My message to Prime Minister, James Marape

PM James Marape (Picture by madNESS Photography)

As the new Prime Minister, you have your work cut out for you. You have to try to get a lot of it done within two years before the 2022 elections.

That’s a big job.

Do what is right by the people. Listen to their voices through social media. Not all of it is fake news. Take counsel from those who disagree with you, publicly and privately, in the interest of your 10 million people. Be brave enough to listen to the criticisms and find the threads of truth in them.

Be truthful about the state of Papua New Guinea’s health system. The people of Papua New Guinea deserve a Government that tells the truth. There is a severe shortage of medicine. Puka Temu did a bad job and he did not admit to it as Health Minister. Many of our aid posts are closed and our hospitals don’t have medicine. Yet the media is accused of ‘being political’ when we highlight these ‘open secrets.’

Be truthful about the Tuition Fee Free Education (TFF). It’s not working for us. Our schools don’t get the money on time. If we have to pay for school fees, tell that to the people straight as it is. Papua New Guineans are resilient and hard working. They do not deserve to be lied to.

Please appoint an education minister who will find out why teachers continue to have their pays cut when they do not have outstanding loans.

Remove the companies that are benefiting from the cumbersome procurement processed in the health and education at the expense of our people. Investigate and prosecute the kaikaiman and kaikaimeri who suck the systems dry. Send them to jail.

Provide housing for our people.

Fix the National Housing Corporation. It is a hub of corruption that has existed for decades. Papua New Guineans deserve affordable housing not unaffordable rentals meant for fly-in-fly-out company executives. They deserve a government that has the guts to dump the garbage and restore integrity.

Lower the taxes. Our people are suffering. Tax the companies that enjoy tax holidays.

Reduce internet costs. If we are going to empower our millennials, make it easy for them to be independent of their parents. Make it possible for them to own their own homes by providing the means for them to make money from tools they grew up with.

They deserve a government that is able to stand up for them and not kowtow to foreign interests.

We have agreed, as a government, add to the miseries of other human beings by keeping them in a prison camp on Manus in exchange for aid. We cannot continue with that shameful legacy.

Don’t persecute the media. Don’t threaten journalists. It doesn’t do much for your credibility.

There’s a lot to be said and not enough time and space.

One final thing: For goodness sake, sell the Maseratis. Get back our money. It was of no benefit to us in the first place. You were part of a government that bought them during APEC. Please do the right thing by the people and get rid of them.

House in chaos after #Pomat refuses to allow vote to remove him | #EMTV



There was chaos in parliament this afternoon when the Speaker,  Job Pomat refused to entertain a motion from Opposition leader, Patrick Pruaitch, to suspend standing orders and entertain a vote to remove him.

Patrick Pruaitch, stood up as soon as the speaker opened up question time and put forward the a request to remove Pomat as speaker.

“I want to ask leave of Parliament… There are a number of motions that I intend to move. One of them is to challenge your position as a speaker of parliament. I seek leave to move that motion.”

Despite the demonstration of numerical strength on the Opposition side, the Speaker told Patrick Pruaitch that he was not going to entertain the motion on grounds that Parliamentary standing orders did not have the provisions that allowed for the removal of the speaker on the floor.

Pomat told the house that the provisions in the standing orders were silent and that it was up to the speaker to decide if such a motion was to be entertained.

“I can show you provisions for the removal of the Governor General. I can show you provisions for the removal of the Prime Minister. But I cannot find the provisions for the removal of the Speaker. So If you can show me the sections under the constitution, then I will entertain it,” Speaker Pomat said.

The house then degenerated into a chaotic shouting match between the beefed up opposition and a heavily depleted Government side. Vanimo-Green MP, Belden Namah shouted at the speaker to entertain the motion.

“We are not here for you to dictate on the floor of Parliament. We are not here for you to be the judge. There is a motion on foot. The vote has to take place. You have to entertain the vote,” Namah said. “You are preempting a motion. If I were you, I would resign.”

The Speaker then referred to the standing orders reading out section 284 to show that he could not be removed through what he called an unprecedented request by the Opposition.

Later, after a lot of persistence, the Speaker recognized Madang MP, Bryan Kramer who accused the him of attempting to hold on to power.

“You quoted section 284: ‘In any matter no provided for, the Speaker shall decide…’ There is a reason for that. It’s because of bias and you have demonstrated that bias. You can’t move against yourself. You won’t accept it. You have to accept [the motion] now,” Kramer said.

Another round of chaos erupted. Tempers flared and MP, Dr. Fabian Pok, hurled abuse at an opposition MP who had interrupted him.

“You…wait! You wait! We are setting a precedence here. We will all not be here in parliament. If we do this, anyone who has the numbers will change the speaker!” Dr. Pok said.

