The curse of money politics in PNG

20 06 2014

The previous post generated a lot of comments at the original site at which it was posted. One of them touched on a key factor of politics in PNG. Money.

That response comment to Vergil Narokobi’s post has been re-posted verbatim below for the benefit of the non-FB readership.

 

succinctly put…; although one must clearly guard against mischievous, opportunistic or politicised actions against the government of the day from within the police or any other institution, clearly the rules need to be universal, whatever one’s position. So it it critical that mechanisms are not abused to circumvent due process. But this does bring one back to the question of how government’s are formed in PNG and how majorities are gained and retained. Unfortunately, with little or no ideological basis for parties (as in Australia and most places) PNG has ended up with government by dint of personality, but increasingly the use of money. Would an inspiring leader like Nelson Mandela have been able to become PM in PNG if he was to remain honest and not participate in pork barrel or money politics, or would he have just been sidelined by the man with access to logging money? And let’s face it this case is partly about that…the assumption is that public funds were laundered through a law firm’s accounts to be able to be used by a party for gaining office for funding campaigns and winning over other parties and independents…and if that was the assumption, what were the other parties and leaders doing? similar sorts of things, using SABLs and other land allocations, logging permits, DSIP funds, RESE funds, fish or petroleum licenses, exclusive rice concessions, citizenship awards, construction or commercial contracts, trust funds etc… So if this scenario has some truth, the question is, how does one halt it, and halt it across the board, so that no party or group is left with a special advantage, with exclusive access to public or other improperly-gained funds, leaving the others high and dry? how does one rid elections and post election formation of government of the current money element (from vote buy, to rigging electoral lists, to buying parties and members etc)? Many politicians would prefer that, but feel dragged into the current corrupt practices as the only way to play the game…these are some of the challenges, and it requires active involvement by the parties themselves, think tanks etc but also the wider public to help find the solutions, as clearly the voters are widely accepting and even demanding electoral bribes (in cash or kind)…

By Paul Barker

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Why the Prime Minister has to step down

20 06 2014

I cannot remember the last time I was here.  It was certainly a long while back as I see the shelves here have been collecting dust.  There were a few factors that led to this rather lengthy hiatus, but let’s not get into that now.

I am here simply to re-post verbatim a commentary that I came across on Facebook for the benefit of the portion of readership out there who may not subscribe to this social media.

In any case, I feel that this man has pretty much summed up and articulated what most likely must be running through people’s mind as they try to make sense of the latest developments in Papua New Guinea’s rather vibrant national political stage.

“Its time for Papua New Guineans to call an ace an ace and a spade a spade!

The call for the resignation by the Prime Minister is a political question, not so much a legal question. The Prime Minister, like any body who goes through the criminal justice system is innocent until proven guilty. Here are some matters the Prime Minister should consider when making that decision.

Kua was Somare’s lawyer in the misconduct allegations against Somare. They went through the judicial process to challenge the OC. They failed. But they fronted up at the Leadership Tribunal, went through the process, found guilty by the Tribunal, paid the fine and life goes on. Skate resigned as Prime Minister paving the way for Sir Mekere to come in an atmosphere of serious allegations leveled against him. Julius Chan resigned when public opinion against him was overwhelming in the Sandline Affair. We hold public office as custodians for the people. If they are wrong in their convictions, they stand to suffer. That is the nature of our democracy. We have nothing to lose. Its their office.

There are important national matters that the Prime Minister must attend to. There are roads to be built, hospitals to maintain, doctors to be trained, borders to be protected, investors to meet and the list goes on. If one is busy fighting a criminal matter, looking over one’s shoulder when the next counter move will be made, attending a Commission of Inquiry, sacking “disobedient” ministers and servants of the state, how can one give their 100% level best to serve the interest of the country? One’s time and attention is divided. One cannot serve two masters. “To be or not to be, that is the question”.

