Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tragedy turns to triumph for unsung Panther James Segeyaro

By RAY GATT of The Australian

James Segeyaro
Penrith's James Segeyaro finds himself in the clear as he races to score one of his two tries against Parramatta at Centrebet Stadium last night. Source: Getty Images

It was  one of the toughest days he had ever experienced but James Segeyaro knew what his mate would have wanted him to do  
Just hours after young North Queensland player Alex Elisala tragically passed away, Segeyaro came off the bench last night to play a huge hand in Penrith's 44-12 demolition of Parramatta in an eight-tries-to-two rout at Centrebet Stadium.
Playing with a heavy heart, the 22-year-old Papua New Guinea international dedicated his two tries to Elisala, with whom he had become close friends during his previous two seasons with the Cowboys.
Segeyaro was too upset to talk after the match but it was clear where his thoughts were during the game: he celebrated both tries by pointing to the sky and beating his chest close to his heart.
Coach Ivan Cleary said he had left the decision to play last night with Segeyaro.

"We had a chat this morning. I wasn't sure what he was going to do today. It's one of those situations ... there's no playbook for that sort of stuff," Cleary said.
"But he was straight on the front foot and said the best way to honour his mate was to play. They were pretty close.
"James played very well but the hard part now will be the myriad of emotions he will go through in the next few days, and we will have to be mindful of that."
Segeyaro was one of several standout players for the Panthers as they overcame tremendous odds to record a near record win in the local derby.
Hampered by a heavy injury toll, coming off five successive losses and lacking confidence, Penrith was given little hope in the battle of the west.
But with halfback Luke Walsh in devastating form, the Panthers refused to follow the script, producing a spirited display to record only their second win of the season.
It was also Penrith's biggest win over the Eels at home and just a point shy of the club's biggest victory against them, a 39-6 thrashing at Parramatta Stadium last season.
The Eels were left shattered and that feeling was reflected in the words of devastated coach Ricky Stuart. He labelled the performance embarrassing while captain Jarryd Hayne described it as awful.
"It's embarrassing when your two best players are 19 (Kelepi Tanginoa) and 20 (Vai Toutai)," Stuart said. "Both are still trying to learn how to play the game, or first grade level ... and one of those (Toutai) is a winger.
"It's hard to know what to expect from this team ... seven games in and it is what it is."
Stuart admitted he was extremely disappointed with the effort. "Yes, I am (the most disappointed he has been)," he said. "It was embarrassing. It is going to be hard to make changes because we don't have a lot underneath to put pressure on players. As for tonight, I'll discuss it with the players but I won't play things out in the media."
And to make things worse, the Eels look like being without inspirational prop Tim Mannah for an extended period. He was carried off the field in the 61st minute with an injury that Stuart revealed could be a broken fibula. He will have scans today.
While Penrith led 16-12 at half-time, the highlight belonged to Eels winger Toutai, who revived memories of legendary Eels winger Eric Grothe Snr after going on a rampaging 20m run that saw him beat five defenders and then carry three over the line.
The Panthers, however, raced in 28 unanswered points in the second half.
PENRITH 44 (T Robinson 2 J Segeyaro 2 D Simmons 2 L Brown D Whare tries; L Walsh 5 M Moylan goals) PARRAMATTA 12 (J Hayne V Toutai tries; C Sandow 2 goals) at Centrebet Stadium. Referee: Jason Robinson, Gavin Reynolds. Crowd: 14,211.

PNG mulls death penalty for sorcery murder


Papua New Guinea is considering introducing the death penalty for sorcery killings and rape after a spate of horrific crimes against women drew international condemnation.Attorney-General Kerenga Kua said public opinion had swung in favour of capital punishment after a series of brutal sorcery-related murders including beheadings and torchings, and the gang rape of a US academic.
Kua said he had received more than 100 petitions from human rights and other groups across the globe calling for urgent action on the violence against women.
"Those horrific, brutal, gruesome killings of the type that a woman was burnt alive to her death should attract death penalty," The National newspaper reported Kua as saying.
"Most of the people are ready for it and they want it now as they are fed up of the law and order problems in this country and they want to see a more liberal use of the death penalty."
In February a 20-year-old mother accused of witchcraft was stripped and burned alive in front of a crowd at a village market. Earlier this month an elderly woman was beheaded after being accused of black magic.
Also this month, an Australian was murdered and his friend sexually assaulted by a group of men, followed barely a week later by the ambush of the US researcher, her husband and their guide on a wilderness track.
She was stripped, had her hair cut to the scalp and was gang-raped by a group of nine men armed with rifles and knives before a sound in the forest frightened them away.
Kua said he had been monitoring the public mood on the issue and it was time the government "did something radical" to halt the crimes, which have undermined PNG's standing as a tourism and investment destination.
"My job is simply to do what the people want me to do. I cannot shut my eyes to the people's request. I'm not deaf, I'm listening; if they want it we will give it to them," he said.
The offences of treason, piracy and wilful murder are already punishable by death in the impoverished Pacific nation, but the country has not carried out an execution since 1954.
The Catholic Church condemned Kua's remarks as "giving in to the same vengeful streak in PNG culture that is part of our current problem", and said the death penalty would not be a deterrent to violent crime.

