Friday, August 17, 2012

The Dying Earth

The Creator’s Master Piece. For all to Live in Peace. The Earth. Giving and Taking. Only for Survival. Sharing is the life of Nature. The Natural Cycle Supplements. And Compliments its Sustainability. We humans choose to be different. We don’t want to Give. We only want to Take. We don’t want to Share. We only want to Have. And we Demand for More. By Satisfying our Greed. We are destroying our Life Support System. Turning the Earth into a Grave Yard. By Steven Sukot 2004

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Prophetic Statement when PNG was born as a Nation

The Prophecy
By Steven Sukot
(In 1975, when PNG was born, our fathers released a prophetic statement over the life of the nation…now 36 years on, I just want to remind us of this prophecy)

What the Constitutional Planning Committee wrote when the nation was born is actually a prophesy into the life of the nation at its birth. It is a normal practice in Melanesia for the old and wise to speak into the life of a child at birth when dedicating and blessing the child. This is in fact a prophetic statement on the eve of the independence of Papua New Guinea. Every sons and daughters of this land should know and understand this. What the nation is encountering today with the overdrive emphasis on extractive industries especially in the mining, petroleum, oil and gas development might become a curse. The eyes of wisdom saw the future unfold 36 years ago and issued the warning. With the Vision 2050, medium term development strategies and economic policies we pursue as a nation, be warned, that our dreams will become nightmares if we despise this prophecy.
Lest we forget;

We see the darkness of neon lights.
We see the despair and loneliness in the urban cities.
We see the alienation of (the 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 be pursued only after very careful and thorough consideration of the likely consequences upon the social and spiritual 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 the use of our innate artistic talents.
(Papua New Guinea Constitutional Planning Committee, 1975).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Churches main cause of land issues in Vidar & Basamuk

Madang province is now embarking on some of the major economic projects in the country. These projects include the Ramu Nickel Mine, Yandera Gold Mine, the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ), Carbon Trade Pilot project at Middle-Ramu, Ramu Oil Palm and a long history of logging activities.

With these major economic project, there is one cross-cutting issue - Landownership and customary landowners. For now I would like to touch on two major projects thriving on lands acquired by religious organizations under a 99 year lease arrangement.

The land area at Vidar which was acquired by the Catholic Church in the 1800's from the locals from Kananam, went through several transactions after the 99 years lease lapsed. The Catholic church gave the land over to the government of PNG (not sure whether some money were exchanged in the transaction), then the government sold it to RD Tuna, and RD Tuna sold about a quarter of that Vidar landmass back to the government who is now embarking on the PMIZ project.

In a similar situation, the Lutheran Church also acquired the land at Basamuk from the locals under a 99 years lease. After the lease lapsed, the land went to the government and now the Ramu Nickel Mine developer CMCC who has set up the production plant site for the nickel.

Customary Landownership issues surrounding these two projects remains an unsolved issue. Both the Catholic and the Lutheran Churches entered the 99 years lease agreements with primitives and illiterate leaders who never went to school and do not understand the consequences of the agreements.

The Lutheran and the Catholic church also brought in people from the hinterlands to work on the plantations at Vidar and Basamuk. Now the 4th and 5th generations are also claiming landownership of the plantations and are challenging the customary landowners in participating as traditional landowners in the two projects.

The land titles commission is yet to deliberate on these landownership issues, but it is very clear the Catholic and the Lutheran churches are very quiet on the issue when in fact they are the main causes of the problems.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lawyer, Govt clash on mine

Post Courier
News Monday 23rd August, 2010

Lawyer, Govt clash on mine

MINING Minister John Pundari and landowners’ lawyer Tiffany Nonggorr have clashed over the proposed deep sea tailings placement issue with the Ramu nickel mine in Madang.

The case took a new twist over the weekend when lawyer representing the plaintiffs, Tiffany Nongorr was alleged by a ministerial staffer to have threatened to prolong the court case against the mine for more than two years.

In a statement from Mining Minister John Pundari’s office, it was alleged that Mrs Nongorr called the second secretary to the Minister, Simeon Wai, on his mobile last Friday and said that she had scientific data to help her prolong the court imposed moratorium on construction of the DSTP.

Her remarks were in relation to an article in the Post-Courier on August 20 titled: “Pundari backs Ramu after meeting locals.” The Pundari office statement claimed she had said she had spies at the Mineral Resources Authority who she collaboratedwith to get government information concerning the DSTP and Ramu nickel project.

But Mrs Nongorr yesterday denied any threat to prolong the case and said she told Mr Wai that when the Minister was appointed a couple of weeks ago, he immediately announced he would “fix” the Ramu nickel matter.“The next day I rang his second secretary and said that the plaintiffs wanted to brief him on their issues to assist him fix the matter,” Mrs Nongorr said.