Towards the end of the 45 minute period. The Speaker had lost control of the house. He tried to invoke sections in the standing order to suspend the Parliament to 10am tomorrow. But was later advised to suspend and recall parliament until the ringing of the bell.

One day we will disappear: Tuvalu’s sinking islands | Guardian


By Eleanor Ainge Roy in Tuvalu

FUNAFUTI, 17 MAY 2019 (THE GUARDIAN) —On the hottest days, Leitu Frank feels like she can’t breathe any more. The housewife and mother of five decamps from her airless concrete home to catch the breeze in a simple wooden shack by the water’s edge. She folds washing and stares out at the unsettled turquoise sea, its moods and rhythms increasingly unpredictable, as its rising proximity threatens to strangle her family.

“The sea is eating all the sand,” says Frank, 32, dressed in a pink stretchy T-shirt and faded sarong.

“Before, the sand used to stretch out far, and when we swam we could see the sea floor, and the coral. Now, it is cloudy all the time, and the coral is dead. Tuvalu is sinking.”

“Tuvalu is sinking” is the local catch-all phrase for the effects of climate change on this tiny island archipelago on the frontline of global warming. A Polynesian country situated in Oceania, Tuvalu is no more than a speck in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia.

Tuvalu Kids Photograph seen by millions is rephotographed 6 years laterThe fourth smallest nation in the world, Tuvalu is home to just 11,000 people, most of whom live on the largest island of Fongafale, where they are packed in and fighting for space. Tuvalu’s total land area accounts for less than 26 sq km.

Already, two of Tuvalu’s nine islands are on the verge of going under, the government says, swallowed by sea-rise and coastal erosion. Most of the islands sit barely three metres above sea level, and at its narrowest point, Fongafale stretches just 20m across.

t1During storms, waves batter the island from the east and the west, “swallowing” the country, in the words of the locals. Many say they have nightmares that the sea will soon gobble them up for good, and not just as a distant fear in their slumber – but by the next generation. Scientists predict Tuvalu could become uninhabitable in the next 50 to 100 years. Locals say they feel it could be much sooner.

Nausaleta Setani, Frank’s aunt, sleeps beside the lagoon at night in the wooden shack, using a float buoy as a pillow. Initially a non-believer in climate change, like many older people on the island, Setani has slowly become convinced of the science as her daily life becomes tougher with every erratic movement of the sea.

“The weather is changing very quickly, day to day, hour to hour,” says Setani, 54, paradoxically soothed and disturbed by the ocean lapping metres away from her hut.

“I have been learning the things that are happening are the result of man, especially [from] other countries. It makes me sad. But I understand other countries do what is best for their people. I am from a small country. All I want is for the bigger countries to respect us, and think of our lives.”

The United Nations Development Programme classifies Tuvalu as a resource poor, “least-developed country”, that is “extremely vulnerable” to the effects of climate change. Porous, salty soil has made the ground almost totally useless for planting, destroying staple pulaka crops and decreasing the yields of various fruits and vegetables.

Starchy Pacific Island staples such as taro and cassava now have to be imported at great expense, along with most other food.

Since the rising ocean contaminated underwater ground supplies, Tuvalu is now totally reliant on rainwater, and droughts are occurring with alarming frequency. Even if the locals could plant successfully, there is now not enough rain to keep even simple kitchen gardens alive.

The Frank family spend around AUD$200 (US$137) a fortnight on groceries, a bill that keeps rising as the fruit on the trees that ring their modest home – breadfruit, bananas and pandanus – fail to ripen, and fall to the sandy ground, inedible and rotten.

The fish too, the stuff of life here, have become suspect. Ciguatera poisoning affects reef fish who have ingested micro-algaes expelled by bleached coral. When fish infected with these ciguatera toxins are consumed by humans, it causes an immediate and sometimes severe illness: vomiting, fevers and diarrhoea.

At the local hospital, a specialist department has been set up to study and manage climate change-related illnesses.

Around ten Tuvaluans present with ciguatera poisoning every week, accounting for about 10% of the weekly case-load of climate-related illnesses. Suria Eusala Paufolau (left, or above on mobile), acting chief of public health, says cases of fish poisoning began to climb a decade ago; around the same time the weather really started to go haywire.

t4Climate-related illnesses that have increased on par with the changing weather include influenza, fungal diseases, conjunctivitis, and dengue fever, according to the hospital’s research.

Higher daily temperatures are also putting people at daily risk of dehydration, heatstroke and heat rashes, Paufolau says.

“Generally the local population does not see the link between climate change and health. But there is always a sense of fear about what is happening to our home.”

Tuvalu is heavily reliant on foreign aid, with most of its GDP made up from donations from the UN and neighbouring countries.

