PNG

PNG

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! SIR PAULIAS MATANE IS ILLEGALLY OCCUPYING THE PNG VICE REGAL OFFICE

NATIONAL EDITORIAL

THE legal advice provided to the prime minister on the appointment of the governor-general is seriously flawed.
The actions of Parliament in the recent controversial re-appointment of the governor-general were contrary to the explicit directions provided by the Constitution.
The appointment of Grand Chief Sir Paulias Matane for a second term as governor-general, therefore, cannot be held to be legal.
The legal advice or, as it turned out, the legal position adopted by the government and Parliament, is a clear misreading of section 87 of the Constitution and should not stand any serious contest of it in a court of law.
The part of the Constitution cited as the basis for the advice is section 87(5).
Clearly, and in plain English, that entire section deals only with “qualifications for appointment” to the post of governor-general.
It makes no mention of the process for the “appointment of the GG” which is, again, very clearly spelled out in the following section.
Section 88 of the Constitution provides for “appointment to office” of the governor-general.
The proper and legal process for “appointment to the office of governor-general” is via an “exhaustive secret ballot” in accordance with an Organic Law.
The relevant part of section 88(2) reads: “A decision of the Parliament to nominate a person for appointment as governor-general shall be made by a simple majority vote, in an exhaustive secret ballot conducted in accordance with an Organic Law.
An examination of the said Organic Law on “nomination of the governor-general” makes it clear that two things must happen: First, there must be an exhaustive secret ballot – even in the event where there is only one candidate for the post.
And, two, following such an exhaustive secret ballot, Parliament’s choice of a new governor-general must be declared by a simple majority.
These did not happen last Friday, June 25.
There was no secret ballot.
There was, however, an open ballot.
The open ballot was itself not illegal. This open ballot is provided for under section 87(5) of the Constitution to determine the eligibility of any incumbent governor-general, in this instance, Sir Paulias, to serve a second term in office.
The relevant part reads: “(5) No person is eligible for appointment as governor-general more than once unless the Parliament, by a two-third absolute majority vote, approves appointment for a second term, but no person is eligible for appointment for a third term.” Reading the above statement on its own would make it appear as if Parliament’s action of last Friday not to conduct a secret ballot is in order. That was what the prime minister’s legal counsel asserted was the proper reading of that sub-section.
But, when you read sub-section (5) along with, or in the context of, the heading of section (87), as it should be read, an entirely different proposition unfolds.
The law then reads: “Section 87: QUALIFICATIONS FOR APPOINTMENT . . . (5) No person is eligible for appointment as governor-general more than once unless the Parliament, by two-thirds absolute majority vote, approves appointment for a second term . . .”
It becomes abundantly clear here that the open ballot of last Friday was actually the beginning of the process, and, not the final outcome.
Via that open ballot, Parliament registered beyond any reasonable doubt, by a vote of 84-13, that Sir Paulias was qualified and eligible for appointment to serve a second term as governor-general.
Parliament only needed then to move on to the actual appointment process via “an exhaustive secret ballot”. That never happened.
The Organic Law on the “nomination of the governor-general” provides guidelines on how the exhaustive secret ballot ought to be carried out. There are no other procedures stipulated in the Constitution, and in the Organic Law, by which a governor-general can be appointed except via an exhaustive secret ballot.
Sir Paulias was not the only candidate.
In this case, there were three other contenders – former auditor-general Sir Makena Geno, a former contender for the post Sir Pato Kakaraya and former Enga deputy premier Ronald Rimbao.
The Organic Law stipulates that the speaker will announce all candidates and distribute ballot papers for Members of Parliament to write their choices. The candidate with the least number of votes would be dropped and the process would be repeated until only one emerges as Parliament’s choice.
Last Friday, there would need to have been three secret ballots after which the winner would have been declared.
It is clear that Sir Paulias, as the government’s candidate, had the biggest support and had it been subjected to the secret ballot, he would have emerged the eventual winner.
The fact that this process was thwarted denied the other three contenders their right to due process, justice and fair play by the highest law-making authority in the country – Parliament itself.
This is disgraceful.
The decision by Parliament, following only the open (eligibility) ballot, that Sir Paulias is duly appointed as governor-general of Papua New Guinea for a second term cannot be held to have been legally conducted.
It has to be void and of no effect.
Section 87(5), which has been relied upon as the basis for that decision, has been wrongly interpreted and the government wrongly advised. How such an advice could have been concocted for the Head of Government is mischievous, to say the least, and has made a mockery of the democratic and parliamentary processes and procedures.
Sir Paulias is himself a stickler for the law and all things proper.
We note that he has not taken the Oath of Allegiance or made the Declaration of Loyalty and Declaration Office before the chief justice as he is compelled to do by section 90 of the Constitution. He cannot take office or perform duties until this compulsory requirement is met.
It would only be proper if he were to refuse to do so until due process has been followed and the law complied with to the letter.
Parliament should be recalled so that a governor-general can properly be appointed in accordance with the law.
Of Sir Paulias’ re-appointment, we have little doubt.
Of Parliament’s conduct in this specific instance, and the kind of professional advisers the government keeps, we are very much in doubt.

K26 Million Stolen from Works Department - Gone in a Sink Hole

South Pacific Post

A STAGGERING K26 million “disappeared without a trace” from the Works Department - part of the money paid out for improvements and structures in the Highlands Highway Rehabilitation Program in Chimbu.
The K26 million was part of the K54 million reportedly paid to the landowners for improvements and structures along the 20m corridors on the Highlands Highway between 2005 and 2006.
“It is as if the money has sunk into a big hole. We can’t tell. There is not a single trace of it, we can’t account for this money,” Works Secretary Joel Luma said yesterday.
Mr Luma said police could not carry out an investigation into the massive fraud involving the first payment of K54 million because their own investigation into the whole affair was incomplete.
“We have names on the cheques but we do not have addresses and telephone numbers. How do you trace these payments? It is very hard because we can’t verify the payments,” Mr Luma said.
Mr Luma said there was an investigation by police in Kundiawa soon after the payments were made and 19 people were arrested.
He said when the verification exercise was conducted, the consultants were able to account for K28 million and the information could easily be provided to the police to conduct an investigation.
Of the next lots of the so-called missed out payment of K68 million, Secretary Luma said he had to put a stop to the payment because the whole exercise was contaminated with fraudulent claims.
“This time the claims were organised by the Lands Department and they brought it to us for verification and payment. I put a stop to it. We should be the one doing the work,” he said.
The Highlands Highway landowners Association has contended that the whole payment of K54 million did not go to the people in the project area in Chimbu.
Chairman Thomas Barry said between 60 to 70 per cent of the money was fraudulently paid to officers of the Works Department who conspired with others to pick up the payments.
He said if it was verified that it will cost K8 million to pay those that missed out, one must assume that the real landowners could not pick up any more than the same amount from the first payment.

Mobile phone entrant fails first requirement: bemobile penalised

SOLOMON STAR

NEW mobile phone entrant bemobile has failed to live up to one of the first requirements under its licence.
This had cost the Papua New Guinea-based telecommunications company USD$1.5 million (SBD$12 million).
Telecommunications commissioner Nicholas Williams said he had taken the $12 million from a demand guarantee of USD$10 million (SBD$80) provided by bemobile to ensure its compliance with the network coverage obligation in its licence.
Under its licence, mobile is required to launch a network serving 25 per cent of the population by 18 June 2010.  Mr Williams said he had given bemobile an extension until 30 August to become compliant with its licence.  “If bemobile were not to meet this new deadline, I will take an additional USD$1 million (SBD$8m) from the demand guarantee,” he said.

“There are further coverage thresholds that bemobile is required to meet,” Mr Williams said.
He said he expects bemobile to work strenuously and diligently to meet these thresholds and catch up with the original network deployment timetable envisaged in its licence.
The Government awarded bemobile its licence 18 December 2009 ahead of the more promising Digicel.

Chief Executive Officer Julien Coustaury had previously assured the nation that his company will launch its operations in time according to the requirements under its licence.

But he had failed to live up to his words. Many had doubted the company launching its operations this year, saying bemobile is yet to build even one telecommunications tower.
Mr Coustaury, who is away overseas on vacation, could not be reached yesterday for comments.
The company is currently preparing to move into its new office at Point Cruz, which they leased from Solomon Airlines.

No official was prepared to talk to the Solomon Star yesterday when asked for comment.
A spokesman said only Mr Coustaury can speak to the media.

When aid is just a waste of money

SUSAN MERRELL

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is embedded in the Australian psyche as the arena where many died fighting for their country during the Second World War. Notions of Australian nationhood were born in the PNG jungles at places like Kokoda.

