Corruption is a word writ large over the relationship between PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his newly appointed Chairman of PNG Ports, Nathaniel Poya ( or Polya).
Poya took up his new role in February this year despite a history of corruption, failed businesses, debts and conflicts of interest.
O’Neill and Poya’s role in the NPF scandal
O’Neill and Poya first came to attention in the investigation into the huge National Provident Fund corruption scandal.
The Commission of Inquiry, headed by retired Justice Tos Barnett, revealed O’Neill and Poya jointly owned a company named Mecca (No.36) which received large illegal payments from the National Provident Fund.
At that time Poya was both a trustee of NPF and a director and shareholder of Mecca.
The Commission found that on 17 May 1999, K100,000 derived from the NPF Tower fraud was deposited into the account of Mecca (no.36) and “that such money was not earned”.
The Commission of Inquiry recommended both O’Neill and Poya be referred to the Ombudsman Commission for potential breach of the Leadership Code:
(e) MR Poiya and Mr O’Neill benefited from the payment to Mecca;
(f) THE benefit received by trustee Poiya was improper and the commission recommends that he be referred to the Ombudsman to consider whether there had been a breach of the Leadership Code by Mr Poiya; and
(g) The benefit received by Mr O’Neill was improper and at the time he was subject to the Leadership Code, being executive director of Finance Pacific.
In addition the Commission of Inquiry found O’Neill also benefited from and ordered many other corrupt payments involving NPF Tower fraud proceeds. A further K50,000 from the NPF fraud was paid to O’Neill’s former wife, Cheryl Caley
The Commission also stated:
Mr O’Neill’s explanations were unacceptable, internally inconsistent and contrary to clearly documented factual evidence
Poya not a fit and proper person to head PNG Ports
Nathaniel Poya is also not a fit and proper person to head any public corporation or government department because of some of his other business dealings.
Poya was a shareholder and director in Voco Point Trading Ltd when it went into liquidation in 2004 owing K3.9 million to 89 creditors including Bank of South Pacific.
In a subsequent legal case, National Court judge Justice Gabi was highly critical of the company’s failure to pay taxes or file tax returns for a number of years, conduct the judge described as “contrary to corporate morality or public interest”. [OS 291 of 2007, Poya -v- Paki at para 15]
Conflicts of Interest
O’Neill is also wrong to appoint Poya to Chair PNG Ports, as Poya is alleged to have a clear conflict of interest.
Mr Poya it is claimed has his own stevedoring business, PNG National Stevedoring. In this role Poya previously took the Minister for Transport to court for not awarding his company lucrative ports contracts; a court case that Poya subsequently lost.
O’Neill himself is also in a conflict of interest situation in this matter as Mr Poya, according to MP Sam Basil, is also a relative of the Prime Minister. [Post Courier 10 May 2013]
By LUCAS KIAP on PNG Blogs
The rest of the country has joined the bandwagon of the government and the opposition to declare war on crime in Papua New Guinea – in response to the recent surge in violent crimes across the country. Sadly, we have waited too long only to react after so many innocent and precious lives have been taken away prematurely by those who have no regard for human life nor understand their own existence in our human society. Nothing we say or do now will ever replace nor return those lives. Only time will tell if our (as usual) reactive measures by legislating and imposing tougher penalties will deter future offenders or not – the most server being the death penalty.
Before jumping on the bandwagon, there are critical and fundamental questions still remain and need to be asked and answered if we are to find a lasting solution but in reality that will be impossible. In countries such as the USA where the death penalty is applied, it never prevents offenders from committing such crimes. If such crimes can still be committed in a very powerful, rich, everyone literate, have access to information and have severe penalties, PNG must be prepared to take a extra step and dig deep to find a lasting solution. PNG is therefore having its share of a global problem that cannot be simply eradicated by imposing the most severe penalty – the death sentence. Instead, being the most responsible people, we all must be proactive in our approach to address the problem – that is to find and address the root causes first before being reactive to solve a very deep and complicated problem.
To find the root causes, one must prepared to ask the question – PNG is relatively a rich country in terms of natural resources with a small population and a large land mass but why it is poor struggling to address its escalating law and order problems? It is because of corruption, which, for the last 37 years, we have been letting it to grow systematic and systemic. It is now making our lives difficult, limiting our opportunities, making our systems malfunction, setting back our progresses, creating loopholes for our systems to be manipulated, distorting of our democratic values, depriving and denying us of our basic human rights and trapping millions of our citizens in poverty. Now we are starting to sow the seed we or our leaders have planted 37 years ago.
Remember that eighty-five percept of the population lives in rural areas and in settlements, where poverty is prevalent. Poverty is an ingredient of worst crimes. If we continue to fail to provide or neglect them the opportunities they need to live a better and meaningful life in our society, we are in fact widening the gap between the richer and the poorer. When that happens, what do we expect from the poor whom we have denied them equal opportunities – struggling to survive while we on the other hand enjoy what we have taken from them? Unfortunately, the victims are also the victims of corruption.
To conclude, to address the root cause of crime in the country, corruption must be equally treated as a worst crime against the State and her people. It has been and is still responsible for most of the social problems in the country which eventually leads to worst crimes. Therefore, whatever penalties applied to murders, rapists, drug edicts, and alcoholics, state criminals or white collar criminals whoever they are must also be treated in the same manner.
If we fail to address corruption now, it will return to haunt us when we least expect – in our cars, at our homes, at our work places or wherever we are, it will find us one day. To avoid what is eminent, let’s act now before we start jumping up and down again only to tear our country apart.