Education and employment prospects on the island are limited, and the majority of young people whose families can afford it leave to study in Fiji, Australia or New Zealand – a “brain drain” that has been extensively documented.

But as climate change batters the seashore, a trickle of young Tuvaluans are returning, even if coming home can feel claustrophobic after the freedoms of life beyond the islands.

Tapua Pasuna, 24, was crowned Miss Tuvalu last year, and used her platform to campaign for women’s rights and education.

The daughter of the country’s third female MP, Pasuna describes herself as “floating” since she returned from university studies in New Zealand, and says she was drawn back to the island by extensive family obligations, and a sense of responsibility to do what she could for the archipelago.

“I left in 2010. When I came back I immediately noticed the difference. The heat is sometimes unbearable now, and the erosion is also dramatic. Some of my favourite spots have disappeared,” says Pasuna, sitting in a stiff-backed wooden chair in her tropical garden, the barely constructed seawall just metres from her home.

“I feel like this is a part of who I am and I shouldn’t just run away from it, even though it’s disappearing. To just abandon it at such a time as this, when it is hurting – I don’t feel comfortable. I don’t feel like I can do that.”

If this sounds like a tidal wave of despair, the mood on the ground is far less acute. When planes aren’t expected, children ride their bikes and play volleyball on the country’s airstrip, while young courting couples take lazy laps on their motorbikes.

In the afternoons, people snooze in hammocks for hours, and light campfires on the beaches to fry fish and keep the mosquitoes away. A sleepy, sanguine air permeates day-to-day life, as locals watch the lapping of the waves move ever closer.

“Come what may,” locals say again and again, quoting the prime minister, “God will save us.”

The largest building in the capital, Funafuti, is Government House, a three-storey white monolith that houses the offices of the country’s MPs. Tuvalu’s official government policy is to stay on the island – “come what may”.

Plans for adapting to climate change include the ongoing – and much delayed – construction of a sea wall to protect the administrative centre of the capital, funded by the UNDP.

The local town council has a plan to dredge and reclaim land at the south of Fongafale, raise the land 10 metres above sea level, and build high-density housing. It is a plan that would cost US$300m (US$206 million), and that so far has no funding. Other options – such as constructing a floating island – are also being explored, as is importing refuse from Australian mines to construct an energy wall to ring the atolls, breaking up the power of the sea as it smashes towards the islands. How the reef ecosystem would survive such a wall has not been explained.

Evacuating the islands is the last resort, says Tuvalu’s prime minister, Enele Sopoaga, despite frequent talk from Pacific neighbours that Tuvaluans will become the world’s first climate-change refugees.

Many government officials openly express anger at the election of Donald Trump, saying his climate change scepticism has precipitated a huge step back for global cooperation on climate issues, and made Tuvalu’s small voice on the world stage even smaller.

“I think they hate us,” says Soseala Tinilau (below), the director of the Environment ministry.

Tinilau is referring to the cheerful burning of coal by the US and Australia, among others, despite a recent report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning that global warming must be kept to a maximum of 1.5C over the next 12 years to avoid catastrophic climate affects.

“During COP [climate] negotiations we had to stay up till 7am to ensure we were listened too,” says Tinilau.

“The world want to ignore us. They want to keep behaving as if we don’t exist, as if what’s happening here isn’t true. We can’t let them.”

Fiji has repeatedly offered land to the Tuvaluan government to relocate their population 1,200km south, an offer the Sopoaga government has not accepted. In a recent essay, former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd suggested Tuvalu’s citizens could be offered full citizenship in exchange for their country’s maritime and fisheries rights; a proposal rejected by Sopoaga as “imperial thinking”.

“Moving outside of Tuvalu will not solve any climate change issues … If you put these people in the middle of industrialised countries it will simply boost their consumptions and increase greenhouse gas emissions,” says Sopoaga, a fierce advocate for global cooperation on climate change issues.

“I am very worried about this very self-defeatist approach to suggest that people from low-lying, at-risk countries could be relocated. Because it fails to understand the implications of this issue for the entire world.”

Sopoaga says there is “no plan B” for Tuvalu, and every government effort is concentrated on adapting to the changing weather patterns – and staying put.

“We cannot just say, ‘Kick these people out.’ It is too simplistic and defeatist an approach,” says Sopoaga.

“I think it would be a great shame for the world to allow that to happen. I believe we still have time to make this island very attractive, very beautiful, and continue to be inhabited by generations of Tuvaluans to come.”

Seen from the air, Tuvalu looks like paradise: a slim scar of sand densely planted with coconut palms, and ringed by shallow emerald waters. But up close, the fragility of the land reveals itself. Beside the runway, golden sand spills on to the concrete, and scraggly green grass struggles to survive. The horizon is flat, and dominated by sea; sea that presses at you from every side. The air – ripe, over-cooked – pushes people into the dark interiors of their homes in the middle of the day, sticky and cloying.

