Mining Minister Byron Chan has reacted angrily to revelations on this blog about illegal logging operations in the Konoagil District of New Ireland. He is demanding action to stop the logging and police investigation of those responsible.
But is the Minister REALLY SERIOUS or is this just pre-election posturing? Will Minister Chan really ensure proper investigations are carried out and effective action is taken against those responsible for the theft of forest resources and destruction of the environment?
BY JEFFREY ELAPA, Post Courier, January 03, 2017
MINISTER for Mining and Member for Namatanai Byron Chan has called on authorities to investigate two foreign companies [Millionplus Corporation and Islands Forest Resources] involved in logging activities in his district.
Mr Chan is also calling on the authorities to investigate how Government authorities had allowed the companies to conduct business in the country and wants their Malaysian principals [Kie Yii LING, Ting Ping LAU and Tiing Siu HAH] deported.
He said he is outraged over their being issued environment and logging licences.
“I’m totally disgusted and immediately call for a full investigation into the illegal activities occurring at Forest Department and the Department of Environment and Conservation.
“I further call on the two Ministers Douglas Tomoresia (Forest) and John Pundari (Environment) to institute an investigation into the conduct of the two companies.
“I also call on the police fraud and anti-corruption unit to investigate the activities of these foreigners cheating my people. How can authorities allow foreign companies to conduct illegal businesses in the country.
“I also call on the Minister for Forest to cease the operation of the company and Immigrations to immediately deport the two foreigners and blacklist them as they have misled and abused the trust of my people and my district. We do not need people involved in illegal activities they also pose threats to the sovereignty of the nation.
“This is the kind of business conduct by foreigners under the guise of doing business and involved in local politics are not welcomed to stay in this country.
“My people are innocent like most rural Papua New Guineans. There have been a lot of false promises and false hopes given to my people and I’m really disgusted by the action of such foreign companies conducting business in my district and the country,” he said.
Mr Chan also called on local elites not to mislead the people for whatever motives they had.
“As a concerned national leader and leader of my people I’m calling for an immediate investigate by the authorities,” he said.
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!