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Secretary for Justice Lawrence Kalinoe rewrites history and ignores the law to endorse SABL land theft

May 26, 2015 Leave a comment

In an astonishing radio broadcast captured and published by community advocacy group, ACT NOW!, Secretary for Justice, Lawrence Kalinoe, has effectively thrown the rule of law, the Constitution and the Land Act into the bin:

  • If a small group of landowners colludes with corrupt public servants and a foreign company to unlawfully steal customary land that is okay, according to Lawrence Kalinoe.
  • If the majority of the landowners don’t give their consent to the loss of their customary land, then that is tough
  • If the processes and procedures laid out in the Lands Act and the Constitutional protections are not followed, so what?
  • If public servants fail to do their jobs and shortcut the whole process, then the government could not care less.
  • And if the companies then clear the forests and steal timber woth hundreds of millions of dollars, then good luck to them

Lawrence Kalinoe’s astonishing defence of the unlawful SABL land grab rewrites history and ignores the law

Act Now!

Lawrence Kalinoe

Secretary for Justice, Lawrence Kalinoe. Photo EMTV

The Secretary for Justice, Lawrence Kalinoe, has made an astonishing defence of the unlawful SABL land grab and the government’s failure to cancel the leases or stop the illegal logging. He was speaking on radio in direct response to the civil society campaign to cancel the leases and an interview with ACT NOW! Campaign Coordinator, Eddie Tanago.

Speaking on the PNGFM MausWara program, Kalinoe has claimed:

  • the SABL leases were not issued by the State but by the landowners themselves;
  • the State cannot cancel the leases because it will have to pay K8 billion in compensation to the logging companies; and,
  • by appointing a Ministerial Committee, the Prime Minister has done enough to act on the Commission of Inquiry findings.

None of these claims are true. Not only has Kalinoe turned the facts completely on their head in an apparent attempt to rewrite history, the government’s top lawyer is ignoring the Land Act and throwing away the basic legal rights and protections contained in the Constitution

Kalinoe claims the ‘very fundamental point is it was the land owners themselves that gave these SABLs… it is not the government or anyone else’. Kallinoe is both factually and legally incorrect and one fears he is being intentionally disingenuous to serve his political bosses.

The unlawful SABL leases were issued by the Department of Lands and signed by the Minister on the recommendation of his Departmental Secretary. The leases are official documents that have been signed off at the very highest levels of the State. It was officials in the Department who ignored or abused the Lands Act and failed to protect the interests of the majority of the landowners. Their deceit and incompetence has been clearly laid out in the Commission of Inquiry reports.

While it is true the leases were, in some cases, supported by a minority faction of landowners, the State failed in its basic duty to protect the interests of the majority. The whole Lands Act is based around the protection of customary land rights and the duty of the State to ensure minority factions do not hijack community land for their own selfish interests. If the Department of Lands had done its job properly and followed and applied the Lands Act, the leases would never have been issued.

It is also ridiculous to suggest the logging companies that have colluded with a minority of landowners to gain unlawful access to millions of hectares of forest could walk away with billions of kina in compensation. Firstly these companies would have to satisfy the courts they were unaware the leases were unlawful and they were innocent victims – something both the Commissioners and the Prime Minister have said is not true. They would then have to account for the hundreds of millions of kina they have received from their illegal logging operations. And finally they would have to explain why they have clear-felled thousands of hectares of forest but failed to establish the promised agriculture projects or only planted a few hectares.

These companies are not the innocent victims that Kalinoe paints them to be. In most cases they colluded with landowners and corrupt officials to get the leases in the first place and they have made huge profits from their logging operations. The State does not owe them a single toea. This has been clearly demonstrated in the five court cases to date where individual SABL leases have been declared null and void and no compensation whatsoever has been paid.

Finally, for Kalinoe to claim the Prime Minister has acted on the Commission of Inquiry recommendations to revoke the leases because he has appointed a Ministerial Committee, verges on the ludicrous. It is now very nearly two-years since the Commission findings were given to the PM. Appointing a Ministerial Committee which after 22 months has failed to act on a single recommendation from the Commission reports does not constitute “action”.

You can read the full transcript of Kalinoe’s comments below or listen to the audio file recording.

