Sir Mekere Morauta - the former prime minister demands an election inquiry
SIR MEKERE MORAUTA
PORT MORESBY – Following the release of the damning observer report by the Australian National University, I renew my call for a commission of inquiry into the 2017 national election.
The report is a comprehensive account of the election, based on observer teams led by Papua New Guinean experts who covered 69 electorates in all four regions with detailed studies of 44 electorates.
It is very clear from the report that the 2017 election was designed to be chaotic; it was designed to be rigged; it was designed to produce a particular result.
Those who must take responsibility are Peter O’Neill and Isaac Lupari, and their Chief Electoral Commissioner. They must share the blame for the organised chaos we had on an unprecedented scale.
I agree with the finding of the ANU report, based on my own experience, that this was the worst election ever in terms of official corruption and violence.
As the ANU report so amply demonstrates, the election was not free and fair, and therefore the O’Neill Government cannot claim legitimacy, and nor can Papua New Guinea lay claim to being a parliamentary democracy.
Continue reading "Commission of inquiry is needed to protect democracy" »
PORT MORESBY - Shadow attorney-general Kerenga Kua says the action by Sir Peter Ipatas in filing a supreme court reference questioning the validity of the district development authority has cost prime minister Peter O’Neill the support of his government caucus.
Mr Kua, MP for Sinasina-Yonggomugl, said Sir Peter’s action had the support of 16 other governors.
“Mr O’Neill has lost the support of senior members of his government,” he said.
“Sir Peter Ipatas has been able to gain support from both opposition members and government MPs to question the role of the District Development Authority Act.
“These are issues that should be resolved in the government coalition caucus.
The fact that Mr O’Neill hasn’t been able to deal with it in there shows he has lost the support of a great number of members of his government.
Continue reading "Peter O’Neill has lost the support of his caucus, says Kua" »
Protesting PNG landowners (One PNG)
PETER DWYER & MONICA MINNEGAL | DevPolicy Blog | Extracts
CANBERRA - The Papua New Guinea Liquefied Natural Gas (PNG LNG) project commenced exporting gas to China, Korea and Japan in May 2014.
Under agreements reached in 2009, landowners of eight petroleum licence areas, eight pipeline licence areas and a liquefaction plant site near Port Moresby were to receive royalties. By February 2019, payments had been made to people in only the last of these areas.
The identification of landowners has been a major difficulty, and assigning responsibility for completing the task has been a matter of debate.
At the close of 2018, social mapping and landowner identification studies carried out by consultants to petroleum companies, clan-vetting exercises carried out by officers of the Department of Petroleum and Energy, and alternative dispute resolution processes implemented by the judiciary had failed to solve the problem.
Continue reading "Landowner identification in PNG is a job for government" »
Threat and majesty - Mt Bagana volcano symbolises the contradictions of Bougainville as its people near a vote on its political future
GRANT WYETH | The Diplomat
WASHINGTON DC - Earlier this month the date of the Bougainville independence referendum was pushed back. Initially — although tentatively — scheduled for 15 June, the poll will now be held in October.
Under the 2001 peace agreement that followed a decade-long civil war in Papua New Guinea, it was negotiated that a referendum on the future status of Bougainville would be held prior to mid-2020.
While preparations have been ongoing, it is believed the Bougainville Referendum Commission, headed by former Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern, would have been both financially and structurally struggling to meet the referendum’s requirements by June.
While the delay in the referendum isn’t a great surprise, the exact meaning of the referendum continues to be contested.
Continue reading "The looming & crucial question of Bougainville independence" »
TUMBY BAY - The Papua New Guinea government seems to have been long in thrall to large resource extraction projects but consistently fails to translate the profits it receives from them into tangible social benefits, such as improved education and health systems.
It also diverts considerable sums of taxpayers’ money into these sorts of projects, including buying shares and in the development of targeted infrastructure designed to attract even more projects and developers.
On top of this, it forgoes considerable revenue by offering the developers tax holidays and concessions that could otherwise be used for social improvements.
Although the government argues otherwise, citing among other things tourism as a driver, Port Moresby now abounds with high class accommodation designed specifically for the convenience of these developers.
This obsession with resource exploitation has resulted in massive environmental damage and the criminal neglect of the nation’s most vulnerable people.
Continue reading "With 0% of women in parliament, why not try something new" »
Commander Moses Pipiro presents President John Momis with shell money as a symbol of unity
BUKA - The integration of the Mekamui faction within the mainstream of Bougainville politics remains a priority of the Autonomous Bougainville Government as it prepares for the referendum on independence in October this year.
In a small but significant ceremony recently, President John Momis and his cabinet held a ceremony of unity with the Mekamui who are from the Panguna area of central Bougainville.
Mekamui Defence Force Commander Moses Pipiro is encouraging the faction to realign with the ABG.
“From the outset I must pay tribute to our President Momis for his leadership in the last 40 years,” Mr Pipiro said.
“President Momis’ leadership has set the layout for Bougainville in our journey to self-determination as we prepare a future for all the people of Bougainville.
