getting sick, depressed, suffering mental illness, and dying. Their transfer to properly equipped Australian on-shore processing facilities has to be effected immediately.
  3. The protection of the environment and the country’s natural resources needs a legislative review, particularly of the Special Agriculture Business Lease (SABL) and agreements with foreign companies in the mining, logging and extractive sectors. People and communities come first; capital and business follow!
  4. The legislation to establish an Independent Commission against Corruption should not be further delayed. The perception of systemic and systematic corruption in PNG is very damaging to the image of the nation and to the morale of its citizens. We renew our appeal for the restoration of the separation of powers so that our MPs can focus on making good laws and the public servants on the provision of services.

The Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea also ask from the new government an effective partnership in the planning and managing of the Education and Health sectors in the country. Other Churches share the same expectation.

It is with the contribution of everybody and the acceptance of public scrutiny that true wellbeing and prosperity is promoted and corruption defeated!

May God bless the new executives of Papua New Guinea and give them wisdom and steadfastness!

The Central Committee of the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG-SI:

FR. GIORGIO LICINI, PIME. General Secretary

First public human rights report into PNG gas industry

BRISBANE – University of Queensland researcher Associate Professor Nick Bainton has co-written the first publicly available human rights impact assessment for a proposed gas project in Papua New Guinea.

You can download the full report here

Dr Bainton and Nora Götzmann from the Danish Institute for Human Rights were commissioned by Total Exploration and Production PNG to identify potential impacts on gender, security and conflict for the joint venture Papua liquefied natural gas project.

The assessment involved extensive desktop research, and interviews and focus group discussions with key stakeholders in Port Moresby and local communities in the project’s area of influence in PNG’s remote Gulf Province. The researchers met with some 400 Gulf Province community members over the course of their study, including about 160 women.

 Political meddling & poor training spur corruption in PNG 27 April 2019

SARAJEVO – A newly-published discussion paper on corruption in Papua New Guinea’s public sector has found that low-level officials are often poorly informed about laws and regulations. They are also under intense pressure to grant favours to businesses, politicians and clan affiliates, contributing to existing patterns of corrupt behaviour in the developing country.

The paper, ‘Governance and Corruption in PNG’s Public Service: Insights From Four Subnational Administrations’, was published this month by the Development Policy Centre, an aid and development policy think tank based out of the Australian National University in Canberra. Its author, Dr Grant Walton, drew on interviews with 136 public servants across four provinces in PNG in an effort to fill the empirical data gap on why public officials may support or resist corruption and poor governance.

PNG is one of the poorest countries in the Pacific, with nearly 40% of its population living below the national poverty line. While the country recently has started reaping the benefits of oil and gas extraction, its public health system is rapidly deteriorating—two-fifths of health centres and rural health posts have no electricity or essential medical equipment, according to the United Nations Development Program.

Political interference is also a great concern among officials, Walton found. In recent years, PNG has been pursuing a policy of decentralization, and in 2014 the parliament passed the District Development Authority Act, giving greater autonomy to local governments over how they allocate resources. However, as members of parliament are now “often personally involved in deciding how this money is allocated and implemented,” lower level officials have grown frustrated. “We may plan for something else but when political interference comes we need to divert our efforts to suit what [MPs] want,” one senior female public servant said.

While PNG improved its rating on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index last year, at 28 out of 100 (with 100 signifying “least corrupt”), it still scored well below the Asia Pacific regional average of 44.

Kidnapping reports affect classes

April 30, 2019 The National

TOKARARA Secondary School suspended classes yesterday because parents feared their children could be kidnapped for their organs as speculation continued on Facebook.
The school said Grade 12 student numbers had been down since last week because the fear was real.
Tokarara Secondary principal Gabriel Manga told The National that the school board had decided to send students away at 10.40am because parents were calling the school to pick up their children.
Manga said the school would assess the situation and see if the students should continue classes..
“Many have stayed (home) because of the fear they had from kidnapping – increased in the city,” he said.
Another Grade 12 student Abel Makele said absent students caused teachers to delay giving out tests and assignments which was dragging the whole process of term two assessment schedules.
“Our education is a priority and authorities need to assure us we are safe,”Makele said.

Moresi said the school had 2,046 students from grades three to eight but only 970 attended classes.

MP Hits 10% Drop In Living Standard

Post Courier May 3, 2019

The National Statistical Office (NSO) has revealed that on average, living standards in PNG have fallen by an extraordinary K516 per person between 2012 and 2018. This was revealed by Shadow Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey who described it as “a shocking result”.

“This represents a 10 per cent drop in living standards in just five years under the incompetent economic policies of O’Neill’s PNC government,” Mr Ling-Stuckey said.

“The Prime Minister continues to talk up the economy and keeps promising that things will get better – but his record simply indicates he cannot be trusted.”

Digicel’s overdue tower debts impoverish & anger landowners

PORT MORESBY – This is my seventh month of complaining about the failure of the Digicel PNG Ltd telecommunications company to pay the rent money it owes to the landowners of its digital tower locations. Some Digicel employees feel sorry for us and have said the people in charge of payments will ignore us and never try to help. The clauses of the agreement we made with Digicel are clear. No such thing should happen to any of us landowners. But because landowners are simple people and can easily be tricked, they continue to ignore us and cheat us. Only a few landowners who have help from their families and clansmen are now seeking legal advice while the one hope of the rest of us is to continue to complain at the Digicel office. But we cannot break through by complaining and therefore are losing hope….

The problem began when Digicel and its officers did not devise a proper plan for illiterate landowners to collect the rental payments. At first, Digicel should have found out who they were the legitimate owners of the land where the Digicel tower would stand.

This was not done. Digicel and its officers never put their feet on the ground to locate the boundaries and never even asked the people to confirm who the legitimate landowners were. Some landowners are paid through their bank accounts but not in full. It is clearly indicated in the agreement signed with landowners that payments will be made every six months. Digicel and its officer should know what the outstanding funds are and when they must be paid. To get their unpaid rental payment, landowners use their own funds to come to Port Moresby or, if they live in remote places, travel miles and days to reach their Digicel branch. This is despite the agreement with Digicel clearly indicating that the lessor will not need to spend funds due to the existence of the tower on their land.

Another problem is that Digicel is supposed to employ four security guards for the towers and to pay them every fortnight – two security guards should protect the towers for the night shift and two for the day shift.

But many of the guards are ghosts who are never seen, security is left to the landowners who live near the towers. So what happens to this money that would be paid in wages to protect more than 1,000 towers across Papua New Guinea?

St John bus robbed at gunpoint, staff attacked

May 8, 2019 The National

A ST John Ambulance bus was yesterday robbed by a group of men at Morata Two in the Moresby North-West electorate. It took place at about 5.40am, eight officers were on board. According to a statement from St John, the group of men blocked off the main road and threatened the driver with a gun to the head. They then smashed the window and helped themselves. They grabbed items including mobile phones, bank cards and money among other things. Two St John female officers were punched and kicked several times and indecently assaulted while being dragged out of the bus. They were ordered to lie face-down outside the bus and left there. “According to our team, the group of men appeared heavily intoxicated,” the statement said.
“As a result of this, St John will be suspending all services to the suburb of Morata for an indefinite period until safety of all our St John team can be guaranteed.”
St John Ambulance commissioner and chief executive Matthew Cannon condemned the actions of the gang, saying St John did not discriminate when attending to patients, whether hoodlums or not, and such actions by a few show a complete lack of human decency and respect for emergency service workers.

St John in the first quarter of the year responded to 670 emergency calls from the Moresby North-West electorate. Three-quarters of the calls were from Morata.

Bishops: Legal action an option

May 13, 2019 The National 

THE Catholic bishops annual meeting last week heard that legal action is probably needed to prompt the Government into action to meet its obligations in education through the church.
“If the demands are not met the following year, there will be an appropriate legal action taken to protect the rights of the people for quality education that has been destroyed by the current Government,” Bishop Rochus Tatamai told a press conference on Friday.
The president of Catholic Bishops Conference from PNG and the Solomons Islands and Kavieng diocese said sensitive issues discussed at the meeting affected people and the work the church used to do in PNG and the Solomons.
“One of the issues that really needs to be highlighted is regarding our partnership with the Government in providing basic services like education to the people,” he said. “We accordingly call for a fundamental re-orientation of our attitudes and the institutions of government, commerce, education and religion towards PNG forms of participation and consensus.
“We also call for a continuous renewal of the responsiveness of these institutions to the needs and attitudes of the people.
“These are the values that we believe should be the basis of our
partnership with the State in providing education services to our people.
“However, in the past six years, our experience in the field of education is that there has been no consultation, very little consensus and lack of participation in decision-making.”
Among many of the issues faced by Catholic church education agencies, Tatamai said, included:

  • Teaching council had not met since last year;
  • no consultation about the new school structure and cost analysis;
  • grand in aid to help church agencies with administrative costs not met since 2011; and,
  • Mistreatment by the Government and the Education Department of church schools regarding Tuition Fee Free funding.

In regards to those issues, Tatamai said that as a church, it is now asking the government to deliver what it needs to be.

Nurses in rural areas still working despite threats

May 13, 2019  The National

NURSES in rural areas continue to provide patient care responsibilities under extreme pressure and threat from patients due to inadequate drugs supplies, deteriorated facilities and without enough staff, an official says.
Nurses in remotest Huon Gulf and other districts are faced with difficulties in drug supplies, rundown facilities and not enough workers.
“Nurses continue to use kerosene lamps and torches at night to treat patients using local herbs and prayers to stabilise patients,” Paru said.
In Huon Gulf, out of 47 aid posts – 12 were closed, five were in Salamaua and four each in Wampar and Morobe patrol post. “These nurses walk for days or travel by dinghies or dugout canoes to buy drugs in Lae. “When clinics are closed over no drugs, nurses face the consequences being attacked by patients,” Paru said.
He said complications of pregnant women, critical axe or knife injuries, snake bites, bows and arrow injuries over land issues or adultery cases were a common problem.

Kenmore Catholics’ trash buys a new boat for Milne Bay priest

19 May 2019

BRISBANE – Kenmore parish has furthered its commitment to Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home by turning recyclables into foreign aid donations. The parish has collected more than 4,000 recyclable containers like bottles, cans and cardboard, which earn 10 cents per unit under the Queensland government initiative Containers for Cash. The funds collected by the parish were used to buy a boat for a Papua New Guinean bishop. “We had a parishioner come to us last year about helping buy a small boat for Fr Sam Phasz, a priest of the Province of Milne Bay in the Diocese of Alotau-Sideia,” said parish priest Fr Mark Franklin.

“The parish is mainly water, so it would enable the priest to get around the islands and see his diocese. “The boat is also used for delivery of food and medical items and taking people to hospital.” Fr Franklin said he started the project about two months ago as part of a communal partnership with Kenmore Rotary Club. “One of our parishioners who is a member of Rotary came to us a while ago about being in partnership with the Kenmore Rotary regarding (the parish) being a distribution point for Containers for Cash,” he said.

“There are distribution points all over the place in the city, but because we’re a bit isolated out here the Rotary (club) decided to take it on as a collection point in Kenmore.

“The parish keeps 50% of the funds, which we then hand on to the Diocese of Alotau-Sideia.” Fr Franklin said the Containers for Cash initiative was a practical way to raise money while also raising environmental awareness in the parish.

Call for apt facilities for disabled, homosexuals, foreigners

May 22, 2019 The National

THERE are no facilities and rehabilitation programmes in Buimo jail to cater for people living with disabilities (PLWD), homosexuals or foreigners, an official says. Outgoing Buimo commander Chief Supt Felix Namane said that the government and relevant agencies – Department of Correctional Services, Law and Justice Sector, Community Development and various stakeholders should draft policies to enable apt facilities and rehabilitation services and programmes. He said this in response to the National Court decision in Lae by Justice Frazer Pitpit who sentenced one Steven Bumang, 45, a PLWD to four years in prison.
Bumang was charged with raping an 8-year-old girl on Feb 27. “In Buimo, we have no facilities to cater for PLWD, lesbians, gays and foreigners and it is a great concern for lack of such facilities and services in jails,” Namane said.
Namane said Buimo had no separate cell block with toilet, shower and kitchens to accommodate various types of PLWD including rehabilitation activities. Namane said a gay who was sentenced to six months in Buimo was accommodated with female prisoners.
“However, people may think that accommodating gays and lesbians in a female inmate wing is possible but some of their characteristics varies and never suits normal female inmates”.