Whilst one serve office, they enjoy the confidence of the people. If that confidence is no longer apparent in one’s leadership, and we are a democracy, it is an irreconcilable position to be in and one must do the honourable thing and resign. A leaf should be taken out of the dissenting opinion of the member of Leadership Tribunal Sir Robin Auld in the Somare Leadership Tribunal who thought that Somare should be dismissed from office. He said, “what would the reasonable person at Gordon’s market think about it?” What would the ordinary Papua New Guinean think the Prime Minister should do under the present circumstances?

When the Prime Minister relies on his privilege as a Member of Parliament to avoid a warrant of arrest, it raises the question whether one is using his office for personal gain and therefore misconduct in office under s 27 of the Constitution. Does an ordinary Papua New Guinean have that privilege when they are called into question by the police? When a Commission of Inquiry is set up to exonerate one from a criminal allegation, when the same question can be raised in one’s defence before a court of law, it raises the question of whether the Prime Minister is using his office for personal gain and therefore misconduct in office. How many ordinary Papua New Guineans can set up a Commission of Inquiry when they are called into question by the police. When a Minister of State is decommissioned for dubious reasons, which a reasonable person can infer for not giving concurring advice to avert investigation and arrest, that raises the question of whether one is using one’s office for personal gain and therefore misconduct in office. When a career serving police officer is sidelined for purportedly ordering the arrest of a Police Commissioner whose decisions have been in one’s interest, that raises the question of possible misconduct in office. Again the same can be said for Task Force Sweep.

Task Force is an administrative arrangement. It is not a statutory body. When the Opposition called for its disbanding, it was ignored. There would have been good legal grounds to disband it. Now that the subject of the investigation is the Prime Minister, it is dismantled. Is that a case of using public office for personal gain? Paul Tienstein obviously would say yes despite his desperate plea that it was “politically motivated”.

How many inmates in Bomana would also like to have a Commission of Inquiry into their conviction on the basis of that they were wrongfully convicted. A life is a life, no matter who you are. It is a wrong signal to the people of Papua New Guinea that there are two sets of laws.

There are national security issues at stake here. The longer the matter pro-longs the potential for widespread discontent arises. Stand-off between and among the disciplined officers is a serious threat. Investor confidence will be impaired and the gains from LNG will be lost over night. Its time to make the hard decision for the national interest.

There appears to be another potential stand-off between the executive and the judiciary. The same question on the legality of the payments to Paraka Lawyers is being determined by the court in his criminal matter. The same question will confront the Prime Minister if he is charged. By setting up a Commission of Inquiry, a quasi-judicial body will deal with the same question. It is questioning the independence of the judiciary. This is not in the national interest.

If the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea has no faith in the police and the judiciary to determine the truth of the allegations against him, his own people, but choosing instead to rely on a Commission of Inquiry headed by an Australian, are we than a failed state? As the Opposition Leader said, “Prime Minister you are the first man in Papua New Guinea”. If you don’t believe in me, who else will?

The reason I have made this decision to make this call, is that Sam Koim an ordinary Papua New Guinean has put his hand up for Papua New Guinea, and I would be ashamed to call myself a Papua New Guinean if I did not honour his courage by having something to say. His involvement in the investigation suggests to me that there is no “political motivation”. After all he was appointed by the Prime Minister and has nothing to gain or lose except his reputation.”

by Vergil Narokobi

 





The Faceless Machine of Corporate Greed

20 05 2012
Haus Bilong Spaida by Caleb Hamm

The Spaida by Caleb Hamm

A poignant rendition of the story of today’s Papua New Guinea by Caleb Hamm. This extraordinary art by Caleb says a lot if you look into the details of this piece.

I’ll let Caleb himself say bits of it in words as posted on his FB page.