By Belden Namah MP via PNG Blog
I welcome Prime Minister Peter O’Neil’s decision to file a defamation suit against me. It is not surprising for Peter O’Neill to be reactive to issues that the Opposition has brought to light in recent times.
It is the traditional role of the Opposition to criticise, oppose, speculate and to even take pre-emptive measures on issues that concern the welfare of our people.
We are duty bound to keep the government and its leaders including the Prime Minister in check, so why is Mr O’Neill running to the courts when we are debating corruption at the National Government level?
I have as a leader tolerated wild, unfounded and even malicious allegations levelled against me in the media, yet, I have not sued the perpetrators or any media organisation for reporting such allegations. I have and will always respect media freedom and freedom of expression in this country and I expect Peter O’Neill and other leaders to do likewise.
My grave concern is that we now have a Prime Minister who is trying to control media freedom in our country. I ask the PM to leave media freedom to be practised without fear or favour in our democracy.
In this case the PM should leave EMTV alone. Let the media do its work and report without fear or favour.
The threat by the PM to cancel EMTV’s licence is an act of a dictator.
I want to appeal to all Papua New Guineans working in government organisations or state institutions that if you are threatened to facilitate corruption or have any information on corrupt practices, you must speak up. I am ready to receive and fight against corruption in this country including defending you against reprisal by government.
I call on the Ombudsman Commission and other watch dog organisations to do likewise and support whistle blowers for the good of our people, our country and our children’s future.
I am prepared to pay legal costs for EMTV journalist Scott Waide against the defamation suit by Peter O’Neil. And I guarantee the same for others who will speak out on the corruption of the PM, Ministers and other leaders.
Radio New Zealand
The outspoken Papua New Guinea MP Gary Juffa says to address the country’s chronic law and order problems requires a holistic approach.
The Governor of Oro Province, Mr Juffa says among the priorities for PNG should be to modernise the police force, replenish the prosecutorial offices and bolster the judiciary.
He says that as well as a large number of violent crimes that need investigating, there is a lot of white-collar crime which PNG must deal with.
Gary Juffa spoke to Johnny Blades about his ideas for addressing the law and order crisis.
JUFFA: “The police has not been developed and modernised over a period of years, I would say, since independence. If you look at the population of PNG as it is now, it’s between 7 million and 8 million. The population of PNG at independence was about 2.8 million thereabouts. The police staff ceiling was 4,000, 5,000 officers. That staff ceiling has not improved till now. It’s still 5,000 officers. You’ve got an ageing force, you’ve got a huge population. You’ve got an increase in the types of crimes. There’s complex violent crimes, there’s complex fraud and so forth, and the police are just unable to cope because they just do not have the resources, nor do they have the manpower, the numbers. Morale is down. They need to modernise and modify themselves to cope with the problems they face in today’s world.”
BLADES: “Is the O’Neill government doing anything about this, do you think? Significant moves?”
JUFFA: “I’m satisfied that they are making a significant move in that direction. They’ve just carried out a modernisation program and they are now in the process of trying to recruit more policemen. You have a recruitment program annually so that these numbers can be improved. They are trying to look at the ageing force and retiring a number of the upper echelon of the police so they can bring in new officers. They’re also looking at creating an independent commission against corruption, a new body that will have federal powers to investigate serious corruption in the country.”
BLADES: “Will this just follow on from Sam Koim’s team?”
JUFFA: “I think the intention is to give some more resources and definition to that taskforce. Sam Koim’s taskforce, which has been doing a tremendous job under very harsh conditions or restrictions, they’ve achieved a lot and I would support that bill.”
BLADES: “Do you think that taskforce is going to be able to see through some prosecution? Obviously they’re not doing the prosecution. Do you think it’ll come about, because there are going to be some high-level embarrassments?”
JUFFA: “What has happened here is while we have created the taskforce, we need to revamp the prosecution aspect. And that office is a malnourished office insofar as resources are concerned. The prosecution office needs to be completely overhauled. You need to bring in vibrant, very effective prosecutors, well-trained, with experience – I would even go as far as suggesting from overseas. Give them the resources, then they will be able to take what the taskforce is doing to another level and achieve some outcomes. But then you’d have to look at the judiciary as well, which is quite depleted of staff. There are not enough magistrates, there are not enough judges. The case turnover is very slow. These things have to be all addressed holistically.”
37 Years of Corruption: Do we accept corruption as a norm or is there a way forward for the country?
By Lucas Kiap on PNG Blogs
For the last 37 years of nationhood, we have been letting corruption to grow systematic and systemic – making our lives difficult, limiting our opportunities, making our systems malfunction, setting back our progresses, creating loopholes for our systems to be manipulated, distorting of our democratic values, depriving and denying us of our basic human rights and trapping millions of our citizens in poverty.
We have forsaken our country and its future by confessing and accepting corruption as a norm, part of our history, cultures, and traditions. We have regarded it is as part of our way of life, for instance “Big Man” are not punishable even when they commit serious crimes. We regarded “wantok system” or nepotism as helping one another or returning a favor. Bribery has been regarded as normal and is considered as a gift to facilitate requests in a speedy or timely manner. Unfortunately, our traditional norms have presided over western norms. We are a nation at confusion and lost between two extreme worlds – one inherited from our ancestors and one inherited from colonial masters during independence.
At this juncture, I would like to propose this question – do we accept corruption as a norm or is there a way forward for the country after 37 years of corruption?
In this article I attempt to answer the above question in three parts. The first part, I write about corruption as I see it. The second part I write about corruption as the rest of Papua New Guineans see it according to my 12 years of judgment. In the third or final part, I write about the way forward for the country as according to the way I see it.
