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22 December 2016


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So who are we supposed to believe Peter.

Eric Tlozek had a report from Hela on tonight's ABC news where he interviewed the governor and other politicians, including Marape, and they were all saying the law and order situation was out of control in Hela and something had to be done about it because it had gone on too long.

And yet you and quite a few other PNG commentators are saying there's nothing unusual going on up there.

Is O'Neill creating false news in the run up to the election so that he looks good on law and order?

Mi no save?

Sori Phil,

I do not believe a word that the ABC promulgates with regard to PNG these days.

It is mostly absolute sensationalist crap.

Aunty does not merely have feet of clay, she is standing in a cesspool of misinformation.

No trustworthy any more !

It seems like the situation in Hela is getting out of control.

See this latest report: ... ct/8168796

Hi Phil,

I wouldn't have a clue what people are saying on other Public Media outlets. Mostly scandal mongering, uninformed, anonomous twits with toilet mouths.

I am only game to make comments on this site because it is sensibly moderated and moderate, except perhaps for the odd unreconstructed Gael (Mille Slainte Bill), and because much of what I read is from people whose opinions I respect or is fantastically entertaining or informative.

('Best blog I know, congratulations KJ and all the best for 2017).

Phil. Not just shot, assassinated at the behest of Dev.

Re the 'media beat up' Peter.

From this end, and I admit I'm out of touch, it looks like a beat up.

Isn't that what Gary is doing? Elsewhere on social media people are talking about 'troops and police descending on Hela'.

I know people like to revel in worst case scenarios, especially us armchair commentators, but this one seems to have legs. Perhaps we are hoping this worst case will come true. Just like we hoped Trump might win. All for the entertainment value of course.

And what has O'Neill done with the money promised to the Hela landowners? Has he still got it? If not where has it gone? What about the money the fake landowners ripped off?

Exxon wants O'Neill to fix the problem, they reckon it's his job. Fat chance of that happening I suspect. He has probably been involved in some of the ripoffs. What happens if Gary can rally the troops and give him the boot in 2017?

Tis a mess of gigantic proportions.

And this recent announcement about Murik 1 is weird too. As I recall it Murik 1 was drilled years ago. What have they done, re-drilled it? All very suspect.

And some people reckon Michael Collins sold us out William. They say he should have held out for the whole island, not just the bottom bit. That's why some twit shot him I think.

Peter Turner: I suggest you do a small study on the late General Michael Collins when asked how was he going to train the troopers they would need to overthrow the British.

Sure said he, The British Army will do that for us. Words wisdom of methinks. Certainly Chairman Mao thought so.
Mind you he fucked up in the end, Mao that is.


Hi Phil,

No mate, no Media beat up, but not much real solid factual information being disseminated about the 'Hela Situation' either.

The problems in Hela are every bit as fraught as you and others fear, and I do not disagree with many of the points that Governor Juffa made. Most are thoughtful and valid, like most of his media statements.

There is no doubt that all Hela M.P.'s are at their wits end as to how to restore peace and good order and they have scored a very creditable 'goal' by influencing the Government to devote some attention to what we used to refer to as 'consolidation of Government Influence' in Hela, through the usual means.

A means, by the way, that is very much monitored by many 'interested parties' these days, and follows the tried and tested 'PNG Law and Justice and Human Rights style', which we assiduously used and continue to exort compliance with, rather than the script followed by Indonesian, North Korean, Thai, Malasian, Fijian, Nauruan or Filipino Police Forces (to name a few close neighbours whose human rights abuses don't cop the publicity that PNG does, not to mention the other 150 'basket cases' that masquerade as a legitimate vote at the U.N. and who use Peter Seller's famously described 'Justice Idi Amin Dada style' ("I is lettin''em get to de end of de rope bifo openin' up !")

There is still, of course unofficially, 'Group punishment' (razing of hamlets and seizure of livestock) practised in areas which have been declared 'fighting zones' under the Inter Group Fighting Act (which Some Enga and Hela Districts have been classified as for years), to drive fighting warriors and their poor bewildered families, out of an area being 'secured' by the 'Security Forces'.

Heartbreaking stuff, but a tiny smack compared to the violence and terror that uncontrolled clan fighting brings.

