Corrupt logging interests attempt to overthrow reformist Governor

October 21, 2014 Leave a comment


By Gary Juffa – Papua New Guinea My Land My Country

As a vote of no confidence against Oro Governor, Gary Juffa, looms, he writes about the successes and challenges he faces against the old guard. 

gary juffaI was bemused and intrigued by the press release of 7 Presidents and Open Member David Arore proclaiming a vote of no confidence. I am glad. It gives me an opportunity to say what has been happening and what I have been doing. It also gives me an opportunity to gauge my peoples views and see where they stand. Whether they want change for the better or whether they want to continue to slip into the abyss of miserable anarchy and deteriorate as a people. Already the support is mounting and overwhelming. Tribesmen from all parts of Oro mobilized with the intent of demonstrating their outrage with violence. I stopped them all. This is not the way my people. Let us exhaust all legal means and let us not be shaken by the mere whimpering of a collection of sad people who claim they are leaders. They are not leaders. They are politicians. There is a fundamental difference.

So I sipped my black tea and watched semi interested as they aired their views. I had been monitoring these group since they came to Port Moresby some two weeks ago and were sighted drinking in the usual nightclubs and comfort lounges around Port Moresby. They were all at some little lodge in Boroko.

Intelligence is the end product of analysed information/data. I have a system to collect and collate and present such intelligence to me so I can make informed decisions. Our intelligence told us several things: that several weeks before the media stunt there were several meetings between certain Asian entities and the presidents and their open member. These Asians are heavily involved in the logging industry. Our informant was in their very midst. He sighted them and heard them discussing their plans. They would stop at nothing to log our forests. The recent suspension by the Forest Minister after we had furnished his office an investigation report based on complaints of our landowners in the Yema Gaipa Timber Permit Area where illegal logging had been occurring at day and night was yet another catalyst.

Further intelligence deduced that the recent actions in the last month by the Land Enforcement to travel to Collingwood Bay and impound Logging Machines and give notice to foreign workers illegally there to vacate that property in 7 days has added to the desire by the logging fraternity to see me removed. Imagine what would happen if everyone rose up behind me and removed them? That is a frightening thought. They MUST stop this and nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand. The people cannot be allowed to rise up and stand for their own rights they say to each other in between bales of illicit logging cash they make from our forests.

All this only added to growing anxiety that the illicit revenue stream of the pirates and their minions would come to an end…

Now add to this the recent Provincial Government reforms undertaken that have since seen the establishing of stringent controls to ensure transparent expenditure of public funds by all custodians including me. This has suddenly exposed the Two Open Members who have been using their Joint District Planning and Budget Prioritization Committees as procurement authorities…which is illegal…the laws do not allow that…the JDPBPC is merely a committee to prioritize the disbursement of DSIP funds. The process must come through the Administration for vetting, analysing, review and monitoring. I am pleased to see that we have changed the public service mindset in Oro and they are now well on track to deliver. I have asked that the Open Members MUST put their DSIP through this legitimate process as I am doing.

Meanwhile stringent efforts to tackle corruption continue. The great job undertaken by PPC Victor ISUOVE to analyse Auditor General Reports for the last so many years and act upon recommendations is well underway. PPC Jacob SINGURA has continued with this effort and so far, 11 public servants have been criminally charged. Others are yet to follow. The Ijivitari District Treasury closed by angry landowners for two weeks has had no less then 3/4 of their staff charged.

Most recently as of last month a Treasury Officer in the Provincial Government Treasury was charged for stealing K400,000 with her husband. More are yet to follow.

As for service delivery, the Province has not received its K10m Special Support Infrastructure Grants for this year though we have been promised and I have former Treasury Don POLYE making that commitment on video. I have been advised it is put to next year. We have also not received the balance of K3m for disaster relief which we wanted to build a Disaster Management Centre. I am informed next year as well. We have also not received the K10m promised to help with our Tourism Industry. I am assured it is in next years budget. 3/4 of my PSIP is now about to be expended as we now have the Provincial Supplies and Tenders Board in place and the first meeting is this week. Prior to that leaders and Administration were illegally issuing COIs – Certificates of Inexpediency – which are only for disaster periods and sanctioned by the NEC and allows circumventing of proper procurement processes and procedures stipulated by the Finance Management Act.