More recently, PNG, while recognised as a country of huge mineral wealth is also one that is experiencing significant social and economic problems where corruption is rife. Transparency International rates PNG as 154th out of 180 countries on a corruption scale (180th being most corrupt).

PNG has also been identified as part of the Asian/Pacific 'Arc of Instability' surrounding Australia, as such it's in Australia's best interests to prop up this young and fragile nation. To this end, since PNG independence, Australia has been providing the country with ever-increasing aid funding which is tipped to rise to $457 million next year.

Nevertheless, PNG's problems just seem to worsen, begging the question of the aid's efficacy. A recent independent review carried out jointly by Australian and PNG experts stated categorically that for the future of PNG's aid spending "The status quo is not an option."

In particular, the report found that fully half of the aid budget was taken up with paying for 'technical assistance' from Australia. Like the $500,000 annual tax-free salary for former Clerk of Courts from Melbourne, John Dinsdale, to act as a consultant PNG Law and Justice advisor.

So while the budget may sound enormous, it's deceptive - a large proportion returns to Australia. It's called boomerang aid.

What's more, the proportion of aid that was allocated to 'governance' increased from 20% of the budget ten years ago to 36% in the year 2009/2010.

Yet, neither the expensive advisors, nor the estimated cost of $10 million to produce the recently tabled PNG government-initiated 'Finance Inquiry' appears to have gotten to the truth of corruption or its perpetrators.

While this Inquiry claims to have uncovered that government coffers have been raided to the tune of $300 million in a series of sham compensation claims, it has alternatively been suggested that the Inquiry was really initiated for an ulterior political purpose.

Members of PNGs legal fraternity have mooted that the Inquiry was an attempt to discredit the then Finance Minister Bart Philemon who had defected from the Somare government only to lead a push against the Prime Minister.

If indeed the Inquiry's mark was Bart Philemon, it missed it.

This left the Somare government with the task of justifying the expensive enquiry. The focus turned onto the PNG judiciary with many of the country's lawyers and their clients bearing the brunt. The Member of Parliament for a Port Moresby constituency who had a land compensation claim heard by the PNG courts in the early 2000s was one who fitted the bill - as did the lawyer who acted on his behalf.

PNG's judicial system is adversarial - you lay down and die, you lose - so the State duly engaged its own lawyers to defend the claim.

But they didn't. The State's lawyers made winning for the claimant a 'lay-down misère' when they failed to file a defence within the prescribed time allowed by the Rules of the Court.

It's curious to contemplate why the State's lawyers, derelict in their duty, have not been cited by the Finance Inquiry while the claimant and his lawyer have. The State's lawyers need to explain. Why hasn't anyone ask them to?

And the plot thickens.

A hotel group coveted the land that was the subject of the Port Moresby MP's claim. The lawyers representing this group were the very same lawyers that failed to file a defence on behalf of the State during the MPs litigation.

Furthermore, prior to his appointment as one of the three heads of the Finance inquiry, former Justice Maurice Sheehan was also a consultant to the same lawyers representing the State and the hotel group. And so possible motives emerge.

It was a series of incestuous relationships where even the Managing Director of the hotel group was on the State Physical Planning Board.

Still there's more.

Justice Cathy Davani in her judicial capacity sat in judgment on the MPs compensation claim and was also one of the three heads of the Finance Inquiry. She sat in judgment on herself and found against herself.

It was just like recently when the Chief Ombudsman Chronox Manek found that Julian Moti had been unlawfully arrested in PNG in 2006. A shame he didn't know that at the time - he was the public prosecutor. He'd found against himself too.

It's hardly surprising that when anti-corruption measures in PNG have alternative agendas, with people sitting in judgment on themselves and where advocates have conflicts of interest that see them playing two sides against the middle, corruption has a fertile breeding ground.

And so this recent Finance Inquiry is not part of the cure for PNG corruption but another malignant symptom.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

LIFE TERMS FOR GUN DEATHS


WE each face all forms of hazards in our respective jobs.
From the builder laying bricks on a high-rise to the policeman going in search of an armed criminal, there is always the danger of coming to some grievous bodily harm or worse. And, when disaster strikes, as it did our colleague Sent Timbi last Saturday in Mt Hagen, it leaves those living – friends, colleagues and especially relatives – feeling drained, empty inside and shattered. We knew Timbi well as a forever smiling, respectful and even a little shy big fellow who did his work quietly. He basically thought himself journalism by working tirelessly as a stringer for The National (before he joined the Post-Courier), rarely bitter if his material was not run.
He will sorely be missed by all who knew him. For reasons we are yet to ascertain, Timbi was shot dead in cold blood as he stood waiting unsuspectingly to meet a relative who had told him earlier by phone that he had a problem he needed sorting out. Timbi met, instead, with a speeding bullet fired from a high-powered gun from just 10m away. Such was the velocity of the bullet that it entered his chest, exited the back and wounded another person some metres behind him. What Timbi had regularly reported on, and what we featured so often in our pages – the prevalence of high-powered weapons in this country – ironically turned around to take his life. While we await police investigations and further information on what so motivated a person – apparently well known to Timbi – to turn around and murder another in cold blood, we realise at the same time just how fickle and fragile our lives are in a country where violence is never far away. We realise too how dangerous all our work can be – as journalists or lawyers or just about any other professional – violence, perpetrated by evil people who would not like decency and the law to stand in their way, is increasingly becoming a bother.

Not too long ago, gunmen set upon and wounded Chief Ombudsmen Chronox Manek.
Perhaps, it was a crime of opportunity and, perhaps, it was not. Perhaps, it was a crime that was premeditated and carried out to frighten or to stop him carrying out his lawful duties. That is truly frightening.
When fear causes a society to cower, when it frightens law-abiding citizens to employ self-censorship of a sort and to be less vigorous in their fight to stand a decent society, then that society can implode. That is our worst fear. Timbi’s murder appears a little like it was premeditated. He got a call, apparently from a person known to him – some say a relative. He was asked to meet up with the person at a specified meeting place. He got to the appointed place, waited and met his death. So, was it personal or was it professional? Whatever the fact, did it warrant his death – a young person in the prime of his life with a young wife and child? And, more especially, would he have been murdered in so senseless a fashion it resembles some gangster movie plot if high-powered guns were not so prevalent and in the hands of trigger-happy individuals who do not value human lives?
We, yesterday, in this space wrote about the shooting of a pastor and his 20-year-old son. They, too, were gunned down senselessly. How many more people must be killed, how many more women must be raped at gunpoint before the state takes drastic action? The course of action available to the government is clear – a crackdown so severe in all areas where high-powered guns are thought to be held.  The entire highlands region is one such area. Emergency laws should be brought in to make possession of a firearm punishable by life imprisonment or some such serious penalty and the discharge of any firearm with intent to harm should carry the death penalty. Such laws operate well in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia.
Pour in millions of kina into the operation if that is what it takes. If outside force must be invited in, so be it. Money can be replaced – human lives cannot. In any case, billions are coming in from the LNG project and other big mining projects that are in the offing and which are in grave danger of being seriously compromised or put off by our gun-totting hoodlums.

Wealth Creation Losing Shine Whilst Still Inside the Shell

Patriotic Nationalist

The Sale of the 5% shares of BSP to the World Bank owned Investment company - IFC by IPBC smells fishy. The absurdity has also been helped by BSPs sale of another 5% to this international financial institution to make its ownership swell to 10%.

NASFUND has been quite disappointed lately on a number of BSP decisions. One of these comments is quoted below.

Jury out on excessive capital raising

Where NASFUND remains skeptical is the current large capital adequacy of the Bank (approximately 24%) and whether it is required. The Bank has been collecting capital far in excess of current needs. This is also well above the regulatory minimum and currently represents in our view lazy capital. The Banks argument that they need additional capital because they want to participate in increased loan activity surrounding the LNG project cannot be faulted however BSP has probably over estimated the amount of capital required, considering that the evidence to date is that the majority of the financing for the project is happening outside the country. Similarly the hardened attitude to lending by all the Banks since the Global Financial Crisis suggests that many local, participants will find loan financing from the banks an arduous exercise unless current lending policies are relaxed. The task of the Bank over the next year is to deploy the capital, not collect any more.

What the heck has prompted the BSP Board to sell another 5% sales to IFC when it already has huge lazy capital to lend? I dont buy the technical expertise bollocks as there are many other reputable banking and financial institutions out there that can easily help.
Please dont make bed with a known international criminal like IFC.

