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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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)

 

 

 

 

 





A National Monument is lost to Corruption

19 04 2011

The old House of Assembly is an iconic monument in the history of Papua New Guinea. It was there during the formative years of this nation. From the period of Self-government up to Independence from Australia in 1975. It saw history as it was being made.

Over the years this iconic building sadly fell into disrepair, but its worth was not lost. As a result, at often times concerns were raised to restore this historical building but nothing had come of it.

Nothing until today.

The article re-printed below appeared in yesterday’s The National. It was then I realized that our government and the bureaucracy had finally LOST IT.

This new development clearly shows us that the people entrusted with the responsibility to safeguard this country, its principles and our unique history and culture HAVE NO HEART  at all for this beautiful country. They enter into shady deals like this to sell off what is rightfully the people’s in order to satisfy their own greed and lust.

The same can be said about other sectors of government where little to no regard is given to what TRULY matters to the people.

Without further ado, read on for yourself and do please note the texts in BOLD. Those are for your critical consideration and opinion.

House of Assembly sold

Source: The National, Monday, April 18, 2011
By Junior Ukaha

THE first House of Assembly in downtown Port Moresby is to be turned into a hotel.

The state sold the site to the Lamana Development Group which plans to turn the historical building into a modern hotel.

The one-time seat-of-power is located in downtown Port Moresby, next to the AON Building on McGregor Street.

How the land was obtained and why this iconic building was sold to the developer is not known but contractors began demolition work last week.

The old House of Assembly about to be fenced in

David Western Constructions Ltd managing director David Kini said they were contracted by Lamana Development Group, the new owner of the area, to clear up the place. He said his company had been hired to demolish the old House of Assembly and build a replica of the building that would serve as a hotel.

“We have been instructed by our client to demolish the old building and build a replica of it,” Kini said.

The National visited the site last Friday and saw workmen erecting a fence around the property to stop public access.

It is understood that the national government, through the National Museum and Arts Gallery (NMAG), was owner of the land before its acquisition by the Lamana Development Group.

Nine families who lived in the area were paid K200,000 by the developer and told to move out to make way for construction work to begin.

John Sine, from Chimbu, who has lived in the area for the past 35 years, thought it was a joke when he first saw the contractors.

“It looks like the government does not care about the cultural and historical significance of this place,” he said.
“I will not be surprised if the government and other selfish politicians and people in authority sell the country to foreigners in their greed to acquire more money and wealth.”

The state and concerned parties did attempt to restore the old parliament as a national heritage and former governor-general Sir Paulias Matane headed a committee which attempted to raise funds to restore the building. Money was committed by government but it is uncertain where these funds might be.

The building was formerly a “whites only” hospital in the 1950s and was turned into a House of Assembly in 1961 when at the insistence of the UN and Australia decided to prepare the former territories of Papua and New Guinea for self-governing status.

Attempts to get comments from NMAG and the Lands Department were unsuccessful.

By all means, you can yell out FUCK YOU to the BLOODY SYSTEM and the powers that be that drive it.

~ero~





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.

~ero~





14 days holiday for the guilty

25 03 2011

Michael Somare, PNG PM

After all the hoopla surrounding Michael Somare’s case before the leadership tribunal, the verdict of 14-days suspension delivered today at 1720 hours (PNG time) is a bloody joke!

A first for PNG, on December 8th 2010, the Public Prosecutor referred the PNG Prime Minister to a Leadership Tribunal for breaching the Leadership Code of failing to submit his tax returns of earnings – some dating as far back as 20 years.

The PM, doing what he does best, appeared immune to the requirements of the laws of this nation to temporarily vacate his seat for the duration of this process. He took it further by taking several counter-measures to derail this democratic process but all to no avail as it became apparent that it would run its course.

With bated breath the country followed this story. It eventually turned out he was guilty of 13   of the 25 charges of misconduct that were initially laid against him.

After a very expensive tribunal hearing made up of a star-studded panel of 3 commonwealth judges, the PM has received a mere tap of 2 weeks suspension from office.

Somare has again thumped his nose at the people of Papua New Guinea.

PNG once again becomes an international joke. I am laughing so hard, it hurts.

~ero~





Chaos reigns as Ogio gets the Vice-Regal post

14 01 2011
   

Michael Ogio (skelim boi ros lo baksait yah)

Michael Ogio Is The New Governor General

by Scott Waide (Fri 14/01/2011)

There was chaos in parliament this morning with Western Governor Dr. Bob Danaya demanding that Ogio, a serving MP leave the chamber during the ballot. Deputy Opposition leader, Bart Philemon, a few minutes later, sought clarification from the acting speaker in relation to a Court order meant to prevent the vote from happening. The Acting speaker replied saying the vote will go ahead because he didn’t sight an order.
::end::

::My take::

Shit just keeps getting better and better.  Already we are off to a ROCKING start for 2011 with the most outrageous display of absurdity by the company of comics – oops I mean ‘leaders’ in the parliament.

I earlier expressed my disgust in one of my earlier posts (not here) about Sir Paulias Matane in his reappointment to the very same post. But alas! We have been subjected to a cruel case of ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’. Democracy and the Constitution (or what’s left of it) of this sovereign state has again been dealt a cruel blow at the hands of the current NA-led government.

This mockery of the government system takes the cake in my “What Were They Thinking?” special category of posts on this blog. Why?

Well one glaring itch in this whole affair is the very fact that he is currently an elected representative of the people of North Bougainville, serving as the Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology in the current government.

