Social Concerns Notes – October 2014
Church's new pastoral plan emphasises social concerns
A new Pastoral Plan for the Catholic Church in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands places great emphasis on the family, the poor, youth, street kids and a wide range of social concerns.
The document was officially launched in Goroka on Sunday and is the culmination of two years of work within the church. It is the first time that Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands have developed a common Pastoral Plan. A new evangelization is at the core of the pastoral plan along with its social concerns and a new focus on the media.
“The world and the church are in the midst of a deep and ongoing crisis such as we have never experienced before”, the President of the Bishops’ Conference, Arnold Orowae of Wabag, said in his presentation of the plan. He said that young people especially live in uncertainty and fear of the future, adding that family breakdown, violence and corruption are on the rise.
Bishop Arnold also noted “an identity crisis in the priesthood and religious life”. He said the purpose evangelisation is not “simply getting people to become Christians or Catholics, or even necessarily getting people to come to church. “It is the whole process of announcing the living Christ. It is about living the consequences of our faith in Jesus Christ by bringing the gospel values of mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation into our lives, our workplace, and all our social, economic, and political responsibilities.”
The National, Wednesday 01st of October, 2014
AN international organisation plans to help more victims of sorcery-related crimes in the country. Oxfam International associate country director Philippe Allen said sorcery-related killings was a challenging form of violence, compared to others, for agencies to assist in addressing. Oxfam and its partner organisations are carrying out research to find the best way to address violence related to sorcery and providing help for victims whose lives are in danger. “Many of these cases involve women and children who have suffered years of sexual abuse and other forms of physical violence,” Allen said. “For these people, the only hope of a new life is to return to their home province or find refuge in a safe place. “The risks are extreme for people accused of sorcery. “In these cases, if the person accused is not evacuated immediately, they could be murdered within days.” A victim of a 2013 sorcery-related torture, who asked not to be identified, said victims of sorcery-related crimes wanted justice because many lives had been lost. Others are seeking refuge away from their homes.
Is foreign investment obsession eroding democracy in PNG?
OFTEN described as “an island of gold floating on a sea of oil”, Papua New Guinea is one of the top ten resource-dependent economies in the world. But robust economic growth rates have not led to any decrease in PNG’s poverty rate over the last 20 years.
Although the benefits of economic growth are not reaching the vast majority of the population, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has repeatedly cited the need to create a stable political environment to boost foreign investor confidence. Since ascending to power, O’Neill has endlessly promoted “political stability” to justify a daunting array of anti-democratic measures which cynics perceive as a thinly veiled attempt to prolong his own leadership.
First, he has amended the Constitution to extend the period during which any vote of no confidence against the prime minister is prohibited, from 30 months previously to now a total of 43 months out of the 60-month (5 year) term between elections.
A second change has been to reduce the minimum number of parliamentary sitting days to just 40 days per year, and to increase the number of MPs who must sponsor any motion for a vote of no confidence.
Further measures include sacking the Treasurer and Attorney-General, as well as Ministers for Petroleum & Resources, Higher Education and Industrial Relations, all within the last three months.
Although such action could be perceived as undermining political stability, the reason given in each case was the need for stability. In the case of the Treasurer, his sacking followed his opposition to a proposed loan that would raise national debt to a level he felt to be irresponsibly high.
In response, O’Neill appointed himself Acting Treasurer and unilaterally approved the loan. The Ombudsman has since referred O’Neill to the Public Prosecutor for alleged misconduct in bypassing proper parliamentary processes for approving the loan.
The Attorney-General was sacked for opposing O’Neill’s proposed Constitutional amendment relating to votes of no confidence. Just days earlier, O’Neill had commended the Attorney-General as one of the best-performing ministers.
More worryingly, O’Neill has also disbanded the anti-corruption task force he had himself set up. This occurred immediately after it recommended police action on evidence that O’Neill had improperly authorised approximately $US30 million in payments to a law firm.
O’Neill further sacked the Police Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner who signed the arrest warrant against him. The National Court recently granted a permanent stay against the disbandment of the task force.