Haus Bilong Spaida

By Caleb Hamm

We see the alienation of people that is the result of the present machine orientated economy.
We see true social security and the people’s happiness being diminished in the name of economic progress.
We caution therefore that large scale industries should only be pursued after careful and thorough consideration of the likely consequences upon the spiritual and social fabric of our people.
There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that a significant number of people who live by the fruits of multi million dollar multi-national corporations live in misery, loneliness and spiritual poverty.
We believe that since we are a rural people, our strength should be essentially in the land and in the use of our innate artistic talents.
– Actual deliberations quoted from Papua New Guinea’s Constitutional Planning Committee in 1975. The year of Independence.
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Gargantuan proportions of Palm oil plantations fill PNG’s countryside where once stood one of the world’s last frontiers. Unsustainable monocultures now cover the logged hills and valleys. 24 % of PNG’s rainforest has been logged in the last 30 years and the hungry rate continues to threaten an irreplaceable and unique ecosystem.http://news.mongabay.com/2009/0222-png.html#The black river represents the massive Ok Tedi disaster where barrels of poisonous waste were spilled down the Fly River from the infamous Ok Tedi mine. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ok_Tedi_environmental_disaster
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Illegal land grabs are not unknown to the rural people of PNG, but the recent Paga Hill incident topped them all. On Saturday, May 12, a historic district in PNG’s capital witnessed bulldozers pushing over 20 houses while police kept the home owners at bay. What was supposed to be a planned out eviction swiftly became a heartless and cruel demolition in this shady, allegedly illegal, urban land grab. I copied Paga Hill Estate’s proposed hotel building design which overshadows a bulldozer ploughing down a heap of cultural icons mixed with housing materials. Clearing a path for the limousine of modern colonialism.http://namorong.blogspot.ca/2012/05/smelly-beast-thats-paga-hill.html
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Ramu Nico, LNG PNG all represented by this web of oil pipelines and giant tank supplying the greedy spaida. Several rivers are currently dumping mine waste into the Bismark Sea and Huon Gulf. Yellow waters, dead fish and new bans on selling fish and produce in the market all affect those living in the area. How long do they have before there is no reef, no fish, or drinking water. Cyanide traces are now frequently being found in many rivers in PNG.




A snapshot of PNG in Gordon’s Market

6 05 2012

This brilliant post by Gary Juffa succinctly puts into perspective the order of the day at Gordon’s Market.

By Gary Juffa

I spent an hour at Gorden’s Market today, a burning hot April Saturday, in Port Moresby, National Capital District. I parked right opposite the Gorden’s Police Stations and waited for a friend, around midday. As is usual with appointments in Papua New Guinea, one must be prepared to wait anywhere between 10 minutes and an entire hour. It was an hour I spent fascinated.

The population of people walking, talking and carrying on in the humid, steaming, muddy and filthy so called market were captivating. Teeming with energy and abuzz with all manner of activity, there were traders and vendors, hawkers and street sellers, betel nut connoisseurs and buyers. Scam artists and con artists and petty criminals also were active and everyone was a potential victim. A boom box belts out loud noise. There was no sign of authority of any sort. The order was disorder.

The filth of Gordons Market

This is dry filth of Gordon’s Market on a better day. Photo by Malum Nalu

Across the road, a Chinese store thrived with people streaming in and out like ants to and from a nest walking in empty handed and carrying out all manner of goods or, more correctly, junk for resale. Business is booming for the Chinese traders thanks to increased liberalization of trade, relaxing of regulatory laws to protect consumers and the introduction of an unregulated, unpoliced informal sector. The sector was supposedly intended to benefit Papua New Guineans involved in the cottage industry, selling their handicraft, arts and incubating their small entrepreneurial efforts. But the real winners are the mainland Chinese traders who import container loads of cheap household products from numerous factories proliferating throughout mainland China to resale in developing nations such as Papua New Guinea.

In Papua New Guinea, the Chinese traders target settlements and rural townships stretching their tentacles throughout the length and breadth of this Pacific island economy like a giant octopus leech sucking everything and anything out and transmitting the profits offshore to fund investments in Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Other octopi are busy throughout the region and indeed the world as China shifts into gear in its drive for world dominance. They are taking advantage of a weakening West which is in pivotal transition, changing from a defined set of geographic nations to becoming a globalized Corporatedom, the new Manor of the rich, overseeing a global population of serfs.

