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Archive for February, 2013

Unitech Saga

February 26, 2013 8 comments

Livingstone Hosea SRC President Unitech 2013

Dear Fellow Citizens, Expats, Bureaucrats and Professionals,

I feel urged and justified that you as tax payers and sponsors of Students in Papua New Guinea University of Technology deserves the right and are entitled to know the story of what is happening to the institution where your children are attending and or will be attending after their high school and secondary education. I believe that equality and transparency to information dissemination is what every stake holder by law deserves a right to. The media has been flooded by a few individuals who are of interest to this institution. I quote from the Mediation Team Report that OHE commissioned a four-member Mediation Team, namely;

  • Mr. Daniel Kapi (Team Chairman) – retired Senior Civil Servant and former Deputy Chairman of the National Strategic Plan Taskforce that produced the PNG Vision 2050 and a respectable community leader.
  • Dr. Henry Okole- Senior Research Fellow in governance and institutional matters at the National Research Institute.  He is also an advisor to the Provincial and Local-level Government Programme (PLGP) under the Coffey International.  He was a member of the teaching staff at the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) from 1993 to 2004, and he served as the Chief of Cabinet of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States in Brussels from 2005 to mid-2010.
  • Mr. Andrew Kwimberi – Senior Lawyer and private practitioner who specializes in conflict mediation and other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).  He has been integral to the ADR programme in PNG for last few years under the leadership of Justice Ambeng Kandakasi who is the chairman of the Judicial Committee on ADR.
  • Mr. Jerry Wemin – President of the PNG Human Resource Institute, former CEO and Registrar under the Engineering Act, of the Institution of Engineers PNG, former senior executive of the Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation, Member of the UPNG Council, Company Director, senior lecturer at the University of Papua New Guinea, and  business consultant.

These men are of high repute and solid integrity and as such I respect and consider their recommendation commendable and mature. Their findings are sufficient to indicate and uphold the integrity of their work. Following is one of the statements that they have made and I quote;

“it is already evident that he (Dr. Schram) walked into a Pre-existing minefield of poor governance and bad administration practices.”

There was sufficient information obtained from the Mediation exercise to suggest that there were fraudulent and criminal practices that took place over the years.  An Investigation Team – ideally to be led by the Department of Finance – must be immediately commissioned to follow up on the allegations given its wider repercussions to an important state asset and its core place in the welfare of Papua New Guinea;

I feel urged and justified that our general public and ordinary citizens deserves an equal opportunity and a right to the press to know the substantive truth of issues that are affecting the nation.

I feel justified to voice and say that the our Prime Minister was misinformed and he made the statement that was published on page 2 Post Courier dated 20th February, that reports were received that the University students have staged a protest demanding the return of Dr. Schram.” This is a major flaw and mistake, time and again when the First Secretary for Minister for Higher Education Science and Technology called me I told him that the students are attending classes and there is no disruption whatsoever and if you are hearing rumors these are mere speculations.

The students voted me to be there Student leader and I see it unnecessary to start on a negative note. A protest was what everyone expected after Dr. Schram was treated in such an “unfair and unjustified” manner at the International Airport. There was no documentation but was told by immigration officials that the Prime Minister black-listed him. He was not even allowed to say good bye to his wife. I understand the process to be that hard documents must be processed to effect such an action. Verbal provision was an abuse of process.

After this incident it was expected that the students will boycott class right after registration but it never happened. I would like to demonstrate a different student leadership, the University students will not protest unnecessarily when it is not right to. I as a student leader saw that the students’ priority is learning. Bringing Dr. Schram back is necessary because for effective learning to take place someone must lead and be the pillar of quality education. Without a father, there are no children, without are leader, there are no people, without a Vice Chancellor there are no Students and staff. We have an Acting Vice Chancellor and that means that the Vice Chancellor needs to be present.

I decided to engage in a diplomatic dialogue to find the right avenues to resolve this matter. I am only requesting for his return that he clear his name. If Dr. Schram’s papers and degrees are fraudulent per claimed by a “31 page document” then he can be subjected to the Laws of this Land. The students are not supporting a man, we support the transparent and accountable attitude that this man Dr. Schram possess.    An agent of change and a hope inspirer, a person with so unique and rare administrative ability, he has achieved so much in a span of one year in this University and I believe that if he stays for a year or two he will prove his critics wrong.

