By Sharon Isafe
In a recent article published in the Global Mail, freelance journalist Jo Chandler discovers the secret behind a spate of deaths along the Fly River. Its no mystery she writes, sadly the disturbing mortality rate is a product of an absence in basic health services, combined with severe social dislocation caused by the Ok Tedi mine.
Citing evidence from a World Health Organisation briefing Chandler writes:
Their examinations identify sickness and disease emerging from years of accumulated neglect, compounded by dirty water, poor nutrition, crowded living conditions, too many babies, lack of roads and power, decaying or abandoned health facilities and hardscrabble lives made harder by shifting tides and islands of sediment, soil erosion and vegetation dieback, and the loss of fish catches and crops.
She continues several paragraphs later:
Ok Tedi’s operations over a generation have provided critical infrastructure, opportunity and services to some of the world’s most isolated and challenged communities, plus 2,000 direct jobs (95 per cent of them going to local people) and as many again spun off through local businesses and subcontractors. But in the South Fly villages I visit the only evidence of substantial trickle down from its USD1.45 billion annual revenue is the sediment. It raises the riverbed and spills water onto the land, wiping out food gardens and spoiling drinking water, even exposing old graves. Such issues are serious enough to prompt the mining company to consider relocating severely impacted communities.
One senses something calamitous when one of the most profitable mines in the world is surrounded by some of the worst displays of ‘development’-based rural impoverishment.
Yet not all journalists see things this way. With their friends smarting inside the Ok Tedi Development Foundation (OTDF) – the ones charged with maladministering community compensation payments from Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) – some in the media fraternity have taken it upon themselves to find some good news stories, its Christmas after all. Cue Malum Nalu.
On his celebrated blog, The National’s business Editor trumpets the arrival of a Twin Otter aircraft, purchased by the OTDF. We are told “the aircraft was bought at a total cost of US$7.4 million with the funding for purchasing the aircraft coming from the CMCA Trust Investment Funds.”
Given that women along the south Fly die needlessly from cervical cancer, one would imagine that investment in rural health services may be more defensible.
Not so argues Western Province Governor, Ati Wobiro. He is quoted by Nalu as saying, “our people in Western province are very fortunate that we have money from Ok Tedi and we have very good managers like Mr Middleton and his OTDF team who can turn this money into something tangible”.
Tangible? Western Province may have an aeroplane, but some children would prefer tangible mothers.
Nevertheless, Malum Nalu reports:
“Middleton said this new aircraft including the first one which arrived in October this year, would be leased to OTML for 15 years”. OTDF’s Middleton explains, “on behalf of the CMCA communities OTDF has secured a 15-year master lease agreement with OTML with a guaranteed 8% return per annum for the aircraft with the Ok Tedi mine life extended”.
But, can this 8% return replace the lost productivity produced by the Fly River’s desecration? Nalu never asks. And what about investing in rural health services, what sort of return might this yield? Another question that is left off the agenda.
Instead, Nalu insists on reporting verbatim the carefully choreographed remarks of the mine’s corporate and political patrons, without a modicum of critical scrutiny.
It would appear Nalu reserves his criticisms for PNG’s civil society organisations.
If only he approached his journalism with the same enthusiasm for critique. But then he would not be the recipient of corporate largesse, would he.
Sadly, the people along the Fly River now return to dying in silence, until another journalist, with the tenacity to ask hard questions find their way to this neglected region. In the mean time, expect more corporate spin in PNG’s dailies.
We are all impoverished as a result.
Not content with filing propaganda for Rimbunan Hijau and pretending it is news – Journalist embroiled in loggers shit – Malum Nalu has been caught doing the same for Exxon-Mobil….
From LNG Watch
* The Exxon statement was posted by Malum Nalu within 24 hours of its release – we wonder was a friendly phone call made or email sent by Rebecca Arnold, ExxonMobil’s Media and Communications adviser?
By a lowly coconut crab west of Milchen Aben - The Edebamona blog
Malum Nalu reporter for the RH owned Daily Log newspaper, who just last month came under attack for obeying his RH masters and going to Pomio to try to spin the story in RH’s favor (he failed) and then came under instense attack on blog sites and FB today showed that he has bought in hook, line and sinker RH.