“The second secretary said he would pass the message onto the Minister. They never contacted me again.” Mrs Nongorr said that on Friday the Minister was reported in the paper as saying no-one had come to the Government and showed the consequences of DSTP and the alternatives.

“I rang the second secretary and told him that I was very annoyed that the Minister had issued such a statement, as my clients had offered to brief him and he had ignored them. I said to him that the best way forward was for a negotiated solution in the best interests of the people, the Government and the miner. I said to him that if there was no early settlement then the case could go on for at least a year or more because whoever won the trial, there would likely be an appeal. And if that was the case, no one would benefit.”

Mr Pundari when told by Mr Wai about Mrs Nongorr’s outburst challenged the lawyer to disclose the identities of her “collaborators’’ at MRA or other government agencies.

“As far as I’m concerned, all public servants that are involved in the Ramu project are committed and dedicated to achieving the best outcome for all parties. If there are rogue elements within the Government team, they are doing so for their own interest and not serving the state’s and people’s interest,” he said.
Mrs Nongorr said she has had discussions and meetings with the lawyers for MRA and they believed a negotiated outcome was better for everyone.

Copyright©2009, Post-Courier Online.

Friday, August 20, 2010

QC delivers weather forecast in Court

The National Court in Madang heard the motions today (19.08.2010) for the Ramu Nickel Mine DSTP matter. The QC representing the MCC argued that, the National Court should allow MCC to construct the DSTP pipeline because the wet season is approaching and will cause further delays on the Ramu Nickel Project that is costing the developer millions. The QC had no credible source of weather forecast or  Meteorology reports to show the court. He based his argument on an engineering argument that, the rainy season would affect the construction of the DSTP pipeline.   
The Plaintiffs lawyer Ray Williams (who appeared on behalf of Tiffany Nonggorr) questioned the validity of the argument in the absence of any credible weather forecast report. Mr. Williams asked the court “where is the weather forecast from the National Weather Service Bureau that states that it’s going to be a rainy season?” ….“what would you expect, we are in the tropics and it rains now and a sunny day tomorrow….Welcome to PNG, the land of the unexpected” he added. Even the judge consented that, it rains anytime in PNG and with his experience in living in West New Britain, with a big smile, he said,” when the northern part is having a fine day, the southern part rains, so how do you know that it’s going to be a wet season?”.
The whole court room was filled with giggles as the audience could not stop laughing at the QC’s argument on the wet season and some of them had to be told to leave the court room immediately.
I followed the Plaintiffs' lawyer outside and asked him why he said “Welcome to PNG, the land of the unexpected”? He replied that, the argument of the rainy season was not an intelligent argument and therefore did not deserved an intelligent reply.
The decision will be given next Tuesday the 24th of August 2010.

Monday, August 9, 2010

China on a Mission to Exploit the Pacific Ocean

Pacific Andes set to sail world's biggest factory vessel
Posted: 19 November 2009 0011 hrs 

Photos 1 of 1

Workmen putting the finishing touches to the Lafayette, Pacific Andes' version of a mothership - a floating fish factory, touted as the world's biggest in its class.
QINGDAO, China: Integrated seafood company Pacific Andes International is positioning itself to ride the next big wave, which it believes will come from the South Pacific Ocean.

Its new flagship factory vessel will go into operation next month, and this is expected to help raise the profit margins at its fishery business to as high as 50 per cent, up from 35 per cent.

Workmen are busy putting the finishing touches to the US$100 million vessel, named the Lafayette.

It is Pacific Andes' latest version of a mothership - a floating fish factory, touted as the world's biggest in its class.

The vessel is set to sail to the South Pacific Ocean at the end of the month, and its target is to catch 300,00 tonnes of fish - the equivalent of twice what Hong Kong consumes in a year.

Designed to stay out at sea all year around, it will be supported by five super-trawlers and seven catcher vessels that will pump the live catch into the Lafayette for processing.

The vessel is able to freeze 1,500 tonnes a day, and the fishes will then forwarded directly to their destination.

Ng Joo Siang, managing director of Pacific Andes International, said: "With our traditional fishing business, we have EBITDA of 35 to 40 per cent, that the margin and our net profit margin is way exceeding 20 per cent.

"So with Lafayette, which is more efficient that other fleet that we have, we believe that with this higher revenue and higher profitability, we should be able to provide good return to our shareholders."

Also helping to boost the Hong Kong-listed company's bottomline is its new processing plant in Qingdao.

The new facility is able to handle 60,000 tonnes of fish fillet annually, and its efficiencies has reduced cost of sales by up to 15 per cent.

Pacific Andes made a name for itself by supplying a then-little known white fish – the Alaskan Pollock. Today, the fish is widely used by fast-food chains such as McDonald's.

