Friday, May 21, 2010

States lawyer instructed in court by Ramu Nico.

The Madang Court Room was packed to capacity today as the Raicoast landowners' lawyer-Tiffany Nonggorr made submissions against the States Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) with reference to the approval of the environmental permit for DSTP being grossly flawed.

At the opening of the session, it was confusing to identify who the state lawyer was. However, it appeared at the end that, the same QC-Brisbane based barrister, Ian Malloy who had been appearing on behalf of the Ramu Nico Ltd appeared today as the states counsel.

In M alloy's defense, he never stated anything to do with the  prejudice against the state or the DEC, nevertheless, he was raising issues relating to the prejudice against Ramu Nico when in fact, they (Ramu Nico) was not a party to the case today. Furthermore, there was a Chinese gentlemen, who was sitting right at the back of the QC and was seen to be giving instructions to the states counsel.

Well that brings alot of questions:
1. Who is paying for the states counsel?
2. Who is instructing the states counsel?
3. Who is the state, is it Ramu Nico?

The landowners counsel concluded in her response to the defense that it was an issue of good governance, and the government should be by the people and for the people. Nevertheless state has failed its primary responsibility to serve the people.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Pilferage at old storage tank caused spill
By Gorethy Kenneth

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, May 17, 2010) - There is a huge oil spill at Loloho, the former Bougainville copper mine port facility area in Kieta, Central Bougainville.

The lives of many Central Bougainvilleans are at risk from this oil, which was used to run the steam turbine generator and provide electricity for the port facilities - used and left 25 years ago by the Bougainville copper mine. Black oil was contained in two 28 million liter tanks left untouched during the Bougainville war.
One of the tanks was empty from the crisis days while the other tank was still full with 28 million liters of this outdated oil.

The leakage started from steel pipes taken away illegally by experts and individuals from abroad (Cubans, Americans and Asians) collaborating with the locals and illegally transporting the oil out of Loloho for the outside market. 

It is now alleged that more than 90,000 tons of oil have been stolen and taken out in vessels - one allegedly sitting in Singapore and the oil still not sold because it is outdated as it was left there some 25 years back.
Locals from Kieta and the surrounding Loloho area told the Post-Courier that people came from all over the globe, setting and signing agreements with local companies and individuals who were illegally buying and selling scrap metal - part of it the original steel contained in the power house at Loloho - also one that connected to the fuel tanks, which eventually disturbed the pipes, causing a huge oil leak since last year.
Paying locals a little money and getting away with huge amounts of money because these pieces of steel were original, when sold outside they will get a lot of money for them and overseas they smelt them again and resell them as second hand steel in PNG, Peter Nabeu, a local told the Post-Courier.

But there is now a New Zealand environmental group working on the site to contain, drain and hopefully burn off the oil, and in time save the lives of the people of Bougainville.
An expert from that environment group Ron Brennan advised they were waiting for a letter of approval from Bougainville Copper Foundation boss Paul Coleman in Port Moresby in order to start burning the oil in Kieta.
Brennan explained that bringing machines alone to clean and carry out the operations would cost them US$30 million but the whole cleanup operation of the mine areas would cost US$90 million, covering Panguna and Loloho.

"We’ve got the approval from the ABG and the locals here in Kieta but we are still waiting for a consent letter from Paul Coleman (BCL) to start our full operation," Mr. Brennan told the Post-Courier last week.
"This oil is very dangerous. Once it spills into the sea, there goes Bougainville for the next 100 years, but we are checking every day for any spill into the sea," he said. 

"We are just waiting for the consent letter from Paul Coleman to start our operations," he said.
Papua New Guinea Post-Courier:
Copyright © 2010 PNG Post-Courier. All Rights Reserved

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sam Basil hits Parliament debate -Laws for Rich & Poor

Debate : Friday 14th May 2010
Venue : National Parliament of Papua New Guinea
By : Hon. Sam Basil Mp

Thankyou Mr. Speaker for allowing me to participate in this debate session.

Many a times, people always ask whether there are two sets of laws when it comes to doing justice to all.