Continue reading "Mekamui realigns with Momis as B’ville referendum nears" »
BUKA - The dates for Bougainville’s referendum on its political future cannot be set without processes agreed by both the Papua New Guinea Government and Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) says the man responsible for conducting the vote.
Chairman of the Bougainville Referendum Commission and former Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern, pictured here with President John Momis, said there must be a certainty of funding and constitutional regulations must be in place before further progress is made.
The referendum had been scheduled for 15 June but now it is unlikely this date will be achieved.
Mr Ahern he is conscious of the position of both governments and urged them to work together to achieve the referendum.
“What is needed is a pragmatic and intellectual approach that will meet the expectations of the people as well as acting within the legal aspects of the Bougainville Peace Agreement,” he said.
“The two governments must work together for a better future for Bougainville and work out the issues that pertain to the overall process.”
Continue reading "Failure to honour agreement causing tremors on Bougainville" »
The assassination of William McKinley
WABAG - Leaders must not shout ‘prosperity’ and secretly involve themselves in corrupt deals as a result of which their constituents suffer from want of basic services.
Leaders need to exercise caution and conduct public affairs in a transparent manner, especially in this this land of a thousand tribes.
Elected leaders must be aware when they are putting a lot of strain on the lives of the ordinary people.
What do people think when their loved ones die from curable diseases because there is no medicine, or when the cost of living becomes unbearable in urban areas.
Continue reading "History has a lesson for leaders who engage in corruption" »
Bureaucrats faced tough and uncomfortable questioning about the Manus contracts in the Australian Senate
CHRISTOPHER KNAUS & HELEN DAVIDSON | Guardian Australia | Extract
SYDNEY - Benham Satah knows Manus better than most. A Kurdish refugee, Satah has been there six years, stuck on an island prison despite having committed no crime.
He was there when Paladin, a little-known security outfit, took over a $423 million deal to provide services to asylum seekers. Satah has met with Paladin’s leaders and heard the promises they made. From the outset, the arrangement seemed strange.
“With $1 million you could run Manus,” he tells Guardian Australia, speaking down a scratchy phone line. “You could run Manus security for 19 months [with $1 million]. What Paladin did in 19 months to get this money?”
It’s the question that still hangs about the Paladin affair. One that’s yet to be properly answered. Two sources on the island have now complained that Paladin “does nothing” of substance on the island, aside from check IDs and maintain a general presence.
Continue reading "Australia's offshore contracts: millions spent; dubious outcomes" »
CHRISTOPHER KNAUS & HELEN DAVIDSON | The Guardian | Extracts
Link here to the full article on reaction in PNG and Australia to the Paladin scandal
SYDNEY - A former Papua New Guinea official has warned the Paladin scandal is undermining Australia’s efforts to stamp out corruption in the Pacific nation.
Paul Flanagan, a former Australian treasury bureaucrat who worked as a senior adviser to the PNG government, said news of the Paladin affair had spread quickly through the nation’s parliament, where it had become a “hot issue”.
The scandal was painting Australia’s efforts to strengthen anti-corruption measures and improve procurement standards as hypocritical, he said.
Continue reading "Paladin scandal ‘raises questions’ about PNG-Oz relationship" »
STAFF REPORTER | PNGi
Link here to read PNGi’s complete exposition of the Manus scandal
PORT MORESBY - Last week the Australian Financial Review published a series of hard-hitting investigative reports into the award of $423 million in security contracts for the Manus Island detention centre – a controversial mechanism used by the Australian government to offshore its widely criticised refugee policy.
The contracts went to Paladin Solutions PNG Ltd, whose principals include Ian Duncan Stewart and former Australian soldier come private security contractor, Craig Thrupp.
It is common in the anti-corruption community when studying contracts to look for red flags, which point to heightened risks that a transaction may have been affected by improper or illegal dealings. The more red flags, the higher the risk, and the greater the need for a formal investigation.
Continue reading "An Australian mega-scandal: The 10 red flags of Manus" »
KUNDIAWA – A stunning report by Papua New Guinea’s no nonsense corruption fighter Bryan Kramer MP yesterday suggested that an K8.5 million bill for damage to parliament was a scam to defraud the state by people related to prime minister Peter O’Neill.
The damage was caused by security personnel who laid siege to parliament when they were not paid allowances following last year’s APEC conference in Port Moresby.
The government decided to pay the assailants K300 ‘sorry money’ in addition to the delayed allowance but last week finance minister James Marape said the government was looking at deducting the K300 allowance as security force members’ contribution to offset the damage to parliament caused in the rampage.
An investigation by Kramer into the K8.5 million damage bill tabled by acting speaker Jeffrey Komal and approved by MPs showed the bill was fraught with irregularities and inflated costs.
Continue reading "O’Neill relatives involved in alleged parliament house scam" »
PNG police and soldiers storm parliament over unpaid bonuses following November's APEC summit
KUNDIAWA – A hasty and imprudent decision by political leaders to pay members of the APEC joint security task forces an additional unbudgeted allowance of K300 will cost Papua New Guinean taxpayers nearly K31.5 million.
The recent demand by joint members of the armed forces for payment of outstanding APEC security operations allowance is in relation to an additional K300 allowances which they, members of the armed forces, claimed the government has not paid them.
