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Archive for March, 2013

Commercial Rezoning of Public Parks in Port Moresby is becoming Scary

March 28, 2013 3 comments

From: The Masalai blog

1A Public Consultation was advertised in the papers earlier this month, see above, for the rezoning of an access way that lies between several large areas of  sporting fields in the Bisini area of Boroko. It appears that some company wants to re-zone this land from a sporting public area to a commercially zoned area. My parents live just around the corner,  so naturally my mother was livid about the situation and went about collecting signatures for a petition for the re-zoning to be stopped. You can see her petition here.

The deadline was yesterday, so we’ll see what happens from here about that re-zoning. So while on this subject this news also popped up on facebook about the Jack Pidik Park being sold to a Supermarket chain. Interestingly none of the major dailies ran this story.

2
On facebook, NCD Governor, Powes Parkop gave some background information on the Jack Pidik Park situation, saying:

“I will give an explanation after this session of Parliament ends. It is a long history but the short of it is that the Park was lost before my time. There is a Supreme Court decision. I have used physical planning powers to deny the title holders from developing it commercially. However the title holders appealed against our decision to Minister for Lands [Benny Alan] as required under the Law and he has upheld their Appeal. This now limits our legal option so only political action can stop it. We have spend over million defending Unagi Oval so I am nit sure I will go down that line considering Supreme Court decision. I have started negotiation with the title holder for a win win outcome. If there are other options too, I will consider them.”

It’s scary that these corrupt acts of stealing public spaces have been going on for so long and worse that even our Governor Parkop can’t fight to save our parks in Port Moresby with the political will of the Government being severely wanting on this issue. As Bernard Sinai asked in a similar blog post, ‘Where Do Our Children Play?’

The need for recreational spaces in cities is not rocket science and you only have to look at a big city like New York to see the cultural and social effects of parks in a city.

3
So the heart of the problem may not only be one of vision and foresight, which most MP’s seem to lack at times, but the fact that the Minister for Lands & Physical Planning, Benny Alan has jurisdiction over land in NCD. This highlights a problem for any Governor in any Province from fully having control over their cities and towns to develop them appropriately according to demands that they can see locally on the ground. If Parkop is going to be forever fighting with Ministers to save our Parks in NCD then we have a serious structural problem here in how Land is administered between two powers with vastly different agendas.

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Call for ICAC bill to be expedited

March 27, 2013 Leave a comment

By ISAAC NICHOLAS

ORO Governor Garry Juffa has called on Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and the government to fast track the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Bill to save costs of expensive Commissions of Inquiry.

“There have been so many inquiries. This is just another example of an inquiry that has cost the country substantial amount of money, in this instance K15 million.”

Governor Juffa said this during debate on a statement by PM O’Neill on the Special Agriculture Business Leases (SADLs) Commission of Inquiry interim report.

Mr Juffa, who is a trained investigator who worked for 16 years with Internal Revenue and Customs, said he had worked in a lot of investigation work.

“As an investigator I can tell you the process of investigation is not as costly as it has been in inquiries that have constantly been conducted and (their reports) tabled (in Parliament),” he said.

“I want to propose that the Bill that is put forward for the establishment of ICAC must be fast-tracked. That organisation can then coordinate such investigations, drawing from the existing resources like the Public Prosecutors Office, Police, Internal Revenue Commission, Customs and others to conduct investigations in a thorough manner,” said Mr Juffa.

Governor Juffa said this would save the people substantial amount of money and these inquiries would produce results in having people responsible brought before the courts, prosecuted and penalised accordingly.

He said from those investigations, recommendations would come out as to how to improve laws to protect the people from further exploitations.

Meanwhile, Kundiawa Gembogl MP, Tobias Kulang, stressed the need to protect the land and the environment for future generations.

“Land is our security. It is our hope for the future. When the extractive industries have exhausted the mineral, petroleum and the gas wealth on our land, what we will be left with is the land,” Mr Kulang said.

