Malaysian electronics distribution company Compugates has ditched plans for two controversial logging operations in PNG [see story below].
As we revealed in January – Malaysian company signs agreement to log illegal SABL – Compugates had signed a deal to log the 26,000 hectare Marienberg SABL in East Sepik and a further 72,000 hectares of forest in the Lower Sepik – Malaysian firm Compugates signs a second dodgy logging deal in PNG.
In both cases the proposed logging would have been illegal, the Marienberg SABL having been ruled invalid in a Commission of Inquiry and Lower Sepik Holdings not having any valid logging permit based on the informed consent of local landowners.
Compugates cancels plans for logging ventures in PNG
Source: The Star
Compugates Holdings Bhd has decided not to pursue the two logging projects in Papua New Guinea (PNG) covering areas totalling 96,000ha, for which it signed the memoranda of understanding earlier this year.
In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, it said this was in view of “the current challenging market environment”, without elaborating.
Its unit Compugates Perak Sdn Bhd (CPSB) had on Jan 25 signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Marrienberg Hills Resources Development Ltd to engage CPSB as a logger over 26,000ha forested land in East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea.
Marrienberg Hills Resources agreed to maintain its invitation to CPSB exclusively for a period of six months to enter into a binding commercial enterprise with it for a five-year term, which would be renewable.
On Feb 5 CPSB entered into an MoU with another landowner, Lower Sepik Holdings Ltd, to engage CPSB as a logger over 70,000ha also in East Sepik Province. Lower Sepik also agreed to maintain its invitation to CPSB exclusively for a period of six months to enter into a binding commercial enterprise with it, with the contract to be for five years renewable.
Compugates’ announcement comes on the same day that PNG prime minister survived a vote of no confidence, which followed protests between students and police last month that turned into violent clashes.
Lets all enjoy the double irony here – the Office of the INTEGRITY of Political Parties allows Paul Paraka, the mastermind of the K780 million Paraka Scam, to register a political party named after the GRASSROOTS people he stole the money from…
Lawyer Paul Paraka launches party
July 22,2016, 02:41 am
PAPUA New Guinean lawyer Paul Paraka yesterday announced his intention to contest the 2017 National Election as he launched his new political party – the Grassroots United Front Party.
At the Office of the Integrity of Political Party Registry, Mr Paraka and his team received their certificate, to prove the registration of the party with Registrar Alphonse Gelu and his team.
The launch of the party now brings the political parties in PNG to 34.
Initially there were 46 Parties but others were deregistered.
Mr Paraka yesterday said that he felt that at the age of 48 he has reached his pinnacle in building a little known law practice in 1994 to one of the biggest local law firms in PNG, and having given enough and so much to the PNG grassroots communities through his private legal career, he feels that the time is now right for him to take up the next step, leading the grassroots’ cause in PNG, and transform their lives and communities through the political front and public service. When asked about the current issues involving the law firm, Mr Paraka said: “I am not worried about these issues. I started and grew Paraka Lawyers from nothing to be the biggest law firm in PNG through sheer hard work and God-given intelligence.”
“I have been a victim of political madness and insanity, but the truth will prevail at the end. I worked so hard to build the law firm which provided a flat form and jobs for over 30,000 young men and women over the years, have been hurt and victimised by bad political leadership and bad political decisions, we have been victims of political destruction, the very same force that has destroyed the dreams and aspirations of many Papua New Guineans, and all the grassroots population in Papua New Guinea,” he said.
In the next eight months, Mr Paraka will travel widely in the settlements, suburbs and Motu-Koitabu villages in the National Capital District, and the rest of PNG, undertaking awareness on the GRUF party’s polices and platforms.
Paraka gets certification for own political party
By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK
PAUL Paraka, the lawyer at the centre of the Opposition’s move to oust Prime Minister Peter O’Neill today, registered his Grass Roots United Front Party yesterday.
Paraka is implicated with O’Neill and others in an alleged K71 million payment for providing bogus legal services to the State.
The Opposition has accused O’Neill of avoiding the law by refusing to be questioned by police over the Paraka payment.
Paraka dismissed the political power play and said he was contesting the 2017 general elections because he wanted the rural people to get government services that had been missing since independence.
“I am not worried about these issues,” he told The National yesterday.