I wish to set the records right, the students have set their priorities right. We never protested from day one and we will not. We are not even interfering in Administrative matters. We as major clients to the University are asking for what we feel we rightfully deserve. We are not asking for anything that is outside of our perimeters of benefit. We always wanted better lecturers, messing facilities, dormitories, a Unitech Environment, Internet and better books in the Matheson Library. Dr. Schram has proven that he can economize with Limited budget to provide most of the needed services to the University.

This country and University needs man of such caliber and ability. Men who will contribute and mentor us to be change makers in a country that is yearning for positive change and Prosperous PNG, men who will give us nets and teach us how to fish for ourselves and not give us fish. It’s about time that Papuan New Guineans carry their own country, but before we do that we need preparation and that preparation is now being facilitated by Dr. Albert Schram as Vice Chancellor.

We need to think ten to fifteen years ahead. I am doing my final year in Civil Engineering and I will be out of UNITECH by next, if I was selfish and if I had thought too much about myself I would have just said everything is good and fine. However, I am and any logical and thinking citizen would agree with me and say that yes we have a problem. When Jr. Martin Luther King said he had a dream, he only envisioned it. He never lived to see his dream but he knew that dream would one day change the lives of his children and the future generation. Today, the black men and the white men go to the same school, ride on the same train and play baseball in the same clubs. If he hadn’t had a dream as such, discrimination and the black and white segregation would be a problem still today.

If we don’t fix our problems today, we will not be able to compete globally, we will still be called papers Engineers etc….This is our country and we deserve to run it and take care of it ourselves. If we are not very careful and if we continue to keep quiet and allow an individual few with vested interest to run it, we will be sold to the dogs. When will Papua New Guineans Reclaim their original identity?

“When good men do nothing Evil Prevails,” could we please save our Country and that needs to start from our Educational Institutions. You talk about gold, silver, gas or copra all these will become products only with an educated society. This is priority order and not crisis.

We need man to fight corruption. We need to start somewhere and I believe that if we can mentor University students to be accountable and transparent they will take it to their work place and it will be cultured in them. This will prospect a bright future for our country; such an exercise is called “VISION”. That is the way forward to accomplish and establish the vision 2050. We need men who can mentor and really contribute not Kina Suckers!!!

I quote “Education is key driver for achievement of Government’s Vision 2050. Tertiary institutions play a key role in national development and international competitiveness. Therefore it is critically important to the wellbeing of Papua New Guinea and the people that education as a service is properly integrated.  The outcome of skills and expertise, once inculcated into society, is essential for state building and national development over the long term.”

Additionally, the fact that the national government annually commits public funds to national institutions such as the UNITECH demands accountable and transparent processes in ways that would show proper use (and therefore expected outcomes) and acquittal of public monies.”(Mediation Report, 28th Nov 2012)

We talk about human capacity building and strongly being passionate about human intellect, these all will be only ideas if we don’t fix UNITECH, UPNG etc. I believe the very last learning institution is the University and if we don’t care about it then which mechanism is the brain and future of this country? Where are we heading?

The pillars of change are rare and few and Dr. Schram is one. History time and again repeatedly tells us that individuals have changed the course of history. Mahatma Gandhi, Jr. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela have taken a bold stand and have shaken the world. We need to have a leader; an individual that gives you hope and the one that keeps you going even when all seems to fail.

There is no legitimate hard evidence or paper in the Unitech Registry regarding Dr. Schram’s termination; most of the decisions are pending the Supreme Court appeal. On the contrary, the former Council was dissolved by NEC and an Interim Council was in place led by Prominent PNG Citizen Sir Nagora Bogan. The interim Council per recommendations;

  • An interim Council, should one be created, must review rules and procedures for the operations of the University Council.  It is strongly recommended here the terms of Chancellor and VC must be limited to two terms if served consecutively;
  • The recent appointment process of the new VC – for one reason or another – is shrouded in mystery.  Apart from a few ‘straight shooting’ academics, it is a topic that not many people really want to talk about.  A closer probe is worthwhile and it might reveal Council’s incompetence and lethargic handling of this important matter/process.  Conflicting information obtained from the mediation process seem to suggest the appointment process was botched.  This happens to be the very issue that triggered off much of the episodic convulsions since the new VC took office in February 2012.  As part of the Terms of Reference for the proposed Investigation Team, the appointment process of the current VC must be revisited;

Per the latter recommendation the Interim Council Revisited the appointment process and saw in their Wisdom logical and reasonable to re-appoint Dr. Schram’s position as VC for two terms (six years). The Minister for HERST was there at Parliament House when he was re-appointed.