A new government must restore confidence in the law

28 May 2019

Francis Nii – “Laws must be strong, respected, upheld and they must work fairly in the interests of every citizen”

FRANCIS NII. KUNDIAWA – Public confidence in the police force and judiciary as independent and impartial state agencies of the state has drastically declined under the leadership of Peter O’Neill. Meddling in appointments and in the operations of the police and hard-to-understand decisions of the courts has raised serious doubts and mistrust in the minds of the people.

Increasingly the independence and integrity of the two institutions are being questioned.

As the political numbers game in the lead-up to a possible vote of no confidence intensifies and as a mass exodus occurs of government MPs to the opposition, prime minister Peter O’Neill had no choice but to relinquish his position.

Whether he actually does this in favour of Sir Julius Chan or thinks of some other escape tactic, it will be a last minute do-or-die manoeuvre for his own survival.

That O’Neill has not resigned but stepped down “for a few days” means he could resume his position anytime.

As of yesterday, the opposition had 63 members and the government 47. There were more defections expected from those who still remained in the government but the opposition said it had shut its doors to them.

As D-Day gets nearer, perhaps today, the formation of a new government looks certain.

Should this occur, one of its first tasks needs to be the restoration of the integrity and independence of the nation’s law enforcement institutions.

Under the O’Neill government, these vital state institutions have been severely impaired

There has been the dismantling of the corruption-busting Investigative Task Force Sweep and the termination of its members, Peter O’Neill’s parachuting of Gary Baki into the job of police commissioner and the Supreme Court’s quashing of the UBS loan case against O’Neill.

There has been the continuous suppression and eventual closure of the Parakagate affair by O’Neill and Baki without a proper trial, the storming of parliament by the ‘disciplined’ forces, never properly investigated and a much-promised anti-corruption commission never delivered.

These are just a few examples of malpractice that have contributed to the decline in public confidence of two vital state institutions.

If and when a new government takes office, one of the first items of businesses must be to restore the independence, credibility and integrity of the judiciary, the police and the public service.

This means that all heads who took political sides and practiced nepotism during O’Neill’s tenure should be replaced with neutral personnel through proper and transparent appointment processes.

All allegations of corruption that have not gone to trial must be resurrected and justice meted out.

Those found guilty must be punished by law both to restore confidence in the judiciary but also as a wholesome bid to rid Papua New Guinea of corruption.

To give credence to this effort is the passing of an ICAC – Independent Commission Against Corruption – bill into law. The bill must be looked at again to ensure it is totally free of political interference and manipulation both in the appointment of its personnel and in its operations.

The unpopular and unnecessary dual citizenship law must also be repealed to prevent law breakers escaping from PNG.

If the economy is to grow and civil society is to enjoy prosperity, peace and harmony, the country needs a vibrant, independent and impartial justice system and related law enforcement agencies.

The laws of a nation not only protect its citizens but they are the compass that directs the course of the nation. The laws must be strong, respected, upheld and they must work fairly in the interests of every citizen.

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Social Concerns Notes – April 2019

The rigging of the 2017 election: (4) Money politics & corruption01 April 2019

You can link to the full ANU report here

Money politics, the use of criminal elements and the engagement of security forces are a feature of elections in the Papua New Guinea Highlands, and have slowly spread into all other regions, most recently into the PNG Islands and Milne Bay.

The ANU report states:

 “Candidates across the country (in all four regions) were observed to have spent significant amounts of money securing support and offering material incentives to voters.

“Though widespread, money politics was of a different order than in earlier elections, being focused on key officials and those with the ability to influence. It was mediated by ‘strongmen’ in some communities, and well-respected leaders in others.

“There was also a significant flow of resources from voters to candidates, providing an ideal situation for ‘strongmen’ and other community leaders to consolidate their political influence at the local and parliamentary level.

Problems with the electoral roll were a feature of voter discontent. In 2017, all 35 observer teams noted serious defects with it, and the report finds that “many citizens were not provided genuine opportunity to register on a non-discriminatory basis, nor were they provided reasonable opportunity to inspect the electoral roll prior to or during the election.

Overall, very few of the 7,510 citizens surveyed pre- and post-polling had confidence in the electoral roll, with confidence dropping to just 10% in 2017.

Two-thirds (65%) of all citizens surveyed post polling considered the 2017 elections worse than the 2007 and 2012 elections, and fewer than half (46%) reported being able to freely exercise their vote.  (See the full article in the url above).

 Catastrophic failures in PNG health service delivery
By Martha Macintyre

Reflecting on 25 years of research into health service delivery and the health status of women and children in Papua New Guinea, it is distressing to observe the current catastrophic failures and continued decline in services for women and children. The anticipated improvements to health services from mining and liquid gas royalties have not eventuated, and the problems of corruption and inefficiency in service provision are compounded by the government’s apparent lack of concern for the health of the population. This has led to a crisis in public health. Although the budget allocation for the Department of Health has increased, most interventions in public health remain dependent on foreign aid agencies. Research assessments of population health are almost all managed or funded by outsiders.

Decades of financial and technical assistance from the Australian government, other international donors, and a range of NGOs notwithstanding, the health of PNG’s population is declining. Diseases that in the past had been brought under control through immunisation now seem to be reappearing with the reduction in fully immunised children and the increased difficulty of maintaining a reliable delivery of vaccines. Tuberculosis (TB) is now categorised as a pandemic, with PNG one of the worst-affected countries in the world. Health service delivery to rural areas is increasingly difficult, with a lack of trained staff, low wages, deteriorating buildings and frequent lack of critical drugs and dressings.

Of all the Millennium Development Goals that were not achieved by PNG, those specifying improvements in women’s and children’s health are perhaps the most egregious failures. PNG’s maternal death rate of 215 per 100,000 is the highest in the Pacific region and among the worst in the world. While infant mortality has shown a steady decline since 2000, currently it is 37 per thousand live births compared to 14 in the Solomon Islands. Women’s and children’s health is disproportionately at risk, particularly in rural areas, and TB is now the major cause of death of women between the ages of 15 and 44 years.

Digital sex found in schools

April 5, 2019The National

POLICE have found pornographic materials in handphones belonging to students in schools.
This is one of the many reasons why there is an alarming rise in the number of child sexual abuses in Morobe, police commander Supt Alex N’Drasal told The National yesterday.
N’Drasal blamed the rise in child sexual abuses in rural areas on the excessive use of mobile phones and internet to access pornographic materials.
“In schools, pornographic materials are found in the handphones of students. They view the materials freely, and practice what they see,” he added.
He said the abuses were happening both within and outside family environments, affecting girls aged between 12 and 18.

In 2015, the Government had announced it was to put in place a K2 million internet filter to block access to porn websites. It followed a report by Google Trend that PNG was the “most pornography-obsessed country in the world”. It said although PNG had a population of around eight million and a low rate of internet use, it had the highest percentage of searches for the words “porn” and “pornography” in comparison to the nation’s total “searches” online.

Prison faces overcrowding

April 5, 2019The National

THE women’s wing at Bomana prison in Port Moresby is overcrowded with 54 inmates, including three children, crammed into a dormitory meant to hold only 35. Senior Inspector Agnes Kunjil told The National yesterday that some inmates had to sleep on the floor because there were not enough beds. “There are 31 convicted inmates, 18 on remand to await their court cases and five children below five years old all crammed into the dormitory,” she said. Because of the lack of space, inmates are allowed to keep only a few personal items. Kunjil said more women were being sent to the prison by the courts although there had been no additional space had been provided to cater for the extra detainees.

Papua New Guinea state fails to wrest control of US$1.4b stake

The government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has lost its protracted battle in the Singapore High Court to wrest control of an entity with assets worth about US$1.4 billion (S$1.8 billion) that were spawned from a deal inked with the “largest mining company in the world”. Justice Vinodh Coomaraswamy has ruled in favour of PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) company, saying the state of PNG had failed to prove it had a deal with PNGSDP’s co-founder BHP Minerals Holdings, for joint control to develop PNGSDP assets.

It also failed to prove that there was a charitable trust that allowed the state to intervene.

“I have found that neither the agreement nor the trust exists. The pleaded breaches of the agreement and the trust must correspondingly fail,” Justice Vinodh said in decision grounds on Tuesday.

The outcome means PNGSDP is free to carry out its objectives under the control of its independent board according to the 2001 contractual framework, without interference from the state.

Marai tackles violence in settlements

April 5, 2019The National

GENDER-based violence is a cross-cutting and sensitive national issue which many people cannot easily handle at home.
I met Rose Marai at Port Moresby’s Kaugere clinic during one of my news runs. I walked into her office nervously when she gave her best smile and I could see from her eyes that she really wanted to me tell untold stories she had been dealing with, knowing I was a media personnel.
Being female and knowing that she will be the only one to make changes in her surrounding communities, she stood with confidence amongst more than 5,000 people in Sabama, Kaugere, Kokeva, Joyce Bay, Horse Camp, Kirakira village, Kila Barracks, Gabutu, Badili, Korobosea, 2-Mile Hill and Koki market. She is passionate about change and creating awareness on gender-based violence is something she does from the heart.
Every day she sees more than 10 women walking into her little room with bruises and cuts all over their bodies, being physically hurt and emotionally tortured. She takes them in for counselling and many of them have progressed and have seen changes in their homes and communities.

Hospital Closes Doors

GOROKA’S water crisis remains unsolved.

As the Goroka General Hospital closed its doors on Sunday and sent patients away.

Only emergency cases were being treated while general patients had been referred to the district hospitals while the sick have been discharged from their wards, some with medical supplies.

Eastern Highlands Provincial Hospital Authority chief executive officer Dr Joseph Apa said yesterday that patients were sent home after water in the reserve tanks ran out.

“Water is required for all the operations of the hospital and we cannot keep patients here for the safety of other patients and to avoid the risk of other infections,” said Dr Apa.

“We currently do not have the statistics of patients affected by the closure of the hospital but mothers at the labour ward and new-born babies will be greatly affected by the situation.”

Dr Apa said the hospital has bought water bottles from shops for nursing staff and patients to use for washing hands and drinking medicine on Saturday, Sunday and yesterday as well.

“Patients were also not fed yesterday (Sunday) and we had to supply patients with biscuits,” Dr Apa said yesterday….

Bus-Stops No Longer Safe For Women and Girls: Commuter

Post Courier, April 9, 2019

WOMEN and girls are harassed, face barriers as a result of these harassments, says commuter Jean as she speaks of her experience. She said she witnessed an incident last month and shared her experience in light of the Anti Street Harassment week that was launched by UN Women NCDC yesterday. She (Jean) travels the route from Manu Autoport to Koki before changing bus to get to Konedobu.

“According to Jean, a Badihagwa student had his school bag snatched by a thug in front of everybody. The boy thought he would find safety inside the busy market place as the public watched without doing anything,’’ she said.

Jean felt furious and could not believe what she had witnessed. When she got out of the bus to transfer, she shouted at the top of her voice to men loitering with a quick lecture.

“When women are running away, you can understand that. But when it is a man, a boy, a school student on his way to school, you men watch and do nothing.

“And look at you! You’re discussing what happened when you watched everything that happened before your very eyes, and especially when it is all over. Did you do anything? No! You all ought to hang your heads in shame,” she said.

The thugs who rule Koki bus-stop are free to ply their trade and law-abiding citizens have to protect themselves in a community that does not care.

“There are good things like the Meri Seif bus (women only safe bus for women) the good governor organised which is highly successful.

“But for all other city buses, the women go prepared, they carry some kind of weapon, a pocket knife for instance or a lime bottle for the betelnut which they hold ready to throw in the face of their attacker to blind him.

“When they are approaching bus- stops they wind up the windows,” she said.

She is now asking why the police are not doing their job affectively by patrolling the bus-stops.

Pride of the force – How we grew Lae’s rapid police response unit

Anthony Wagambie Jr

The Lae Police Sector Response Unit (SRU) was launched to deter criminals who took advantage of weak policing in Papua New Guinea’s second largest city. Since it was set up, Lae police command has been monitoring the results. Average response time is now between five and ten minutes.

