East Sepik Provincial Govt goes to court, wants LLG presidents to be elected

East Sepik Governor, Allan Bird (pic by Jason Prince Wuri) 

The East Sepik Provincial Government  is going to court  to  determine if  a National Executive Council  decision that disallowed the direct election of  Local Level Government Presidents is legal.

The  Supreme Court reference will seek to establish  if  the NEC  decision  followed proper legal protocols and abides by  the constitution of   Papua New Guinea.   East Sepik Governor,  Allan Bird, said lawyers representing the ESPG  will be filing the supreme court reference  at 2pm this afternoon.

“We are also seeking a deferral  of the LLG elections,” he said. “Otherwise, the LLG elections will be null and void if the  courts declare the NEC decision unconstitutional after elections have been done.”

As per the NEC decision,  only ward members  will be  elected. LLG presidents will be ‘appointed’ members of provincial assembly voted in by the ward members.  It is a similar process  that happens after  national elections hen MPs choose  the Prime Minister.

“The Prime Minister is an appointed position.  The Prime Minister is appointed by other MPs. He is not elected.  We do not want that. We want  LLG members who are independently elected  and maintain that independence.

“The Government has broken the law.  Both with this and the deferral of  local level government elections. LLG elections are supposed to happen within three months  after the end of the National General Elections,” Governor Bird said.

Similar concerns were raised two months ago by  former Morobe  Governor, Luther Wenge who said  LLG members are, at present, illegally in office because the elections have been delayed by  two years.

“We have the money to pay for roads and fancy highways, but we don’t have money for  a process that maintains the backbone of our democracy,”  Allan Bird said.

Original article:  https://emtv.com.pg/poll-delays-imminent-as-east-sepik-goes-to-court-over-llg-president-elections/


Sylvester Gawi: Deplorable neglect of PNG’s ‘voice of the nation’

NBC_Lae1-PostCourier-24042019-680wideI grew up in the 1990s listening to NBC Radio – Radio Kundu – which was informative and always reaching out to the mass population of Papua New Guinea who can afford a transmitter radio.

From entertaining stringband tunes, toksave segments and nationwide news coverage to the ever popular school broadcasts in classrooms, NBC (National Broadcasting Corporation) has been the real voice of the nation.

It contributed immensely to the nation’s independence, growth and development and stood steadfastly to promote good governance and transparency in development issues the country faces.

READ MORE: NBC-PNG rebranding – but nothing to show in the provinces

For more than 40 years it has been the most effective communication medium for most ordinary citizens who benefited from its nationwide coverage.

I was a young kid back then and grew up inspired to take up a job in radio broadcasting, particularly with NBC.

Radio Morobe was the ultimate choice for listeners all over the province. It broadcast in medium, shortwave and FM frequencies and reached even the rural and isolated regions in Morobe and neigbouring provinces.

The Radio Morobe studio building was constructed and opened in October 1971 and since then its pioneer broadcasters have all aged with time into the 21st century.

Building condemned
The Morobe provincial government has neglected its upgrading and funding in the last 10 years or more and since then the building has crumbled and was condemned in October 2018.

I joined NBC in 2015 and worked among a new crop of officers and a few oldies up till now.

These are some of the notable areas the MPG has failed to assist NBC Morobe, despite provincial governments being given the task to upkeep NBC radio services to be operational.

  • little or no funding annually for the station operations;
  • a tranmission tower built for NBC Morobe being taken back and managed by MPA. It is making millions for the MPA with nothing from its revenue given to NBC Morobe
  • general maintenance and or replacement of studio utilities
  • NBC reception towers not functioning, thus transmission is NOT reaching the wider population in rural remote areas
  • district authorities NOT realising the power of communication to their people and funding its reach in their electorates
  • politicians and aspiring politicians making empty promises and using the radio to promote their agendas and gone into hiding when elected
  • now the radio station structure has been condemned by authorities as unsafe NBC Morobe is no longer broadcasting
  • last but not the least, NBC Morobe management and staff are now being locked out of their temporary studio over non-payment of bills. The landlord is the MPG through its business arm Morobe Sustainable Development Ltd.

It has been almost 6 months since the NBC Morobe building was condemned by PNG Power as unsafe. Nothing concrete has been done to rebuilt it despite political promises.

NBC Morobe has been off-air for about 3 months now and staff are still on payroll without being physically at work. The same problem is being faced by majority of NBC radio stations nationwide.

Denied freedom
Our people have been denied their freedom to be informed on their government’s performance. Health, Education and disaster awarenesses are not reaching the people.

Land and resource owners are being denied their freedom of expression. The people can no longer send toksaves to their loved ones, but are forced to pay for and use expensive yet poor telecommunication methods to send messages.

The high cost of risky sea travel and road trips on deteriorating roads have cost so many lives, yet our government keeps promising the people that they will fix NBC services.

NBC radio services in Morobe have been going on and off. One cannot pick up its signal out of Lae City.

Multi-million kina resource extracting projects are sprouting all over Morobe and yet our people are NOT informed on the positive and negative impacts to their land, sea and rivers.