That deal appears to have been cooked behind closed doors. The Prime Minister's public announcement confirms the fears of the Opposition Leader. Did the World Bank entity - International Finance Corporation (IFC) get the deal after a publicly run and competitively run share purchase arrangement?

Don't Papua New Guinea Financial Institutions like the NASFUND, Nambawan Super and others not have the money to buy these 5% shares on behalf of ordinary Papua New Guineans?

What kind of special investment and technical expertise does the IFC has that the other businesses don't?

The World Bank - IFC has too many questionable loans and investment decisions that it had entered with countries like Ghana, India, Chad, Cameroon and many developing countries - the results that are not so impressive.  Some of these countries have been reduced to loan depended, fragile and hostile countries with the poverty reduction gospel turning completely opposite.

Somare and NA Government, the citizens of this country are not impressed with your secret sweet- heart deals with such organisations.

Why are you selling everything too fast to foreigners?
Certainly this doesn't agree with your 2050 Vision one of its supposed pillars is local wealth creation. This move is not wealth creation. It is a redicilous act of wrath creation . And it is completely unacceptable.

Your engagement of an intimidating and manipulating foreign financial body into the national iconic bank is raising more questions than answers.

What has happened to all the surpluses and countless trust accounts that are supposed to be channeled into vital infrastructure developmental projects and subsidized lending to Papua New Guinean owned businesses for wealth creation for Papua New Guineans?

Certainly Papua New Guineans don't need the Word Bank's IFC meddling with our nationally owned bank. There are countless other reputable investment bankers out there that our bank can source technical expertise and additional investments from - but certainly not with IFC.

Government arrogance knows no limits

ACT-NOW


Papua New Guinea's democracy has been further stained with the news the government has refused to accept the community petition against the 'Maladina' amendments which make changes to the Organic Law on the Duties and Responsibilities of Leadership .
The petition, which contains over 20,000 signitures, was presented to five opposition MPs at Parliament House on May 4th when no government representatives were prepared to male themselves available.
But since then the petition has languished in the office of the Leader of the Opposition as the the government has refused to accept the petition and the Clerk of Parliament was ordered not to take it.
The government seems to have lost all sense of its role as the representatives of the people and to refuse to accept a petition with 20,000 signatures is unbelievably arrogant.
The petition is now back in the hands of the Community Coalition Against Corruption (CCAC) and its partners, including Transparency International.
PNG Media Council president Joe Kanekane said CCAC saw fit to retrieve the petition after the government decided against accepting or discussing it in Parliament.
“CCAC is dismayed but not surprised that the clerk had refused to accept the people’s petition against the Maladina amendments. The petition had sat in Parliament with no avenues for it to be presented on the floor of Parliament. That is why we have taken back the public petition to say loudly that we will not go quietly,” he said.
Kanekane said the voice of the people could not be and must not be silenced.

Monday, June 28, 2010

PM APPOINTS SON AS FINANCE MINISTER

NATIONAL REPORTS


PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare has appointed his son Angoram MP Arthur Somare the acting Finance and Treasury Minister.
Government insiders told The National the prime minister signed the instrument for the appointment of Somare last Friday, and a public announcement on this change is expected this week.
This portfolio became vacant after incumbent Patrick Pruaitch was suspended from office because of his referral to a leadership tribunal over allegations of misconduct in office.
Pruatich is challenging his referral in court, and the case is pending.
There has been a lot of jostling and lobbying for this job since Pruaitch vacated it, and a number of ministers and backbenchers were hoping the job would go to them. But, insiders said, the job had to remain in the Momase region under the Kokopo Agreement that the National Alliance and its coalition partners agreed to after the general elections.  “A number of eligible and qualified candidates have missed out, but that is the nature of these political agreements,” an insider said when confirming the appointment of Somare. Somare will double up as Public Enterprises Minister as well. But the appointment raised eyebrows in some circles, with Somare also confronting misconduct allegations of his own. The public prosecutor last week asked the chief justice to appoint a judge to head a leadership tribunal to inquire into allegations of misconduct in office which were referred in 2006.
Somare continues to hold office because he had taken out an injunction against his suspension, and is challenging his referral in court.

OPPOSITION leader Sir Mekere Morauta has called on Public Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare to step aside to answer the alleged leadership charges laid against him by the Ombudsman Commission.
Sir Mekere told a press conference yesterday Somare must step down in the interest of good governance and law. He said Somare could not be allowed to remain a state minister making very important decisions that were affecting the lives of people. “As a senior minister and an important member of the ‘kitchen cabinet’, the minister is duty-bound to respect and uphold the Constitution and principles of law by stepping aside to answer leadership charges against him,” Sir Mekere said.
He said he was making the call in light of the decision of the acting public prosecutor, Jim Wala Tamate, to request Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia to appoint a new chairman for the leadership tribunal to investigate allegations of misconduct against Somare. The public prosecutor sent the letter to the chief justice on June 21. Somare was referred by the Ombudsman Commission in 2006, and a tribunal was appointed headed by Justice Sir Kubulan Los. But Somare took an injunction against the referral. Since then, Sir Kubulan has retired, and Somare’s judicial review is before the National Court registry for listing.
Applying the law as set out by the Supreme Court in its ruling against suspended Treasurer Patrick Pruaitch, legal sources say they expect Somare to be suspended automatically when the chief justice appoints the tribunal head. “The Supreme Court ruling is binding and, if you apply that consistently, that should be the outcome,” the legal source said. In his press conference, Sir Mekere also made reference to the Pruaitch Supreme Court ruling on sections 27, 28 and 29 of the Organic Law on the duties and responsibilities of leadership. The ruling, he said, stipulated that suspension was obligatory once a leader was referred for misconduct or breach of the leadership code.

Chinese embassy car plates used in Tan murder

Post Courier

POLICE have uncovered a scandal involving a senior diplomatic staff member at the Chinese embassy in Port Moresby.
It involves the issue of diplomatic corps number plates allegedly provided by the embassy staff to its citizens who are not staff members of the Chinese embassy. The police have asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to investigate the staff member from the Chinese Embassy who was alleged to have allowed one of its citizens to drive a vehicle with a DC number plate belonging to the embassy and another one found in a vehicle allegedly used in the attempted assassination of Chinese businessman Jason Tan.
Assistant Commissioner of Police, Crimes Division, Raphael Huafolo raised this concern in a letter to the Deputy Secretary for Foreign Affairs operations in January this year. In his letter, ACP Huafolo expressed dissatisfaction on the conduct of the diplomatic staff for allegedly allowing a Chinese national who was not a diplomatic staff member to drive a vehicle bearing the DC plate (DC 868) that belongs to the Chinese Embassy.
He stated that police on a verbal request by Foreign Affairs, did stop that vehicle and confirmed that a Chinese national, who is not a diplomatic staff officer at the Chinese Embassy was driving the vehicle.
The police confiscated the DC plate of the vehicle as well as the Chinese nationals passport. In the process of conducting further investigations, the staff from the Chinese Embassy approached director crimes, Chief Inspector Yamasombi and requested the release of the passport to him.
The passport was released based on the officers undertaking that he will keep the passport and will ensure that the Chinese man reports to police whenever required.
Mr Huafolo said; In the process of further inquiries and to our dismay, we learnt that the Chinese national had left the country for China.
This has hindered the police from conducting further inquiries. We are of the view that the staff may have conspired with the person concerned and facilitated his departure to China to avoid being dealt with in accordance with the law.
On the same token, we are very concerned about another recent incident concerning a DC plate for the Chinese Embassy. Recently a DC plate, DC 885 was found in a private vehicle driven by two Chinese nationals who were allegedly involved in the attempted murder of Mr Jason Tan.
Due to this incident, we are concerned that the diplomatic immunities and privileges may be abused if this matter is not raised and adequately addressed.
We feel that we are legally obliged to inform your office in this matter so that we protect the reciprocal diplomatic relations that we enjoy with the Government of China, the letter stated.
The embassy staff member concerned was contacted but he declined to comment further on the allegations.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A HIGHER CALLING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

