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.
Papua New Guinea’s Minister for APEC, Sports and Special Events, Justin Tkatchenko, is planning to build for himself a lavish multi-million dollar mini-estate on 8.5 acres of land in the rural Brisbane suburb of Brookfield.
The estate will comprise an ornate main dwelling (shown above) with feature spiral staircase and cupola roof, a three bed-room second dwelling, large gym, animal stables, an ornamental lake with two fountains, a large bird aviary complex, 25 metre swimming pool, two pavilions, garages, sheds, large greenhouse and other outbuildings.
All this on a piece of land Tkatchenko purchased for a cool $1.77 million in November 2015, as revealed on PNG Blogs .
Tkatchenko already owns another home in Brisbane, in the exclusive inner city suburb of Fig Tree Pocket, purchased in 2011 for $1.1 million.
Minister Tkatchenko has a long history of unanswered fraud allegations and has been exposed for lying to Parliament over contracts awarded to his family business; the same business, Kitoro No.33, that is now involved in the development of 15 Upper Brookfield Road.
Anyone who switched on the television, radio or internet yesterday, would have been confronted with bold government announcements of a new tourism city, which will be built by Paga Hill Development Company, under the watchful gaze of its CEO Gudmundur Fridriksson.
The National (aka The Loggers Times) tells us the project ‘will have a hotel, serviced apartments, tourism and business facilities, residences, marina and a casino’.
It will also include a tourism school where pupils will evidently learn about ‘the importance of tourism’
We are told this will Public-Private Partnership will make Port Moresby the envy of the Pacific. But will it?
Lets look at the track record of Gudmundur Fridriksson. Anyone remember this iconic fun park at Paga Hill spearheaded by Fridriksson?
Or what about this book?
You won’t find it in the bookshop anytime soon. While Sean Dorney found the book to be full of errors, Fridriksson’s company was paid K2.5 million by the national government, a price tag that was said by Dorney to be 5 x the market rate.
So if history is anything to go by this will be an expensive white elephant, that will be more mirage than reality.
Orica, one of the leading publicly-owned companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, is operating on land outside Port Moresby acquired through illegal Special Agriculture Business Leases (SABLs), according to local landholders.
The accusations have come from the people of Papa village, close to the Exxon Mobil LNG site, who have seen their land illegally occupied for quarrying and provision of other LNG support services. The villagers are now demanding their land be given back.
SABL leases are at the centre of a huge land grab in PNG in which more than 5 million hectares of land has been illegally acquired from customary landowners. A government instigated Commission of Inquiry, which reported in 2013, found almost all the leases are unlawful with widespread instances of fraud and a general failure by government Departments to follow proper procedures.
According to the Commission of Inquiry, the land on which Orica is said to be operating, Portions 2465C and 2485C, was acquired through “misrepresentation and fraud” [SABL Commission of Inquiry Final Report at p164] and the forging of landholders signatures “was a criminal act” [at p151]. The lease was “fraudulent and improper” [at p156] and government officers “deliberately decided to ignore and by-pass the existing protocols and practices” in a process “riddled with defects and flaws” [at p157].
The Commission of Inquiry called for those responsible for the unlawful leases to be held to account and recommended the SABLs be revoked. [SABL Commission of Inquiry Final Report p 143-166 and p166-174. See also SABL Case Study 11: The Kassman family and their fraudulent LNG Land deals]
The PNG government has promised several times since 2013 to cancel all the SABL leases and return land to customary landholders, but has so far failed to implement those promises.
Orica claims on its website “Our commitment to the safety, health and wellbeing of … the communities in which we operate underpins everything we do”. But the people of Papa want Orica off their land and on Thursday they held a peaceful protest march to the premises where Orica and another company, Longevity Commitment Reliability Group operate.
The Papa landholders are calling on the government to honour its promises and take action quickly to formally cancel the special agriculture business leases over their land.
Chairman of the local integrated lands group Vanemate, Joseph Baeau, said Parliament had already moved to cancel all SABLs and revert the titles back the landowners therefore the companies should not still be on their land.
“We the people and all other concerned landowners in Papa village carried out this protest to fight for our land and also make awareness on the status of land leases,” Mr Baeau said.
“We are calling on the Minister responsible to fast track all formalities to effect cancellation and notices to illegal lease holders,” Mr Baeau said.
Orica is one of Australia’s oldest companies and is, it claims, the global leader in mining and civil services, with a workforce of around 11,500, servicing customers across more than 100 countries.
If you can judge the wealth of a man by the size of his house then the last four years have been very kind to Justin Tkatchenko. Based on the value of his property holdings in Queensland he might have tripled his wealth as a Minister since 2012!
Last week PNG Blogs revealed that Minister Tkatchenko has recently purchased a piece of land in the Brookfield area of Brisbane for a cool $1.6 million. Brookfield is a largely rural superb about 13km west of the Brisbane city centre.
For his $1.6m (about K3.8 million), Tkatchenko has acquired an empty block of land on which Brisbane City Council records reveal, he now intends to build a house, secondary dwelling, horse stables, greenhouses, garage, gym, a 380 square metre aviary and a lake!. When completed, his new mini estate, will be worth well upwards of $3 million.
But the Brookfield estate is not the only property Tkatchenko ownes in Brisbane. In 2011 he purchased No. 12 Cubberla Street in the exclusive suburb of Fig Tree Pocket for a cool $1.1 million (approximately K2.6 million).
Fig Tree Pocket is an up-market riverside suburb 5km west of the Brisbane CBD. The houses are spacious and widely spread and there is a large proportion of trees and parks and little noise or traffic.
No. 12 Cubberla Street is described as “a stunning family home” where “Country Style Acreage Meets Inner City Convenience”.
This is how the real estate agents describe Justin’s current home in Cubberla Street…
“Set in the most idyllic setting offering the peace and tranquillity of a country manor, this majestic home is only minutes to suburban facilities and the CBD virtually on its doorstep. Free of neighbours and so in touch with nature this type of living is hard to find.
A sprawling, elevated and landscaped 2467m2 parcel of land is graced by a brick home of equally large proportions offering space for the whole family. The master built home offers beautiful informal and formal spaces for hassle free entertaining.
The stunning atrium style lounge is a stylish centrepiece of the home compete with double
sided fireplace that integrates perfectly with dining and kitchen and meals area. A gourmet kitchen with high quality appliances is set adjacent to the entertainers deck with a captivating scenery outlook.
A private and elegant master suite allows for a tranquil parents retreat complete with walk-in robe, lavish ensuite and access to the expansive wrap around verandahs. Two remaining bedrooms on the upper level both boast built-in robes, while the fourth bedroom on the lower makes for a great guests quarters with a separate rumpus room leading out to the manicured gardens.
The oversized garage easily accommodates 3 cars with ample storage and work bench space. This stunning family home also features a study and is perfect for the growing family and provides a wonderful private and secluded oasis for children to play and explore”.
So, from $1.1 million in 2011, after five years as a Minister, Justin now owns property in Brisbane worth over $2.7 million and has plan to turn that into more than $4 million once his new home is built!
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!