LAE – I took a gamble in forming the new unit. We selected a bunch of very young probationary constables with just over a year in the field.

We put them in with experienced non-commissioned officers, the majority of whom were former Mobile Squad and Lae Rapid Response members.

I told them, “You guys will make it or break it. If you fail and I fail, I will be dealt with!”

We nurtured them, me being in the field and taking command myself to make sure the SRU operated the way I wanted. Now my boys are very experienced and everything is in place.

I am proud of all of them. Yes we have one or two who step out of line. But the guys have done me proud.

It’s like a father watching his child take his first steps until he can walk unaided.

We took Inspector David Kumayon, who was Commander Mobile Squad 13, and moved him to command SRU Lae. We then increased the strength to the current 74 men.

Never before have we had 24/7 police armed response coverage of the city.

Sections of SRU have also been deployed out of the Lae to Morobe rural, Kurumbukari (Madang), Madang town unrest, Bogia (Madang) and Kainantu in the Eastern Highlands.

Now I don’t personally take command of the unit as much as I used to. I do that only for major incidents or operations.

It gives me personal pride when I see and hear people praising SRU for all that they do. Yes, they do extremely well.

SRU has become the strength of Lae Metropolitan Command and they are here to stay even after I leave my beautiful Lae City.

Anthony Wagambie is the Police Metropolitan Superintendent of Lae

Psychiatric hospital releases 100 patients

April 10, 2019The National

Laloki Public Psychiatric Hospital outside Port Moresby has released 100 patients and closed all its services to the public as staff members protest over an unresolved chronic water supply problem.
The hospital staff started a sit-in protest today following the expiry of a 14-day notice by the Department of Health to fix the water supply contamination problem.
The hospital did not have the resources to get Eda Ranu to connect water to the hospital to replace the water wells.
The staff decision, backed by the hospital management, to stop work comes after Hepatitis A, a waterborne faecal disease, broke out at the hospital six weeks ago.
The disease affected both staff and patients with laboratory tests confirming bacterial contamination of the two wells that had been used the past 19 years.
Since the outbreak of Hepatitis A on Feb 27, acute ward manager Sr Dianne Rambe said six patients and two staff members contracted the disease.
“The management had no choice but to release most of the 80 patients to contain the disease, not forgetting the high risk these psychiatric patients pose to the community.

In PNG, doctors warn botched penis enlargements have become a ‘nationwide problem’

Doctors in Papua New Guinea have warned of a “nationwide problem” of men injecting foreign substances, including coconut oil and silicone, into their penises in an attempt to make them bigger. A doctor at the Port Moresby General Hospital said that over the last two years his clinic has treated at least 500 men with penile disfigurement and dysfunction as a result of injections.

“I have seen five new cases every week for the past two years and these are the ones that have come forward for treatment. We don’t know how many of them are out there,” said Akule Danlop, a surgeon at the hospital. “I saw seven today.” The substances injected include coconut oil, baby oil, silicone and cooking oil and the side effects are serious, sometimes irreversible.

17 April 2019

Australian media (but not NZ) is missing in action on Bougainville

Bougainville, the autonomous region of Papua New Guinea which suffered a brutal 10-year civil conflict in the 1990s, was due to have a referendum in June to decide if it would separate from PNG. But because funding and arrangements for the plebiscite were well behind schedule, the voting date has now been postponed to October.

Does this matter beyond PNG? One would think so.

This referendum is a celebrated element of the 2001 peace agreement that finally brought the bloodshed to a close and could result in Bougainville becoming another independent but under-developed, economically struggling small island state in the Pacific, with a population of 350,000 people.

If it achieves independence, this small archipelago just over 1,000 kilometres from Cairns will have as its legacy a still festering internal debate about the future of its fabulous mining wealth that was at the heart of the conflict that claimed around 20,000 lives.

And whether independent or not, Bougainville remains an area of intense geo-political interest for Australia particularly as other nations, including China, seek to access that fabulous wealth. Yet judging by Australia’s recent media coverage of this volatile rich island, it is just about invisible aside from some reporting in the business media about Australian mining interests in Bougainville. All this is doubly strange, given it’s not as though nothing has been happening. In a year not yet four months old, there has been a flurry of discombobulating developments already in 2019 in what was already set to be an important year for Bougainville. These threaten to impact on Bougainville’s ability to weather the political and massive economic challenges ahead.

Officers found guilty in condom-swallowing case

April 17, 2019The National

TWO police officers were found guilty of forcing a woman to chew and swallow condoms in 2015. Justice Panuel Mogish, who found the duo guilty of one count of unlawful deprivation of personal liberty, two counts of forcing a person to do indecent acts and one count of abuse of office and set April 25 for sentencing.
“The woman alleged that she was attending a party at Sky 9 Club at Boroko the previous night and was on her way to catch a taxi home in the early hours of the morning when she met two men. “They were dressed as civilians and asked if she had any money. She said she did not have any money. They then told her that they were police officers and brought her into the station. “They told her to sit while they emptied her purse and found some condoms. “Yawijah then asked her if she was a sex worker and how many men she had slept with. He then forced her to eat a condom and swallow it. She said it was not for eating and she would not do as they say. “Yawijah then grabbed an iron bar and hit it on the table and threatened her, so she ate the first one. Tanda did not do anything to stop it but instead laughed and filmed a video clip. “The woman was then told to chew and swallow another condom and she did while Tanda laughed and took videos of her.

Children warned to stay away from Porgera’s open pit

April 23, 2019 The National Business

CHILDREN from the special mining lease villages surrounding the Porgera mine have been warned to stay away from the operation areas, especially the open pit.
According to a statement from the Porgera Joint Venture, trespassing by children continues to be a problem for the mine operation. Of the number of illegal miners entering the mine in a month, it is estimated that 5 per cent are children.
The mine’s community development section carried out a school outreach programme recently to educate children on the dangers of illegally entering the mine pit.
It targeted seven schools. Children enter into the mine area to look for food or scrap materials.
The four messages communicated were:

  • The mine is a dangerous place. You can get killed, badly injured or risk living with a disability for the rest of your life;
  • not everyone who gets injured on the mine site dies;
  • the Government has laws to punish parents who do not protect their children from danger; and
  • That communities need children who will stay in school and become good leaders in future.

At the Aumbi Elementary School on April 10, community development manager Jacqueline Nen told the children that there were many other options for a playing field and the open pit was not one of them.

Maternity ward ‘close to collapsing’

April 24, 2019The National

PORT Moresby General Hospital’s maternity ward is close to collapsing due to lack of maintenance and support, a doctor says. “The hospital was built in 1955 by the colonial government when the city’s population was about 50,000 but 65 years later it is serving more than 500,000,” head of obstetrics and gynecology Dr Glen Mola said.
Mola said the 24 delivery suites and 100 beds at the postnatal care were not enough because 40 women delivered each day and mother and baby could not leave the hospital the next day. He said about 15,000 women gave birth at the hospital every year of which 5000 cases were complicated and 10,000 were normal. This meant that daily, about 13 women out of 40 who gave birth faced complications. A common complication involves a Caesarean birth and Mola said one in every 10 women needed a C-section to save the baby or mother. He said they had to do three C-sections in the same evening so “by the time we came to the third, we were late which resulted in losing the mother or the baby”.
“We have three operating theatres but there is staffing only to keep one operating theatre working in the night,” Mola said.

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Social Concerns Notes – March 2019

Mum, baby spared

March 7, 2019The National

ARMED pirates attacked a dinghy but left a mother and her baby, a 13-year-old girl and eight others unharmed. However, two others are still missing after they were forced to jump into the sea. The terrifying drama unfolded at 3pm on Saturday when the dinghy, ran into six pirates armed with homemade guns, two bush knives and two catapults. The pirates ordered everyone, except the mother and her baby, to jump into the sea near the Kalibobo Lighthouse towards the Gogol River.
After carting away all the groceries that were bought from town, and handphones, cash and belongings, the pirates left in their boat. The victims then swam and climbed back onto their dinghy and a head count found that two other passengers were missing. Moka said the dinghy was running low on fuel and thus could not conduct a search for the two missing passengers.

Bishop reveals shortage of medicine causing health emergency

March 11, 2019 The National 

Many health facilities in the country are running out of medicine, says the president of Catholic Bishops Conference Bishop Rochus Tatamai. “We have been requesting the Government to purchase medicine because medicine has not reached clinics, aid posts and health centres,” Tatamai said on Friday.
“Throughout the country, there are symptoms of a profound public health emergency: young and old are getting sick and dying unnecessarily, while health facilities lack basic medicine and equipment. “Many aid posts, clinics and hospital shelves have no stocks of medicines, there were no antibiotics, bandages and anything.”
Tatamai said MPs were elected to represent people and the delivery of basic health services should be a priority when dealing with public funds. He said when it came to health service delivery, political leaders should always mandate line agencies to bridge services to the people. “What have we done with the revenue of our natural resources and the Government funding we get every year?” Tatamai said.

More women, children fleeing violence: Centre

March 11, 2019The National

At least 40 women and children a month flee their homes in Port Moresby because of sorcery-related violence and incest by stepfathers and uncles. Haus Ruth Crisis Centre for Abused Women and Children revealed that cases of sorcery and incest have increased markedly in the past decade. The number of women seeking refuge in the centre has increased.
China Railway Construction Engineering (CRCE) PNG Ltd showed its support to these women on International Women’s Day on Friday with a surprise visit. House Ruth Crisis Centre manager Monica Richards said women between the ages of 20 and 45 years were the largest group seeking help because of forced sex, jealousy, rape and other forms of domestic violence.
“What we do is accommodate them, give them skills training like sewing and small business training, so that after two weeks when their term is over, they have better knowledge to go out and sustain themselves,” she said. Victims get medical treatment and police and court clearance during their stay. Richards said many teenagers from high schools escaped from their homes because of violence.
CRCE human resources manager Athena Chow said women’s problems were everyone’s problems. “It is very important to recognise women on their special day, as it is the only time we come out to talk about issues that are affecting women in society,” she said.
“They are very important people in the society.
“They need to be protected, loved and cared for by their partners without fear.”

PNG Facing TB Crisis. Ranked 10th in the World

Post Courier.  March 12, 2019

PAPUA New Guinea is facing a tuberculosis (TB) crisis. This is because PNG is ranked 10th globally for rates of TB, with 35,000 new cases a year, of which 6000 of them are in the National Capital District alone. This is according to Businesses for Health: Tuberculosis and HIV project manager Dr Ann Clarke, who says women, while also falling ill with TB, are largely impacted by social and economic factors that need to change if PNG is to end the TB epidemic. “Thousands die unnecessarily of TB – drug susceptible TB, drug resistant TB or TB/HIV co-infection.“ Last year there were more than 2000 cases of drug resistant TB and drug resistant treatment success is less than 50 per cent, while only drug susceptible TB is 100 per cent curable,” she said.

Observing International Women’s Day last Friday, March 8, Dr Clarke said it was an opportunity for Businesses for Health to celebrate the contributions of women to the health and well-being of all who live in PNG. “However, it is also a time to reinforce the actions needed to speed up gender equality in this remarkable and diverse country.

PNG bishops attack government over corruption, incompetence

In a public statement, the Catholic bishops have asked why an Independent Commission Against Corruption had not yet been established, despite many promises over many years, and why nothing has been done to end the Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABLs) which are said to have led to many illegal land grabs. They condemned SABLs for continuing to destroy the environment and the livelihoods of thousands of Papua New Guineans.

The statement also attacked the practice of politicians directly distributing government funds to the people themselves. The bishops called this “notoriously corrupt” and said it was an impractical and failed system.

The church is one of the key providers of education in PNG but the bishops said their services were increasingly interfered with by politicians and the government.

They criticised the government’s so-called Fee Free Tuition as not effectively implemented and not providing funds and materials to schools.

The O’Neill government is also not adequately supporting Catholic health centres where staff are not receiving wages and medicines and equipment are not reaching the clinics. Saying they were talking on behalf of the people of PNG, the bishops called for answers from the government and said they are expecting change.