SIR JULIUS CHAN


I rise today for a simple purpose. I want to bring a cautionary tale to this debate on environment. I want to bring a cautionary tale to the Parliament, the country of Papua New Guinea and our people on rights to live in clean natural environment and in peace. We often seek to model ourselves after the West. We often seek to model ourselves after countries such as England or America or Australia that we think have become “modern” – that we think have become “developed”. Alright. That is not a bad goal. But sometimes the so-called “advanced” countries can provide us not only with lessons about how we should develop – sometimes they can provide us with lessons about how we should not develop. I have visited America more than most politicians in Papua New Guinea. I have come to know America over the years. And I have come to respect America. This is the country that has been in the forefront of promoting democracy around the world. This is the country that has elected a black man as President of the country – the first country in the West to do so. Germany has never had a black president. England has never had a black president. Australia has never had a black president. America has one. Now.
I respect America. But sometimes even those you respect the most make mistakes. Or maybe not mistakes. Maybe they just provide us with lessons. And that is what America is doing today. America is providing us with a lesson and we are foolish if we do not heed it. You might have heard that British Petroleum has had a bit of a problem in America recently. Specifically, BP has a deep-sea oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, just to the south of Texas in America that had what they call a “blowout”. The well was over two miles under the sea. They had a drilling platform floating in the Gulf of Mexico, and they had a pipe going two miles down to the floor of the sea, and going another two miles underneath the floor of the sea. But the connection at the link between the floor of the sea and the levels underneath the floor of the sea – well, it broke. And it broke big time. They now estimate that somewhere between five and fifty thousand barrels of oil are spewing out of the broken link every day. Fifty thousand barrels! That is enough oil to cover downtown Port Moresby from the Yacht Club to Deloitte Tower by a foot of oil. Every day! And this is in the most technologically advanced country in the world.
And it is not the first time. This event is being compared to the 1989 spill in the Prince William Sound in Alaska. That was a huge environmental disaster in which a ship broke up and spilled over ten million US gallons of oil into the sea, and that oil coated hundreds of miles of shoreline. So what do we learn from these disasters? I will give you a hint. In America, the most technologically advanced country in the world and the most democratic country in the world the Congress – the Parliament – has begun investigations into the BP disaster. And that is what it is. The BP disaster! Of course, BP says it is not their fault. It is not their fault because they only ran the oil well. But they had another company responsible for the systems that were supposed to prevent leaks. And they say that company failed. And what does that company say? Well, they say that the company that did the construction of the pad at the bottom of the sea is to blame. So when things go badly wrong it appears no one is to blame. This should make us very cautious in Papua New Guinea. If no one is to blame when things go wrong in the most powerful country in the world, then what will happen when things go wrong here? Do you think ExxonMobil will think that a demand from the Parliament of PNG is as important as a demand from the Congress of the United States of America?
One thing is clear – we need to be very certain that the companies that are coming into Papua New Guinea are going to be good partners. We need companies that are not only going to be our friends when the times are good, when they are making billions of dollars from LNG that is being exported to Australia and China, but who will be dependable partners when things go wrong? Given what is happening in America today, I am not so certain. I think our government needs to be very careful we have a fail safe system in place to ensure that ExxonMobil will take care of problems when they arise. I am afraid that sweetheart deals might have been made that mean that the politicians in control right now benefit, but in the long run if things go wrong we will have no way of making certain that the company takes responsibility for its errors. There is another aspect in which the American experience has lessons for us. In America, the granting of licences for offshore drilling, for mineral licences in general, is the responsibility of the Minerals Management Service. This is a government agency that grants licences for mineral exploration, and it also monitors the operation of mining activities. But the US Congress has been looking into the MMS in the past month, after the Gulf Oil Spill and they have found that the same division that is responsible for granting licenses to oil companies is also responsible for monitoring their activities.
And guess what. They found that the Minerals Management Service was too close to the oil companies. They found that MMS did not require that the oil companies do all the work they should have done for environmental studies and impacts. They found that the MMS even allowed the oil companies to leapfrog the regulations – they let the oil companies start drilling years before they should have without proper environmental reports being internationally tested by independent group of scientists. My friends, this is America. It is supposed to operate fairly. It is supposed to operate transparently. This reminds me of Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) here. Have you Minister filtered the Environmental Studies through competent, independent environmentalists? Can you give unequivocal guarantee on damages to my people on Simberi and whole of West Coast in which two thirds of the water is being dug miles underwater? If this is the kind of damages happening in America, then can you imagine what is happening here? Do you have any idea how big and influential the LNG project has become?
And we cannot get information. We do not even have the power to ask questions about the LNG Project. Parliament is really helpless because it is so controlled by the sitting government. Never in the history of Papua New Guinea has a government controlled and gagged so many members of Parliament.
Think about it. The Prime Minister has managed to collect 89 of 109 members of Parliament into its coalition. This means that he is unassailable. He cannot be challenged. But how was he able to do this? Only by promising the leaders of 10 or 15 party’s big ministries. Ministries where those big men stand to make big money. Let us be honest. The many members of Parliament who are in government have been promised goodies – and they have been bought with the promise of having ministries, five more are now available to dish out that they can run as they like, so long as they support the Prime Minister and refrain from a no confidence vote. So the Prime Minister has put people in charge of mining, of forestry, labor, foreign affairs, over whom he has no control. All he wants is to be immune from a vote of no confidence. Maybe he thinks he is immune. But the country is not. Papua New Guinea is being used. The LNG project is worth billions and billions and billions of dollars. Already much of that money has gone into the pockets of people who have no right to it …The LNG project threatens to be the worst example open to abuse and malfeasance in the history of our country.
We need to take a step back. We need to be certain that ExxonMobil understands that the reason for the LNG project is to improve the lives of the people of PNG. I am not certain that they do understand this. I fear that they have engaged in sweetheart deals with various agencies and influential people of the country in order to smooth the way for the implementation of the project. I can only ask that they consider carefully how their actions will affect the people of the country. But ultimately it is not the responsibility of BP or of ExxonMobil or of any other multinational corporation to ensure that exploration and production are done in a responsible and efficient manner. America has shown that when the political and bureaucratic structures do not demand compliance, then compliance will not occur. We need to demand compliance. We need to demand transparency. We need to demand accountability. And to achieve this we need open and honest discussion. There is no discussion now because the Leader of Government simply closes the Parliament at his discretion. There is no discussion because the responsible ministries simply do not provide us with information. They are insulted that we even want to know where the money has gone and who has benefitted.

I rose today to provide you with some information about what is happening in the most powerful country in the world. It is important that we know this as we are in the process of making some of the same mistakes America made with respect to the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska and the BP spill last month, which continues as I speak. The LNG project must be closely examined. Nautilus must not be allowed to drill, destroy and disappear. Allied Gold has not compensated Simberi landowners for the ongoing environmental damages to water and the reefs. Government must provide us with full disclosure concerning investment and expenditure and environmental studies and ultimate responsibility for potential environmental disasters. For example, does operating companies hold assets enough to compensate these damages. Through smart and legal savvy most of these giant companies split incorporation to escape liabilities. Can the government guarantee a security fund for such contingency? But I suspect Government will not provide us with that information. Because I suspect the LNG project has already been the source of great influence than any other project in the history of Papua New Guinea. But can we talk about this honestly and openly? ExxonMobil, Nautilus, Lihir Gold, all Forests and Fishing investors, you are working in Papua New Guinea. You are exploiting the resources we have here and you expect to make a major profit by working here. But we ask that you take the idea of corporate responsibility seriously.
We ask that you refuse to pay those who ask to be paid. We ask that you refuse to enter into an agreement that will benefit the government, and the politicians who constitute government, at the expense of the people of this country.

Somare's attempts at dictatorship gather pace

ACTNOW


Prime Minister Michael Somare's attempts to rule Papua New Guinea like an African dictator have taken another step forward with an Edict from the Minister for Justice (see attached pdf below) that bans public debate on the Environment Act amendment and orders the police to stop any public gatherings or protests.
Over recent months we have seem Somare treat Parliament with contempt. He has bulldozed legislation through the House without any prior consultation, Parliamentary scrutiny or debate. He has ordered the Clerk of Parliament not to accept a public petition with over 20,000 signatures. He has refused to step aside to face the serious criminal charges that should flow from his illegal and criminal conduct in the Moti Affair.
Now he has topped all of that with an audacious move to silence any debate about the controversial amendments to the Environment Act.
Justice Minister and Attorney General, Ano Pala, has circulated to the media an astonishing edict (see below) in which he informs the public there will be:
  • no more discussion, comment or reference in the media to the Environment Act amendments
  • no talk back radio programs or interviews
  • no more advertisements
  • no more letters to the editor
  • no more protest meetings
  • no public demonstrations, and
  • no public marches.
His notice also directs the police to cancel and not authorize any further public meetings, protest demonstrations or marches against the Environment Act amendments.
This is an utterly outrageous attempt by a draconian government to stifle public debate and deny citizens their constitutional rights.
The government has NO right to tell the people what they can and cannot do in this fashion
They have no rights to try and control the media
They have no rights to tell the police what they can and cannot do.
The government’s claimed justification that as the laws are being challenged in the Supreme Court the whole matter is sub judice is complete and utter nonsense. There is nothing before the Supreme Court in the Reference that prevents the MEDIA or ANYONE else from discussing whether or not it is a good piece of legislation.
The government also seems to have forgotten that  it is itself organizing conferences and debates on another piece of legislations that is before the Supreme Court – the law on the Integrity of Political Parties. So why the double standard?
It also appears that the Minister, in attempting to usurp the powers of the police and stop people from expressing themselves – which is guaranteed by the Constitution, is himself engaging in unlawful conduct!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Human Rights Breaches now common in Papua New Guinea


SERIOUS breaches of human rights by police in Popondetta have prompted the senior provincial magistrate there, William Noki, to suspend all court cases before him. Noki, Northern’s only magistrate, refused on Monday to hear any more court cases prosecuted by the Popondetta police in protest of what he termed “serious human rights abuse and violation of the law by police”.