Regardless, court battles continued to go on, which then got the attention of the Prime Minister who came to Unitech in January 14th to intervene in this Unitech Saga. The PM’s ruling was clear, two months suspension of VC Dr. Schram on full pay, (This means that he is an employee of the University) to allow for the  investigation and as such, every court case and any proceedings that will disrupt the Sevua Inquiry must be dropped. However, when Dr. Schram flew back into the country in February 8th 2013, he was deported to Australia. This was a breach of the TOR by Prime Minister in the January 14th closed door meeting in the council room. Minister Arore who was part of that closed door meeting with the Prime Minister in PNG University of Technology was there to see Dr. Schram being deported. The integrity of the Decision of the PM was not protected.

Initially, it was said and reported that Dr. Schram was 1deported, after being asked in Parliament by Jiwaka Governor it was stated that Dr. Schram 2doesn’t possess any work permit. There is inconsistency and flaw in the two statements, what is the truth tell the country and tell the students?

We the students would like to request the Prime Minister & the Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister to allow Dr. Schram come to PNG using his work permit, which we believe that in the Foreign Affairs and Immigration Ministry, there was no proper documentation to revoke and cancel his Work Permit and if now the system is revisited a major flaw will be discovered and or Dr. Schram work permit is still valid.

Let Dr. Schram clear his name, if he has fabricated his papers per the allegation then PNG Laws will apply to him? The Students and Staff will respect the integrity of the Law.

The WAY FORWARD

1.    Dr. Schram legally is still an employee of the university; the decision of council members of 8th of November is under revision by the Supreme Court.

2.    Baseless allegations in Lae and POM made by Saulep needs to be dropped to protect the integrity of the PM’s decision in January 2013.

3.    Consultation on the ToR for the inquiry need to take place with Chancellor, Sir Nagora Bogan.

Furthermore, we invite anyone to do a quick Google on Dr. Schram’s or see the cover page of his book at (http://www.albertschram.org/CUP/svg/page0001.xhtml), and find His book on railways in Italy on Amazon.com. In it he refers to his thesis in the acknowledgements and in the bibliography on page 183.

You can also find the scholarly review of his book by the two well-known Universities on-line.

His qualification was the subject of debate and I know that those who are interested are not doing enough research. Find out more and advice.

As per one of the other recommendations, I again quote;

“Students should not interpret this to mean that the VC is to be blamed for everything that has transpired (it is already evident that he walked into a pre-existing minefield of poor governance and bad administration practices).”

Senior statesmen have already done findings that is sufficient to question the credibility of the Stagg Council, now what else do we want?

The truth will still prevail, it might take long but still it will prevail.

Categories: Corruption, Papua New Guinea Tags:

Military expansion to guard foreign corporations not protect PNG citizens

February 20, 2013 3 comments

From PNG Mine Watch

Analysis and commentary on the Papua New Guinea government’s plan for a five-fold increase in the size of its military force has painstakingly ignored the obvious.

The increase in military personnel from the current 2,000 to around 10,000 is not a move designed to increase security along PNG’s border with Indonesia, nor to deal with international people smuggling and drug trafficking.

The move to increase the size of the military has everything to do with guarding the huge operations of foreign corporations like Exxon-Mobil and MCC. These companies operations are coming under increasing pressure from dissatisfied local communities as they realize the promised material benefits are not going to arrive and instead they must bear the social and environmental costs while vast profits are shipped overseas.

Already this week, the government had approved the call out of the PNG military for an initial 12 months deployment to protect the interests of US based Exxon-Mobil. The troops will be deployed all the Highlands Highway, the only transport corridor leading to the LNG sites, to provide protection for Exxon’s truck convoys.

This is not the first time Exxon has called on the PNG government for military assistance. A number of para-military police mobile squads, notorious for their ill-discipline and brutal tactics, are on almost permanent deployment around the LNG sites providing protection alongside Exxon’s own private security contractors – mainly from G4S.

Meanwhile, MCC, the Chinese operator of the controversial Ramu nickel mine, is becoming increasingly nervous about community unrest as it moves into full production. As well as anger at the dumping of toxic waste just 150m off-shore along the Madang coastline, inland communities are increasingly frustrated about the environmental impacts of the mining operation itself and the failure of MCC to properly relocate displaced families.

The new Yandera mine, also to be built by a Chinese company, China Non Ferrous Industries, and the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone are seen as other potential flash points for community anger directed at foreign corporations.