I hope our new Communication Minister Koni Iguan can fix this from the ministerial level. Minister Iguan’s Markham electorate cannot even receive NBC signal and its worse than you think.

Markham valley itself is an important economic hub of this country.

PNG Agriculture: Political rhetoric verses reality of neglect | by Julie Badui Owa

IMG-20190423-WA0020 (1)The flooding of an important agricultural station in Morobe Province  has revealed the years of neglect  by the National Department of Agriculture (DAL).

The Food Security Station at Erap outside of Morobe was once  a central player in agriculture research and animal husbandry. But the station has deteriorated over 20 years with many of the staff leaving for other jobs.

Food Security Officer, Richard Ngahan, who has lived at the station for 7 years  says every year, they see less support  coming from the National and Provincial governments.

“We Approached our headquarters in Port Moresby and the Provincial Government but we have not received  any response from them,”   he said.

Richard Ngahan (source: EMTV) 

Erap station is a  government institution that was used for livestock  breeding, aquaculture and rice development.

Margaret Titus, a Rice Project Officer,  from  the Morobe Provincial Division of Agriculture and Livestock, say the provincial government is unable to support the station due to  its own limited funding.

“We are connected because of the rice development program. With the current state of the station, this will affect the farmers involved in rice training.”

On the weekend,  staff vacated houses which became  partly submerged after the  Erap River burst its banks and flooded into the area. It’s a longstanding problem affecting an important government asset.

The paddocks are now  empty and the bush has taken over.  Squatters  have also moved into the area to settle.  The lack of funding is in  vast contrast to annual government rhetoric of the importance of agriculture in Papua New Guinea.

  • Julie Badui-Owa, is a journalist with EMTV’s Lae Bureau. She has investigated issues surrounding teachers pay cuts, the lack of funding  in education and irregularities in physical planning permits. 

One notch up: Lae Police now have CCTV cameras at the main market

g5If you saw the Lae Market  police station in 2012,  it was a depressing sight.  The windows were broken, it was dirty.

Today, the station is a different place.   Station Commander, Gordon Matafimo,  was moved from  the Chinatown  station to  the market.  The station was repaired  with help from Lae’s business community.

Gordon Matafimo, Market station commander 

Last week,  station began using  CCTV cameras. It is the first trial in Lae City and it is reaping very good results.  The camera have become  a powerful tool is crime prevention.

“On the first day, we made 20 arrests,” Matafimo said. “They were for petty crimes and traffic offences.”

Eyes that can see as far as Freddie’s (I meant the shop at Snack Bar) 

The CCTV cameras  came about as a result of negotiations  between the  Metropolitan superintendent and members of the Chinese community.   They asked how they could assist police and  Lae police requested for cameras that would boost police  operations.

The cameras record and store up to 40 days of footage.   Police can see number plates  of vehicles  committing traffic offences.  They can also identify  petty  crime offenders,  have them arrested within minutes and have the evidence ready to present  in court.

Life after #Marape: PNG’s political ‘glass men’ still trying to work out what’s next

marapeThe last 48 hours has  had Papua New Guinean  forums have been buzzing with excitement.

Before  James Marape, announced his resignation,  very few people expected a crack  in the PNC ranks that high up.

Marape  said he was leaving  because Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, had lost trust him and that the PM’s associates  contributed to it.

Until Thursday this  week,  James Marape was one of the  top men in the Prime Minister’s inner circle.   As Finance Minister,   he was  a major player in the formulation of six national budgets and oversaw various  finance related policies by the O’Neill-Abel Government.

While on the surface things appeared smooth, there was a turbulent undercurrent largely kept under wraps until this week.  His  exit has also  given a glimpse into the inner workings of PNG politics.  The open secret of cultural ties and the non-elected  political influencers that  remain hidden from public eye.

Marape revealed  publicly what many other  Members of Parliament  had previously expressed – that the faceless  political hangers-on  had a hand in  affecting and influencing political decisions in the country.

Marape said he had lost trust of the Prime Minister and part of  it was because ‘associates’ of the government  contributed to that distrust.

“The decision is not easy to make and despite the cultural  and personal ties, the level of trust between the Prime Minister and myself is at the lowest after his office and associates continue  to send negative signals on the lack of trust on me,”  Marape said.

With talk of a  vote of no confidence,  the political ‘glass man’  peering into the murky crystal balls of Waigani   attempting to  interpret  James Marape’s resignation  are  coming up with  different results.  Marape’s resignation is certainly a blow,  but how damaging  is it?

Behind the scenes, insiders say the numbers  on the fringes of the coalition appear fluid while the core remains largely intact.

The Prime Minister was in New Ireland  on Thursday when  James Marape  announced his resignation in Port Moresby.  Attempts to get a response from the PM were delayed by a few hours.  A close aid, sent a text message saying the PM would release a statement  after meeting with  other members present at the meeting in New Ireland.

Just before 6pm, his office send  a short  statement in which the PM acknowledged  Marape’s resignation.

“I have not heard from the Minister today, as a matter of protocol, I expect that he will be in contact soon to convey his intentions.”