“The point is straight forward- our land is not for sale,” he said.

“Papa God lo ting ting blo em taim blo wokim graun em pinis, em nonap wokim wanpla mo graun, mi tokim yu. You can pray and fast, but Papa God nonap wokim wanpla mo graun. (God has created land and he will not create more land. You can pray and fast but God will not create any more land).

“Please do not sell your land and your children’s future,” Mr Kulang pleaded.

Momis urged to remove advisor on Mining law

March 12, 2013 2 comments

By Winterford Toreas – Post Courier

PRESIDENT of the Autonomous Bougainville Government Chief Dr John Momis has been called to immediately remove one of his advisors.

The call was made by the former combatants from Bougainville during a meeting they held in Buka last week.

According to a petition from the former combatants, they want the Dr Momis to immediately remove this advisor (named) within three days from the date this resolution was made.

The petition which was signed by the chairman and vice chairman of the three former combatants associations from North, Central and South Bougainville will be presented to Dr Momis today by the three associations’ representatives in the Bougainville House of Representatives.

The former combatants said the engagement of this advisor, whom they said, was previously removed by the late ABG President Joseph Kabui, was insulting to the integrity of educated Bougainvilleans, the public and most importantly the former combatants who were stakeholders in many outstanding issues like mining and the review of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

The demands contained in this petition include:

  • Particular expatriate advisor to the ABG President and the Bougainville Executive Council in person of (named) be permanently removed from Bougainville within three days from the date of this resolution and further be barred from acting as such advisor to the ABG;
  • That more public awareness be conducted on the development of Bougainville’s mining laws and policies before they are passed by the ABG Parliament;
  • That the ABG Mining Department be given full responsibility to drive the development of Bougainville Mining Laws and Policies without undue foreign influence and;
  • That the three ex-combatants members of the ABG Parliament present this petition to the president.

Although the former combatants have failed to outline in detail their reasons for their demand in the removal of this advisor, it is understood that this decision was reached following misconceptions that many Bougainvilleans have towards this particular advisor.

Will the real Anthony Regan please stand up

March 7, 2013 7 comments

There has been a lot of interest and comment on a recent post about the Australian academic Tony Regan and his role in the drafting of a new mining law for the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

Distilling the various views expressed and evidence adduced, the question seems to be whether Mr Regan is  genuinely an independent academic assiduously assisting the people of Bougainville or whether he is biased in favor of large-scale mining and an apologist for the role of Rio Tinto in the Bougainville war.

ABC journalist Liam Fox seems to be a firm supporter of Mr Regan; posting:

“wondering if you’re aware of Tony Regan’s long, long history of working with Bougainvilleans and that he’s widely admired and respected in Bougainville for that work?”

“… to paint Mr Regan as a stooge of BCL [Bougainville Copper Limited] and /or the Australian government is ridiculous in my opinion”

Of course, Mr Regan wouldn’t be the first Bougainville expert at Australia’s National University (where Regan is based) to work as a ‘stooge’ for the Australian government According to his obituary in The Australian, the respected historian and Bougainville commentator, Jim Griffin while working at ANU was recruited as an analyst by the Office of National Assessments (one of Australia’s key intelligence agencies) for his expertise on PNG and Bougainville in particular. At the same time he was writing papers and articles on the war, advocating Australian military intervention.

Mr Regan also has good reason to make sure he does not upset the Australian government with his views: Regan is currently benefiting under a $600,000 three-year grant from AusAID to study and document the impacts of illegal mining on Bougainville; this is in addition to other lucrative AusAID consultancies he has accrued for his work on Bougainville

And Mr Regan certainly wouldn’t be the first Australian academic, or broadcaster, to display sympathies for the mining industry or other corporate giants with poor records on human rights and the environment (indeed the Australian media and academia are littered with them).

But what does the hard evidence say?