CORRUPTION AS I SEE – A UGLY MONSTER
When I first begin to understand the corruption problem in the country 12 years ago in 2001, I want to find out how it affects my life and my country. As I searched deeply into the problem of corruption I came face to face with a young, ugly, and black monster yet appeared friendly. The monster was appeared to be looking healthy, well fed and looked after. From its appearance I could guess it was 37 years of age. The monster starred at me with its big and red eyes through which I could be able to see all its internal organs. I saw the intestines and what it has been feeding on. I could see human bones – the bones of the mothers died of breast cancer, the bones of children died of malnutrition, the bones of tribal warriors died in tribal fights and the bones of those who died as the direct result of lack of basic government services. As a searched further deep into all its internal parts and organs I noticed some of the ugliest sights decorated with sign boards of different shapes and sizes I had never imagine exist in our real world today. The writings on the signboards read, “I will deny and deprive you of the opportunities to education, employment, health care, transport and basic government services”. The sight of what I saw really frightened the hell out of me – drained and exhausted all my energy. I sat motionless, my heart pounding, eyes filled with tears of bitter sadness – all I could managed to say was “God, why are you letting this to happen for so long in a country where its people considered to be your own people or Christians?” As I come to face to face with this deeply rooted monster, I see my future slowing evaporating before its eyes.
Corruption as it appears to me is a sinister monster with thousands of mouths that we have been feeding and looking after for the last 37 years of nationhood. We have tamed it to be our family member, best friend, relative, wantok and countrymen. We have let it grow its roots among family, cultural, social, political and economical settings. In the dark when no one notices it, it has slowly been creeping and knocking at the doorsteps of every Papua New Guineans, feeding on our greed and selfishness to escalate the deteriorating of our integral and moral human values. As a result, we have been in the race to be the conquerors of Mt. Everest before others, we want to reach the North and the South Poles to rewrite history, we want our initials curved on some deep sea monsters, we want to fly our flags on the moon, and we want to travel to Jupiter before the NASA scientists.
Yes we have mustered the art for the destruction of our own country and future and we are already addicted to it – we are on an endless mission.
Corruption as I described above is a monster to me. But what about the rest of Papua New Guineans think? Read on to find out what I think is their perceptions about corruption in the country.
CORRUPTION AS THE REST OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA SEE IT – A NORM
Unfortunately, the rest of Papua New Guineans have allowed corruption as a norm, originated from our cultures and traditions. For instance, a “big man” in a typical PNG culture is not punishable by the laws. The big man culture is well versed in PNG politics where politics have been misconceived as a means to personal wealth creation. Politicians or PNG big men begin their political careers as ordinary persons, or civil servants, and graduate as business entrepreneurs after their discontinuation from office. A browse through the political chronicles of PNG will reveal this interesting trend. In fact, most medium scale business activities in PNG are owned or partly owned by politicians and ex-politicians. The emergence of politicians-turned-businessmen or vice versa after 1975, and the difficulties in separating business from politics, had sent out false signals to aspirants to political office. Contesting elections today has become a god sent opportunity to wealth accumulation. Cases of diverting public monies into personal accounts or into those of the politician’s business associates are reported everyday in the daily newspapers.
An example of how politicians or PNG’s “big men” divert and steal public funds – when government funds (millions of Kina) are released for projects, politicians often pretend to open trust accounts to be managed by government department secretaries. While the money is in the trust accounts, a network of signatories to the money is established to draw out the money. When this is done and in order, third parties (often their cronies) are consulted and asked to submit project proposals or register ghost companies with bogus claims so that payments can be made to them. Eventually the money is transferred and shared between the key players. The key players of this political mafia gang type network include some of our politicians; government CEOs, secretaries, directors; and their financial controllers. They establish networks with bankers, accountants, lawyers or other specialists to help them generate, move or store their illicit income. The transaction is often enabled by professionals from many fields. With the network strongly established, creating an atmosphere of mutual trust and reciprocity; they attempt to provide a legal appearance to corrupt transactions, producing legally enforceable signatories; and they help to ensure that no one is blamed in case of detection.
Tribalism in the Highlands and other parts of the has also been promoting the “big man” culture. In the Highlands, where tribalism is common, there is a stiff competition between rival tribes in the numbers game of “big man”. The tribe that boasts more big men is a powerful tribe. As a result the tribal big men in the highlands are as powerful as little gods. When the tribal “big man” commands his tribes, they respond with “yes boss”. All tribal members stand ready to defend their tribal big man even when he is guilty. To promote more members of the tribe to big-man status, the big man usually a politician from the tribe requests tribal members to register ghost companies and submit ghost project proposals. He then diverts all or part of the District Development and Improvement grants or other project funds to the companies where the money is stolen – sometimes there is little work done or most of the times the quality of work done is very poor. The transactions are often aided by government officials and bureaucrats. This practice is widespread and is common in PNG were District Development and Improvement grants or other project funds have been diverted, misused and stolen.
Coupled with the PNG “big man” culture, greed, selfishness and individualism has allowed corruption to be integrated into part of our culture escalating the deteriorating of our integral and moral human values. The selfishness and greed of wanting more has led to people stealing from the State wealth through ghost project proposals or by other means such as registering ghost companies where public funds can be diverted to, often aided by corrupt politicians and bureaucrats who benefit from the scheme. As a result we have developed a culture of only caring for ourselves. We don’t care about the consequences of our actions or decisions in the lives of others. We simply tend to think that what happens to others is “none of our business”. Sadly, this is not a reflection of our Christian values and believes, which we always claim as in a Christian country.