The South Pacific venture offers two new lines of growth – Peruvian anchovies and Chilean jack mackerel. The latter will be targeted specifically at the African market.

"We have decided as a company to expand heavily into Africa, we want to have a pan-African distribution concept," said Ng.

"We believe this continent will have great growth potential, greater than even China, so that's an area we're targeting. Eventually, we hope that in five years' time, China and Africa can be equally important to us."

Pacific Andes today holds a 15 per cent share of the total imported Chinese fish market.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Vanuatu: Chiefs call on Forum leaders to protect custom land.

Vanuatu Malvatumauri (National Council of Chiefs) has called on Pacific leaders to protect custom land, endorsing a regional declaration on indigenous land tenure in Melanesia.

Thu, 5 Aug 2010
 By Nic Maclellan in Port Vila

Vanuatu’s Malvatumauri (National Council of Chiefs) has called on Pacific leaders to protect custom land, endorsing a regional declaration on indigenous land tenure in Melanesia.

Chief Selwyn Garu, Secretary General of the Malvatumauri announced that the council of chiefs had unanimously endorsed the Mele Declaration on Land in Melanesia.

The declaration, prepared at a regional meeting last June, states: “We are opposed to any form of alienation of land from customary landowners, whether by outright sale or through leases which remove landowners’ capacity to effectively control, access and use their land.”

The declaration also calls for the overhaul of land administration in Melanesia and rejects “all policies which require that customary land be registered as a precondition for business or development activities.”

The Malvatumauri, a national body which unites chiefs from 20 island councils and two urban councils, is meeting in Port Vila this week.

Chief Selwyn Garu said: “The declaration was presented before the Council of Chiefs this morning. The members of the Council of Chiefs talked about it and in the end of the discussion we unanimously endorsed it.”

The Mele Declaration was prepared by the Melanesian Indigenous Land Defence Alliance (MILDA), a network of landowner, cultural and community groups concerned with land tenure and development across the Melanesian region.

MILDA was founded at a meeting in Madang, Papua New Guinea in 2009. Their second meeting at Mele village in Vanuatu last June brought together a range of organisations “to strategise a regional response to the persistent pressure for registration and leasing of customary land.”

The Mele Declaration was prepared at the June meeting, which brought together chiefs, church leaders, members of women’s and youth groups and other participants from Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Australia.

Changing land use for tourism

In Melanesian nations like Vanuatu, Fiji and Papua New Guinea, over 90 per cent of land is held by customary land and resource owners.

For Selwyn Garu: “When we talk about land in Melanesia, you can’t separate land from custom. If you lose land, you lose custom. If you lose custom, you lose land.

“Custom defines the use of land, but custom cannot be practiced on alienated land – it can only be practiced on custom land,” he stated. “Land continues to be the main source of employment for the people in the villages. With land, we have all that we need.”

Vanuatu’s Constitution states that “All land in the republic of Vanuatu belongs to the indigenous custom owners and their descendants.” It also states that “only indigenous citizens of the republic of Vanuatu who have acquired their land in accordance with a recognised system of land tenure shall have perpetual ownership of their land.”

In spite of this, many land owners on Vanuatu’s main island of Efate have granted long-term leases to overseas investors for tourist projects and private strata title developments, which have effectively alienated much of the shoreline along the coast.

Landowners must compensate the leaseholder for improvements to the land if they wish to reclaim their land at the end of the lease. For this reason some villagers will find it difficult to reclaim leased land after decades of construction or improvement on land provided under long term leases.

Action by Forum leaders

The chiefs’ decision comes as government leaders from around the region have gathered in Vanuatu for the 41st Pacific Islands Forum.

After endorsement by the Malvatumauri on Wednesday morning, the declaration was launched at the Chiefs’ Nakamal in Port Vila by Chief Selwyn Garu, Joel Simo of MILDA and Ralph Regenvanu, the Member of Parliament for Port Vila.

Regenvanu, one of the co-founders of MILDA, called on Forum leaders to protect land rights as the basis of the Melanesian economy: “We would like this Declaration to inform what the Forum is doing and the decisions that they’ll take in the next few days. We are urging our leaders of government, we are urging international financial institutions (including donor countries) but especially our own leaders to move away from policies that talk about land registration as a prerequisite for gaining credit.”

Regenvanu added: “Over the last couple of years, we’ve managed to get the concept of the ‘traditional economy’ on to the agenda in Vanuatu, in the Melanesian Spearhead Group and in the Forum. But we need to have our leaders seriously taking this concept, this reality on board - the traditional economy continues to be the main source of sustenance for people in much of Melanesia.”

For Chief Selwyn Garu: “I’d like to say that land is a living thing. It gives life. It empowers life and you can’t reduce the value of land the way it is being done nowadays in many parts of Melanesia.”