By punishing any traces of dissent within the ranks of government, dismissing senior officers exercising independent oversight of prime ministerial action, and removing any effective voice of Opposition on the floor of Parliament, O’Neill has seriously curtailed the public’s right to information which could properly influence their vote. In the words of Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, each of these measures appears to be an “unreasonable restriction” on the right to “free expression of the will of the electors”. Adhering to human rights principles of transparency and accountability is particularly crucial in a young and fragile democracy seeking to strengthen the rule of law.
Foreign investors have responded to this ongoing corrosion of democracy by continuing to call for “stability” – no doubt music to the Prime Minister’s ears, but a setback for the country’s adherence to human rights.
Pato briefs UN on MDG progress
Post Courier October 03,2014, 12:58 am
FOREIGN Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato has briefed the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York on Papua New Guinea’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG) progress. PNG’s country statement in areas that include education, health care and gender equality was well received in the forum of the UN 192 member countries, according to a Foreign Affairs statement yesterday. Mr Pato also reflected on global progress to attain the Millennium Development Goals and the future of these ongoing efforts.
"The international community, including Papua New Guinea, stands at an important crossroad where the Millennium Development Goals is coming to its conclusion in December 2015," he said.
"The MDGS are to be superseded by a new set of global Sustainable Development Goals in 2016 and Papua New Guinea is committed to be part of this important process.
Mr Pato said collective international action to attain the MDGs has galvanised the global community’s collective efforts to combating poverty and improving people’s lives like never before. "For Papua New Guinea, the O’Neill Government remains fully committed to attaining the eight MDGs and this is still a work in progress.
The 2015 Papua New Guinea budget: ten criteria for success
http://devpolicy.org/the-2015-papua-new-guinea-budget-ten-criteria-for-success-20140930/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=bb744040ca-Devpolicy_News__Oct_03_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-bb744040ca-227683090 By Paul Flanagan on September 30, 2014
This is an interesting but long article. Those interested can access the url above.
The National, Monday 06th of October, 2014
VLAD Sokhin, videographer of the film Guavas and Bananas: Living Gay in PNG said no one really talks about legalising gay marriage in Papua New Guinea. The film shown during the Human Rights Film Festival this year highlighted concerns by the gay community in finding safety when expressing their sexuality, their struggle and hope for acceptance in PNG. Sokhin said his decision to make the film was based on the fact that such topics were rarely discussed because of their sensitivity. He said there were accounts of brutality of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. “They were telling me horrible stories of gang rapes, beatings, or even killings of gay people that happened some years ago in Moresby,” he said. “I understood that these accounts should be heard by people in PNG and overseas so that not just me, but members of PNG lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community can tell their stories.” PNG outlaws homosexuality and sodomy is a criminal offence punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment.
The National, Wednesday October 8th, 2014
ONLY 4500 of the 17,000 students who sat for the national examinations last year were selected for tertiary institutions, a report has revealed. The report was prepared by officials of the Office of Higher Education titled “2013-14 National selection performance analysis”. It disclosed that this year, more than 23,000 Grade 12 students will sit for the national examinations. OHE scholarship officer Terence Pogo said out of the 23,000, only 4000 to 5000 would enter tertiary institutions next year.
The National, Thursday October 9th, 2014
MURDERS related to sorcery and land disputes in Northern are on the rise, provincial police commander Jacob Singura says. He said it was becoming a major concern for police and communities. Police received at least one murder incident report related to land or sorcery each week from villages on the outskirts of the province, Singura said. Murder weapons used are knives and hunting spears and killings are usually gruesome and horrifying, he said. He said sometimes police were not able to attend to reports in remote parts for reasons such as lack of vehicles and money and he felt sad. Singura urged disputing parties to use violent-free means of settling disputes instead of causing harm to each other. “Christianity is influential in many communities and we should practice what we preach by forgiving others or adhere to proper channels of mediation or come to the police to resolve issues.” Meanwhile, a murder was reported at the Musa local level government area, and Singura put together a team to make a three-day journey to the trouble spot. Singura said he would wait for days before receiving reports from his officers. Such cases are examples of issues facing police in rural stations, he said.
