Monday, March 26, 2012

Police assault road safety staff

The National, Monday 26th March 2012
ARMED policemen forcefully entered the National Road Safety Authority headquarters last Friday, threatened security guards and assaulted a staff member before taking an impounded vehicle.
National Road Safety Council acting executive director Nelson Terema has called on the police commissioner to investigate the rogue policemen from the Six-Mile station.
Terema said three armed policemen in uniform forced open the main gate at 7.40pm by threatening security guards on duty before driving away a taxi using spare key they had on them.
He said an officer at the premises approached the policemen and questioned them.
But he was assaulted and was left with a bleeding nose and face.
Terema said the assault only stopped when the officer, John Jaruka, who is the son of a former policeman who lives at the Gordon’s police barracks, identified himself.
“These rogue policemen drove to the Six-Mile police station, dropped John in front of the station and then drove off without arresting or charging him,” Terema said.
“When other officers of the NRSC arrived there later, John was there but there was no sign of any policeman.
“The station was completely deserted.
“The actions of these policemen was witnessed by most of our staff who remained to formally farewell one of our longest serving officer who had resigned.”
No comments could be obtained from the police yesterday.
Terema said the impounded taxi was unre­gistered and there were processes to follow before any impounded vehicle was released.
“The police must know that we have a duty mandated by the National Road Safety Council Act,” Terema added.
“They should not interfere with our duties to please a person who chooses to drive around in a taxi that is not roadworthy.”
“We are trying as much as possible to remove all vehicles that are not roadworthy but this type of act discourages all efforts.”

Audit shows NGCB has K45mil missing

The National, Monday 26th March 2012
AN audit report on the National Gaming Control Board tabled in Parliament last week shows 18 contractors and consultants have been paid more than K7 million, while K45 million remains unaccounted for.
The report, tabled by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, says the Garamut-related companies received more than K39,399,182, while millions of kina were reported to have been made to several shops in Western Highlands province.
Among a number of shops named in the report was Chemica, which sells agriculture supplies.
Among the 18 contractors and consultants, Elemi Lawyers were paid more than K3,830,792 while Hudson Ramatlap was paid K105,400.
The report says Elemi Lawyers were paid thousands of kina every month from 2008 to 2011.
The report says the law firm received eight to 10 different payments at one time for the past 36 months for unexplained reasons.
For example, on April 30, 2010, 12 payments were made to him while on May 31, the firm received 10 payments.   
Another consultant Nat Koleala received more than K617,552, while Elma Koleala was paid K30,000.
Others named were Deken Ltd K187,000, Haro Mekere K187,000, Amon Consultants, K418,872, Philip Tiki K310,000 Ami Construction Ltd K212,000, PNG Counselling Services Ltd K390,000, Mag Media Ltd K343,000, Mel Marketing Consultant K203,400 and Nasyl No. 67 Ltd K125,000.
Others were paid less than K100,000.

Trans Highway 7s on

The National, Monday 26th March 2012
MOROBE’S leading rugby sevens tournament the Trans Highway 7s takes place on Saturday and Sunday at Lae’s SCRUM oval.
Twenty teams have expressed interest with 10 from the province with the remaining are from the New Guinea Islands, neighbouring Madang, the Highlands and one from Port Moresby.
Tournament director Robin Tarere said the event would be used to select a side to represent the province at the PNG Games in October.
Tarere said the competition was also a good preparation for teams who would be playing in the NGI 7s circuit this year.
 He reminded teams that although the deadline for registration had elapsed last Friday he was extending it to Wednesday with teams to contact the chairman of the organising committee Naka Songake on 472 1511.
The tournament could be reduced to a 16-team format if teams did not register quickly.
He also thanked TH7s major sponsor SCRUM as well as minor sponsors and contributors: Coca-Cola, Seeto Kui, Trukai Rice, Prima Smallgoods, Ling’s Freezer, Consort Shipping, Chemcare, Besta IFC and Western Star Transport.
Tarere also thanked No.1 Hire Car for sponsoring the lead-up tournament to the TH7s which was held earlier this year.
The teams for the Trans Highway 7s are: Royals, Harlequins, Unitech Reds, Defence, Defence Academy, Pirates, Old Crocs, Morobe Schoolboys, Markham Sagasek, NARI (Lae), Kimbe Rebels – defending champions, Gigo Hurricanes, Wairas, Black Orchids (NGI), Ramu Sugar, Madang 1, Madang 2 (Madang), Goroka, Mt Hagen (Highlands) and PNG Barbarians (Port Moresby).