Despite this, we have established a Health Authority (thanks kakana Micheal Malabag) and have taken our Health from 4 Doctors to 18 Doctors (thanks Dr. Gunzee Gawin – my adopted Hunjara tribesman). In partnership with YWAM and Dr Alice Lee we have immunized more then 3000 children, removed countless cataracts and fixed countless dental issues in remote areas never before seen. Tribal Foundation is sending a 40ft container of hospital equipment from Australia and our own efforts will see another 40ft from Brisbane (thanks brother Simon Simon P Merton who is single handedly doing something for his beloved mother Felicity Juffa’s people) with school and hospital equipment. We have also partnered with the SDA Church and ANGLICAN Churches in sponsoring their programs when and where we can. Saiho Hospital is refurbished an operational in Kaiva area serving 50,000 people.

A real winner is the establishment of the Disaster Management Centre and many, many thanks goes to Trevor Magei and Donald Moi for their contribution here. We now have a Provincial Disaster Management Policy and a Provincial Disaster Management Centre will be built. More importantly, we are able to respond in 24 hours and the Disaster Management Team has saved countless lives already. Thanks guys.Law and Order is manageable. We are building Police houses and the patrol post

at Saiho and the Police are working tirelessly and with great enthusiasm. Prior to coming in, Popondetta was a township of 1 murder per month at the least with the tag of Cowboy Kantri. That is no more. Nights are peaceful and women and children can rest and go about their daily duties in peace without drunkard partying into the early hours as was normal.
Economic progress will see Oro take charge of their own resources and destiny. I will remain tight lipped here until I deliver. I have 3 years and I will deliver the economic independence my people have lacked. Agriculture and tourism will be the backbone.

I can’t list everything we have done. It is too long a list. My mistake was not promoting my efforts. I will do more. I write my own media and press releases and it is exhausting when one is trying to do much.

Finally, our four bridges worth K135m are being built. It took seven long years. No one followed up or did anything. I took 6 months to walk every process through until the contracts were finally signed at Government House and Canstruct Ltd a Australian Company was selected. They are now on the ground. They are busy building the bridges that were washed away in 2007 by floods caused by Cyclone Guba. They will save more lives.

Intelligence is necessary for gauging what is going on and acting accordingly.

I am informed that my efforts are touching many people who have fed on a corrupt system for too long…there is light at the end of the tunnel…


O’Neill’s illegal logging: 480 days and counting…

October 17, 2014 Leave a comment


It is now 480 days since Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was told that the SABL leases were unlawful and should be revoked.

It was on June 24, 2013 that he was given the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement used by foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 5 million hectares of land.

O’Neill has REPEATEDLY STATED the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.

In September 2013 O’Neill told Parliament:

“We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore”

In June 2014, announcing an NEC decision cancelling the leases, O’Neill said

“We are taking these steps to reclaim our customary land illegally lost to foreigners with the help of corrupt public servants and leaders”

“As a responsible government we want to ensure that all citizens have access to the lands of their ancestors. We will not allow our land to be lost to unscrupulous people out to con our people” 

But, WE ARE STILL WAITING for the leases to be cancelled and the logging stopped.

For 480 days O’Neill has failed to revoke the SABL leases and has been complicit in the illegal logging of our forests by foreign logging companies.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has aided and abetted the theft of logs worth hundreds of million of kina and the destruction of thousands of hectares of pristine forest.

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

Uncertain Futures: What does Sime Darby takeover of NBPOL mean for the people of New Britain?

October 13, 2014 Leave a comment

Uncertain futures report cover

Uncertain Futures is the title of a 2012 report on the impacts of Sime Darby on communities in Liberia. The report paints a chilling and tragic picture of human rights violations.

Sime Darby is the Malaysian company now poised to take control of NBPOL and its plantations in Papua New Guinea.

Uncertain Futures details how Sim Darby evicted local people who found their farms and farmland being swallowed up by the expansion of oil palm plantations. Men and women were forced out of work as farmers and their children were left hungry.