The National, Monday 13th of October, 2014
THERE are about 4000 outstanding bench warrants in the country, some dating back 20 to 25 years, Justice Panuel Mogish says. He told reporters during the second court-user forum last Friday in Kokopo that the execution of the bench warrants by police was “dismal”. “Approximately 2000 of these people are in the system so you are looking at a total accused population of around 6000. “But more than half are on bench warrants,” he said. “That is the biggest problem we have in the criminal justice system. How do we get people back into the system to pay for their crimes? “In fact every time the court issues a bench warrant, it is never executed but just adds to the list.” Mongish said in East New Britain alone, 209 bench warrants had been issued since 1999. “We should not forget that for 500 people on bench warrants, we have 500 victims who deserve the right to know the outcome so we should not so much focus on the interest of the accused but think about the concerns felt by the victims,” Mogish said.
The National, Monday 13th of October, 2014
A YOUNG man at Wom village, west of Wewak has put the smile back on the face of an Australian soldier who lost his portable camera last week. Patrick Nango handed over the underwater digital camera he found after the soldier had dropped it near the beach. The Australian soldiers are renovating the rundown facilities at Moem Barracks. They were told last Friday that someone had found a camera while diving. They all went down to the beach with Wewak Island LLG president Pius Bugatar and the village councillor to receive the camera. The owner of the camera was not present but Sgt Major Adrian Brooks, who received the camera, said: “He will be over the moon. We will come back with the soldier to say thank you.” The villagers said they saw him in tears when he could not find the camera and tried to find it for him. Bugatar said Patrick’s father had helped return the soldiers’ laptops, cameras, firearm and other valuables stolen when they were there 10 years back. He was grateful he had taken after his father. “This is the way forward in promoting tourism and I commend young Patrick for doing what is right,” Bugatar said.
United Nations: Death penalty not effective remedy
Post Courier October 14,2014, 02:02 am
LAST Friday marked the World Day Against the Death Penalty, a commemoration that United Nations leaders around the world are supporting. It followed last week’s announcement that Cabinet will soon decide which mode of capital punishment is to be implemented in PNG, says UN resident co-ordinator Roy Trivedy who acknowledged the Government’s intention to address serious crime.
However, he believes introducing the death penalty was not an effective remedy.
"There is no evidence that introducing the death penalty will act as a deterrent. Statistics from countries that have abolished the death penalty indicate no increase in serious crime," Mr Trivedy said in a statement.
"Implementing capital punishment would expose the people of Papua New Guinea to the risk of an irreversible sanction; one which prohibits the correction of mistakes."
In March this year the UN Independent Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions visited PNG and in his preliminary findings, strongly encouraged PNG to refrain from using the death penalty, stating:
"While I acknowledge the magnitude of the challenge that the Government faces when addressing the high levels of killings and violence in the country, I am of the opinion that the death penalty is not the adequate answer to this situation," Mr Trivedy said.
"It provides a false sense of security and diverts attention from the real long term solutions such as better policing, development and education."
Mr Trivedy supports the Government’s intent of tackling major crime, but believes there are more effective measures that can be implemented to address the country’s high rate of crime.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also recently made a statement on moving away from the death penalty, highlighting that the poor, the mentally ill, the powerless and people from minorities are disproportionate among those executed.
There are currently 13 prisoners around the country who are on death row for various serious crimes.
The National, Thursday October 16th, 2014
THE country will be violating international standards should the Government impose the death penalty, a United Nations preliminary report has highlighted. The report was prepared by Christof Heyns, the UN’s independent special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, on his visit to the country in March. It discouraged the Government from imposing the death penalty. Heyns said PNG was considered a defacto abolitionist State at international level with regard to the imposition of the death penalty. The last execution occurred in 1954 and PNG is among countries which have abolished it. “I strongly encourage the Government to maintain this international positioning of PNG and refrain from any use of the death penalty,” he said. “There is a sustained global trend to move away from the death penalty because its weaknesses are now widely recognised
Youths urged to stay away from drugs
Post Courier October 14,2014, 02:02 am
LALOKI Psychiatric Hospital chief executive officer Getzo Yamele is urging the youths to be meaningfully engaged so that they do not turn to drugs.