PNG Ports threatens to close Buka port

The National, Monday 26th March 2012
PNG Ports has threatened to close the port of Buka to all shipping vessels following the burning of three ships belonging to Star Shipping.
Militant elements sympathetic to relatives of Bougainvil­leans who perished in the sinking of mv Rabaul Queen off the Finschhafen coast, Morobe, on February 2, severed the moorings of the mv Solomon Queen, the Kopra 3 and Kopra 4 on the evening of March 16 and set all three on fire. The hulled out boats now rest in a mangrove a few kilometres off Buka Island under constant armed guard by the militant elements.
Acting chief executive officer of PNG Ports Corporation, Stanley Alphonse wrote to commissioner and chief executive officer, Dr Billy Manoka, on March 20 outlining the potential closure of the port of Buka should there be any escalation in tension associated with the burning of the ships.
“An important consideration for the continued operation of our ports are the safety and security of not only our own staff but all our stakeholders who do business within the port and particularly consideration in light of the recent turn of events with the burning of the Rabaul Shipping vessels have been received with serious concerns over the continued operation of our port of Buka.”
 The militant elements and families of disaster victims met on March 20 and resolved to tow out the three boats and sell them off to the flourishing scrap metal business in the autonomous region and retain the proceeds as partial compensation for lives lost.
Whether this resolution is viewed as an “escalation in tension” by PNG Ports remains to be determined. But the same meeting of relatives has given assurances to all other shippers that their anger is directed at Star Shipping (Rabaul Shipping and owner Peter Sharp) and that other shipping lines can carry on business in ports of Bougainville.
If the PNG Port threat is carried out it will severely affect the people and economy of Buka and the rest of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville as shipping is its life line. Buka is the seat of the Autonomous Bougainville Government.
President of ABG, John Momis has unequivocally condemned the burning of the ships and announced the setting up of a task force to bring the militant elements to justice.
“One wrong does not justify another,” Momis said, voicing his own displeasure at the circumstances leading to the ferry disaster.
“Commercial shipping may very well be curtailed for a period of time,” he said.
This will create some temporary hardships to the travel of Bougainvilleans.
Buka port is not closed and is open to regular shipping movement.

Finance approves Madang’s K109mil budget

The National, Monday 26th March 2012
THE Madang provincial budget of K109,183,599 was approved last Friday by Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Peter O’Neill.
The bulk of the reve­nue collected in the province amounting to K16,808,000 was from goods and sales tax (GST) with K4.7 million, Ramu NiCo giving a K5 million advanced royal­ty,  fees and fines worth K2.2 million, business receipts of K7.1 million and miscellaneous K2.7 million.
Ramu NiCo for the first time advanced K5 million royalty payment to the Madang provincial government.
Madang deputy director for finance Thomas Neruse said the traditional sources of income for the province remained stagnant with no big improvement in these areas.
He said there was a reduction of K800,000 for GST compared with last year’s K5.5 million.
Total national government grants worth K87.7 million were made up of functional grants, health, education, village court, transport and primary production (agriculture fisheries and forestry).
Under the province’s development budget, the district support grant which is the non-discretionary component of K250,000 was for six districts plus the provincial member.
The budget is made up
of personnel emoluments
and grants with teachers’
salaries K36,743.50, staff grants K18,023.70, leave fares for teachers K900,000 and public servants salaries K1.2 million.
Transport got a bigger slice of K7 million, health at K5 million and education at K4 million.
Under the goods and services grant there is a local level government grant of K3.3 million.
The medical store or dispensary was allocated K2 million under the provincial improvement plan for this year.
A roll-over of K5.3 million in the budget showed K3 million for the national agriculture development project.
Neruse said the budget was no different from last year.
 as the public investment programmes remained stagnant.
Neruse said  the team which comprised Governor James Gau, five provincial executive council members, provincial administrator Ben Lange and his deputy Paul Adam and two budget officers were happy that the process of vetting and approval had been completed.
They were looking forward to the implementation stage.

Students march against new bill

The National, Monday 26th March 2012
HUNDREDS of university students in Port Moresby have petitioned the government to repeal the Judicial Conduct Act which was passed in Parliament last week.
The students, despite being warned by police that their march was illegal, walked from the University of Papua New Guinea campus to Morauta Haus last Friday.
They handed over the petition to the government’s Chief Secretary Manasupe Zurenuoc.
Police from the National Capital District – some carrying guns –monitored the activities.
The five-page petition was given to Zure­nuoc by the university’s student representative council vice-president Dick Loa.
The petition, signed by 1086 students, urged the speaker of parliament not to entertain the gazetted bill.
The students want a response from the government by tomorrow.
Loa said if the governments failed to address their petition, the UPNG would join other universities in the country to plan other forms of protest.
Loa said student council’s president Emmanuel Isaac was visiting other universities to garner support against the controversial law.
The law was passed in parliament last Wednesday by a 63-7 vote one day after it was introduced.
It gives parliament powers to refer a judge to the governor-general who in turn must appoint a tribunal to investigate the judge while the latter is suspended from duty.
The bill received nationwide criticism from non-governmental organisations, church leaders, prominent citizens, political observers and lawyers.
The bill was condemned as a “vendetta” against Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia, a “power-grab” and an unconstitutional document.
NCD police chief Supt Andy Bawa had warned the students before the march that their protest was illegal because their “notice letter” was late.
“Your notice is late because police should have been given seven days notice in advance,’’ he said.
“This is not good because if you march, there are plenty of opportunists out there who will join the march and cause a riot.
“Your security and well-being is important so I ask you students to be patient and let’s come to an understanding.”
The student leaders told Bawa the march would go on with or without police permission.
Bawa was told that if they could not march, then Prime Minister Peter O’Neill or his deputy Belden Namah or the attorney-general should come to the university grounds to get the petition.
Bawa and two student leaders left for Morauta Haus to get one of the three ministers to come.
The students began marching an hour later after they were told that none of the ministers could come to meet them.

UPNG students united in tense atmosphere

The National, Monday 26th March 2012
THERE was an air of unity during the peaceful protest march staged by students from the University of Papua New Guinea last Friday in Port Moresby.
The atmosphere was tense as the students united to oppose the Judicial Conduct Bill that was rushed through parliament last Wednesday.
They chanted: “Rausim bill, rausim bill, rausim bill (remove the bill, remove the bill” as they marched along Waigani Drive to Morauta Haus.
A five-page petition signed by more than 1,000 students was handed over to government officials.
Members of the public stopped what they were doing to watch the march.
Some clapped their hands and cheered on the marchers.
Curious onlookers in vehicles who were caught in the consequent traffic jam waved.
The protest was halted three times by police – but each time the students talked their way into continuing.
The second stop, just before the Institute of Public Administration, was a frightening experience as armed police men blocked the students.
But the students simply put their hands up in surrender and resumed their march as police backed down.

