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28 December 2013


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.... and I thought Malabag was honest and a true leader after every citizens' heart. God alone knows who is the only true and honest leader in that House of Worms.

From all the discussion I have come to the conclusion that we just might have to let the PNG government "learn the hard way".

Mr Malabang will go ahead and let Borneo Pharmaceuticals buy the medicines etc for PNG from Chinese companies which is the past have had a bad record. The Health Department appears to have some obligations to give the contract to BP.

The Health Department may have problems distributing the medicines without the Australian aid of $38m, but does it really matter if the medicines are faulty and probably wouldn't do any good anyway.

After a few people have died due to some poor medication something might be done to alter the situation.

I guess if anyone in Mr Malabang's family or Mr O'Neill's family gets sick and dies from faulty medication then they will finally listen to what Miss Bishop is saying.

'What will Australia withdraw when they are not paying for the medical kits in the first place? 'This is purely a PNG government-funded program and Australia, through AusAID, has to respect that instead of using the same corruption language.' Minister Malabag's rhetoric in today's National.

PM O'Neill is taciturn on the issue. Whether it is PNG kina or Aussie dollar, the quality of the medicines which is the main concern and PM Peter O'Neill should stop being taciturn and tell us his position.

Bravo Australia, time to toughen up.

Stop wiping PNG’s ass.

Health Minister Michael Malabang and Secretary Pascoe Kase have responded in the PNG media by saying that they were unaware that Australia had pulled funding on the pharmaceutical purchase and distribution scheme. They claim this was always a PNG government funded scheme and therefore doesn’t involve Australia at all.

Well. That answers everything doesn’t it? There isn’t a problem at all is there?

If, as claimed by the Minister in the PNG media, three bidders went through the Health Department’s Board (CSTP) before recommendations by the National Executive Council and the two other bidders were disqualified as not registered in PNG then what is all the fuss about?

However was the information provided to the NEC to make this decision the same information provided to the Australian aid agency?

It just seems like a little ol' difference of opinion doesn’t it? That is until you read the reports by local PNG medical authority who substantiated the Australian aid agency’s original position.

So has the NEC been misadvised? Has Minister Malabang been telling porkies?

To misquote Charles Laughton in ‘Witness for the prosecution: ‘Was someone lying then or is someone lying now or is this someone now and always has been a habitual liar?’

The eight ministers and PNG Public Service Minister Puka Temu were seeking the sacking of the parliamentary Speaker Theo Zurenuoc for the removal and partial destruction of carved heads.

Well, the time has now come for these ministers including former Prime Minister, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare to show leadership and seek immediate accountability for this misuse of funds for basic health service.

If sacking is recommended for Speaker Theo Zurenuoc for “crime” of removal and partial destruction of carved heads then greater punishment and commitment is demanded for these corrupt practices and corrupt government dealings.

Setting up independent authorities, be it for health procurement or anything else, will ultimately weaken the government.

Also, in this particular case, it will make it so much easier to corrupt the process. Rather than having to bribe the minister, the head of the department and several other public servants down the line it will simply be a case of paying off the head of the authority.

The recent case of the National Museum is a good example of how such a system can be corrupted.

Procurement in most government departments in PNG is highly corrupt. In the Education Department the corrupt procurement of text books has resulted in PNG schools being supplied with irrelevant, outdated and downright dangerous American trash.

The only long term answer to problems like this is to elect honest and conscientous politicians. PNG seems incapable of doing this and its future looks bleak.

Good to hear your comments, Paulus.
I enjoyed your summing up of the BP problem as being - "due to wantok system and Melanesian intransigence and complacency."

I think Miss Bishop will keep to her word. A recent comment on the Social Media mentioned - "I agree with Julia's comment about the establishment of an independent health procurement authority. It's a good decision they held back the fund because this will make our Government stop to think. "

So how does the country go about getting an independent health procurement authority?

Hi all, It is well known to the health fraternity that BP has its tentacles spread throughout the Health headquarters building.