The desire for the destruction of our country and future in the pretext of accepting corruption as a norm for the last 37 years of independence has led to the emergence of a complicated attitude problem. As a result it has become part of our upbringing and has been slowly fueling corruption. We have invented shields of ignorance and pretended that there is nothing happening at our doorsteps or that of our neighbors. We defend ourselves when we are criticized, exposed or investigated for corrupt practices. We always try to play the game of not guilty, knowing well that we will eventually come out clean by manipulating a corrupted and often flawed judicial system. We take refuge as Christians in a Christian Country; pray, attend church services, take the Bread of Life and preach the gospel to be trusted and accepted. We take temporarily relief by blaming others for own problems, taking advantage of a very large illiterate population.
We have accepted corruption as a norm but did we admit it as a problem. In the following I will discuss some of the confessions by our former and current politicians and citizens who admitted corruption is a problem, as reported in our two daily news papers.
CORRUPTION IS A NORM BUT DID WE ADMIT IT?
Our inability to address corruption, confusing ourselves between the two extremes (cultures) – one inherited from our ancestors and one inherited from our colonial masters have allowed corruption to flourish in the social, economical and political settings unattended for the last 37 years of independence. But did we admit we have a problem? In the following, I discussed some of the confessions by our former and current politicians and citizens who admitted corruption is a problem, as reported in our two daily news papers.
When tried to shake off a shaky coalition government surrounded by scandals of the Sandline and economic crisis in 1997, the former Prime Minister late Sir William Bill Skate in a press release, attacked Sir Julius Chan (also a former Prime Minister) as ‘ultimately responsible’ for his Ministers’ conduct during the Sandline crisis. He said ‘our great nation of Papua New Guinea has been plundered and pillaged by a scattering of politicians and corrupt leaders and we want this sad chapter to be closed.’ He then called for an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), saying ‘if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear’. Soon after, Mr Skate expelled Chan’s PPP from the Government. It’s sad especially when a head of a country confessed corruption is an issue yet let unaddressed to grow from bad to worse over the years.
Sir Mekere Mourata when he was PNG’s Prime Minister in 1999 once described corruption in Papua New Guinea as Systematic and Systemic. Systematic because it is well planned, organized and cleverly executed to steal large sums of public funds (money) avoiding being detected and caught. Systemic because the current systems in place or the lack of strict checks and balances facilitates or is conducive for corrupt practices to flourish in the public sector for the last 37 years. Is Sir Mekere Mourata not responsible for failing to promptly investigate into the fatal shooting in June 2001 of Steven Kil, Peter Noki, Thomas Moruwo and Matthew Paven during a police operation against anti-government protesters at UPNG?
Former MP for Lae Open and then Deputy Opposition leader Bart Philemon in 2007 claimed the PNG’s politicians as ‘Dirty money MPs’. He claimed that Papua New Guinean politicians were walking on a “minefield” of “dirty money” from unscrupulous people with money, who were hell-bent on influencing political outcomes for their vested interests. The claim was made at the 7th annual Ethics Symposium of the Divine Word University’s Faculty of Business and Management in Madang. Mr Philemon said the country faced the real danger of seeing its Members of Parliament bought out by those with “big pockets (of money)” to get political favours for their vested interests. “How can we ensure our politicians survive this minefield?” Mr Philemon asked. In direct reference to the 2007 election where he observed large sums of money allegedly used by vested interests, Mr Philemon claimed some of the winning candidates demanded their election expenses be refunded if they were to join certain political groups in the lead-up to the formation of the new government last month. Such claims by MPs are common when in the Opposition but when in the Government it is a rare scenario.
The former National Planning Minister, Paul Tiensten in 2008 claimed that there was a “10 per cent” syndicate operating out of the Vulupindi Haus, the headquarters of the departments of Finance, Treasury and National Planning. The Minister made this revelation when announcing the National Executive Council’s decision to replace department secretary Valentine Kambori with Joseph Lelang. Mr Tiensten said: “This building houses a syndicate … everybody is getting a 10 per cent cut to approve a cheque.” He said National Planning will start cleaning the department and the rollover effect will help clean the other two departments as they work together. Is Mr. Tiensten a credible and reputable person to raise such allegations? From what I know he is yet to tell the people of Papua New Guinea about the disappearance and whereabouts of billions of kina he managed under the National Planning department.
HR Holdings Limited managing director and former chairman of the PNG Manufacturer’s Council Sir Ramon Thurecht in March 2008 made a similar claim of a 30 per cent syndicate involving bureaucrats and politicians begging businesses for money before work can be done. But, he said the businesses could not speak out because of fear the bureaucrats and politicians would retaliate. He said “our biggest challenge now is to work with the Government”.
“Corruption in PNG will reach a dangerous trend if leaders and publics servants implicated are not prosecuted”, prominent lawyer Dr John Nonggorr said in September 2007 when commenting on PNG’s ranking in the Transparency International Corruption Index , which fell by 13 places. Dr Nonggorr said the implications of widespread corruption domestically must not be underestimated. He said it had serious consequences for governments, governance and the continued functioning of a State. Dr Nonggorr said that with basic public services such as schools, hospitals, roads and bridges in a deplorable state throughout the country, the inability of the State to protect public property by preventing corruption, would lead to the loss of respect for the State, its institutions and authority generally. “This would give rise to public disobedience, which may demonstrate itself in public disorder including violence.