Back in Gordon’s Market, raw sewerage and waste stream through the market in drains carrying dirty used plastic bags, and writhing naked playing children happily splashing under the baking Port Moresby sun as parents wearily gamble, play cards and turn their heads occasionally to scream at their offspring or to spit streaming betelnut juice anywhere, everywhere. A drunkard stumbles through the market, miraculously weaving his way through the human traffic, a beer bottle lovingly cradled against his bare bony chest, inch long globules of mucous and blood trailing off his moustache, humming Elton John’s Yellow Brick Road. Swarms of flies and other insects form small clouds around a dead dog recently run over by a Public Motor Vehicle in the middle of the main street, its putrid juices running off towards the drain. A man lies, in a drunken stupor, snoring under a rain tree, devoid of his shoes, belt, all clothes accept his dirty, ragged jeans. Bored betelnut vendors play games on their mobile phones and bicker with each other.

My appointment arrives. He is sweating and is sucking on an iceblock. I open they car door and he climbs in. “Yesterday I was here buying some stuff. I went to the phone booth at the Police Station and called you to make today’s appointment. After that I went into the Police Station to see an uncle of mine. He was not there. There was no one at the station. Not a single person was there when I went in, except some small guy reporting a crime apparently an armed robbery of his tucker box at Erima. I was bored so I decided to watch what was happening. He was furious this small guy. Swearing and sweating. Finally someone came. I had to look carefully to realize it was a Policeman, he was so scruffy. The complainant approached him but he said he was busy and said he had to drop off his wife and told him to wait. He waited. I waited. The small guy told me that this morning when he opened his tucker box, a man pointed a shotgun at him and took all his money. Money he had been saving up to send his son attending University of Technology in Lae for his ticket to come home for holidays. He said he didn’t want to give the money but another man punched him in the face and placed a knife under his chin and he thought of his children and wife and gave in and gave his money. Finally a police car came in. The man approached the Policeman and told him about his problem. The Policeman said the car had no fuel. Was he prepared to buy fuel? He said to the Policeman “It’s your job!” The Policeman warned him not to tell him what to do, that the government does not give the station enough to buy fuel or even paper to record complaints and went in with some of his wantoks following him into the Station. The man was so upset and said he knew who did it and would find him and kill him himself and walked out. No one heard him from the Police Station. No one cared.”

We drove out of Gordon’s Market into the main road to turn towards the Stadium. The road was crawling with cars of all types, mainly dilapidated PMV buses and taxis and used cars from Japan. It seems everyone from betelnut seller to babysitters have cars in Port Moresby. The city, built to cater for a population of less than 100,000 but accommodating somewhere in the vicinity of 600,000, is reeling from population growth caused by urban drift and growing squatter settlements, lack of family planning and people flowing into the capital searching for better services or just curious about the bright lights and what it has to offer.

After almost an hour in traffic and several near death accidents thanks to the city’s infamous taxi drivers, we made it to Koke Market towards town. At the main crossing, a CRV Honda, the carjackers preferred vehicle, was being held up and three youths with knives and a screwdriver had somehow stopped the female driver and her passenger and were attempting a carjacking, menacing the driver and trying to open the doors. I stopped my car behind her and my friend and I prepared to help, other vehicles too stopped and the youths saw us and suddenly stopped and casually walked off. Too hard, car was locked, too many motorists, some of them armed. People outside n the market watched but no one did anything. The youths merely walked over to a betelnut stand, grabbed some nuts and turned around to observe. The distraught woman drove off hurriedly. Fortunately she had her car doors locked, but her courtesy to give way at a pedestrian crossing almost ending badly for her.

I came to see Gordon’s market as symbolic of PNG politics – the filth, the chaos, the lack of order, the dirty and the erratic manner in which the actors behave reflects the nation’s state of politics. Gordon’s market is merely another example of what is happening throughout the entire nation where entire townships, urban and rural, villages and communities, are crumbling and decaying rapidly. The Gordon’s Police Station is symbolic of the public service which no longer cares and which is indifferent and poorly equipped or resourced to serve the people.
While politicians purchase properties offshore and invest the nation’s wealth in foreign economies, Papua New Guinea crumbles into a state of anarchy, its people making do with what little they can, their values and morals diminishing with each regressive step, their ability to care and act for one another reduced to crude tactics for survival with the ever increasing lawlessness.