There hasn't been a decent stoush between the Jigas and the Yamugas around Hagen, or the Ulgas and the Kulgas at Nebilyer, or anywhere in Jiwaka, Simbu or Eastern Highlands for a generation, and its a decade or more since the Tsak Valley in Wapenamanda (one of the prettiest and fertile areas in Enga) was a sea of flames.

The 'Frontier' starts at the Wabag - Laiagam border these days, (although some would include Wabag, Ambun-Kompian and Kandep as well) and extends west to the Strickland River, but even this frontier is being steadily 'progressed'.

So it will be in Hela.

Any talk of a Bougainville style 'civil war', a conflict that has still not been finalized, and won't be until ;

(a) all Armaments collected (will never happen),

(b) Good Governance restored (hasn't happened yet and an impossibly complex and unaffordable bureaucracy is quickly crumbling already) and

(c) the Referendum is held, (Cinderella Bougainville becomes independent, and turns back into an undeveloped pumpkin, after which a RAMSI style intervention will then assist Bougainville to be allowed to rejoin a flourishing, progressive PNG ???)

But let us not digress.

My contribution was simply to 'ílluminate' the legal basis, and the actual implications for the Call Out 'Project Implementation' Commander, of a Section 69 'Call Out to Aid the Civil Power' and to point out that 'law and order' problems are being addressed by the Civil Power using approved strategic and operational methods and that there is no 'bloodbath' pending in Hela.

There is no 'Underpants' cargo cult in Hela, this is a very hard headed mob, as you know. They are not about to destroy their nascent Province's infrastructure, nor are they in any way desirous of 'taking on physically' the Government that controls the purse strings, because the Hela 'problems' are all about unfairly, improperly, and in many cases fraudulently distributed wealth, not unsophisticated madness.

Hang on, wasn't that the root cause of the 'crisis' in Bougainville too, the first bit? Well it certainly ended up the last bit.

The Courts, thank God, are very much up to the job of, eventually, providing 'satisfaction' to sorting out the 'line Departments' corrupt bungles, and the PNGDF supported Constabulary is up to it's job of 'consolidating' Government influence.

All will be well so long as the Government is honest with the Huli people and delivers everything that has been promised, in a negotiated, acceptable and achievable manner.

President Momis is in no position to 'enforce' PNG's agreements (or collect the many millions of Kina outstanding), but a handful of determined men at Komo can turn off the tap to the nation's prosperity at any time (and at any point in the long pipeline).

As you say mate, "The potential of what the Hulis could do is very scary".

That is why they must not be handed the usual 'giaman promises' and brushed off. The consequences are likely to be too tragic to contemplate.

The re-establishment of a conducive law and order situation is vital, but useless unless supported by reliable Clan Land vetting exercises whose integrity is not 'spoiled' by wankers, sorry, Academics, posing as Community Engagement experts who compile endless and mostly corrupt genealogies 'to order'.

The Huli 'business minded' sector is quite capable of dealing with the Government and Total, but are currently enmeshed in 'debating 'the whole mess of misinterpretations and fraudulent activities, the only way that produces results.

A 'law and order' operation will be very welcome in Hela, but will continue to be required indefinitely until the entire Law and Justice infrastructure and staffing (National Courts, Magisterial Services, Public Prosecutor, Public Solicitor, Village Courts, Sheriff, CIS, Welfare etc., returns to Hela and recommences 'nation building'.

None of which will be of any use, unless the underlying 'causes' of the unrest (improperly recognized ownership representational rights) are identified and 'cured'.

‘History in the making. ‘Wonder how it will turn out?

I'll take your word for it that this is a beat up by the media and the Hela governor Peter.

I guess we hear more about the police because they are at the front line. They get accused of all sorts of indiscretions but little sympathy for the shit they have to put up with - not only from the public but from the politicians too.

So many problems current in PNG would be solved if the police were brought up to strength and resourced properly.

I haven't been in Hela for a few years now but the last time I was there the armoury that the locals had stashed away was very impressive. High velocity sniper rifles, hand grenades, automatic weapons, Kevlar helmets and vests. Much more sophisticated than the shotguns and WW2 Japanese stuff the Bougainville rebels had at their disposal.

If peace and order is quickly re-established in Hela as you think it will still be on a knife edge.

The potential of what the Hulis could do is very scary.

What 'exercise' Phil?

The Section 69 Call Out is a simple mechanism to 'draft in' some extra manpower to 'aid the civil power'.

