By Peter Rongotha
The name Rimbunan Hijau means Evergreen Forest in the Malay language. That in itself speaks for how cynical the Malaysian based company under the Tiong family is. They rip forests apart, devastate the environment and destroy cultures. They get people, like all companies of their ilk, to believe this is development and they laugh all the way to the bank.
And when every tree is destroyed in PNG and every piece of ground they have invaded no longer productive – they will leave and what will they leave?
RH doesn’t give a damn about you and I – they are not here to help us “develop”. They are here to make money – and lots of it -and they will do anything they can to make sure that bottom line of profit is big. They will lie, bribe, import cheap labor, set up false companies, use force – doesn’t matter they are here for RH – that’s it. Now just for the record RH is just like most big soul less companies, They are certainly not the only ones. This we know.
But we focus on the them because they run PNG, they own it. They can do what they want – and they have been. They’ll have to give in a bit with the Chinese coming in, but they’ve worked out a way to exploit the land, resources and people together.
The thing that is most sad to me is how they exploit local people – lying to them, bullying them and actually getting locals to think they are “bringing development”. When are people in positions of responsibility going to stop this total abuse of our people not only stripping them of their land and resources but human dignity as well.
The recent farce up in Pomio highlights all the issues to which I speak. As in any community there are different views on issues. Pomio is no different. Some people support the logging and oil palm, some do not. The actions of RH in Pomio are unauthorised – both logging and the oil palm. The company involved is called Gilford – just another subsidiary of RH. RH is well aware of its reputation and sets up hundreds of these companies throughout PNG so the public doesn’t know its them and so they can hide the millions they are making from each company.
When the SABL Commission of Inquiry comes up those against these unauthorised invasions of their land they go to testify at the Inquiry. When they return to Pomio RH ONCE AGAIN sends in the thugs to bash them up. I say once again because the treatment of people by the police in the Kamula-Dosa is legendary. To think PNGeans could treat PNGeans this way is heartbreaking. Yet as the stories and evidence came out about Kamula Dosa nothing was done. And so it (the thuggery) works and to the RH mind who cares. This is business. That’s the way the world is – deal with it. Thus they do it again in Pomio.
Enter Greenpeace – a favorite target of RH since Greenpeace has the audacity to call RH out – and gulp! tell the truth about their operations. Greenpeace has also helped RH chief propagandist Alan Oxley, make a lot of money from bashing Greenpeace. Oxley passes himself of as an authority on international trade and is also a “consultant” for RH. His consultancies for RH has been quite lucrative – and mostly consist of trying to bash Greenpeace and NGOs and basically anyone who thinks. Now that NGO line which is the mantra for RH and other large scale industries in PNG goes something like this: NGOs are anti-development – NGO’s don’t bring development -NGOs have their own agenda – NGOs don’t represent anyone and on and on in this vain. Many landowner buy that line – not understanding they are being duped. Even “newsman” Malum Nalu played that card when attempting to defend himself against criticism in his role in supporting the injustice in Pomio.
Greenpeace supports the landowners who are being bullied by RH. The landowners, despite the harassement, still demonstrate on the issue by carrying signs supporting their case. Now in fairness so did the landowners who supported the company. The hilarious, if not shameful, thing was there were Asian employees of RH subsidiary Gilford. Nothing like seeing an Asian face demonstrating against legitimate landowners and holding signs telling them to get out.
Greenpeace was then confronted and threatened by landowners who supported Gilford. RH trucked them in. Most were drunk – and I wonder who supplied the beer? Greenpeace was accused of causing friction among the people. In truth several weeks prior to the arrival of Greenpeace a frustrated Mali village man attacked a Malaysian logger when the logging road trespassed on to Mali customary land without any consultation from the Mali/Baraman landowners. Again typical RH behavior. We’re RH – we don’t have to ask. When this occurred RH sent in the Police Task Force to act ONCE AGAIN on their behalf – and just like in Kamulo Dosa started bashing the local people with tree branches and fan belts and proceeded to lock two Mali men in a shipping container until an agreement was signed that there would be no further violence against Malaysian workers would occur and K1000 was given in compensation.
Makes you feel good to be a PNGean doesn’t it. Our own people beating up our own people on behalf of Asian logging companies. What’s going on people? What has happened? OK the previous generation has let us down – and let us down big time. But can we who have had the privilege, if not luck, to go to university, continue to sit by and let this happen? I am shamed, frustrated and very angry. We must do something. We can’t sit by.
I am not naive about the forces who are running this country. This small article pointed out what they WILL and are DOING. But they must be resisted. We must demand justice! So let’s start on our blogs and chat rooms – let’s talk about it but then lets act. We cannot continue to sit and chat when our whole country is being taken away from us from rapacious companies like Rimbunan Hijau – Evergreen Forest.
By The Critic
What is most disgusting about the Pomio episode is that Papua New Guineans are allowing the Tiongs, perched on their high chairs to throw scraps at us and watch with great amusement as we maul each other to shreds.
Police beatings, attempted assassinations, sexual abuse, discrimination, threats of lawsuits – all part of Rimbunan Hijau’s modus operandi – are perpetuated by Papua New Guineans against their own brothers and sisters. Even the scribes like Malum Nalu who received a few extra change are willing to offer their bodies to be crucified for the Tiongs. How low can we get?