The rest of Papua New Guinea has joined the bandwagon; as I have observed a lot of anti-corruption websites or blogs starting to emerge. Papua New Guineans are now in large growing numbers using the social media to their advantage by writing and posting about our country’s worst night mare, corruption epidemic. Also, the editorial or viewpoints columns of our local news papers contain a significant number of letters or views of Papua New Guineans writing everyday about our friend, relative, and wantok – corruption. Papua New Guineans are now starting to wake up from their long sleep to face their tamed monster – describing it as a faceless evil or something worse, whatever they can think, name or describe it.
CORRUPTION A NORM: HOW MUCH HAVE WE BENEFITED?
We have accepted corruption as a norm yet we have admitted it is a problem yet we let it to flourish unattended for the last 37 years of independence. That means everyone in this country must have benefited from it and are better off than other countries. But how much have we benefited?
I am from the highlands where the PNG’s “big men” culture strongly exists. To me I don’t easily accept the fact that these big men or chiefs have been subjecting the future of our beautiful country to ransom. I find it extremely impossible to understand why Papua New Guineans have been tolerating the big men culture letting them getting away unpunished while we have been suffering in a rich country.
Because I don’t drink from the same cup or eat from the same plate with politicians. I don’t share a same wife and children with them. They don’t provide the daily needs of my family. I struggle everyday to provide something on the table for my family from my own hard work and sweat. The fortnight salary I get is simply not enough to rent a house in the city. It cannot even last two weeks. Having three meals a day is still a luxury and a dream.
I see our politicians with bitter sadness and pain. When I see them, I reflect on the many years of suffering I have been enduring in a rich country. I have been blaming them for making our lives difficult, limiting our opportunities, making our systems malfunction, setting back our progresses, creating loopholes for our systems to be manipulated, distorting of our democratic values, depriving and denying us of our basic human rights and trapping millions of our citizens in poverty.
As a result of corruption, the government of Papua New Guinea has neglected our infrastructure – our lifeline to deteriorate over the years, often blaming the public servants for not implementing government policies.
The daily local newspapers continue to reveal the breakdown of law and order with escalating in violent crimes that often scares foreign investors and tourists away and out of the country. Papua New Guinea is regarded as one of the high risk countries in the world to do business or to visit.
In cities and towns, squatter settlements are quickly developing, becoming a breeding grounds for street ‘mangis’ (boys) who eventually found themselves on the streets searching for opportunities to survive – they simply don’t care if taking another person’s life is a crime or a crime commit to survive. Far worse, there is total no control over the influx of illegal Asian immigrants into the country, taking away business and employment opportunities from the locals. Worse still, there is a stiff rise in the smuggling of cheap low-quality counterfeit goods by Asians into the country, invading government tax systems and feeding our people with rubbish and rob our off our hard earned Kina. The number of illegal businesses (brothels, pornographic movies and gambling) conducted by Asians has dramatically increased over the years, undermining the rule of the law.
These are painful, deep problems that quick fixes will not solve them. But we cannot let it unaddressed only to haunt our future or that of our children’s or their children. There should be a way out and I will discuss this bellow in the final session of my discussion.
IS THERE A WAY FORWARD?
Yes there is a way forward. The big men culture is neither our destiny nor our future. We cannot deny ourselves of a better life and pretend that corruption is a norm. Every Papua New Guinea must be on equal footing with our political leaders and play on a same level playing field. There are no two sets of laws in this country. There is only one constitution for every citizen in the country regardless of creed, race, ethnicity, religious background or political affiliations.
We cannot let big men ruin and deprive our future because we don’t eat from the same cup, eat from the same plate or sleep on the same bed. Everyone should be given and should have equal opportunity to excel in life as one desires. This country and everyone who occupies it from time to time should rise above their full potential.
We are not going to and shall not continue to suffer in a very rich country where we should be better off than other countries that are not rich as our country. Nor we cannot to walk under the shadows of the so called PNG’s “big men” culture. This is not our future and our destiny.
I don’t want my children to go through the suffering that I am going through every day in this rich country. I don’t want to live and die leaving behind a future that is uncertain for my children. When I know that I have the opportunity to at least achieve a change for this country – I don’t want to die without trying it.
The time is now to start act to stop corruption. To stop corruption we must rise above our own fears and doubts. We must defeat our confessions of “big men” culture and reject it. We must trade our greed, selfishness, bribery and wantok system cultures and adopt caring, giving, protecting and defending cultures. Remember, our ability to extract our natural resources to sustain our future will not be achieved without consequences. One day our ability to extract more of these resources will be questioned as our country is struggling to maintain a delicate balance between our increasing demands and natural laws which will eventually come into play and halt our ability to extract more of these resources.
It’s about time we need to write a bible about corruption in Papua New Guinea. Let’s preach our corruption bible in every corner of Papua New Guinea exposing the people who have been stealing and how much they have been stealing from the national wealth. We expose how much they have before becoming politicians or public office holders and how much they have amassed after becoming a public servant. If we can expose corruption to every Papua New Guinean, I believe they will accept it as a message of hope because 99 percent of the populations are not aware of the corruption problem. They are not aware of what we have been writing and discussing on every social networking sites and blogs. None one in this country has committed his life to preach the gospel of anti-corruption.
Yes this is the ONLY way forward. If you truly believe in this country and have been thinking that this country should be on its way progressing and advancing to achieve the status of a developed country in less than hundred years but is not because of the corruption, please do not hesitate to join me. I have lived in this country long enough to know exactly what has been going on. I also know a way forward for PNG to be a country free of corruption but full of patriots who will bet their lives for this country and want to achieve greater and extra ordinary things.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook : PNG Anti Corruption Movement.