 

Full transcript
I want to respond to this interview you had with ACT NOW! PNG.
I want to correct a lot of misconceptions
I am Lawrence Kalinoe, Secretary for Justice
In this interview, this campaign ACT NOW PNG is running has got plenty of misinformation in it
The first, and very fundamental one is that it was the land owners themselves that gave these SABLs. It is factions of landowners who actually go and actually give away their land to the fellow colleague partner developers, many times they are external developers.
It is not, this is clear, it is not the government or anyone else, it is the landowners who go and actually persuade the developer to come and then they enter into these arrangements to do SABL activities logging or eventually what have you.
So this you need to make that clear. It is not government, it is not forestry, it is not even the foreign developers who come and acquire customary land. It is the landowners, factions of landowners who actually go and let their customary land out.
That is point number one.
Point number two. In relation to the implantation of this Commission of Inquiry Report. The government has acted on it. The government position is that because there are so many SABLs which have been brought into question and some of the SABLs were actually acquired with close consultation with factions of landowners. On that basis the landowners got their certificates and they went and invited the foreign developers to come. So they came and have developed these logging activities of hydro forestry or what have you. In a situation like that the question is this, the issue therefore is this, why should the State now, the State meaning the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, be made to pay millions and millions of kina?
Currently we have just about K8 billion in the total number of claims against the State by those affected property developers, forestry, agro-forestry developers. You think about it, what is the fairness? The State was not involved in this business. It was factions of landowners who go and negotiate with developers who come and try and develop their agro-forestry projects. It is them, they go and do this themselves. And when the other faction finds out that they are not in it they go and kick up a fuss. They try and find a reason to actually annul the SABL.
But anyway, the thing is this, the government has actually received that report. The government has put that to a Ministerial Committee and the Ministerial Committee is looking into specific cases to address these very complex issues.
It is not as easy as what, because there is so much implication in terms of damages against the State. We as the government, the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill he is very cautious. He cannot allow a situation where the State ends up paying companies about K8 billion. That is the total number of exposure the State is facing. We cannot allow that to happen. So the Prime Minister is very cautious. He has set up the Ministerial Committee and the system is working on it.
It is not as simple as what ACT NOW! are saying. That you just go and cancel the lease and give the lease back to the customary landowners. Who will pick up the cost? Who will pay for the damages which are now claimed by those developers, those investors?
I tell you it is a massive investment that is involved in some of them.
One particular litigation you are looking at in the vicinity of K500 thousand, K500 million sorry, K500 million, K600 million. That is so much money for the State to be made actually responsible for.
So it is a bit like the forestry and private owners dealings, private dealings legislation we had before, before the Barnett Inquiry. Where customary landowners go and do their deals themselves and only where there are problems now they run to the courts and the State because it facilitates the process, the State ends up paying for the cost. That is not right.
So Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and this government will make sure that where there is clear illegality and where the liabilities can be sorted out quickly those are acted on as, I mean, some are being acted on.
It is the landowners, they are the ones who go and enter into these deals and bring foreign developers to develop their land. So they cannot now turn around and cry and say oh look the government must just cancel this and give this land back to me. What happens to the title, that SABL title that was issued and on the basis of that title they went and got the developer to come themselves. These are, they go and actually plead, they go and fight with the developers. They say oh this is okay this is the benefit this project stands to bring to my community and my people. As a result the project gets off the ground. But when one faction complains that is when issues arise. That is when the State is dragged in to actually pay out, to pay for the damages. The claims are made against the State by the way and it is not a fair situation.
Make sure you are mindful of these things and don’t paint things that seems to suggest oh the government the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is not doing anything at all. No, far from it, he has acted on the report.

O’Neill’s illegal logging: 700 days and counting…

May 25, 2015 Leave a comment

700

There has still been NO ACTION to cancel the huge SABL land grab, revoke the unlawful leases or stop the illegal logging in Papua New Guinea.

It is now 700 days since Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was told that the SABL leases were unlawful and should be cancelled.

On June 24, 2013 O’Neill was given the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement used by foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 5 million hectares of land.

O’Neill has REPEATEDLY STATED the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.

In September 2013 O’Neill told 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 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” 

Most recently O’Neill promised a new Task Force to look at the Commission of Inquiry recommendations, but, WE ARE STILL WAITING for the leases to be cancelled and the logging stopped.

For 700 days O’Neill has failed to ensure the SABL leases are revoked and he has been complicit in the illegal logging of our forests by foreign logging companies.

Crucially he has failed to take any action to remove the corrupt public servants responsible for the land grab or distance himself from the politicians, including key Minister’s, complicit in the illegal deals and who are now blocking any positive action to revoke the leases and stop the logging.