Chief: I will lead NA

The National, Monday 26th March 2012
GRAND Chief Sir Michael Somare will lead the National Alliance party into the June election and is confident of securing the numbers to form the next government.
Sir Michael will re-contest his East Sepik provincial seat. He made this known on NBC Radio East Sepik last Tuesday and during his visits by helicopter to Angoram and Marienberg the next day, followed by Maprik, Kawanga (Dreikikir) and Yambun (Ambunti) last Thursday.
He said the NA party was placing candidates in all the seven East Sepik seats.
Apart from him, other names confirmed were his son Arthur for Angoram Open, Peter Wararu Waranaka for Yangoru-Saussia, Tony Aimo for Ambunti-Dreikikir and John Simon for Maprik Open.
No names had been put forward for Wewak Open and Wosera-Gawi.
In January, more than 500 ward councillors in East Sepik gathered at the Divine Word University Kaindi campus in Wewak and re-affirmed their loyalty and support for Sir Michael.
They were not happy with how he had been treated by the Peter O’Neill-led government since Aug 2 last year.
O’Neill’s People’s National Congress party had recently sent a candidate recruitment team to East Sepik.

PM defends judicial act

The National, Monday 26th March 2012
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has defended the recently-passed Judicial Conduct Act, saying it will not weaken the judiciary.
Responding to public criticisms of the law rushed through parliament in a space of 24 hours last week, O’Neill said last night there was no sinister agenda behind it and that the government was not in a fight with the judiciary.
“There is nothing secretive and sinister about the new judicial conduct law,’’ he said.
“This law will not weaken and erode the independence of the judiciary.”
“It is not a law that erodes the fundamental principles of democracy nor does it compromise the separation of powers between the legislature,
the executive and the judiciary,” O’Neill said.
“The new law was aimed at defining and imposing clarity on judicial beha­viour that the wider community or affected parties in lawsuits may consider or perceive as biased.”
He said the law was not draconian and did not erode the impartiality of the judges.
He pointed out that Australia, India, Canada and other Commonwealth nations had similar legislation or ethical standards to scrutinise judicial conduct and behaviour.
He said the march last Friday by University of Papua New Guinea students to protest against the new legislation as “acting in the public interest”.
“It is true a new law was made by parliament to give legislative teeth to administer any instances of perceived or real judicial bias, where judges continue to hear cases that have serious conflicts of interest,” O’Neill said.
“It was done for the sake of clarity and to better define and strengthen the role and conduct of National and Supreme Court judges.”
He said the law was not a “knee-jerk legislation” and was not designed to remove certain members of the judiciary from office.
But he said judges, such as any public servant, should be disciplined if there was “reasonable evidence of ethical and professional lapse in their conduct and in the
carriage of their duties and responsibilities”.
The bill was introduced last Tuesday and passed by a 63-7 vote after three readings the following day.
It gave parliament the power to refer a judge to the governor-general who, in turn, must appoint a tribunal to investigate the judge who would be suspended from duty.

Esso pulls out of LNG site

The National, Monday 26th March 2012
THE government last night vowed to implement tough measures – including the declaration of a state of emergency in a province – as a PNG liquefied natural gas (LNG) project developer Esso Highlands began withdrawing workers from its site.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill will call a National Executive Council meeting today to discuss the measures to be taken as the developer of the PNG LNG project in Southern Highlands started pulling its workers from the Hides 4 area.  Landowners had stopped work at the site over compensation demands which the developer, Esso Highlands, had been trying to resolve.
A source said the developer began evacuating its workers from the project sites in three chartered aircraft yesterday.
The source predicted it would be the end of the project if the closure continued this week.
It could not be confirmed last night how many employees had left.
Company spokeswoman Rebecca Arnold will issue a statement today.
O’Neill told The National last night tough measures were needed to protect the LNG project.
“I am calling a special cabinet meeting (today) to make tough decisions to protect workers on site and to protect the interest of the nation,” he said.
The landowners had stopped all LNG-related activities at Hides 4 in the Southern Highlands.
Vehicles hired by Esso Highlands and the contractors had been returned to their owners because the companies could not continue to pay when they are lying
O’Neill said: “I am aware of the landowner issues around the project area and concerns have been expressed to the government about the security of the project as a result of certain groups putting in demands that are outside the UBSA (umbrella benefits sharing agreement) and LBBSA (licensed-based benefits sharing agreement).”
He said some of the measures the council would consider today
included the declaration of a state of emergency in the Southern Highlands, the deployment of PNG Defence Force troops there, additional police manpower and additional funding for the exercise.
“The demands are unreasonable and unfair to the nation. I appeal to landowners to reconsider their actions which are undermining the project,” O’Neill said.
He said the government had already made the decision for a call-out of the PNGDF and troops should be deployed immediately.
“We will ensure the security of the project is protected,” he said.
The source said officials from the department of petroleum and energy and ExxonMobil had been sent to the site but could not resolve the landowners’ grievances.
The landowners have demanded K99 million from Esso Highlands as compensation for the different projects activities in the area.
Other demands include the upgrading of the:
qPara Health Centre to a referral hospital; and
qPara Community School building;
qHides-Komo road to start immediately.
They also wanted employment and contracts be given to locals plus a permanent water supply for the people.
Hides 4 Landowner Umbrella Association Inc chairman Chris Payabe had said landowners wanted the government to immediately take ownership of the project and address their concerns.
He maintained that the project would remain closed if their demands were not addressed.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Company chairman upset over handling of LNG issues