At Tuvalu’s Bureau of Meteorology, situated on the edge of the runway – with pig pens to its left and the country’s prison to its right (home to just six inmates) – Nikotemo Iona and his small team are working overtime as they crunch the latest rainfall measurements. They are hours away from declaring another drought.

According to local climate data, Iona says the biggest impacts of climate change on Tuvalu have been rising air temperatures, more intense and frequent storm surges and decreasing rainfall, as well as the total inundation of low-lying coastal parts of Funafuti – including, sometimes, the country’s lifeline, its runway.

“Many people intend to migrate in response to climate change,” says Iona, sitting inside his squat, concrete office, designed to stay upright and continue broadcasting during cyclone season, which is intensifying year on year.

“However, most of the older generation do not want to move as they believe the will lose their identity, culture, lifestyle and traditions. But I believe that younger generations intend to migrate for the sake of the future generations.”

During storm surges or the highest tides, the Pacific Ocean bubbles up from the sandy soil under Enna Sione’s small yellow house. Fifty metres away, palm trees lie scattered across a rocky, coral strewn beach, turning grey in the hot sun, their twisted, decaying root systems facing skywards.

Sitting on a slayed coconut tree, Sione’s eyes are troubled as she stares at the ocean, beating its relentless path against her home. Sione, her husband and four children are planning to migrate to New Zealand in the next two years – to join more than 2,000 of fellow Tuvaluans already resident in the country; a migrant population that doubles every five years.

“The weather has really, extremely changed. Sometimes I feel scared of the ocean,” says Sione, who adds that she is leaving for the sake of her kids.

“Maybe one time Tuvalu will disappear. From what I can see a lot is already gone. I think one day we will disappear.” …. PACNEWS

WARNING! Banning Facebook in Papua New Guinea is a bad move

Facebook banBanning Facebook for 12 months or any ban at all is a bad move.

The reason why politicians are afraid  of  Facebook is because it has done more in the last 10 years  to hold them to  account than mainstream media outlets.   Facebook  has become the most important tool that provides the verification for so called infrastructure projects that  MPs claim have been completed but have not.

Facebook has been used to hold the former Health Minister Puka Temu to account for the medicine shortages in the country. It has been used to correct misconceptions that TFF money has been going to schools. Teachers from remote schools who have not been paid for months sent  their details using the social media network  for verification.

With crowdsourced information from Facebook, Papua New Guineans have been able to see the problems in health, education and the economy.  Dr. Sam Yokopua, Dr. Glen Mola, two of the most senior doctors in the country use Facebook to highlight the most critical shortages affecting Port Moresby General Hospital.

Is it fake news?  No.

In case you have not noticed,  thousands of Papua New Guineans use Facebook for business transactions.  That’s where they make their money from.  Large businesses use Facebook as a way to reach out to their customers.

How do you plan to compensate for the 12 month disconnection with their  customer base?

Banning Facebook, will be a huge embarrassment for the country that hosted APEC. The high ideals  of  “Digital connectivity” and “Digital inclusiveness”  will be thrown out of  the window.

A lot of governments want to ban Facebook. But it really has not worked.  China, North Korea, Iran are among the list. While Iran has a ban on Facebook,  people, including the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani,  uses Twitter as an alternative.  Point is, you can’t get away from social media.

There is a general agreement that there are a lot of  people who use Facebook  to spread fake news.  They should be investigated and prosecuted using the cybercrime act  if law enforcement has the capacity to do it.

But to ban Facebook has wide-ranging implications including direct government interference on the freedom of speech of Papua New Guineans and their right to hold their leaders to account.

The best thing  to do is:

  1. Do the right thing by the people
  2. Be transparent. If there is a problem acknowledge it, fix it and correct misinformation.
  3. Be truthful. You can’t go wrong in the age of social media.

Hard drives stolen: NBC journalist writes complaint letter to Air Niugini, Mt Hagen

Gloria Bauai wrote on Facebook:

I will be writing a formal letter of complaint to Air Niugini Mt Hagen cargo…the very people we entrusted to keep our belongings safe turned around and stole from us…literally!!

I admit part of the blame is ours as well! but when you’re on a tight schedule working and have a very small window to rush back to the airport, in time for boarding, you tend to forget the smallest things…like shifting the external drives..

My colleague Edwin Wavu and I have become victims!

We only realised when we arrived in POM late afternoon and were trying to exchange footage!

Someone had gone through his bag and stolen one of two externals inside! It’s sad to note that the external drive had footage of issues in remote Western Highlands which we covered over the two day duration!

Again…we will be sending a formal letter tomorrow!! but if anyone has any connection there, please pass the message!

We were there to be your mouthpiece! and you ignorantly stole from us!!