Yes 33 (40%)
No 48 (60%)
Do you think Australia should advise PNG on what to do about introducing the death penalty?
Yes 15 (19%)
No 64 (80%)
Yes 33 (40%)
No 48 (60%)
Do you think Australia should advise PNG on what to do about introducing the death penalty?
Yes 15 (19%)
No 64 (80%)
If there was one friendly outcome that could be achieved by Julia Gillard’s three-day visit to Papua New Guinea that starts tomorrow it would be this.
Free up visa arrangements for Papua New Guineans who want to visit Australia.
This single issue is one that divides reality from Australia’s rhetoric that PNG is one of its most important international partners.
LEONARD FONG ROKA
ON 14 SEPTEMBER 2012, the blog New Dawn on Bougainville reported a story entitled Situation tense in Bana after a person was killed in the Jaba area of Panguna as a result of a conflict that started some three months earlier.
The conflict was a land related issue at the former Bougainville Copper Limited’s farm site at Mananau, purchased and settled by the Nagovis mountain people of Damane in the hinterland of the Bana district.
The crisis and death of the late Kakaleu was over a piece of land that over time had passed through a number of hands. Thus, as we know of oral history, it had been subjected to ‘addition and subtraction’ over time.
In my observation, both the killers and the killed were victims of an issue that went wrong somewhere down history lane, affecting a generation that adopted wrong stories and wrong land boundaries.
I WAS MY MOTHER’S ONLY CHILD when Papua New Guinea became an independent nation. The PNG flag was raised for the first time and the Australian flag was lowered for the last time. That was 16 September 1975.
As the years passed, I enrolled to commence my primary education. That was in the 1980s at the Alkena Lutheran Primary School.
Every morning we would assemble, sing the national anthem, raise the flag and shout the national pledge.
“We the people of PNG pledge ourselves, united in one nation, we pledge to build a democratic society based on justice, equality, respect and prosperity for our people, and we pledge to stand together as one people, one nation, and one country.”
I did not understand why we had to do that.
MICHAEL SERGEL & FINIAN SCOTT | Pacific Scoop:
Gary Juffa made the statements during the Pacific Parliamentary and Political Leaders Forum, happening this weekend in Wellington.
“The academic brigades from the UN who are coming forward, are consistently and constantly telling us we’re all thugs, living in caves, beating our women, forcing them to cook and do the laundry,” Juffa told delegates in a passionate speech.
JEMIMA GARRETT | Radio Australia
WORLD VISION CEO Tim Costello is calling for more young Australians to visit Papua New Guinea to improve relations between the two countries.
Mr Costello, who is in PNG for Australia Week, told a gathering of diplomats, politicians, and business leaders that friendships are the glue that hold the two countries together.
"Deep relationships, not governed as important as government is; not directed just because there is a profit to be made, as important as business is," he said.
"People to people relationships, who actually take the time to understand each other's culture and story and dreams and aspirations, and dream of the possibilities that can be."
JOE WASIA | Supported by the Bob Cleland Writing Fellowship
I’M NOT SURE ABOUT THE EFFECTIVENESS of those TV advertisements on driving safety by the Road Safety Council of Papua New Guinea.
That terrible accident in the Western Highlands revealed the driver had not slept well. He had driven all the way from Lae and arrived in Mt Hagen in the morning tulight bus.
Upon his arrival in Hagen he was asked to transport the relatives of a person who had died in Port Moresby.
He picked them up on the roadside and was driving towards Mt Hagen when the tragic accident happened. Twenty-five people dead.
For the last four years I have been travelling the Highlands Highway between Mt Hagen, Lae and Madang. From my experience on this road, I know there are many threats created by drivers.
JOE WASIA | Supported by the Bob Cleland Writing Fellowship
The fatal accident occurred on Thursday of last week in Papua New Guinea’s Highlands region. Shockingly, it claimed 25 lives - 18 men, six women and a five year-old girl.
It is one of the worst accidents in PNG’s recent history. The most tragic was on the Markham Highway in Morobe Province in 2010, which claimed 48 lives.
This most recent tragedy involved families and relatives of a tribesman from the Baiyer-Lumusa district of the Western Highlands Province. The man had died in Port Moresby and his body was returning through Kagamuga Airport near Mt Hagen.
RADIO NEW ZEALAND INTERNATIONAL
The review team includes representatives from the Autonomous Bougainville Government, the PNG government and academics.
One member, Wollongong University political scientist, Professor Ted Wolfers, says the need for a review is laid out within the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
MICHELLE NAYAHAMUI ROONEY | Development Policy Blog
As I approached the area where my interviews were to take place, I saw one of the community leaders and went to greet him. At the same time, a police car arrived.
Rather than going ahead with greeting each other, we both realised the gravity of the visit and as he approached the police, my two companions and I walked quietly away.
There were hushed whispers of concern as the news emerged that the police have been sent to advise the community that an eviction notice was about to be issued.
Australian authorities yesterday transferred the first group of asylum seekers to the processing centre in Papua New Guinea in two months.
But Paris Aristotle, part of the Australian government’s refugee review panel, says safeguards to reduce risks to mental health are not in place at the detention centre.
LEONARD FONG ROKA | Supported by the Jeff Febi Writing Fellowship
THE BOUGAINVILLE CRISIS from its very beginning in 1988 was reinforced by the economically and socially displaced youngsters of central Bougainville and parts of south Bougainville, especially the Bana District.
These youths were mostly unemployed and often the criminal elements of the then economically booming North Solomons Province.
They were the ones often running around the urban centres of Panguna, Arawa or Kieta looking for opportunities to earn, commit crime or otherwise make ends meet.
SEAN DORNEY | ABC
IAN KEMISH, THE SENIOR AUSTRALIAN DIPLOMAT who has just wound up a three-year posting as High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, says Australians need to develop greater ‘regional literacy’ if they are to understand their near neighbours.
Late last month, Mr Kemish spoke in Brisbane as part of Griffith University's Asia lecture series. After his talk, I sat down with Mr Kemish to flesh out some of the issues he raised.
You spent your childhood in Papua New Guinea and you've obviously been extremely interested in the place. But you mentioned that there seems to be a blind spot in Australia towards Papua New Guinea. Can you explain?
The scheme, introduced last year after much toing and froing by the Australian government, provides short-term contract labour for Australian farmers and income opportunities for people from PNG and the Pacific.
PNG Attitude has previously reported on problems with the scheme, but now they seem even more serious than they seemed a couple of months back.
Dr Momis said this year, his government is making weapons disposals a special focus of the work of the Autonomous Bougainville Government.
“I will be seeking urgent advice from the chief administrator about how we can rapidly develop the capacity in the Administration to develop and implement policy on weapons disposal”, he said.
MARTYN NAMORONG | Supported by the Chalapi Pomat Writing Fellowship
IN A MARKET ECONOMY, one has to compete effectively and sometimes desperately to sustain business, so it wasn’t surprising for me to hear of the rampage by Guard Dog Security personnel at the Lae Yacht Club
In 2011 I met a former manager of a security firm who gave me a lot of insights into the underbelly of the industry.
One of the scary things is that companies make their competitors lose business by undermining the security they provide.
The ex-manager said that some of the break-and-enters and killing of guards was linked to competing companies trying to take away business from a contracted firm.
LEONARD FONG ROKA | Supported by the Jeff Febi Writing Fellowship
Neatly lined on either side of the road are swaying mango trees and areca nut palms that catch my breath, because I am a chewer.
I bumped into this place on a recent wet Friday with other Year 3 course mates from Divine Word University.
We were there to search for the peoples’ perceptions and experiences of community development and their willingness to undertake development.