As I pointed out, the invocation of Section 69 of the Constitution is not a military exercise, such as the HMPNGS Patrol Boat despatched to Milne Bay waters to try and apprehend unwelcome visiting poachers, or the PNGDF 'presence' along parts of the West Papua border, it is a simple mechanism to authorize 'extra trained manpower' to be available,(many will have served with the RPNGC at Porgera)to be deployed in Hela.

Yes, of course the reason for this is that the RPNGC is still 2,000 - 3,000 short of authorized manpower establishment.

I cannot see how it would make more sense to 'unleash the Dogs of War' when there is no perceivable foreign threat to National Security and there is plenty of evidence of the breakdown in Law and Order in Hela.

Surely the answer is not to 'escalate' any kind of community confrontation, but to address the actions of lawbreakers and feral elements by those professionally trained to undertake such action.

Phil, your views on both the PNGDF and the RPNGC are not founded in reality. If anyone is interested in determining the 'capability and capacity' of the PNGDF, there are still only just over 2,000 of them, and a large 'rump' are non delpoyable administrative, maritime, air wing, engineering and support personnel.

PNGDF 'sharp end' training and experience?, very limited, whereas the RPNGC deploys over 3,500 active service Special Service Division troops (Mobile Squads), all of whom are 'sharp end' and almost constantly deployed personnel.

The PNGDF 'braves' who will assist the SSD troops in Hela performed well in Porgera and will be an asset to the Hela Operational Commander.

Peace and good order will be quickly re-established in Hela, but the Police operations will nett precious few firearms, just like in Bougainville, Laiagam and Porgera, and every other Province in PNG.

As recently deceased President of the US National Rifle Association Charlton Heston, maintained, 'if you want my gun, you will have to pry it from my cold dead hand'.

A pretty common view in PNG. The present 'moratorium' or firearms amnesty will fizzle.

I know quite a few of the anthropologists and social mappers who have been trying to sort out the various Huli claims on the LNG royalties. They are, by the way, mostly Papua New Guinean.

The Huli have effectively bamboozled these poor men and women who are trying to sort out the mess. Lots of 'new' traditions and methods of inheritance have been invented in the process. To wit, the Tari airstrip saga.

What should have happened is the development of a royalty system not based on traditional land tenure and ownership. Something more in line with a trust fund used to benefit all Hela people.

This is effectively what was done at Ok Tedi and it worked really well until Peter O'Neill decided he needed the fund to pay for his extravagances elsewhere.

The distribution of royalties and benefits was the issue on Bougainville too.

In both cases it is all about money.

With the combination of the unrest over the royalties and the election in 2017 there will be an extremely volatile situation. And the Huli are a very volatile people at the best of times. Their natural stance is war, not peace.

The PNGDF is a relatively disciplined force with good leadership. The RPNGC on the other hand is not so well disciplined. Combining the two could be problematic.

It might make more sense to turn the exercise into a purely military one without too much police involvement.

Thanks Peter for that background. The concern expressed previously was primarily about the differing roles in police and defence force personnel.

The use of defence force personnel begs the question as to why they are employed in a police operation when their training is clearly different to that of police. Is this due to there being insufficient police to undertake the necessary requirements or is it that the previous training of defence personnel may in future be required to help police with extra firepower?

In some countries where the defence force and the police are combined, the opportunity for violence to escalate into open warfare has sometimes occurred.

What is to prevent 'combined operations' happening in PNG if future extensive, serious clan warfare were to break out? While I grant you the Riot Squad is reported to have a somewhat notorious and 'direct' reputation, as you point out, there is not a great history of enforced discipline in the PNGDF and there has been ongoing animosity between the two uniformed personnel for many years.

The future manager of operations will undoubtedly have to walk a fairly narrow tightrope to ensure any combined operation doesn't get out of control.

There is no 'military intervention' in Hela. The government's logical move to restore peace and stability in the area is following a tried and tested formula.

The PNG Constitution's Section 69 'Call Out' of PNGDF personnel to 'Aid the Civil Power' in Hela Province (five Mobile Squads of between 20 and 30 Men and women each, yes women) will be assisted by a Platoon (30-40) of PNGDF Infantry from Igam Barracks under the command of a Major or Captain.

About 200 personnel will need to be accomodated, fed and provided with transport, maintenance facilities, tyres and fuel etc.

The Infanteers are all sworn in as 'Special Constables' with all the powers and authority of a Police Officer, and provided with refresher Human Rights training.

