An intolerable situation: Disasters in Governance

9 02 2012

by Gary Juffa

In the last few months, Papua New Guinea has experienced a spate of disasters in rapid succession. It is as if the elements of nature have spewed out their anger and Papua New Guinea experienced disasters from the air, land and now water. Yet it is not nature that cost the nation the lives of Papua New Guineas sons and daughters so much as human errors in judgment by those who had the opportunity to prevent the terrible events from occurring – humans.

In these instances, human beings employed in foreign owned companies operating in PNG. Yet even these agents are not to be blamed so much as the persons who direct and urge them to act and employ them and do so for profit.
These are of course the owners of the company, those who reap the profits of the business activities that generate the revenues for their bank accounts.

But even they are only partially to blame. For there are those who sit above these rampant profiteers in so far as responsibility is concerned, placed there by “the people”. The government, its elected officials and the departments and agencies and their agents, developing policy and providing check and balance, regulatory and monitory oversight in strategic and tactical efforts to protect the interests of those who need the goods and services provided by the profiteers, “the people”.

The events that occurred in the last few months are instructive examples of how the people have been ignored, left unprotected to the whim and will of corporate interest. While no one doubts the use and need for corporate activities and their benefits, their taxes, which they reluctantly pay and only if asked, they are in need of controls and regulations so that their fundamental ambition, their mission, to generate profit, often driven by the greed of those who own them, must not interfere with human life in so far as reducing it to mere costs on a profit and loss statement. That responsibility is placed firmly every 5 years on a select group of individuals chosen from among the people themselves, to act as guardians of the interests of the people and essentially the nation, creating and implementing laws to ensure that the peoples interests are carefully taken account of and protected. The consequences of the representatives ignoring their responsibility are severe. The people end up paying more then they bargained for.Sometimes with property, blood and lives…

In October 2011, an Airlines PNG plane crashed into the jungles of Madang killing 28 on board with only the crew of 4 surviving including the Australian (formerly retired) pilot, recruited nonetheless for one last stint. The entire country grieved for the victims who not included those that perished but those that were left behind with the sad memories, those that have been left will now have to endure the vacuum created by the loss of their loved ones and the consequences of their absence in their lives.

In January 2012 Papua New Guinea went into collective shock and mourning yet again when news of a landslip that occurred in the Highlands reached the rest of the country and indeed the world. This awful tragedy killed an estimated 68 Papua New Guineas living in the vicinity of a quarry operated by a contractor of the giant LNG Gas Project Exxon. Entire families were buried, fathers, mothers and children along with their simple hopes of a better life.

Whilst the nation was still reeling from the loss of lives in both disasters, a ferry overladen with passengers mainly women and children, capsized and sank off the coastal waters of Northern Province and Morobe. An estimated 100 people are missing, feared dead. Tales of horror from survivors tell of an ordeal that lasted mere minutes when the old leaky tub overladen with passengers returning from holidays, many to school was submerged by giant waves on a patch of rough sea and went down. Lower decks were filled with sleeping women and children. According to reports the ferry was overloaded beyond recommended capacity. Even more alarming is that the Captain claimed bad weather but had been forced to set sail by the ships owner or face termination of his employment. Merchant ships nearby reacted to distress signals and managed to save many. According to a report, a few persons were cut to pieces by the giant propellers of one of the merchant ships in the melee. The Australian government reacted swiftly and dispatched its navy and coastguard saving many lives from a watery grave. The Australian Political landscape also reacted swiftly, not missing a beat and Gillard took no time in claiming credit and offering condolences laced with condescending statements all in the same paragraph.

Lack of proper attention to the development, implementation and monitoring of laws and regulations, policies and procedures designed to protect human life continues to allow deaths of Papua New Guineans. The perpetrators never ever punished, merely stumble in their march towards greater profits, momentarily pausing to recover losses and regain momentum…and march on…seemingly untouchable…their investment worth far more then the lives of the citizens of this island nation, constantly and consistently in a state of non development.

The blood of these innocent victims drips not only from the hands of those employees, the pilot, the ships master and the quarry manager, but also from the executives right up through to the boards of these organizations that avid seek profit in Papua New Guinea with little concern about standards or regulations as demonstrated in those events…but drenched and soaking, congealing even in clots, are the bloodbaths that our leadership over the years have languished in, the blood of our people, constantly filled up by the inaction of those who we have elected into positions of power to guard our interests…our future…ourselves victims, our children lining up to become…. The worst disaster that continues since September 16, 1975 to this very day, is that of our lack of good governance…

Last moments of Rabaul Queen


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

Ombudsman Commissioner threatened by Correctional Service boss

23 06 2011

Ombudsman under threat
By Harlyne Joku 

Ombudsman Commissioner John Nero yesterday claimed that Correctional Services CS Commissioner Richard Sikani threatened twice to gun him down. Mr Nero said Mr Sikani’s threats were issued in two letters; the first on April 6 and the second on May 18 this year.

According to Mr Nero, Mr Sikani’s threats are related to his (Nero’s) announcement of Mr Sikani’s referral to the office of the Public Prosecutor over alleged misconduct in office. Mr Sikani has since sought review of the matter with the National Court which granted an exparte review on March 11, 2010.