LEONARD FONG ROKA | Supported by the Jeff Febi Writing Fellowship
“We took that to heart and never wandered towards the main road but kept in the safety of our villages and watched the erereng expand their slums further inland. This is why I went to fight the thieves that were destroying my island, Bougainville.”
Saul Korai hails from the Kapanau area near the Aropa airport in Central Bougainville. He joined the guerilla group, the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA), as a teenager in early 1989.
In late 1988, New Guinean squatter settlers at Aropa raped and murdered a local woman returning home from the garden and his people attacked them. “I had to join the fight.”
The Jimi and the Waghi valleys are separated by the Waghi-Sepik divide, very rough country indeed - uninhabited and virtually uninhabitable.
Public Works had been asked to look for a possible road route from the Jimi to the Waghi and after aerial surveys said, “Forget it”.
FOR THE SECOND TIME in a month, I was deported from Papua New Guinea on Saturday. It was like watching the same movie twice.
Not the same excitement, but a gloomy certainty about the ending, In this case not a happy one.
I felt sad for all those that had worked so hard to avoid this, and I felt disappointed. My exile has taken a lot out of me and my family, and we were all hoping it would end happily.
Again I was not given a reason for refusal of entry, just that there was "a referral".
I was not issued any document, nor was any remark made about my current visa or why it is not adequate. I was simply turned away.
It involves the issuing of a service medal and is the culmination of much lobbying by a small band of ex-kiaps led by Chris Viner Smith.
The outcome has been an agreement to allow ex-kiaps to apply for the Police Overseas Services Medal, normally issued to Australians in civil service, like the police, who have served overseas. Police officers involved in RAMSI, the intervention on the Solomons, are eligible for instance.
The basis of the kiap’s claim is their role as commissioned officers in the pre-independence Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary. This, of course, is simply a technical device to enable the issue of the medal. Kiap service involved considerably more than a policing role; some would argue that the police role was, in fact, very minor.
When the campaign began, and I’m not sure what kicked it off, there was a flutter of debate about the whole idea. Support and non-support for a medal was about evenly divided among those ex-kiaps who heard about it.
WATCHING THE MOVIE Amazing Grace about the life and work of William Wilberforce made me curious to learn more.
So I turned to Wikipedia and was struck by a brief summary of his life philosophy - “Wilberforce was convinced of the importance of religion, morality and education.”
Wilberforce of course was instrumental in the abolition of the slave trade in Great Britain. What a life: to be convinced of an ideal and to pursue it despite the backlash and threat of being ostracised from society.
But there were other things about my own country that I gleaned from this movie.
1. Wilberforce was a good man but he required challenge and support to do the right thing
Wilberforce was an impressionable young man with good intentions. He had a moral conscience and wanted to do the right thing.
EDUCATION NEWS PNG
THE FORMER REGISTRAR of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (Unitech) has been charged by Lae police on allegations of conspiracy and misappropriation of monies belong to the university.
Allen Sako, 51, of Garawaria village in the Bululo district of Morobe Province was charged with one count of misappropriation and one count of conspiracy to commit fraud against the state.
He is the third person to be charged in this case after former head of the electrical engineering department Professor Narayan Gehlot and bursar Jimmy Imbok. Sako had been implicated, along with others, in the ongoing fraud case against Gehlot.
According to The National, Sako voluntarily went to the Lae Fraud Squad office, where he was interviewed and charged. He is currently out on K500 bail and is due to appear before the Lae Committal Court tomorrow. More people are to be questioned in relation to the fraud and more arrests are expected.
Unitech vice-chancellor, Dr Albert Schram, continues this quest to be able to return to PNG after a backlash against his investigation into malpractice and inefficiency at the university resulted in his unexplained deportation.
He wrote of his ordeal in PNG Attitude last month.
LEONARD FONG ROKA | Supported by the Jeff Febi Writing Fellowship
ABG President John Momis stated, “My government believes that, as the Panguna mine helped bankroll Papua New Guinea’s independence in the 1970s, it too can again bankroll Bougainville’s autonomy and independence.”
With the story of wealth creation soaring, decision-makers have narrowed down to dealing with known political factions and landowners who may be able to influence the future of mining.
But in the Panguna district there are people who do not worship these political factions nor are they landowners in the mine lease areas.
ON 8 FEBRUARY THIS YEAR, I was deported from Papua New Guinea to Australia.
I’d been to Singapore for a brief medical visit and, upon returning to Port Moresby, I was refused entry and put on a plane to Brisbane.
I was given no chance to say goodbye to my wife or speak to my lawyer and was given no valid reason for my deportation. I was threatened with force if I refused to leave.
Through official channels, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Canberra (I am a Dutch national) has asked for an explanation, so far to no avail.
It was a bizarre series of events for me in my role of Vice-Chancellor of the PNG University of Technology (Unitech).
Here’s the story so far as I know it.
Last year Unitech’s former Pro-Chancellor, Ralph Saulep, alleged that, upon my appointment as Vice-Chancellor in January 2012, I had been ‘less than truthful’ about my academic qualifications.
At the time, I responded that this was a baseless allegation and demonstrably false.
I AM WRITING TO URGE the international community to come to the aid of the Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea as it grapples with the menace of witchcraft or sorcery related violence.
Witch persecution and killing has been going on in the country for too long and we cannot allow it to continue. We need to take action now!
The recent lynching of a 20-year old woman, Leniata Kepari, for sorcery has revealed the urgency and complexity of the situation. It underscores the imperative a pro-active approach.
Even as the world is still trying to comprehend the reason for this savage act, the police in PNG have reportedly saved two other women from being lynched. According to the report, the ‘two elderly women were tied to poles and people were preparing to set them alight over the death of an eight-year-old girl’.
The girl’s relatives believed the women killed their child through sorcery and magic. A local sorcerer called a glasman who claimed to have supernatural powers had identified the women as responsible for the child’s death.
But the police said the girl was gang-raped and killed by two people who were part of a lynch mob.
Prime minister Peter O’Neill has deplored the widespread killings associated with sorcery. Violence against women, he noted, was becoming too common in certain parts of the country.
The government is asking people who are not sure of the cause of death of their family members to take the body to a doctor for an autopsy.
In PNG, most people do not accept natural causes of death and diseases. People attribute their misfortune to sorcery or witchcraft. In July, police arrested 29 members of a witch hunting cult who allegedly murdered and cannibalized their victims, believing they were sorcerers.
But a local police chief has noted the problem of evidence- that the evidence for magically causing a death or illness is simply not there. "What evidence do they have to produce to court for sorcery-related killing and torturing?" He queried. ‘It is just a belief’.
Mere belief indeed. Unfortunately, this is a realisation which few people in the country entertain and can openly express. Most people in PNG think sorcery is more than a belief. That sorcery is ‘real’. Hence the problem of witch burning continues.
The civilised world needs to help Papua New Guinea to stop this wave of violence. Countries and international institutions should remain indifferent in the name of respecting people’s culture, religion or tradition.
Witch burning is not a cultural or religious practice that should be respected. Witch persecution is a violent custom that should be opposed, condemned and abandoned.
BARRY DUKE | The Freethinker
FOLLOWING REPORTS that a young woman in Papua New Guinea had been burned alive for being a witch, Nigerian humanist and human rights campaigner Leo Igwe (pictured) – who has tirelessly been campaigning against witchcraft atrocities in Africa – issued a statement calling for international action and education programs to stamp out the superstitious beliefs that lead to these horrendous killings.
Kepari Leniata, 20, died on a bonfire in a rubbish tip after being accused of being a witch, and using her powers to kill a young boy. The young mother was stripped, tortured in doused with gasoline.
