Wednesday, August 31, 2011

CRA Memo reveals dying moments of Panguna Mine

 
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A confidential memo viewed  by The Namorong Report alleges that the Prime Minister and ministers in the PNG government were sympathetic to the rebels cause on Bougainville during the early days of the conflict.
 
The memo was sent by Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) Chairman, D.S Carruthers on the 6th of December 1988 to the Directors of CRA Limited. CRA Limited an Australian company created by Rio Tinto Zinc (RTZ) based in London, owned 53.6% of BCL.
 
In it, Carruthers alleges that members of the PNG cabinet, Particularly the Minister for Minerals and Energy [Patterson Lowa] and the Minister for Provincial Affairs [John Momis] were hostile towards BCL. He describes the reception Robert Cornelius, the Managing Director of BCL received when he sees politicians in Port Moresby.
 
“On Friday 25th November, Bob Cornelius went to Port Moresby to press the government to do something about the law and order situation, and especially about the theft of explosives. He met a hostile reaction from the Ministers for Minerals and Energy and Provincial Affairs and the North Solomons Premier [Joseph Kabui] who blamed BCL for all the trouble.”
 
Mr. Carruthers then met with the Prime Minister and Provincial Affairs Minister and received a similar response. He writes that the Minerals and Energy Minister believed that the problems had arisen due to misappropriation of Landowner Trust funds.
 
Carruthers wrote that Prime Minister Rabbie Namaliu’s priority was to appease the landowners. He described their meeting as unsatisfactory. He concluded thus:
 
“The situation is extremely worrying because the National Government, which has largely neglected the deteriorating situation for most of the year, seems unwilling or unable to assert its authority, and indeed is divided among itself. The Melanesian Alliance (represented by the Ministers for Provincial Affairs and Minerals and Energy), which is strong in Bougainville, continues to show a degree of sympathy for the landowner militants.”
 
Thus having assessed the situation, BCL decided not to restore operations. Carruthers informed the Directors that with his support, BCL had advised the government that it would not continue mining Panguna.
 
Carruthers wrote in BCLs Annual report of 1989;
 
“It is not clear at this stage how the problems on Bougainville will be resolved. They are part of a widespread issue about how the income from mining operations in Papua New Guinea should be distributed.”
 
Today PNG still faces the dilemma of deciding how income from mining operations should be distributed.
 
We haven’t learnt any lessons, have we?

TIME TO WORK WITH LANDOWNERS, IT’S IN YOUR INTEREST

 

Peter Turner wrote this in response to my article Mineral Ownership: Lessons from Bougainville. I fully endorse he’s sentiments which I have posted in full below:

“What the PNG government is faced with is a universally held position by the traditional owners that their customary title outweighs PNG constitutional law.

I don't think the issue has been sufficiently explored to predict early action by Parliament.

What I can predict is that unless the Hela traditional owners get a fair shake, they will simply kick the bucket over (work shutdowns, roadblocks etc.) until they do. Just like Francis Ona started out.

The government has over half its operational policemen stationed in or near the Southern Highlands in anticipation of 'unrest'. Most are being paid extra allowances by the developers.

What this means, of course, is that the Talaseas can march into Kimbe and burn a significant part of the service infrastructure without interference.

Lets face it, the government cannot afford to provide the level of security which the developers' demand (against the landowners) without leaving the rest of the nation significantly under-resourced, as is presently the case.

It is very doubtful that even the present high level of 'protection' which the Police Force is providing would be sufficient to prevent total shut down of all development activity, if the Hulis decide to exert their power on the ground.

There have been significant criticism of several former ministers whose answer was to 'throw money at the landowners'.

This poorly coordinated exercise created some headaches but achieved the aim of 'keeping the landowners interested', allowing the early works at Hides, Kopi and Port Moresby to be advanced.

Now that this source of revenue has seemingly dried up, the heat will be turned up by the traditional owners for alternate and significant recompense for the 'real' value of their resource.

What does that mean?

Well firstly, the transfer of national government and provincial government equities to traditional owners. That might just about do it.

On the other hand, the writing is on the wall for developers, get very friendly with your landlords, the traditional owners.

Follow the Australian resources industry model of entering into direct negotiations with and executing direct agreements (they call them ILUA's) the landowners, specifying every single little thing that needs mutual agreement.

That way, the developer would not require 'protection' from his landowners and Mr. Wagambie could redeploy some of his scarce manpower, to the Nation's security against our home grown terrorists, the 'white collar' criminals who have bled the country dry for decades.

Don't rely on any government promises, because they might not be able to deliver in the face of significant intransigent people power.

A developer must have excellent relationships with its 'landlords' if long term peaceful operations are to be practicable.”

Bougainvilleans oppose Chinese invasion


‘LOUD’ PUBLIC FORUM UNDERWAY IN BUKA
PRESIDENT MOMIS COPIN AN EARFUL FROM RESTLESS CROWD
………………
The public forum organised today in Buka aims to get a strong message to politicians regarding the Chinese invasion amongst other local political matters.
Eye witnesses on the ground claim the situation is currently very tense. I had my trip to Buka cancelled because the situation there was assessed to be too risky for a ‘redskin’ like me.
Bougainvilleans are shouting at President John Momis, telling him that they want the Asians out and that the proposed Mega City be shelved.
Currently present at the forum President John Momis,  Vice President Patrick Nisira and Trade and Industry Minister Mr Komba.
It seems President Momis has brought he’s entire cabinet to talk to the forum. The womens representative present at the forum is Mrs Scholly Miriori.
Businesses at Buka and Kokopau have closed operations in lieu of the demonstration which has attracted people from all corners of  the island of Bougainville.
President Momis has concluded his speech largely avoiding the mentioning of ‘Asian” or “Chinese” instead reffering to “Foreign Businesses.” He had very little specifics on what the Autonomous government would do instead stating that foreigners should only be involved in bigger investments.
Momis speech was followed by an address by Regional member for Bougainville, Mr. Fidelis Semoso. Mr. Semoso stated that the Automous Government on Bougainville must protect local business and prevent foreigners from overtaking them.
It is also well known on Bougainville that the Chinese the marrying local women in order to gain access to land. Bougainville is a matrilineal society where women own the customary land.
Members of the public are now presenting their views. Police are providing security at the demonstration.
BELOW: The proposed Mega City to be built by the Chinese on Bonus Plantation, Buka
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I’ve got serious shit coming up

 

THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR CONTINUOUS SUPPORT

YES I’VE HAD OVER 6500 VISITS DURING THE MONTH OF AUGUST

STAY CONNECTED COZ IVE GOT SOME SERIOUS SHIT ABOUT TO BE POSTED NEXT!!!!!

6500

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

UNIVERSITY STUDENTS ON STRIKE


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DIVINE WORD UNIVERSITY STUDENTS IN MADANG ARE ON STRIKE. THEY HAVE DECIDED TO BOYCOT CLASSES TODAY OVER SECURITY CONCERNS
DETAILS ARE SKETCHY AT THE MOMENT

Monday, August 29, 2011

MINING: The Bastards are Bluffing

 

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Having written two articles on lessons from mining in Bougainville and the recent controversy on ownership rights; I thought to myself “S.H.I.T.! The bastards are bluffing!” I was about to torture my laptops keypad when I received an email from ma good ole buddy Warren Dutton.