Yet again on today’s paper we see concerns raised again with the heading ‘’ Laws for Rich & Poor’’.
Mr. Sam Kewa of Western Highlands was sentenced to 12 months in prison for stealing a bilum and a K7.80 packet of Lamb Flaps he will pay dearly for his criminal actions his reasons for stealing may all begin from a hungry stomach or to feed his poor family.

Mr. Speaker, many Papua New Guineans mainly small people will continue to submit to the Laws of this land while people of high profiles continues to live their normal lives without fear of the laws of this land thus pushing the scale of corruption into unprecedented records.

Stealing a K100,000.00 some 20 to 25 years ago can easily spark a notion wide march & petition but sadly today a K100 Million can be easily reported as misappropriated or missing by the PAC, Auditor General or some expensive finance enquiries and the nation just watch and mumble over it and forgets the next day.

Most times mainly the politicians and the departmental heads who are entrusted to safe guard the wealth of this nation are the ones who steal from the very vault which they guard, many a times in collaboration with private businesses.

Mr. Speaker, sadly to this day many leaders now have a lot to answer for but seems to be immune to the rule of law while the lower class of people are the only ones answerable to the laws of this land.

The rule of law which is the foundation of a civilized society demands that all persons are equal before the law. The law is the master of the government and the government is its slave, not the reverse. The “law should govern", and those in power should be "servants of the laws. This is central to democracy and PNG has adopted that system through our Constitution.

When it comes to arresting and charging persons suspected of committing a crime, the Police have an unfettered discretion to do that.

Mr Speaker, The Constitution, particularly section 197 (2), empowers the Police to perform their duties without any control or direction from any other person outside of the Police Force insofar as its functions to lay, prosecute or withdraw charges in respect of offences are concerned. The Courts have held that the decision to lay a charge by a policeman or policewoman investigating the crime is an unfettered discretion without direction, interference or orders from any other policeman or officers whether of the same or of a superior rank.

Whether the alleged persons are high or low profile, every body is equal before the law and they all have to be dealt the same way. Justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done. The Police can proceed by way of Summons or by way of warrant of arrest and the Criminal Code Act, the District Courts Act and the Arrest Act all provide for the procedures in respect of different crimes. The Police know what to do but they are not doing it. A person’s innocence is still yet to be proven but that does not stop the police from making arrests or issuing summonses to appear and answer questions relating to charges.

Mr Speaker, One of the factors that is usually a counter to the policy of freedom to prosecute suspected criminals including leaders and politicians is the fear of being sued for malicious prosecution. However, malicious prosecution and defamation suits cannot surface or succeed if the Police do their lawful duty without malice and within the bounds of law. Therefore, if malicious prosecution is the reason for not arresting and charging the accomplices to the crime, then it is an unreasonable and a cover-up excuse. Furthermore, the excuse for malicious prosecution is very shallow because in many other civil suits, the Police department is the worst offender which costs the State in millions of Kina.

Section 7 of the Criminal Code Act provides that every person who aides another person in committing an offence is also the principal Offender and so the same charges should apply to the rest of the accomplices to the crimes that has been committed.

Mr. Speaker, If other ordinary persons named in the crime can easily be picked up from the street and charged, why not the Politicians & Departmental Heads. Their culpability is very high in that they are the leaders and that although the allegations are unproven and remain as mere allegations, the fact that there is evidence that these allegations have arisen tells a story of a worsening level of corruption and the public and the respective law enforcement agencies, particularly the Police cannot ignore those concerns.

The Police continuous inaction and silence and allowing high profile crimes to fade with time without justice being done is nothing but a recipe for disaster. Such is an element that is directly corroding the foundations of democracy which is the rule of law.

Mr. Speaker, The Civil society is fed up of the complete disregard of lawful duties of the Police. One can safely say that bribery and other form of corruption are encroaching and weakening the functions of the Police Force as an independent body:

A number of cases are still pending for investigations and prosecutions involving very senior members of parliament, departmental heads and various business people including the organised Mafia Activities that are operated by Asians, very well known to Police yet nothing is done to it.