A warning of a downturn in mining in PNG


Papua New Guinea's Chamber of Mines and Petroleum says the global mining boom is definitely over and a current down turn, is likely to have a big impact on capital spending on exploration and financing for many existing and planned projects in PNG.
The Chamber's outgoing President, Doctor Ila Temu says there has been a significant drop in gold prices in recent times and with lower commodity prices, it will impact PNG government's 2013 budget and planned expenditure.
Firmin Nanol reports:
Presenter: Firmin Nanol
Speaker: Doctor Ila Temu, Country Manager for Barrack Gold, PNG's Chamber of Mines and Petroleum elected Oil Search Managing Director, Gerea Aopi New Crest Mining's Country Manager, Peter Aitsi
Doctor Ila Temu who is also Country Manager for Barrack Gold in PNG says the Chamber wants the government to help planned and existing mining and petroleum projects get off the ground quickly.
He says the drop in gold prices and related impact on the mining sector could make potential investors think twice before investing in PNG.
Dr Temu says the PNG government needs to honour outstanding commitments both to landowners and developers of certain projects.He says the government also needs to build build and improve existing infrastructure in certain project areas so those projects could get off the ground soon.
Barrick Gold's PNG Country Manager, Dr Ila Temu says Barrick is also considering selling some of its projects in Australia due to the current global down turn in the mining boom.
He has also cautioned that the PNG government's 2013 budget will be impacted because revenue projections were based on high gold prices before the current down turn and drop in gold prices.
PNG's Chamber of Mines and Petroleum elected Oil Search Managing Director, Gerea Aopi as its new President during its annual general meeting last week.
Mr Aopi says the government needs to improve efficiency in its public service to ensure projects which are under exploration stage and others nearing completion before full production could finish soon.
He says the chamber will discuss certain issues affecting the industry with the government.
Meanwhile, the Chamber has urged the government to reconsider its position on a proposed review of its taxation regime.
The review panel include two former Internal Revenue Commissioners Sir Nagora Bogan and David Sode and former Australian Treasurer Peter Costello.
The Committee has started work already and is expected to submit its report and recommendations by the end of June this year.
The outgoing President Dr Ila Temu says the mining and petroleum sectors already pay well and above their normal company tax and it should not increase further.
The Chamber's Senior Vice President and New Crest Mining's Country Manager, Peter Aitsi also cautioned the government to be mindful of its expenditure.
PNG's Chamber of Mines and Petroleum is the peak industry association which represents the interest of over two hundred companies operating mining and petroleum projects in PNG.
President Gerea Aopi, Senior Vice President Peter Aitisi, Vice President Richard Kassman and out-going President Dr Ila Temu in a joint news conference issued the caution in Port Moresby today.

Monday, April 29, 2013

FGV mulls Papua New Guinea foray

New Straits Times

FELDA Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV), the world's largest crude palm oil producer, may venture into Papua New Guinea to increase its plantation land.

President and group chief executive officer Datuk Sabri Ahmad said Papua New Guinea's government officials were impressed with FGV's businesses and operations during their visit here recently.

"They were impressed with the FGV model and have asked for our help to start oil palm plantations in Papua New Guinea. If all goes well, we will go there on a government-to-government level of cooperation.

"We are conducting feasibility studies and technical due dilligence and if we decide to go there, we can easily start with an initial 10,000ha. The land is suitable for oil palm and can either be greenfields or brownfields," Sabri told Business Times in an interview.

FGV currently has a RM4.4 billion war chest following its listing on Bursa Malaysia last June.

Sabri had said previously it would use part of the proceeds to buy more plantation land as oil palm land in Malaysia is limited, and also with many plantation companies having expanded resinto Indonesia.

He had said FGV was looking for land in Myanmar, Cambodia and more recently in Mindanao in the Philippines.

The latter plan, however, was put on hold following the Lahad Datu intrusion recently.

FGV currently owns a total of 350,000ha and manages another 500,000ha for the country's 112,635 settlers grouped under the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda).

FGV has businesses in cooking oil, oleochemicals and refinery operations in 12 countries.

If FGV's plan materialises, Papua New Guinea will be its second overseas plantation land venture after Indonesia.

On its Myanmar venture, Sabri said the company is in the final stage of due dilligence with a local partner to start rubber processing activities in the country's south.

"We will buy natural rubber from local farmers and turn them into processed rubber. If it is successful, we may go further into rubber plantations by buying an initial 12,000ha," he added.

In December, FGV signed a memorandum of understanding with Myanmar's Pho La Min Trading Ltd.

Under the deal, a joint venture company will be set up to develop rubber business in three phases, starting with a processing plant.

On West Kalimantan, Sabri said FGV, which owns 14,700ha there, is in the final stage of a due dilligence to plant another 10,000ha at Kebun Patin Landak.

Kulim (Malaysia) Bhd is another Malaysian planter in Papua New Guinea through its 48.7 per cent-owned New Britain Palm Oil Ltd.