"The young people between 18 and 30 are the productive people in the country’s development. However, when they don’t find anything, they get bored and turn to drugs and alcohol," Mr Yamele said during the World Mental Health Day celebration on Friday.
He revealed disturbing statistic to back his point. Last year the hospital had 208 admissions, 91 of them were cannabis-induced psychosis. This represented 43 percent of admission. Mr Yamele said this caused overcrowding and blew out the hospital’s tight budget for food and medication.
Acute care ward manager, Sister Dianne Rambe says that many of the patients who were affected by drug abuse were often confused about why they were in the psychiatric hospital and try to escape when the effect of the drug wears off.
The demand to care for such patients has increased in the past few years as Laloki Psychiatric Hospital admits mentally ill patients from all over the country.
The National, Tuesday October 14th, 2014
POLICE have confirmed that 491 police officers were sacked between 2007 and last year because of serious disciplinary matters. Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Jim Andrews said these officers were served with serious disciplinary orders. In that same period, 1792 officers were investigated on disciplinary matters and 353 of the cases were dismissed because the adjudicators found no evidence against the officers. Andrews released the statistics following the attack on a University of PNG lecturer and three students last week, allegedly by police officers. He said 248 demotions were recorded in that period and 700 cases of fines were imposed on officers guilty of minor disciplinary matters. Andrews said the statistics proved that over the years, the constabulary had swiftly investigated complaints against police officers and those guilty were punished accordingly. He said cases of police brutality reported in the media affected the constabulary’s public image but it would continue to investigate such complaints.
The National, Tuesday October 14th, 2014
AROUND five amputations are done every week in the country on people suffering from diabetes, a doctor says. Dr Poyap J Rooney of the Port Moresby General Hospital revealed this during an outreach and testing on volunteers. Rooney said there were about 250,000 diabetics in the country, however, he added that the figure could be higher because a lot of people had not been tested on their sugar levels. He said he was interested in forming an association to be run by diabetics themselves to carry out awareness on the disease. Rooney is planning to register a Papua New Guinea Association of Diabetics Inc to be a voice for the people living with diabetes. “I believe this will greatly improve the care of people with diabetes as well as other chronic illnesses,” he said. He said diabetics could lead to other chronic illnesses such as sores and blindness.
Politicise government departments with departmental heads appointed only by Ministers - Peter From PNGblogs.com 14 October
PM O’Neill’s latest move is the new proposed law to have Ministers choose departmental heads and this was a secret evil move that seriously undermines a democractic system of checks and balances.
The reason why our constitution was written to prohibit ministers from appointing those underneath them in the various ministries and departments was to ensure necessary checks and balances to maintain a democratic form of government, which mean having departments that were not politicised.
Departmental secretaries were always chosen independent of the minister because they were the truest experts in the activities covered by that ministry. Ministers, on the other hand, often are interested in that area of work but actually know very little about it. They should not be allowed to have full power over a ministry, otherwise all priorities become political priorities focusing on certain districts or provinces, rather than development priorities that focus on the nation as a whole and bringing it forward as a whole by putting each development in the place where it will bring the greatest payoff to the nation as a whole.
In a number of democracies in the world, even the ministers of departments are not active politicians. Two examples are France and the United States, where the appointed Ministers are not active politicians and some have never been elected to any office. For example, Hillary Clinton was not in any elected office when she served as the Secretary (same as a Minister) of State under Obama and Obama has picked people from the opposition political party to be Secretaries although none are currently in an elected office. In Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia vice-chancellor Tan Sri Dr Musa Mohamed was a non-politician who was appointed Minister of Higher Education in 1999. Peter O’Neill has gone exact opposite of democracy in the changes he is making to our government.