Prime Minister O’Neil holds himself out as a moderniser, a leader who plans to centralise and utilise the nation’s vast natural wealth, to build the pillars of a strong, independent national economy, i.e. education, health, roads, transport, infrastructure, industry, technology, law and order. His critics, mostly foreign, stare incredulously at the O’Neill government, as their sweetheart deals dry up.
Yet anyone who has taken the time to seriously glance northwards would know that those nations who have broken with neoliberal dictates, by implementing a strong state-led development model, that focuses on fostering national industries, are the only countries who have successfully broken the cycle of dependency and poverty. To its credit the O’Neill government stands tall as arguably the first government in PNG willing to give this a serious go; his predecessors have proven all too willing to drink the foreign advisers’ coolaid, while at the same time lining their pockets through corruption and backroom deals.
But serious challenges remain. In particular, the PNG state bears the scars of dependency; a despondent civil service, all too prepared to take brown paper bags full of money – to be fair, with sky rocketing inflation this has become something of a necessity for PNG’s emerging middle class – and a political elite so consumed with frauds and scams, they have sign away the family silver to foreign multinationals for bargain basement prices.
O’Neill must stare down this reality, and combat it with all the resources at his command. One area in which this is particularly vital is roads. Along with telecommunications, utilities and urban planning, a well organised roads networks will be vital to a healthy, independent national economy that benefits not only big capital, but just as importantly – if not more importantly – those millions of small farmers who want to get their goods to market.
Road procurement then is no laughing matter. Accordingly, PNG Exposed has been scrutinising a number of recent contracts awarded to construction companies to build major roads and highways (see Post Courier 12/4/2013 and 18/1/2013). Collectively these awards amount to almost K1 billion. Yes, lets underscore and italicise that figure, K1 billion, it is a sobering amount.
Sadly, following investigation many of the most lucrative contracts have been awarded to companies slammed for corruption, bribery and fraud by the World Bank, Transparency International, the Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee. We outline key cases in the table below.
If the Prime Minister is to earn his reputation as a moderniser, roads procurement is a good a place to start as any. Prime Minister, PNG Exposed asks, why is a major artery of PNG’s economic health, being clogged up with contractors who the World Bank won’t touch?
Seizing back control of PNG’s mineral wealth is only one pillar for a truly independent PNG, it is absolutely vital every one of those dollars wrestled from foreign interests is used wisely, prudently and transparently, to fund the critical infrastructure future generations will need to make PNG the great nation it can be.
|Company||PNG Contract||Corruption Allegations|
|China Harbour Engineering Company PNG Ltd||K318 million for 18.7 km of road.(K196,000,000 – Gerehu, Hanuabada and K122,000,000 – Gerehu, Nine Mile).||China Harbour Engineering Company’s parent company, and all its subsidiaries (including its PNG subsidiaries), have been blacklisted until 12/1/2017 by the World Bank for all contracts related to roads and bridges, owing to “fraudulent practices” (Source: World Bank 2011).The courts in Bangladesh found that China Harbour Engineering Company paid bribes to the son of the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, who was then sentenced to six years in prison. (Source: The Hindu 2011)
In 2012 an Audit was conducted by the Jamaican government into two major infrastructure projects, one of which was awarded to China Harbour Engineering Company. The Minister for Transport, Works and Housing claimed, “The report from the forensic auditor has unearthed wanton disregard for the conventions and procedures established by the Government of Jamaica for project implementation, administration and management. These breaches of existing procurement guidelines have drained precious budgetary resources and undermined the very foundation of public institutional integrity” (Source: Caribbean Analysis 2012).
China Habour Engineering Company negotiated with the Cayman Islands Premier to build and run a major port facility. This deal was stopped, when the UK government blew the whistle over the procurement arrangements. Later it was revealed the process had been fast tracked by the Premier, in violation of legal process (Source: CayCompass 2013).
|Global Constructions Ltd(Note: Current Works Minister, Francis Awesa, was a Managing Director and major Shareholder at Global Construction Ltd)||K85,000,000 for Gordons Industrial Road Stage 2.||According to Transparency International (TI), in 2001/2002, the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) appointed one of its ‘cronies’ CEO of the National Capital District (NCD). TI then note, “The later awarding of a contract to expand the city’s road system to a Global Construction company (GC) immediately after the appointment of the PDM-sponsored CEO, Mr. Kipit, raised several implications, including that of manipulation of the tendering procedures. GC had experience only in the Southern Highlands province and had little exposure to civil engineering in urban cities like Port Moresby. There were also established companies like Curtin Brothers and Barclay Brothers, who had wealth of experience of civil engineering in PNG, but were overlooked for the construction job in the city. GC is also a company rumoured to have substantial share ownership among some members of the ruling PDM party” (Transparency International 2003).In 2002 the Public Accounts Committee found that a NCD road contract bid by Global Constructions Ltd was altered by an NCD official, so Global Construction’s quote was cheaper than its rivals. (Post Courier, 25/10/2002)
It is alleged that Global Constructions was given a K10 million contract in breach of the Public Finance Management Act. (Source: Post Courier 2012)
Global Construction has also been subject to criticism in social media forums, see here.
|Paga Hill Development Company(Note: Former Deputy Prime Minister, Michael Nali, is a shareholder in this company)||Amount unknown, Paga Hill Ring Road||Paga Hill Developent Company’s Chairman and Secretary, Gudmundur Fridriksson, is alleged by the Public Accounts Committee to have acquired a 13.7 hectare plot of land at Paga Hill through “corrupt dealings”. His other company CCS Anvil has been slammed in 2 Auditor General reports and 3 Public Account Committee reports. The most serious accusation involves the alleged theft of K2 million from deceased estates when working for PNG’s Public Curator’s Office. (Source: International State Crime Initiative 2012)|
From Radio New Zealand
Conflicting accounts continue to come in about the controversial recent visit to Papua New Guinea by two Vanuatu diplomatic representatives and the country’s Foreign Minister.