Warren’s been around a long time and was a politician during those good old days when I wasn’t even born. He is a worried man. He runs a rubber company, North Fly Rubber, back home in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea. He believes that very little is being done to mitigate the impact of the Dutch Disease on the Agriculture sector due to the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project in the Southern Highlands.

Anyway, back to what he had to say regarding mineral ownership:

“I understand of course that our present and potential Corporate Citizens would find it far easier to be able to deal privately with public servants and politicians, than with a multitude of resource owners, who would in the first instance, have an inflated view of the value of their resources. In fact I believe that it might in practice be easier for corporate citizens to insist on good governance by the servants, public and political, of the State than it would be to have to deal with individual landowners.
If it proves to be too difficult in PNG they could always return to places like Somalia, where I would suggest that their tolerance (encouragement?) of bad governance has led to the development of both pirates and the conditions which may have led to famine.”

As far as Warren is concerned, PNG does not stand to lose if the miners choose to ship their asses off to Timbuktu. More mining would only increase the stress of the Dutch Disease on other sectors of the economy.

Now don’t get me wrong. Warren aint no bleeding heart liberal. He strongly believes in State Ownership of minerals. However, he stated that the Miners have, by tolerating/influencing corrupt regimes in PNG, created this mess for themselves. People don’t trust their corrupt government anymore and so they want ownership rights. Warren wrote:

“Unfortunately to date, PNG corporate citizens, particularly, but not only, those with parent companies in Australia, have until now kept aloof from expressing their political views, and ideologies, in respect of the good governance of PNG.  This is a dereliction of their democratic duty as citizens of PNG, which they are not guilty of at home.  There if they don't like a Mining or a Carbon Tax, they have no hesitation in advocating a change in Government.  Here in PNG they have kept silent and at best allowed a patently corrupt Government to survive for almost a decade, and have kept equally silent while it has morphed, in an Unparliamentarily, and almost certainly Unconstitutional way, into a "new" Government which we can only pray is slightly less corrupt.”

It will therefore be a coup for the miners if the government capitulates from a position of strength. The fact is that the PNG Government has never been in a stronger position to get better mineral rights arrangements for its people.

Initially, after the announcement by Mining Minister Byron Chan, many miners decided to calm down the markets by stating that the changes wont be damaging. However, considering the ad hoc manner in which this new Government was formed, it seems the policy wasn’t thoroughly thought through. This left it vulnerable to attacks from miners and academics.

Prime Minister O’Neil raised the white flag and poured cold water over the matter. He said that it was not government policy yet because it had not been discussed by cabinet and Parliament. If O’Neil is to be believed one could also say that Little Chan acted like an amateur spewing policy statements without first going through cabinet and his boss.

Papua New Guinea deserves better from its citizens – both Corporate and Individual!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mineral Ownership: Lessons from Bougainville

 

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The debate on mineral ownership has resurfaced recently with the speech by Mining Minister Byron Chan regarding transfer of ownership from the State to Customary land owners. Most Papua New Guineans pick up the debate on mineral ownership based on current circumstances.

This is hardly surprising considering how poorly educated and informed most are. It is therefore easy for politicians, bureaucrats and ordinary Joes to be misled by propaganda.

If one looks at the Wikipedia entry on Mining in Papua New Guinea, its opening line is misleading. It states Up until 1970, there was little mineral extraction in Papua New Guinea, but since the 1970s mineral extraction has dominated the national economy.”

That Wikipedia version of mining history is what most Papua New Guineans are taught to believe. The truth is that Australians were ripping off Papua New Guineans big-time at Bulolo in the late 1920s. At the height of the Bulolo gold rush it was said to have the busiest airport on planet earth. What did the indigenous people of Bulolo gain from this?

In fact, once people start acknowledging that local landowners should benefit from resources, it is recognition of the legitimacy landowner claims of ownership of the resource. Of course the Australian colonialists weren’t going to recognize land owner rights and to this day they still mislead their PNG pets via their agents in Universities, Think-tanks, Chambers of Commerce and Media outlets.

Every red blooded Melanesian who owns land knows that the ownership extends to that which lies below six feet as well.

The biggest challenge to the colonialist view of mineral ownership was mounted by the Bougainvilleans. The Bougainvilleans never recognised the colonialist trespassing on their land for minerals. In 1965 their objections to mining were rejected by the mining warden and there were confrontations between villagers and geologists throughout the year. In 1966, the Australian Federal Minister for External Territories went to Bougainville to address villagers regarding the mine. In 1969, they took their case to the High Court in Australia but their case was thrown out.

It was in 1969 that the cabinet in Canberra was briefed about the potential for Bougainville causing problems for an independent Papua New Guinea. In 1972, the same year that Bougainville Copper Limited started production at Panguna, US environmentalist, Richard West predicted in his book Rivers of Tears that the disputes on Bougainville would lead to civil war.

In 1987, the old Panguna Landowner Association was replaced by a younger socially, culturally and environmentally conscious team led by Francis Ona. Having being suppressed for over two decades, the younger generation now had to deal with massive social and environmental damage. The kids had found the matches and the State was adding more fuel with its refusal to negotiate a better deal. The kids were hungry for justice and trouble began brewing in 1988 and exploded in 1989 into a civil war.

Many Papua New Guineans do not understand that the Crisis on Bougainville was about justice. The indigenous people’s rights were ignored and suppressed by Australian colonialist, the Capitalist Miners and their Papua New Guinean puppets. The western created Puppet State failed to protect the rights of its people and chose instead to side with foreigners.

Papua New Guineans fought against each other and lost their lives, for what? So that some guy in Sydney, London or New York could have money to drink champagne and drive a Mercedes.

The Bougainvilleans saw their fight as a fight for Justice on behalf all Papua New Guinean landowners. They wanted to be paid for their copper ore instead of just receiving compensation payments for the destruction of their cultural, spiritual and environmental heritage. They have set the precedent on ownership that very few in PNG seem to care about.

The western State, having lost on Bougainville has continued to attack indigenous people at Ok Tedi, Pogera, Hidden Valley, Basamuk and Tolukuma, etc... The Bismarck Sea has now been targeted by Foreign Exploiters and their compradors (natives of a colonized country who acts as the agent of the colonizer).

The Bougainville crisis came into fruition after over 20 years of resistance of mining and neo-colonization. Its roots lie in the question of ownership of land and that which is underneath. Once the Australians and their Papua New Guinean compradors saw fit to steal from indigenous people, they set the precedent for the destruction of indigenous nations and their resources.

It is time to correct the wrongs. For it is by Heritage that indigenous Melanesian people lay claim to the land and the resources therein.

NOTE

I have written recently opposing the transfer of ownership rights from the State to Land owners. However, having researched the roots of the Bougainville Crisis, I’ve changed my mind on the ownership issue. However, my concerns still remain, particularly regarding powerful landlords becoming warlords or simply squandering their increased wealth the same way that most are doing today.

Having said that, I believe that given their rights, should the landowners decide to destroy their cultural, spiritual or environmental heritage, they are not in any position to blame the state. If they squander their wealth, they cannot blame corrupt politicians of bureaucrats. Thus there is a need to educate resource owners about these pitfalls.