Local people were not paid compensation for their lost land (only the standing crops which were destroyed) and there were very few alternative livelihood options available to them.

view across new palm oil planting

Forest areas used for cultural practices were destroyed and planted with oil palm.

Sime Darby took peoples land, their livelihoods and destroyed their culture. This was a flagrant breach of peoples land rights under the law and their internationally protected  human rights.

banner protesting against Sime DarbyThe future offered by the company was very different. Their contracts with the government were promised would provide a critical step towards ‘sustainable development’ and create tens of thousands of jobs and contribute to an economic recovery. But these promises proved to be an allusion.

This was not the first time Liberia has suffered from the false promises of foreign plantation companies and their model of development based on unrestrained capitalism. In the twentieth century the culprit was Firestone, an American company that established vast rubber plantations on land taken from local communities with out any compensation and who were then forced to endure enslavement as workers on the plantations in humane conditions.

Download Uncertain Futures – The Impacts of Sime Darby in Liberia – 6 MB

Suspicious but booming ‘Torokina Real Estate’ in Madang

October 11, 2014 3 comments

Leonard Fong Roka

A few minutes’ drive north of Madang Town there is a block of land with sprouting number of houses surrounded by coconut palms and squalid type homes of the indigene. And the strangeness of this place is that the locals are often wondering about this Bougainvillean name and that the regularly visiting Asian seems to be telling them that this is a Bougainvillean property.

Torokina 1

Torokina Real Estate

A count gave me ten completed high standard family homes for rent to clients. The block of land is well secured by security fencing and within the perimeter the gardeners are doing the finest of jobs beautifying the housing project.I was lucky finally to get a clear view and inside stories that a premises gardener had for me while travelling with fellow Bougainvillean Divine Word University students.

And one noted fact is that the housing project is just a tip of the iceberg; there is evidence of expanding beyond the current stages.

To the workers there the business would be raking thousands of kina for Bougainville economy.

And according to the gardener and the main gate keeper, the origin of the project goes back to my homeland Bougainville and my government, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).

As the 2010 Bougainville election was stirring, the pair said, Henry Chow the owner of the Lae Biscuit Company in Lae contributed some money to President Dr. John Momis election project.

Thus this relationship paved the way for many development activities that the ABG is pursuing.

In 2012 the PNG national government made a funding commitment to allocate K500 million over a 5 year period to rehabilitate infrastructure throughout Bougainville and one of those was the Torokina oil palm project. And from this some money was diverted to Mr. Chow and that is now in this Torokina Real Estate, here in Madang.

According to these workers here, back in Bougainville, the feasibility study over the site in Torokina was previously done by a Siwai group and the report was presented to the ABG. But still the ABG ordered a bit for a next round of feasibility studies and this time the award went to Hakau Holdings, the subsidiary company of Lae Biscuit

Torokina 2

Torokina Real Estate Notice on North Coast Highway .

And like many other Asian companies that toil and suck PNG wealth, Lae Biscuit, through Hakau Holdings has entered Bougainville to grow oil palm, and now have a shipping business known as the Chebu Shipping Company.Hakau Holdings undertook the feasibility studies and also took ownership to invest a part of what it is working on in the Ramu Valley of Madang Province to Torokina, Bougainville.

To the workers of Torokina Real Estate, they said, Bougainville is becoming rich by investing in oil palm in Torokina, real estate here in Madang that is creating them jobs, and the massive shipping industry they are hearing about with Mr. Henry Chow.

They said the Torokina Real Estate they working for is worth K7 to K9 million and it is managed by Henry Chow’s family members.

O’Neill’s illegal logging: 473 days and counting…

October 10, 2014 Leave a comment


Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty


NBPOL suitor has record of land grabbing and human rights violations in Liberia

October 10, 2014 Leave a comment

Sime Darby is infamous for illegal land clearing, violent clashes with local communities, illegal forest fires and for threatening the last orangutan habitats.