Igwe said that for too long UN agencies and other international human rights bodies have kept silent, all in the name of “respecting” the cultural beliefs, and he called on “sceptics, critical thinkers and all people of reason in Papua New Guinea to rise up to the challenge of bringing end to witchcraft-related murders and other superstition-based abuses”.
To this end, Igwe contacted a number of organisations and agencies in PNG in an effort to enlist their co-operation, but at least one body, The Melanesian Institute, said it could not possibly cooperate with Igwe because of his association with the James Randi Institute, and the nature of articles written by Igwe and posted on the Internet.
On 11 February, Igwe wrote to Rev Jack Urame, of the Melanesian Institute, saying:
My name is Leo Igwe. I am research student-working on witchcraft accusation at the University of Bayreuth. I am partnering with the James Randi Educational Foundation to understand and help address the phenomenon of witchcraft accusation.
I am contacting you regarding the recent case of witch burning in your country. We at JREF would like to partner with you to understand and help address this sociocultural issue.
With your Institute, we can work to develop a public education and enlightenment program, and campaign to bring to an end the menace of witch burning in Papua New Guinea.
We were all touched by the recent tragedy and would like to help in any way we can stop the witch hunt in Papua New Guinea.
Please let me know if your Institute will agree to work with us.
Writing in behalf of Rev Urame, Rudolf Lies, replied:
We feel indeed that as an institute the MI has done a lot already and will attempt to do its best to continue along that vein and work for change and the eradication of these horrible crimes.
Legal attempts to either change or as we rather feel abolish the Sorcery Act in the country are underway, but a change of mind will take time and effort.
However we feel that the premises that you express in articles found on the internet, and that seem also to be implied in the work of the James Randi Education Foundation make it not possible for us as an institute owned and run by four big churches to enter into closer cooperation.
We wish you all the best, and maybe our efforts will meet with some of yours in practical steps to change cultural patterns that allow for these atrocities. Christian ethics as we see them definitely strive for humanity and a love of life.
LEADERS ACROSS WEST PAPUA have demanded controversial author Jared Diamond apologises for describing them in his new book as warlike, and strengthening the idea that indigenous people are ‘backwards’.
The West Papuan leaders attack Diamond’s central arguments that ’most small-scale societies … become trapped in cycles of violence and warfare’ and that ‘New Guineans appreciated the benefits of the state-guaranteed peace that they had been unable to achieve for themselves without state government.’
Mr Diamond makes no mention of the brutality and oppression suffered by the people of West Papua at the hands of the Indonesian occupation since 1963, which has led to the killing of at least 100,000 Papuan tribal people at the hands of the Indonesian military.
Benny Wenda (pictured), a Papuan tribal leader, said to Survival, ‘What he (Jared Diamond) has written about my people is misleading … he is not writing about what the Indonesian military are doing … I saw my people being murdered by Indonesian soldiers and my own Auntie was raped in front of my eyes.
'Indonesia told the world that this was ’tribal war’ – they tried to pretend that it was us that was violent and not them – this book is doing the same. He should apologize.’
Markus Haluk, a senior member of the Papuan Customary Council, added, ‘The total of Dani victims from the Indonesian atrocities over the 50 year period is far greater than those from tribal war of the Dani people over hundreds of thousands of years.’
Matius Murib, Director of the Baptist Voice of Papua, condemned Diamond’s assertion that tribal peoples live in a ‘world until yesterday’.
He said, ‘This book spreads prejudices about Papuan people … that indigenous Papuans still display a way of life from hundreds of years ago. This is not true and strengthens the idea that indigenous people are ’backwards’, ‘live in the past’ or are ‘stone age.’
Reverend Socratez Yoman, Head of the West Papuan Baptist Church, has also demanded an apology from Mr Diamond to the Papuan people.
Dominikus Surabut, currently jailed for treason for peacefully declaring West Papuan independence, described the relationship of indigenous West Papuans and the Indonesian state as political apartheid.
In a statement smuggled out of his jail cell, he said, ‘This is the very nature and character of colonial occupation of indigenous peoples, where they are treated as second class citizens whose oppression is justified by painting them as backwards, archaic, warring tribes – just as suggested by Jared Diamond in his book about tribal people.’
Survival International and TAPOL received the messages of outrage following condemnation of the book by Survival last week. The book has since been the subject of heated debate during Mr Diamond’s visit to the UK
LEONARD FONG ROKA | Supported by the Jeff Febi Writing Fellowship
This is the 6,000th article to be published in PNG Attitude since it began in February 2006
After the 1990 ceasefire between the Papua New Guinea Defence Force and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army he remained near his uncle and, with the dawn of the Bougainville Peace Process in 1997, he served as Kabui’s personal bodyguard until the president’s death in June 2008.
To Perakai, Kabui’s death was the ‘punishment’ of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) because of Kabui’s approval of Canadian businessman Lindsay Semple, who’s firm Invincible Resources backed the Bougainville Resources Development Corporation (BRDC) without cabinet’s blessing.
The BRDC issue was recently addressed on the floor of the ABG parliament by President John Momis. But back in 2005-2008, the ABG House with its few big-mouth parliamentarians was not willing to deal with it systematically.
According to David Perakai, the late president had the desire to treat the BRDC-Invincible Resources affair independently and did not dip his hands into the K20 million of Lindsay Semple’s money.
The ABG, under Kabui, initially used some of this money to repatriate BRA/Bougainville Interim Government (BIG) overseas based activists Moses Havini, Mike Forster and Martin Miriori.
Some of this controversial money undeniably went into the pockets of BRDC/Invincible supporters; some went to the recently completed ABG housing project at Hutjena, Kubu and Sohano.
But Kabui’s parliamentarians protested against him by denying him access to clean funds for medical treatment overseas.
Just before the BRDC/Invincible Resources standoff, the late Joseph Kabui was admitted to the Pacific International Hospital in Port Moresby with a serious heart problem.
He was referred to the Catholic Church run Malhas Hospital in Townsville, Australia, for an operation to replace the main artery supplying blood to the heart.
Thus in June 2007 President Kabui, his wife and David Perakai were in Townsville where Kabui’s artery was removed and replaced with a plastic artery that required a review every six months at the cost of some K10,000. With other expenses like transport it would add up to K20,000.
Upon his return, the ABG row over BRDC/Invincible Resources erupted, dividing the government and arousing public condemnation of the president.
In light of his medical needs, and in an attempt to isolate the BRDC/Invincible Resources crisis, Kabui pushed for a proper budgetary allocation for his medical review. This was denied.
By this time another problem had surfaced in the ABG. The member for Central Bougainville Women, Magdalene Toro’ansi, was stripped from her portfolio for being a mole in the ABG.
Toro’ansi was known in the ABG for leaking confidential ABG agendas to Waigani before planned Waigani-ABG meetings. Thus all ABG meetings and negotiation strategies were unproductive. So the Bougainville Executive Council removed her to the backbench.
To cover up her disloyalty to Bougainville, Toro’ansi joined the anti-BRDC camp that included parliamentarians Robert Sawa Hamar, Thomas Lugabai and Francisca Semoso. This change added fuel to the anti-Kabui campaign.
The protestors claimed that President Joseph Kabui was misusing public funds in the pretext of medical trips.
With a settlement of the crisis nowhere in sight, the president’s health worsened as he faced the dilemma of missing the second medical review in June 2008. But with illness threatening he and David Perakai left for Manus where the Kabui chaired the Papua New Guinea governors’ meeting.