Work on resettlement project for Manam Islanders begins

March 25, 2019 The National 

WORK on the land in Bogia allocated for the Manam resettlement project has begun with machines being moved in, an official says.
Acting chairman of the Manam restoration authority John Bivi said the government had allocated K6 million for the project. Bivi said the resettlement of the Manam people fleeing the volcanic eruptions on their island had been an outstanding issue. The land clearance will begin at Andarum in Tangu of the Almami local level government.
Manam people have been living in the care centres for nearly 13 years with no land to grow crops, no sea to fish and no forests to hunt in. Some had died waiting to be relocated while some had returned to their island.
“The Government allocation of K6 million as mobilisation funds will be prioritised to help our people,” Bivi said. Manam people were moved to the care centres at Potsdam, Suaru, Bom, Asuramba and Mangem when the major volcanic eruption took place in 2006.
Baliau villagers who lived at Suaru and the Dugulava people who lived at Bom had to return to Manam after clashes with the Bogia landowners. They receive relief assistances every time the volcano erupts and destroys food gardens. Those staying back at the care centres survive on what they have.

‘Australia over a barrel’: PNG official sought K20 million ‘donation’

24 March 2019.

MELBOURNE  – An Australian government contractor on Manus Island was asked by a senior Papua New Guinea official in 2017 for a multi-million-dollar donation to the ruling party of prime minister Peter O’Neill. When the company, which was working for the Home Affairs department on the offshore detention regime, refused the request, the company’s senior managers began to encounter problems with visas for staff to enter or remain in PNG.

The contractor, which asked that its name not be used to protect the welfare of its Manus Island-based staff, rejected the donation request and reported it to senior department officials in late 2017. It’s understood more than one contractor has experienced similar problems.

If the company had made the donation of K20 million to the People’s National Congress party, it would have likely committed a criminal offence under Australia’s foreign bribery laws.

While Australian government agencies and departments refer to PNG as a “difficult environment” to operate in, an internal 2018 AFP report seen by The Age and Sydney Morning Herald is more direct and describes PNG as having “significant corruption issues”.

Government stole funds from logging communities. Staff Reporter
26 Mar 201912 

More than K100 million collected by the government from logging companies to fund community development projects has been stolen or misused. Senior departmental heads appointed as trustees have failed in their duties and the biggest beneficiary has been the government itself, which has unlawfully taken more than K80 million of community funds.

These are findings contained in a scathing Auditor General’s report recently released to the public.

It is now well-documented that large-scale logging by foreign-owned companies does not bring lasting development to the communities who suffer the often devastating environmental and social impacts. This fact was acknowledged by government more than a decade ago when the Log Export Development Levy (LEDL) was introduced.

The levy is an additional tax paid by logging companies on every cubic metre of timber they export.  All monies collected is then supposed to be used by government to fund the agriculture and infrastructure development projects in communities impacted by logging that the companies so frequently promise, but so rarely deliver.

Unfortunately, government has proven to be no more reliable than the foreign logging companies in upholding its side of the bargain. Between 2012 and 2015, more than K100 million in levies was collected by government and placed into a trust account. However, in a devastating set of findings, the Auditor General has revealed how those funds, intended to alleviate suffering in logging communities, have been stolen and misused.

Electoral Commission Needs Help For LLG Elections

Post Courier March 28, 2019

THE PNG Electoral Commission says that it needs extensive collaboration with provinces to deliver the local level government (LLG) elections. The PNGEC says it needs collaboration with all the 20 provincial administrations to ensure the 2019 LLG elections is conducted successfully. Early this year, the national government made the decision and asked the Electoral Commission to administer the 2019 LLG elections in partnership with provincial administrations to pool resources, save money and promote provincial ownership of the process.

Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato said though it is an exciting potential partnership, the dilemma is that the commission has yet to conclude agreements with the 20 different provincial administrations. “PNGEC has engaged in conversations with provincial administrations since 2018 and has concluded a memorandum of understanding with only nine provinces in all at this time,” he said.

“This model ensures increased complexity of implementation as many of the personnel and materials needed to run the LLG elections do not fall under PNGEC’s control.” Mr Gamato said PNGEC’s budget for the 2017 national election was K279 million, whereas for the LLG elections, the total budget line of K100 million is being split between the commission and provincial administrations.

 “I am calling on the national government to provide adequate resources to PNGEC in a timely fashion for us to be able to play our role in these important LLG elections.”

The rigging of the 2017 election: (1) You were very wrong Australia March 2019. Mark Davis

Journalist Mark Davis has abstracted the main issues from the Australian National University’s report on the 2017 Papua New Guinea national election. Beginning today, we present Mark’s summary in four parts. The ANU report documents a scandalous election replete with threats, malfeasance and corruption. You can link to it in full here

The report calls into question the legitimacy of the current regime of prime minister Peter O’Neill and the future of the nation’s parliamentary democracy. The long-awaited ‘2017 Papua New Guinea Elections – Election Observation Report’ reveals the systematic corruption of the election by Mr O’Neill’s ruling People’s National Congress Party, other parties and candidates, the PNG Electoral Commission, the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, the PNG Defence Force and other elements of society.

It is an extraordinarily detailed report who’s unique and invaluable data is based on direct observation by a team of 258 including 32 PNG academics and researchers as team leaders, 31 ANU-based academics and students, 192 PNG observers and three support staff. It is unprecedented in detail, scope, and intensity, covering all four PNG regions, and 69 of the 111 electorates, including detailed studies of 44 electorates. Detailed observations were conducted of 945 of the 10,825 polling stations, and 7,510 citizens were surveyed individually.

Observations were carried out over three months from the start of the campaign period to post-polling, amounting to more than 6,500 person-days, and were recorded in template journals kept by each observer. The report is a showpiece of election data and analysis – it is delivered in lay language and clearly based on a foundation of well-coordinated and comprehensive field coverage by a qualified and knowledgeable team. It has the ring of absolute authenticity and it pulls no punches.

The report gives the lie to claims by Mr O’Neill, then Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop and Australian officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) that the election was free, fair and successful. It was not.

Cult activities taking on satanic character, says academic

March 29, 2019The National Main Stories

CULT activities, which are seen as increasing more satanic, are so entrenched in our education systems that it will need everyone to find practical solutions, says University of Goroka Dean of Education Dr James Aiwa. He was contributing to discussions at a seminar on cult and generation activities in schools. Dr Kainaro Kravia, a lecturer at the School of Education, and Priscilla Sakopa, the head of the mathematics and computing department, also took part.
Kravia said there was an element of “strange happenings” within the dormitories which amounted to the belief that cult practices and their undercurrents were rampant at the university and tertiary institutions near it. Kravia said the initial cult groups were formed as a result of forming “bonds” with each other, to make the alienated feel part of a social grouping and to have each other’s interests at heart as a means to survive in national high schools. But he said all that had changed.
“What we have now are hierarchical groups where generational names are given and with it comes the attitudes, character and personality changes which affect the coerced innocent student,” he said. With it comes the expected roles. If you don’t comply you are punished, most often severely nowadays, but previously it was a way to bond students and help each other succeed”, he said. Sakopa said she had been privy to the inside of a cult working some years ago and most of what happened were satanic and took on the cultist ideology where others looked up to a “godfather”.

Mum fined K800 for selling son for K800

March 28, 2019 The National

A MAGISTRATE has ordered a mother who sold her two-week-old son for K800 to pay the same amount to the court as a fine. Mt Hagen Magistrate Jacinta Doa also ordered the arrest of the husband, and the woman who bought the child.
She warned mum Yawama Kuna, 29, that she would serve two months in jail if she failed to pay the K800 fine. The court was told that Kuna was having difficulties looking after her two children because her husband Amos Hari was not supporting them.
Kuna, from Sembriki in the Kagua-Erave district of Southern Highlands, was arrested last Wednesday and charged with selling her son to a woman. She told the court she had to sell her son because her husband did not provide her and the two children food and money.
She told the court that her husband was aware of what she did but did not object.
They continued to live together until last week when he came home drunk and asked her for money.
She gave him the only K20 she had. The husband lodged a complaint with police that she had sold their son. Police prosecutor Sam Nili submitted that the husband was not concerned about the son his wife had sold and had not make any attempt to get him back until last week. Nili told the court that just because Kuna’s family demanded that he paid bride price before taking his son and wife back, he went to the police.

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Social Concerns Notes – February 2019

PNG government’s appalling human rights scorecard

19 January 2019.

Despite an economic boom led by extractive industries such as mining, an estimated 40% of people in Papua New Guinea live in poverty. The government has not taken sufficient steps to address gender inequality, violence, corruption, or excessive use of force by police. Rates of family and sexual violence are among the highest in the world, and perpetrators are rarely prosecuted. The government has been the focus of sustained protests, including student boycotts and acts of civil disobedience, over allegations of corruption. Reports of mob violence, especially against individuals accused of sorcery, continue to be reported. Former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, visited PNG in February 2018 and called on the government to tackle a long list of abuses, including corruption, land rights abuses, gender-based violence, and attacks on activists and journalists. In June, authorities confirmed that the country was facing its first polio outbreak in 18 years, prompting an emergency vaccination campaign. Chronic problems continued to plague the criminal justice system in PNG, including abuses by police. Overcrowding and dire prison conditions led to prison breakouts. PNG continues to see high levels of violence and political unrest since the 2017 election, which was marred by widespread electoral irregularities and violence. In June, in the Southern Highlands, a mob set alight a passenger plane in an election-related protest.

Scott Waide – Blog on Cancer Treatment…/cancer-treatment-b…/

Many Papua New Guineans don’t know about the cost of cancer treatment until one member gets sick. The diagnosis alone is problematic. In rural districts and outstations, many community health workers are not equipped with the awareness which would trigger a referral to a major hospital. But that is just one problem.

Take for example, a place like Baindoang in the Nawaeb District of Morobe province. It is only accessible by plane. A young mum with the early stages of cervical or breast cancer will not be able to get the proper diagnosis until the disease is in its late stages.

If the community decides to send her to Lae, they will have to raise at least K2000 for airfares and treatment in Lae City. It is big money for a village community. There is no certainty of the time it will take for them to remain in the city. I’ve come across wives separated from their husbands and children for weeks and months. Many give up and die lonely deaths surrounded by strangers who become family. Many are left with no means of talking with their families either because of the lack of mobile network coverage or no means of buying a plane ticket back home. There are unclaimed bodies at the Angau hospital morgue. Some came from remote outstations.

Today, I learned that a pack of four vials of morphine costs K100. For a cancer patient the family needs to spend K100 a day to ensure some level of comfort for their loved one. That’s K700 a week, K1400 a fortnight and K2800 a month.

Leprosy Highly Endemic in Southern Region

Post Courier January 28, 2019

LEPROSY is highly endemic in the Southern region, according to The Leprosy Mission.

The Leprosy Mission country leader Natalie Smith said, at the end of 2017, 587 new cases were detected in the country where 74 per cent of all new cases were reported in the Southern region. “The six high endemic provinces reported more than 87 per cent of new leprosy cases in the National Capital District, Gulf, Central, Western, Sandaun and East New Britain provinces.

 “587 cases of leprosy is too many cases in PNG. “We want the number to come down to zero, so our aim is to fight against this disease,” she said.

Rapacious loggers & bewildered people – the taking apart of PNG

In late October 2017 I was in Kavieng when I was handed a copy of Government Gazette G161 notifying the gazettal of a SABL over almost 80% of my wife’s island of Lavongai for 99 years free of any land tax. It was one of three SABL that had been foisted onto semi-illiterate rural people as a clever trick to get around the tighter legal requirements of a normal logging permit. SABLs weakened Forestry Department’s regulation of the granting of leases because their intent was alleged to be agriculturally motivated. This gave the developers the wonderful opportunity not to log according to normal forestry rules but clear fell for a monoculture of cocoa, rubber or most likely oil palm with all the inherent environmental dangers a single crop can experience. Over the years coffee and cocoa borers spread worldwide, rhinoceros beetles in Indonesian palm oil migrated into South Pacific plantations and later banana Black Sigatoka. None of these serious agricultural impacts ever slowed down the rapacious loggers. …

Corruption of PNG’s political system infects economic statistics

30 January 2019  Flanagan

Unstoppable youth crime is destroying our social fabric.