Kereme: New law opens way for wantok system
Post Courier October 15,2014, 02:30 am
THE Public Service Commission has warned that the days of cronyism may return to the appointment process of government officials with the removal of the merit-based assessment powers from the Public Services Commission. PSC chairman Philip Kereme and his two commissioners Apeo Fuata Sione and Rachel Wii have expressed concern that the removal of these powers and placing it with the ministerial committee is not in the best interest of the public service.
"The Public Services Commission was never consulted on the removal of its powers to conduct merit-based assessment on the appointment of departmental heads, provincial administrators and chief executive officers of regulatory statutory authorities," Mr Kereme said in a statement on behalf of the commissioners.
Measles Cases Continue to Rise
Solomon Times Monday, 29 September 2014
A dramatic rise in cases of measles in Solomon Islands reminds the community that the fight against measles is not yet over.
Reports that “measles cases are slowly decreasing” are inaccurate. In fact, cases of measles are increasing and spreading throughout the provinces.
“The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) can confirm that over 2300 cases of measles have been reported since the outbreak began in July this year,” said Dr. Aaron Oritaimae, Incident Controller of the Ministry of Health’s Emergency Operations Centre.
“Over 829 cases of measles were reported in the last week alone, and it is likely that there are many more cases which have not been reported. There have also been an additional three measles-related deaths, bringing the total death count to six.”Dr. Oritaimae reminds the public that the measles vaccination is free and available to all aged 6 months to 30 years in Honiara and Guadalcanal Province as part of the National Measles Vaccination Campaign.
The National, Wednesday October 15th, 2014
A MAN who admitted cutting off the hands of his younger brother has pledged to look after him. The brothers from the Baiyer River area in Western Highlands had a row resulting in the injuries. The older brother agreed to the deal after their uncles from their mother’s side demanded compensation from him for hurting his younger sibling Wambia Kungu. As the compensation, he agreed to provide food, shelter, clothing and even feed him. The leaders said the big brother and his young brother had an argument resulting in a fight. The big brother chopped off his young brother’s left hand first. Eyewitnesses said the big brother then chopped off the right hand fearing that his younger brother might use it later to attack him.
The National, Thursday October 16th, 2014
EUROPEAN Union ambassador Dr Martin Dihm discussed gender violence with senior lecturers of primary teachers’ colleges in Port Moresby this week. Thirty lecturers from around PNG addressed the need to stand against gender-related violence. “Gender violence is a threat to the growth of any society,” Dihm said. “Education needs to turn the table and take a leading role in striving for a peaceful society where the human rights of everybody are protected.” Dihm said the role of teacher training institutions was crucial to the issue. Lecturers discussed approaches to fight gender violence and to make a change. Suggestions ranged from extra-curricular activities to changes in the curriculum. The lecturers agreed influence at an early age was vital. “Therefore, primary teachers’ colleges need to plant the seed for a violence free society in the hearts and minds of their students,” Dihm said.
The National, Thursday October 16th, 2014
THE United Nations has proposed that national human rights institutions be established in the country. According to a preliminary report by Christof Heyns, the UN’s independent special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, the institutions “play an important role in many societies around the world in a promotional as well as protective function”. “The idea to establish a NHRI in PNG has been accepted for long time ago. This idea should now be implemented,” he said. “The Government should give strong consideration to establishing at the same time a provincial office of the NHRI in at least one province, for example Chimbu. “Among other things such a branch can play an important role in dealing with the issue of witchcraft and sorcery accusation related violence in that province.” “There is no well-established general human rights NGO in the country,” he said. He suggested that the University of PNG could play a role by creating a law clinic and establish a centre for human rights. He said there were a limited number of lawyers available to provide assistance to indigent individuals. “The public solicitor provides free legal assistance in criminal matters to those that face a sentence of two years or more and are unable to afford another lawyer. Private lawyers are expensive and very few practise criminal law,” he said. He said a few lawyers were interested in joining the Office of the Public Prosecutor due to poor benefits, as in inadequate housing. “Improving the benefits could attract further solicitors country wide to ease the workload of the existing ones.”