On Friday 6 June, the president and his team returned back to Bougainville without any rest when the protestors ordered a Bougainville Executive Council meeting to talk about the BRDC/Invincible Resources case by 1 o’clock that same day.
Just after midnight on the 7 June 2008, Joseph Kabui died at his residence in Hutjena.
For David Perakai and other parliamentarians and bureaucrats sympathetic to Kabui, there remain doubts as to why the President John Momis, after getting into office, cost the ABG some K80,000 for a medical review in Singapore with his whole family without any noise from parliamentarians!
This was a privilege that the late President Joseph Kabui had been denied.
SHARON ISAFE | Papua New Guinea Mine Watch
IN 1975 PNG ACHIEVED political autonomy, but the struggle for independence continues. BHP is the first of many dragons the government must slay.
But first things first, the O’Neill government has been slammed in the Australian media for placing a travel ban on Prof Ross Garnaut, the outgoing Australian Chairman of Ok Tedi Mining Limited.
“A low point in Papua New Guinea’s democracy”, Garnaut called it. A “misuse of immigration powers”, he claims.
Let’s put aside for one minute the Australian government’s criminal asylum seeker policy – which is described by Amnesty International as cruel and inhumane – Australia frequently denies entry to those people it judges to be of poor character.
It is ironic then that Prof Stephen Howes from ANU believes his government must come out publicly and condemn PNG for its action.
Can you can imagine the hysterical laughter from international audiences were Australia to sermonise over the proper use of “immigration powers”, after a decade of shamelessly using asylum seekers as a political football.
But hypocrisy aside, let’s move beyond the predictable international headlines, and get to the nub of the issue emerging from Garnautgate.
Sadly, it is long in origins. Let me be curt, historically PNG was at best a glorified colonial buffer for an Australian state in fear of invading European/Asian hordes.
And on that buffer the colonial administration set up a few plantations and a few mines, but not much else (sadly, many Papua New Guineans perished under the brutal labour regime imposed).
By the time they left, PNG had the vestiges of a state, but it lacked the fundamental instruments needed to exert independence internationally – i.e. nationally owned industries, a highly functional education system, skilled localised civil service, etc.
So, since 1975 our leaders have had to bow – often with excruciating servility – before the likes of successive Australian governments, foreign companies, the world-bank, in the hope a few scraps from the global economy will be thrown onto PNG’s table.
And on those occasions when a scrap is indeed thrown PNG’s way, those same leaders have contented themselves by tearing at these meagre morsels through scams, malfeasance and theft – to the detriment of the people.
The mining multinationals, and to an extent the Australian government, are happy with this arrangement, providing that the former get sweetheart deals – they have, mostly – and the latter does not face any unforeseen security dilemmas (if they can make a few bucks on top, so much the better).
Now let’s be very clear, prime minister O’Neill is no Hugo Chavez, he is not seeking to seize the country’s mineral wealth in order to enrich its people. But that said, he is a nationalist, and at the moment he is waging a nationalist struggle against foreign hyper-exploitation.
Indeed, it would seem prime minister O’Neill has had a light bulb moment of sorts – it’s been too long in coming – PNG’s elite do not have to feed off the scraps thrown to them by foreign financiers, whatever form they take. They can, in fact, seize the golden goose for themselves.
And if they succeed, will the golden goose be used to enrich the national elite? Almost certainly yes, this happens in all independent capitalist nations – but it is a far better arrangement than the enrichment of foreign multinationals and their governments.
I am no cheerleader of prime minister O’Neill – my memory is a long one – but if PNG is to enter the world stage with a shred of independence, it must take ownership of its assets, simple as that. This will be the first step towards a better PNG – but many struggles lie ahead!
In this respect, O’Neill’s duel with Prof Garnaut, and BHP, is the first shot over the bow. Whether the prime minister has the mettle to get off his knees and take a serious stand against foreign interests, remains to be seen.
PATRICK HOWLEY (pictured), a Marist Brother, has lived in Papua New Guinea since 1966, transitioning through a number of assignments from teaching at St Xavier’s on Kairiru Island to his present post in the Flexible Learning Faculty at Divine Word University in Madang.
He has authored a number of important books including Breaking Spears and Mending Hearts about restorative justice in Bougainville and Crossroads to Justice, a biography of Sinaka Goava and his father Guava Oa. Another book is on the way and will eb reviewed in PNG Attitude soon.
At present, Brother Pat is writing an article on alcohol abuse for publication in the DWU Journal.
He has some good ideas about how the problem can be addressed in PNG but is finding ti difficult to track down information on such matters as alcohol production and profitability in PNG. Even locating the SP Brewery annual report has proven to be elusive.
Brother Pat has also so far found it impossible to find statistics relating to road deaths, and their causes, in PNG.
So we’re putting out this call to those of our readers who may be able to assist Brother Pat with his research. You can contact him via the Comments link below.
IF YOU DON’T KNOW where you’ve come from, how on earth can you expect to know where you are going?
Late last year I visited a village at the northern end of the Yuat Gorge. While the people are not in Enga Province, they are probably the most far flung Engan outliers in the highlands.
I asked them how they came to be so far away from Wabag and living in East Sepik Province.
None of them really knew. The village and surrounding hamlets had been in their present location for nearly 50 years and, apart from an old man, no one in the settlement was over 45 years old.
I knew how they came to be there because I had read Jon Bartlett’s patrol report. I explained their history to them.
When they lived further upriver in the mountains, their parents and grandparents had run afoul of a megalomaniacal luluai and tultul from a nearby clan group. Don’t know what a luluai or tultul is? Better ask your grandparents.
These venerable gentlemen, who had been appointed by the kiap at Kompiam, thought that their brass badges of office gave them open licence to lock people up for no reason whatsoever and then assault their wives and children.
The kiap at Kompiam was two days hard walking away, so the clan elders decided their best option was the age-old highland underdog strategy of looking for greener and safer pastures. Hence they came to their present location.
Jon Bartlett mentioned in his patrol report that, when he came across them in 1971, the clan elders had their Village Book with them.
In the days of the kiaps every village or settlement had a special navy blue Village Book in which important information and events were recorded.
When I asked them if they still had it they shrugged. The old man, who remembered fleeing downriver with his parents as a child, thought that someone had thrown it in the river after independence.
The reason I thought of this visit I made last year was the recent news that Jack Karukuru had passed away. Jack was one of the first Papua New Guinean kiaps and was a very famous man.
Yet very few people, apart from some other old kiaps, seem to know much about him.
I mentioned this to a friend who is also an ex-kiap and who spends a lot of time in Papua New Guinea. He nodded in agreement.
When he was a kiap he knew the local member of the House of Assembly, who is long deceased, very well. They were good friends. He was a man who never had much money but did much for his country.
When my friend recently went back to the village area where his friend lived and mentioned his name he was met with blank stares. “Wasn’t he once a big man or something?” someone asked.
SHARON ISAFE | PNGExposed Blog
IN A RECENT ARTICLE published in the Global Mail, freelance journalist Jo Chandler (pictured) discovered the secret behind a spate of deaths along the Fly River.
It's no mystery she wrote, sadly the disturbing mortality rate is a product of an absence in basic health services, combined with severe social dislocation caused by the Ok Tedi mine.
Citing evidence from a World Health Organisation briefing Chandler wrote:
Their examinations identify sickness and disease emerging from years of accumulated neglect, compounded by dirty water, poor nutrition, crowded living conditions, too many babies, lack of roads and power, decaying or abandoned health facilities and hardscrabble lives made harder by shifting tides and islands of sediment, soil erosion and vegetation dieback, and the loss of fish catches and crops.