This additional allowance was a commitment made by “political leaders” (names not released) to members of the security forces following their 30 November storming of national parliament.
In a Loop PNG report, APEC minister Justin Tkatchenko distanced himself from the issue saying it was up to the police commissioner Gary Baki to make sure members of the security forces were paid their allowances.
Continue reading "Imprudent decision by politicians costs taxpayers K31.5 million" »
MARK DAVIS·| Facebook
CAIRNS - More details are emerging of the involvement of the corrupt Papua New Guinea government in the secret deal between the Paladin Group and Peter Dutton’s Home Affairs Ministry to provide security for the Manus detention centre.
The $423 million (K1 billion) contract looks like a special Australian government favour to the infamous O’Neill regime in PNG, with Paladin now reaping the whirlwind sown by others.
Recent attacks on Paladin, including the arrest of one of its PNG directors and the banning of executives and workers from PNG, bear the hallmarks of corporate machinations by PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill, head of the most corrupt government in the region and one of the most corrupt in the world.
Continue reading "Was Dutton’s secret Manus deal designed to favour O’Neill?" »
Police intercede with Madang MP Bryan Kramer as he tries to speak at an airport ground-breaking ceremony to which he was invited
BRYAN KRAMER MP | Kramer Report
MADANG - It appears PNG's number one newspaper, the Post-Courier, that Papua New Guineans grew up with and respected has now become a political propaganda tool for corrupt politicians.
On Thursday, the Post-Courier published a fake and misleading report under the headline ‘Madang MP and supporters interrupt ground breaking event’.
"Madang MP Brian Kramer blatantly ‘gate crashed’ the official ground breaking ceremony of the K77 million Madang airport upgrading this morning,” the story began.
“Unabashed by the presence of the prime minister Peter O’Neill and 15 other cabinet ministers plus officials, Mr Kramer and his supporters moved in on the ceremony and through a loudspeaker system they had installed prior to the event, issued challenges against the prime minister and the government.
Continue reading "Fake story claims MP gate crashed an event he was invited to" »
TUMBY BAY - If Bougainville does achieve independence from Papua New Guinea, lawyer Sam Koim has suggested the province might be abandoned without first being properly prepared to become a sovereign state, “just as Australia did to PNG”.
Sam is obviously playing devil’s advocate but it’s food for thought. Just what is Papua New Guinea’s contingency plan if Bougainville’s June referendum shows a strong vote for independence and the PNG parliament decides to go along?
It can be argued that Australia was forced by political pressure to grant independence to PNG before it was ready but it did so after a transition phase between self-government and full independence.
It also has continued to fund PNG and continues to do so right up until the present time by more than half a billion dollars a year.
Does PNG have a similar plan should it grant Bougainville independence?
Will there be an orderly transition and will PNG continue to fund the new nation for a while at least?
So far I haven’t been able to determine whether such a plan exists and my cynical side tells me not to be surprised if it doesn’t exist.
Continue reading "Bougainville independence: If it happens, are there plans?" »
TUMBY BAY - Finding words to describe how I feel about the current state of Papua New Guinea is proving particularly difficult.
I guess the first word that comes to mind is frustration. How can a country with so much promise and so many natural assets end up the way it has?
Writing as someone involved in launching the new nation to independence, albeit in a tiny way, this turn of events somehow needs a much stronger word.
Perhaps an adjective or two needs to be added. How about ‘extremely frustrated’ or ‘totally frustrated’?
Nope, that doesn’t cut it by a long shot.
Continue reading "What has PNG become and how to describe it?" »
Fr Giorgio Licini - 'I appeal to your sense of humanity and the responsibility of your high office'
FR GIORGIO LICINI | General Secretary, Catholic Bishops Conference
WAIGANI - Dear Hon Prime Minister: It is with heavy heart and an intense sense of sadness that I report to you on my recent visits to Lorengau town in Manus Island and to the Pacific International Hospital in Port Moresby.
At the two locations, I had the heartbreaking experience of making contact with an appalling level of desperation in which refugees and asylum seekers live.
I am not referring to the logistic conditions in which the men are kept, which appear to be decent with security, cleanliness, and respect by national and expatriate personnel.
My concern is rather about their fast deteriorating health status, which is making now acts of self-harm and attempted suicide a daily occurrence: three cases only for the two days I was in Manus on 20-22 January.
While travel to Manus and to the detention centers may prove hard to your busy schedule, I warmly invite you to make a quick visit to the [Intensive Care Unit] ward of Pacific International Hospital at 3 Mile.
You will come across well-kept health facilities and extremely kind and professional personnel, but you will also meet about twenty refugees and asylum seekers in a deplorable state of mental health compounded with other ailments affecting their cardiac and respiratory system, kidney failure, fractured bones, etc.
Continue reading "Bishops appeal for refugee action in open letter to O’Neill" »
Abraham Lincoln - "Government of the people, by the people and for the people"
PORT MORESBY - Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg speech captured the essence of democracy. Democracy, he said, is a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
In democratic societies, the people have the right to vote and elect their leaders. The democratic form of government was conceived as a revolt against the monarchical governments that controlled much of Europe and suppressed the people to servitude.
