At the bare minimum, when people pay taxes, they expect their governments to at the very least uphold the law.
Yet in Papua New Guinea, the government has proven allergic to law enforcement – indeed when Governor Juffa began tackling illegal businesses, he was condemned by the political classes. It appears lawlessness is now formal policy.
But the failure of the government hasnt stopped Madang landowners and civil society from stopping the illegal conduct of Malaysian logger firm G & S Limited.
Owned by Malaysians Kem Go and Sie Wong, G & S Limited has been illegally logging on customary land belonging to the Songumbe-Marumbe and Boimbe Clans. This is a foreign company, which has come into Papua New Guinea, it does not have foreign certification to operate in PNG (according to the IPA registry), and it is involved in theft. Yet the government has done nothing.
So landowners in collaboration with the Madang Civil Society Organisation Forum, challenged the loggers in court and won.
Justice Canning found the Malaysian logger guilty of the tort of trespass. The court awarded the customary plaintiffs an injunction and damages.
The problem today is that private remedies are the only ones left for communities being victimised by land grabbers, fraudsters and crooks. The government as the principal law breaker, has no motivation to see the law enforced.
Its time to take action against the culture of criminality. We must protect our lands and people from these predators. If a company is in breach of the law, they must be chased off the land and brought to justice. The government will not do it, so the people must undergo this struggle. It is through struggle great nations are forged.
Complaints after complaints about abuse and over exploitation by the RD Tuna Cannery workers of Madang Province, and not once did the Madang Provincial Labor officer look into them.
This is because Peter Neimani, the Provincial Labor Officer is said to be on RD’s payroll, so his hands are quite tied up and unable to address the workers complaints. You see, Peter has been and is still being paid by these foreigners every fortnight to keep all complaints against the company under the carpet.
This highlights two things, first is that the RD Cannery had planned to mistreat, abuse and exploit its workers long before doing so, and part of its plan was to find a puppet to brush away the complaints and even cover for them, and the puppet is Peter Neimani.
Secondly, being on RD’s payroll means Peter’s getting paid fortnightly while he’s playing ‘Labor officer’ for the government, so he gets two pay packets every fortnight. Paid by the government for being lousy and paid by the company to be the puppet that they can use however they want, anytime they wish, so long as they put some money on him.
Being on RD’s payroll is not all, Peter’s children’s school fees are all paid for by this much controversial fishing company year in year out, and the vehicle he’s driving around was also bought and handed to him by the company. Peter is among the ‘top shots’ puppets in the province (Nixon Duban is another one of them), who get cartons of ‘export brand’ tinned fish delivered to their doorsteps by the company.
Most of the workers doing the hard labor work are PNG nationals. Innocent men, women and youths showing up everyday and standing all day long to honestly earn a living, but are used by the company as tools. The Philippines workers are said to be ‘supervisors’, which jobs is really to walk around and make sure the nationals are working hard non-stop, and also to keep an eye on them and report to the management at the end of everyday.
The continuous abuses and exploitation of the workers are in all forms unimaginable to anyone who’s enjoying a RD product both locally and Internationally. RD is the company that pays K80 a fortnight to every faithful worker. It is the company that pays K200 and way less for workers who resigned after working for 17 years or more. It is the company that deducts from the workers ‘already low’ pay, allowances when it issues safety gears or provide transportation.
The list of these very ill, inhumane treatments continues, and the workers say they’ve lost count of how many times they’ve turned up at Peter Neimani’s office and told him. It seems Peter is way too busy enjoying the cartons of 48 cans of export brand tinned fish, a free ride on school fees for his kids and a tinted glass vehicle to even notice his fellow countrymen and women, practically crying their hearts out to him.
Madang Provincial Administrator Bernard Lange is accused of improper behaviour over the payment of K500,000 to a group of landowners. It is alleged the payment was made against the advice of senior officials, made without proper procedures being followed and was organized in just 48 hours after Lange put pressure on the Provisional Treasurer to release the cheque.