She continued several paragraphs later:
Ok Tedi’s operations over a generation have provided critical infrastructure, opportunity and services to some of the world’s most isolated and challenged communities, plus 2,000 direct jobs (95 per cent of them going to local people) and as many again spun off through local businesses and subcontractors.
But in the South Fly villages I visit the only evidence of substantial trickle down from its USD1.45 billion annual revenue is the sediment. It raises the riverbed and spills water onto the land, wiping out food gardens and spoiling drinking water, even exposing old graves. Such issues are serious enough to prompt the mining company to consider relocating severely impacted communities.
One senses something calamitous when one of the most profitable mines in the world is surrounded by some of the worst displays of ‘development’-based rural impoverishment.
Yet not all journalists see things this way. With their friends smarting inside the Ok Tedi Development Foundation (OTDF) - the ones charged with maladministering community compensation payments from Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) – some in the media fraternity have taken it upon themselves to find some good news stories, its Christmas after all.
Cue Malum Nalu.
FRANCIS NII | Supported by the South Pacific Strategic Solutions Writing Fellowship
THERE ARE FAMILIES in Port Moresby city that survive on income from selling buai and the proposal by the National Capital District Council to impose a blanket ban on the nut in the nation’s capital is akin to passing a death sentence on these people.
Does Governor Powes Parkop have any plan for their survival?
We all want our cities, towns, villages, rivers and seas to be clean and free of pollution.
But in the process, no one in their right mind would compromise human lives for environmental beauty.
To sever the only lifeline of our very own people without providing them an alternative means of survival is akin to homicide.
Prostitution and criminal activity in the city will rise as these people struggle for survival. There will be more HIV victims and other social and health problems contrary to intended outcomes.
And then there are families in the rural areas where buai constitute the main source of income. The ban will have adverse financial implications on their livelihood as well.
So banning buai in Port Moresby will not only affect traders and users in the city but will have implications for many people including the little farmers in places like Morobe, Madang, Oro, Gulf, East and West New Britain, North Solomons and even the periphery of NCD.
Instead of a blanket ban, the NCDC must explore other means that are beneficial to all parties. If NCDC has run out of ideas then it should ask the public to contribute ideas and select the best one and pay for it.
Here is one suggestion.
The NCDC could issue buai trading licenses and identifications to traders. The license should have terms and conditions spelt out clearly in Pidgin and Hiri Motu.
It should state the location of the trade, which may be at the main market or in front of one’s residence or any other place mutually agreed to by the buai seller and the NCDC.
The NCDC must supply trash bins with the license number and location and small plastic bags to the license trader free or for a small fee.
When people buy a nuts, they must also be given a plastic bag for the buai skin and spittle and dump it in trash bin. City trash collectors will empty the bin and leave it behind for reuse.
When the plastic bags run out, the trader can get the NCDC to replenish them.
Before closing up, each trader must clean up his or her designated spot.
The city rangers must do routine inspections.
Heavy penalties should be imposed on those who do not comply with the conditions of the license.
Spot fines should apply to misbehaving buai users.
In this way no one is a loser. Everyone is a winner.
And more importantly, the responsibility of taking care of the rubbish is given back to the perpetrators in a regulated way. This will cut down the clean-up cost as well.
There are buai traders in the city who are conscious of their rubbish.
Last September, I stayed in the city with a family at Gerehu Stage 3. The mistress of the house sold buai at the gate of her residence.
She put her buai stall close to the trash bin provided by NCDC. And she ensured that her customers left the skins and the spittle in the trash bin that had a plastic bag in it. You could hardly see buai skins and spittle at the spot. All went into the trash bin.
Why not try this suggestion and see if it can work? If it doesn’t work, then go for the total ban as mooted.
BERNARD YEGIORA | Twitter
A STREET SELLER IN KUNDIAWA came up to me and offered me a packet of Viagra cream for K40.
He touted the cream for K40, then K20 and finally K10. I politely told him that I didn't have any money.
I was told he also sells Viagra pills. Scary stuff if you do not know the side effects. So Kundiawa town is changing.
How did this street seller end up selling Viagra on the streets of Kundiawa? Is Viagra legal or illegal in PNG?
I was told that his biggest customers are public servants. I presume this product has sparked a sexual revolution.
Word on the street is that the Viagra came via the Indonesia-PNG boarder, similar to the fireworks on the streets.
Not only male sex products but also female sex products are sold on the streets of Kundiawa. Very interesting changes.
Viagra with pornography is a lethal combination that could increase HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in PNG.
Bernard Yegiora, at present on leave at home in Kundiawa, is a lecturer at Divine Word University and an Associate of Jackson PR Associates
THERE HAS BEEN A SOLID HISTORY of the media in Papua New Guinea reporting on corruption.
Certainly those who framed the PNG Constitution were acutely aware of what a problem corruption would become in this rapidly changing society.
Way back in 1984, a major study into PNG’s law and order problems, the Clifford Report, had this to say:
So much more is known about private lives here and so much more rumoured or suspected that the extent of corruption is difficult to hide….
If the official cases are no more than the crumbs from a table laden with corruption, the knowledge circulating amongst the public of the true size of this repast is exaggerated to lavish banquet proportions by their imagination.
Back in 1982 – 30 years ago – the then Chief Ombudsman did a major report into how the PNG government bought 15,000 so-called “Executive Diaries” from a Singaporean businessman even though the Supply and Tenders Board had rejected the purchase three times “on the grounds that procedures specifically designed to prevent corrupt practices and unbudgeted for expenditure had not been complied with.”
In that report, the Chief Ombudsman included a chapter analysing how corruption starts and spreads in developing countries. “Studies of corruption in other countries,” he said, “have shown that, much like a disease, it develops through four progressive stages.”
In Stage One, corruption begins and is isolated at the top – the political leadership. In Stage Two, it filters down to the senior public servants where it is condoned and tolerated, of necessity, by the political leadership.
By Stage Three, corruption has become pandemic throughout all layers of the bureaucracy and it becomes the norm for the public to have to pay something on the side for even the most routine performance of a public servant’s duty (e.g. the renewal of a passport, granting of a licence, etc).
In such societies justice is bought and sold and public office becomes the gateway to personal fortune.
The then Chief Ombudsman said Stage Four of corruption in these developing countries was when the military stepped in and staged a coup.
Here in PNG we have not reached Stage Four yet despite what some of my rather ignorant colleagues in the Australian media have occasionally reported.
Journalists should not always expect credit for the job they do trying to report on corruption. One of the reasons I mentioned the diaries scandal is that I sent off report after report on it to the ABC.
My great friend, the late Robert Keith-Reid, who had started the regional monthly magazine, Islands Business, rang me from Suva saying how much he would like to get some coverage on it. He said he was looking for a Papua New Guinean stringer but in the meantime would I be able to write something for him.
So the night before I went off on leave I did a series of stories for Robert’s publication on the diaries scandal and also sent him an excellent Bob Brown cartoon on corruption that had appeared in an earlier Ombudsman’s Report.
I did a separate breakout story on those four stages of corruption and another one on the debate in Parliament – which, incidentally, was not so much about what a terrible thing corruption was but rather along the lines of, “Who does the Chief Ombudsman think he is investigating leaders?”
Robert gave my contributions a handsome spread. It became the cover story for Islands Business – his cover being the PNG flag with a big stamp across it “Corruption”.
Back in those days, the ABC did not approve of its foreign correspondents doing work for any other media organisation. So I told Robert that he could not use my name and I came up with the pseudonym – Gerard Doceray.