PNG police and customs officials detained the passports of diplomatic representatives Pascal Anh Quan Saken and his brother Charles Henry Saken after the private jet they flew in arrived without proper clearance.
Mr Saken is the owner of the super yacht Phocea which was detained in Vanuatu in July, originally on suspicion of guns and drugs smuggling, and remains seized by the Ports Authority because it has forged documents.
Johnny Blades reports that the Phocea scandal, which continues to implicate members of Vanuatu’s Sato Kilman-led government, has also embroiled PNG’s top leadership.
Vanuatu’s government has been tight-lipped about the PNG liaison between its Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot and the two Sakens, saying it had no knowledge of their meeting.
However shortly before the chartered Boeing 737 travelled to Port Moresby’s Jackson airport, PNG officials received unusual correspondence from Vanuatu’s Ambassador to the European Union in Brussels requesting clearance for the Sakens who would be meeting Mr Carlot.
PNG Police became suspicious when the brothers, of Vietnamese ethnicity, disembarked with two large sacks, saying they would personally clean the plane.
PNG aviation authorities denied a request for crew of the 737 to sleep on board during its stopover, something which Pascal Anh Quan Saken has defended:
“The engineer and the captain wanted to stay on board because we had some technical problem, and we were not sure that in PNG we could have some assistance. And actually the sacks on board was only garbage – the handling ground staff at PNG’s airport knows about it.”
However, PNG officials decided to detain the Sakens’ passports as well as that of Mr Carlot who had also arrived in Port Moresby.
PNG’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says the authorities had reason to believe these people had questionable backgrounds, requiring a check.
He says the jet departed on Sunday night after an investigation by officials.
“And they concluded that they have not breached any particular laws of our country other than not getting proper clearance for the plane to land in our country. The host country that has given the diplomatic passports to these persons have requested that they be allowed to transfer through our country and of course we have no choice but to comply with that.”
But PNG’s opposition has denounced the government for allowing the Sakens transit through PNG – according to Vanuatu’s Foreign Afairs department Pascal Ahn Quan Saken is wanted by Interpol on charges of drug and arms smuggling.
The opposition leader Belden Namah claims that certain PNG cabinet ministers met the two brothers on board their plane.
But Peter O’Neill says reports in PNG media that he or other ministers met the Sakens are not true.
“Nobody is authorised to meet the people who were under investigation so I’ll be very surprised if any minister or anybody other than the public servants who are carrying out the investigation met with the subjects.”
Peter O’Neill has also rejected claims by Alfred Carlot that he visited PNG at the invitation of the PNG Government.
The Vanuatu Foreign Minister is already implicated in the Phocea affair, having faced criminal charges last year for boarding the Phocea before it received clearance from customs and immigration.
The yacht remains moored in Port Vila, where the Ports Authority has refused to release it despite repeated efforts by the Kilman government to let it go.
The suspended Director of Ports and Harbours, Morris Kaloran, says his recent removal by the government is linked to the super yacht.
“Well, they give me some reasons but I think it’s only a cover-up. The reasons that were given to me for suspension, there is no ground for it. But the suspension was, I believe, politically motivated.”
Morris Kaloran says the yacht’s registration and crew documentation remain out of order and therefore the owner or owners have a case to answer.
He says the Malta Shipping Registry has confirmed that Maltese registration for the Phocea, which was obtained last year without proof of ownership and other registration requirements, was cancelled this month.
Mr Saken denies the registration is fake and says he is the victim of a conspiracy, both in Vanutau and PNG.
“I’ve been accused of being a gangster, having firearms and drugs on board. Same story for the airplane. Come on, we have to be realistic. If you find a firearm, that is a very, very big allegation… or any illegal substance, you think that for seven months the story will last? No. It would be in court, we would be prosecuted for a very serious offence. There’s nothing of that.”
Mr Saken, who says he is the Deputy Head of Vanuatu’s Embassy in Belgium, insists his work as a diplomatic representative focussing on energy projects took him to PNG.
He says he went there to talk to the US ambassador.
“And the reason why we went to PNG is because Minister Alfred Carlot was so impressed by our work that I have done in Belgium that he wanted us to go to the USA to implement the same programme. So that’s the reason why we came to PNG – because the only place for a Vanuatu citizen to get a visa for the USA is PNG.”
However his claims to have been in touch with the US Embassy come as a surprise to the embassy.
Its spokesman Regis Prevot has also denied claims from Alfred Carlot’s camp that he went to meet the ambassador.
“Most of the thing here was about the Foreign Minister coming, meeting with the US Ambassador, and no meeting took place.”Vanuatu’s Opposition leader Edward Natapei says the government is yet to answer his questions about what business Mr Carlot had with the Sakens in PNG.
The office of Vanuatu’s Prime Minister said last year it was revoking Pascal Ahn Quan Saken’s passport but he appears to still possess it, something Mr Natapei says casts the country in a poor light.
“The real concern is that the two brothers were travelling with Vanuatu diplomatic passports. Now there’s a big question about the diplomatic passports of Vanuatu and the credibility of that and our involvement as a country with people like the Sakens who are involved in other crooked deals around the world.”
Pascal Ahn Quan Saken has not been back to Vanuatu since leaving last July before he could be questioned in relation to the yacht .
