Papuan New Guinean | Journalist | Blogger | Loves ReGGae Music | Believes in the positive influence of the martial arts


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Dr. Niblet’s last 12 months were the most difficult

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Dr. John Niblet on 20 June, 2017. Picture: Andrea Niblet

The man who was a staunch campaigner for the improvement of the National Cancer Treatment Center in Lae has died at the hospital he served in for more than 20 years.

Former Angau Hospital oncologist, Dr. John Niblet is understood to have died of various complications at about 7pm on Tuesday night with his wife, Andrea, at his hospital bedside.

As many of his close friends and colleagues began grieving for his loss, there has been a lot of anger expressed over the treatment of the cancer specialist in the 12 months leading up to his death.

In June 2016, Dr. John Niblet’s employment with the National Department of Health (NDOH) ended and he was told his contract would not be renewed. There was not much of a warning issued by the NDOH.

“The fact that they hadn’t told me until the last minute, whether I got a contract or not, I’ve been requesting information since before Christmas,” he said when speaking to EMTV News last year.

In March 2017, Dr. Niblet, who had been out of a job for more than six months was evicted from their rented accommodation in Lae. After seeking a court injunction on the grounds of his unpaid entitlements, the court issued orders for the NDOH to continue paying rentals until he was paid.

The NDOH never complied. The Health Secretary, Pascoe Kase who came under fire from the public said in a statement that Dr. Niblet’s entitlements had been processed and that they were “waiting for clearance from the Finance Department.”

Dr. Niblet’s plight was also raised in Parliament by the Lae MP, Loujaya Kouza who called on the government and the Prime Minister to intervene. The Prime Minister’s response was to call for Dr. Niblet’s reinstatement if a replacement could not be found quickly.

Dr. Niblet was also facing deportation as he waited for his entitlements to be paid. Close friends said his visa had expired and he faced the possibility of deportation by the Foreign Affairs Department and was stressed by the personal crisis.

“He served this country for 30 plus years,” said wife Andrea. “…and this is how he is treated.”


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Emmanuel Mambei, courtroom to politics | By Sylvester Gawi (NBC)

Sylvester Gawi’s take on the political journey of Lae lawyer, Emmanuel Mambei who takes on Patrick Pruaitch.

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Emmanuel Mambei

Politics is becoming interesting as the election nears and the horses come out to line up for the race. One interesting electorate to watch this election is the Aitape-Lumi district of West Sepik Province. It is arguably one of the most important provinces as it covers Papua New Guinea’s territorial land border with Indonesia.

A total of 20 candidates have filled in the Form 29 to contest the Aitape-Lumi seat currently held by Treasury Minister and National Alliance Party Leader Patrick Pruaitch. Twelve of these candidates are from Aitape, while the other eight are from Lumi.

For over 40 years infrastructures and basic services have deteriorated, main highways have become waterways and bridges have collapsed. There is little hope that the rural population pray to survive the test of times as Christians would say. The Catholic Church runs most of the schools and health facilities and the people live off the land to pay for school fees and other expenses. These 19 candidates have one basic aim, that is change Pruaitch’s 15-years leadership.

I met up with one of Lumi’s finest son who is contesting this election. He is one prominent lawyer who runs a private law firm in Lae city. Meet Emmanuel Toku Mambei, a young man from Karaitem village, Ward 8 of the West Wapei LLG in Lumi West Sepik.

Mambei is an outspoken lawyer, who has had  a short but successful law career that he has served in both public and private practice. He is one man whom I’ve met in my capacity as a journalist in mainstream media as a reliable contact and a straight shooter.

“I’ve made up my mind to contest the elections because of the suffering my people have endured over the last 20-years or so,” Mambei told me after one of his visits to his village in 2016.

“The roads have become impassable and basic services are lacking at the LLG level, there is simply nothing to empower our local people.”

Emmanuel Mambei’s dad was a former politician. Paul Mambei served the people of Aitape-Lumi from 1990-1997 when he lost to Eddie Saweni. Saweni served for a term before being ousted by Pruaitch in the 2012 National General Election.

“There are a lot economic opportunities for the local people, but the dilapidated state of basic infrastructures and the gross neglect on improving basic services has deprived people’s empowerment,” Mambei said.

Going up against Pruaitch won’t be an easy task for Mambei and his counterparts. Pruaitch has been in the government for 15-years and has the backing of one of PNG’s oldest political parties, the National Alliance Party.

While West Sepik is a NA stronghold,  having its candidates winning elections, Mambei sets up his winning strategy with the Peoples Progress Party (PPP) one of the founding political parties in the country.

Whatever results comes out after the elections will determine the future of the people of Aitape-Lumi. The challenge is now on, will they vote for money and food or quality leadership?


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Rosa Koian tells her “name-not-on-the-common-roll” story

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Rosa Koian, on one of her happier days…

So I went out on Tuesday all set to vote for my leaders in Port Moresby. Obviously I wasn’t paying attention to the news the night before and in the morning so I went back a second time. Confused I called my news friends and yes, was told to follow the news updates on this very important event.