So democracy was established as an alternative to oligarchy.
According to British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill, real democratic process comes to play when “the little man, walking into the little booth, with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little bit of paper, without intimidation.”
In a democratic society, the people choose their representatives without fear or favour. When an electoral process is transparent, an election is deemed authentic.
Continue reading "Denuding democracy – election 2017 did not measure up" »
Anti-corruption activists, 2015 - despite the excesses against the people of PNG, there is no mass push for change that has any significant impact
TUMBY BAY - I attended my first political protest in late 1969 while home on leave from Papua New Guinea. It was an anti-Vietnam war rally.
Somehow I managed to get caught up in a group that was carted off to the city watch house by the police.
Most of my co-arrestees were either long haired, bearded types or women who made a point of not wearing a bra. They were all colourfully dressed in the hippy fashions of the time. By contrast I was short-haired, beardless and conventionally dressed.
Thus disguised I simply took advantage of the confusion and walked out the door. Luckily no one stopped me. I had no desire to answer any awkward questions when I got back to work in Papua New Guinea.
The experience nevertheless jarred something in my consciousness and it led to a lifelong interest in politics and prompted me to add a politics major to my already erratic and eclectic curriculum vitae.
Continue reading "Wimping it out in Waigani – and the rest of PNG" »
Charles Abel poses alongside torched vehicle where mother and son were killed
BRYAN KRAMER MP
MADANG - Last week Charles Abel, deputy prime minister and member for Alotau, was publicly criticised for deciding to attend parliament while his electorate was under siege and locked down following a shoot-out between police and a gang of armed criminals.
Three people were reportedly killed following the incident. The provincial legal officer was gunned down while driving home and a young mother and her four year old son were burned to death after their home was set on fire.
In response Abel said he planned to visit the province on Sunday - four days after the incident. In other words when he felt it was safe for him to do so. He later posted pictures of his visit on the Alotau District Facebook page.
It all went wrong.
First he posted a picture of himself striking a pose at the scene where the young mother and her son were tragically killed. Then he posted a selfie of him standing beside the legal officer's widow.
Continue reading "Heartless publicity stunt by PNG’s deputy prime minister" »
The final count in Esa'ala - Davis Steven won easily but then came an unusual court challenge
STAFF REPORTER | PNGi
PORT MORESBY - Blink and you would have missed it. During February 2018 one of the many petitions challenging the 2017 national election results was dismissed.
It was alleged by the unsuccessful candidate, Glenn Tobewa, that Minister for Justice and Attorney-General, Davis Steven MP, won the Esa’ala Open seat using bribery.
While Tobewa’s allegations were rejected by the national court, wrapped within this easily forgettable action lies a much more memorable riddle.
In total 16 individuals stood for election in Esa’ala Open. Two of the candidates came from the Maladina family, Moses and Jimmy.
The first question that springs to mind is why two prominent brothers would contest the same electorate, and potentially split their vote, in effect, delivering the win to a candidate outside the family.
But here is where things get even more interesting. It was claimed in the national court that Jimmy Maladina was funding and supporting a rival for the seat, Glenn Tobewa.
The judge’s curiosity over the relationship between Glenn Tobewa and Jimmy Maladina was aroused when an Australian barrister from Queensland, Levente Jurth, fronted the case for Glenn Tobewa.
Continue reading "Jimmy Maladina and the 2017 election mystery" »
Fortunately, the whereabouts of the Maseratis are known (Natalie Whiting, ABC)
ROB TAYLOR | Wall Street Journal
PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea, an impoverished South Pacific nation known for jungles, crime and corruption, has a new problem since hosting world leaders in its ramshackle capital late last year.
Some 100 vehicles the government procured to ferry delegates around Port Moresby during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit have gone missing, officials say, along with computers, photocopiers and other office equipment.
Officials are pleading with their compatriots to track down the missing inventory, even offering an amnesty from arrest this month for anyone who returns the loot. A similar appeal in December turned up empty-handed.
“There are fire engines, buses, ambulances unaccounted for. You name it,” finance secretary Ken Ngangan said in an interview.
Continue reading "Dude, where’s my car? Pacific nation loses official vehicle fleet" »
TUMBY BAY - As a colonial power Australia was in the unique position of being able to set the agenda for Papua New Guinea’s future.
Systems and institutions that Australia established prior to independence were, whether consciously or not, designed for the long haul and were expected to persist well into the future.
One of these systems was the parliamentary process that prevails today.
If you look back at these developments two things become plain. The first is the heavy hand of Canberra and the second is the outside manipulation or absence of Papua New Guinean input.
In the first case, the decision makers in Canberra, and to a lesser extent in Port Moresby, consistently ignored the advice of those administrators on the ground in PNG.
This is no more apparent than in the wilful ignoring of input from the kiaps and other country-based personnel. Elsewhere I have described one instance where issues of law and order were arbitrarily taken from the kiaps and handed over to a poorly prepared police force.
Continue reading "Who stuffed up PNG, Australians or Papua New Guineans?" »
TUMBY BAY - In 1958 a clash between the colonial Administration and Tolai dissidents in New Britain led to a review of the functions of the role of kiaps in Papua New Guinea.