30 January 2019.

CANBERRA – PNG’s economic statistics have been corrupted. Even the most basic economic statistic of “how big is the PNG economy” has been manipulated to tell stories convenient to the O’Neill/Abel government. An extraordinary gap of 18% has opened between measurement of the size of the economy (‘gross domestic product’ or GDP) by the PNG government compared with measurements by independent outside observers, led by the International Monetary Fund.

The gap in this most basic economic measure will be 34% by 2023. Specifically, the PNG government claims the PNG economy will reach K125 billion while the IMF estimates it will more realistically reach 93 billion in that year. The NSO 2015 GDP figure was released on 9 March 2018 – a date that marks the clearest point from which the government started manipulating statistics, although there have been questionable practices in the past….

Like any PNG town, Kundiawa is full of unemployed youths, psychopaths, street kids, street sellers, drug dealers, street preachers, pickpockets, beggars, prostitutes and parasites.

the whole town of Kundiawa has become a market place with rubbish everywhere and town authorities and police seem powerless to do anything about it.

On street corners and in public places you can see youths drinking, smoking and gambling. Some sell plastic bottles filled with ethanol or home brew alcohol for K5 or K10 a container. You can see youths selling drugs rolled in pieces of newspaper. Sometimes it’s difficult to identify because marijuana is mixed with tobacco leaves.

When youths are drunk, they demand or steal from anybody: money; mobile phones and other valuables. You will see youths running to catch a thief but they don’t catch him as they are feigning. They all cooperate to execute illegal activity. Long hours are spent in town doing nothing and at night hanging around in front of stores, beer clubs and night clubs looking for opportunities to steal. A lot of strange things happen in town; you can hardly believe them.

There is no quick solution to solve these problems but one way to assist juvenile delinquents is to avoid labelling them as bad people in society. They are troubled human beings and imposing tough penalties is not going to solve their problems. We have to be empathetic and show interest in them as human beings who have the potential to become people. We need to look at how we can provide options to change their lives….

Transparency International  – PNG Highly Corrupt

PNG rating 138/180 Post Courier.  January 30, 2019

A new report by the global watchdog Transparency International has again classified Papua New Guinea as one of the most highly corrupt countries in the world.

The 2018 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), a worldwide examination of perceptions of levels of corruption suffered by individual nations published by TI yesterday, has revealed that PNG is highly corrupt with a ranking of 138 out of the 180 countries that were perceived.

Under the theme ‘Corruption and the crisis of democracy’, the 2018 CPI revealed some crucial areas of the public sector corruption that are contributing to the weakness of democratic institutions and the stagnation to their performance must be addressed by responsible agencies like the government departments and non-government organisations as well.

According to a press statement released by TIPNG, some of the areas that contributed to the rank of corruption in PNG are the deteriorating respect for democratic principles.

“Simply said: There is a massive disrespect for the rule of law,” TIPNG said.

The statement went on to condemn public servants and citizens’ lack of integrity to adhere to proper processes and respectful ways of conduct. And taking the 2017 National Election as an example, the statement expressed great distaste about the way the election was conducted. This was evident in the 2017 National Elections with discrepancies and electoral roll inaccuracy, bribery, and intimidation by voters and candidates, double voting and blocks voting. There was also a lack of enforcement of laws by official agencies responsible during the election providing an opening for citizens to disregard measures to ensure a free and fair election, TIPNG said.

However, when corruption seeps into the democratic system, particularly at the higher levels of power, democratic institutions that keep the government in check suffer.

The O’Neill regime is dumbing down a whole generation

PORT MORESBY – High profile journalist Scott Waide’s recent article about the high cost of his daughter’s university fees highlights a conundrum Papua New Guinea faces in terms of the quality of its education system. Scott was shocked about the high cost. But let us reflect on what is a major crisis in the sector. When the O’Neill government introduced the Tuition Fee Free (TFF) education system for primary and secondary schools, it failed to account for capacity constraints. Schools were flooded and schools lacked and continue to lack learning resources, infrastructure and staff numbers to cope with the influx. Primary and secondary schools in PNG have essentially become child-minding centers as opposed to centers of learning. In terms of TFF, the government contribution is K20-K50 a child and it warns schools not to charge fees.  Schools are then expected to turn this miserly level of fees – five loaves of bread and a couple of fishes – into something to feed knowledge to thousands of students. Universities also continue to be grossly under-funded leading to massive fee hikes. However when one considers the true cost of providing university level education, the fees are a drop in the ocean.

The member for Menyamya recently highlighted in parliament the rural-urban technology divide and how rural students are disadvantaged in terms of securing places at university.

While the predatory elite in government is dumbing down the general population, their children are being trained overseas to rule over a dumb population in the future.

The O’Neill government, whether by design or accident, is increasing inequality and making social stratification much more pronounced. The constitution of the independent state of Papua New Guinea calls for integral human development as its first national goal and directive principle. The way things currently are under the O’Neill regime, this national goal is ignored.

PNG’s constitution also calls for equality and participation as another national goal. Whilst the TFF policy can be seen as being reflective of this, the poor quality of education means many students leave school unable to equally participate in the economy. They become a liability.

The rural-urban divide also means rural students don’t have the same level of opportunity to attend university, thus furthering social inequality. A poorly educated population that lacks capacity to engage in the modern economy becomes reliant on political patronage.

This is a politician’s dream because, as long as people keep waiting for handouts from politicians, politicians can control voting behaviour.

Solomon calls for churches to help kids

February 7, 2019 The National

COMMUNITY Development, Youth and Religion Secretary Anna Solomon has called on churches in the country to help vulnerable children. She expressed appreciation for the efforts of two Catholic churches in the Highlands region for partnering her department to provide “out-of-home care” for disadvantaged children last year.
“The department wants to partner with more churches in the country in taking care of these children who come from broken families and homes, orphanages or whose parents have died from HIV/AIDS, sorcery-related killings, and those living with disabilities,” Solomon said.
“The two care centres that have been given licence in April recognising them as state partners to care for vulnerable children are under the Diocese of Mendi in Southern Highlands and Archdiocese of Mt Hagen in Western Highlands.”
Solomon said the Lukautim Pikinini Act has allowed the inclusion and provision of the out-of-home care centres by churches in partnership with the government.
“The out-of-home care centres are mandated through the licence for removal of endangered children from within the community and having them given due care in the temporary shelter until they are returned to a permanent home.
“These two care centres have each assimilated about 15 children and may take in more as vulnerable children increase in numbers coming from broken homes, or orphanages whose parents have died and those living with disabilities.
“We have all the data for the churches in PNG, especially seven mainline churches.”

The picture of a grieving mum that told a million stories

08 February 2019


Ezekiel’s mum weeps over his body (Sally Lloyd)

SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

LAE – A few days ago, I asked Sally Lloyd about the picture she posted on Facebook of a distraught mother weeping over the body of her baby who had died.  This is the story behind the picture. They are from Fomabi Village near Nomad. …middle Fly in Western Province. The child got sick with pneumonia, I believe, and Nomad Health Centre could not help them. The facility there has been very run down and ill equipped for a very long time. 

They then had to make the long walk to Mougulu health centre for many hours to get further help. Unfortunately, the child died the following afternoon, and without any helpers with them the parents had to walk back to their village with the dead child….

 “This evening they have the long walk back (6 to 8 hours at least) to Fomabi Village with a very heavy burden – almost too much to bear. “The father offloaded some heavy food items and we gave high protein food and fish, a torch and umbrella- it’s going to storm tonight. “God knows how much we need that emergency vehicle – to bring patients more quickly, but also for parents who should not have to walk a day (or all night) to get home and bury their child. “RIP Ezekiel.”

Kieta Flights Suspended

Post Courier February 11, 2019

Air Niugini has suspended its services to Aropa airport, Kieta in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB) this week due to removal and theft of the solar panels which power the Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) lights at the airport. PAPI lights are a visual aid that are generally located beside the airport runway that provides guidance information to help pilots maintain the correct approach to an airport. They are a requirement for jet operations. PAPI lights at Aropa airport were only installed recently, allowing the resumption of jet operations into Kieta in January this year.

Report Saying Loggers Declaring Losses But Increasing Exports

Post Courier February 13, 2019

A high-end investigative report has revealed that despite decades of operating in PNG, logging companies barely declare profits. Furthermore, the report reveals an odd financial contradiction where loggers have reported doubling their losses while continuing to increase their exports of tropical timber. In a comprehensive report furnished by renowned international researching group The Oakland Institute, new evidence of financial misreporting and grand scale tax evasion in the PNG logging industry have been unearthed.

Titled “The Great Timber Heist-Continued: Tax Evasion and Illegal Logging in PNG”, the institute makes public a host of new case studies that have been ascertained through the study of sixteen subsidiary logging exporters.

Following a 2016 report of the same nature which alleged that financial misreporting by foreign firms resulted in nonpayment of hundreds of millions of kina in taxes, the new report reveals an apparent worsening of this pattern in recent years.

According to financial records, the 16 studied subsidiaries of a logger that court injunctions hinder us from naming, have doubled their financial losses in just six years while increasing their exports of tropical timber by over 40 per cent….

After the decline throughout much of 2017, the volume of logs exported returned to their upward trend in October. To date, the abolished special agriculture and business leases which added 5.5 million hectares to the 10 million hectares remains a mystery.

Family Protection Law Not Understood: Kamit

Post Courier February 14, 2019

FOUNDATION chairperson of the Coalition for Change (CFC) Incorporated, Lady Winifred Kamit, has expressed grave concerns regarding the general consensus surrounding provisions of the Family Protection Act 2013. Lady Kamit made this comments yesterday after reading media reports which paraphrased a Mount Hagen District Court magistrate in saying that the new law was “biased towards women” and that it “destroyed the family”.

As the head of the organisation instrumental in the drafting of the law through to when it was passed, Lady Kamit said she was disappointed that a member of the PNG Judiciary would express an understanding of the law which was so fundamentally flawed.

“The statement, if true, is not only wrong, because that’s not what the law is, but it also shows that the provisions of the Family Protection Act are not understood,” said Lady Kamit.

“The Family Protection Act is a law which gives protection to both female and male survivors of domestic violence, who can go before a magistrate for a protective order and other orders which are sanctioned by the act.” Lady Kamit added that the public needed to have a better understanding of the law and its role in the protection of oppressed survivors of domestic violence which was prevalent around the country.

Loloho Digital Tower Equipment Torched

Post Courier February 15, 2019

Communications equipment at the Loloho Digicel Tower situated on the mountains overlooking Loloho was burnt on Wednesday morning allegedly by disgruntled landowners.
This has now resulted in a total Digicel network outage in Arawa and the surrounding communities. Although details are still sketchy, the burning of the tower equipment is alleged to have stemmed from a dispute over the distribution of rental payments amongst family members of people who own the land where the tower is situated on. This act of sabotage is the latest of a number of acts of vandalism targeting Digicel communication towers on Bougainville. This also comes amidst recent revelations from the mobile telco that it was struggling to maintain its services on Bougainville due to the frequent acts of vandalism and burning down of its communication equipment.

“The banks, the easy pay power system, mobile banking and even EFTPOS machines all depend on the Digicel network here and people cannot hold others to ransom by destroying vital communication equipment,” a town resident who did not to be named said.
“Is this the type of behaviour we want to portray to the outside world especially in the lead up to referendum?”There were long queues at the Arawa BSP Bank yesterday as people; especially public servants struggled to access their monies through the ATMs as EFTPOS services in shops have been affected by the network outage and police are investigating.

Troubling Insights On Referendum From NRI Report

PO February 15, 2019

THE final report on the forthcoming Bougainville Referendum was released yesterday and brought out some broad successes with a few peculiarities that cannot be ignored.

Authored by Dr Kylie McKenna and titled the “Status and implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and implications for referendum”, the research document contained just that. As the sixth and final paper of a research endeavor conducted by the PNG National Research Institute into how far the Bougainville Peace Agreement has come and what remains to be done for a smooth transition, many insights were given.