Women Cop swap countries to learn domestic violence prevention
Post Courier October 16, 2014
Two female police officers working on domestic violence prevention in Papua New Guinea and Australia have swapped countries, and have been surprised by the laws and culture that dictate domestic violence patterns on the other side. Australian Federal Police (AFP) Officer Michelle Harris is working in Papua New Guinea, while her counterpart, Rachel Pinda, has just finished an AFP funded placement with the Northern Territory Police in Australia, working with their Sexual Offences Unit. Officer Harris said she was shocked by the extent to which domestic violence is ingrained in PNG culture. "Domestic violence is actually socially perceived as a normal aspect of a woman's life, strangely, and in their perspective, remains wholly a family matter and shouldn't be discussed publicly," she said. … She said because abuse was so intrinsically linked to culture, women were often ashamed to report violence. "It is underreported and often women and girls do not know where to seek help," she said. Officer Harris said she found there was a serious lack of support services available to the huge number of women who experienced abuse, and they often had nowhere to turn.
PNG policewoman Rachel Pinda, who has been serving on an AFP placement in the Northern Territory, agreed that cultural norms prevented women from seeking help. "They are very strong-willed women but most of them, who are married to those such men, they feel in fear," she said. "I think it's because of the way we were brought up to respect men, and the customary thing within it too, even educated women with the fear inside them, that 'my husband's going to this and that and that' or it'll be a disgrace to my family if I report that, it's just these things that they still believe in." Gender-based violence in Australia is nowhere near the proportions of Papua New Guinea, but still alarmingly high, with a third of women having experienced physical violence, and one fifth experiencing sexual assault. But in Australia, domestic violence law is enforced, and abuse is not condoned by society or viewed as the man's right.
Good news on the gender front in Papua New Guinea
All too often, the gender news coming out of Papua New Guinea is bad. Whether it is high levels of domestic violence, or few women in parliament, there is a lot to work on. But it is not all bad news. Here is some good news, from our 2012 survey of 360 primary schools and health clinics (health centres and aid posts) across eight provinces in PNG. Many of the same schools and clinics were surveyed in 2002 as well. That means we can look at how the proportion of female teachers, prinicipals (head teachers), health workers, and health clinic managers (officers in charge) has changed over the last decade. The last decade has in fact seen a transformation in the gender composition of PNG’s educational workforce. In 2002, only 13 per cent of primary school principals were females. In 2012, it was 27 per cent, more than double. The number of female teachers also increased sharply: from 27 to 55 per cent. (Note that we only surveyed the gender of Grade 5 teachers, but we use this to generalize about primary school teachers.) In other words, whereas a decade ago only one-quarter of PNG’s primary school teachers were female, now more than half are.
Sickening long wait
Post Courier October 20,2014, 01:23 am
PATIENTS are waiting for hours – even days – to be seen by a doctor or a nurse at the accident and emergency department of the Port Moresby General Hospital. It has become a norm. Last week, a staff from the Post-Courier joined the queue and had to wait for 15 hours before he was seen by a doctor.
Attempts by the newspaper to get comments from the hospital chief executive officer Grant Muddle were unsuccessful. The Post-Courier staff reported that one of the patients died while waiting. Another patient complained that he had waited for one week to see a doctor after being referred by the Nine-Mile clinic.
On Monday October 13, at 8am Dr Kore informed an overcrowded accident and emergency section that she would be the only doctor that day and would be dealing with the "very sick" and those who were not so sick would have to wait until a doctor came along. She also clearly informed patients that "this is not an outpatient and therefore the very sick would be given priority."
True to her words, Dr Kore worked tirelessly, skipping lunch, and at 4.30pm was still there. If there was a worker who gave exemplary service without fear and favour, Dr Kore would fill that category.
Police attack fraud squad detectives
Post Courier October 21,2014
DETECTIVE Sergeant Patrick Primenga had a pistol pointed at his head and the trigger pulled but the gun did not go off, says head of the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption directorate Mathew Damaru.