Mr Nero told the media that the threats in the two letters read: “More missiles loaded in the AR 15 semi automatic Rifle still remaining in the chamber will be firing at you..” (6th of April) and; “I have already informed you that more bullets have been loaded remaining in the chamber of the Self Loading Automatic AR 15 Rifle for rapid firing at you as a person continuously.

“It cannot be more blatant and direct than this. It is an act of someone who has little regard for the rule of the law,” he said. “I or anyone for that matter from the Commission does not deserve to be shot by a Semi Automatic Rifle for doing our job,” an angry Mr Nero told a press conference at the Ombudsman Commission at Deloittes Tower yesterday.

But Mr Sikani when contacted to comment yesterday afternoon about Mr Nero’s claim was equally angry too. “He (Nero) is lying. I said I was going to sue him- not gun him down. I gave him a notice that I will personally sue him for damages and malicious prosecution,” Mr Sikani shouted on phone to the Post Courier.

He added that Mr Nero cannot run away from his actions. “People have to stand up and face their own illegal dealings. Now that I have won my case, he (Nero) is crying out to the media because I want to sue him for his actions.”

Mr Nero however, said Mr Sikani is no ordinary person. “He is a semi militarily trained person, a head of a disciplined force who has exposure to ammunition that is direct command and control. He has the capacity to actually carry out threats which makes it quite real and serious,” he said.

He said the issue is more complicated when Mr Sikani is writing in his official capacity as Head of CS using the official letter head. “That is not a good reflection on anyone, certainly not his department and ministry. It is a disgrace,” Mr Nero said. He added that the substantive review of the case of Mr Sikani is yet to be argued and he (Sikani) has an obligation to comply with the National Court.

Mr Nero has also written and referred the matter to the Police Commissioner-Operations on the 7th of June.

A couple of years back the Chief Ombudsman was shot at and wounded and now a threat is issued on an Ombudsman’s life.

The challenge is now for Commissioner of Police to stamp his mark and protect Constitutional Office holders, judges and other public officials and so they can freely do their work, Mr Nero said.

He said he has also copied the complaint to acting Prime Minister and CS Minister for their attention.

From Post Courier (Wed, 22 June 2011)






My take on decriminalizing homosexuality and prostitution

20 06 2011

Lady Kidu’s attempt to introduce laws to decriminalize homosexuality and prostitution has met with stiff opposition, especially from the churches and from the general public based on traditional and ‘moral’ grounds.

Here’s what a friend of mine put forward and I made my stand clear on this issue. I’m sure we all have our own views on this matter.


Here’s my response:

“But let’s face it. PNG is a pluralistic society and we would only be fooling ourselves into believing and touting the “Christian Country” badge. It would only go to show what hypocrites we are (and we won’t have to look far for that, trust me).

If a legislative change impinges on my right to live as a human being, especially with respect to those articles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and if it threatens my democratic rights as a citizen of this nation, then I will definitely fight tooth and nail to my dying breath.

In this instance however, they are seeking more of a ‘luksave‘ if you catch my drift. Its only officiating shit that’s already going down, bro.

Its more about living and co-existing in harmony with other Papua New Guineans, whether they be gay, bi or straight. Whether they be prostitutes or gigolos. Its about recognizing them and their rights.

All Men have a right to freedom of choice, just as much as God gives us the freedom of choice every day we breath. God never placed a picket fence around the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He only advised them (Adam and Eve) against eating it.

We, as his created beings cannot do otherwise. Free will has to prevail here.

God hates Homosexuality but loves the Homosexual.
God hates Prostitution but loves the Prostitute.”


More revelations of fraudulent land acquisition

19 04 2011

Given below is an exact transcript of a report received late yesterday about more fraudulent acquisition of customary land from indigenous land owners through the lease lease-back scheme known as the Special Agriculture Business Lease (SABL).

Outside the hausman at the meeting between the Bosmun & Taringe tribes Photo: Source Suplied

The people of the Bosmun and Taringe tribes in Bogia District of Madang Province want to know how the portion of Land from Taringe to Annaberg was taken by the government, and is now in the National Gazette.
All their Elders gathered at the ‘hausman’ in Bosmun and found that that total land area was leased for the so called ‘Special Agriculture Business Leases’ (SABLs)!
They say no one government official has visited them to discuss and get their consent as they are the Land OWNERS, and say THEY WOULD NEVER HAVE GIVEN AWAY THAT MUCH LAND AREA THAT COVERS 2 WHOLE VILLAGES!
They want immediate answers from the government and have petitioned their MP John Hickey and the Lands Department.
Hickey has signed their petition as of 5pm yesterday afternoon (18/04/2011), and has vowed to do all he can in his power on this starting today (19/04/2011).

This is getting out of hand simply because of somebody’s insatiable greed.


UPROOTED – A documentary on land alienation in PNG by mining insterests

11 04 2011

by Scott Waide

“Uprooted” is a story of four communities in Papua New Guinea’s Madang province who have been affected in various ways by a Chinese state owned  nickel mine. Narrated entirely by landowners, it shows the pain and fear of losing their land to large scale development.

It also highlights the concern on the Deep Sea Tailings placement (DSTP) being the preferred method of waste disposal that this mine is looking at employing and is currently the subject of a lawsuit.

Dur: 21 minutes
Producer: Scott Waide

A wordless post because words are just not enough!

30 03 2011

Source: provided

Source: provided

*Captions and titles above came with these images from the image source.

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