A few months later, Robert rang me up from Suva laughing. He said, “Sean, I’ve just had a call from the ABC in Australia. They’ve got hold of that Islands Business issue on corruption in PNG and they wanted a contact number for Gerard Doceray.” He burst out laughing again.
“What did you tell them,” I asked. “Well,” he said, “I told them it was a pseudonym but the guy was in a sensitive position and I could not disclose the real name. Then I said, ‘Why don’t you get in touch with your own correspondent, Sean Dorney?’”
Robert was really laughing now as he went on.
“And you know what they said? They said, ‘Oh, Sean’s all right for some things, but this Gerard Doceray seems to know what’s going on up there.’”
Sean Dorney made these remarks as part of a longer speech to the annual Excellence in Anti-Corruption Reporting Media Awards 2012 on Monday 10 December
MARIJUANA IS CHANGING THE FACE of Papua New Guinea society. We now have more red eyed young men and women on the streets who are in a little world of their own.
From my sources on the streets there are very many locations in Madang where drug dealers sell marijuana.
There is no single distributor and no person one has control of the drug trade here in Madang. Perhaps the day is near when a drug lord will create a cartel.
The front walkway of J & Z supermarket is one hotspot for drugs, while the bus stop in front of Modilon is another haven for dealers.
There are 18 hotspots in Madang: Balasiko, 4 Mile, DCA, Sisiak and the list goes on.
One kina for a small pack the size of M&Ms or Smarties.
The marijuana is coming from Kainantu, Goroka and Simbu. The Kainantu stuff is A grade.
Drug mules are packing marijuana inside sweet potato and cabbage bags. The drug is dried and packed in empty 5-kg rice plastic bags.
The coded language for trading is also evolving at a rapid pace. A pack is now referred to as cold leftovers, dust, wasa, kumu gras and other euphemisms.
The police seem powerless in the fight against the use of drugs, while drug dealers seem to be a protected species who roam the streets freely.
There must be questions asked about how effective is the drug squad in the Royal PNG Constabulary. The provincial police commander needs to come up with strategies.
Bernard Yegiora is a lecturer in PNG Studies at Divine Word University and an Associate of Jackson PR Associates Pty Ltd
THE ANNOUNCEMENT BY prime minister Peter O’Neill that investigations into the Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABLs) will be completed without specifying any time limitation is unacceptable.
"We commend the prime minister for informing the nation of status of the probe into abuses of large portions of customary land throughout PNG without compliance with dues process,” said Effrey Dademo (pictured), program manager for ACT NOW!
“But the prime minister must give a date on when the probe will be completed and a final report presented to the people of this country”, she said.
ACT NOW! said the Commission of Inquiry was a great move on the part of the government, but there is still no transparency and accountability as there is still no official Commission report.
Meanwhile, forest clearance licenses issued under this flawed process remain effective and allow logging on stolen land to continue indefinitely.
“If the people of Papua New Guinea are to believe the prime minister is serious in ensuring good governance in all sectors, a deadline for the completion of the inquiry and tabling of a report will be an excellent indicator” said Ms Dademo.
TWO EX-KIAPS WHO RETAIN close associations with Papua New Guinea have told Australians they should be more positive about PNG – and spread the word that good things are happening with Australia’s nearest neighbour.
Bob Cleland (pictured), now a fit 81, who served in PNG from 1953-76 and who was last there two months ago, says he sees positive signs of improvement and that Australians interested in the country should “switch our natural pessimism to, at least, a cautious optimism.”
As a 22-year-old kiap (patrol officer), Cleland personally supervised the building of the Highlands Highway between Asaro and Watabung through the precipitous Daulo Pass.
In a comment to PNG Attitude, Cleland asked rhetorically, “So can we, fellow Australians, do anything about spreading the good news?
“At risk of sounding like some sort of evangelical missionary, we can quietly tell our friends, our associates, our fellow club members and our families.”
Cleland, who also sponsors the Cleland Prize for Heritage Literature in the Crocodile Prize, named for his parents Sir Donald and Dame Rachel Cleland, says he’s going to tackle the task of making Australians more realistically aware of events in PNG by beginning with his own lain.
“I'm going to start with my local Rotary Club,” he said. “Whenever I hear about some good news from an authentic source with numbers to quote, I will take a minute, just a minute, to pass it on at a Rotary meeting.
“In this way, I hope, over time, to update, to modernise, the perception most Australians have about PNG. That perception tends to be stuck on all the worst things we have heard and read about PNG over the last few decades.”
Cleland urged Australian readers of PNG Attitude to do likewise and “spread the word.”
“I've always found in my life as a kiap, working in Aboriginal [Australian] heritage and lately as a social mapper in PNG that positive reinforcement works wonders.
“Once you boost people's morale and self esteem they seem to aspire to much greater heights,” Fitzpatrick said.
He said that “constant harping about how bad things are eventually wears people down and they lose interest. I suspect this may have happened with politics in Papua New Guinea.
“This isn't to say that when someone does the wrong thing it shouldn't be reported but at the same time an equable balance needs to be maintained.”
Phil Fitzpatrick is also a member of the new Australia-PNG-Pacific public relations consortium, Jackson PR Associates.
ALOYSIUS LAUKAI | Radio New Dawn
A TWO-DAY PANGUNA NEGOTIATION forum held at Hutjena Secondary School in Buka has strongly recommended that the closed Panguna copper mine be reopened by the former partner, Bougainville Copper Ltd.
The regional forum for the North Bougainville districts of Buka, Atolls and Nissan ended with all three districts supporting the reopening of the mine.
In a seven point recommendation, the three districts said the mine should reopen only after a new deal has been negotiated between all parties.
They called on the Autonomous Bougainville Government to make sure all parties are represented when the new deal is negotiated between BCL, ABG, the PNG government and the landowners.
The Division of Mining organised the meeting to get the views of the leaders and people of North Bougainville, Nissan and the Atolls District that includes the islands of Carteret, Motlock, Tasman and Fead. The forum was hailed a success.
Three more forums will be hosted in Central Bougainville and South Bougainville to get responses from other districts.
DAVENDRA SHARMA | Islands Business [extract]
An unprecedented growth of 1.8 million in Papua New Guinea’s population over the last decade is alarming regional environment analysts because of imminent dangers of over-exploitation of fisheries and forestry resources in the predominantly mountainous country.
PNG now boasts a population of 7,059,653, a jump of 36% from 10 years ago.
Australian scientific group, CSIRO, has said in a report that PNG’s growing population is “more of an immediate threat to the region’s sustainability than climate change”.
Incoming governments will be faced with extreme pressure on its basic infrastructure like water and electricity as well as social services like healthcare and police.
“But the problem is if you increase population pressure on top of natural disasters like tsunamis, cyclones, droughts and floods, it makes basic services like electricity and water and so-on, much harder to provide,” said James Butler, head of CSIRO’s environment and development team.
He said as PNG was hugely dependent on foreign aid from Australia, which is its largest donor with $500 million in handouts this year, the continuous population growth will increase demand on Canberra to increase its aid.
In his research report, Butler said PNG’s phenomenal population jump would need to be addressed and restricted over the next 10-20 years before the region’s most populous nation loses control of its economic growth.
This report follows another warning from another donor, the Asian Development Bank, which warned that PNG had one of the lowest per capita incomes in the island region” despite a large mining and resource sector.
The ADB report said PNG had a lower per capita income than that of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga and that it needed to become more aggressive in its tax approach to balance economic growth with population.
FOR SUCH AM EMINENT and respected figure, Ross Garnaut (pictured) can be mighty sensitive about his reputation, so he’d probably be feeling pretty bruised by the latest controversy in which he’s become involved.