On Sunday Sgt Primenga and members of the fraud squad had just completed the task for the day serving contempt of court charges and had returned home when he was assaulted.
A convoy of police vehicles, with 15 armed policemen, drove to his house at Games village Police Barracks, Waigani, and started assaulting him by throwing punches and deflated one of the tyres to one of the squad vehicles that he had parked in front of his house, Chief Supt Damaru said.
He said one of the policemen pointed a pistol at Sgt Primenga at close range and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not go off.
So he pointed to the roof and pulled the trigger again and the gun went off and the bullet went through the roof of his house. All these happened in full view of the sergeant’s children and wife.
After the attack on Sgt Primenga they went to Sabama Police Barracks and threatened the family of another officer. Supt Damaru said that despite the attacks, his team would continue to serve the contempt charges without fear or favour.
The National, Tuesday October 21st, 2014
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has told his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott that Papua New Guinea was committed to the agreement on the processing of asylum seekers on Manus. They met briefly in Port Moresby on Sunday before they flew off separately to Indonesia to attend the inauguration of President Joko Widodo. They discussed the regional resettlement arrangement of asylum seekers at the Lombrum regional processing centre in Manus. O’Neill assured Abbott that PNG was committed to the implementation of the resettlement agreement. Given its sensitivity, he said it required time to work through the issues. Abbott was accompanied by Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison. O’Neill told Abbott that he supported the work by officials from both countries in addressing the resettlement of the asylum seekers in Manus. He said due to lack of understanding and support for refugee settlement in PNG communities, a new policy would be prepared with increased focus on consultation and building public awareness and support. “The new policy will be considered by Cabinet after these comprehensive public awareness and consultations are completed,” O’Neill said.
Students affected by attack on school
Post Courier October 22,2014, 12:00 pm
Preparations for the Grade 8 National Examinations for students attending St Francis of Assisi Kuluanda primary school in Tari, Hela Province will be greatly affected. This follows the suspension of classes for two weeks after an attack on the staff and school allegedly by local youths under the influence of alcohol and illicit substances. Kuluanda is one of the biggest primary schools in Tari district and is run by the Catholic Church. After the unplanned demolition of the neighbouring Tari Admin primary school late last year to make way for the development of Tari town and airport, Kuluanda has being placed under unprecedented stress to accommodate for the influx of students from Tari Admin, bulk of which are public servants’ children. The school has managed to overcome over-crowdedness, congestion and the lack of facilities to cater for the children’s’ education and the attack on the staff and school only adds salt to the wounds. Tari based Catholic parish priest Fr Nick Yambu confirmed this from Tari yesterday, adding that the national examination preparations for the 80 plus grade eight students who sit for their final exams that starts nationwide next week would be severely affected and they may not get the desired results as teachers refused to take up classes due to the attack. Fr Yambu said it was the sixth attack this year by the same group of boys that live within the precincts of the school.
School Facilities Not Ideal For Children With Disability
The National, Oct 22nd, 2014
Classrooms and learning facilities in schools are not ideally designed for children with disability, a man who knows all about it says. Rex Larry, an occupant of the Morobe Disability Home, said children with disability were not benefitting from the government’s free education policy because most of them remained at home due to facilities in schools being inaccessible.“Most of them are supposed to be in school but are now on the street looking for opportunities to help themselves,” Larry said. “This academic year will end with most of the children with disability not being able to be educated formally.”Larry said there were no wheelchair paths to classrooms, no sign language teachers for the hearing impaired students and those children with speaking problems could not communicate with their peers. “Children with disability are caught with these barriers when trying to access the government’s free education policy. The Australian government, under its Strongim Pipol Strongim Nesen (SPSN) project, has partnered with the board of disabled persons, the National Assembly of Persons with Disability and the National Orthotic and Prosthetic Services and initiated the Assistive Devices Delivery (ADD) project.
PNG Blogs Friday, October 24, 2014 By Paul Flanagan
On 30 September, PNG’s central bank (BPNG) released their six monthly monetary policy statement. This was a mixture of good and bad news.