“I started and grew Paraka Lawyers in 1994 when I was 26 years old from nothing to the biggest law firm in PNG through sheer hard work and God-given intelligence.
“I have been a victim of political madness and insanity but the truth will be at the end.
“I and the law firm that I worked so hard to build, which provided jobs for more than 30,000 young men and women over the years, have been hurt and victimised by bad political leadership and bad political decisions.
“We have been victims of politics of destruction.
“It is the very same force that destroyed the dreams and aspirations of many Papua New Guineans and all the grassroots population in PNG.
“I have been hurt, Paraka Lawyers has been hurt, the grassroots of PNG have been hurt and became victims of bad political leadership over the years. I will now swap the comfort of a legal career with that of a grassroots leader for the 10 million grassroots population of PNG.
“I want to be part of a solution of their pain, sufferings and struggles.
“I will now call upon the grassroots of PNG for reason and judgment. They will judge me whether I am worthy of leading them and fighting for their cause.
“Ultimately it’s them who will judge and choose.” Paraka said he would travel throughout the country for the next eight months to conduct awareness on his GRUF Party’s policies and platform.
Paraka received his party’s registration certificate from Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates Commission Registrar Dr Alphones Gelu.
Paraka is one of the country’s most successful barristers.
He attended the University of PNG, University of California in Berkeley, USA and Oxford University in the UK.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill clearly has no intention of ever reversing the huge SABL land grab and giving the stolen land back to its customary owners.
So much for all his promises to revoke the unlawful leases, return the land to rural people and stop the illegal logging!
It is now 1,120 days since the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement that has allowed foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 5 million hectares of land.
In September 2013 O’Neill said in Parliament:
“We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore”
In June 2014, announcing an NEC decision supposedly cancelling the leases, O’Neill said
“We are taking these steps to reclaim our customary land illegally lost to foreigners with the help of corrupt public servants and leaders”
“As a responsible government we want to ensure that all citizens have access to the lands of their ancestors. We will not allow our land to be lost to unscrupulous people out to con our people”
In 2015 the Chief Secretary stated:
“It is widely known that vast amounts of pristine forest have been logged to enrich a corrupt few people, while landowners have unknowingly lost their most valuable asset – their land”.
But, despite all the promises, no action has been taken to cancel the leases, landowners are receiving no support from the government in their battles against the land grabbing and WE ARE STILL WAITING for the logging to be stopped.
For 1,120 days O’Neill has failed to ensure the SABL leases are revoked and has been complicit in the illegal logging of our forests by foreign logging companies.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has aided and abetted the theft of logs worth hundreds of million of kina and the destruction of thousands of hectares of pristine forest.
Justice prevails with injunction on The Opposition rejected by court – however new legal threat looms
Source: Media Stockade
The Supreme Court of New South Wales today released the full judgment of 8th July 2016, unequivocally dismissing former Papua New Guinean politician Dame Carol Kidu’s claim for a permanent injunction preventing filmmaker Hollie Fifer, Media Stockade and Beacon Films from screening the documentary The Opposition.
On 20 March 2016 Carol Kidu sought to exclude her appearance and dialogue in the film by seeking an injunction restraining the distribution of any visual or audio recording of herself or any summary, representation or description that has the effect of revealing that content. Her legal case was supported by the Paga Hill Development Company (PHDC).
The judgment reads:
When one views the extreme weaknesses of the Plaintiff’s (Dame Carol Kidu’s) claim that she did not know on and from 7 March 2012 that Ms Fifer was hoping to make a documentary for public exhibition rather than a student assignment (whatever it’s topic) the impression gained is that the Plaintiff is prepared, for her own benefit and that of PHDC to say anything to stop the footage taken of her by Ms Fifer being broadcast.
Download the full judgement (1.4MB) Kidu v Fifer
Director Hollie Fifer said, “we are relieved that justice has been served and that audiences around the world will be given the opportunity to see The Opposition and the important story of The Paga Hill Community.
“The Paga Hill Community is filing for damages in the PNG Courts for the loss of their homes and human rights violations. The Opposition is also their evidence base because most of their documents were destroyed during numerous demolition exercises that were carried out at Paga Hill,” said Ms. Fifer.
“This legal conflict has been an extremely stressful time and has disrupted release plans for The Opposition, nearly derailing the film and the important issues it speaks to,” said the film’s producer Rebecca Barry. “We are grateful that we now have the film back in its entirety.”