And he gave the police an ultimatum: “If your behaviour continues, I will have no choice but to dismiss cases against suspects who claim they had been tortured or brutalised by police”. Before a crowded Popondetta court room of prominent citizens, journalists, non-governmental organisation representatives and police personnel, Noki said: “This not a police state.” “We live in a democratic country and the rule of law must prevail. “It is the responsibility of police to make arrests, and not behave like mobsters.

“I am tired of cases of people being taken into custody and their rights abused. “Police have no right to use guns when arresting young people for petty offences on the streets.” Noki said it seemed that even the police superiors in Oro had little regard for the rule of law and had no control over how personnel in their command behaved and engaged in unlawful acts. He noted that police terrorised youths and use force that was quite unnecessary, resulting in a lot of people bearing scars of these assaults, including some with amputated limbs.
“It is unacceptable. I have witnessed policemen chasing and beating up youth on the streets and shooting at them. “It is our responsibility to make young people better citizens. The police and the justice systems are there to rehabilitate young wrong doers, not brutalise them.”

Noki said even prisoners and suspects held in custody had rights, including right to visitations by relatives and lawyers, but often when relatives go to visit them, police used force to deny them those visits. He was also very critical of the manner in which police in Popondetta executed arrests without the use of warrants, violating section 15 of the Police Act. “In Oro, it seems that the policemen are the law and this must stop,”  Noki said. He told police prosecutors he would not hear any cases because doing so would show support for their human rights abuses and unlawful acts. He warned police that their actions exposed the state to lawsuits potentially worth a lot of money.

Rape, incest laws weak, says judge

NATIONAL REPORTS

A SENIOR judge yesterday expressed disappointment over the inadequate penalty for those found guilty of committing rape and incest.
Waigani National Court’s Justice Panuel Mogish said such offences were serious and had carried a maximum penalty of life imprisonment but Parliament, in its own wisdom, cut it down to a maximum seven years.
“For Parliament to reduce the maximum penalty from life to seven years is a huge reduction. Incest is a very serious offence and I don’t know who advised Parliament at that time to adjust the level of penalty,” Mogish said.
He said numerous calls were made over the years for Parliament to review the penalty but to no avail.
Mogish said the calls for review “fell on deaf hears.”

“Parliament should read some court judgments on incest cases and make some changes on the level of penalty as the matter is serious,” the judge said.
He told state lawyers to ask the public solicitor to write to the justice minister and attorney-general on the matter.
Mogish raised the concern when lawyers made submissions on sentences on the matter of the state versus Chris Paru Bei.
Bei, 46, of Central’s Nabuapaka village in Kairuku, was found guilty of sexually assaulting his two biological daughters.
Bei was charged with two counts of rape and incest under section 223(1) and 229A(1) of the Criminal Code.
Bei assaulted one daughter on Sept 21 last year and the other on April 9, 2007.
Both girls were teenagers when they were abused.

Defence lawyers submitted that although Bei was found guilty, the matter was not serious because there was no evidence of pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.
They submitted that Bei was also a first-time offender and the court should impose a lesser penalty.
But state lawyers argued that there was a total breach of trust because the victims trusted the assailant who was their father.
They submitted that the matter was serious and Bei should be given the maximum sentence.
Mogish adjourned the matter to today for a ruling.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Landowners slam Papua New Guinea for amending environment law

FINANCIAL TIMES

Papua New Guinea’s government has upset conservationists, landowners and parliamentarians after amending environmental laws last Friday that will make it harder to prosecute mining projects that damage the environment.
Tiffany Nonggorr, a lawyer representing close to 1,000 landowners, including those opposed to China Metallurgical Group’s US$1.4bn Ramu nickel mine, said the changes meant landowners had lost the right to sue for negligence.
“If they [the miners] did in PNG what BP has done in the Gulf of Mexico, they could escape liability for damaging the environment,” she said. Coastal landowners are particularly worried about the impact on marine life from waste that the Ramu mine will be allowed to dump into the ocean.
Powes Parkop, a PNG parliamentarian, lawyer and conservation advocate said the government had granted itself “almost absolute power” to grant environment permits and assess the standards required of those permit holders.
He said at the same time it had removed the rights of landowners to challenge decisions under civil and statutory law.
Parkop said that once the permit was granted, miners could carry out their work with impunity. “How can we pass a law that takes away our rights and powers while at the same time vest powers on developers?” he asked in a letter to Benny Allan, PNG’s environment and conservation minister.
PNG is one of few countries in the Pacific with substantial natural resources, including gold, copper, nickel, oil and gas. Those reserves have attracted interest from China, the US, UK and Australia but the mining sector’s development has been hampered by rugged terrain, lack of infrastructure, corruption and disputes with landowners.
Nonggorr says China Metallurgical lobbied hard for the government to amend the environmental laws, which could now be applied to every other resources project in the country. But she says the battle between China Metallurgical and the landowners is not over because the matter is already before the courts.
Bertha Somare, a government media advisor and daughter of Sir Michael Somare, the PNG prime minister, says landowners’ rights have not been removed because they can still raise their objections with the authorities.
She said the Ramu nickel mine had met the country’s statutory requirements and there was “no known” environmental impact from mine waste.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Times up PM.

ABC RADIO

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Covering politics can be a tough gig for journalists; there's always lots of speculation and big egos. Reporters are often critical of politicians, but it's relatively rare for the criticism to flow the other way, publicly at least.
Not so in Papua New Guinea, where journalists recently received a tongue-lashing, courtesy of the prime minister Sir Michael Somare.
And as our PNG correspondent Liam Fox reports, it's not the first time it's happened.
LIAM FOX: Press conferences with the 74-year-old prime minister of Papua New Guinea are pretty rare these days; they only happen once every few months or so.
Recently Sir Michael Somare returned from an overseas trip and wanted to set the record straight on several matters he felt the media had covered poorly. He shuffled into the conference room with the help of a walking stick, sat down and unloaded onto the waiting press pack.
MICHAEL SOMARE: I go out as a prime minister, everywhere promoting this country. I go and put Papua New Guinea on the map. But when I come home I get the reporting from people like yourselves - it's pathetic.
One feels that, what's the point in wasting time trying to promote a country of people who don't know what they're talking about.
LIAM FOX: The Grand Chief, as he's known, was particularly unhappy with the criticism of recent amendments to the Environment Act. They effectively prevent legal challenges to environmental permits granted for resource projects like mining and logging.
Several prominent people have spoken out against them saying they rob people of their land rights, but Sir Michael said the concerns are rubbish and attacked the media for reporting them.
MICHAEL SOMARE: Most of you, and I can say this, you've taken out of context a lot of issues, particularly laws and construing the information; not getting the right information out to people, and I'm not very happy.
LIAM FOX: Then it got personal.