Gordon’s Market offers a snapshot of Papua New Guinea in motion. Take a trip to Gordon’s Market, park in front of the Police Station for an hour and take a look into our bleak future.





The never ending story of Post Courier’s stuff ups

9 02 2012

David Williams highlights yet another stuff up at Post Courier

David Williams comments come in light of this news piece from Post Courier, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp.

How much further can we continue to get such sub-standard news service from Papua New Guinea’s oldest and at one time, one of the most respected newspaper in the country.

I cannot go for the competition either because  The National  is owned by Rumbinan Hijau, that Malaysian logging giant that continues to rape and pillage Papua New Guinea.  As a result, the only reliable source of news source for me is the RADIO and INTERNET.

Its time Post Courier get its act together.

*Transcript of David William’s comments

Can someone please explain to the morons at the Post Courier that the “Republic of Korea” is NOT North Korea … colloquially it is referred to as SOUTH KOREA!!
What we know as ‘North Korea” is offically the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) …
I am sure that Whie-jin Lee, the SOUTH Korean representative must be deeply embarrassed to see his country miss-named in today’s Guria …
http://www.postcourier.com.pg/20120207/news12.htm ” ~ David Williams.






One falcon, 7 points of order, 8 passengers and many questions later

9 01 2012

The “High drama in Indonesian airspace involving the PNG Falcon jet” which took place over more than a month ago – back in 2011, has been been made public only last week.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Belden Namah, in typical  knee-jerk fashion common to PNG politicians, released a media statement on this issue, only after it was brought to the attention of the people via the front page story of The National (6/01/12).

But Mr Namah’s official statement on this incident has left me with more questions than answers.

For instance…

  1. Why has Mr Namah been silent on this matter until it had surfaced on the papers for him to come out?
  2. What was the purpose of this power meeting over in Malaysia that required 3 senior MPs to travel there?
  3. Why was the police minister part of this troupe? Was it to go over the “security detail” for the oil palm plantations like how Rumbinan Hijau (RH) pays for members of the Royal Police Constabulary to beat the hell out of fellow Papua New Guineans?
  4. Why were those “oil palm investors” flown here on the Falcon jet? Seems reminiscent of the Somare regime.
    – The idea of flying “investors” to and from PNG with the Falcon is becoming rather too ‘crowded’, don’t you think? Should PNG start getting ready to fork out more for a bigger jet soon if we are going to consider all the investors lining up for a free flight at tax payers’ expense?
  5.  Would the oil palm investors from Malaysia be related to RH in any way?
    – Hang on. If that were the case, I doubt it would be brought to light by The National newspaper.
    – Which then begs the question as to who the Indonesian journalist is and which media outlet he/she is attached with? (This is something for The National newspaper to reply to).
    – Would it be a competitor of RH then? Questions, questions and more questions…. let’s move on.
  6. In his statement, Mr Namah further asks us to ponder on the possible outcome of such an event if it happened to countries like “… Australia, New Zealand, America or China for that matter and it was carrying their Deputy Prime Ministers or the Vice Presidents…”
    – Well for starters, would they have waited 1 month until after a newspaper report to cry foul?
    – Perhaps we would better understand how they (“Australia, New Zealand, America or China“) would react if they were faced with such a crisis situation by first finding the answers to the first three points above.
  7. Namah goes on further to ask us to “Imagine carrying such a large amount of money on the small Falcon Jet”
    – Well I have never held a million in my hands to help me to “imagine” US$250 million. In any case, one could have just as easily have US$250m in bonds, I’m sure.
    – But then again, I’ll have to tag this point under the #JustSaying category. I may be accused here of speculating but I am only working on the premise of his “OK” to speculate on this incident by the line “I leave that for you to conclude.” (B.Namah).
    – And of course. I’m testing the waters of freedom of expression here to see if it can stay its course and hold ground.