Mr. Speaker, the Ombudsman Commission, the public prosecutor and the police force are funded by the tax payers money and must in return execute their rightful duties.
The failure by these law enforcement agencies can only form an opinion by the public of the existing two sets of laws, one for the rich & powerful citizens and one for the majority mainly the poor & the marginalised citizens.

Mr. Speaker, the outgoing Chief Magistrate Mr. John Numapo has made headlines in the print media recently claiming that the Magisterial Service has been Politicised went almost unchallenged.

This claim alone automatically brings into question the independence of our Judiciary System in Papua New Guinea, I am not surprised at all because many political cases are now hanging in the air.

Those who are believed to have broken the laws are still and proudly executing their duties while doing injustice to many others before them who have been penalized severely and are now on the street and in their villages.

Institutions that their existence may be in question are still functioning while the nation awaits their verdict.

One may ask, Has our Judiciary system already compromised?

Mr Speaker, Let us turn the spot light back into your play ground The National Parliamentary Services.

We all understand that greater financial powers of the parliamentary services are vested onto the speaker of this honourable house.

Three years of appealing have gone answered, during this sitting I have been fanning myself because three years now I haven’t have air conditioning in my office while I cannot find lawyers in within parliament to help give advice on the implications of many bills on notice papers.

Mr Speaker, The Prime Minister has taken charge of some questions raised regarding the house matters but hasn’t come back to this floor to tell us his remedies and as we all know money alone cannot fix this house but the rats must be fumigated too unfortunately the fumigation company ran out of active pesticides as the pests have developed resistance.

It is a common knowledge in within parliament that a K2m of parliament funds has been spent annually for two external law firms while we do not have access to in house lawyers.

Mr Speaker, surprisingly on this week’s paper there was a lawyer potential candidate dishing out cash in donations to various groups makes me wonder whether those cash are from some of the parliamentary funds.

I know nobody will answer to all the concerns that I have raised in this debate but as I have always say if the Ombudsman Commission, the Police Force, the Public Prosecutor and other law enforcing agencies cannot do their respective role this nation will decay into corruption and eventually a failed state.

If nobody can apply justice then I commit this debate of mine to God to intervene so God please help Papua New Guinea.

Hon Sam Basil

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Warning Bells Sounded - Drought coming

PNG government urged to prepare for severe drought

Posted at 22:45 on 10 May, 2010 UTC
A leading climate change scientist says it’s essential that Papua New Guinea’s government takes urgent steps to prepare for a severe drought which is expected to affect the country around 2012.
Scientists at PNG’s National Agriculture Research Institute has warned that the country can expect a mega-drought in 2012 which could last for up to 18 months, posing major health risks and food shortages around the country.

The Institute’s principal scientist, Dr John Bailey, says that developing sustainable water supply and adaptable crop production systems is imperative.
“We do have to do something and relatively urgently because it will take time to do all of this. It doesn’t just happen over night or even over months. it’s going to take a year or a few years to get all this sorted out. We will hopefully see an iniative taken in the next two or three months to start off a taskforce of different organisations brought together to sort of address this particular issue.”
Dr John Bailey.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International
PO Box 123, Wellington, New Zealand

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Penan score victory as logging road blockades halt timber giant's encroachment on their rainforests

Defiant forest communities announce they will continue to fight the Samling corporation's activities within the "Penan Peace Park" on Borneo

LONG SABAI, SARAWAK / MALAYSIA. Two logging road blockades erected by Penan communities have caused a Malaysian timber giant, Samling, to withdraw its bulldozers from the Penan's rainforests on the upper reaches of the Akah river in Malaysian Borneo.

The blockades had been erected in March 2010 near the villages of Long Sabai and Ba Kerameu at two strategic locations. The communities had announced that the Penan were willing to fight for the conservation of their last virgin jungle.

According to Penan sources, the blockades have caused the Samling corporation to withdraw its bulldozers from the disputed community lands of Long Sabai and Ba Kerameu. The two communities are part of the Penan Peace Park, a self-administered 163,000 hectare nature reserve launched in November 2009.