The National, Friday 23rd March 2012
CHAIRMAN of Hides Gas Development Company (HGDC) Ltd, Tuguyawini Libe Parindali says he is “bitterly upset and frustrated” with the way the national government is handling landowner issues in the upstream section of the PNG LNG Project.
HGDC is the umbrella landowner company, representing Hides Petroleum Development Licence (PDL)-1, Hides PDL-7, Angore PDL-8, Juha PDL-9, Komo airfield development and Benaria pipeline.
Parindali said the Government had not taken ownership of the project and its presence was “literally lacking” on the ground.
He said ExxonMobil Corporation came at the invitation of the government and its people and invested US$20 billion (K41.49 billion).
“We have professional men and women from USA, Australia, the Middle East, Europe, Asia and our own Papua New Guineans employed
on the project who are scared and frustrated because of ongoing issues between the landowners and the Government.
 “The police are just driving around and not doing anything to protect the project and the employees.
“If ExxonMobil pulls the plug on the project, all spin-off businesses will go with it.
“Many people who have borrowed money from the banks to start their businesses will miss out.”
Parindali said the government had created a “cargo cult” mentality among the landowners whereby it handed out cash whenever there were issues on the ground.
 “I am warning the government, we will lose the project if we do not manage the issues properly.”

Poll officials reminded to remain neutral

The National, Friday 23rd March 2012
ELECTION officials in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville should maintain political neutrality during the June national election, an official said.
Bougainville’s election manager Reitama Taravaru issued the challenge when he opened an election workshop in Buka this week which returning officers and their assistants attended.
He urged the election officials to abide by the code of ethics and to avoid at all cost association with candidates which could question their positions with the electoral commission.
He said it could create suspicion and distrust among voters
and candidates.
The workshop covered all facets of successfully managing and conducting the election.
Taravaru reminded officials that they were on the frontline to fulfill the country’s constitutional requirement – giving the people the right to vote.
The election officials were also urged to familiarise themselves with the election by-laws to avoid legal actions by losing candidates.
Finance and budgets were also discussed in which returning officers were reminded to work within their activity plans.
That must be done to avoid over-spending and incurring debts during the election.
The electoral rolls for the entire region of Bougainville
should soon be ready for public scrutiny.
Bougainville’s Electoral Commission conducted two by-elections last year. The Tonsu by-election for the ABG parliament and the North Bougainville by-election for the PNG national parliament which delayed the update of the electoral rolls.
A total of K2.4 million has been allocated for the election in Bougainville, making it the biggest funding allocation in the NGI region.

Expert: Quakes normal in PNG

The National, Friday 23rd March 2012
THE earthquake that occurred yesterday is “not unusual”,  Port Moresby Geophysical Observatory assistant director Chris Kee says.
He said the country experienced several earthquakes a year that measured six on the Richter scale.
Kee said yesterday’s earthquake on the mainland was recorded as magnitude 6.6 on the Richter scale.
He said the earthquake occurred at 8.55am under Kainantu in the Eastern Highlands and at a depth of 105km.
He said it occurred in an area of high seismological activity.
He said, with Papua New Guinea situated along the Pacific Ring of Fire, it was not unusual to experience earthquakes of such a magnitude.
He said the earthquake had nothing to do with a widely circulated email that warned of a major earthquake yesterday.
That email had warned people of an earthquake occurring at 2.55pm.
Kee said earthquakes could not be predicted.

NMSA submits report on sinking

The National, Friday 23rd March 2012
THE National Maritime Safety Authority has presented the preliminary investigation report into the sinking of the mv Rabaul Queen to Transport and Works Minister Francis Awesa.
Authority chairman Dr Thomas Webster presented the 60-page document to Awesa, who said he would study it and submit it to the Commission of Inquiry (COI).
Webster said the focus of the preliminary investigation was to gather information while it was still fresh from witnesses and passengers and other parties involved to establish what might have happened on Feb 2.
More than 200 lives were lost when the ferry sank.
“The NMSA will continue to co-operate with and assist with the requests of the COI.”
The preliminary investigation team was headed by Maritime College principal Capt Richard Teo and authority manager legal services Iamo Vere and ship inspectors and field officers in from Lae, Kokopo and Madang.

Lutheran Varsity Bill endorsed

The National, Friday 23rd March 2012
PARLIAMENT yesterday passed the Lutheran University of PNG Act and commended the church for its continuous support for human development in the country.
The bill brought by the Chairman of the Lutheran members of Parliament and member for Tewai-Siassi Vincent Michaels got the support of 62 members.
Michaels said about 10 years ago, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of PNG decided to establish a university, owned and managed by itself. This was endorsed by the church.
He said in 2006, the parliament enacted the Lutheran University of PNG Act 2006. But in 2007 the ELCPNG resolved not to support the Act because of serious issues relating to ownership, control and management of the university, church properties and assets.
However, he said the ELCPNG then resolved in its 2008 synod to adopt a new legislation to replace the Lutheran University Act 2006 and reaffirmed its decision to repeal the Lutheran University Act and replace it with the current bill.
He said the present bill had been developed over four years and proved that the Lutheran University was private and church-owned, opera­ting similar to the Divine Word University.