Something similar happened to me 36 years ago, when Michael Somare referred to me as ‘arrogant, overzealous and unprofessional’ for wanting to introduce commercial broadcasting into PNG, and it’s always a nasty feeling.
On this occasion, though, Peter O’Neill’s warning that he might have Professor Garnaut on the next plane out of Moresby if he stepped foot in Papua New Guinea, was one for the professor’s memoirs.
“Mr Speaker,” O’Neill told parliament on Friday, “I will put him [Garnaut] on notice today that he's no longer welcome to this country; that he stay out of Papua New Guinea.”
The immediate cause of this outburst was a comment by Garnaut that “with such accumulation of wealth in a poor country, poor country, it is very tempting for political figures to think of better ways of using [it] right now, rather than putting it into long term development".
The PNG prime minister thought this statement from a person in such a prominent position was patronising and way out of order.
Garnaut had been responding to a proposal by O’Neill that BHP consider returning control to PNG of the three of the seven board positions, including the chairman, of PNG Sustainable Development Program Limited (PNGSDP).
O’Neill was livid at the implication that the PNG government would somehow not apply the funds prudently.
“I made the statement on behalf of the country that BHP reduce the way they conduct the management of Sustainable on behalf of our people,” he said.
“Now that is a fair call by [the] leader of our country that concerns the management of billions and billions of kina by foreigners on behalf of our people. They need to be accountable.
“These are not funds that belong to BHP any more, this does not belong to a few directors of that board any more, but by the comments he made undermined the political leadership and undermined the people of this country.”
And it’s just possible that Garnaut’s statement was made as a result of a misinterpretation of the PNG prime minister’s intentions, as Radio Australia reporter Jemima Garrett has pointed out.
I did that interview with prime minister Peter O'Neill when he made that call.
He wasn't even suggesting that the government would control [PNGSDP].
He was saying that it should come back to a PNG-based, PNG-run organisation, which, I guess, now it's ten years since BHP pulled out of Papua New Guinea, that's a fair call for any nation's leader to make.
“I want to put on record in this parliament that we will not tolerate people of such standing [Garnaut] coming into our country and disrespecting leaders of this country,” Peter O’Neill told parliament.
One can understand his chagrin.
The clear perception is that BHP, which funded PNGSDP after its Ok Tedi mining debacle, still exercises considerable control over it, an organisation with $1.4 billion in assets and which has been criticised for not contributing enough to development, although this seems to be changing now.
A recent independent review conducted by Professor Stephen Howes of the Australian National University found that PNGSDP was operating effectively but suggested that BHP hand over control of the three board positions to an independent organisation.
Perhaps a contrite ‘sori’ from Professor Garnaut would be in order.
Radio Australia | ABC [extracts]
And Papua New Guineans have such a good reputation they are getting promoted faster than their Australian counterparts.
Latest estimates suggest up to 3,000 skilled Papua New Guineans have moved to Australia.
Dr Ben Imbun (pictured), a senior lecturer in the School of Management at the University of Western Sydney has been tracking their movements.
He told the ABC’s Jemima Garrett that low wages in PNG are adding to the incentives to join the brain-drain.
“They are doing blue collar workers to white collar managerial supervisory, mine geologists, engineers, so anything within that range, any job,” Dr Imbun said.
“They are paid a lot a year in terms of comparing with what they get up there [in Papua New Guinea]. They get a third of what an expatriate Australian or American or Canadian get up there. So when they have been trickling down and moving here they realise that they are paid as equal as anybody else.”
Dr Imbun believes this would average around $120,000 a year, and says Papua New Guineans tend to get faster promotion than their Australian counterparts.
“The ones coming here are skilled and have worked in some of the quite established mines in Papua New Guinea and have a vast accumulation of experience…. Up in PNG they are more generic or they are able to do everything.”
Dr Imbun said he was surprised that the ‘brain drain’ from PNG had not been noticed by the politicians.
“My opinion is that they do not sit down to prioritise what's really happening, that's why a lot of the countrymen and women are here in Australia doing all these things, but it hasn’t hit [the politicians] yet
THOSE WHO CRAFTED The PNG Constitution of 1975, the members of the Constitutional Planning Committee, did their best to ensure that power should belong to the people, as a group, to be exercised in accordance with the Constitution.
They wanted to ensure that the rights of the people were respected and could be enforced. They wanted to establish a Parliament which would be truly representative of the people.
They wanted to spread power evenly over the three arms of government — the legislature, the executive and the judiciary — so that each is supreme in its own sphere (Constitution Section 99), and the Constitution is supreme over all of them (Constitution Section 11).
The Constitution provides for powers, but those powers have limits. The power of the people cannot override the human rights of minorities. The National Parliament represents the people and has almost unlimited powers of law-making, but they cannot conflict with the Constitution (Constitution Section 99(2)(a)).
The National Executive has executive power to govern, but that executive power is not vested in any one person, a king, chief, president or even prime minister, but collectively in the Governor-General and the Ministers who are selected by Parliament to constitute the National Executive Council (Constitution Sections 138-41).
The National Judicial System has the responsibility of upholding the Constitution, so it has a very special power over the other two branches of government, ensuring that they obey the Constitution.
It acts as the check on the (almost) unlimited power of the Parliament to make laws, by reviewing those laws and deciding whether or not they conflict with the Constitution, and this is why it is wrong to say that Parliament is supreme in PNG. Similarly, the Judiciary acts as a check on the National Executive.
This is how it is supposed to work in theory — a system of finely balanced powers and checks, which respects and is governed by the Constitution. But does it work out in practice?
The Speaker is chosen from among the elected Members to preside over Parliament, to be its principal representative and to uphold its dignity, to regulate its proceedings and administer its affairs and to perform certain executive functions (Constitution Sections 107-108, 110).
Among other things, the Speaker has the power to set sitting days, to hear or not to hear Members, to allow or not to allow motions, votes of no confidence and so on.
Recent events have demonstrated how the Speaker has exercised these powers to their fullest extent in recent years. In July 2010, following the decision in the OLIPPAC Case, the Speaker controlled Parliament on behalf of the National Alliance-led government by refusing to entertain the then Opposition’s proposed vote of no confidence, and instead recognising only the adjournment motion of the leader of government business.
Despite a Supreme Court finding that the Speaker had breached the Constitution at the material time, the situation remained unchanged for a year, until he used this tactic again in August 2011, but this time in favour of the Opposition.
KELA KAPKORA SIL BOLKIN
HAVEN’T YOU REALISED that Port Moresby is the only city in the world that doesn’t have proper restrooms for the public?
The available restrooms throughout the city have crumbled to the blueprint of wear and tear.
There are no doors on the cubicles, the floors are infested with faeces, maggots, betel nut sputum and phlegm and there are bullet holes in the walls enough to see through.
There is one more burden - and that is the filthy restroom lord who will demand a tax for using this disgusting hut. If you don’t pay or don’t pay enough, you risk your neck especially if you belong to one of the vulnerable ethnic groups - let alone being a woman.
The five major markets maintained by the National Capital District Commission do not have appropriate clean and ventilated rest rooms.
Mothers and sisters who travel in to the big city down the Magi and Hiri Highways to sell their market produce take almost five to six hours to get to Port Moresby’s markets.
They then face the challenge of acquiring space to sell their produce alongside mothers and sisters from the city settlements.
If nature calls in that melee, the mothers and sisters have to pay K1 for a tissue, K1 for water and sadly have yet to sell their produce to make those amounts. As a result, they venture out to the nearest shrub, tree or drain only to meet a bigger doom.
The menfolk easily used the contours and shrubs to answer calls of nature. Our mothers and sisters have to take more of a risk.