MICHAEL SOMARE: Most of you are young people. You want to make a career out of journalism, you're lucky you've got two newspapers to work for. You apply for jobs internationally, think they'll give you a job with this type of reporting that you've got?
No. You have to be accurate; you have to be factual; you have to know your subject matter before you raise those questions.
LIAM FOX: After a 25-minute long, rambling and at times incoherent speech it was time for questions.
MICHAEL SOMARE: After ear-bashing, you can ask me questions, but remember, give you a question that you'll know you'll get a good answer. If you ask silly questions, you'll get a silly answer.
LIAM FOX: Veteran journalist and consulting editor of the National newspaper Frank Kolma says the prime minister's performance is nothing new.
FRANK KOLMA: It does show you an example of the kind of lives we journalists have led with the founding father of our nation. He does have a tendency to be very abusive of journalists.
LIAM FOX: Mr Kolma experienced that abuse first hand in 1987, and it wasn't just the verbal kind.
FRANK KOLMA: I saw a newspaper report, actually a Taiwanese newspaper, with his photograph shaking hands with a businessman from Taiwan and I got a translation. The translation was that Sir Michael had a 15 million kina deal with this Taiwanese businessman to build a building in Port Moresby to be called the Somare Foundation House.
We published this in the Times of Papua New Guinea. He came back and called a press conference and he just ran off, calling me small boy and small man, and that I had never been around when he started this country and eventually got up and walked up to me and bang, bang - he slapped me in the face. That was a shocker.
LIAM FOX: And what do you think are the reasons that he gets abusive towards journalists.
FRANK KOLMA: I tend to think that he does not like to be questioned; that he thinks that what he has done is, should not be questioned by the people of Papua New Guinea, and that is arrogance. I've said it a number of times in editorials - in my commentaries. And you know, he can't be a power unto himself; he's been in it perhaps too long.
LIAM FOX: It's not hard to see how power could go to Sir Michael's head. He was PNG's first prime minister after independence in 1975; he's known as the father of the nation and his portrait appears on the 50 kina note.
He's lead the country on three separate occasions; his latest stint as prime minister began in 2002. But Frank Kolma says Sir Michael isn't the only politician who tries to bully and manipulate the media.
FRANK KOLMA: There is a dangerous trend growing amongst politicians and even journalists, I might add, that politicians understand the role of the media very, very well to the extent that they will wine and dine and give cash to journalists so that their side of the story gets in.
Now is the time when you really should have senior journalists who get in, you know, gutsy reports, but you are not getting it in Papua New Guinea, and I think it is because of this kind of chequebook journalism.
LIAM FOX: The need for gutsy and independent journalism in PNG has never been greater. It's biggest ever resource project, a $16 billion dollar liquefied natural gas venture, is about to get underway and the country will be flush with cash. Some are worried about the impact that will have on a country already struggling with corruption.
This is Liam Fox in Port Moresby for Correspondents Report. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

SELECT GROUP OF STAKEHOLDERS

SYLVESTER YAKAI

Friends, people of PNG, some or a smart SELFISH mogul is well behind all these events that have been unfolding over the last couple of months. It is no coincidence. The way they are happening demonstrates existence of a drawn up strategy that guides the execution of all these activities to reach a certain goal/objective. Let me give you this, it is my personal perspective to qualify my claim above

1. The Maladina Bill
Initially we had the Maladina bill, seeking to not only amend the OC act but also to do some repealing and additions. These came about after many parliamentarians were investigated or summoned over the last two years, almost at every turn to declare their business involvements, assets or other business activities as required by the leadership code. Most are government boys. To top it off, the OC grabbed the Chiefs collar for non-submission of acquittals.

2. The Environmental Act.
This came about when the PM and NEC was trying to bulldoze operations at the Ramu Nickel through, even when the obvious was very visible. There were issues with the environment that needed to be resolved. These issues were obvious to the semi-literate of the area, but seemed to be very obscured or PLAIN ignorance from the house tambaran.

3. The Mining papers.
Now they are saying it is K100.00 a copy and there are almost five sets of papers. K500.00 to have them all,
and consultation with a select group of Stakeholders after 10th July.
What this is in effect is doing is putting those documents out of the reach of even a literate genuine citizen, who has the brain that operates more rationally and logically than that of that so called CHIEF and his boys to give his/her bit before the policy goes through.
In short,

OC Bill - Don' touch me. Eyes on hands off.

Environment Act - Landowners you are not

Environmentalists. As long as DEC Issues Certificates. You shut up.

Mining Papers: Select stakeholders. Ensure I have all the good comments and evidence to support
adherence to proper transparent process to bail from future litigation issues if there have to be any. Now go ahead with all these

Policies: I have the OC under control, they won't touch me now: The DEC with amendments done. No more Environmental court issues. Chinese go ahead make money. I want to be rich, retain power in the next election.

Is that not a well thought out plan?
On another note, can this be called a DISGUISED DICTATORSHIP? A well masked up form of it?

Somare commits to climate change policies

National Reports

THE national government will ensure all development taking place in the country will take into account mitigation opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, at the same time, ensure adaptation issues are addressed.
Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare said climate change was cross-sectoral and would require and “attract significant budgetary and planning implications” that would involve central agencies like Treasury and National Planning”.
Sir Michael was addressing chief secretary Manasupe Zurenuoc and members of the national climate change committee at their first meeting last week.
“In our effort to institutionalise climate change in PNG, there are varying views and understanding of this issue; which can and is causing significant negative impacts in our provinces and across the world.
“It is also an issue that holds great potential and opportunity for a country like PNG to diversify its development options, particularly in the renewable energy sector and the lands use and forestry sector,” he said.
“Until recently, we have had little progress in terms of policy and strategy on climate change.
“I am optimistic now that we are finally on track to effectively address climate change in-country to support my on-going international efforts to attract financial support by protecting our forests.”
The prime minister said the draft climate compatible development plan would ensure mitigation opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation issues are addressed.
“Climate change requires political support at the highest level, and I am making it my business to oversee the ministry.”
Stressing on the important role committee members would play, Sir Michael added: “You will be my key advisers on policy options best suitable for PNG now and in the future.
“You will ensure there are processes in place to develop and implement suitable policies on both mitigation and adaptation to climate change.”
He reminded the committee members: “More work remains, and your role is to guide the new office on the technical programmes and to advice myself and cabinet on policy options to take.”

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Why The Environment Act Changes Are Wrong

By: SAM BASIL MP

The government of the day representing the people of Papua New Guinea has gone on the defense against increasing concerns from the public regarding the infamous Environment Act amendment, and sadly has not come out clearly to explain some of its actions. It seems this National Alliance-led coalition government has not learnt its lesson from the unpopular rushed decision making, which saw the nation stood up in peaceful democratic fashion to denounce the Maladina bill amendment a couple of months ago.
There is increasing public pressure, especially from different groups of resource owners around the nation, through the media regarding the recent amendment to the Environment Act which was voted for by 73 MPs and against 10 MPs on May 28th in the last parliament sitting. According to the initial explanation by Environment and Conservation Minister Benny Allan, these changes to the nation’s laws regarding its vast natural environment outlaws third party lawsuits against resource developers. Third party groups in the government’s view are special interest groups who are not direct stakeholders in developments on resources around the nation.
It is true that third party groups are involved; however it is interesting to note that the minister forgot that apart from NGOs and special interest groups campaigning against the amendment, the genuine resources owners and landowners have from day one made their stance known that they will suffer from environmental damages.

Nine days after the passage of this act, Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare reportedly expressed that the public, especially the resource owners, were confused and have misinterpreted the changes in this law, which he claimed have not lowered the standards of environment protection.
The public’s opinion that the government is protecting the interest of the foreign investors was confirmed by the PM where he was quoted in The National(June 8 2010) that ‘it would be irresponsible for the government not to protect the interest of the developers that have complied with our environment regulations and have been issued permits.’ The following day Sir Michael met with the media in Port Moresby and blasted them, NGOs and the judiciary, for misinforming the public, being an illegal representative body representing no one and the latter for prolonged court decisions. This time he admitted that the rushed amendment was executed on the floor of parliament because of the delay in the courts regarding Ramu Nickel, and that time was running out as the stakeholders (government and developer) have their targets to meet. He feared that the nation would lose a lot if the investors were not happy, especially the Chinese developer who were convinced by him four years ago to engage in PNG under a massive US$800m investment.

When time is mentioned, it is fair that changes to national laws on the floor of parliament should be given enough time to be studied, enough time to consult the people, and enough time to be debated before any amendment. According to Sir Michael, deep sea tailing is the best option available according to advice from the ‘three best brains’ who are the two secretaries and the Scottish Association of Marine Science. However apart from the latter, how genuine and respectable are the two senior government bureaucrats when it comes to scientific research matters? Genuine resource owners from the concerned areas have made known in the three forms of media that not all options of waste disposal methods have been exhausted, however it is sad to note that Rai Coast MP James Gau, the newly-elected leader of the very people who are calling out for help against damages to their land and sea, has called on his people to focus on the ‘development aspect of the project’.