While the document mentioned that significant achievements have been made and named a few in the likes of the implementation of the Weapons Disposal Plan and the successful holding of the first Autonomous Bougainville Government and subsequent structuring, it also detailed many troubling realities. Therein, the report identified that progress on a number of provisions in the Bougainville Peace Agreement have not been met. It stated that ‘weak collaboration with the National Government’ by the ABG and the delayed payments of grants had now resulted in the process’ delay. It also mentioned that there were still an unknown number of weapons still in circulation and a number of groups and individuals that still posed a threat to the ongoing peace process. Furthermore, key risks identified that could harm the peace process included the finding that human and financial capacity was still not where it needs to be for a referendum. The findings also suggested that there was inadequate information on autonomy and its outcomes to inform voter decision-making, continued proliferation of misunderstandings about the referendum and localised conflict.

Panel discussion organised for refugees to raise concerns

February 15, 2019 The National

A panel discussion organised by the Catholic Bishops Conference was held in Port Moresby on Wednesday for refugees to raise their concerns. The panel discussion was attended by church representatives, media personnel from across the country, students, and refugees.
The theme of the panel discussion was ‘Listening across borders’. Participant Sam Kaipu, who summarised the highlights of the speakers, said it was evident that refugees lived in fear for their lives, and have lost their rights and freedom. “They have left their countries at great risk to themselves and their loved ones,” Kaipu said. “They are in search of a better and safer life.
“All the five speakers are young men who have been in PNG for five or six years.
“Despite being from different countries – a Pakistani, a West Papuan, a West African, a Sudanese and a Central African – their stories had a very important decision. “Either risk long imprisonment or even death, or abandon their beloved country, family and friends in order to find safety and freedom in another country. “It was not simply a better life they were looking for, but their very existence as human beings deserving of respect and enjoyment of their rights and freedoms. “As young men they had made traumatic decisions to abandon their families and friends and countries and lands. The suspense of waiting for their cases to be determined for settlement in another country has aggravated their trauma.”

Our daily bread: How scarcity drives the Mosbi mob mentality:


PORT MORESBY – It was on a Saturday that the mob stormed into view, alleging that a dog bit a woman on the leg. There were no witnesses and the incident was not reported to the owner of the dog. The table mamas who erect stalls and sell betel nut along this stretch of the street did not witness a dog bite. These table mamas report everything that happens in the neighbourhood to those returning from work because they tend their stalls 24/7 to make ends meet in this unforgiving city. A heavily bandaged woman was carted in a wheelbarrow escorted by men, women and children to the unregulated hostel in the street where Kol stayed. A grubby man representing the mob came straight up to Kol, pointing at his face. He knew Kol was not the owner of the dog but acted as if he was.

“Your dog bite off a piece on her calf muscle. We took her to the hospital and the doctor said that her leg will be amputated if not properly treated,” was the line. Kol listened politely because he was a loner and the mob were ready to devour anybody who opposed their story cooked up to make some money. There were no medical papers presented as proof of a visit to the hospital. It was also unusual that the injured woman was not given an opportunity to tell of her experience. The leader of the mob resolved that Kol would reimburse the cost of the medical treatment and compensate them to ‘fan their stomach’, as is part of their custom.

Kol said he did not own a dog, or a house or land but he was shouted down by the men and women. The mob insisted that Kol owned the dog and all they wanted was compensation and he should not divert from that. A neighbour, a leader in the area, endeavoured to confirm that Kol was not the owner of the dog but the mob told him to back off. Kol, in his second attempt to defend himself, said dogs being dogs come here to scavenge in the rubbish but he and others here do not who owns the dog that bit the woman. In fact, the dog was owned by Gemo who he lived in an adjacent block.

The mob knew Gemo owned the dog but decided to hook Kol into the problem so he could partly own the dog. The primary reason was that Kol came from the same area as Gemo (though they were not related) and besides, unlike Gemo, he had a permanent job.

Kol and the Gemo were outnumbered in that stretch of the street so Kol had to raise the white flag of surrender. Without going to Gemo, Kol contributed K200 and other people living in the neighbourhood had the courtesy to donate smaller bills adding up to K550.

He handed the K550 to the leader and the guy took the money and stated that if the woman’s leg developed an ulcer he would come back to Kol for greater compensation.

The next day, a Sunday, the thugs went to Gemo, coerced him and got K300 from him.

On Monday morning, the woman sloughed her bandages, chopped her walking stick and without flinching marched to town to sell her betel nuts. This mob had felt the sharp pain of scarcity that makes them insane and unsafe to mingle with and live alongside.

Although a few of them are law abiding and have a mountain of civic virtue.

Hundreds of families without water supply for five years

February 22, 2019The National

Hundreds of families living in Madang town have had no water supply for more than five years, a survey report said. Madang’s ward seven councillor Bonny Solomon said most families had their water supply disconnected years ago and were using other sources of water for their needs. Solomon said he submitted a report and list of residents in the New Town area to see if the government would assist them pay their outstanding water bills last year but nothing happened. Sharon Halo, living at Kuperu Road, said Water PNG disconnected her water supply yesterday. Halo said high water bills were incurred by previous residents and she was paying K1000 every month to reduce it. She appealed to Water PNG to assess the situation and weigh out reasons before disconnecting water supplies.

Settlers Stand their Ground

Post Courier, February 27, 2019

ABOUT 500 homes have been destroyed in an eviction at Gerehu in the Nation’s Capital on Monday. Women and children were at home when six police vehicles and two excavators moved into the Red Hills and Goroka Block areas between Gerehu and Nine-Mile between 9am and 10am.As  police spoke to the families, the two excavators started their destruction of the homes. In the confusion that followed, houses were destroyed with families unable to remove their personal belongings before the excavators moved on their homes.

The families managed to get representatives from National Capital District Commission to intervene but 10 minutes after they left, the bulldozing and destruction of the houses continued. As of yesterday, families had camped outside their wrecked homes, without electricity and water as many used a single hose for their cooking, washing and drinking water. School children were not able to attend schools amongst the issues that arose.

Robina Yambu and Janet Kuso, both from East Sepik province, said that the actions taken by the person who was claiming to be the landowner was uncalled for as there was no prior notice of an eviction given to the families. “The landowner came just before Christmas of 2018 and showed a court order but did not issue any eviction notice.

Other – Looking back at 2018

Women’s and girls’ rights

Sorcery-related violence has continued unabated, with women and girls the primary targets. In May, in the Southern Highlands, one woman was killed and another two seriously injured after a mob attacked the women following accusations they had used sorcery to kill a man. The government’s 2013 Sorcery National Action Plan is inadequately funded and has yet to be implemented.

In December 2017, the PNG government announced A$4 million (US$2.9 million) of funding for sorcery awareness and education programs. In July, the National Court sentenced eight men to death for their involvement in a sorcery-related killing of seven people. PNG continued to impose the death penalty, although authorities have not carried out any executions since 1954.

In 2013, the Family Protection Act was passed, which criminalizes domestic violence and allows victims to obtain protection orders. In 2017, the government passed regulations to implement the law, but enforcement remains weak and inconsistent.

Police and prosecutors rarely pursued investigations or criminal charges against people who commit family violence—even in cases of attempted murder, serious injury, or repeated rape—and instead prefer to resolve such cases through mediation and/or payment of compensation.

There is also a severe lack of services for people requiring assistance after having suffered family violence, such as safe houses, qualified counselors, case management, financial support, or legal aid.

PNG continues to have one of the highest rates of maternal death in the Asia-Pacific, and the number of women and girls who give birth in a health facility or with the help of a skilled birth attendant has reduced in the last five years.

Police abuse

The PNG government failed to address abuses by security forces. Few police are ever held to account for beating or torturing criminal suspects, a common occurrence. In September, the government indicated it would introduce new measures to give immunity to police and defense force soldiers on special operations supposedly to “curb lawlessness.”

Despite the ombudsman and police announcing investigations into the 2016 police shooting of eight student protesters in Port Moresby, at time of writing no police had been charged or disciplined and neither body had issued a report.

In July, prison officers shot and killed four men who escaped from Buimo prison in Lae. This followed a similar escape in 2017, in which 17 prisoners were killed. Corrective Services ordered an inquiry in 2017, but at time of writing no investigation had begun, allegedly due to lack of funding.

Children’s rights

Police often beat children in lock-ups and house them with adults, despite a child justice law that states children should be kept separate from adults during all stages of the criminal justice process.

In August, a video showing two PNG police officers brutally assaulting a teenage boy in West New Britain was widely circulated on social media. Minister for Police Jelta Wong ordered an immediate investigation and promised to hold those responsible to account. The two officers have reportedly been suspended and charged under the Criminal Code Act, but neither had been prosecuted at time of writing.

Children’s access to education improved from 2012 to 2016 following the introduction of the Tuition Fee Free Policy in 2012 but was still low, with only 76 percent of children enrolled in primary school and 33 percent in secondary.

Land rights

More than 5 million hectares of land has been awarded to PNG-based subsidiaries of foreign companies on Special Agricultural Business Leases, resulting in loss of ancestral land and forest for rural Papua New Guineans. The leases represent over 10% of the country’s total landmass and potentially impact more than 700,000 people.

Government corruption

Corruption in PNG is widespread. In December 2017, the Supreme Court quashed a long-standing arrest warrant for corruption against Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, finding that the warrant failed to meet a number of requirements and was issued without jurisdiction.

That same month, anti-corruption police arrested and charged the country’s deputy chief electoral commissioner with corruption for allegedly manipulating votes, for perjury and making a false declaration.

In April, media reported that anti-corruption police are investigating the Governor of Port Moresby Powes Parkop, after a former official revealed the city council was paying K2.8 million a year to a yoga and health company run by his alleged partner.

Asylum seekers and refugees

About 570 male asylum seekers and refugees live in PNG, most on Manus Island. Nearly all were forcibly transferred to PNG by Australia in 2013. Following a 2016 PNG Supreme Court decision that detaining asylum seekers is unconstitutional, in November 2017, the Australian and PNG government closed the main centre on Manus and relocated refugees and asylum seekers to other accommodation facilities on the island.

Many asylum seekers and refugees suffer complex health problems including mental health conditions that have been exacerbated by long periods in detention and uncertainty about their futures. In May, a Rohingya refugee died by apparent suicide having jumped from a moving bus, the seventh asylum seeker or refugee to die on Manus Island since 2013.

The Australian Department of Home Affairs has acknowledged that medical services have been reduced since the men were forcibly removed from the main center in 2017. There have been urgent calls, including by Australian doctors, to improve healthcare standards on Manus Island.

Australia pays for refugees’ living expenses but refuses to resettle them in Australia, insisting they must settle in PNG or third countries, such as the United States. US resettlement from Manus remains slow, with 163 resettled as of October.

Refugees and asylum seekers do not feel safe on Manus due to a spate of violent attacks by locals in the town of Lorengau and ongoing disputes with the local community. In January, neighbouring residents blocked access to living compounds in a protest about leaking sewage. In May, a fire in Hillside Haus forced the relocation of 120 residents.

Since June, a 12-hour curfew has been imposed on the refugees and asylum seekers in violation of their freedom of movement, following a car accident in which a woman died; an allegedly drunk refugee was driving the car. In October, a local man violently assaulted an Iranian refugee who was hospitalized with serious injuries to his head and eyes.

In June, following a class action settlement, the Australian government paid K164 million in compensation to asylum seekers and refugees for their illegal detention on Manus Island.

In July, the Queensland Coroner ruled that the death of Manus detainee and Iranian asylum seeker Hamid Khazaei in September 2014 was preventable and the result of “compounding errors” in health care provided under Australia’s offshore immigration detention system.

Disability rights

Despite the existence of a national disability policy, people with disabilities are often unable to participate in community life, go to school, or work because of lack of accessibility, stigma, and other barriers. Access to mental health care is limited, and many people with psychosocial disabilities and their families often consider traditional healers to be the only option.

Sexual orientation and gender identity

The PNG criminal code outlaws sex “against the order of nature,” which has been interpreted to apply to consensual same-sex acts, and is punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment.

Key international actors

In March, then-Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop visited Port Moresby and met with PNG foreign minister Rimbink Pato to discuss health and immigration. In November, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison and PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill signed a joint defence agreement to deepen relations and security cooperation, partly to curb China’s growing influence in the Pacific.