Strength of a PNG Woman

 

Picture and caption by Scott Waide

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STRENGTH OF A WOMAN: Anna Peter, from the Eastern Highlands, runs a small sewing business in 8 mile settlement. She also manages a household with several young children.

She works where she sleeps in a tiny 3 by 4 meter shack. I was honored to be invited to photograph her small op. Everyone else apart from a few I met was either hostile or cautious. Can't blame them for being that way after previous foreign media portrayals of PNG settlements.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mineral Archipelago: Journeys from Bougainville to Basamuk

 

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Above: Villagers from Mindre village read copies of Justice Cannings Decision to Allow Dumping of Mine Waste into the Bismarck Sea

Terry Kunning is from the Sibiag clan at Mindre village on the Rai coast. He’s community and the people who depend on the Bismarck Sea for their livelihood, will be affected by the Chinese dumping their mine wastes into the sea. He was recently quoted by Papua New Guinea Minewatch as saying,

“The court has throw out our case so there’s no more thing to do. Maybe we take physical action… just like what Bougainville have done. That may be the last option.”

Last night I received a text message from Dupain Balim who is a relative of Terry Kuning. I featured her in my blog article The Matriarch of Mindre. Her message read;

“Martin gutnait igo lo yu na olgeta lain. Mi go lo ples aste na mi lo waswas na mi lukim ol katim diwai nabaut na mi bel nogut tru. Na nau mi go long bikpela wara na mi painim wara long pulamapim... Mi lukim masin I bagarapim wara blo dring na mi belhat tru na wel wari tu. Martin em liklik stori blo mi wantaim bel wari lo bus na wara I bagarap.”

[Martin, goodnight to you and everyone. I arrived at home (Mindre) yesterday and when I went to the creek to bathe I saw trees being felled. Then I went to the river to fetch drinking water but I discovered that the well I had dug by the bank had been covered by an excavator. I am very frustrated and angry. Martin, I just wanted to let you know of my concerns regarding the destruction of trees and water sources.]

Mama Dupain and the women of Mindre are some of the strongest opponents of the Basamuk deep sea tailings dump. They now have to travel longer distances to fetch drinking water and do laundry. The nearby creek that once used to be their water source is dying due to the destruction of its catchment area to make way for a Chinese township. Their gardening area has now been taken up by mine related activities. They do not want to see the sea destroyed as well.

Perhaps Terry’s warnings should not be taken lightly. He is an ex public servant who was in Bougainville before and during the crisis. There are indeed striking similarities between Bougainville and Basamuk.

In March 2000, The National newspaper reported that Cabinet documents released by the Australian Archives revealed that in 1969 the Australian External Affairs minister Charles Barnes warned that Panguna would produce problems for PNG. About two decades later, in 1988, landowners would demand compensation for damages to the environment caused by Panguna. Then in 1989, Francis Ona would declare war against CRA.

Dr Kristian Lasslett of the University of Ulster and a Fellow of the International State Crime Initiative has been researching State Crime in Papua New Guinea. Dr Lasslett said that Francis Ona never wanted war against Papua New Guinea nor did he wish to fight Papua New Guineans.

Francis Ona gave a speech on the 29th of November 1989 where he stated :

“We are the ‘sacrificial lamb’ for the few capitalists whose hunger for wealth is quenchless and unceasing.”...  “We are not going to sit by and watch capitalists and their Papua New Guinean political allies exploiting us”...  “We have planted the seeds which germinate soon not only in Bougainville but throughout Papua New Guinea.”.

Ona referred to Papua New Guinean politicians as compradors. The word means a native of a colonized country who acts as the agent of the colonizer. It originally used to refer to a Chinese agent engaged by a foreign establishment in China to have charge of its Chinese employees and act on their behalf in business affairs.

Interestingly, Francis may not have been far from the truth. Brian Thomson recently reported for The Age and SBS Dateline that an affidavit written in 2001 by PNG’s former Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, alleges that Rio Tinto played an active role in the military operations on Bougainville.

It is ironic therefore that having chased the redskins (Papua New Guineans) and white man, the Whiteman and Mungkas (Black) Barter System has become China and Mungkas Barter System. An anonymous poet called Tsomi penned the lines of the Whiteman and Mungkas Barter System. Tsomi wrote:

Mungkas may trade with white man

Of tomorrow in exchange for his land

.........................................

Whiteman tool box he brought

Mungkas copper mine he owned

Now whiteman Bougainville Copper he owns

While Mungkas you are the tools

Papua New Guinea’s politicians clearly do not seem to care about the people and the environment. None of them seem to have learnt any lessons or they own overseas property and bank accounts which they can retreat to once the chaos they’re creating comes to fruition.

Over 15 000 people lost their lives during the Bougainville crisis. I’ll leave the last words to Francis Ona, who got it right when our politicians were failing Bougainville:

The only significant development we have seen since independence is the widening gap between the few rich and the poor majority...  State has no credibility, it is an instrument for the rich to oppress the masses... Neither Somare, Chan, Wingti, Namaliu, Momis nor their other counterparts are nationalists. All our politicians from national to provincial level are puppets for the foreign capitalists.... We are true nationalists as we are standing up against foreign exploiters.” [29th of November 1989]

Friday, August 26, 2011

PNG: MY POOR LITTLE RICH COUNTRY

 

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Above: Pipigari street boy living the good life at Bosmun, yep they gave me that bunch of buai free

One of the promises of a good education is to get a good job and be successful. For those who have got their certificates, diplomas and degrees, the search begins for that dream job. As for folks like me who drop out, well... they look down on us. The education system likes calling folks like me - failures.

Yet people like me are free people. Yeah sure, we can’t afford iPADs, iPhones or iPODs but at least we don’t have someone breathing fire down our throats at the workplace. Maybe we have one or two meals a day but at least we do not have to be slaves of time.

I often wonder why anyone would have a job that cannot pay a living wage such that by the luswik the so called wok man na meri are already begging the buai sellers for dinau. In my recent trips around the rural communities in Madang Province, I have not heard of buai, banana or taro dinaus. I’ve seen villagers enjoy free betelnut and eat large bowls of garden food.

I am now questioning the true meaning of failure or school dropout. Many villagers eat better food and sleep in better homes than primary school teachers, security guards, nurses, lawyers and doctors in Port Moresby.

During my recent visit to various villages in Madang, I have felt like a seriously rich guy. The Bosmun people offered me a lot of betel nut, of fish and sago along with bananas and kumu. At Basamuk the stunning waterfront properties of Terry Kuning and his brother made me salim too many tintings. These villagers have got it good.

I am not surprised that many Papua New Guineans have bought into the materialistic culture of capitalism. Call it modern, chic, cool, western, progress, development or whatever other adjective you want to use to dress up the poverty that is prevalent in the homes of many workers.

Those two guys below have failed the workers and allowed them to be exploited. Many workers cannot afford to live a decent life that the education system promised. They live like failures... perhaps they really are but their pride won’t allow them to admit it.

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Union leaders are failing their members. Source: PNG Exposed Blog

I am encouraged to hear and read news reports of independent labour movements taking industrial action. Perhaps the greatest news lately has been the strike by LNG workers. PNG LNG workers are the key to the economy of Papua New Guinea.