However, a new legal threat now looms in an attempt to further suppress the film. The court’s temporary injunction of footage featuring Carol Kidu, forced the filmmakers to screen a redacted version at Hot Docs International Film Festival in Toronto in May 2016. The redacted version of the film features narration over the censored footage by Australian actress Sarah Snook.
Just hours after the Hot Docs International Film Festival premiere of the film, independent production companies, Beacon Films and Media Stockade received further legal demands over the film.
Paga Hill Development Company (PHDC), CEO and Director Gudmundur Fridriksson, PHDC director Stanley Liria and former PHDC director George Hallit are demanding all further screenings of the film are immediately ceased due to claims of defamatory imputations.
This is the second legal action taken against the film. The new legal demands were issued within hours of the film’s first screening.
“It would seem that there are powerful forces who don’t want this film to be seen, but we believe that audiences should have the right to make up their own minds. This story is too important not to be told,” said Ms Barry.
The Opposition tells the story of a David-and-Goliath battle over land in Papua New Guinea. It follows Joe Moses, one of the leaders of a four-generation strong settlement in Port Moresby who must save the community before they are evicted off their land. Battling it out in the courts, Joe may find their homes replaced with an international five-star hotel and marina being developed by the Paga Hill Development Company (PNG) Limited. The film highlights the massive gap between law and justice.
#TheOpposition #FreedomOfSpeech #LettheAudienceDecide
Visit the film website at: http://www.theoppositionfilm.com
Some key points from the Supreme Court of NSW Judgment:
The judge said that there were a number of factors which led him to have real concerns about the Plaintiff’s credibility including:
- When faced with emails and SMS messages sent by Ms Fifer to the Plaintiff which contained material destructive of the Plaintiff’s contention that she thought Ms Fifer was only ever involved in a student assignment – the Plaintiff sought to assert that she had not properly read, or appreciated the content of those emails.
- When conversations which were inconsistent with the Plaintiff’s case that she did not know that Ms Fifer was engaged in making a documentary and not simply making a student assignment were drawn to her attention – the Plaintiff asserted she said that she did not recall them.
- The Plaintiff asserted in correspondence that she had never given written consent even though she had signed such a document (a release form) and had in July 2012 been reminded by Ms Fifer that she had.
Some of the findings of facts include:
- That from 7 March 2012 the Plaintiff was fully aware that Ms Fifer would be taking footage for a documentary that Ms Fifer hoped she could broadcast to the public and that the Plaintiff was positive about that idea at least until July 2012 and as far as Ms Fifer knew until at least late 2013.
- That by December 2013 the Plaintiff had in contemplation entering into a contract with PHDC using a company controlled by her and that in March 2014 her company entered into a contract with PHDC, by which it was to receive the equivalent of approximately $A178,000 (from which her company would need to make payments to subcontractors.)
- That the Plaintiff invited Ms Fifer to film at Six Mile (the proposed resettlement site) and told her that PHDC would pay for that filming and that she offered to organize a UN Media award for Ms. Fifer.
Ms. Fifer, Media Stockade and Beacon Films were represented by Barrister Richard Potter, Junior Barrister Mark Maconachie and Solicitor Peter Bolam from legal firm Broadley Rees Hogan.
Source: Heath Aston, Sydney Morning Herald
A documentary about the forced eviction of 3000 squatters from a shanty town in Port Moresby can be shown after a court threw out a legal challenge by one of the film’s central figures, Dame Carol Kidu, the Australia-born former opposition leader of Papua New Guinea.
The Opposition delves deep into the David v Goliath battle over a slice of Papua New Guinean paradise.
In a damning finding for the revered politician, Supreme Court Justice Nigel Rein has questioned Dame Carol’s credibility as a witness and dismissed her claim that she thought she was taking part in a school assignment and did not know that novice Australian filmmaker Hollie Fifer was producing a feature documentary to be shown all over the world.
The 77-minute documentary, The Opposition, revolves around the day in 2012 when an Australian-linked company sent in bulldozers, accompanied by armed PNG police, to raze the historic shanty town on Paga Hill.
The development company is transforming the $300 million harbour front site into a hotel and marina precinct that could play host to the 2018 APEC leaders’ summit.