PNG plans military build-up, but why?

February 16, 2013 3 comments

By Donald Gumbis in The Interpreter

Donald Gumbis is a Lecturer in political science at the University of Goroka and an intern at the Lowy Institute.

Papua New Guinea’s Defence Minister Dr Fabian Pok has announced that PNG plans to build up its military capacity from around 2000 personnel to 10,000.

While it is hardly unusual for fast-growing resource-rich countries to increase military spending as their national ambitions expand, Papua New Guinea has yet to address very significant development challenges in basic health and education. Increased spending on the military in such circumstances must therefore be questioned.

Why does Papua New Guinea need a larger military capacity? One factor in the Government’s consideration could be the land border with Indonesia. The border skirmishes between the traditional people of PNG’s Sandaun Province and Indonesian military spotlight the PNG Government’s inattention to border issues. These issues pose a test for the Treaty of Mutual Respect, Friendship and Cooperation PNG has with Indonesia.

In a Radio Australia interview, former PNGDF Commander General Jerry Singirok noted key issues of concern with the announcement. He said there was no PNGDF White Paper to guide this proposed expansion, the PNG Government has never prioritised defence spending and there would be a substantial cost involved in rebuilding a downsized force.

The ongoing retrenchment exercise of close to 2000 personnel, which began in 1999, is a difficult issue that the Defence Department is still not adequately addressing. Further to that, there are challenges for the PNGDF to raise its performance level and the security of its weaponry. The recent mutiny case, insubordination and misconduct of soldiers all undermine the ministerial statement.

Policy announcements have tended to be more frequent than policy implementation in Papua New Guinea. But if this announcement reflects a serious intention by the PNG Government, it warrants more discussion.

Australia and O’Neill dragging PNG into an international sewer

February 4, 2013 2 comments

Why is Our Prime Minister souring our international reputation and tarnishing all Papua New Guinean’s by aiding Australia with its RACIST, ILLEGAL and INHUMANE refugee policies?

Minister urged to halt refugee transfers to PNG

Michael Gordon | Newcastle Herald

A SCATHING report on conditions on Manus Island has urged incoming Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor to stop sending asylum seekers to the remote Papua New Guinea site until sweeping recommendations are considered.

The report by the United Nations refugee agency accuses the Australian and PNG governments of being in breach of international treaty obligations and expresses particular alarm at the plight of children in the facility. Its release coincides with the 10th transfer of asylum seekers to the offshore processing centre, which now holds 254 asylum seekers, 34 of them children.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who visited the centre last week, supported the recommendations, warning of outbreaks of self-harm and riots if conditions are not improved. “They’re being treated like animals at the moment, including the children,” Senator Hanson-Young told Fairfax Media.

But a spokesman for outgoing minister Chris Bowen defended conditions on the island while committing to “work constructively” with the agency, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

”It should be recognised that UNHCR has a long-standing position of opposition to offshore processing that goes back to the time of the previous government,” the spokesman said, describing facilities at the centre as “in line with the living standards and amenities for local PNG residents on Manus Island”.

The UN report calls for an early start to processing of claims for refugee status “in order to prevent increased levels of psychosocial and physical harm among asylum-seekers in the detention centre”.

More than 20 recommendations include calls for review of pre-transfer assessments in Australia to ensure that vulnerabilities of individuals who may have suffered torture or trauma are considered.

It says no further transfers of children should occur until “appropriate legal and administrative safeguards” are in place, including their placement in an open centre, as opposed to “the current environment of detention”.

“Asylum seekers are distressed and confused about their situation. They are in closed detention, without a process in sight. They feel they have been forgotten,” said the UNHCR’s regional representative, Richard Towle.

The report, to be released in Canberra on Monday, follows a visit by a three-member team from the UN agency from January 15 to 17. Senator Hanson-Young, who was forbidden from taking photographs inside the facility on her visit, said the lack of privacy for single men was reflected in the absence of doors on toilets. “There is just no trust at all in the system,” she said, saying asylum seekers told her they had no warning they were being sent to the island.

Mr Towle said the hot and humid weather on Manus made the temporary accommodation very uncomfortable. “Due to heavy rain at the time of UNHCR’s visit, some areas were extremely muddy and in some places there were large amounts of standing water,” he said.

Both the UN agency and the senator expressed alarm that children and family groups were not kept completely separately from the single men.

A department spokesman said the selection of the latest group of 19 Iranian and Iraqi single men was based on operational considerations and an assessment of their particular circumstances.