Sime Darby, the Malaysian oil palm company poised to take control of New Britain Palm Oil Limited (NBPOL), thus adding 135,000 hectare of PNG land to to its growing international land bank, has been swallowing up farmlands and forests in Liberia forcing out communities who rely on the land for their livelihoods – read more in this FOE Sime Darby Fact Sheet (550kb)


Malaysia’s Sime Darby offers $1.74 billion to buy New Britain Palm oil


Sime Darby Bhd, the world’s top oil palm planter by land size, has offered to buy New Britain Palm Oil Ltd for about $1.74 billion as the Malaysian firm looks to add high yielding plantations that can immediately boost its earnings.

The proposed acquisition, which was pitched at an 85 percent premium to New Britain Palm Oil Ltd’s (NBPOL) last closing share price, comes after Sime Darby posted a 9 percent drop in net profit in the year to June as weak palm output hurt sales.

“As a brown field asset, NBPOL will immediately contribute to earnings without the incumbent risks associated with green field expansion,” Managing Director of Sime Darby Plantation Franki Anthony Dass said in a media release.

The London-listed firm said in a statement that an independent board committee intended to recommend the bid to shareholders in the absence of a higher offer.

The acquisition, which will give Sime Darby significant land holdings in Papua New Guinea, comes at a time when top palm oil producer Indonesia is looking to cap foreign ownership of plantations to 30 percent from a current 95 percent limit.

Malaysian-listed Sime Darby is one of a number of foreign firms operating in Indonesia, along with Singapore-listed Golden Agri-Resources and Wilmar International and Cargill.

Sime Darby and NBPOL’s combined landbank will reach almost a million hectares, up from Sime Darby’s current holdings of 864,141 hectares spread across Malaysia, Indonesia and Liberia.

“The premium paid for NBPO’s assets reflects competition for developed oil palm projects, as the hurdle rate for developing a new oil palm plantation is increasing due to issues like land acquisition,” Barclays said in a report.

Nearly two-thirds or 80,000 hectares of NBPOL’s existing landbank of 135,000 hectares, most of which is in Papua New Guinea, is already planted with oil palm.

NBPOL’s average yields can reach 26 tonnes per hectare barring adverse weather, said Sime Darby, exceeding rates of 20 tonnes in the key palm growing state of Sabah.

The firm’s two refineries in the United Kingdom and Papua New Guinea would boost Sime Darby Plantation’s total refining capacity by 300,000 tonnes to 4.05 million tonnes.

Sime Darby said the offer valued NBPOL at 84,000 ringgit on an enterprise value per hectare, and was comparable to recent acquisitions within the industry.

AmResearch, however, said the valuation was at the upper range. “The value propositions ahead would depend largely on what synergies and additional benefits Sime Darby could derive from it,” it said in a report.


NBPOL describes itself as the world’s leading producer of sustainable palm oil.

Sime Darby has been prudent in its search for new landbank and has rejected those that do not comply with standards set by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, Bakke said.

Both Indonesia and Malaysia, the world’s top palm growers, have come under fire from international watchdogs for causing deforestation and destroying habitats for endangered animals such as the orang utan and Sumatran rhino.

Sime Darby will use cash to fund 20 percent of the NBPOL deal, which is expected to be completed by end-December, with the remainder to be sourced externally. Citigroup Global Markets Ltd is the financial adviser.

Sime Darby will seek to delist NBPOL from the London Stock Exchange. Group CEO Bakke said the firm was in early stages of exploring a secondary NBPOL listing in Malaysia or Singapore. NBPOL’s primary listing in Papua New Guinea will be retained.

The purchase offer comes after Sime Darby said on Sept. 30 that it had opted not to buy a 49 percent stake in NBPOL from its major shareholder Malaysian investment firm Kulim Malaysia Bhd following the expiry of an exclusivity period.

Kulim, which holds a 49 percent stake in NBPOL, said in a separate filing it intended to accept Sime Darby’s offer, if a better offer was not made and if it met shareholders’ approval.

The government of Papua New Guinea’s West New Britain province holds 8 percent in the London-listed company while Pacific Rim Plantation Services owns 4.49 percent.

NBPOL shares opened up 79 pct in low volume trading in London, while Sime Darby shares rose only slightly.