In fact, PNG LNG workers probably do not even realize that they are the single most powerful constituency in the country. Many millionaires have placed their bets on the success of that project, particularly those in real estate, aviation and construction. A lot of Banks and rich pigs will be screwed if this project were to fail.

PNG LNG workers stand to lose a lot from that project. The fact is that although 10 to 15 thousand workers will be employed in the initial construction phase, only about 1,500 jobs will be available once production commences. Thus, if the LNG workers aren’t getting a good deal now, they might as well call themselves slaves.

Prices of goods have risen astronomically in Port Moresby due to inflationary pressures from the LNG project. Life is pretty much the same at Kaugere, 5 mile, Vadavada settlements even though the LNG project has commenced nearby.

Thousands of people who live in Port Moresby cannot access proper water and sanitation even though there has been economic growth in the country. Why do we have to have continuous power black outs, medicine shortages, school fee increase, etc... even though on paper the figures say the economy is growing?

Why does O’Neil have to beg the Asian Development Bank for USD 90 million dinau to build roads when we have recorded economic growth? Perhaps the only people who benefit from such economic booms are those who get massive tax holidays and pay slave wages. Thus the government is poor and the people are poor. That explains why we’re a poor little rich nation

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Above: It’s obvious isn’t it? Poor People and their Poor Government making the rich get richer via Tax concessions, cheap wages and Laws and policies made to suite so called ‘investors.’

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Repentance Day Suggestions from Nellie

 

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Nellie Nanuk is an employee of a local NGO based here at beautiful Madang. Today over lunch we had a chat about tomorrows Repentance Day Public Holiday.

I’m not religious and have found the idea totally ludicrous and a waste of time. So as I joked about the time-waster with Nellie she reflected on the matter more profoundly.

As a Bougainvillean, her experience of the Bougainville civil war gives her a unique perspective on the need to reconcile. She has greater insights into the weakness of human nature and its brutal manifestations.

The people of Bougainville are deeply scarred and the pains of the tragic events resonate in their world view.

For Nellie, repentance day is about the leaders in clans, tribes, communities, churches, businesses and in government, saying sorry to their subordinates for the wrongs they have done and vice versa.

As a Christian and a Melanesian, she sees Christ the victim of our reconciliation with God as similar to the Melanesian custom of killing a pig to say sorry. After Christ’s sacrifice, a feast is to be held in Heaven and similarly, Melanesians kill pigs and make a feast to solve a problem.

Tomorrow is about admitting that we as a people are failing our fellow Papua New Guineans and our land by our actions and inactions. By what we have done and by what we have failed to do. Tomorrow we say sorry to our mothers, aunties and sisters for the violence they suffer.

Tomorrow we say sorry but we should also say, ‘the time is ripe to end injustice in PNG.’ Nellie would like everyone in PNG to have some kaikai together, say sorry to each other and resolve to work towards a better PNG for all.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bagarap-ment : DIVIDED AND FALLING APART

 

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Papua New Guinea is certainly not a failed state in the manner by which academics and the Howard government of Australia seemed to portray it. Their bluff led to attempts to colonize the country under the so called Enhanced Cooperation Package. Many Papua New Guineans, perhaps a majority, still hold the view that neo-colonization by Australia will solve our problems.

However, despite the warnings by the Howard Government and people like Helen Hughes, the country has pretty much being intact and has enjoyed economic growth.

Many now question why that economic growth has not been translated into improvements in the living standards of everyday Papua New Guinea. In 2009, the Lowy Institute published a paper titled Linking growth and poverty reduction in Papua New Guinea, and attempted to explain this disconnect between growth and well being. It essentially identified that inefficient and/or absent delivery mechanisms of economic and social benefits such as transport and communications links were obstacles to wealth distribution.

I have travelled on the sealed North Coast road of Madang Province and seen communities that do not seem to enjoy the benefits of transport and communications links. I asked a villager at Rempi village why his people were spectators on the roadside. “Terror” as he is known by the boys at Rempi, said that there were cultural issues as well as land ownership issues that were obstacles. It seemed disputes and rivalries with-in families and communities were restraining individuals from business and other commercial activities.

Further past Bogia station I passed youths who were clearly intoxicated and carrying speakers, gen-sets and light bulbs to a party. Mainly adolescent male, they seemed to have been preparing for a party. It then struck me that money earned from cocoa, copra, betel nut and other cash crops was being spent on alcohol instead of building modern homes with water tanks.

I then attended a meeting where the situation at Kaugere settlement in Port Moresby, was being discussed. The slum is inhabited predominantly by people from Gulf Province. Crime, unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse as well as prostitution and gambling are prevalent. The greatest need of the people of Kaugere is to have a reliable water supply. Unfortunately, corrupt local leadership compounded by landowner issues have hindered progress despite attempts by the local Member of Parliament to solve the issue.

Thus the Lowy paper was an oversimplification of a complex issue. That was hardly surprising considering it was a desktop paper. However, the lesson for Papua New Guineans is to be suspicious of so called ‘expert’ opinion expressed by foreign analysts. I’m not rejecting the findings of the Lowy paper, I’m just stating here that the situation on the ground is not like paperwork.

What is indeed wrong with our country is that there is mistrust and disunity within families, in communities and between ethnicities. Although some of it may be genuine, a lot of it is based on prejudice and selfish egos.

It is this mistrust and disunity that many foreigners use to manipulate landowners to rip off the resources. It makes it easier for them to pay bribes and play one party off against the other. As Melanesians, we try to avoid conflict with our brothers who have wronged us and in doing so tolerate the land grabs, illegal logging and disposal of wastes into the environment.

We tolerate corrupt leaders and public servants because as Melanesians we prefer not to stir up trouble. We blindly support traditional leaders/elders whose decisions clearly contradict the wishes of the community.

I’ve seen divided communities from Basamuk to Bosmun. The hausman is on fire but no one wants to fetch water to douse the flames because it might cause conflict. The land at Rempi, Kananam, Bosmun and Basamuk has been given to foreigners and most people seem to have a wait and see attitude.

I see a nation is falling apart before my eyes because it divided. Physically, it is divided by the challenges of its geographical features. Spiritually, it is divided by the break-down of communal and personal relations. The land, which is the heart and soul of a Melanesian, is being taken and her sons watch as she is being raped because they do not want to upset each other.

If you are a Papua New Guinean child reading this article 25 years from now, let me tell you that the reason you are landless is that your parents and grandparents knew about the problem and chose not to do anything. None of them can use ignorance of the situation, as a defense.

Your parents and grandparents felt that any action to preserve the dignity of their mother land was criminal… was violence. Thus, they called raping of their mother land ‘development.’ Yes, making you landless and polluting your waterways and solwara was done in the name of development.

I called it bagarap-ment and no one listened.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ELECTION 2012: MAJOR CHAOS LOOMS

 

Outstanding issues

1. Constitutional amendments for establishment of Hela Province

2. Constitutional amendments for establishment Jiwaka Province

3. Constitutional amendments for establishment Reserved Seats for Women

4. Implementation of the Report of the National Guns Summit

Nope, this guy aint an officer with the Royal Pacific Island Regiment of the PNG Defence Force.