The man tasked with the review, Professor David Derham, was an early version of the long line of consultants that Canberra has engaged to advise it on what to do in PNG.
Derham spent 37 days in the territory and did not seek the advice of kiaps in the field.
Nevertheless he seemed particularly offended by the kiap practice of informal mediation in local disputes and much preferred a formal system similar to the one used in Australia.
JK McCarthy, the director of the Department of Native Affairs, said in 1963, "The Derham Report, written by a man who had no practical experience of the country, and who undoubtedly was inspired by an equally ignorant person [the Minister for Territories], was accepted without question.
Continue reading "How Australian ignorance created a disastrous ‘bigman’ system" »
BRYAN KRAMER MP
MADANG – Papua New Guinea’s deputy prime minister Charles Abel has gone on record in an interview with the Post Courier newspaper claiming he is not at all fazed by the looming vote of no confidence in Peter O’Neill.
“We [the government] are fully intact as far as I am concerned, the prime minister has our support,” Abel has said.
Really? If the government was really intact then why did it adjourn parliament until this month to avoid sitting during the first week of February, which has been the practice in the past.
The government is anything but intact. The real question is what are O'Neill, Abel and their foreign cronies, who have become millionaires on our people's tax money, doing to ensure they have the numbers to defeat a motion of vote of no confidence?
Continue reading "Vote of no confidence in O'Neill government looms" »
Sir Peter Ipatas
WABAG – Over the next few days, the Enga Governor, Grand Chief Sir Peter Ipatas, must give serious thought to consider putting up his hand to become the next prime minister of Papua New Guinea.
This could be his time. He has been a politician all his adult life. His achievements for the Enga people speak for themselves.
The post of prime minister would be his final crowning accomplishment for Enga and Papua New Guinea.
A person lives only once and golden opportunities do not come very often.
The Opposition's impending vote of no confidence in prime minister Peter O’Neill is that golden chance.
If there is an opportunity, the governor should take it.
Continue reading "The time for Sir Peter Ipatas to be prime minister is now" »
Dr John Momis addresses Bougainville public servants during a dedication mass at Hahela in Buka. The mass was celebrated by Bishop Bernard Unabali
BUKA - Bougainville public servants have been encouraged to maintain solidarity within their ranks and to continue their work to realise the aspirations of the Bougainville people.
During the annual dedication mass for the Bougainville Public Service, President John Momis encouraged Autonomous Bougainville Government employees to have dignity in the tasks they perform to serve the province’s people.
“Appreciate your work, do ordinary things extraordinarily well, find fulfilment in the daily routine that drags you from the comforts of your beds, be thankful and be grateful you have a job,” Dr Momis said.
“You must have integrity and do what is right consistently, honestly and accurately.
“Honesty and accuracy in your actions requires intentionality and thought. How honest or accurate are your behaviour, actions and words with people that you lead?” he said.
Continue reading "Momis lectures public service on honesty, dedication & fulfilment" »
Michael Kuweh - "Manusians are on the defensive. We have been smeared beyond all description"
BENJAMIN ROBINSON-DRAWBRIDGE | Radio New Zealand
AUCKLAND - The reputation of Papua New Guinea's Manus Island has been smeared and its people need to be compensated, says church leader Michael Kuweh.
Mr Kuweh is a layman and spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Manus.
The indefinite detention of refugees for nearly six years on the island has brought it into disrepute, he said.
"This is a place that has been tarnished because the Australian government dumped its responsibilities on the island and it has affected nearly 70,000 people on Manus.
"It's not the fault of the refugees, it is the fault of the Australian government who decided to follow a 'Pacific Solution'."
Continue reading "Manus Island 'smeared' by refugee detention" »
BAL KAMA | DevPolicy Blog
CANBERRA - The people of Papua New Guinea woke up to 2018 as the ‘year of APEC’. The thought of having some of the world’s most powerful leaders descending on the rough yet fertile soils of PNG appeared unreal to many, but blissful to some.
The assurances of what it would mean for the country were a notch higher with the government promising social and economic transformation.
The population was divided: some driven by pride curiosity supported the cause; while others, unable to quantify any meaningful progress on their daily challenges and amidst failing social infrastructure, remained sceptical.
The APEC show began with new hotels erected, roads paved and the construction of the spectacular APEC Haus along the Ela Beach. These were some of the most significant infrastructural developments the country had ever seen.
Continue reading "The year of APEC – reflections on PNG in 2018" »
John Momis and Peter O'Neill negotiate the Bougainville independence referendum - but the people remain divided and confused
LEONARD FONG ROKA
ARAWA - Between March and May this year, the referendum directorate of the Department of Bougainville Peace Agreement and Implementation left the autonomous province to consult with Bougainvilleans outside Bougainville.
Meanwhile, back at their island home, the people were confused even though June 2019, the time of the referendum to decide their political future, was only about a year away.
Thousands of kina were spent for this team to visit Bougainvilleans in Port Moresby, Madang, Mt Hagen, Lae, Goroka, Rabaul and Kimbe to ask what the diaspora thought about the many aspects of the dawning referendum.