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.

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

More on Belden Namah, Bewani and the SABL land grab

May 20, 2015 2 comments

namah

Namah is no saint

by JOHN R.WAROLO | PNG Blogs

The truth has been coming out for years but this latest Namah con game is what finally wakes us up to what Belden Namah has been doing right under our noses for years and even reported on the social media. He has been involved in one con game after another since at least 2008 when he was Forest Minister and at this point, only a fool wouldn’t have figured out the real pasin blo Belden. Want a summary of Namah’s Bewani scam? Here it is:

Belden Namah and Jimmy Tse partnered some years back to scam ‘investors’ out of their money. Bewani SABL was the perfect bait, being an incredibly large and rich source of valuable hardwood timber, all of which could be legally taken for free under the provisions of the resource grabbing SABL 99 year lease (PNG government receives not 1 toea in royalties from timber cut on SABLs). Namah and Tse reckoned that gave them the freedom to charge the “developers” for the timber themselves. There had already been so many SABLs where loggers had escaped their responsibility of planting cash crops as soon as they finished their logging, that is seems Namah and Tse weren’t all that concerned if this happened to Bewani.

Read more:

SABL Case Study No.5: Belden Namah and Bewani Palm Oil Limited

Namah at the centre of alleged Bewani oil palm fraud

Serial logger, Belden Namah, cries foul over SABL land grab

It appears that Namah’s 2012 campaign money came at least partly from Jimmy Tse’s purchase of 100% of the Bewani SABL from Namah only 1 month after Namah got it registered. We also know that when Namah was Forestry minister, they attracted (probably equally unscrupulous) Malaysian investor Andrew Lim to deposit at least US $10 million into bank accounts scattered from Fiji to Hongkong, From 2007-2009, Lim deposited another nearly US $500,000 into accounts of Tse and Namah, again scatttered across the Pacific. What Lim didn’t know was that Tse had secretly brought in 2 Malaysian loggers, Tee and Tee, to Bewani. Namah’s partner, Jimmy Tse, then issued a bunch of new shares in the development which reduced Lim’s interest in Bewani from majority shareholder to only owning a tiny fraction of the development. The scam was finished, the money was made.

As long as Namah had his pockets filled with money, he wasn’t too concerned about either his people or what was going on back home with the logging. But there are enough reports to confirm Namah’s addiction to gambling and overall he seems to have the same ability to handle money as someone straight out of the stone age. he past few months, it became apparent that Namah was running out of money fast. His own people were getting angrier and angrier that no oil palm was being planted, something that Namah knew about all along, but which he neatly avoided by doing what most politicians do – he stayed well away from his people.

As his money reserves headed for empty, for some reason he wasn’t able to milk Malaysians Tee and Tee out of enough money to satisfy his needs. They obviously weren’t interested in cutting their own profits to put money into Namah’s pockets. Increasingly desperate, Namah, hatched a scheme to pull another “Andrew :Lim scam”, but this time becoming Sandaun governor so that he could kick Tee and Tee off Bewani land and bring in another developer, this time a businessman from India.

Presumably the Indian promised to plant oil palm after shipping out all the valuable hardwoods, but Namah shouldn’t count on that. Scumbags tend to attract other scumbags, and the end game is little more than a game of who can con the other out of their money, no holds barred. After all, the money they’re playing with isn’t theirs. They’ve conned it out of someone else prior to the challenge!

O’Neill’s illegal logging: 693 days and counting…

May 18, 2015 Leave a comment

693

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

px-logo land grabbing

SABL_billboard

More delays and excuses from O’Neill over SABL land grab

May 15, 2015 1 comment

px-logo land grabbing

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has been sitting on the findings of the SABL Commission of Inquiry since June 2013.

The CoI found the leases were unlawful and should be revoked – but no action has been taken to cancel them.

In September 2013 O’Neill told us he had appointed a Ministerial Task Force and “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”

But the Task Force has not cancelled a single lease

And now O’Neill is telling us (see below) he has appointed ANOTHER task force with exactly the same brief as the old one.

And who will preside over the new Task Force? Lawrence Kalinoe, the Secretary for Justice who just a few weeks ago went on radio to explain exactly why the government would NOT cancel the leases. According to Kalinoe, the leases are all the fault of the landowners and the State has done nothing wrong and it would be ‘unfair’ to cancel the leases.