The thugs are well aware of the demands for contours and shrubs and they sit and watch like eagles to prey on any females that walk off the road seeking redress from nature’s call.
Furthermore, the Papuan black snakes also pose a threat to our mothers and sisters when they trespass seeking a sanctuary for nature’s call.
Besides, when there are no rest rooms and when the masses shit and pollute the environment, it is an absolute health and hygiene concern.
Of course, the masses feed their hungry stomachs with buttered scones, flower balls, lamb flaps and kaukau all washed down the blockade in the oesophagus with water from recycled one litre Coca-Cola containers sold on open markets along the roads.
The hungry consumer is often in for a big bout of diarrhoea and perhaps typhoid immediately after the meal. The chain reaction is plainly the congestion of the sickness care system of our clinics and hospitals.
Radio Australia | Asia Pacific
AUSTRALIA'S PEAK SCIENTIFIC BODY says Papua New Guinea's growing population is more of an immediate threat to the region's sustainability than climate change.
James Butler, leader of CSIRO's environment and development team, who released the report, says the window of opportunity for aid spending on the problem is "pretty small."
"We've probably got about 10, 15, 20 years to really get it right," Mr Butler told.
Papua New Guinea's last census in 2011 by the World Bank found that the country had just over seven million people, an increase of 1.8 million from 2000.
Mr Butler says when population growth is combined with climate change, natural resources, particularly around the coast, will come under extreme pressure.
"There's no question over the centuries, people in Oceania have coped with all sorts of tsunamis and volcanoes and earthquakes and so-on and are actually very adaptable in some ways," Mr Butler said.
"But the problem is if you increase population pressure on top of that, it makes basic services like electricity and water and so-on much harder to provide."
Mr Butler says there can be great variation in people's vulnerability across a very short distance.
"The approach we're trying to introduce is a much more fine-grained analysis of the places that are most vulnerable.
"In West New Britain, we're discovering that there are one or two places which are extremely vulnerable and in general these tend to be the highly populated coastal regions or small islands just off shore.
"These places need to have very specific strategies designed for them based on those very specific impacts that we're projecting."
IT COULD BE A SIGHT FOR SORE EYES but also a cry for immediate response: the cosmic amount of youths, let alone children, begging and making ends meet through directing traffic, caretaking parked vehicles and lending a helping hand….
A recent encounter with one little boy, who looked to be less than eight years old, was an experience that had me contemplating. The image he portrayed was of a mature self, a mouthful of betelnut and a lighted cigarette.
But it was an occurrence that is becoming all too familiar with more and more children taking up the same role. Itinerant begging on the street has become a way of life for these distressed children.
It brings about a string of questions. Why are these children on the streets? Where are their parents? Are they aware their children are doing these things? What is the city council doing? Why is this issue being ignored?
It seems that the problem of child begging is present in many underdeveloped countries. There are children of all ages, as young as four, begging on our streets. Are we all just plain ignorant about this or rather not meddle with it. But it is an immediate concern for our whole nation.
“If a child is given love, he becomes loving,” says Dr Joyce Brothers. “If he's helped when he needs help, he becomes helpful. And if he has been truly valued at home ... he grows up secure enough to look beyond himself to the welfare of others.”
Our future, the future of Papua New Guinea, is these children. While the ones more likely to run the country are in the academic institutions across the nation, those that loaf on the streets are equally as important.
They make up a larger population most likely to become vendors, bus drivers, rangers and bandits. If we wish to see the fruits of the seeds we plant, we have to weed and prune and nurture. If we become oblivious to them, they become barren and wild.
These children need to be given a sense of hope and a sense of dignity - a chance. There need to be lured into education and self help. Our country must find a way to alleviating poverty and hopelessness.
Radio Australia | ABC
IN A STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS yesterday, prime minister Peter O'Neill outlined an anti-corruption strategy and promised to rebuild the country's public institutions and infrastructure.
However, at least one public figure, the former member for Lae Open Bart Philemon, says more needs to be done to address the problem.
Mr Philemon called for urgent action to fight corruption, saying the problem is the biggest threat to the nation's future.
On Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program, Lawrence Stephens, the president of Transparency International PNG, agreed with Mr Philemon.
Papua New Guinea ranks 154th out of 180 nations in Transparency International's 2011 Corruption Perception Index, which lists countries according to their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys.
"When you listen to statements like the former member, like those of the prime minister, and like those of many other leaders, the ranking appears to be warranted and we are in serious trouble as a nation plagued by corruption," Mr Stephens said.
"People are far too accepting of the reality of corruption, far too ready to participate in corrupt activities, even down to the extent of bribing police officers and corrupt officials," Mr Stephens added.
Earlier this week an anti-corruption team appointed by the country's government arrested four people for allegedly misusing more than $US1.5 million in school funds.
It followed an investigation by Task Force Sweep, which was set up by the government last year to investigate the alleged misuse of public funds.
THE DARK CLOUDS THAT HANG OVER the lives of many women and girls in the developing world have been witnessing recent bursts of sunshine from Australia.
In recent months, the Australian government has made a series of major announcements to support and promote equality for women and girls in developing countries such as Afghanistan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Ethiopia.
Australia has doubled its family planning commitment to assist safe births to $50 million a year by 2016. Our aid is supporting more programs to prevent violence against women. And we're redoubling our efforts to ensure that all girls receive a quality education.
These positive steps forward are due, in part, to the government's acceptance of an independent aid review finding last year that Australia should make gender equality ''mission critical'' in order to achieve development outcomes in the region and beyond.
But last week in the Cook Islands at the Pacific Islands Forum, prime minister Julia Gillard went one big step further. She announced a $320 million initiative phased over a decade to promote women's rights in the Pacific by getting more women in parliament, increasing economic opportunities and reducing violence. The Australian aid sector has uttered a collective shout of ''hooray''.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that investing in women and girls is an essential requirement for effective development, the Pacific remains one of the least progressive regions in the world in terms of gender equality.
The Pacific comprises a diverse and proud set of complex cultures. But it has the lowest proportion of women in parliament in the world at just 3.5%. The recent elections in Papua New Guinea saw 135 women stand but just three elected - Dellilah Gore, Loujaya Toni and Julie Soso, the first woman to ever win a Highlands seat.
Women in the Solomon Islands and PNG experience some of the worst economic conditions in the world. According to the International Labour Organisation, the Asia-Pacific region loses up to $45.6 billion annually as a result of women's lack of access to employment opportunities.
Moreover, 60-70% of women in four Pacific countries - PNG, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu - report physical and sexual abuse.
Australians probably think of Afghanistan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo as some of the worst places in the world to be a woman. Aid workers know that the PNG Highlands, so close to Australia, is just as bad, especially in terms of violence.
PNG-BASED ABC CORRESPONDENT LIAM FOX has queried reports that the PNG government has lifted a ban on foreign journalists entering the country to cover the Manus Island asylum centre story.
Journalists from the Fairfax Group have also said that they have yet to receive confirmation of their visa applications to visit PNG to cover the issue.
Earlier this afternoon, Radio New Zealand International reported that the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Rimbink Pato, had lifted the restriction, which has beencriticised widely within and outside PNG.
West Sepik Governor Amkat Mai was among critics, reminding the prime minister that the previous government was toppled over lack of transparency.
Reporters Without Borders also urged the government to lift this ban so reporters could cover the reopening of the centre.
Fairfax Media reported that two of its journalists submitted visa applications that were denied by the Immigration and Citizenship Service.
“It is vital that journalists should be able to cover this kind of development, especially when it concerns such as sensitive subject as refugees,” Reporters Without Borders said.