Look what he put on his FB page – we are not making this up and we did not edit – have a look:
“The National has grown strongly over the years and are now selling a whole lot more than the Post Courier. It should not surprise any of us that Post-Courier, dried up of ideas, has been trying to discredit us. Let them blow their trumpets about “scoops”, so-called “journalist of the year” and etc. The PNG Media Awards no longer hold any credibility except for those who have their own agenda. The Media Council has also lost sight of its objectives and is more preoccupied with “bonding nights”.
And as you see he then goes after the PNG Media Council because they have the audacity to slight the Daily Log on their awards. Poor ole Malum, Ya got to love this line “The PNG Media Awards no longer hold any credibility except for those who have their own agenda.” Well you’ve been whoring for those who definately have their agenda Malum – and everyone knows that.
Attacking the Post Courier he says they are trying to discredit US (yep – the bosses will give you a raise for that Malum – you are one with them just by putting “us” But Malum you don’t need the Post Courier to discredit you all at RH. You do that yourselves – everyday with the propaganda you put out pushing the RH agenda. The problem is now – there’s a new generation of PNGeans who see through this nonsense and are calling them and you out. Can’t fool people all the time Malum. There’s a new generation – who actually love this country and aren’t afraid to speak out.
Now coincidently Malum also put on his blog an article about Arthur Somare calling PM O’Neill a liar and saying the rumors of him meeting the Chief Justice and others are not true. Malum went on to say (please go to his blog and enjoy this) that the Daily Log went to the Ela Beach Hotel to check the times of operation – how about that for investigative reporting!!!!
Malum’s point being see they couldn’t have been meeting and thus the rumours and O’Neill are indeed liars.
Now any sane person- and there are scores of you talking about this now – would question – hmmmmm wonder why the Daily Log and ole Malum are doing that at a time when the Daily Log has been accused of bringing up Brian Gomez to run anything at all negative about the O’Neill government. Could there be a connection? Does Malum want to show the bosses he can do it too? We leave it for you all to decide. Sweet dreams Malum.
By Peter Rongotha
Martyn Namorong, whose blog is called the Namorong Report and who is a recent Crocodile Prize Winner, has upset long time PNG journalist Malum Nalu with his article on Rimbunan Hijau (RH) and Nalu’s role in the continuing story in Pomio, East New Britain Province. Nalu is employed by the National newspaper which is owned by RH.
The Namorong Report called Nalu out on his trip to Pomio, the whole sad saga of RH’s behavior and Nalu’s pitiful response to the PNGexposed Blog. What has caused me to take fingers to keyboard on this issue is something quite striking. And that is the response by Nalu and his supporters – several working for large-scale extractive industries of course and how that contrasts greatly with those who support Namorong.
Martyn Namorong sells buai in Port Moresby. Anyone that reads his blogs sees that is a bit strange when you read his analysis of major issues in PNG. He is an exceptional thinker and his blogs have constantly gotten me to think and think critically of our country and issues we face. I have never met Mr. Namorong but would like to one day.
His blog on the ongoing crisis in Pomio where RH’s behavior has been terrible against our own citiziens, where RH has lied about Greenpeace breaking custom laws and where they are trying to make out that everyone loves logging in the area is typical for RH. Remember local landowners in Pomio did the right thing. Instead of resorting to violence like RH – they went to the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABL) testified on their own behalf and returned home. And when they got there RH sent in the thugs, dressed as police. It’s not the first time RH has done this, but this time, thanks to the social media – which Mr. Namorong pointed out, people are not remaining quiet.
Nalu’s pitiful report made serious allegations that Greenpeace had broken PNG Customs regulations by entering Pomio District. He also claimed Greenpeace had caused friction in the Pomio community when in fact the friction between landowners had been incited by RH and its landowner company “Directors” who, in fact, arranged for supportive landowners to act a logging company security due to the confrontations between Gilford’s (an RH subsidiary) Malaysian staff and landowners opposing the logging.
Besides the obvious in regards to Nalu and what he “reported” and why is the response from him and his supporters and those of the people supporting Namorong. Nalu, who began his sorry defense by trying to make himself a hero saying he risked his life by going out to Pomio, tried – and failed – to make fun of Namorong. He responded by pretending to laugh – a sure sign Namorong got to him with his analysis. He said Namorong was a buai seller turned blogger and suggested he go back to selling buai. In other words Mr. Namorong you nailed him and upset him. Now Nalu supporters jumped on the bandwagon calling him low-life, scum, questioning his sexual preference and laughing amongst themselves.