Grand Chief: Leave courts alone

The National, Friday 23rd March 2012
GRAND Chief Sir Michael Somare is saddened by the continued unconstitutional beha­viour of the Peter O’Neill go­vernment.
Speaking to people in East Sepik, Sir Michael said: “It is important for Papua New Guinea to immediately hold the general election to put an end to the barrage of unconstitutional acts, like the latest passage of the Judicial Conduct Bill.
“It is obvious that O’Neill and his followers are avoiding the judgment of the courts.
“But it is offensive and inappropriate to put self-interest ahead of the greater interest of Papua New Guinea.
“I would like to remind members of parliament that the people of Papua New Guinea gave them that privilege to represent them in parliament,” Sir Michael said.
“I urge them to stop interfering with the court process by making unconstitutional retrospective legislation.
“You cannot right a wrong using your numerical strength in parliament.
“They bring great shame to our democracy by their constant menace and meddling with the independence of the judiciary.
“We have done leaps and bounds as a people.
“We united under one country, one flag in 1975.
“We showed the world that despite adopting a foreign system of government, we have res­pected the Constitution that we had tailored to suit our diverse cultures.”

Critics label bill as ‘criminal’

The National, Friday 23rd March 2012
THE recently-passed bill on the judiciary has been labelled as “criminal”.
The law has copped flak from the president of the women-in-politics branch in the highlands Dre Cecillia, president of the Southern Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Industry Berry Mini, anti-corruption and human rights activist Wilfred Kulno and Rabiamul ward councillor in Hagen urban LLG Jacob Michael.
Their general response yesterday was that the new law was not in the best interest of the people.
Kulno said the government’s attempt to control the judiciary was sending a bad picture to the world.
He said it was dangerous, criminal and only done to suit the agenda of politicians.
Cecillia said there was no awareness conducted to seek the opinion of the people on the new bill saying it surprised everyone.
She said the timing was not right and the people were suspicious because the Supreme Court decision on the legitimate government was pending in
And she said the national executive council had been trying to sack Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia.
She said the new law was dangerous and tried to weaken a vibrant judiciary system the country has enjoyed since Independence.
Cecillia said it was corruption at its best and called on non-governmental organisations, student bodies, trade unions, churches and people to stand up and reject the new law.

Judicial Act ‘a vendetta’

The National, Friday 23rd March 2012
THE controversial Judicial Conduct Bill, rushed through by parliament two days ago, has been condemned as a vendetta by one of PNG’s leading constitutional lawyers and described by a political watcher as “a power grab”.
Another PNG lawyer suggested that following certain court decisions in the past year, the new act was not surprising as it would enable the government to regulate the conduct of judges.
In Australia, constitutional lawyers told a newspaper that the bill posed major changes that it should have taken three months to process.
On Wednesday, Attorney-General Dr Allan Marat tabled the bill, four members debated on it, and the house passed it 63-7 – all in less than 45 minutes.
Opposition leader Dame Carol’s complaint that more time was required to study it went ignored.
The act is retrospective to Nov 1 and would mean that Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia and Justice Nicholas Kirriwom will be disqualified from hearing the East Sepik reference against the government on April 2.
And Prof John Nonggorr, a respected constitutional lawyer, said this was the real purpose of the act pushed through by the O’Neill-Namah government.
He said the government was clearly using parliament to target Sir Salamo again, having failed to get the chief justice suspended because of a stay order.
He said legislative powers must be used in good faith and for the wider public good, not targeted at specific individuals as part of a vendetta or to settle scores.
“It is clear that the O’Neill-Namah government is using parliament to do these which is an abuse of the legislative powers,” he told The National.
He also expressed concern that Sir Salamo would not be accorded natural justice that everyone was entitled to.
He said the act had a limited application – it only applies where a judge refuses to disqualify himself when challenged to do so in a proceeding that is before him.
Parliament can then intervene and by a simple motion, the judge is suspended.
“Nothing more is required – no investigation, no hearing by an impartial body, nothing! Parliamentarians will become accusers, judges and executioners.
“The deputy chief justice will automatically become acting chief justice.”
Nongorr, who had also served as an adviser to the Electoral Commission, said in the short time that the O’Neill government had been in power, it had used parliament to enact laws in bad faith twice before.
“First, in amending the Prime Minister and NEC Act to override the Supreme Court’s decision reinstating the Somare regime as the legitimate government.
“Second, in targeting Sir Michael Somare by stating in the law that a person cannot be prime minister if he is over 72 years old.”
Nonggorr believed the lawyers who drafted the act know that the legislation was unconstitutional and would be declared so.
He also believed that the O’Neill government was unconcerned because its objective was short term.
“They do not want the chief justice to participate in the Supreme Court references which will be heard next month.”
Another respected lawyer, Peter Donigi, told The National that the act was clearly targeting the chief justice and Kirriwom.
“I had foreseen in December that any conflict between the judiciary and parliament would result in parliament using its powers under section 157 to regulate the conduct of judges,” he said.
The Melbourne Age quoted a veteran political watcher:  “This power grab is breathtaking in its breadth. It allows parliament to order a tribunal to be set up on a judge for any issue which the MPs consider biased.”




Students at the University of Papua New Guinea boycotted classes today in protest over Parliament's passage of the controversial Judicial Conduct Bill.

And there's still uncertainty whether the boycotting will continue.


In a statement, the Student Representative Council President Emmanuel Issac labelled the new law as dictatorial, that will interfere with the Constitutional functions of the Judiciary.

The student council has put together a petition, consisting more than one-hundred points, for Parliament to rescind its decision.

Copies of the petition will be presented to Speaker Jeffery Nape, and Parliament-elect Prime Minister Peter O'Neil by the Student Representative Council, while other copies will be given to the 109 members of Parliament.