But here in Bougainville, where the majority of the people reside, little was progressed.
I live amongst the ordinary people of central and south Bougainville and I am appalled by what I come across in the villages.
Continue reading "As June referendum nears, Bougainville's people are confused" »
GRANT WALTON & HUSNIA HUSHANG | DevPolicy Blog | Edited
Read here the full article complete with graphs & explanatory material
CANBERRA - Papua New Guinea’s law and justice sector is set to receive a 22% increase in the country’s 2019 budget.
Treasurer Charles Abel says this demonstrates the government’s commitment to the sector, and to addressing crime and corruption.
Look beyond this headline figure, however, and the rise is not so impressive. Indeed, it doesn’t even make up for recent years of budget cuts: economist Paul Flanagan shows that with the recent increase, the sector will still have suffered a funding cut of 17% relative to 2015.
Focusing on the law and justice sector also overlooks organisations specifically tasked with addressing corruption.
Continue reading "2019 PNG budget is bad news for anti-corruption fighters " »
STAFF WRITER | Transparency International
Image: A cartoon by Dahir al-Hossain Mahi, entered into the competition organised by Transparency International Bangladesh
BERLIN - In 2017, a survey by Transparency International Bangladesh found that half the households in the country had recently paid a bribe when accessing public services.
The total amount of bribes paid was equivalent to more than 3% of the Bangladesh national budget.
Earlier, in 2012, a study of members of parliament in Bangladesh found 97% were alleged to be involved in illegal activities.
Some 75% of MPs had abused development projects for their own benefit and 62% were found to have influenced local elections.
Corruption on this scale requires a radical solution and, over the years, TI Bangladesh has built a grassroots movement of 6,000 people through Committees of Concerned Citizens (CCCs).
Continue reading "The grassroots movement against corruption in Bangladesh" »
ALAN BOYD | Asia Times
SYDNEY - Foreign mining companies are jostling for exploration rights on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville ahead of a crucial independence vote next year that some fear could revive tensions that sparked a civil war that killed 20,000 in the 1980s.
The island will need mining royalties to maintain a viable economy if the referendum backs independence, but unresolved issues over the Panguna copper mine are still a sensitive point with traditional landowners. Villagers shut the pit down in 1989, triggering the previous lethal conflict.
The referendum is the culmination of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, which formally ended the decade-long bloody civil war. It will take place as the US and Australia aim to work closely with Papua New Guinea to develop its Lombrum Naval Base to counterbalance China’s growing maritime influence in the region.
Continue reading "Bougainville’s tinderbox threatens to reignite" »
BRYAN KRAMER MP
MADANG - On Tuesday 23 November, just two days after APEC summit concluded, more than 300 police and correctional services personnel stormed parliament house, smashing windows, furniture and assaulting parliament security guards.
They were protesting unpaid allowances for providing security during APEC.
The incident occurred around midday, two hours before parliament was to convene at 2pm for the opposition to respond to the government's 2019 budget that had been presented a week earlier.
The storming of parliament was broadcast around the globe and also sent shock waves through PNG's political establishment. Not since the Sandline Crisis in 1996 had security forces personnel converged with hostility on parliament house.
Continue reading "Police storming of parliament a sign of things to come?" »
TUMBY BAY - In Australia and in other parts of the world there seems to be a monumental power struggle going on between the political forces of the right and the political forces of the left.
If you believe the pundits it’s an urgent existential struggle that will determine the very survival of our planet.
The terminology has been subtly changing too. We are now openly calling the political right ‘conservatives’ and the political left ‘progressives’.
In simple terms the battle that is raging is between people who not only want to preserve the status quo but take us back to what they see as the halcyon days of the past and people who are saying those ideals don’t cut it anymore and the world needs a new political and social model if it is going to survive.
Continue reading "Left, right, centre – where does PNG’s government sit?" »
LEONARD FONG ROKA
ARAWA - The entire Bougainville Peace Agreement signed in 2001 has plenty of loopholes, but these weak points are catered for by one word that repeatedly appears. It is the word ‘consultation’.
When complications occur or conflict erupts, the peace agreement suggests it is consultation that can be initiated to address such hurdles.
The issue today is that many problems brought about the Bougainville crisis (1988-97) were not covered by the peace agreement and have since been ignored by both the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the PNG national government.
In June next year, Bougainville will hold a referendum on its political future and, as the months roll by, both governments are rushing everything often in the absence of care, consideration and even good faith.
Continue reading "Bougainville consultation never really got off the ground" »
SIR MEKERE MORAUTA
PORT MORESBY - I welcome finance secretary Ken Ngangan’s announcement of a public tender for APEC Authority assets, which is a step in the right direction after years of O’Neill government deception and deceit about APEC, but is not enough.
Full accountability and transparency are required.
The problem is not confined to the sale of assets. It encompasses almost all aspects of the APEC Authority and government involvement in it. Indeed, the decision to hold a public auction of assets is only a small first step of many that need to be taken to lift the clouds of suspicion.
When the public tender goes ahead, it should be on the basis of a list and other vital details confirmed by an audit by the auditor-general.