Whether this rather arrogant course of action by the current government is legally sound or not is a debate that can be taken up by those who are more learned in this profession (Law) but the question that hangs on everyone’s mind is: “What now of the people of North Bougainville?”

Do they hang in ‘limbo’ until the next election which is just around the corner? Or do we throw more thousands of Kina into a by-election? Money which otherwise could be spent in more constructive, developmental ventures. Beats me in these men’s reasoning capability and I again question their legibility in being there and how WE, You and I had voted them in there in the first place.

In being sworn in as their elected representative, Ogio – and the rest of the 108 – is the voice of the people he represents and as such, is obligated to answer to his people when deciding to digress into such a farce of a venture. One cannot unilaterally leave such a contractual post on the get go just like that. This calls for a big “WHAT THE HELL WAS HE THINKING?” Or more like WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING???

I could rant on more but continuous exposure to such atrocious injustice is taking a toll on my sanity and state of being. I shall instead leave you with the Right Honourable Sam Basil – one of the only TRUE SON OF PNG in the Haus Tambaran who put this stinky affair into perspective more succinctly in his very recent press release in his blog, Bulolo Live. Do please check it out.

Even still, a blessed New Year to y’all

~ero~





Parliamentarians’ Ridiculous Pay Rise, High Infant Mortality and Cholera

30 11 2010
By Scott Waide

 It was election year in 2002 when campaign efforts were at their peak.  I arrived at a school in the Tekin Valley in remote Oksapin in the Sandaun province after a 6 hour trek through the jungle.   

Grandma and child - Tekin 2002 © Scott Waide

The rain had just ended when I began an interview with a local teacher.    He was one of the few government representatives   in this   very isolated part of Papua New Guinea.  The only government aid post in his village had closed down a few years ago. The orderly left   for the provincial capital of Vanimo and never returned.   I wanted to know about infant and maternal mortality rates. At the time the teacher was the only person available who could give me a fair analysis of the situation.

Having come from Port Moresby where one relies on easily accessible and “reliable” statistics, I got straight into asking   a series of questions trying   to establish the number of mothers and children who had died in the last 12 months.   

“We really don’t know.” He said.  “We only know of those who died in   this village and the next.” 

He counted three infants and one mother who died in his village in that election month alone.  They all died of complications that could have been solved if they had easy access to a sub-health centre or even a medical orderly.   The nearest health centre was a day’s walk from where we were. It would take two days   to get there from the villages I passed.  But for pockets of small hamlets in the far off distance, getting to that health centre when a mother is experiencing   birth complications is an impossible dream.  The teacher couldn’t give me an exact number of children who died in the last 12 months or in the previous year.  But he gave me an educated guess. He said between 15 and 30 babies die every year in this mountainous region. 

“Too many,” he said shaking his head. “Too many.”

He went on to tell me   that people had come to accept the deaths of babies as part of their lives.  In the nearby villages, many families would gather for the death of a respected elder.   For a baby who died at birth, only the father and the mother would be at the burial. The teacher said in the small mountaintop villages, this was the scenario that was played out every month when a baby died:  The father would take the tiny body to the back of the hut and bury him or her there.  No one mourned for them.  They were “just” nameless babies who would not even be recorded as statistics because nobody knew.

In the same year, I found myself in another part of the Sandaun province at a small government-run aid post.   Half the concrete floor had collapsed into the ground. The medicine cabinet had only malarial tablets and liniment for body aches.  The medical orderly told me that a child had died about 24hours ago from dehydration.  By the time he had been brought to the aid post, the orderly could not administer treatment. The child’s father came at the aid post a few minutes later and was told by the orderly:  “If you want your son to live, take him and run to the health centre.”  The orderly said he got word in the afternoon that the   father did make it to health centre but the child had already died in his arms.

The situation may have already improved in those areas but in other places, it remains a reality that ordinary Papua New Guineans have to contend with.   What matters most to the ordinary person in the village are roads, bridges schools, good health services and most importantly, the ability to make money for him.   But it seems we keep getting it wrong every year!

In 2008, the Treasury department released figures in the Final Budget Outcome (FBO) which showed how much money was being wasted. The 68-page report outlined how the government more than doubled spending from K202.3 million to K478.5 million in deficit.  The expenses   included car purchases, a 12 million Kina Canberra residence, 100 thousand Kina for pipes and drums for the Correctional Service band and 65 thousand Kina for the Institute of Medical Research’s 40th anniversary celebrations.

In 2009, Members of Parliament paid themselves K10 million in accommodation and motor vehicle allowances.    One government backbencher said immediately after the decision that he would “give all the allowances back to parliament.”  In contrast, the Public Service Minister, Peter O’Neill said allowances which MPs were getting were “far below what was needed to meet the amounts charged by real estate companies.” 

The increases gladly received by MPs came at a time when the Port Moresby General Hospital and other hospitals around the country were   experiencing a dire shortage of drugs and medical supplies.   It was also a year when several hundred settlers were made homeless in Port Moresby after a police raid.  Also in that year, working class Papua New Guineans in towns and cities struggled with accommodation problems and high food costs.

As if all that wasn’t enough, members of Parliament have yet again voted this year to give themselves a 52 percent pay rise. On average each MP will get about 77 thousand Kina annually.  

All this is set against a gloomy backdrop   of high infantry mortality rates and new outbreaks of cholera in several parts of the country.

~ero~

Scott Waide is an award-winning television journalist from Papua New Guinea. He has a blog in which he shares poems and short stories on current issues facing PNG  at http://tingtingblokantri.blogspot.com/.
He also has a photo blog where he showcases Papua New Guinea through the lens of his camera at http://pngphotoblog.blogspot.com/.








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