Tindi Apa

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sum Inland People Declare They Are No Party To The Controversial PMIZ Project

 

From aspleslain Madang network

On the eve of an injunction suit levelled against the controversial Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ) on 26th August by plaintiffs representing their peoples in the project’s coastal and maritime impact area, the Sum Inland people, located just inland of the project’s immediate impact zone have declared again that they were no party to the project, nor did they have any intention whatsoever to do business with the project. Their strong stance was voiced out by practically all their leaders present at a meeting held at Guwildig village on Saturday 20th August 2011.

The villages of Guwildig, Sigu, Labdim, Venal, Abab, Barimfog, Baus, Bareoidig and a few more, including Baiteta (which in fact is made up of settlers originally from those other villages above, who have migrated over during colonial times, mainly in search for social services), constitute the Emnam (speaking) tribe, located toward the eastern part of the Adelbert Range, Madang Province.

In recent weeks the Sum Inland people and leaders have been troubled by visits from certain agents and/or middle persons, representing the PMIZ project. One such visitor, John Bundo, disclosed that there were definite plans underway to facilitate economic partnership between the Sum Inland people and the PMIZ project. That partnership was focused mainly on tapping into the water and forestry resources of the tribe to supply the project’s need for those resources. The project would need reliable supply of water and electricity as well as timber for building, construction and maintenance.

Most of the Emnam speaking people (between 50 and 75 percent) live outside of their tribal lands. In 2008 the tribe initiated a move to encourage its members living in Baiteta, (inland of Rempi village), as well as Rempi, Talidig and Banab areas along the north Coast region of Madang, to move back up to their traditional lands. An association (Sum Inland Association) was formed for that purpose of mobilising their people to go back home, join up forces and see to their own development, the self reliant way. They have sought out and engaged an outside partner, Caritas Madang (within the social services office of the Catholic Archdiocese of Madang), to work with them on their self reliant focus to achieving their own development.

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Yamei Diwag, flanked by two grand children, is in his mid 80s, could be the oldest man alive within the Emnam speaking tribe. Yamei is chief of Dagenbag Clan of Baus village, and when he was allowed to speak his mind, toward the end of the 20th August meeting, his two minute oration summed up his tribal leaders’ stance NEVER to accept the offer to do business with the PMIZ project.

clip_image002Numerous gorges such as the one in this picture above (middle), that allow fast flowing streams to run through, serve as natural land boundaries of clans within the tribe. Such streams feed into natural reservoirs, four of which (Agilmayatag, Samahbululuh, Barohag and Gaunab) have been earmarked, without the tribal owners’ notice nor consent, for a water development project to feed the PMIZ project’s water and electricity needs.

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Kayeyeh water fall, just below Guwildig village is one of quite a few such water falls within the region of the Emnam speaking Sum Inland people.

Here below is an English version of the advice from Chief Yamei Diwag of Dagenbag Clan, Baus Village, within the Sum Inland (Yabnid speaking) region of Madang province:
"I will be dying shortly, water is not like gold, nor copper or another mineral dug out from the belly of the ground. Water is forever, I am mindful of all of you my children here present and others not present, I am mindful also of my grand children, great grand children, and generations yet unborn, all of you and all of them will not have water, if you give it away to those people (company) who are urging you to give it away to them... Never give it away, because if you even think about or consider that offer by them (company), that is the beginning of your death and that of your children and generations after you." Chief Yamei Diwag, 20th August 2011.


For further information contact : aspleslain Madang network

E. aspleslain@gmail.com

Samuel Tuwol on 71627123
Lazarus Daimas (Caritas Madang) on 72862230

Sunday, August 21, 2011

O’Neil may not deliver on promises

 

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The Government of Papua New Guinea has set the ball rolling in trying to improve the state of the nation. It has endorsed strategies to fight corruption and to improve road conditions around the country.

In a statement released last Friday, Prime Minister O’Neil said that cabinet has taken three steps to eradicate corrupt practices. These steps include the Endorsement of Papua New Guinea’s National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2010-2030, the establishment of an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC); and the implementation of the United Nations’ Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).

In 2010 Papua New Guinea was rated by Transparency International as one of the most corrupt nations on earth with a score of 2.1 and a rating of 154 out of a 178 countries surveyed.

Mr. O’Neil also stated that cabinet has approved approximately K 25.8 million to be sourced from future budgets to fund a bridge maintenance program throughout the nation. The Asian Development Bank is expected to provide US$ 90 million to fund the program. In other words, the O’Neil government currently does not have the capacity to put its money where its mouth is and is betting on the future.

With the elections just around the corner, it seems highly unlikely that anything concrete would be set in place before the writs are issued on the 27th of April 2012. According to the Electoral Commissioner, Mr Andrew Trawen, nominations will open on the 27th of April and close on the 4th of May 2012. Polling then commences on the 23rd of June and closes on the 06th of July 2012. Return of writs will be on the 27th of July 2012.

The Government has less than 8 months to deliver. This is not an easy task especially when it has to take the begging bowl to the Asian Development Bank. There will also be necessary delays in the implementation of any anticorruption strategy given the time needed to set up relevant policy, legislative and institutional frameworks. It seems the government has embarked on a clever Public Relations campaign to be seen to be addressing significant national issues when in fact nothing may ever eventuate.

RAMU GAZETTAL

 

WHO OWNS URASIR RESOURCES LIMITED?

THE BOSMUN PEOPLE WANT THEIR LAND BACK

 

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CLICK LINK TO VIEW PICTURES OF THE RAMU REGION PORTION 16C

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ancient Culture under threat of extinction

 

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Above: Sam Leo (facing camera) from the Nembgol clan who are the custodians of the Sacred Site of Turumuk, near Dongan village, Bogia, Madang Province, Papua New Guinea.

The Bosmun people of Bogia in the Madang Province of Papua New Guinea are an ancient people who have inhabited the land along the Ramu River for millennia. Recent archeological findings have dated the earliest settlement to be over 6000 years ago, near the current site of Dongan village.

This is a region of Sacred Sites, Spirit Houses and Transcendental Flutes that form the basis of the Bosmun philosophy and spirituality. The Bosmun regard Turumuk as an important cultural site. It is believed to be guarded by a masalai or spirit woman.

Earlier in March this year, the land of the Bosmun (portion 16c) was gazetted by the Papua New Guinean Government as a Special Purpose Agriculture and Business Lease (SPABL or SABL). The lease is being held by a company only known by its initials as URASIL.

This gazettal was part of a systematic scheme to swindle indigenous landowners of their customary land. Foreigners, State Agencies and various individuals colluded to acquire over 5.2 million hectares of customary land. The latest figure is 1 million hectares higher than my previously published figure of 4.2 million hectares.

After a public outcry over the manner in which vast tracts of land was acquired, the Government decided to set up an inquiry. That inquiry is currently in progress.

Meanwhile, a moratorium was imposed on SPABLs however the state has failed to adequately enforce it. Consequently, there is a lot of extractive activity underway in various SABL sites.

On my recent trip to the Bosmun plateau in the lower parts of the Ramu river, I witnessed activity on the road that runs near Dongan village. A yellow Hyundai excavator was working on the road along with a tractor.

At the sacred site of Turumuk, the excavator was seen removing top soil and exposing the limestone formation underneath.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

FROM THE LAND OF COUNTERFEIT GOODS WE PRESENT

 

THE RAMU MINE PIPELINE FROM KBK TO BASAMUK….. ITS IN GOOD SHAPE ISNT IT?