China is set to overtake Australia as the largest donor to PNG, though most assistance is in the form of infrastructure loans rather than aid. China is committing approximately K13 billion to developing a national road network. Australian government aid to PNG for the year 2018-19 is K1.3 billion.

In November, PNG hosted the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum which was overshadowed by growing tensions between China and Australia for regional dominance in the Pacific. China provided significant infrastructure support—including the K82 million convention centre—and President Xi Jinping invited Pacific Island leaders to a special summit ahead of APEC.

Australia spent K305 million on security costs for APEC, and provided 1,500 Australian Defence Force personnel.

The PNG government drew criticism for its purchase of 40 new Maserati cars for visiting APEC dignitaries, when the impoverished country struggles to pay teachers and faces a health crisis. The summit ended in disarray when Chinese officials physically forced their way into the office of the PNG foreign minister and refused to sign the final joint statement.

Bishops appeal for refugee action in open letter to O’Neill

02 February 2019

Fr Giorgio Licini – ‘I appeal to your sense of humanity and the responsibility of your high office’

FR GIORGIO LICINI | General Secretary, Catholic Bishops Conference

WAIGANI – Dear Hon Prime Minister: It is with heavy heart and an intense sense of sadness that I report to you on my recent visits to Lorengau town in Manus Island and to the Pacific International Hospital in Port Moresby. At the two locations, I had the heartbreaking experience of making contact with an appalling level of desperation in which refugees and asylum seekers live. I am not referring to the logistic conditions in which the men are kept, which appear to be decent with security, cleanliness, and respect by national and expatriate personnel. My concern is rather about their fast deteriorating health status, which is making now acts of self-harm and attempted suicide a daily occurrence: three cases only for the two days I was in Manus on 20-22 January.

While travel to Manus and to the detention centers may prove hard to your busy schedule, I warmly invite you to make a quick visit to the [Intensive Care Unit] ward of Pacific International Hospital at 3 Mile.

You will come across well-kept health facilities and extremely kind and professional personnel, but you will also meet about twenty refugees and asylum seekers in a deplorable state of mental health compounded with other ailments affecting their cardiac and respiratory system, kidney failure, fractured bones, etc.

Pacific International Hospital and the PNG health system in general cannot cope with these types of diseases and the men are prevented by their status from seeking independent and autonomous medical attention elsewhere.

Needless to say, Hon Prime Minister, that the foreigners hosted in Manus, at Pacific International Hospital and other locations in Port Moresby have never committed any offense against the people or the State of Papua New Guinea.

Their detention, mainly at the hand of the government of Australia was organised between July 2013 and February 2014 because of their irregular arrival by boat on the shores of that country and as an attempt to deter additional asylum seekers from taking to the sea.

The people of Manus expected the offshore processing of those more than one thousand men taken to their island at Lombrum naval base to last two or three years at the most. Now half of the initial number of those men are still there after six years.

The uncertainty about their future, the rejection of claims and applications for resettlement, the length of the review process has brought to a significant breakdown in their mental health conditions.

From the information I gathered the situation has begun to become alarming by September 2018. Self-harm and attempted suicide, due to depression and hopelessness has now practically become a daily occurrence.

You may see by yourself the men admitted at Pacific International Hospital, and there will be no need for me to supply additional details and information.

I am therefore appealing, Hon Prime Minister, to your sense of humanity and the responsibility of your high office.

As you accepted in 2013 to offer help to the Kevin Rudd government of Australia and the refugees themselves to have their status processed in Papua New Guinea and begin a new life elsewhere, I am now humbly asking you to give a very close deadline to the authorities in Canberra for the removal of all refugees and asylum seekers from our country on the basis of strongly compelling medical and humanitarian reasons.

Having achieved the objective of “stopping the boats” their detention now amounts to cruelty and plain mental and physical torture.

Without this decision, the mentally impaired people will grow by the dozens in the next few weeks and months. Who is going to care for them?

They risk outright rejection by any third country. They will be unproductive and a burden to Australia if that government is eventually forced to take them in. It is unthinkable that they are treated in Papua New Guinea and spend the rest of their lives here in total abjection and poverty.

Dear Prime Minister, the photos I attach to this letter are indeed distressing and painting a picture of the country that may easily appear of complicity, injustice and irresponsibility. The people of Papua New Guinea, your people, are of a completely different stock and do not deserve this bad international publicity.

I am sure that everybody will appreciate you demanding from the Prime Minister of Australia that any offshore processing in Papua New Guinea is ended within sixty days at the most, and these men immediately receive proper medical treatment in Australia while waiting for the final decision on their future in any safe country.

Thank you very much and may God bless all your efforts!

Most cordially,


General Secretary, Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea & Solomon Islands

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Social Concerns Notes – November 2018

The Catholic Church and APEC

The primary task of the Catholic Church in PNG is to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of PNG. As such the church adopts no particular position on political or economic issues except to bring gospel values to this part of life.

However, since the Catholic Church is known and expected to speak for those without a voice, and has a reputation for its concern for the rural poor of PNG, many have asked us for our position on APEC. We have addressed this issue many times in the past and more recently appealed for a return to the division of powers that could ensure that political power and eh equitable distribution of wealth are kept separate.

We share the concern of many about the huge amount of our limited resources being expended on this event which seems designed to entertain and impress the rich and powerful.

Given its inevitability, we can only hope for its “success”, which can only mean that the welfare of the poorest people of PNG will somehow indirectly be improved. Although we all would like to make a good impression on our visitors, this cannot be at the expense of the truth.

So we must now look to “life after APEC”. This has to be a life where we will see a return to the principles and values of our national constitution and the national goals and directive principles on which our nation was built. In our 43 years we have seen a serious decline in implementing of the principle of equity and participation. There is simply not an equitable distribution of the national wealth to all. Despite all the rhetoric, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. APEC seems to be a manifestation of this gap as the whole of PNG watches billions being spent on appearances in Port Moresby while we experience teachers and health workers without pay and health centers without medicine, while all departments are to expect less than 60% of their official budgeted allocations. It is a fact that many people in the remote areas of Papua New Guinea, including those in the cites who are still economically “remote”, are suffering and dying on order to make APEC a “success”.

As we present ourselves to the world as a nation capable of pulling of major international event, we must still ask ourselves to what extent we are truly sovereign and self-reliant. We are very much aware, and our informal off the record conversation with some of our national leaders confirms, that PNG is now longer in control of its own economic enterprise and production. Those of us in the forefront of Provinces with extensive logging and oil palm know exactly how much we have sold out to foreign interests.

The big show of APEC is not the experience of the majority of Papua New Guineans. Though they may rightly hope to make a good impression on visitors, they also rightly hope for a return to true normality when it is all over and we are able to count the cost, start repaying our debts, and re-establish our priorities, that is to prioritize the rural poor and not the urban rich.  CBC 7 November 2018

It wasn’t meant to be like this: PNG’s hosting of APEC

When Papua New Guinea (PNG) put up its hand to host APEC in 2013, its economy was booming. Prospects were bright. And reform was underway, in particular to clamp down on the corruption that has been the country’s curse.

Fast forward five years and the environment could not be more different. PNG’s highly effective corruption investigator Taskforce Sweep no longer exists. It was abolished by the very same Prime Minister who set it up, Peter O’Neill, after it started pursuing O’Neill himself on corruption charges. The anti-corruption effort more broadly has been undermined via reducing the funding and/or autonomy of the remaining anti-corruption actors, such as the police fraud squad and the Ombudsman.Econo mic growth has stalled. Formal sector employment (the only sort of employment that is measured in PNG) has declined for each of the last four years. Excessive borrowing in the boom years has now come back to haunt the government following a collapse in revenue. The government has done well to avoid a debt crisis, but its economic mismanagement has intensified the downturn. PNG’s biggest economic problem is its overvalued exchange rate. The value of the Kina is set by the Central Bank, which has prevented significant depreciation for more than two years now. So far this year, the official Kina/US dollar exchange rate has fallen only by four per cent, a fraction of the 20 per cent or more depreciation called for by analysts and researchers alike.

What has really caught the public’s attention is the return of polio, eliminated in PNG about 20 years ago. PNG is one of only five countries in the world to be experiencing a polio comeback. That the other members of this club are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Nigeria and Somalia — all four wrought by violence — shows the extent of the health crisis that PNG is facing. The most recent symptoms include the resurgence of malaria and leprosy and reports of worsening drug shortages.

It is hardly surprising then that the hosting of APEC has become controversial in PNG, with accusations of both waste and corruption. After all, PNG is an extremely poor country. It is the second most rural in the world. Poverty is high and not falling, and child stunting rates are the fourth highest in the world (every second child under the age of five is stunted due to malnutrition). The opportunity cost of hosting APEC is high. Much of the financial cost is being covered by other countries, most notably Australia and China, but the meeting cycle is a heavy one for any country, and a significant tax on PNG policymakers, both elected and official….

PNG is one of only four countriesworldwide whose parliament contains no women, a symptombut also a cause of extreme gender inequality. Several years ago, it started tointroduce reforms to ensure female representation, but these have not actually been implemented, nor is there anycommitment to implementing them. [See the url above for the full article.]

2017 election was hijacked; ‘unprecedented violence & fraud’

Post Courier, 01 November 2018  Chandler

Analysis of the vote, led by the Australian National University, found failures in the electoral roll, the theft and destruction of ballot boxes, and “money politics” – payments by candidates for votes – on a scale that was“qualitatively different to previous elections”.

“The 2017 elections were marred by widespread fraud and malpractice, and extensive vote rigging,” Nicole Haley, associate professor at ANU and the lead author of the study, told a recent gathering of Pacific scholars in Canberra. The findings, to be published early next year, are based on records collected by258 election observers at 945 polling stations around the country. Many voters were denied genuine choice through block voting, coerced collective voting, violence, intimidation and pre-marked ballot papers in many locations.

One third of citizens surveyed reported intimidation, one quarter reported that they did not vote – significantly higher rates than in 2012. Less than half reported they voted freely.

Women fared the worst. Only two in five women reported voting freely, with about the same number reporting intimidation. Not a single woman was elected in 2017 to the 111-member parliament.

Call for fast processing of asylum seekers on Manus

November 2, 2018 The National

THE Catholic Bishops Conference (CBC) of Papua New Guinea is pushing for a date for Australia and PNG to settle the remaining 133 asylum seekers in Manus. The CBC said social and health issues and psychological, moral and physical issues in delaying the processing of refugees were of concern to the Catholic Church. The CBC and panel comprising of representatives from the Department of Immigration, United Nations human rights, human rights lawyer of the Catholic Professionals Society, NCD Governor Powes Parkop and Fr Clement Taulam, of the Manus Diocese, called on both countries to properly settle the asylum seekers.
Fr Clement said the process was taking too long for the refugees to be permanently settled.
“Now is the sixth year we are holding them in Manus. Some are getting frustrated, impatient and had taken their lives and the process is still going on.
“So what are we going to do?” Parkop said PNG did not have a culture to detain and confine people. “We helped Australia but she took us for granted and left the problem with us,” he said.

Polio cases confirmed, total now 22

November 2, 2018 The National

JIWAKA has confirmed three cases of polio, bringing the total number of cases detected and treated in the country to 22. The provincial polio awareness and surveillance team revealed this yesterday at a review of round two routine immunisation and campaign. Provincial surveillance officer and field epidemiologist Augustine Kumba said the three persons that tested positive were two boys and a girl under the age of five. Kumba said the two boys were aged two while the girl was four. They tested positive in the Banz 1 catchment area at Dumbola Health Centre in North Waghi.
Kumba said one of the boy had been treated and was now living a normal life.
The other boy was using one side of his limbs while the other had gone totally numb.
The girl was walking on one leg while the other is supported by a walking stick.

PNG Cathoics urge Australia to resettle refugees

The Conference along with the Catholic Professionals Society of PNG, hosted a panel discussion in Port Moresby last week about the refugees’ plight.

The panel, which featured about 100 people, including the governor of Port Moresby and students, teachers and professionals, declared Australia has a moral obligation to look after all refugees and asylum-seekers. The secretary of the conference, Fr Ambrose Pereira SBD, said Papua New Guinea is not able to care for the refugees. “We are hoping for an end to this refugee situation where all will be sent into Australia or to any other country. But it needs to be Australia’s responsibility to ensure that this happens.”