However it has been difficult to deal with this before mainly due to wantok system and Melanesian intransigence and complacency.

The issue is now gaining momentum and I would think that it is a good opportunity for all concerned to keep the pressure up.

The first thing really is for the PM to sideline the Health Minister and Health Secretary; whether or not they are complicit in this deal the buck really stops with them.

This should then be followed by a full enquiry. If this does not happen it will mean that the government's anti-corruption statements are just a lot of hot air.

Hi Barbara,

If ever I heard a total cop out (no police) it's that last one, (if the bribe money has now been spent, nothing further can be done).

Surely all the PM needs to do is to sack the Minister and the Departmental Secretary and any staff if they were complicit and leave the law to investigate and charge them at a later date.

The previous decision should be declared null and void and previous tenders for the contract then reassessed. The Auditor General for example, could do this in a few days and make a decision. The best tender that meets the contract provisions then gets the contract.

All it takes is some guts to make the first move and set the standard for no corruption in the future.

The issue is not the 'poor' Minister or whoever helped him but the life and death situation they and they alone have brought their people to.

But that's the problem isn't it? Whoever is responsible for this decision doesn't personally expect to suffer so why give a damn about the rest of country? I wonder what might happen if they themselves had to endure the treatment standards they have decided their people can have?

Either the authorities (i.e. the PM and NEC) must act or be held responsible for all the probable impacts of this odious decision. The PNG people deserve no less.

PM O'Neill has to make a simple choice: Which is more important? To protect the health of his people or to protect his Minister and whoever else has made this decision.

Nobody ever said a PM's job was simple but here is one decision that is very easy to justify. I'm sure someone like Peter O'Neill will be up to the job.

A former crime prevention officer at government has just told me via the social media that it has been alleged the Minister of Health got a bribe of some sort for awarding this contract to BP and that he has already spent the bribe money so how can he do anything about changing the contract.

Here's a how-de-do! Something for Sam Koim obviously!

I have edited this comment slightly to tone down a defamatory imputation. Social media's major failing is that it does not discriminate well between fact, gossip, speculation and disinformation. PNG Attitude does not allege that the PNG Health Minister is corrupt - KJ

This matter could also have a political twist to it - comments by a blogger on PNG Social Media

"1. Borneo Pharmaceuticals tender is higher than others hence decision foregoes cost cutting and prudency measures (we must have alot of money to be spending like that? True?)

2. BP won the tender without proven compatibilty associated with best practice and accepted standards which are all quality centred. They won the tender then LATER tried to win themselves a standards compatibility rating. (Is this Govt showing us all the best governance and business operation principle via this deal? Good/bad example?

3. BP has been dealing medical drugs for sometime in PNG (have they been ISO 9001 since they started dealing drugs here? It shows a glaring hopeless lack of Govt's ability to monitor and regulate)

4. This can be seen as a way of making it fair for PNG firms too - fair distribution of opportunity now focus is on SMEs. (but arent others vying the tender also PNG SMEs too?)

5. BP has been here longer, has record of selling drugs and so may have acquired too many higher friends (wantok system). I wouldnt be surprised if there is a conglomerate influencing Govt of the day as a personalised entity, everyone cashing-in heavily in some way except us.

6. The Govt has gone full toss "look north" hence like other contracts which seems to be influenced and dominated by the "north", BP also has to win on recommendation or may be on pressure from the "north". If this is so, they got us real nice and proper by the balls.

These are just my views which lead me to believe we are shortchanged for someone else' benefit. Personal and political mileage at our expense."

Comments, like this, by a member of the Port Moresby community, show how corruption becomes entrenched. Everybody gets caught up in it.

Many have a good friendship with this Minister of Health and really don't want to lose it. He means a lot to them. Will the thought that they could die because of his silly actions make them speak out, tell their friend off, and try to stir up some action to get this problem sorted out? I just hope so.