Friday comes and I am at the polling area again and within five minutes was sent away. I insisted on voting using my NID card as the government advertisements have been saying, but wasn’t allowed to vote. My name wasn’t on this roll so I was sent to another polling area. Now here at this other polling area, I joined the this very long queue and stood for more than an hour and my line didn’t seem to be moving. On checking at the entry point people were pushing their way in and off course lots of short cuts and so I stood with the rest of the women on the women’s line and waited.
I got a call later from a friend that my name was not on the roll and I should quit and go away but I wanted to vote. I know I had put down my name already and I am turning up now to vote so how comes?
Later that evening I listened to friends, neighbors and family members who tried all day to get their votes in and didn’t. Then I read about how many other Papua New Guineans were turned away or refused to vote because only a limited number of ballot papers were sent to them. Yes questions and more questions but to be denied the right to vote in a democratic country? Where the government is for the people and only through the people that it is a legitimate government. How come so many people missed out?
I didn’t vote in the end.


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Ballot paper shortages, roll inaccuracies widespread as Lae ends polling

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Unitech students burning ballot papers

Polling in the Lae Open electorate   has ended with widespread reports of electoral roll inaccuracies, inadequate ballot papers and polling disruptions by angry voters.

The incidences in multiple locations happened as an international observer group   traveled   between polling stations in Papua New Guinea’s industrial city.

At Omili Primary School, voting was suspended for over an hour after police fired shots to disperse a crowd of rowdy voters.

Earlier,   a Nawae Block community leader, Nime Dua, led a group that threatened to force the suspension of polling because of shortage of ballot papers.

“In previous elections the ballot papers brought here average between 3000 and 3500,” he said. “We want them to explain why we are being given only 1500 ballot papers.”

The apparent shortage of ballot papers stems from the flawed 2017 electoral roll doesn’t include eligible voters who turned 18 after 2012 elections.

At a polling station at the University of Technology students burnt 1100 ballot papers in protest.

“We fought against corruption last year,” a student leader said. “This is corruption!”

Tensions escalated in West Taraka as voters turned against each other.   Police were called in to quell the violence.

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Chinatown polling station

As voters questioned the validity of the electoral roll at a polling station in the center of town, Electoral Commissioner, Patilias Gamato,   stepped off a Port Moresby Flight to Lae and headed straight for the Ward Two council office a few kilometers away  where he was able to find his name on the electoral role and cast his vote.

In Chinatown, many voters had come as early as 4am to vote. But by 8.30am, many voters were left frustrated.

Eng Anuma voted in 2012. This morning she that found that her name was not on the 2017 electoral roll. Names of her family members were also missing.

“What am I going to do? I don’t know. I have a right to vote!”

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Delvin Balsen, one of many who missed out on voting

Delvin Balsen planned to vote in this election. The 31-year-old, Lae resident is one of many young voters who will miss out on the election process.

“I don’t feel like a Papua New Guinean Citizen. I am angry about the whole thing.”

Minutes after polling began in Chinatown, scrutineers called for a suspension of polling and demanded to know which electoral roll would be used.

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Eng Anuma voted in 2012

Some voters who found their names on the 2012 rolls could not find theirs in the 2017 rolls.While polling resumed, the electoral roll problems remained unresolved for the rest of the day.


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Election officers should not be barring media reporting at polling stations

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To all media (and especially to younger journos) covering the elections, you have the right to film and report at polling stations. It is an integral part of transparency in a democracy.

The constitution is supreme!

Polling officials should NOT be stopping anyone from filming or reporting on the elections. We do NOT need permission to ensure that we do our part to keep OUR democracy intact through accurate reporting.

Any polling official or returning officer who demands that we seek permission should be asked why he/she is attempting to stop an essential part of the democracy from doing its job.

Any threats of arrest should also be exposed.


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Kaibar owner pushes boundaries of Western Highlands politics

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Western Highlands businesswoman, Rachel Mura, began a kaibar business when she was 24 and   last month nominated for the Western highlands provincial seat.

While her campaign style lacks the extravagance of highlands politics, she says, its about all about winning the hearts and minds of women and ordinary people in the villages.

Over two decades, Rachel have stamped her mark as a successful small business owner. Her portfolio to includes properties in Australia and the Philippines.

“I still operate the small kai bar. I’ve been to other countries but Western Highlands is still home.”

But why politics? It’s a question she’s answered countless times over the last month during her campaign.

“Many politicians have homes overseas or they live in Port Moresby. If we live away, our people are on their own.”

Rachel Mura says it’s about bringing back services to the people who need it the most like “the mama in the village” who struggles to budget a small income to the youth in Hagen City.

One of her main policies is to create the Western Highlands Microbank – an institution she wants to use to empower women and create business success stories.

“They government has to support the Western Highlands Microbank concept. It will be owned by the women of the province.”

 

 


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“Small pigs ain’t good enough for politics”

pig1For Christina Yamba, pigs are serious business.   Christine comes from a long line of   women who have raised pigs over   generations for various purposes. For her, it is a lucrative income source.

“I look after pigs for sale. I feed them with kaukau and feed. Large pigs are sold for K5000.”

During election time, the price of pigs rise as candidates come looking for gifts to woo voters and build alliances   before the polling happens.

It has become standard practice as ancient customs are blended with 21st century politics in Papua New Guinea.

pig2Christine explains, candidates don’t come looking to buy   small pigs. .

“Election people don’t want small pigs,” she says. “We don’t sell small pigs worth K1000. People want them.”

During the 2012 elections, Christine made 15 thousand kina from the sale of three pigs. Each pig was bought for 5 thousand kina by intending politicians.

For this election, she won’t be selling any of her pigs. They’ll too small. A pig worth K1000 Kina just isn’t good enough for Western Highlands politics.