However, the Penan are reporting that Samling continues to trespass on their lands in other regions. Two written warnings have been issued against Samling subsidiary Jerinai to stop logging in the Ba Jawi watershed, a high conservation value rainforest near the Indonesian border. Furthermore, the company has recently taken up helicopter logging within within the communal boundaries of Long Ajeng in the Upper Baram region.

Samling is a Hong Kong-listed timber giant with its operational headquarters in Miri, Sarawak. The corporation has a track record of environmentally destructive and illegal logging in a number of countries, including Cambodia, Guyana, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. Its principal bankers include the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) as well as The Bank of Tokyo - Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd.

For more information, please contact us:
Bruno Manser Fund, Socinstrasse 37, 4051 Basel / Switzerland
Tel. +41 61 261 94 74
Pictures 1 to 3: Penan blockade near the village of Long Sabai on the Upper reaches of the Akah river in Sarawak, East Malaysia (April 2010). (Copyright: Bruno Manser Fund)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

CMCC mobilized Tigabu and his supporters to try to intimidate lawyer

The Chinese state owned Chinese Metallurgical Construction Company (CMCC) the developer of the Ramu Nickel and Cobalt mining project in the Madang Province of PNG, mobilized David Tigabu (the KBK Landowner Association Chairman) and his supporters to try to intimidate the Lawyer representing the landowners of Raicoast who took the injunction against the Deep Sea Tailings Placement (DSTP) for another hearing yesterday (7th of May 2010).

The mob that gathered outside the Madang court house were drunken males who look more like people who live in settlements in the Bundi settlement in Madang. They had their fleshy looking banner up (obviously sponsored by CMCC) and were rowdy and abusive.

The funny thing was there was no landowner from Raicoast present in that gathering.   The DSTP is a Raicoast thing, because it has the high potential to affect the marine ecosystem that support the livelihoods of the coastal communities. The point is DSTP will not affect Krumbukari.It seems that CMCC has also missed the point here by mobilizing a wrong group of people and even worse getting them drunk because they don't have the guts to confront in soberness.

Nevertheless, George Ireng and his Raicoast leaders have made new grounds in their campaign against DSTP because, the governor of Madang, the deputy prime minister, the minister for environment and conservation and the managing director of MRA and MRDC will go to Bongu village to receive the petition from the Raicoast people on the 10th of May 2010. Its the people's power in action!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

PACER-Plus to remove food Sovereignty of the Pacific

Food for Thought and Action: PANG
By Online Editor
5:08 pm GMT+12, 28/04/2010, Fiji
The Pacific Food Summit, 21-23 April, Port Vila, Vanuatu, has brought together leaders from across the Pacific: from governments, industry, NGOs, development agencies, the media and community groups, in recognition that a radical rethink is necessary in order to improve food security for the Pacific.  In this article Maureen Penjueli argues that part of the radical rethink requires the region to critically look at the likely implications of a free trade agreement dubbed Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER-Plus) between the island countries and Australia and New Zealand on food sovereignty. 
The assault on traditional farming
For many Pacific Islanders, local food production is not simply essential to good nutrition and health but is essential to our way of life.  With Australia and New Zealand pushing for a Pacific trade agreement (PACER-Plus) that will lock in for future generations a system of import reliant food (in)security, to radically rethink food you have to address the issue of PACER-Plus.
The pursuit of trade and investment liberalisation under PACER-Plus will most likely increase the social and economic problems for traditional farmers engaged in agriculture activities across the Pacific and has the potential to exacerbate food-security issues in the Pacific Island Countries.  Many Pacific countries have a large and ongoing trade deficit (Vanuatu’s trade deficit for example has consistently stood at around 25% of GDP).  Countries that cannot earn the foreign currency they need to pay for imports are especially vulnerable to food security issues in a globalised food marketplace.