 “While Australia would hide behind the fact, saying it is now the problem of Papua New Guinea, and they also issued a statement before the panel which said, ‘We are ready to help PNG and this is an issue for PNG to handle,’ but I think what was stated very clearly was Australia needs to put an end to this because it is an issue they have, in fact, started.”

Fr Pereira said having the refugees resettled by Christmas would be a gift for all.


PNGmen find comfort in seeking help from online counselling

06 November 2018

Papua New Guinea’s first national telephone counselling hotline has had to broaden its service to cater for demand after receiving more than 15,000 calls over the past year.

The hotline was established by the non-government organisation ChildFund PNG as a service for survivors of gender-based violence, predominately women and children.

ChildFund’s Wesh Siku said more than two-thirds of women in PNG experience domestic violence.”When the project was actually designed, [it was] designed to assist survivors of gender-based violence and it just complemented those services that have already been established,” Mr Siku said. “The primary focus was to support survivors of gender-based violence, mainly women and even children.” But he said the service had allowed men to get assistance that they otherwise would not seek. Now more than half the callers are males who call as witnesses or perpetrators of violence. “A lot of men do not feel comfortable talking to a woman in a face to face scenario,” Mr Siku said. “So when this project was put up, it became comfortable for them to pick up a phone and call a counsellor for the issues they are going through. He said the hotline has eight staff on the phones but this may have to increase as the workload has doubled since last year.

China in the Pacific: Is China engaged in “debt-trap diplomacy”?
By Rohan Fox and Matthew Dornan on Nov 08, 2018 06:00 am
Recent media coverage has touted the rise of Chinese aid and lending as a threat to Pacific nations’ sovereignty and to the West’s influence in the Pacific. China, so the narrative goes, is aggressively lending to smaller nations who do not have the capacity to pay back the loans. Some commentators have even described such lending as “debt-trap diplomacy”, implying that lending forms part of an intentional strategy by the Chinese state to pressure Pacific island governments….

Most advocates of this argument have pointed to anecdotal evidence – high debt levels in Tonga, the case of the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka – rather than to hard data. In this piece, we look at international debt data to explore: (i) whether Pacific island countries are in debt distress, and (ii) whether this is the result of lending from China.

One issue we consider is whether Pacific island countries are at greater risk of debt distress than in the past. Using IMF and Asian Development Bank (ADB) risk ratings, we do see a rise in debt distress over the last five years (see Figure 1). We also see that over 40% of Pacific island countries are now classified as being at high risk of debt distress (see Figure 2, with countries singled out). So debt certainly appears to be a problem in the region.

Now for the second question: is this debt distress the result of lending by China?

The short answer is “no”.  [See url above for the full article]

Informal economy’s suppression driving people into poverty

Informal Economist

PORT MORESBY – With recentfigures showing that poverty reduction is decelerating globally, a recent World Bank report urges governments aroundthe world not to slack off in their efforts to combat it. However, critics argue that poverty measurement should not only be confined to the standard $US1.90 a day imposed by World Bank but should also include health indicators, education levels and standard of living.

The government’s policy to crackdown on the informal economy is a classic example of this as it directly affects the only source of livelihood for the majority of the jobless poor.

The implementation of anti-informal economy policies have seen widespread harassment and beatings of vendors coupled with a substantial loss of business. The loss of business means families are deprived of income to meet household needs and improve their wellbeing. Consequently, it takes a toll on people and induces them into poverty.

At a time when prices of basic goods and services are rising and formal sector job opportunities are declining, suppression of the informal economy can drive many families into destitution. The ramifications are huge for Papua New Guinea which is estimated to have 85% of its total population engaged in the informal economy.

That said, the government has introduced some reforms into its informal economy. The national informal economy policy of 2011-15 and its accompanying law (Informal Sector Development & Control Act of 2004) are landmark achievements that aim to nurture the positive aspects of the informal economy whilst tackling its problems.

Sadly though, the government has not been able to achieve this fine balance, opting instead to focus on curtailing the informal economy’s growth.The  implication is that, if the government continues to take a hardline stance towards the informal economy, many Papua New Guineans will not escape poverty in their lifetime. …

Papua New Guinea Is Rich in Resources but Poor in Health  ChandlerNov. 13, 2018

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea — Polio was vanquished by the Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea 18 years ago. Now, as world leaders gather there for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting this week, polio has returned — on top of raging drug-resistant epidemics of tuberculosis, malaria and H.I.V., and deadly flash points of preventable diseases like whooping cough and measles.

All over the country, there are symptoms of a profound public health emergency; young and old are getting sick and dying unnecessarily, while facilities lack basic medicines and equipment. Doctors and experts say the unfolding crisis is the realization of their worst fears after years of deterioration and neglect. “We were expecting something like this,” Dr. Anup Gurung, a public health specialist with the World Health Organization, said of the polio outbreak at a news conference in the capital, Port Moresby, in September. He pointed to the erosion of vaccination rates, which are down to 30 percent in some parts of the country. “It’s like someone lit a paper castle where everything is on fire,” he said.

The return of polio is a clear indicator of the failures, with Papua New Guinea accounting for 21 of 109 cases found globally this year. …

Local and international experts point to three interlinked causes of the country’s health crisis: the collapse of the medical supply chain; changing relations with the country’s biggest aid donor, Australia; and rampant corruption….

Despite its immense resource wealth, Papua New Guinea has the lowest life expectancy in the Pacific at 62.9 years, according to the World Health Organization. And it may be getting worse. The number of people infected with malaria parasites, for example, grew almost ninefold to 432,000 in 2017 from 50,309 in 2014, according to the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research. The survey blames the lack of treatment drugs in many parts of the country, together with a decline in international support.

Similarly, a decade ago, Papua New Guinea was being congratulated for its efforts against the spread of H.I.V.; now, infection rates are rising. A survey has also exposed “alarming rates of H.I.V. drug resistance,” said Dr. Angela Kelly-Hanku of the Institute of Medical Research. This is largely because H.I.V. patients are unable to secure reliable supplies of antiretroviral medications, she said.

Professor Mola said a colleague with extensive experience in Africa had observed that while corruption was common there, in Africa “they skim off the cream and still leave some milk for the people. In Papua New Guinea, they take the lot.”

 [See the url above for the full article]

Glimmers of change in the land that #MeTooforgot

PORT MORESBY – Ask people inPapua New Guinea about #MeToo and you are likely to get blank stares, but in a country with a reputation as the worst place in the world for women to live, attitudes to domestic and sexual violence are slowly changing.

The beatings started before Lucy Sausiniaka was married and didn’t stop even when she was pregnant with her daughter. Today the gentle 23-year-old and her quiet doughnut-munching toddler live in a women’s shelter by the shore of Port Moresby’s Ela Beach.

The paint is flaking and old bedsheets are slung as curtains, but the Haus Ruth refuge is peaceful and, more importantly, it is safe.

“He would beat me up, even in public” says Sausiniaka, her eyes darting around as if searching reluctantly for memories. “Usually under the influence of alcohol.”

It is estimated that two-thirds of women in Papua New Guinea experience domestic violence. But behind the shocking statistics and harrowing testimony, attitudes and behaviour appear to be slowly changing.

The shelter’s ebullient manager Monica Richards says 2013 legal reforms — imposing tougher prison sentences, fines and protection orders — have made a real difference.

“Five or six years ago” the police would not always take domestic and sexual violence seriously, she said. “That has changed a lot. The police are now helping us.”

Elsewhere in Port Moresby, trailblazing women are taking the initiative in other ways, including driving women-only buses. They offer a safer alternative for women who fear robbery, abuse, harassment or assault. “The city is not safe for women to get around,” said Gorame Momo, one of four female bus drivers in the capital. “We provide safe transport for them.”

As yet there are scant few Harvey Weinsteins in Papua New Guinea — powerful men felled for their bad behaviour. But there are plenty of Alyssa Milanos or Tanushree Duttas, women brave enough to speak out and try to nudge their society forward.

Increase in Security Companies

…The manifest inadequacies of state-provided security, pervasive feelings and perceptions of insecurity, and the economic opportunities presented to domestic and transnational companies in this field, have driven the massive growth of private security in PNG over recent decades. Figures from PNG’s own Security Industries Authority indicate that the number of licensed security companies increased from 176 in 2006 to 462 in 2014, with a workforce of around 30,000 guards. While omitting the large number of unlicensed operators, this number exceeds the combined workforce for the Royal PNG Constabulary, PNG Defence Force and the Corrections Service. Some estimates make private security the third largest employer in PNG. The industry has flourished around elite urban enclaves, the extractive industries and, albeit temporarily, APEC.

The tough job of fighting a polio outbreak inPNG

PORT MORESBY – After a long morning of organised chaos inside a crowded government compound in Papua NewGuinea’s capital Port Moresby, hundreds of health workers and volunteers are finally wrangled into teams, issued with instructions, and piled into a fleet of hard-worn four-wheel drives. As the first of four mass vaccination waves scheduled over October and November begins to push out across the Pacific nation, emergency teams are rolled out in the capital. The vehicles are loaded up with loud hailers and ice boxes full of oral polio vaccine. Before they head into the surrounding settlements, posters are hastily taped to the windows and doors: ‘Stop Polio in PNG’.

Just half of PNG’s more than eight million people have access to clean water and less than one-fifth to a toilet that disposes of waste in a way that it does not pose a disease risk.

Genetic analysis of stool samples taken from the victims reveals the virus has been circulating undetected for more than two years, Gurung said. “If you have one case, there would be 200, maybe 500,000 people circulating the virus.”

Waide dumping electrifies & outrages global admirers

26 November 2018

NOOSA – Readers of PNGAttitude have joined hundreds of Papua New Guineans and people internationally in voicing strong support for journalist and blogger Scott Waide who was suspended from his senior job with EMTV after the television station management received instructions from the Papua New Guinea government to do so.

Waide was linked to a story broadcast on Saturday 17 November which originated in New Zealand and mentioned that prime minister Jacinta Ardern would not be travelling one of the 40 Maseratis imported by the PNG government for use at APEC.

The purchase had generated great controversy and much criticism in PNG and in the overseas media. In a message to staff, the state-owned broadcaster said it had been forced to suspend Waide and told staff not to discuss the matter.

In the days before APEC, Waide, with the help of his audience, had investigated drug and medical equipment shortages in PNG hospitals. During the summit he had reported on Chinese restrictions on the media.

Radio New Zealand reports that in recent days he wrote about the police minister assuring disciplinary forces that no action would be taken against personnel who stormed parliament over APEC related payments, although this decisions has since been said to have been overturned.

Waide reinstated! People power gives PNG govt a wake-up call Scott Waide. 26 November 2018

LAE – Over the last 48 hours, I have been very  humbled by the incredible support my family and I have received from people  both here and abroad. Support also came from friends in the media, academia, law enforcement, the military and many other circles too many to name. I have since been reinstated to my job as deputy regional head of news at EMTV. …

I was suspended on Sunday 18 November, on the last day of the APEC meetings.  The  reasons for the suspensions are now public knowledge and I do not wish to dwell too much on them. However, I do wish to make the following points:

Papua New Guinea is a democracy and the media is free to hold those in authority to account. This means highlighting flaws in policy and making sure mistakes are pointed out and corrected. It is an essential part of our democracy.

There should NEVER be any interference at the operational level by board members. The media is an institution of democracy and must remain free and independent.  It is our constitutional right to report AND be critical.

Journalists of ‘state owned’ media are NOT government public relations officers nor are media organisations PR machines.

EMTV is ‘state owned’ which means the PEOPLE own this company through their elected government.

Journalism is an art… and art and creativity cannot operate in an environment of suppression and fear.

Papua New Guinea is a critical moment of its history with the growth and influence of China, US-China trade tensions and  challenges within our own country.

We are a largely rural nation. Many of our people still have no access to basic services.

We will continue to promote critical, proactive and transparent journalism.  The people’s voice has to be heard and the media must remain as the conduit and platform for opinions and debate and those who cannot accept it MUST step aside and let progress happen.

Note:  I will be on leaveDecember and January so the next edition of Social Concerns Notes will probablybe at the end of February 2019.  Peace, 

Philip Gibbs SVD

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