It is very dangerous to imply that we should continue ahead and see developments, and then deal with damages to the people and the natural environment later. It is also frightening to know that the department concern does not have the capacity to assess environmental plans by companies but can still give out permits, according to Tiffany Nongorr, the environment lawyer representing the Basamuk landowners in the current court battle. The politicians who voted for and supported the amendment including Sir Michael Somare, Benny Allen and James Gau have forgotten that the local communities are the rightful landowners and have the right to decide on their land, without being influenced, controlled or bullied politically. This string of events on the floor of parliament is not a good precedence, and will increasingly pave way for foreign giant corporate investors to side with this government to exploit and profit in corrupt manner while the already suppressed people suffer at their expense. I stood to debate this bill but the speaker was very selective to only allow Luther Wenge and John Luke, with both governors speaking in support of the bill.

If I would have been given the chance to speak representing my affected communities, then I was ready to remind MPs who represents resource-rich electorates that we all have a duty as representatives of those land owners and affected communities to protect their rights from such an unpopular bill. If I would have supported the bill then I would have done injustice to my people who are currently being affected in the Watut river communities. On behalf of my people in Bulolo, I now call on the MPs representing resource project areas from both the government and the opposition to come together and to support a private members bill to repeal this law for the good of our resource owners.

PNG visitors 'bring problems' to Torres Strait

SIMON CULLEN


Community leaders in far north Queensland say the Australian Government should be prepared to risk a diplomatic standoff with Papua New Guinea (PNG) to fix problems with a regional treaty.
A Senate inquiry is examining the Torres Strait treaty which gives PNG residents from the Western Province traditional visiting rights to Australia.
But the hearing has been told large groups of PNG residents are bringing with them drugs and alcohol as well as knives and machetes.
The Mayor of the Torres Strait Island council, Frank Gela, says the large number of Papua New Guinean visitors is also putting pressure on local health services.
"We get the feeling that PNG does not care about the people of the Western Province because Australia is taking care of them via the treaty," he said.
"The Australian Government needs to be tougher on the PNG Government dictating where the foreign aid goes so it can be directed to the Western Province as this area is completely neglected."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Coalition removes Maladina petition

NATIONAL REPORTS

THE petition against the Maladina amendments, presented to five opposition MPs on May 4, is now back in the hands of the Community Coalition Against Corruption (CCAC) and its partners, including Transparency International-PNG (TI-PNG) and civil societies.
Copies of the petition, carrying more than 20,000 signatures opposing the changes to the Organic Law on the duties and responsibilities of leadership and the Constitution, was handed back to CCAC yesterday by Bulolo MP Sam Basil at the request of the coalition.
Coalition members and concerned individuals met yesterday and agreed to withdraw the petition from the opposition leader’s office, where it has been kept, and taken back to the provinces for further action.
PNG Media Council president Joe Kanekane said CCAC saw fit to retrieve the petition after the government decided against accepting or discussing it in Parliament.
Kanekane, who spoke on behalf of TI-PNG chairman Peter Aitsi, who is overseas, said despite the public’s widespread support, the petition was refused by the clerk of Parliament who said it was against parliamentary standing orders.
“CCAC is dismayed but not surprised that the clerk had refused to accept the people’s petition against the Maladina amendments.
“The petition had sat in Parliament with no avenues for it to be presented on the floor of Parliament.
“That is why we have taken back the public petition to say loudly that we will not go quietly,” he said.
Kanekane said the voice of the people could not be and must not be silenced.
“CCAC wanted a complete withdrawal of the proposed amendments to the Organic Law and a repeal of the constitutional amendments and calls for public support to take strength in the withdrawal of petition and continue to fight at the community level.
“This must be the way forward if there is to be a meaningful public consultation on the issue.
“The threat of the amendments being passed in this sitting without the consultation is too great a chance to take,” Kanekane added.

Pod borer’s K1.5m goes into pockets

NATIONAL REPORTS

MORE than K1.5 million from the K7 million, allocated by the national government to combat the Asian cocoa pod borer outbreak in the country, was misappropriated between 2008 and last year.
An internal audit and investigations conducted by the Kokanas Indastri Koporesen and the cocoa board revealed massive institutionalised corruption and misappropriation of public funds allegedly by the directors and managers of the PNG Cocoa Coconut Industry Ltd.
A copy of the audit and investigation report obtained by The National showed that dubious payments were made from the CCI main account No.191061 while some of the payments were double-dipping.
According to the report, the acting executive manager corporate services was paid cash totalling more than K38,000 between March and December 2008, which were deemed “excessive”, especially for personal use.
Auditors also found that a deputy chairman was paid more than K13,000 but the monies were not used for the purposes intended for.
The report said another lot of payments, totalling K7,500 made to Department of National Planning workers, were found to be dubious in nature as they were undocumented.
A total of more than K200,000, made to a workshop in Palmalmal, was also found to be excessive and could not be justified.
“The payments were dubious in nature and they were made intentionally to defraud the institute,” auditors said in the report.

MARAT'S PRICE: K120,000?

From PNG Blogger-sphere

We can now say that we are coming to an era where greed and power has taken over the minds of our National leaders, we no longer have to say we are no way near any of those African failed state like that of Zimbabwe because we are already near the trenches, in the last 24 hours we have received information that surely there is a Zimbabwe styled conspiracy to silence the former Attorney General and MP for Rabaul Dr.Allan Marat.

Lagaip Pogera MP Mr. Phillip Kiakala was not wrong when he branded Somare as the Mugabe of the Pacific, he was right in saying that so because it is now showing in this man who we once referred to as the "father of a nation". He is way out of touch with the Country. He has always silenced his critics and made a mockery of our Constitution by bulldozing laws that will not work for the people but against the people.
We are now told by insiders that there is a plot by some people in Government in a stunning contract style move to hire assassins to silence Mr. Marat and the price is K120,000.00 This are rumors floating around PNG, but usually rumors come from people who are tied to lose ends.

It all began when concerns were raised by the former Attorney General that there were serious flaws in the LNG agreement. Government insiders have also said Marat wasn't given enough time to read through the thick document and was told to sign off on the agreement because the Prime minister said so.
But the rift became evident after the former AG told the truth about the massive LNG project in the Southern Highlands. He said Papua New Guineans would get "only crumbs" from the multi billion dollar project. Marat also raised concerns about the Ramu nickel project. Questions are now being asked about the relationship between Ramu Nickel and LNG. What kind of a guarantee did the Prime Minister give to the Chinese? What are the details? Are those issues related?

The other question remains, why is the Somare family so desperate to silence Allen Marat? Papua New Guineans aren't fools, Sir Michael. We know why you had to send Arthur on your family's easy jet (bought with taxpayers money, by the way) to East New Britain to get Paul Tiensten back to Port Moresby where you hastily performed a reconciliation ceremony and have it on the media the next day. We know that Paul Tiensten knew too much and you had to make peace quickly.

Why is Papua New Guinea sitting and watching this senile lunatic getting away with murder? He should be removed with his kitchen cabinet for selling PNG to foreigners and cunning Chinese. PNG does not need him any more, I ask you, why wait and how long can we wait? He is doing everything to destroy PNG, remove him one way or another.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bloggers have a role to reach out

Terry B

I am always fascinated by people who go out to challenge the establishments in seeking the truth; I am one of the many who wants to know who to trust to run our country. We have a very fragile democracy, it is very delicate and we need to protect it at all cost. In recent times we have seen the attack on our main stream media by the Government over what they label as unprofessional journalism. I feel for the very man and woman who go out every day to get the story to put up on our two national dailies. They are limited to what they can write, yet in their heart they are willing to go out and tell the truth of any matter.

I am not a journalist, I am writing this as a citizen, This blog is not out to see who comes here the most in terms of numbers, it’s not to advertise to make money, (no ads here) it’s not about personal gains, it is about PNG, where we are right now as a nation and where we going with the way our current leaders are leading this young nation. It’s about the country where we live and where our children’s children will live in the years to come.

Our mindset need to change so we leave something for our kids, our Environment is the most sacred and important thing to remember, we need to make a difference in our own little world to change this nation, so in my little world one day last year I thought to myself if I can make a difference I will try my best to reveal without fear or favour wrong doing, corruption, systemic rot and garbage that comes along with it on a blog. I am not that technically sound, but through self thought and a lot of reading I decided to put up this blog.

Well as you read in the previous blogs, we have been on a few people's minds, I posted the letter that was taken off PNGexposed and posted it here, the letter if you have not seen it it’s here. We were mentioned by Paraka Lawyers as one of the blogs posting defamatory information and were in breach of the Court Order that was obtain to stop the release of the COI into the Department of Finance in Parliament. Well I am truly not about to quit on this fight as I see it, it’s taken the whole country by storm and people in PNG and those living overseas (Papua New Guineans) are very concerned about the lack of proceedings taken by the Government to overturn the Restraining Order since part of the report is out, we want to know.