A Review of the Judicial Conduct Bill 2012

We, the students of the University of Papua New Guinea have met today in light of the actions of our National Parliament in regard to the passing of the Judicial Conduct Bill, which virtually gives Parliament the power to suspend Honourable Justices of the National and Supreme Courts. 

While we honour the pledge we made to support the O’Neill/Namah Government back in the Prime Minister’s September 2011 visit to THE Waigani Campus, WE IN THE STRONGEST OF TERMS DENOUNCE THE PASSING OF THE JUDICIAL CONDUCT BILL 2012. 

As educated Papua New Guineans we have discussed the Bill and its implications at length in forums sanctioned by the UPNG SRC. We have had our Law Students, Politics students, Public Policy Students and students from all schools of thought read into the Bill and offer their learned views on what this law will effectively mean for the future of Governance in Papua New Guinea.

And we have, in One Voice concluded that the Judicial Conduct Bill is dangerous and abusive of established Constitutional and legislative processes and Offices already in operation and force.
In this brief paper we will discuss the Bill’s substantive provisions and our concerns regarding to each.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Yama urges Madang people to back Peoples Labour Party

By TODAGIA KELOLA, Post Courier, 22nd March, 2012
PEOPLE of Madang have been urged to support their Madang-based party, Peoples Labour Party because the party’s policies and platform are based on Madang’s livelihood and lifestyle.
Government services such as schools, health, infrastructure and more importantly the deteriorating road conditions in Madang town are immediate goals for the party to solve.
The call was made by Peoples Labor Party Leader Peter Yama last weekend in front of thousands of supporters who had travelled as far as Raicoast all the way to Bogia and the border of East Sepik.
Mr Yama told the crowd that Madang had been neglected for a long time because elected leaders were from parties that are based in other provinces and that very little or no assistance is given to the leaders to bring back to their province.
“Parties from other provinces come and launch their parties in Madang and go away whereas PLP is for Madang and my appeal to you Madang people is to support the party and its policies because the party originates here and it’s for Madang,” he said.
His eldest son Emmanuel Yama will be contesting the regional seat while he will contest the Usino Bundi electorate. “PLP will be concentrating its effort in Madang and then moving out to other centres to assist our candidates from other parts of the country.”
He also stated that PLP will work with other parties either in the Somare Agiru camp or the O’Neill Namah Government.
“The party is going in to the election with the motto “friends to all and enemies to none”. We didn’t fare well in the 2007 elections but now we have learnt our mistakes and we will be going in to the 2012 Election with a bang” he said
He also used the occasion to explain his court battles including his referral by the Ombudsman Commission when he was the member for Sumkar.
“Leaders must respect the law and processes and procedures that are in place, take my case for example, I was referred by the Ombudsman Commission to a leadership Tribunal, I never interfered or tried to use the process to stop the Ombudsman Commission, instead I allowed due processes to take its course and because I know in my conscience that I did not commit any wrong I was cleared by the Tribunal, then the BSP Bank tried to take over my assets, I never relented and went to court for 10 years and in the end the highest court of the land the Supreme Court determined that I was right all along, this you see is the correct process and procedure.
“Leaders must observe and strictly abide by this if they want to be good leaders,” he said. During the party’s launching a song about Madang Province and PLP was composed by famous Central artist Mokai depicting the once considered beautiful Madang slowly becoming a pothole town.

A few looks of Madang...!!

People crowded for the PLP Convention close to Smugglers & Madang Lodge

MST New Look from Bus Stop

MST's New Look... A rise from Ashes...!!

Modilon MST & Papindo

Vehicle Congestion

Inter Oil Depo

The New Modilon Haus

New credit tax scheme launched for Ramu cops

The National, Thursday 22nd March 2012
POLICE at Ramu in Madang, will get a boost with the support of a local company through its tax credit scheme, provincial police commander Supt Anthony Wagambie Jnr said.
Wagambie said Ramu Agri Industries Ltd would provide some houses and boost police manpower apart from other help it had given police.
“We have had other assistance from them in the past and with the credit scheme, it will
not only boost our presence but bring back confidence in the communities in the valley,” he said.
He was speaking during a parade to 28 reservists who had completed their training.
He said this was on top of what had already been in place between the police and Ramu Agri Industries Ltd (RAIL) in terms of providing logistical support and resources.
RAIL acting general manager Ruari Macwilliam said they had helped local police with vehicle repairs, refurbishing houses and fuel
but needed more
police personnel on the ground.
Macwilliam said they were happy to provide such a service to create a better relationship with police in the valley.
Ramu has been recently hit with waves of crimes that have led to strikes by employees of a section of RAIL over conditions of employment.
But that has been taken care of with the engagement of Labour and Employment officers
to attend to the employees’ grievances while community policing officers from Morobe province visited compounds and settlements to address law and order issues.