“The offer will provide an opportunity for all shareholders to realize their investment in NBPOL at an attractive valuation and we also believe it represents a positive outcome for our employees, our customers and other stakeholders,” said Antonio Monteiro de Castro, chairman of NBPOL.

Unprecedented Case filed at International Criminal Court proposes land grabbing in Cambodia as a Crime Against Humanity

October 9, 2014 1 comment

Lets hope we will soon see political leaders, senior public servants and foreign businessmen being held to account for land grabbing and illegal logging in Papua New Guinea just as they are in Cambodia – watch out Peter O’Neill, Belden Namah, Romilly Kila-Pat, Kanawi Pouru, James Lau…

Andrew Simms | Huffington Post

A case brought to the International Criminal Court this week could change the way we view the problem of “land grabbing” and trigger a major review of how the human rights violations that result are considered under international law.

Land grabbing is rampant globally. Each year, in countries such as Cambodia, millions of hectares of land are illegally taken from the people who live on it, often through violence and intimidation, to make way for mining, timber or agricultural plantations. The institutions who should provide justice to the victims of land grabbing are often the very groups driving the problem – national governments and their elites who frame land seizures as an unfortunate but inevitable step on the path to economic development, and quash any resistance.

The case lodged at The Hague on Tuesday alleges that land grabbing conducted in Cambodia ‘on a truly massive scale’ amounts to a crime against humanity, and should be punishable under international law. It goes on to explain how Cambodia’s ruling elite has waged a campaign of land seizure characterised by murder, illegal imprisonment and persecution. It provides evidence that since 2000, 770,000 people have been adversely affected by land grabbing, many of them already forcibly displaced from their homes, with 20,000 new victims in the first three months of 2014 alone. In the capital Phnom Penh, ten per cent of the population has been directly affected.

The complaint has been filed on behalf of ten Cambodian victims, whose identity has been protected due to fears of retribution. Their lawyer, from Global Diligence LLP, alleges that the country’s ruling elite – senior members of government, security forces, and business leaders – have waged a widespread and systematic attack on Cambodian civilians, motivated by ‘self-enrichment and maintaining power at all costs’.

Cambodia is no stranger to high-profile land rights cases. Since 2000, the equivalent of more than 70% of Cambodia’s arable land has been leased out – a significant proportion in a country where nearly eight out of ten people depend on land and natural resources for their livelihoods. Among the headline-hitting cases were land grabs for sugar plantations that supply Tate & Lyle, the Boeung Lake fiasco which resulted in the World Bank suspending funding to Cambodia in 2011, and acquisitions by rubber companies like Vietnamese giant Hoang Anh Gia Lai.

These disputes must no longer be seen in isolation. The complaint asks the International Criminal Court to consider them as symptoms of aggressive state policy, the impacts of which transcend the boundaries of human rights abuses and domestic crimes, and contain all of the legal elements that constitute crimes against humanity.

Land deals are often conducted in secret, so available figures are likely to be a gross underestimate. But we know that over the last decade as much as 49 million hectares – an area just smaller than the size of Spain – has changed hands or is under negotiation. Many governments and companies peddle the myth that large-scale agriculture is necessary to feed the world. But this argument ignores the fact that small-scale farmers still produce more than 80% of the food consumed in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. And they do this without routinely resorting to violence, persecution or evictions. Far from furthering development, taking land away from ordinary citizens undercuts it, representing one of the biggest threats to poverty alleviation.

If the International Criminal Court accepts the case, it paves the way for others to be pursued at the international level and could signal a ground-breaking shift in how land deals are done globally.

Surprisingly, large-scale land investments are still relatively ungoverned internationally. Since 2012, the US, Europe and Hong Kong have all introduced binding requirements for oil, gas and mining companies to publicly report on payments they make to governments. Meanwhile, Europe, the US and Australia have also introduced laws to prevent the import of illegal timber. No binding international regulations exist, however, to stop agribusiness companies from illegally acquiring, clearing or managing land.

If the Cambodian government is held to account for these crimes, other governments and the companies involved will have to heed the warning and recognise that land grabbing is too big a price to pay for doing business.

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty


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