In 2012, Ms Fifer followed Dame Carol into Paga Hill, located in her electorate, as the politician pleaded unsuccessfully with police to stop people’s homes being bulldozed.
Footage shows her telling police: “This is not an eviction, it’s a demolition . . . why should some f—-g foreign company get our hill?”.
But by late 2013, the landscape had changed fundamentally.
Having retired from politics, Dame Carol, had been hired as a consultant to Paga Hill Development Company, owned by Australian-Icelandic businessman Gudmundur “Gummi” Fridriksson, a former chief executive of Noel Pearson’s Cape York Institute, who lives in Cairns.
Dame Carol later presented the company with a letter in which she formally resiled from her criticism of the eviction, saying: “In hindsight, Paga Hill Development Company’s efforts to achieve harmonious resettlement have been genuine”.
“Please accept this letter as my formal notification that I no longer stand by my 2012-2013 statements, which were based on the limited information at the time,” she wrote.
It came out in the hearing that Dame Carol had been paid $178,000 for work with Paga Hill and the company had paid $250,000 to run her case against Ms Fifer.
The case to permanently block the documentary being shown was based on Dame Carol’s claim she had agreed to be filmed as part of what she thought was a film school assignment rather than a commercial documentary venture.
Evidence was produced during the trial of multiple emails and text messages in which Ms Fifer told Dame Carol about seeking ABC funding and the politician also signed a release form that Ms Fifer needed to obtain film funding.
In a stinging verdict, Justice Rein noted: “When one views the extreme weaknesses of [Dame Carol’s] claim that she did not know on and from March 7, 2012, that Ms Fifer was hoping to make a documentary for public exhibition rather than a student assignment (whatever its topic) the impression gained is that [Dame Carol] is prepared, for her own benefit and that of PHDC, to say anything to stop the footage taken of her by Ms Fifer being broadcast.”
“In my view, the plaintiff’s assertion that she was not informed by Ms Fifer of her wish and intention to make a documentary quite unconnected with the student assignment … is without any foundation whatsoever,” Justice Rein found.
He said there were “several indications” that Dame Carol was angry with the documentary quite removed from the issue of her consent.
Those included that “she feels that some people will, or do, think that she ‘sold out’ her former constituents at Paga Hill by joining forces with PHDC and receiving payments for her service”, he noted.
In a statement issued by producers Media Stockade and Beacon Films, Ms Fifer said she was “relieved that justice has been served and that audiences around the world will be given the opportunity to see The Opposition“.
“The Paga Hill community is filing for damages in the PNG courts for the loss of their homes and human rights violations. The Oppositionis also their evidence base because most of their documents were destroyed during numerous demolition exercises that were carried out,” she said.
The documentary, which received funding from Screen Australia and Screen NSW, will be shown at a number of international film festivals.
On Thursday, Dame Carol said she was disappointed with the verdict and still believed the documentary only told “part of a much bigger story” and that the majority of settlers had agreed to move and accept a new block of land elsewhere.
“I was disappointed but I accept the decision of His Honour,” she said.
Read the full judgement: Kidu v Fifer (pdf file 1.4MB)
In November 2015, Petromin sold the Tolokuma mine to a foreign speculator, Singapore businessman Philip Soh Sai Kiang, for a reported K81.35 million [US$25 million]. Soh Sai Kiang acquired the mine using a Singapore registered front company, Asidokona Mining Resources.
The mine has been closed since April 2015 when Petromin shut down gold production claiming it could no longer cover the mining costs.
At the time of the sale in November 2015, Petromin Chairman, Brown Bai said the decision was based on commercial considerations and refuted claims of ‘political overtones’. He said the Petromin Board had sole responsibility for the decision to sell.
Mining Minister Byron Chan said the buyer, Asidokona Resources, was “reputable, committed, has integrity and capacity” (LOL).
Now, just eight months later and with the mine still mothballed, another Singapore outfit, LifeBrandz, an entertainment company that owns six nightclubs, bars and restaurants is reported to be paying US$212 million [K670 million] to acquire the mine.
How can a State asset sold by the government for K80 million in November 2015 now be worth K670 million? That represents a huge profit of around K590 million for a Singapore based company, Asidokona Mining Resources, and its owner Soh Sai Kiang.
And why is Petromin House the registered address in PNG for Asidokona!