However those that were supporting Namorong’s right to report or supporting what Namorong had to say never got to that low level of name calling and trying to down Nalu. They stuck to the issue at hand. As I was watching this I then realised there is a change going on in PNG – and its a big one – and it is reflected in the response of Nalu and friends to Namorong. There is a new generation of Papua New Guineans and they are thinkers – they are not small boys with egos like Nalu displayed in his defense nor are they like those that supported Nalu by name calling. The new breed think, analyse and try to engage in constructive dialogue. They give a damn about PNG and they want to do something about it and they will. And when they see what happened in Pomio when, once again, RH comes in plays the bully its always been – they are not going to shut up. They are seeing it, calling it out and they are moving towards action.
While the name calling egotists ramble on the new generation isn’t going to put up with it any more. Things are going to change. At a price for sure, but its coming. Thanks Martyn – your blog analysis of the situation in Pomio has brought it all home. And I am feeling good about my country again,
You could almost feel sorry for Rimbunan Hijau (RH) if it weren’t for the fact they ARE Rimbunan Hijau. Since they sent the thugs over to Pomio to intimidate the landowners (who btw respected the law and attended the SABL Commission of Inquiry instead of getting violent LIKE RH) to their ridiculous attempt to put a negative spin on Greenpeace (Alan Oxley has had his influence -again to no avail) to their latest attempt to have Malum Nalu tell the story for them – they have failed miserably.
The most encouraging thing besides the landowners still being strong has been the most incredible analysis on the numerous blogs about the situation in Pomio. It is clear that RH has is bumbling its way along. Damn bribes and force – are being seen for what they are RH. In addition the failure of Malum Nalu (partly his own by trying to make himself a hero by even going into the area) to convince anyone who wasn’t already working for RH or other large scale extractive industries – that RH were good guys in all this – has been most impressive. Mr. Nalum who is a fine writer has been under attack – and rightfully so – as his defense has been weak. But the extent of the analysis by his detractors has been impressive as have the fact that fewer and fewer people – buy the RH line is most encouraging.
Things seem to be changing in PNG and change begins with the mindset of the people from the village to the top. Despite a company like RH who has the money – uses the money – uses thugs and buys politicians – still people are resisting. That includes their hilarious attempt to use locals to bring a case against their rival newspaper The Post Courier with the PNG Media Council. No one buys it.
So good on the people of Pomio, the bloggers who write about it and the people who are speaking out. Keep it up. We can still make the companies more responsible – you are proving it. And remember if you call them out you are simply anti-development. They don’t get it al all do they?
By Martyn Namorong*
One of Papua New Guineas prominent journalists is now embroiled in a conflict of interest saga in the blogosphere. PNGexposed BLOG recently highlighted that Mr. Nalu was flown to Pomio by notorious Malaysian loggers -Rimbunan Hijau- to file stories for The National Newspaper, which is also owned by the loggers.
PNGexposed Blog simply wanted Mr. Nalu to declare his conflict of interest regarding the stories filed from Pomio. It stated:
Surely a previously respected, talented and awarded journalist like Malum Nalu knows that if the subject of his story, in this case notorious illegal logger and human rights abuser, Rimbunan Hijau is paying him to write a story then that should be declared openly and upfront?
But in the story below penned by Malum Nalu and published today (25th October) in The National, he totally forgets to tell his readers that RH paid him to file the story.
What is even worse in this case is that Nalu was not only paid by RH to write the story he was flown into the Pomio area on an RH aircraft with the specific mission to file stories on behalf of RH which are then published in RH’s own newspaper – The National.
For the benefit of readers who aren’t aware of the Pomio story, what happened was that RH hired thugs dressed in Police uniform and flew them to Pomio specifically to bash up landowners who had fronted at a Commission of Inquiry to testify against the theft of their land for logging and oil palm.
Had it not been for social media such as Facebook, RH would have gotten away with it little misadventure. However, word got out about RH’s bullying of local landowners and the company went into damage control.
First RH denied that it had flown in the thugs dressed in Police uniform. However, the Police hierarchy later confirmed that their men were indeed flown into Pomio by RH.
Then RH changed tact and changed the story. This time The National reported that the villagers had requested (sic) for the police to go and do alcohol awareness.
No one was buying that either so RH sent in the Big Gun – Mr. Malum Nalu, to clean up the Malaysian loggers’ shit.