The public has a right to know certain information such as the purchase price paid for each item, details of the supplier, invoices, proof of payment and the documents authorising procurement.
Continue reading "Public tender decision on APEC assets welcome, but not enough" »
SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country Blog
LAE - I have been very humbled by the incredible support my family and I have received from people both here and abroad.
Support also came from friends in the media, academia, law enforcement, the military and many other circles too many to name.
I have been reinstated to my job as deputy regional head of news at EMTV
I wish to thank our media friends here and overseas especially. Thank you for your support and your words of encouragement. Thank you to my immediate and extended family and to the strangers who offered support and words of encouragement in Port Moresby, Lae and remote parts of PNG.
Continue reading "Thank you PNG & the many friends who stood up for me" »
STEPHEN HOWES | Australian Financial Review
CANBERRA - In a recent opinion piece, former foreign minister Alexander Downer commends the opportunities now available to Pacific islanders to work in Australia. But, when he was minister, Downer publicly opposed the introduction of a Pacific farm labour program.
Instead, the Liberals gave rich-country backpackers generous visa incentives to work on farms, meaning that today, even though there is now a Pacific seasonal farm labour program, most of Australia's fruit is picked by the young people of distant rich countries, rather than the young people of our poor neighbours.
Downer viewed the Pacific too much through an aid lens. In his Financial Review article, he defends successive Australian governments against the accusation that they haven't taken the Pacific seriously enough by referring to our large Pacific aid programs.
Continue reading "Naive Australia should dump grand governance aid goals" »
Jimmy Awagl - "Scott Waide, the people are with you. You can’t lose your voice because we are your voice"
KUNDIAWA - Papua New Guinea is a democratic society bound by its constitution which includes freedom of expression.
Neither leaders nor lawmakers are meant to suppress the voices of liberation or deprive citizens themselves of having a voice.
Yet the suppression of public voices is obviously being practiced in PNG - with further restrictions being considered.
The recent suspension of courageous EMTV journalist Scott Waide is a mockery of media freedom in a democratically constituted country.
The political leaders, cronies and managers implicated have been high-handed in dictating their own wishes and imposing them on media and journalism - and on the people - of this country.
These would-be autocrats seem to believe that reporting on what they see as sensitive issues (to them) is morally unjustifiable or unethical and does not warrant reporting for public consumption by anyone, especially an eminent journalist.
This attitude, they seem to think, elevates them above the constitution and people of this country - and they seem to believe this elevated role is available to them but not to any of the rest of us.
Continue reading "Our media freedom is under threat; but we have a voice" »
BRYAN KRAMER MP | Pacific Media Watch
MADANG - Papua New Guinea’s O’Neill government has taken revenge against senior EMTV reporter Scott Waide, who was suspended over his broadcasting of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s comments about the Maserati scandal.
I was informed soon after APEC that O’Neill planned on sacking Waide. However, there was pushback from EMTV management and staff so they decided to instead suspend him and order that he go on leave.
I suspect given the recent unrest in Port Moresby involving security forces they had to be careful not to trigger another incident.
So the real question is, who was behind the decision calling for Waide’s sacking/suspension, prime minister Peter O’Neill himself or the usual suspects such as O’Neill’s chief media officer Chris Hawkins or APEC minister Justin Tkatchenko?
Continue reading "Who was culprit behind the govt's revenge on Waide?" »
Lawrence Stephens - "In the past year PNG has had indications of the curtailing of freedoms"
MEDIA STATEMENT | Transparency International PNG
PORT MORESBY – Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) believes firmly that the democratic freedoms that allow journalists and citizens to question those in power must not be curtailed.
TIPNG unequivocally supports the call by the Media Council of Papua New Guinea for the reinstatement of EMTV journalist Scott Waide after allegations that Mr Waide was suspended by his employer because of his reports on government failings.
The Media Council said Mr Waide, EMTV’s Lae bureau chief, was suspended for airing a story considered by the Media Niugini Ltd board, the Kumul Telikom Holdings Ltd board and the Kumul Consolidated Holdings Ltd board, to be ‘negative’.
EMTV which is a free-to-air TV station operates as Media Niugini Ltd and was acquired by Telikom, which is now Kumul Telikom Holdings and is part of the government’s portfolio of state-owned assets under Kumul Consolidated Holdings.
Continue reading "Silencing of journalist is latest attack on constitutional rights" »
Scott Waide speaks at a Transparency International youth program. The overhead slide is headlined 'A Guardian of Democracy', which Waide's many admirers consider him to be
NOOSA – Readers of PNG Attitude have joined thousands of Papua New Guineans and people internationally in voicing strong support for journalist and blogger Scott Waide.
Waide has been suspended from his senior job with EMTV after the television station management received instructions from the Papua New Guinea government to do so.
The prominent journalist was linked to a story broadcast on Saturday 17 November which originated in New Zealand and mentioned that prime minister Jacinta Ardern would not be travelling one of the 40 Maseratis imported by the PNG government for use at APEC.
The purchase had generated great controversy and much criticism in PNG and in the overseas media.