The same combination has been 'working' in the Porgera District for two years with mixed, but satisfactory results.

The situation in Hela is not much different to that which existed in Porgera in 2014-15 (rampant tribal fighting) and the 'Call Out' can be expected to re-establish a modicum of peace and good order in Hela for a few months, but the closer the 2017 elections come, the greater will be the danger of interference with the LNG industrial activities, to exert pressure on the Government for all sorts of legitimate and illegitimate reasons, and this may result in the 'provocation' needed for escalation of the current unhappiness.

'Clan Vetting' has not yet been completed by the Government Agencies involved and the Huli's are busy sorting out their own 'clan vetting' exercises through traditional means, i.e. clan fighting.

The big Kikida Clan around Tari Station are still fighting over the K10 million payments made to the former 'Landowners' of Tari Airstrip, which was 'fouled' ánd so was replaced by another K10 million, which was also 'fouled'. Back to 'Trial by Combat'.

Just as in Bougainville, the Huli's will sort their own problems out, and the process won't be 'pretty' either. There have been five Policemen (Regular and Reserve) killed on duty in Hela in the past 2 years, as well as several Chinese Nationals.

Magisterial Services and the Public Prosecutor refuse to post staff to Hela because of 'íncidents' involving attacks on their staff.

What further sort of provocation is a functioning Government supposed to put up with? What are the majority of the Huli people supposed to put up with? Lack of proper response by the Government and a demonstration of determination to uphold the law would be the greatest betrayal.

The Police and their 'green machine' colleagues collaborated and worked very well together in Porgera, but there have been 'clashes' between PNGDF 'Security' units operating independently of the Police under PNGDF MOU's with private Companies in Hela and along the Highlands Highway at various places, (which hasn't worked very well), with two soldiers murdered at Komo last year, and a PNGDF Mutiny at Komo where a dozen soldiers were recently found guilty and sentenced to gaol, which was suspended to a fine. Back to work as if nothing had happened.

With the PNGDF 'Special Constables' supposedly firmly under the control of the RPNGC 'Section 69 Call Out' Commander, one should expect peace and good order in Hela to be restored soon, because the Huli people are not mobilizing to attack the Police, most are supportive of Government 'laying down the law' and neutralizing the feral and out of control elements in the community.

These 'Section 69 Call Outs' are expensive and K11 million will provide about 3 months worth of logistics and financial support (but not enough for crucial helicopter and air transport movement support and supply capability), for the maintenance of a RPNGC / PNGDF Task Force, and things will quickly go back to 'normal' (Mutiny?) if the funds run out.

This 'Call Out' may last a long time, depending on how long the Government takes to settle the land ownership claims involved, lets hope that the necessary funds can be found to ensure that it is properly and efficiently supported.

Peter Turner ML BEM Ll.M (Former Kiap, Koroba, Komo, Lake Kopiago, Human Rights Monitor 'Porgera Section 69 Call Out 2014-15', and frequent visitor to Hela)

Provocation it certainly is Chris.

And the Bougainville crisis was sparked by one family that thought it wasn't getting a big enough cut of the cake.

As Gary Juffa says, the similarities and the response of the government are frighteningly similar.

And I imagine the people in Hela will make Bougainville look like a walk in the park.

I can see international intervention on the horizon. American marines no less.

Gary Juffa has, once again, offered a sensible critique of a potentially catastrophically bad policy decision.

The deployment of military force in Hela Province can rapidly become a provocation rather than a peace initiative.

History shows that it takes only a very small number of committed and determined activists to ignite truly awful civil wars, Bougainville being but one example.

It will take some marvellously adept and wise political and military leadership to avoid inciting a group of people who, if my memories of Koroba and Tari serve me correctly, could be accurately described as prone to outbursts of great anger and violence.

If, God forbid, someone makes a serious mistake, I think that Paul is right that to say that it would rapidly escalate into full scale warfare.

Based upon its woeful performance in Bougainville, I cannot see the PNGDF being able to easily suppress this.

It is indeed a very worrying trend when defence force personnel are given police powers and police duties.

The only similarity in the roles of the two uniformed services are that they do indeed wear uniforms.

If a civil emergency requires the calling out of defence force personnel, the acid test of whether there is a real potential for the situation to get out of control will be the issue of ball ammunition.

All it will then take is a soldier to feel sufficiently threatened and discharge his weapon. A blood bath will follow.

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