Home > Corruption, Human rights, Land, Papua New Guinea > Is Paga Hill developer Fridriksson being given a hard time?

Is Paga Hill developer Fridriksson being given a hard time?

October 22, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Kristian Lasslett | International State Crime Initiative

Police open fire on unarmed civilians during Paga Hill forced evictions – see larger image below

Some people feel the international media is treating Gummi Fridriksson unfairly over his involvement in the Paga Hill forced evictions in Port Moresby and various other alleged corruption scandals in PNG. For example, see Bonip Panuta’s response to Natasha Robinson’s article in The Australian.

Well let’s have a look at the hard evidence.

Fridriksson’s companies have been censured in two Auditor General reports and four Public Account Committee reports.

Concerned Papua New Guineans should read about Mr Fridriksson’s company CCS Anvil.

PNG’s Auditor General and Public Accounts Committee, allege that when improperly contracted by the Public Curator’s Office (the PCO administers deceased estates) “Anvil …withheld a significant amount of monies it has received from the proceeds of the realisation of assets of deceased estates, including sale of properties, shares and investment and rent…The AGO can find no evidence that any money realised by Anvil on behalf of estates has been paid into the Estate Trust Account”.

You can read their findings here: http://statecrime.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Appendix-G.pdf

Police pointing guns at unarmed civilians during the Paga Hill evictions – see larger image below

Of course, many people in Papua New Guinea also remember another one of Mr Fridriksson’s ventures, the Destination PNG book. Sean Dorney provided some interesting coverage.

Now with respect to the other points raised by those defending Mr Fridriksson.

1. “The rights of ‘Illegal’ settlers versus the rights of legal owners”: The Public Accounts Committee suggest PHDC’s lease over Paga Hill was acquired through “corrupt dealings”. You can read about it here: http://statecrime.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Appendix-H.pdf  . Moreover, we should also keep in mind that many of the properties demolished were on Section 26 Lots 16-20: http://statecrime.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Appendix-A.pdf  PHDC do not own this land.

2. “Human rights abuse” versus the need to uphold the law: Police certainly should enforce the law. No one denies that. But using live ammunition on unarmed civilians, cutting young men with machetes, and punching women, this was not proportionate or warranted. Nor should they have moved in on a community when their case was before the National Court.

3. “Development and progress versus the rights of ‘illegal’ squatters” The people at Paga Hill have been there since the 1960s. They were given permission to live there by the traditional landowners, who deny having alienated the land to the state. It is a complex situation. See: http://statecrime.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Appendix-I.pdf . I am sorry to hear some landowners in Port Moresby have had their land damaged by gamblers and blackmarket alcohol sales (see Bonip Panuta response). Paga Hill is nothing like this. 54% of the working population are employed in the formal economy, while 45% work in the informal economy, like many Papua New Guineans.

Of course, some people seem confident that PHDC will achieve great things. Fair enough. Indeed, the developer told the public Hilton Hotels were going to help run the proposed 5-star hotel (see their 20/4/12 press release). Sadly, it is not true: http://www.rnzi.com/pages/news.php?op=read&id=69568

Finally, you might ask, if all this evidence exists why is Mr Fridriksson still a member of such prestigious organisations like the PNG Institute of Directors (see his CV here)? Well, according to the PNG Institute of Directors’ Executive Officer, “we have never heard or come across anyone of that name”. You can consult their membership list here.

It is always wise to verify claims, before accepting them.

People can read the International State Crime Initiative’s report on the forced eviction here: http://statecrime.org/online_article/the-demolition-of-paga-hill-a-report-by-the-international-state-crime-initiative/

Police open fire on unarmed civilians during Paga Hill forced evictions

Police pointing guns at unarmed civilians during the Paga Hill evictions

Paga Hill evictions

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  1. ToPam
    October 23, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Gummi Fridriksson has been the centre of the contraversial Paga Hill saga. How come we are giving such people special treatment and disadvantaging the people of this land. His is just another investor (with a laden brief case with the popular K50s), to bribe our politicians for their own benefit, and belittling our people.

    The treatment by policemen on settlers, who have dwelled in that area for the last 40 years or more is uncalled for. How much did Mr. Fridriksson paid these policemen? Maybe a lousy K500. What a shame.

    This are very people (Fridriksson) who will ruin this country and will not be surprised we will become beggars in our own land.

  2. Bonip Panuta
    October 26, 2012 at 10:12 am

    I find this statement by Dr Lasset irresponsible and totally unfair to PNG and especially the PNG Police: “Police certainly should enforce the law. No one denies that. But using live ammunition on unarmed civilians, cutting young men with machetes, and punching women, this was not proportionate or warranted. Nor should they have moved in on a community when their case was before the National Court.” From what I read in the media no live ammunition was used on people. And police were most certainly not harmed with machetes. Did police actually cut young men with machetes during the eviction? Were women punched? Not that I read in the media. Perhaps the police can comment on this. But for me it appears Dr Lasset is distorting, sensationalizing facts and eventing making up stories to suit whatever agenda he has. And in the process he is pushing PNG into the mud. This issue may well contribut towards your academic papers but adds to unfairly tarnish png’s image. Thanks.

  3. Kris
    October 27, 2012 at 12:43 am

    Here is recorded testimony from a young Paga resident assaulted by police: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=jtfUE429vrg

    Here is recorded testimony from a Paga mother: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=oDyZgtBftfM

    And here are more interviews recorded with residents following the demolition: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiyNkCo9Wtw

    I suggest Bonip you do a little more research before accusing people of “making up stories”.

    And just for the record, PNG is an amazing country, nowhere else in the world have I been treated with such hospitality and kindness. This sad saga may reflect badly on certain RPNGC officers and the developer, but it speaks volumes about the strength, courage and resilience of everyday Papua New Guineans.

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