So, as KJ says, "It's a monumental betrayal of the very reason why that aid was offered in the first place. Australia should be working with PNG, not turning its back when a problem arises in the relationship - KJ"

Yes, well, all very well and fine to spruik from wherever Attitude originates from, but in 2005, whilst I was managing Sigri Plantation near Banz, where the plantation supported a full-time nurse and an aid -post with paramedical facilities available to the surrounding viilagers as well as plantation emplyoees, I was offered bargain-price medical supplies including fabric dressings, ointments, lotions and antibiotic tablets and capsules supplied from a local evangelical mission health-centre which drew these materials at no cost from Aus-Aid .This was to be a cash deal...( and this was NOT, I must emphasise, the redoubtable Nazarene Hospital at Kudjip. This is what goes on, on a daily basis throughout PNG.

Even within the company I worked for there were corrupt deals being made between nationals in charge of various divisions. It is not just in the public service and the Ministries, where we know it is a crippling handicap to the nation.

No, stealing and undercover deals are rife in private enterprise also.Laziness, lies and theft are a daily feature of workers input in both commerce and public administration throughout PNG. Recognise this, and admit it, and then do something about it if you can.

KJ- My honest factual reply"s "Supression" to Peter Kranz on The Tjandra Clan is reperensable.

It"s true in it"s entieratly'
What is the price of truth, I now am an old man 71, in 2 weeks time
but I will not shut up. Nor will I be shut up.
Just like my name sake Proffesor William Dunlop the Provest of the Universty of Glasgow in his time. The 1700 "s
Or yet Tiger William Dunlop of Huon Canadian Fame and his chest
of the 12 Apostles I Bottle of water and 11 Bottles of the Finest Scott"s
I"Skebagh. " Whiskey" to the unlightened.
Perhaps somewhat eccentric but neverless a Mans Man

Erin GO Bragh

Agreed Paul, the ball is in PNG's court to get it rolling as a matter of urgency. The Australian government should not back down on its stance lest it will set a precedent. Stringent measures should be put in place to avoid similar happenings in future.

KJ, get in the real world. Em tasol.

Thanks for the helpful comment - KJ

Politics aside, let’s look at the real issues here:
1. The supply and distribution of desperately needed pharmaceuticals in PNG was reportedly a previous a national disgrace. Health centres were reportedly either short of drugs or had none available at all.
2. PNG is a sovereign nation and as such has responsibility for the health of her citizens.
3. In the last two years it is reported that Australian aid (i.e. Australian taxpayers) paid for and successfully distributed pharmaceuticals to PNG health centres using internationally accepted methods.
4. The funds to repeat this year’s successful supply and distribution for a third year were offered by the Australian government.
5. No stipulation was made about who should be awarded the contract however whoever was awarded the contract must have been able to meet the internationally recognised best practice benchmarks previously used.
6. The company awarded the contract is reportedly not able to meet the pre-determined benchmarks.
7. Could Australia then ethically or morally be expected to fund the distribution of what is reportedly an inferior and therefore potentially dangerous or life threatening situation that could cause many PNG people to suffer or even die?
8. Leaving aside diverse political perceptions, surely any Australian government, whatever its persuasion, must draw the line under these circumstances?
9. If the current consternation actually causes the PNG government and her PM to take a closer look at what has happened, isn’t this exactly what everyone wants (except those responsible for the decision and those who presumably who will benefit from the decision)? i.e. To review the decision.
10. Isn’t that a worthwhile outcome?

If the Australian government didn’t act on this issue, who will? A line has been drawn in the sand. More lines are needed and by the PNG government ASAP.

A recent comment on PNG Social Media-

B Short, you better believe it, PNG Politicians wine and dine with thees corrupt Asians and have sold their souls to them.

Not sure about the circumstances surrounding this decision or whether PNG was given any notice and a chance to reconsider its choice of suppliers.

I can't help thinking that it is another knee-jerk reaction that the Abbott government seems so good at and will regret later.

It's well and good to take a hardline with issues like this but I can't help thinking that it's motivated by muscle flexing designed to placate the ultra-conservative side of Australian politics rather than send a message to PNG.

Hopefully, when everyone calms down, the funds will be reinstated and a transparent process entered into with a reputable supplier.