Continue reading "Waide dumping condemned as vindictive & dictatorial" »
NOOSA - In the weeks before the recent APEC meeting in Port Moresby, the eminent Papua New Guinean journalist, Scott Waide – assisted by his listeners and viewers throughout PNG, gathered first-hand evidence that the health ministry had been lying about the availability of drugs and medical equipment across the country.
It wasn’t the first time that EMTV’s senior reporter had identified and related factual stories that the PNG government found embarrassing, but this one – implicating powerful and controversial health minister Dr Puka Temu - apparently seriously stung the government. You can read the story here.
But on Saturday 17 November, in an EMTV news bulletin, another story about the PNG Maserati scandal was broadcast slap bang in the middle of the APEC leaders' summit, triggering the suspension of Scott Waide, a senior figure at the broadcaster.
Continue reading "Uproar over Maserati TV item leads to suspension of top journalist" »
ADELAIDE - One of the many challenges confronted when attempting to understand the flow of history is securing a broad consensus on what the agreed facts are and then, usually only after a good deal of argument, how the facts should be interpreted.
I mention this because recently I made the mistake of inserting myself into a debate about the forthcoming (or maybe not) Brexit, whereby Britain exits the European Union.
My mistake was, as a disinterested observer, to offer the view that there were some pretty significant issues with the structure and ultimate objectives of the EU which the so-called Remainers seem to studiously ignore when prosecuting their case. I was rather promptly and forcefully told that this was not the case and that everything was just wonderful with the EU.
I suppose if I had offered a view that the so-called Brexiteers are ignoring a lot that is good and worthwhile about the EU I doubtless would have been promptly howled down in much the same manner.
Continue reading "Fairer & more accountable: Should PNG become a federation?" »
Albert Schram at Singapore Airport after escaping detention on trumped up charges in Papua New Guinea. His arrest caused an international scandal and seriously dented PNG's reputation
LAE - The University of Technology, Unitech, was very much affected by the events surrounding the advent, stormy passage and eventual dismissal of vice chancellor Dr Albert Schram.
Prior to the appointment of Schram in 2011, Unitech was known to be in a bad shape and led by a corrupt regime. Schram’s arrival in 2012 provided hope that a change in leadership would lead to a change in the university’s fortunes.
But from the start the Schram era was hampered by resistance from elements of the former corrupt regime both within and outside Unitech as there was a succession of moves to try to get rid of the vice chancellor.
Students and members of the university community fought against this. Then Schram was effectively deported when he wasn’t allowed to return to PNG after holidays in early 2013. In the leadership vacuum, a loyal interim team was formed to administer the university.
The moves against Schram had continued even though a government enquiry under retired judge Sevua cleared him of allegations about ‘fake’ credentials even as it identified irregularities in the former regime.
A cloud of uncertainty hung over the institution and, even as the reform process continued, there was much anxiety. Nevertheless, changes were made and the year ended successfully.
Continue reading "A candid history of the Unitech controversy - Part 2" »
President Xi arrives in Port Moresby
PMC REPORTER | Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk
AUCKLAND - Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Port Moresby on Thursday night to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit and is poised to steal a march on rival world leaders.
With the US and Russian Presidents skipping the event, President Xi is in a strategic position to strengthen ties with both the host nation and other participants.
The National newspaper reports that President Xi said Papua New Guinea was “truly a land of promise,” endowed with abundant natural resources.
“In recent years, thanks to the leadership of prime minister Peter O’Neill, the great work of the government, and the industrious and enterprising people of the country, PNG has thrived in national development, and its society has taken on a new look,” said President Xi.
Continue reading "Chinese President Xi’s early arrival upstages APEC rivals" »
Mt Bagana, Bougainville
BUKA - While Bougainville has a modern system of laws and effective model of representative government and democracy, corruption is still rampant within the autonomous government, Bougainville president John Momis has said.
Dr Momis was responding to findings from the second joint autonomy review in a statement to the Bougainville House of Representatives.
“The report demonstrates that the ABG has been chronically underfunded over the life of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
“Where we have received precious funds, these have not been managed well,” he said, saying that the report found that the government and the public service consistently fail to adhere to legislation and that corruption has at times taken hold.
Continue reading "Review finds fault with both Bougainville & PNG govts" »
Voices like Martyn Namorong, Bryan Kramer MP, Governor Gary Juffa, Bal Kama and PNG Attitude writers do exist on social media but they struggle to be heard and find it hard to get traction
TUMBY BAY - One of the tactics that the politicians of Papua New Guinea rely upon is the fallibility and short life span of public memory.
The way it works is fairly simple. When an uncomfortable truth is revealed about their behaviour, PNG politicians resort to bluster and threats and, if that doesn’t work, stalling in the courts until everyone gets bored and forgets about it.
The stalling in the courts is relied upon as a regular source of income by a whole cadre of lawyers with questionable ethics. That income is usually supplied from the public coffers.
Prime minister Peter O’Neill is a master of this sort of tactical deception. It’s not his invention, there are many precedents for its efficacy, but he has refined it to a fine art.
There are a couple of ways by which it can come unstuck.
The first is the pursuit of the issue by statutory bodies set up to monitor such things. Task Force Sweep was one of those.
Continue reading "The short attention span of the PNG public" »