Dr Kristian Lasslett from Ulster University has pointed out a couple of interesting facts:

Firstly on the Bougainville blockade, which most academics and observers agree led to the unnecessary death of thousands of children and pregnant mothers because of the shortages it created in medicines, soap and disinfectant; a situation which has been described as a ‘humanitarian crisis’ and an ’emergency situation’. Regan though saw things very differently. In his evidence to an Australian Senate inquiry he suggested deaths caused by the blockade were offset ‘to a significant degree – or even outweighed – by the improved general health of the population’.

And what about on Bougainville Copper Limited, the Rio Tinto subsidiary that operated the Panguna mine? In 2003 Regan claimed ‘there is as yet no credible evidence BCL took any direct part in the operations against the BRA [Bougainville Revolutionary Army]’. This was factually incorrect and ignored the damning sworn testimony from former Prime Minister Michael Somare, current ABG President, John Momis, and former PNG Defence Force Commander, Jerry Singirok that not only did BCL feed, house and resource the PNG troops, ‘they also regularly met with PNGDF commanders to discuss military operations and key offensive targets’.

Clearly the relationship between academics, governments and multinationals is a questionable one, conducted in the shadows, facilitated through taxpayer money; it is time a healthy debate is conducted. Given the profound consequences for the people of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea such a debate is more than necessary.

To read the ongoing debate see: https://pngexposed.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/bougainville-consultancies-earn-controversial-australian-advisor-a-small-fortune/

Rimbunan Hijau involved in ANOTHER corrupt land deal?

March 5, 2013 3 comments

Notorious human rights abuser, land grabber and forest destroyer, Malaysian logging giant Rimbunan Hijau, is rumoured to be involved in what looks like it could be yet another corrupt land deal in Port Moresby.

This time, Rimbunan Hijau company, Glory Estates, is planning to build a three-story supermarket on Kone Tigers rugby pitch…

 

Bougainville Consultancies earn controversial Australian advisor a small fortune

March 1, 2013 25 comments

Former BRA Commander, Sam Koana, and Bougainvillean activist, Simon Ekanda, recently raised concerns over the involvement of Australian National University academic, Anthony Regan, in the drafting of Bougainville’s mining policy.

According to Ekanda:

“Bougainville mining policy does not belong to Regan, BCL (Bougainville Copper Ltd) or the Australians, it belongs to the resource owners and the people of Bougainville”.

The policy being drafted by Regan, it is feared, will pave the way for the return of Bougainville Copper Limited, following a decade long war to shut the Panguna mine down.

If Regan’s involvement gets some Bougainvilleans hot under the collar, wait till they hear about the amount he is being paid by AUSAID out of PNG’s aid budget; often referred to as boomerang aid (you can see why below).

While transparency data is difficult to locate, snippets of information acquired from AUSAID and the Austender database, suggest large payments are being made to Regan.

Project Date Amount (AUD) Source
Provincial Government Reform

30/04/1997 – 31/7/1997

(3 months)

$75,000 http://www.ausaid.gov.au/Publications/Documents/business/participation9697.pdf
Assistance to the Department of Provincial and Local Affairs

27/11/1997 – 30/4/1998

(5 months)

$60,875 http://www.ausaid.gov.au/Publications/Documents/business/bpp.pdf
Technical Assistance – Bougainville Transitional Government

18/5/1998 – 30/6/1999

(13 months)

$170,000 http://www.ausaid.gov.au/Publications/Documents/business/Business-part-2.pdf
Legal Services

21/10/07 – 30/11/07

(1 month)

$41,951.25 https://www.tenders.gov.au/?event=public.cn.view&CNUUID=2A74AB2A-F43E-91FD-ADC820055036060C

Given that the final payment listed here mirrors Regan’s current duties as legal advisor to the Autonomous Bougainville Government, it might be reasonably estimated that over a 12 month period Regan could be earning somewhere in the vicinity of $500,000 or K1.1 million for his legal services. This is presumably in addition to his annual salary at ANU.

Over to you Sam.