The mysterious disappearance of the Sepik Highway Trust Account Millions was it also in that report? We don’t know if it’s there and then why does the Government fail to challenge the proceeding, is it because some of these MPs from Sepik were part of the cover-up? It’s all sour grapes right now for this government.

By the way,, we just started in the last 6 months, just compare our rankings to another popular PNG site.



Dr Marat claims plot to kill him

SOUTH PACIFIC POST

Former Attorney General and MP for Rabaul Dr Allan Marat claimed yesterday that a plot was hatched, allegedly by three leaders, to assassinate him.
Dr Marat, in a press statement, alleged the plot to kill him was over his honesty in speaking out against corrupt practices in government circles.
He revealed the plot during a meeting initiated by the Sepik community living in and around Rabaul on Tuesday.
Dr Marat, as Attorney General, had been critical of the government’s handling of various affairs of national interest, among them the LNG project agreements and the proposed amendments to the Ombudsman Commission Act.
On the LNG project, Dr Marat said PNG would get “crumbs” while foreigners would benefit the most from the project.
He then broke ranks with the Government over the proposed amendments to the Ombudsman Commission Act and told PNG that the mover of the Bill, Moses Maladina had lied to Parliament. The amendments are expected to be tabled in the next session of Parliament.
As a result, the Prime Minister asked him to resign and May 6, Dr Marat tendered his resignation and at the same time, withdrew the support of his Melanesian Liberal Party from the Government.
At the Rabaul gathering, he told the meeting three pastors and a woman showed up at his Port Moresby home at around 10pm and exposed the plan which he alleged was funded by three very senior leaders to kill him.
He alleged that two days later on Friday, the neighbourhood noticed two suspicious looking vehicles frequenting his street about 10 times.
Dr Marat claimed the information was from very reliable sources who were insiders who had given him plate numbers of the vehicles to be used, the type of vehicles and the names of the three leaders who had allegedly contributed cash for the planned assassination.
He told the gathering that he was exposing this because he did not want this kind of activity to destroy the good relationship being enjoyed among others and Tolais in Rabaul.
“We don’t want a repeat of what happened some years ago when I was a little boy. We are already enjoying the relationship we have established and this should remain.
“Some people can easily be enticed with blood money and I warn you not to accept anything, for the good of the country.
“We are supposed to be one people, one nation but if this kind of practice is being encouraged by senior ministers, where is our country heading?” Dr Marat asked.
The meeting was attended by the provincial police commander Superintendent Sylvester Kalaut, Rabaul police station commander Chief Inspector Raymond Theodore, members of the Rabaul Open Members Central Committee and members of the Sepik community in Rabaul.
Speaking on behalf of the Sepik Community Robert Marus assured the Member for Rabaul that they would continue to stand with him to fight against corruption and they had guaranteed their support to stop any activities relating to the alleged conspiracy to shoot him.
The Sepik leaders have planned to meet to present a petition to the Governor of East New Britain, Leo Dion, as he is a member of the ruling National Alliance Party.
Dr Marat was reportedly conducting educational awareness meeting in his electorate to inform his people of the plan to assassinate him.

New Environment Law forces Government Minister to Resign

ACTNOW

Mr. Ken Fairweather, a member of the People's National Congress and a senior minister in the Somare-led government, has resigned from the government in protest over the amendments to the Environment Act 2000. The amendments strip away rights of landowners to seek redress from the courts over environmental permits. The amendments were purposely made to defeat the current litigation by landowners, against Deep Sea Tailings Disposal System by a Chinese-Government owned Nickle Mine, MCC in Ramu, Madang Province, Papua New Guinea.
Attached is a full page advert paid for by Mr. Fairweather, stating his position on 2 environmentally destructive projects undertaken by the Somare Government in his electorate.


Aid dilemma in Papua New Guinea

MARC DUBOIS from Médecins Sans Frontières on whether aid workers should intervene in violence not related to armed conflict


First impressions of Papua New Guinea tend towards the idyllic - flying over islands and atolls of white beach and emerald water, across green rolling hills backed by thickly-forested mountains. Then the people themselves, open and generous, not just full of smiles but easily reduced to giggling, as I learned on my bumpy local flight from Port Moresby to Lae where I was to visit a family support centre run by the humanitarian aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

There, my romantic idyll was abruptly shattered. The first patient I saw arrive was a woman with three deep blows of a bushknife to the back of her head and her lip and right cheek close to being severed from the rest of her face. She had had a quarrel with the second wife of her husband, she claimed. Really, just a quarrel. For an organisation well-versed in the violent consequences of warfare, this sort of violence from within the family came as a shock.

Even more astonishing was that this woman was not a once-in-a-month case, but an every-day patient in the industrial city of Lae. Later in the afternoon in the waiting room at Lae, I noticed two women sitting next to each other, both with right arms bandaged and hung in a sling of white gauze. It was momentarily comical, until an MSF doctor explained that they were both suffering from snapped forearms having defended their heads from the blow of a pipe or a club or whatever weapon might have been handy.

MSF has a similar project in Tari, in the country's beautiful isolated highlands and such cases of brutality within the family are just as common. I am sickened and baffled because I have never seen anything like it, not even in my imagination. Up in the mountains, MSF's project coordinator told me that she recently interrupted a man beating his wife. The battered woman was sobbing loudly while the family's children played happily only a few feet away as if even raised voices were nothing to be distressed about.

I also heard about one of our own staff who delivered a machete chop to his daughter's head inside our hospital grounds, because the girl had disobeyed him. When he was dismissed, he appeared not to understand why he was being punished – so normal was his act! These and so many other stories haunt the team of doctors and nurses working at the centres, not only because of their gruesome and disturbing detail but because there is nothing in our individual or collective experience that makes sense of this domestic violence.

Only five years ago MSF was debating whether it could justify its intervention in violence not related to armed conflict. Mostly, the answer was no. It was suggested that domestic or social violence was a phenomenon completely distinct from the political violence of armed conflict, and that MSF's role existed only in the latter sphere. I was attached to MSF's Humanitarian Affairs Department at the time, and we began to break down that false distinction by shifting the focus away from the perpetrators or causes of the violence, and towards the direct medical consequences on people. It certainly seems like a no-brainer.

Yet I have to acknowledge that there are some very pragmatic challenges that also pushed MSF away from going to places like Papua New Guinea to help victims of social violence. This is not war in Papua New Guinea, nor is it a crisis with boundaries, like an epidemic, that will come to a natural end. Rather, people in PNG face (and generate themselves) crisis-level violence on an everyday basis, to the point where it appears as a cultural norm. The violence is like poverty in need of long-term systemic change, rather than an emergency response.

MSF struggles in such settings, because there is no logical time for withdrawing, and because there are no soldiers or militia but husbands, wives, sisters and brothers. The surrounding poverty makes it even more difficult for MSF. There are no government doctors in the Tari district hospital and MSF's team is pulled, literally by the arm, into wards full of infectious diseases, maternal child health problems, and people who are desperate for a loved one to be treated. Supplies and staff are unavailable. Yet what else can they do?

When I arrived in Tari I found a team exhausted, breaking all the MSF rules by ignoring the project strictures which is to deal with surgery and family violence only. Yet they are acting sans frontieres and making the only choice possible.
The problems of domestic violence requires a different set of strategies for MSF. It is difficult enough to advocate against attacks on civilians during combat, or for a government to grant us access to refugees. But here in PNG, do we outsiders push for a change in culture? Do we enter into the political dynamics of bride-price, which appear to give men the feeling that their wives are their property, to "bash up" alarmingly frequently?

Here is another example of the difficulties: in many countries, we provide a Medical Report to victims of sexual violence that can be used as proof of what happened. They're often the only way for a rape survivor can be believed and receive some recompense for her injuries. Yet, these reports are used in PNG as testimony in a traditional compensation system that is itself the source of so much violence. The extended family or 'wontok' of the victim demands to be paid for the injury against one of its own, a process that can swiftly erupt into yet more violent clashes. Worse still, in at least one case, we fear that our report was used to justify beating a perpetrator into a vegetative state.

In their content and in the challenges they confront, the projects in Lae and Tari are groundbreaking for a humanitarian medical organisation such as MSF. It's exciting to see MSF pushing itself. We provide the sort of vital treatment and psycho-social counselling for victims of violence that do not exist elsewhere (there are a lot of education and prevention efforts focussed on sexual violence, but few resources devoted to caring for the victims). We will hopefully use the experiences we gain in Lae and Tari to catalyse change, to push for similar family service centres to be opened in other hospitals, and maybe even to cast more light on the phenomenal violence.