PICTURES TAKEN EARLIER THIS MONTH

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UN WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY PRESS RELEASE

 

WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY 19 AUGUST 2011

Remembering those who made sacrifices to save the lives of others

The General Assembly of the United Nations has designated 19 August as World Humanitarian Day. The day acknowledges and pays tribute to the 22 humanitarian staff that tragically lost their lives in Iraq in the massive bomb attack on the Baghdad Headquarters of the United Nations in 2003. It also honors all other humanitarian aid workers throughout the world who have lost their lives and safety in the aid of others, and those who continue to carry on this noble task and save the lives of others who suffer from natural catastrophes, wars and pestilence.

The word humanitarian is all about ‘people helping people’ without prejudice, but rather with willing hearts, care and compassion, and without expecting reward in return. All around the world humanitarian workers help survivors of wars and natural catastrophes regardless of their race, nationality, religious or political beliefs.

Every year natural disasters and armed conflict affect millions of lives around the world, and often cause massive death and destruction. We constantly see and hear in the news of world disasters, such as the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand and the current drought in the Horn of Africa. In 2011 in Papua New Guinea the Gulf, Madang, East and West New Britain and Central provinces suffered from severe flooding that affected many people and caused human suffering. The cholera outbreak has also claimed hundreds of lives in Morobe, Madang, East Sepik, National Capital District, Central, Milne Bay, Gulf, Western provinces and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

People affected by natural disasters and conflicts are always in great need of immediate and long-term assistance to get on with the process of recovering their livelihoods. They need more than comforting words - they need food, access to clean water, basic health services, a place for their kids to be educated, and the tools to help them quickly restore normalcy.

It is disheartening that, in some situations, humanitarian workers are victimized for the work they do helping people who need basic aid. Sometimes, they are killed accidentally together with the people they were helping, but other times they are directly targeted, and this trend is on the rise around the world.

Whatever the reasons, the level of threats and number of deliberate attacks on aid organizations - our people, equipments and facilities - have risen dramatically. In 2010 alone, 242 aid workers were killed, injured or kidnapped and the loss of assets through violence and rose.

Conflict dynamics are changing. While more and more people count on aid workers for their survival, getting that aid to people is, in some situations, becoming much more complicated.

Humanitarian assistance is manipulated by groups involved in conflict, or aid workers are prevented from delivering aid because one group or another wants to exert control.

Despite these dangers, humanitarian workers remain committed to meeting the needs of people and to saving lives.

We remember those who have served in emergencies in PNG in the past and appreciate their tireless efforts. Many of them have sacrificed being with their families and loved ones to serve in humanitarian duties during the twin volcano eruptions in Rabaul in 1994, the drought in 1997, the Aitape tsunami in 1998, and the civil conflict in Bougainville and many other incidences over the past 10 years, which have had immensurable effects on homes, properties and the lives of Papua New Guineans throughout the country.

Today, we recognize the achievement of humanitarian workers and the diversity of where they work and what they do. Making sure those humanitarian workers can access the people they are trying to help, while ensuring that those workers are protected and respected for what they do, must remain a priority. Helping those in positions of power to understand the basic principles which underline humanitarian work, and that these principles are founded in international humanitarian law, must continue and intensify.

Let us all acknowledge, respect and support our humanitarian aid workers, as they play a very important role in our society and world. They save lives and help give others hope in times of adversity and the chance to live and enjoy life thereafter.

Supreme Court Okays Tailings Dump

 

clip_image004The Supreme Court in Waigani threw out an injunction to prevent Ramu Nico from dumping mine waste into the Bismarck Sea. Speaking to me via phone from Port Moresby, Lawyer for the plaintiffs, Tiffany Nongorr said that on the 27th of July she had filed for an injunction to prevent MCC from any Deep Sea Tailings Program (DSTP) following the an Appeal to the Supreme Court regarding the National Court decision that gave MCC the green light to dump mine waste.

The case regarding the injunction was listed for 9:30 am today. The plaintiff’s lawyer arrived at court at 9:34 am only to find out that the case had been dismissed for want of prosecution. The decision of the three judges; Justice Kariko, Justice Davani and Justice Hartshorne ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to prosecute their case based on the lateness of their lawyer.

Lawyer, Tiffany Nongorr has since filed an application at 11 am today, to have the ex parte orders set aside. She argues that the court had not followed procedure by informing the clerk of the court to go out three times and yell the names of all plaintiffs to appear before the court. The Chief Justice is expected to hear the application, either tomorrow or on Monday.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer said that considering the gravity of the case and its national and international ramifications, the court has to consider the matter. She commented that the Basamuk case has had a lot of hurdles. “Everything is just 17 times harder,” she sighed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

BOSMUN Tribal Council wants stolen land returned

A combined Tribal council of the two tribes of the Bosmun plataeu was held at the hausboi at Dongan. The meeting was held to update villagers on issues surrounding SABLs, particularly with regard to Portion 16C. Portion 16C is in the Bogia electorate of Madang Province and is owned by URASIL.

Currently there is a lot of activity in the area, such as the construction of a road just on along the boundary of Dongang village.

The tribal council held to resolved amongst other things, to send a message to the Commission of Inquiry on SABLs. The ultimate aim of the Bosmun people is to have their customary land rights restored. They want a revocation of the SABL deal with URASIL.

Many recognize that the land does not belong to them anymore. They are angered by the manner in which it was swindled off their hands. The youth in particular are extremely volatile.

The fact is that there are divisions amongst the Bosmun, over the SABL issue. Some see it as a way to progress. The majority however, are very concerned about the loss of land rights and the real prospect of being uprooted.

The Hausboi today also elected two tribal elders to represent them at the Madang Indigenous People's Forum(MIPF) headed by Alfred Kaket. It is hoped that by networking with the grassroots around the country, the carpet beggars and potato peelers in Waigani will be held to account one way or the other.

Kaket addresses tribal council at Dongan

THE tribes of the Bosmun plateau have gathered today to consider land matters in a tribal council.

Mr Kaket Alfred from the Madang Indigenous Peoples Forum (MIPF) addressed the Bosmun people regarding the theft of their land under a dubious Special Purpose Agriculture and Business Lease. Mr Kaket encouraged the people to continue their fight to revoke the lease and assured them of MIPFs support. Mr Kaket then outlined the activities of MIPF including their fight against Deep Sea tailings in the Bismarck sea by Ramu Nico, the proposed Deep Sea mine by Nautilus, the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone and various logging and oil palm activities in Madang.

Mr Kaket said, referring to these projects, "the people of Madang do not want to be guinea pigs in science labs."

The issue of SABLs has complicated matters. Madang already has a lot on its plate.

Mr. Kaket also gave an ancedote of what he and his people got rid off a loggging operations in his in Gilepasi and Karkum in the SUMKAR electorate. He then converted the area into a conservation area in 2006.

Having seeing his success, Mr Kaket thought, "Ating mipela ken halivim ol brata long Madang long issues blong ol." Thus he now head the Madang Indigenous People's Forum.

Mr Kaket warned that ILGs and land registration were tactics used by the government to grab land from traditonal land owners.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Message from Dongan

Good morning from Dongan

It's 6:45 am here at Dongang village located at the lower regions of the Ramu River, Bogia district, Madang Province.