The Director Natural Resources, Francis Irara, has written to the Provincial Treasurer to voice his concerns about the legality of the payment.
In the briefing paper prepared by Irara he says the K500,000 cheque was personally obtained by Bernard Lange who pressured the Treasuruer to relaese the payment. The cheque was given by Lange to MP Alois Kingsley to present to the landowners. Irara says the whole transaction was organized in just two days.
PNGExposed has received more details about Madang Provincial Administrator, Bernard Lange’s obstruction of efforts to tackle the endemic corruption in his administration.
Since we revealed the letters from the Secretary of Finance in Port Moresby requesting Lange to attend Provincial Audit Committee meetings and provide the committee with the information it needs to carry out its investigations, a number of sources have stepped forward with further information.
These sources have revealed that rather than complying with the instructions from Port Moresby and assisting the committee the February meeting of the Audit Committee was cancelled as the Chair was ill and two subsequent scheduled meetings were cancelled as Lange was “not available”.
Finally, both Lange and his Treasurer, Soten Uriah, turned up to the June meeting (eight months after they had received their letters from the Department of Finance). The pair did table some reports but they were not circulated to the Committee members before the meeting . These were complex financial reports which required careful reading and consideration. When the Chair of the committee suggested that the start of the meeting be deferred for an hour or so to allow members time to read the reports, Lange said there was no time for that as he had to be leaving soon. The meeting was therefore unable to engage in any meaning consideration of the information provided.
The Chairman, as we know, subsequently resigned over the lack of cooperation from the Administrator and his failure to support efforts to tackle corruption.
The Madang Provincial administration is starting to leak like a sieve – which shows there are some honest public servants.
Madang Administrator Bernard Lange and his Treasurer have ignored instructions from the Department of Finance in Port Moresby to clean up the endemic corruption in their offices.
We have already revealed the Chair of the Madang Provincial Audit Committee has resigned over the lack of action on corruption and provided examples of the type of corruption that plagues the Province. In response a number of sources have come forward with further information.
The letters below show the Department of Finance in Port Moresby has had to write to both Lange and Treasurer Soten Uriah requiring they attend Provincial Audit Committee meetings set up to tackle instances of corruption. Sources have further confirmed that although both men have managed to attend at least one meeting of the Audit Committee since the letters were received they have failed to provide the Committee with the documentation and other information it has requested or to ensure other Divisional Heads attend and cooperate. This deprives the Committee of the information it requests and the authority required to fulfill its functions.
Madang Administrator Bernard Lange is refusing to acknowledge the considerable evidence of corruption within his organisation or do anything to deal with the problem.
The Chair of the Provincial Audit Committee has recently resigned over the indifference shown to its findings, as we revealed last week.
A further small example of the problems within the Province is shown in the photographs of a school classroom at Gum on the outskirts of Madang town. Bahubo Building Contractors was awarded the contract to build the classroom and work started in 2009 – but it has never been completed and the half-finished building is unusable. These is despite K100,000 having been paid out to the contractor.
The payments made were as follows: Cheque number 219719 dated 23/03/2009 for K50,000; Cheque number 222915 dated 22/09/2009 for K35,000; and Cheque number 227942 dated 14/12/2010 for K15,000. The last cheque was a final payment and when it was drawn all work on the classroom ceased.
Bahubo Building Contractors have been paid K100,000 out of tax payers money to build a much needed classroom but have never completed the job. The Madang Administration has taken no steps to ensure the work is completed or recover the money paid.
The Madang Administration and Bahubo Building Contractors have defrauded the people of Papua New Guinea and cheated the pupils, staff and parents of Gum school.
The Provincial Audit Committee in Madang has uncovered evidence of corruption by officials on a grand scale but that evidence is being wilfully ignored by the authorities.
The Chairman of the Madang Provincial Audit Committee has resigned because of the lack of support for his committee’s work from the Madang Provincial Administration and the Department of Finance.
Last year the Chairman of the Audit Committee wrote to both the Governor, Jim Kas, and the Department of Finance in Port Moresby expressing his concern about corruption but both letters went unanswered.