For a man whose CV claims that he owns a barely known university in Vanuatu, and that he was born on Vanuatu’s main island despite claims by the local Vietnamese community to the contrary, Mr Saken remains an enigma.
He says he may return to PNG next month to complete his unfinished business with the US embassy, something which is sure to raise more questions.
From PNG Mine Watch
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has attacked “false and misleading claims” by a mining company as reported in the Australian Financial Review, the PNG Post-Courier reports.
O’Neill said BHP Billiton needed to get over its “colonial era” mentality, and appreciate that Papua New Guinea was an independent nation.
He said Australia should negotiate with Papua New Guinea in the “same, mature and reasonable way” numerous other Australian resource companies do.
“Instead of seeking the intervention and assistance of the Australian government, the company should negotiate with my government, and me, as Prime Minister,” O’Neill said.
“The article claims that I had blocked the granting or extension of exploration licences because it would not agree with my proposals regarding the determination of the board of PNG Sustainable Development Programme.
“This is totally and utterly false. It is just dishonest,” the prime minister said, according to the Post-Courier.
“BHP Billiton surrendered the licences entirely on its own accord. It did so when it made a decision early last year not to invest in Papua New Guinea – after I had personally invited the company to meet with senior cabinet ministers, including myself, to consider investing in PNG.
“We did everything possible to encourage the company, just as we encourage and assist other major investors all the time. They decided not to take up the offer.
“That occurred before the mid-year elections, and eight or nine months before I made my comments on Professor Ross Garnaut,” he said.
O’Neill said the central issue was not Professor Garnaut and his “inaccurate and ill-informed comments” on why he wanted the issues surrounding the way the board of PNGSDP was appointed to be changed.
“The central issue is this – 11 years ago, BHP Billiton was done an enormous favour by the then PNG government and allowed to exit ownership of the Ok Tedi Mine without accepting any financial or moral, responsibility for the enormous environmental and social damage that occurred in the 20 years it operated the mine,” he said.
“Surely, 11 years on, there can be no reasonable case made out to justify BHP Billiton continuing to exercise effective control over the PNGSDP, and as a consequence, the Ok Tedi Mine itself.
“The claim by BHP Billiton and by Professor Garnaut that I want the PNG government to get its hands on the funds of the PNGSDP is personally offensive. All I have sought, and will continue to seek, is negotiations that can lead to BHP Billiton ending a role that it is not justified to continue to play.
“My position is supported by my government, and I believe by the national Parliament and the people of the Fly River, Western Province,” he said.
O’Neill said BHP Billiton should reflect on the appalling environmental damage that occurred during its management of the Ok Tedi mine, and the terrible consequences for the people of the Fly River area – consequences which continue to be felt today.
“The PNG government of the day decided just over a decade ago to legislate to allow BHP Billiton to walk away from any responsibility for the damage that was caused during its management of the mine.
“That spared the company the massive costs, and international humiliation it faced because it effectively ended compensation claims by landowners and local communities along the Fly River.
“The provisions that allowed the company to effectively control the appointment of the board of the PNGSDP, and therefore continue its influence over Ok Tedi, were generous. There can be no justification for their continuation,” he said.
“The Australian government is well aware of the position of my government. The legislation that effectively let BHP Billiton off the hook is PNG law, not Australian law,” he said.
O’Neill said he rejected the claims in the article that his position was damaging the PNG investment climate.
“This is total nonsense. Last month I addressed 1400 mining, oil and gas leaders, and financiers and analysts, in Sydney, at the annual PNG Mining and Petroleum Conference.
“At that conference, there was strong confidence expressed about PNG as a country in which to invest, and in the range of policies my government has in place, and is committed to, to give investors confidence and certainty.
“The claim that this issue has undermined confidence could not be further from the truth,” O’Neill said.
PROFESSOR GARNAUT HAS LOST THE PLOT!
Sharon Isafe | PNG Mine Watch
Prof Ross Garnaut, perhaps Australia’s most infamous academic-entrepreneur, has lashed out at Prime Minister O’Neill for his expulsion from PNG.
He claims, “My ban was a low point for Australian diplomacy generally, a low point for PNG development, and a low point for Papua New Guinea democracy”.
Without denying the ‘trauma’ Prof Garnaut must feel at his travel ban – though he seems to forget, Australia regularly bans people from entry who fail a character test – I humbly suggest PNG may have had a few lower points than this.
- Does Prof Garnaut remember 1989? Prime Minister Namaliu, now a Director at BCL, sent in the RPNGC and PNGDF to brutalise and murder landowners who opposed the Panguna mine owned by BCL – all with a helping hand from Australia. Could this have been a lower point for democracy, diplomacy and development than Garnaut’s travel ban?
- What about 1984, this was the year Ok Tedi began producing one of the worst environmental catastrophes in the world, that will be felt for hundreds of years to come by people along the Fly River. Could this possibly be a lower point for democracy and development than Garnaut’s travel ban?
- Or what about PNG LNG? By the government’s own account the agreement with Exxon was rushed through without proper consultation. Now we are lumbered with a massive gas project, run by a company with alleged links to serious crimes against humanity in places like Indonesia, who are employing mobile squads to repress landowner dissent in the Highlands. Could this be a lower point for democracy and development in PNG than Garnaut’s travel ban?
For a corporate high flyer like Prof Garnaut I suspect the answer to all three questions is NO. How could the flagrant violation of the right to life, environment and culture, for hundreds of thousands of Papua New Guineans ever compare in gravity with a modest violation of one corporate executive’s right to exploit.
Elite hubris at its very best!