Finally, it is in this kind of test that the nations must stand united forgetting their differences and upholding their pledge to their motherland. Papua New Guineans MUST now learn to be NATIONALISTIC AND PATRIOTIC. WE MUST PROTECT OUR SOVEREINGNITY. [sic]” – Belden Namah

Namah’s closing remarks as quoted above sits smugly with the rest of the statement like an unwiped ass on a hot Moresby day. It seems almost disjointed –  incongruent even, from the rest of his statement. Perhaps it is the soldier in him trying to relive his glory days of rousing soldiers into action, but it falls short of hitting the target; like a punch line to a lame joke that never quite makes it. It is of course his rally call to get the Opposition MP’s to set aside their political differences, and to get the public support behind him in his pursuit to seek some redress from international bodies on this matter.

However, with no disrespect to him, I have to say that this has to be one of the most pathetically shallow attempts at inciting patriotic pride, if that was the intent.  The obvious lack of detailed information on this matter, as highlighted by the seven points raised above, hang like a rainy day on a picnic. It fails to build up the crescendo it deserves, in order to make that final “call to arms” –  if I may dare to call it that. In fact it falls in a heap of clichés.

One would have thought Mr Namah would have by now known better than to be hasty with his words (yea, he of the claims to “damning evidence” against the Chief Justice Injia, if one cares to recall). In fact, it is of paramount importance that any man or woman who has reached such a level of the political ladder as Mr Namah needs to be extra sensitive in their choice of words, especially now more than ever.

This is not me being unpatriotic. This is me being a realistic patriot. This is me speaking up and speaking out, asking the niggling questions that are in all thinking Papua New Guineans’ minds. This is me trying to make sound and informed judgement after understanding the underlying details surrounding this incident in order to avoid dancing to conjecture, recycled lyrics, question marks and bull shit.

This is me asking why we have to “learn to be NATIONALISTIC AND PATRIOTIC” now, when numerous calls to look into cases of border incursions previously have received very minimal attention. This is me asking why we have to “learn to be NATIONALISTIC AND PATRIOTIC” now, when we could have been so back in November 29, 2011.

This is me saying you need to protect the spelling of your “SOVEREINGNITY” so then perhaps we can really start protecting our SOVEREIGNTY.

The moral of the story is that Mr Namah needs a new speech writer to cover his tracks better.





Supreme Court To Miners : Here #PNG is Yours

24 12 2011

by Bismarck Ramu Group

The Supreme Court today, in a decision that surprised no one, have given the mining industry carte blanche to do what they like in PNG. Dig where you like, use whatever chemicals you like, dump as much as you want anywhere – it’s yours boys. That in essence is what the court decision is saying as they have allowed the Chinese government owned Ramu Nickel Mine to begin dumping in the waters of Madang.

In a 2-1 decision with Justice Davani dissenting with her two male colleagues Justices Hartshorn and Sawong came down on the side on social and environmental destruction. No surprise from Hartshorn – a former employee of the mining industry and is very proud of it. Sawong perhaps the most knowledgeable of the law of all the judges however should really be ashamed. To say the landowners didn’t prove nuisance is ridiculous. In a 64 page decison by Judge Cannings in the National Court 60 pages supported the landowners case. Cannings laid it all out in an obvious attempt to allow the Supreme Court to the make judgement. And they have.

And so there you have it. The Supreme Court gives the miners PNG and the people and environment suffer. As to future generations – who cares? In less that[sic] a week the PNG government gives OTML an award as good corporate citizens after having caused one of the worst environmental disasters on the planet – and having learned nothing from this or not really caring Sawong sides with Hartshorn – and says take the country boys.

And so what is left to do? Well Mr. O’Neill and Mr. Namah there is one thing you can do. What about it? You two know where the judicial system is at. After all the drama the last two weeks – let’s see the Parliament flex its authority.

source: Bismarck Ramu Group








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