The fundamental issue here is that Mr. Malum’s fellow Papua New Guineans were harassed and bashed up by thugs flown in by Malaysian Loggers (RH). Instead of focusing on this gross Human Rights abuse, Mr. Malum writes pieces for RH’s The National newspaper, attempting to discredit Green peace’s protest against RH’s activities in Pomio.
Mr. Nalu has since been roasted on the internet by many concerned Papua New Guineans who have also questioned his integrity as a Journalist. Once again RH’s Public Relations attempt has been a monumental failure that has claimed the scalp of a prominent journalist.
Mr. Nalu has been forced to come out and defend himself. Writing in response to his critics, he stated on PNGexposed BLOG:
To all those who have said such nasty things about me, just because I went to Pomio, a place that time has forgotten, I challenge you to risk your life on a small plane like me, fly to Palmalmal, walk up the mountains and talk to the people of Mamusi, who still live as their ancestors did!
Mr. Nalu’s response has been nothing short of pathetic. In the article that was featured on PNGexposed BLOG, he DOESN’T quote one single villager from Mamusi. The only person quoted in Mr. Nalu’s article is the Pomio District Administrator, Mr. Tomaleu Langisan.
* Follow Martyn on his blog The Namorong Report
Respected journalist Alexander Rheeney has published an article [see below] about the controversy over logging inside Special-purpose Business lease areas that stands in stark contrast to the public relations spin Malum Nalu has been publishing  on behalf of his employer, Malaysian logging giant Rimbunan Hijau. No one objects to Nalu working as a paid apologist for RH – but he should admit the connection and not pretend his stories are valid news reports. It is time for Malum Nalu to take some lessons from Alex Rheeney on journalistic ethics! See for example http://pngexposed.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/oh-dear-malum-nalu-surely-you-should-know-better/
Greenpeace ship returns to PNG amid controversy
Greenpeace ship MV Esperanza will get into the Papua New Guinea (PNG) capital Port Moresby on Saturday amidst controversy with local authorities charging it breached customs laws.
The vessel is returning from New Britain Island where it led a campaign to bring global attention to PNG’s controversial special agriculture and business leases (SABL).
The lease for the Sigite Mukus Integrated Rural Development Project in New Britain’s Pomio area is owned by the Malaysian logging giant Rimbunan Hijau (RH) and was issued under the SABL. But the oil palm project has been immersed in controversy with villagers oppossed to it leading protests against the developer.
Greenpeace said it was invited to Pomio by landowners to join the protests and alleged that the Pomio SABL was fraudulently obtained, which the logging company has denied.
Local newspaper The National, a subsidiary of RH, reported in its October 28, 2011 edition that the MV Esperanza breached customs regulations when it sailed directly to Pomio instead of Port Moresby. The newspaper also ran a story on the inside pages of the same edition with the headline “Greenpeace warned to stay out of Pomio” and attributed it to “a majority of Pomio villagers” whom it claimed supported its project.
The standoff in Pomio between villagers who support and oppose the project as well as reports of brutality allegedly perpetrated by policemen who were flown to the project site by the company has become a hot topic in PNG social media networks.
In one post in a Facebook group which attracted 67 comments some called on Papua New Guineans to boycott RH businesses and products, while others condemned the close relationship between PNG politicians and the logging industry. There was also acknowledgement that the lack of basic infrastructure and services in rural areas made communities vulnerable to fly-by-night investors.
The Somare government established the SABL to increase economic activity in rural areas and enable local communities to benefit from spin-off business activities. However according to Greenpeace, the PNG Department of Lands and Physical Planning has approved 74 SABLs since 2003 covering 5.2 million hectares of forested customary land. This translates to 11 per cent of PNG’s total land area or about 18 per cent of its remaining forest.
Concerns by international scientists and the United Nations about the effects of SABLs on rural communities compelled then acting Prime Minister Sam Abal to set up a commission of inquiry. The inquiry continues.
Early this month acting police commissioner Tom Kulunga announced the establishment of a formal investigation into allegations of brutality by policemen who were flown into Pomio by the logging company. The top cop assured the public that disciplinary action will be taken against police officers who acted outside their powers.
Sep Galeva, a PNG landowner who was instrumental in exposing the illegalities of another Malaysian logging company Concord Pacific, warned that loggers left behind destruction and marginalised communities after they harvested all the logs and made their exit.