In the Western and Gulf provinces, landowners tell of how members of the Police Southern Region taskforce (all Papua New Guineans, of course) would put the barrels of M16s near RH opponents and fire off a few shots just so they “got the message”. In hushed whispers, their neighbors say: “He got what we deserved. He talked too much.”
Any smart landowner who is brave enough to make a statement in the media is isolated and harassed. Even his family is harassed in their own village. Anyone who stands up to RH is marked like a lamb for slaughter and those who once stood with him are there no longer. We turn our backs on our own and under the cloak of impotence we say: “RH has brought us “development” so let us be thankful.”
From out of Pomio, company pawns in this chess game mouth off Malaysian style propaganda and in the same breath call on the Papua New Guinea Media council to “take action” against ethical breaches by the Post Courier. Others stand proudly with placards declaring their undying love for Rimbunan Hijau as the company uses government instrumentalities to destroy their lives.
How can we allow ourselves to be poked and prodded into an arena where a bunch of Malaysians throw bones on the ground and watch us fight over it?
An insider within Tutumang Development Limited today spilled the beans on how he was used and manipulated by the company to ‘sweet-talk’ landowners into signing the fraudulent land deals involving the SABL on New Hanover.
Councilor of Ward 17 in the Lavongai Local Level Government where the SABL are located, Mr. Kamsal Maraleu told the Commission of Inquiry that he was a major player in what transpired amongst the directors of Tutumang.
He says the company used him because of his status in the community as he can easily influence the people.
Mr. Maraleu is the elder brother of Miskus Maraleu, company lawyer of Tutumang Development Limited, and nephew to the company’s chairman Mr. Peddy Yanis.
Mr. Maraleu says, Tutumang is a Malaysian company, that has been logging under various company names in Kaut, Central New Ireland and Namatanai.
After logging these areas, the company came up with a plan to go to New Hanover because of the island’s vast forest resource.
But realizing the island had a lot of educated elites, they had to hand-pick people that would agree to the project.
They also selected people from the three from the 3 SABL areas of Tabut, Hoombukul, and Central New Hanover and went ahead to select interested clans that will agree.
Mr. Maraleu admitted to the Inquiry that proper procedures were not followed.
He was responsible for lending the machineries on New Hanover and whenever there was opposition from locals, they used the police to ensure they lended the machineries.
He says they never consulted the people, but only certain clan leaders that agreed to the SABL projects.
Mr. Maraleu says he was in the engine room to coordinate the company’s decisions, and the company ensured that he “sweet-talked” the people into signing the land deals without understanding the forms they sign.
Mr. Maraleu broke down in the midst of the Inquiry, bringing tears to the eyes of all the educated elites of New Hanover who were present.
He also admitted that he was a signatory to the deal, that saw the 3 SABL areas of New Hanover portions 885-C, 886-C and 887-C sold to Palmasi for 1-point-6 million US dollars.
The signing was witnessed by the company lawyers.
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,
From The Critic
Dear Prime Minister O’Neill,
How can you stand by and watch as your people are trampled by a marauding giant hell bent on feeding the greed of its Asian masters?
How can you stand by and watch them fight unaided for the land on which their ancestors are buried?
How can you stand by and watch as the policemen clothed and armed by your government beat and torture the very people they are sworn to protect?
How can you do nothing while the policemen are paid by the logging company to intimidate your people?
How can you stand by and watch as your people seek your help yet receive none?
How you stand by and watch as your people seek help from foreigners – not kinsmen – who readily come to their aid?
How can you stand by and watch as a battle for resources is fought in the country you lead and swore to protect?
Have you lost all sense of right and wrong?
Papua New Guinea
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 Paul Oates*
AN EDITORIAL in The National rails against the actions of Greenpeace in the Pomio area of New Britain, as the environmental group sought to obstruct the export of local timber.
By an amazing coincidence, the parent company of the timber company involved in the exporting of local logs and the The National newspaper is … one and the same.
Yep! You’ve got that right. Conflict of interest, what’s that?
The editorial went on to suggest that Greenpeace may be losing its credibility.
Examples of how this may be happening included Greenpeace’s actions in destroying an experimental wheat crop in Australia. It was claimed increased wheat yields might have benefited people currently starving in the Horn of Africa.
No one should condone illegal activities like the destruction of the legally grown wheat crop, irrespective of the reasons offered.
But the editorial then took this a step further – a step too far perhaps – and suggested that, by obstructing the export of Pomio timber, Greenpeace was actually opposing the expansion of the local oil palm industry.
The National claimed that research (exactly who did this research and relevant details were not stated) had shown that Greenpeace’s actions were threatening a K5 billion project that would support 3,000 jobs and 15,000 people’s lives over the next 25 years.
This equation alone suggests an extrapolation on a grand scale.
Exactly where these jobs are located and who would actually benefit from the K5 billion was not detailed.
Perhaps the number of jobs was a lot fewer and them merely the executives of a global conglomerate that is responsible for removing huge amounts of irreplaceable PNG timber resources for a song, in this case to plant oil palm plantations.
Oil palm plantations are notorious in producing nothing for the local people except some minor paid employment to harvest the crop and a vulnerable cash economy.
This pittance soon evaporates at the local trade store to buy food and essentials that were previously obtained from the local forest and land now growing inedible oil palms.
Yet, it is claimed, Greenpeace’s credibility is on the line. Yeah right!
*First published on the PNG Attitude blog