House passes judicial bill

The National, Thursday 22nd March 2012
THE government yesterday muscled the Judicial Conduct Bill through parliament,
drawing an outcry of criticism from opposition politicians, church leaders and a non-governmental organisation (see page 3 for details).
The law, introduced on Tuesday and passed three times by a vote of 63-7 yesterday, gave parliament the power to refer a judge to the governor-general who, in turn, must appoint a tribunal to investigate the judge who would be suspended from duty.
The government said the law would “promote the integrity of our legal system based on the principle that an independent, fair and competent judiciary shall interpret and apply the laws that govern us”.
It gave a set of nine “impartiality” rules judges must obey, the breaching of which will allow parliament to make a referral to the governor-general.
The speed at which the bill was passed drew a mixed reaction from MPs mindful of the several political and judicial tests over the past eight months.
The only parliamentarians who voted against the bill were Enga Governor Peter Ipatas, Middle Ramu MP Ben Sembri, Aitape-Lumi MP Patrick Pruiatch, West Sepik Governor Simon Solo, opposition leader Dame Carol Kidu, Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru and Tambul-Nebliyer MP Benjamin Poponawa.
Tari-Pori MP James Marape did not to take part in the voting.
The clerk then had to come back and ask him whether he would vote for or against the bill and he said that since majority had voted for the bill he would also vote for it.
The law is retrospective to last Nov 1.
During debate, Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah said the Constitution had not been tested and it was about time it was tested to suit present day requirements.
He said under section 284, parliament had wider powers and could make laws to control and safeguard the judiciary.
He said judges were issuing permanent restraining orders like hot cakes and alleged that many of them were collaborating with politicians to obtain restraining orders.
He claimed there was systematic judicial corruption and by passing the law, the country will have a transparent judiciary.
Hagen MP William Duma said one or two judges were dragging the judiciary down and the law was needed to safeguard and promote the integrity of the legal system.
Dame Carol said: “We are taking a wrong way. We are breaking the fabric of the Constitution and I am really worried for the future of PNG.”
The government’s move is being interpreted as a broadside against the nation’s chief justice, Sir Salamo Injia, following the leaking of court documents and the quashing of an investigation into his financial dealings.
Dame Carol told journalists she was in little doubt the government would move quickly to oust Sir Salamo.
“I think that will happen very quickly.”
She said it removed vital checks and balances and placed total power in one arm of government.
“If checks and balances are not working, we are in an executive dictatorship,” she said.
“It is not in the interests of PNG remaining a truly democratic country.
“We will have judges afraid to toe the line.”

No plans on rising sea level, says minister

The National, Thursday 22nd March 2012
THE government does not have mitigation plans to address the needs or relocate islanders in PNG currently affected by the rising sea level.
Environment and Conservation Minister Thompson Harokaqveh said although there were no plans, the issue would be part of the national protective system which aims to preserve the environment.
Harokaqveh was responding to concerns raised in parliament by Hela Transitional Authority
chairman James Marape yesterday.
Marape said small islands and atolls such as the Cartarets and Mortlock groups were sinking and this was affecting the lives of traditional inhabitants.
He said a recent documentary had indicated that the islands were sinking and action was needed to prepare and plan for the worst.
Marape said he was moved when he saw how the lives of the island people were being threatened by the rising sea level due to climate change.
There are several voluntary arrangements in place for the people to relocate to Bougainville but the government had yet to develop a relocation and resettlement plan for the people.

Kidu leads mounting criticisms of new law

The National, Thursday 22nd March 2012
OPPOSITION leader Dame Carol Kidu has criticised amendments to the Judicial Act, saying it is a knee-jerk legislation by the government to remove certain individuals from the bench.
The law, introduced on Tuesday and passed three times by a vote of 63-7 yesterday, gives parliament the power to refer a judge to the governor-general, who in turn must appoint a tribunal to investigate the judge, who would be suspended from duty.
She said the Constitution and an independent judiciary had been critical factors in holding more than 800 tribes together as a nation until now. 
“The fundamental principles of democracy are enshrined in our Constitution and the separation of powers is one of those fundamental principles.
“If a judge is thought to be out of line in his or her conduct, then certainly he or she should face the consequences as would any citizen but to put the parliament and NEC above the judiciary is completely unacceptable.”
Dame Carol said now there was a higher threshold of scrutiny for judges than for politicians – “one could question which of the two groups of people are trusted and respected more by the people of PNG”.
“To bring judges under the scrutiny of parliament and NEC when they are already under the scrutiny of the Ombudsman Commission will directly compromise the separation of powers as enshrined in our Constitution.
“From that point alone, this bill would surely be unconstitutional and should not have been entertained by parliament.
“There are processes already in place to remove people from public positions if their conduct is in question,” Dame Carol said.
She said parliament was the supreme legislator “but this does not make parliament or parliamentarians in themselves supreme”.
“The Constitution is supreme and if there are problems with the Constitution (as there are), then amend the Constitution don’t undermine it.
“I would challenge the government to now draft a Parliamentary Conduct Bill 2012 and let us have the judges scrutinise the conduct of parliamentarians according to a long list of criteria,” she said.

Church expresses ‘shock and disbelief’

The National, Thursday 22nd March 2012
THE Catholic church expressed “disbelief and shock” after parliament yesterday passed the Judicial Conduct Bill 2012 into law.
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands general-secretary Fr Victor Roche said churches “opposed the bill in the strongest possible terms”.
He said the government had not taken the right direction in its decision to pass the new law.
Roche said despite the government having the majority to rule, “the decision further fails to serve the interest of every Papua New Guinean”.
He said the National and Supreme Courts were the highest lawmaking body and it was not good to suppress them.
Any country that “suppresses the conduct of judges of the National and Supreme Courts is in big trouble”.
Roche said there was not enough time for non-governmental organisations, churches and public to gauge their views through a public debate on the law before it was passed.
He said they were pleased with opposition leader Dame Carol Kidu for opposing the bill.
Former chief justice Sir Arnold Amet branded the law as “dangerous and contrary to the independence of the judiciary”.
He said there were universal conventional laws built into the code of ethics for the judiciary and there was no need for any other law.