In the meantime, as Paul Oates suggests, the lowlifes in government who took their guilt-laden cut under the table will be swiftly brought to justice. I'm not holding my breath on that one however.

Julie Bishop, like several of Abbott's ministers, is turning out to be a nasty piece of work. Time to cool it and show a bit of compassion.

I also support the idea of Australia taking over the tendering and or tender processing role. However it shouldn't be limited to this aid only. There should be a long term legally mendatory agreement for at least two Aussie reps to be on the PNG's tender board, one from the office of the AusAID and the other from the Aussie High Commission in PNG for tenders of all AusAID funded projects in PNG to deter corrupt tendering processings by PNG officials and ensuring transparency.

The only problem now with this is that it won't affect the leaders who have caused this withdrawal of funding. The rest of ordinary PNGeans will suffer while the leaders will continue to have health care access in private hospitals or even abroad. Bishop should have looked for tighter conditions esp in procurement and still have the money made available via these controls. The ordinary people are the biggest losers here unfortunately.

Keith I must take issue with you on your supporting editorial comment "Spot on, Peter. A cop out by Ms Bishop, who needed to resolve the problem not take the drastic step of withdrawing assistance and leaving hundreds of Papua New Guineans in jeopardy - KJ".

Please take a step back from the "popular" corruption issue. It has been alleged previously that the source company has provided fake drugs. Either way people are in jeopardy, fake drugs for the term of contract or no drugs until the issue is sorted.

From an Australian perspective Julie could be subject to Auditor General attention (corruption) if she provided the money when there is apparently a clear breach of the terms of contract with PNG Government (international drug accreditation).

It's a monumental betrayal of the very reason why that aid was offered in the first place. Australia should be working with PNG, not turning its back when a problem arises in the relationship - KJ

Comments from Charlie Gilichibi on his PNG NEWS site -

Australia did a good thing by pulling the plug so it can turn up the heat on bad leaders in PNG. When we are sick, Australia will not come and drink our medicine for us. We have to drink it ourselves to fix our own incompetent leadership issues.

Lets not point the fingers to Australia. It has helped us by giving us this ammunition and lighting the fuse so the people, churches, media, TIPNG, ngos and unions can rise up in revolt

Sometimes people will only learn "the hard way".

I've been writing about this problem with government tenders, over and over again, for the past five years or more.

People, including my good friend Sir Paulias Matane, and numerous people running government departments in PNG, will agree with me, but seem powerless to do anything.

There is a strong feeling amongst many Australians at the moment that Australia should never have gone into PNG to try to help them.

Many Australians now say "just leave them to their own devices". They seem to imply that by our involvement we are somehow to blame for the mess that they are now in.

I know that at the present moment in time Miss Bishop's action does not solve the problem. That hopefully will follow.

I do not believe that Australia should try to step in and take over the running of the tendering in the PNG Health Department.

Surely if enough thinking people in PNG get to hear about what the Health Department has just done something can be done to rectify the mistake.

As Paul says, this is something the ICAC needs to investigate. The Social Media also need to work out a way to get quick action.

There are excellent doctors and medical men and women in PNG. Now is the time for them to show some muscle. They have to think of a way of getting the Minister for Health and the Secretary for Health to change their minds. There must be a way.

Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.

Barbara - Withdrawing the program doesn't sort things out. Couldn't Australia just have taken back control of the tendering?

There are still sick people needing medical help. Cancelling the whole show is ridiculously small-minded. Sure get the tendering process shipshape, but don't withdraw much-needed medicine in the short term.

Spot on, Peter. A cop out by Ms Bishop, who needed to resolve the problem not take the drastic step of withdrawing assistance and leaving hundreds of Papua New Guineans in jeopardy - KJ

Good on you, Julie Bishop, for standing up to the PNG government's Health Department.

PNG's tender requirements are well thought out but, time and time again, in many departments, have not been enforced.

Now, in this "life and death" situation, someone has to take a stand, for the good of the whole nation.

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