Come on Mr O’Neill, enough of these bullshit excuses – you are not fooling anyone…

Task force to implement SABL inquiry report
Source: The National (the mouthpiece of notorious Malaysian logging company, Rimbunan Hijau)
The National Executive Council has approved the establishment and appointment of a task force to oversee and coordinate recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABL).
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said Cabinet had taken note of the submission on the progress made to implement recommendations made by the COI and gave approval to revoke certain parts of it.
“Cabinet gave approval for the appointment of a task force that comprises members with relevant technical expertise and are given the responsibility for the oversight and co-ordination of the implementation of recommendations made by the Commission of Inquiry,” he said.
“The task force will report directly to the Chief Secretary to Government and one of its tasks will be to establish what measures have already been taken to implement the recommendations so that interest groups are properly informed.”
O’Neill said the members were Dr Lawrence Sause, Daniel Katakumb and Kutt Paonga.
He said the taskforce would help the Government make better decisions for the interested groups on the SABL issue.

Serial logger, Belden Namah, cries foul over SABL land grab

May 14, 2015 4 comments

Belden Namah, the West Sepik Governor and Former Deputy Prime Minister, who has made a small fortune out of logging his peoples forests, has been been heavily implicated in the illegal SABL land grab and who once famously gambled away $800,000 in a single night, is now crying foul as his people realize their promised dreams are never going to be fulfilled and they have been conned by their MP and his logging mates…

Developer plundered our forest, village, Governor says

Source: The National (ironically owned by Rimbunan Hijau – another serial illegal logger)

SANDAUN Governor Belden Namah’s dream of hosting the biggest oil palm plantation in the southern hemisphere is now in ruins after the proposed developer allegedly plundered his forest and village.
He now regrets bringing the developer into his Vanimo-Green electorate in West Sepik.
Namah even invited Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to launch the oil palm project by planting the first oil palm seedlings in 2012 during the O’Neill-led Government.
The oil palm tree planted by O’Neill has withered away. “I brought the Prime Minister in 2012 and we launched it. The Prime Minister planted the first oil palm. We had a big dream. The company boasted to develop and plant oil palm plantation, only to realise that we have been defrauded.”
Now Namah is planning a massive legal action against the developer to the extent of terminating the agreement and seeking compensation for environment damage.
“We brought the company to develop an oil palm project under the Special Agricultural Businesses Lease agreement. The developer was supposed to log the forest and then plant oil palm. Instead, they have moved away from their core purpose which is agriculture to come and plant and develop an oil palm estate,” Namah said.
“I was proud when I introduced this project and I thought it will be a leading oil palm project in the southern hemisphere.
“But when they started to sell the first shipment of logs, they forgot about oil palm plantation and focused on logging. They didn’t observe the best agriculture practices by clear felling logs and planting oil palm before moving on.
“Instead they just logged the area and move. Only on the side of the road they just plant oil palm juts like window dressing.
“But you go further in, there are logs lying and dumped in the river, creeks and clear fall areas logs are there.
“About 150,000 landowners are now displaced. The project was supposed to improve their daily livelihood. Instead it has allegedly turned out the opposite and devastated about 150,000 hectares of forest.
“The logging operation displaced over 150,000 people by destroying their lands and rivers and creeks.
“Even my own village has been affected. We can’t make gardens, hunt and fish anymore.”
Namah claimed that the Forestry, Agriculture, Environment, Labour and Immigration departments are turning a blind eye against the company’s operation.

O’Neill’s illegal logging: 686 days and counting…

May 11, 2015 1 comment

686

There has still been NO ACTION to cancel the huge SABL land grab, revoke the unlawful leases or stop the illegal logging in Papua New Guinea.

It is now 686 days since Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was told that the SABL leases were unlawful and should be cancelled.

On June 24, 2013 O’Neill was given the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement used by foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 5 million hectares of land.

O’Neill has REPEATEDLY STATED the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.

In September 2013 O’Neill told 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 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” 

But, WE ARE STILL WAITING for the leases to be cancelled and the logging stopped.

For 686 days O’Neill has failed to ensure the SABL leases are revoked and he has been complicit in the illegal logging of our forests by foreign logging companies.

Crucially he has failed to take any action to remove the corrupt public servants responsible for the land grab or distance himself from the politicians, including key Minister’s, complicit in the illegal deals and who are now blocking any positive action to revoke the leases and stop the logging.

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.

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

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