It is the situated along a creek that connects the Sepik to the Ramu river, according to locals. Last night as we made our way through the waterway, we negotiated patches of salvania, choking the creek.

The people of Dongan have lost their land under a dubious Special Agriculture and Business Lease arrangement.

Last night I sat for hours listening to one of the village elders. He believes that the Somare Government instituted this land grab for the purpose of converting vast areas of rainforest into Oil Palm monoculture which will serve as the basis of carbon or bio-fuels trade. He reasoned that the carbon captured by tropical rainforests is difficult to evaluate. But once converted to Oil Palm Mono monoculture, carbon capture now becomes relatively simpler to calculate.

The question is who gets paid for carbon stored by oil palm plantations? The state or the exploiters? By grabbing land from the indigenous tribes, the State has ensured that they do not benefit from carbon trade.

The next question is, who advised the Somare government, the remmnants of which forms the O'Neil government? This gross abuse of the human rights of indigenous Melanesians was planned by large foreign interests and executed by their accomplices in the Somare government. The Foreigners are still in Power, they have just changed the face of the same old government. Unless the O'Neil government revokes the Leases, it proves that nothing has really changed.

Today I'm attending a tribal council with leaders from various clans. Tommorow a general assembly of tribesman from various parts of the Lower Ramu, is expected. I am told that 300 000 people inhabit the region. A massive turn out is expected.

I have been asked along with my team to be part of the meetings.

The people are extremely frustrated. For a Melanesian, land is everything. A Melanesian tribesman without his land is as good as dead. The people have lost its soul and I have felt that pain and frustration expressed throughout the night.

They currently have instituted civil proceedings regarding their land. However, many remote tribes around the country do not have the capacity to go to court.

There is something fundamentally wrong with Papua New Guinea and its is a digrace that such abuses have occured under the watch of the man who led PNG to independence. The Somare government and its accomplices shall go down in history has crooks.

O'Neil give back the peoples land or this so called Independent State of Papua New Guinea might as well burn in Hell. Why should the indegenous nations of Melanesia who have been independent peoples for over 40 000 years, recognize a State that is intent on ripping them off.

We now see the darkness of neon lights. The people will never be slaves to foreigners and puppet goverments.

Heres a message from the people of Dongan to all you carpet beggars and potato peelers in Waigani: " Fuck off! Stay off our Land!"

Sunday, August 14, 2011

IN DEFENSE OF CUSTOMARY LAND IN PNG

 

The human cost of so called progress in Papua New Guinea

The phrase “landowner issues” is a misnomer and gives the wrong impression that Papua New Guineas traditional land owners are somehow a deterrent to progress. This week I travel to the Lower Ramu region to see for myself the land of a rainforest tribe of New Guinea being taken from them without proper consent.

Papua New Guineas customary land ownership is legally recognized by the Constitution. It is generally estimated that around 97% of the land in PNG is under customary ownership. Some people find this an impediment to progress. However, a recent land grab has led to over 11% or 4.2 million hectares of PNG’s total land mass being acquired under dubious Special Agriculture and Business Leases (SABLs).

The case of SABLs highlights the real motives of those who view customary land tenure as an obstacle to development. It seems that such individuals and institutions greedily envy the land owned by indigenous Melanesian tribes. They dominate discussions on land reform and are well placed to influence government policy.

The fact is that many indigenous tribes are actually open to discussions on land use for development. The problem is that those who wish to have access to the land are intent on exploitation not development. Many local tribes are frustrated when exploiters who dress up as developers, hoodwink them into extracting resources from their land while they see very little development.

Whether intentionally or not, public servants and politicians mislead customary landowners in order to facilitate the entry of foreign corporations into customary land. Many communities are thus divided. Some members buy into the lies or are actually bought off to side with the exploiters while others are skeptical and oppose the exploitation.

After 36 years of independence, it’s obvious that none of the resource extraction projects have meaningfully contributed to the wellbeing of Papua New Guineans. The Panguna mine on Bougainville brought death and massive environmental damages. The Ok Tedi mine in the Western province has raped the Fly River. Recently, the Pogera Mine has uprooted locals from nearby land. At Misima, dead fish continue to greet villagers. Logging operations have not changed the lives of landowners for the better.

Papua New Guinea has Fisheries, Forestry, Mining, Petroleum, Oil Palm and various other economic activities but has very little to show. Customary land owners around the country have given up their land to facilitate these activities yet many remain frustrated by the lack of progress.

Clearly the people of Papua New Guinea are being robbed by State Actors and the exploiters. I wish to encourage Papua New Guineans to stop calling any of these exploiters ‘developers’. They’re not developers but thieves who just want to rip you off your birthright. They call themselves developers but there is no development in the areas they operate.

Instead, many communities suffer from Police brutality because the police force has been bought off. There are massive environmental catastrophes created by these exploiters and made legal by the Environment Act.

In this Land of the Unexpected, the only thing that has been Consistent is the Absence of Justice. My people have not seen justice since independence in 1975. There has been a consistency of corrupt politicians and public servants not being held to account. There has been a consistency of commercial interests not being held to account. Money rules above justice in this land. There is no justice in Papua New Guinea ...period!

And yet, so called development specialists still preach about grabbing more land from customary landowners. Those who have given up their land are now spectators in urban ghettos or slaves in oil palm plantations, tuna canneries, logging camps, etc... The real face of progress is the poverty that prevails in communities that have lost their land.

The fact that needs to be emphasized is that there is not justice in a land where money has blinded the guardians of justice. It is not just the State but the landowner leaders who fall for the scraps thrown to them by the exploiters. People who have never seen so much money can easily become whores. For me the most striking example has been the village court magistrate of Mindre village in Madang Province, whom I saw running errands for the Chinese community liaison officer of RAMU Nico. Magistrate Dubam shamelessly dressed in a blue RAMU Nico uniform.

It’s not surprising therefore that some so called leaders don’t mind seeing mine waste being dumped into the waterways and seas. It isn’t surprising that laws can be amended to suit vested interests. Why? Because there has never been justice in this land since independence... never! If justice really did exist in PNG, we would be fully enjoying the fruits of this rich land.

What’s happening to all the money from, Forestry, Fisheries, Mining, etc...? To start with, are we really getting what we’re supposed to be getting from these projects? Do we really know how much of each is exported and whether it’s bought at fair value? How do we manage the income we receive? All these are questions of governance... of justice!

I know as I’m writing this that across my country, my people are being deceived with empty promises of developers. Exploiters call themselves developers and buy off support. Communities are divided and divided communities cannot fight for what is rightfully theirs. Meanwhile, greedy vultures swarm around talking about landowners and land issues as if the customary landowner was an obstacle to development.

The evidence all around shows that customary land ownership is our last line of defense against total annihilation of our cultural, spiritual and natural heritage. Sadly, it seems that every man has a price.

Great Expectations

 

“Gifted” Carlos Andres Gomez

 

I know that many readers look at the stuff I write and see the makings of ‘something/someone great’. Initially I was wondering ‘what all the fuss was about’. But for me it became clearer especially when a lot of young Papua New Guineans, particularly students gravitated around me.