On the good news side. First, it is positive that the statement came out and continued a positive pattern of transparency of major six-monthly updates (on top of shorter monthly updates). Some countries don’t do this – and this can damage their credibility.
First, inflation is expected to be around 8 per cent, a considerable jump from the 6 per cent forecast by the PNG Treasury only two months earlier. Inflation is known to especially hurt the poor.
There is even more worrying implicit bad news. First, the statement presents as a positive a new agreement that the central bank will purchase from the Treasury any government bills or inscribed stocks that aren’t picked up by the private market. BPNG will then make these bills available to small investors to purchase (through their TAP facility). In theory, this sounds great. In reality, it is disastrous. There is now an imperceptibly fine line between what the bank is doing and the bank simply printing money to fund the growing budget deficit. Small investors are not buying the new central bank bills. So the central bank is now providing almost unlimited financing for any deficit. Once started, this near printing of money can be a very addictive habit for any government.
This agreement by the central bank to purchase bills and stocks that the private sector doesn’t want, despite very significant increases in interest rates, is an extremely worrying step down what can be a very slippery slope. Some may argue that this process, also known as a form of “quantitative easing” or “unconventional monetary policy” is being used in the US and Japan and possibly Europe to try and stimulate the economy after the Global Financial Crisis. However, the circumstances are very different. In the US and Europe and Japan, there are few inflationary concerns – indeed, the worry has been about deflation. In PNG, as noted above, the worry is the significant upward trend in inflation to 8 per cent. Economic history is filled with examples of how printing money can quickly over-heat an economy.
(See the source reference above for the full article.)
The beauty of the flowers for church is the beauty of Maria
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2014/10/the-beauty-of-the-flowers-for-church-is-the-beauty-of-maria.html#more 24 October 2014 Bomai De Witne
MEMBERS of the Liklik Kristen Komuniti at Mary Help of Christian Parish-Kefamo come from many different provinces in PNG.
There are a lot of older people in their 40s and 50s from the Simbu Province who settled in the Gahuku and Mimanalo local level government areas a few decades ago. A few are working class people who live and work in Goroka town and attend Sunday church service at Kefamo.
Each of the settlers has a story to tell of how they came to settle on the land they are occupying.
Last week, old John Gior told me he had problems with the son of a landowner who, under the influence of liquor, attempted to use force to remove him. I found out from John that he made arrangement to settle on the land from the father of the drunkard but since then the man had passed away. The drunkard son did not accept any agreement between John and his late father.
There are similar land related issues facing people who came more than two decades ago, settled on customary land and are now being forced to leave by the children of the landowners.
In the absence of a binding legal document, the settlers are increasingly threatened by these children. They are asking for compensation for developing the land and the payments they have made over the years. The children of the landowners refuse to accept such demands and have shifted the blame to their dead parents and relatives. Many Kefamo parishioners who settled on customary land in Goroka face the ongoing threat of losing their homes.
However these problems have not deterred them from living their Catholic faith.
They find time to get together for prayers in their Liklik Kristen Komunitiand give to Sunday Eucharistic celebrations. Most of them use the limited land for food crops. But Maria Philip told me she allocates a large portion of her backyard to planting flowers. She has been trained to know how to plant and arrange flowers for important events - and the most important event is the flowers to decorate her church. She brings a variety of flowers every week and nicely arranges them in buckets and places them at the altar.Last weekend she brought flowers as usual and showed me and the children how to arrange them in the church. Maria never runs out of smiles and also encourages other families to grow flowers for church. She commits her house for weekly prayer sessions for Saint Lazarus Liklik Kristen Komuniti. Maria’s husband, Philip Mogia, works as a driver at the Papua New Guinea Medical Research Institute and is very supportive of his wife and Liklik Kristen Komuniti.
They have grown up children and a grandchild who they encourage to attend Sunday services.
At a time when PNG faces so many socio-economic, cultural and religious problems which affect people in different ways, Catholics need to step up in living their faith. I can only compare Maria’s beauty with the beauty of the flowers she grows and brings to church each week.
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