Sir Arnold questions constitutionality of judicial bill passage

The National, Thursday 22nd March 2012
MADANG MP Sir Arnold Amet says the move by the Peter O’Neill-led administration to pass amendments to the Judicial Conduct Bill 2012 is unscrupulous and insubordinate to the Constitution.
Sir Arnold, from the National Alliance Party, expressed disappointment he had been refused to deliberate on the issue on the floor of parliament when the bill was passed into law.
The bill, introduced on Tuesday and passed three times yesterday by a vote of 63-7, gives parliament the power to refer a judge to the governor-general, who in turn must appoint a leadership tribunal to investigate the judge, who would be suspended from duty.
Sir Arnold described it “as a very dangerous pre­cedent that has very serious ramifications on the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law and constitutional democracy and the traditional separation of powers between the three principal arms of government; the legislature, executive and the judiciary”.
“It’s an abuse – it is corrupt.
“This has been coming after five months of continual efforts by the government to suspend the Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia, to intimidate, compromise, and control the conduct of members of the judiciary,” he said.
He said there were ample provisions already in the Constitution, including consequential procedures, to deal appropriately with Sir Salamo.
He said a legal team “will soon file appropriate proceedings to challenge the constitutionality of the act in court”.

NRI launches booklet to improve teaching

The National, Thursday 22nd March 2012
THE National Research Institute has released a new booklet to improve the quality of teachers and their students in remote areas nationwide.
Research team leader and investigator Dr Eileen Honan said the booklet would provide teachers with an effective way to sustain their own professional learning without any assistance.
The booklet showed teachers how to enhance their learning and improve the quality of their teaching.
She said the research was based on a cycle of action that involved teachers identifying the problems they could solve, developing action plans to evaluate their progress.
“By improving the quality of teaching, we can improve the quality of education in PNG,” she said.
Honan said an important part of quality teaching “is ongoing learning where teachers continually work to improve their teaching to achieve better outcomes for their students”.
The booklet was a result of a joint research study completed by the University of Queensland, Australia, NRI and Deakin University.

Madang police: We could not contain crowd

The National, Thursday 22nd March 2012
POLICE in Madang said they could not contain the riotous behaviour of people on Saturday night that led to the stoning of a number of vehicles on Modilon Road.
The stoning incidents happened after 8pm when vehicles travelling on the arterial road leading into Madang had sticks, stones and bottles thrown at them.
A policeman, who was at the station that night, said many vehicle owners went to the Jomba police station demanding to know why police were not there to control the situation.
The policeman said there were more than 500 people had been walking down the road from a People’s Labour party 10th anniversary celebration held next to Smugglers Inn and police had not anticipated such actions. 
People’s Labour Party general secretary, Charles Locke confirmed the party held a 10th anniversary celebration near Smugglers Inn on Saturday but said all their supporters had been transported home by the time the missile-throwing incidents took place.
Locke said the celebration ended at 6pm when all their supporters left the venue.
He said none of the vehicle owners had come to PLP party executives to complain.
The incident happened between the hospital and the provincial administration.
Locke said that was close enough to the police station for police to notice and contain the problem.
He said party leaders, Peter Yama had been a victim as well as one of his vehicles was stoned that night.

Madang cop charged with attempted murder

The National, Thursday 22nd March 2012
THE head of the rapid response unit in Madang has been charged with attempted murder over the shooting of a Grade 9 student at Erima along the South Coast road last year.
Snr Cons Daniel Kapen, 40, of Taulil village, Gazelle, East New Britain, appeared at the committal court yesterday where he was charged.
Kapen is well-known for his no-nonsense approach to curbing lawlessness around Madang.
His bail application is still pending over requests that the firearm used be tendered during appearance today.
The rifle is an Israeli made Galil ACE 22 automatic rifle.
According to police records, a group of intoxicated boys were walking along the Erima road last Dec 11 between 3pm and 4pm.
They were heading in the direction of the school after an earlier scuffle and were leaving when they were stopped by Kapen
The victim, Donald Mara, a Grade 9 student at Malala, and Cedric Waraho, were the only ones standing on the road after the others had fled upon seeing Kapen’s vehicle.
Kapen allegedly got out of his vehicle with his firearm and shot Mara on both feet.

Earthquake rattles PNG

6.6 magnitude earthquake rattles Papua, New Guinea

Wednesday, March 21, 2012
By Paul Martin
March 22, 2012
GOROKA, Papua New Guinea — A strong earthquake struck the island of New Guinea in Papua New Guinea on early Thursday morning, seismologists said, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties. The 6.6-magnitude earthquake at 8:15 a.m. local time (2215 GMT Wednesday) was centered about 63 kilometers (39 miles) east-southeast of Goroka, the capital of the Eastern Highlands Province in the Oceanian country. It struck about 105.9 kilometers (65.8 miles) deep, making it an earthquake with intermediate depth, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties from the region, but the USGS estimated that approximately 147,000 people near the epicenter may have felt ‘strong’ shaking which could result in light to moderate damage. Another 3.5 million people may have felt light to moderate shaking. Because the earthquake struck fairly deep and on land, no tsunami warnings were issued. “A destructive tsunami was not generated based on earthquake and historical tsunami data,” the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a bulletin. Earthquakes in the mountainous nation of Papua New Guinea, which is on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, do rarely cause damage or casualties as most structures in the region are light and flexible. This allows them to bend, rather than snap when a major earthquake happens. In December 2011, a powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck near the town of Wau in Morobe province. The earthquake was felt as far away as the capital Port Moresby, about 221 kilometers (137 miles) south-southeast of the epicenter, but there were no reports of damage or casualties. In July 1998, a powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck just off the north coast of the country’s island of New Guinea, causing a landslide which resulted in a local tsunami. The disaster left at least 2,183 people killed and thousands more injured. –Channel 6 News