There is no doubt that my writing is something special. I seem to have great clarity about addressing issues faced by my country. Much of it stems from listening to people on the street. I seem to be able to synthesize the thoughts of the masses. I am now used to getting the reaction “yea that’s what I was thinking; I just could put it the way you did”.

As the consequence of the popularity of my writings, I now feel a sense of duty to my people. I have to meet people and listen to their stories. I know that many would like to see that sense of duty translated into politics.

I have to be honest in saying that I have no political ambitions yet. I have always found the machinations of politics quite revolting. One has to make compromises and produce bastards by going to bed with devils. Politics is very dirty and is only for those who are coated with Teflon.

I have also learnt an important lesson from my recent past. Growing up, I never contemplated being a doctor. I wanted to be a pilot. When it came to fill in the school leaver forms for university, I was under enormous pressure from my parents to apply to university and become a doctor. Now, I’m on the streets.

That’s what scares me from being a politician. Why take up a career in something I am not keen on? I could end up in a very bad way. I know many will be disappointed in me writing this but the fact is that should there be bad consequences, I will face the pain more acutely than anyone else.

The beauty of writing is that one sows ideas that may shape peoples thoughts on issues. This is very risky especially when some people’s interests are undermined. I am not afraid of flirting with death. In some ways I consider myself to have died already when I got thrown out on the streets. I have nothing more to lose and that is very liberating.

I see myself now as an outlet for the millions of silent voices that groan under the yoke of poverty and corruption. It is not easy taking up that responsibility which I gladly and willingly accept. To me, it brings joy and meaning to my existence and as such I don’t consider it a burden. It’s not a burden but a lifestyle choice to go out and find the silent masses and shout out their grievances.

I have tasted some sweet success particularly while highlighting the plight of communities affected by the Ramu Mine. The people of Basamuk in Rai Coast have been very pleased with what has transpired following my visit. I find that to be more productive that being a politician who just goes around making empty promises.

People want action not just talk and I’ve found that my writings can get the ball rolling.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My sense of belonging

 

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Above: Me; In the savannah of the Trans-Fly on my way from Wipim to Oriomo

One of the most difficult thing for me is to define my homeland. For a Papua New Guinean it is a very critical issue as it determines where one’s bones would rest. My mum and dad are from different parts of the country. . I am writing from Madang Province, my father’s country. I have immediately felt a strong connection the first time I arrived here a few weeks ago.

I was born in Baimuru government station in the Gulf Province and grew up Gulf and Western Provinces. My mum is from Trans-Fly savannah woodland of Western Province and that has always been where my heart beats. Malam village is home.

I grew up in the middle of nowhere where my mum taught in a community school. Raroge community school is isolated. It is located between the villages of Wim and Malam. It was a compromise location which the two villages agreed upon and it enrolled its first students in 1989.

My Raroge years and the memory of growing up always feeling insecure yet having time to have fun has imprinted a sense of belonging. The billabong near Yanang creek at Raroge is where I used to catch yabbies. Memories of walking on a rainy afternoon from the bush camp at Boden through the savannah and getting cut by the blades of grass. Shivering as the rain stops and the wind blows against my face.

I loved it when we arrived at Raroge and dried ourselves then sat around the fire. The warmth of the wood fire would breathe life into my cold veins. It was reassuring to have my grandpa, aunties and cousins around, especially my aunt Julie who is very dear to me.

My sense of belonging to the Trans-Fly isn’t so much about the people as it is about the landscape and environs. It is about the chorus of cockatoos piercing the sound of rain beating the paper bark roof of a camping shelter in places with names like Dit, Bozrob and Wazbol. The remoteness and isolation gives one a sense of vulnerability. Growing up in the sounds of silence occasionally disturbed by thundering claps of the dark sky on a rainy day in February during the monsoon.

The songs that old people sing around the fireplace on rainy evenings and the stories that they tell under the starry sky during the dry season have defined my connection to the savannah. I belong to the land where a Great Man walked and planted sago, created billabongs and marked out the land boundary. Before he left, he gave to my people the eternal sago which I have seen and touched. It is sacred and powerful and I have witnessed its power manifested.

There are moments in my silence and despair that the savannah calls me. I need to go home. I want to. But it isn’t easy getting to Malam.

THE PRICE OF SUCCESS

 

One of the temptations of being a successful blogger, which I am undoubtedly, is to try and make a quick buck. Now personally, I don’t think it’s wrong for anyone to make money out of whatever talents they have.

But I have decided that I won’t sell ads on my blog.

Someone suggested that that I should create a PayPal account and connect ‘donations’. That would be nice if I had a credit card or debit card to start with. Don’t worry I’m not in the mood for begging for handouts.

Maybe I’m an idiot... in a good way. Maybe I’m naïve or just too cocky.

But I guess for me, the notion of linear time, of a past, present and future, changed when I ended up on the street. To me, it was like a cruel joke the Fates had played on me.

What do you do when you’re stuck in a deep hole with no way up? I sort of spent a whole year trying to get up to the top and out of it. One whole year of false hopes. Each month there was a deadline that I hope would give me an answer to my dilemma but it came it to pass empty.

Coming out of this mess was easy. Yeah it was easy unlike those clichés where it takes a long time. It was by accident as well. My writing has been my salvation. For me writing is a therapeutic as well as a meaningful experience. I wake up each day thinking, well not thinking of an idea but about writing something – anything.

It isn’t a chore, sitting and typing on the laptop. I don’t even have a note or script. Each essay, each poem or short story has its own life – it generates itself. I write in response to my emotions that is why you the reader can ‘feel’ what you read. It is out of pain, fear, sadness, laughter, regret, bitterness, etc... that each piece is scripted.

It is a gift. It has been given to me by the Universe. It is a gift I intend to use for the emancipation of those who get trampled... The Lost, The Last and The Least. I am a story teller who intends to tell the stories of the masses. To converse with those who are ignored and to lift up the spirits of the downtrodden. I also wish to warn the powers that be, that they should not be surprised if the people come breaking down their high barbed wired fences and have them marched to the guillotine.

That is why this blogger aint getting money for ads on this blog. I am gifted by the Universe to lift up my people’s voices that whosoever ignores their cry shall be responsible for his/her own eventual downfall.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Look at that boy on the street

 

Look at me

Yeah you, look at me

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Sipping juice from the bucket

My dreams like sugar and yeast

Lost in alcoholic twist

Look at my pitiful state

My mind feasts on hate

I’m drunk to the marrow

Like no tomorrow

Well actually I can’t see

Can’t see a destiny

Can’t see anything good

I’m Always in a Dark mood

Look at me

In rags and dirty

I am a mental slave

Church and School dug my grave

Goilala

 

Dedix to Effrey, Wina, Poin Howard, Serah, Scott, Barry, JC, Uncle Lile and all the other BRG CFs

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I’m running up 2 Mile Hill, Mr O’Neil

I see your convoy drive past

In my fist is a 20 kina bill

And I’m running so fast

Because the guards are coming

Black men like me, fuming

Because I robbed Malaysians

Who rob Melanesians

 

Karrr... Yupela ol longlong

Kago boi blong kongkong

Fuck! Ol stilim diwai bus na giraun

Oli bagarapim sindaun

But yu laikim coca cola

So yu ronim Goilala

Bata mi laf long yu

Goi ba kisim laif blong yu

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