Like many political statements,  Marape’s  has to be also  read in between the lines. He said  his disagreements with the PM stem from various, what he called, work related matter including concerns over the amount of  participation  Papua New Guineans had in the resource sector.

He went  on further to echo what other ministers like  Planning Minister Richard Maru, has repeatedly raised previously – that agreements and legislations governing  the resource sector are  not configured to  allow the people and the country  to generate wealth.

Marape’s resignation comes  days after the signing of the Papua  LNG project – a deal that fanned more dissatisfaction when the media reported  that landowners would get just 2 percent of the USD13 billion project. Weather  that contributed directly to his resignation is a question Marape is yet to answer himself.

Like most political situations  involving numbers on the floor of parliament,  it’s best to read between the lines, study the undercurrent, and listen to what politicians aren’t saying.

A tribute to Sr. Evangelista Nite, teacher extrodinaire and perfectionist

This tribute is long overdue. But it is best written now than never.

Twenty five years ago, I was a skinny kid in a classroom at an institution that later became Divine Word University. I was undecided about life and what I wanted to do. I guess it was a troublesome period for me as I was impatient and bored with class work.

It was then that we were introduced to Sr. Evangelista Nite. Sr. Vangie, as we got to know her was past her fifties, a Catholic nun and a member of the Holy Spirit Sisters.

She taught literature, photojournalism and layout and design. A lot of  times, she was difficult to work with. She was a meticulous perfectionist who demanded the best from her students. Most times, I was at the receiving end of her criticism and corrections. This was primarily because, I wanted to do things quickly and get it over with.

I took a lot of short cuts. I tried finding the quickest way to do things and to skip processes that dear Sr. Vangie had laid out. It irritated her even more. It wasn’t intentional. I was young and stupid.

During our final layout and design assessment, we were instructed to produce a newsletter. Sr. Vangie insisted that we do things old school. Cut and paste. Print photographs. Stick them on to a sheet. Boring stuff. This was so we understood the process and appreciated how newspapers of old were made.

It was like cutting and splicing film by hand when you already had a macbook with editing software available.

I didn’t like it. The process was going to take 48 hours at least with Sr. Vangie’s supervision.

So we, I can’t remember who with, took possession of the keys to one of two computer labs illegally and laid out the whole newsletter in one night. Quick and easy.

Next day in class, when Sr. Vangie asked everyone to bring out their unfinished projects, we presented a whole newsletter, laid out overnight using a computer. Completed. Done.

She was super angry. I was summoned to the front of the class and told to explain. I mumbled something like a village idiot then gave her the most beautiful smile hoping to win her precious heart.

She wasn’t impressed.

As I stood and nodded like a fool,  she took out a red pen and tore my precious project to bits. She shattered my confidence by marking, in front of everyone, all the mistakes I had done. I was humiliated.

But in the process, I learnt in one session, everything I was supposed to learn that semester. I never ever forgot that lesson and the skills I got that day.

Sr. Vangie also taught the art of photojournalism. She had a unique way of teaching that stuck. She taught the fundamentals…or timeless formulas that you can use anywhere and any time regardless of what technological age you live in. I’ve been able to use those skills in broadcast television, in video editing and on social media.

Over two years, she wrote a media guide book directly into my young rebellious mind. It is that mental map of knowledge that has formed the basis of what I teach to younger journalists today.

It was much later, that I truly appreciated the talent of this wonderful lady who could have been that brilliant academic working at any of the most prestigious universities around the world but instead chose to teach a bunch of misfits at a small classroom in Madang.

After watching a live gig we played in school, she said in her Filipino accent, “Scott, if you want to do a job, do it well but also, sing…do both!”

She didn’t look at the impossibilities and the obstacles. Possibilities always.

She retired and I lost contact. In 2018, a sudden thought occurred to visit her at Alexishafen. The universe gives you warning signs that someone important is about to leave this life. I didn’t pay attention.

She passed away a few months ago and I got word of it much much later from my partner in crime.

On behalf of all of us, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you Sr. Vangie for every single precious gift you gave! I have put them all to use.

To the NAC’s Nadzab security: Some decency and understanding would help

Previously, I never had trouble with security at Nadzab airport. But recently, it has become a but of a pain. Two weeks ago, the security guard had his whole body in the door blocking the way. He asked me and my better half when our boarding time was. He was a bit rude and insistent. We just wanted to check in.

This morning, the guard didn’t want want to let a family member

in through the main gate. We just wanted to get some cash at the airport shop. No problems with security, but systems are built for people. In PNG, people come with families and family members to airports. If they cause problems, you have every right to remove them. I have the greatest respect for guards. However, being unreasonable is just unacceptable.

A few months back, the blue uniformed security guard at Nadzab, grabbed my backpack off me and just rummaged through it without any sense of respect. It’s my bag. It doesn’t hurt to ask: ‘Can you please open your bag?’ Em tasol.

It’s the rudeness to our own people taken to the extreme and the inferiority complex that they struggle with that really gets to me.

I blame NAC for picking shitty, unprofessional security firms to represent you