Proponents of free trade agreements argue that it is a better use of the world’s resources for Pacific countries to import foods that are produced more efficiently and cheaper than farmers in the Pacific can produce themselves.  However, this argument ignores the fact that most Pacific Islanders rely on local food systems and sell local produce as their main source of income.  If PACER-Plus is designed as a reciprocal free trade deal, it is likely to promote a greater reliance on food imports and increased competition for local producers from foods produced in Australia and New Zealand.  Both bigger neighbours are major agricultural producers and would most likely out-compete Islander producers forcing many to lose their vital income from local markets. This could lead to a situation of the abandonment of lands, acceleration of migration from rural to urban areas, with subsequent pressures on local governments to provide basic services and, in most Least Developed Countries, without real employment opportunities that could provide them with a life with dignity. 
Importing greater amounts of food also has implications for the environment, by promoting carbon-intensive, industrial agriculture (including the use of international shipping and air-freight) over localised food production and harvesting systems (which provide sustainable livelihoods and promote local communities).

According to the proponents of free trade, consumers will benefit from lower prices once tariffs (import taxes) are removed. Experience suggests that in many cases exporters and distributors (‘middle men’) tend to increase their prices almost back to the same level after tariffs are removed, and fail to pass on the benefits to consumers .  Increases in consumption taxes (to replace lost government revenue) also undermine any benefits since consumers are left to pay the additional tax whilst still paying similar prices for their food.

However, even if the promises of lower prices through free trade did occur, cheaper imports also pose threats.  An increase in imports of cheaper foods could undermine local agricultural systems and have negative health outcomes when poor quality foods, like mutton flaps and turkey tails. become cheaper than local foods such as fish.  

Pacific countries have among the highest rates of non-communicable diseases (like type 2 diabetes) found anywhere on earth.  There is a clear link between the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Pacific and the radical change in diet that has occurred, with fatty waste meat products becoming readily available at prices that make them cheaper than traditional foods such as fish – and are especially attractive to the urban poor.   Fiji, a member of the WTO, has imposed a ban on the import of mutton flaps, claiming there are proven links to obesity.  New Zealand threatened retaliation at the WTO, but has backed off doing so - perhaps fearing exposure to accusations that it knowingly dumps unhealthy waste products on the Pacific Islands. 

Following Fiji’s example, and in an attempt to improve public health outcomes, Samoa imposed a ban on imports of turkey tail meat (a fatty off-cut imported from the US) in 2007.  Samoa had already tried raising tariffs on the import, but this was not seen as enough of a deterrent .  Both the raising of import tariffs, and the outright ban on imports, are policy options that are already constrained by WTO rules, but there constraints may apply to all Pacific countries if PACER-Plus is designed as a reciprocal FTA that meets the requirements of the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture.

Radical rethink:  Food Sovereignty
“Food Sovereignty” is the new progressive version of “food security.” Food sovereignty rejects the proposition that food is just another commodity for international agribusiness. Instead, it puts providers and consumers at the centre of decision-making.  This people-centred approach is deeply rooted in local production, based on the principal rights of farmers to produce the quantity and quality of food that they need to secure their livelihoods and those of future generations.  Here in the Pacific the notion of food sovereignty is tied to our traditional economy.  

There is an emerging school of thought in the Pacific that argues that the traditional economy is the source of resilience for countries such as Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands to the multiple crises that the region is faced with (food, energy and financial crises).  Ralph Regenvanu a member of Vanuatu Parliament and Director of the Vanuatu National Cultural Council argues that there are many important benefits that Vanuatu gains from the strength of its traditional economy.  A key factor is that everyone has access to land on which to make gardens for food, as well as to meet other basic needs such as shelter and medicine.  Mr Rengenvanu argues  that the traditional right to use land to make food gardens and access resources means that individuals or families who do not have access to their own customary land (or enough of it) to meet their needs can be given the right to use other families’ land, with “rent” or “use rights” being paid for using the products of the land.  
The key point is that policy makers at all levels including those attending the Pacific Food Summit must begin to do more to recognise the reality and the promise of the traditional economy as part of the solution to ensuring food sovereignty for our own people.  This would be a radical rethink to the issue and departure from the ongoing unquestioned pursuit of liberalisation under free trade agreements such as PACER-Plus as a solution to addressing this issue. 
Maureen Penjueli is the Coordinator for the Pacific Network on Globalisation