Kulim, in turn, is 59.6 per cent-owned by state government investment agency Johor Corp.

Read more: FGV mulls Papua New Guinea foray http://www.btimes.com.my/Current_News/BTIMES/articles/20130429002909/Article/index_html#ixzz2RoPYcXZS

PTTEP considers energy investment in Papua New Guinea

National News Bureau of Thailand

Thailand's leading energy explorer is considering an investment plan in Papua New Guinea although the company has conceded that more time is needed before a conclusion is drawn.

Mr. Tevin Vongvanich, President and Chief Executive Officer of PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited (PTTEP), revealed that the company's investment feasibility study has been underway in Papua New Guinea.

He stated that the plan was conceived to help Thailand achieve energy security in the future when local demand is expected to surpass domestic supply.

The President and CEO of PTTEP said Papua New Guinea is considered a possible investment destination as the country has been discovered with natural gas deposits and its liquefied natural gas development project has already begun.

Mr. Tevin added that the government of Papua New Guinea extended an official invitation to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra during her recent trip to the South Pacific nation for Thailand to conduct an exploration project.

He said PTTEP is in the middle of data collection and analysis to determine the quality of the natural gas deposits and if the investment will be worthwhile.

PTTEP stressed that more time will be needed before a thorough study in Papua New Guinea can be completed and a decision can be made.

Papua New Guinea health workforce crisis: A call to action

World Bank

  • Papua New Guinea faces a health workforce supply crisis arising from:
(i)    the current severely constrained training system for new health workforce cadres;
(ii)    the rapid aging of the existing workforce – over half of the current health workforce will retire within a decade;
(iii)   the expanding demand for services over the next 10 to 20 years due to sustained increase of the population.
  • The National Headcount Survey in 2009 shows that the size of the health workforce financed by the public sector has grown from 10,791 in 1998 to 13,063 in 2009. Since 2004, however, the pace of growth has slowed down markedly. The number of nurses, for example, dropped from 3,980 in 2004 to 3,618 in 2009.
  • To respond to the health workforce crisis, the PNG government’s needs to deal with:
(i)    the immediate supply-side crisis (quantity);
(ii)    the qualitative side, including preservice and in-service training (especially for emergency obstetric care for existing staff);
(iii)   incentives to ensure staff are able to be deployed where needed, particularly in rural areas which is home to 80 percent of the population.
  • Armed with information of supply and demand, the report provides five scenarios to draw out the implications for each health cadre and for all service delivery staff, including affordability. The five scenarios vary from no change in existing supply capacity to four alternative scenarios with supply adjusted to meet the postulated demand.
  • The scenario most recommended envisages a new mix of direct service-delivery staff, which is not only affordable but also responds to the demand requirements for staff from the health system while leaving space in the recurrent health budget to boost quality. This scenario is driven by: (i) the growth in the resource envelope likely to be available for health and service-delivery staff; and (ii) the feasibility and speed with which preservice training can be ramped up to meet the demands of workforce attrition and the needs of a growing population.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

PNG minister says conjugal bail will curb sex crimes

By ABC Papua New Guinea correspondent Liam Fox

Papua New Guinea's only female minister says some prisoners should be released on bail to have sex with their wives to reduce sex crimes.
Loujaya Toni, the minister for religion, youth and community development, has drawn a link between prison breaks and sexual assaults.
In a statement, she says when men escape after being locked up and deprived of sex they will "find a female … to vent their sexual aggression".
Ms Toni says the solution is to release low and medium-security prisoners on weekend conjugal visits in order to "prevent rising levels of sexual frustration".
She also says high-risk prisoners should be injected with drugs to "lower their sexual aggressiveness".
Her comments have been widely panned on social media sites.
Ms Toni declined an interview with the ABC.

Governor-General Quentin Bryce departs PNG

By Eoin Blackwell, AAP Papua New Guinea Correspondent

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNOR-GENERAL Quentin Bryce has departed Papua New Guinea, ending a five-day state visit to the Pacific Island nation.
During her last day, Ms Bryce visited a library charity, Buk Bilong Pikinini, at the university of PNG in Port Moresby and announced the opening of a mobile library funded in partnership with Make a Mark Australia.

Governor General Quentin Bryce
Governor-General Quentin Bryce has departed Papua New Guinea following a five-day state visit.
Buk Bilong Pikinini supplements the education of some PNG children through a library network in the rugged and infrastructure poor nation.
A planned trip south to Milne Bay was cancelled when a storm and poor visibility prevented the Army C-130 Hercules from landing, forcing Ms Bryce and her entourage back to Port Moresby.
It was the only hiccup in an otherwise busy week.
While in PNG Ms Bryce took part in Anzac Day commemorations around the country, as well as attending a women's roundtable discussion at Parliament House.
On Tuesday Ms Bryce paid her respects to Australian soldiers killed during the first and second world wars in Rabaul in East New Britain.
On Anzac Day she attended a dawn service in Port Moresby before flying to memorial services in Isurava and Kokoda.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Black Cat trek recalls epic battles

BLAXLAND MP Jason Clare will host the Mateship Trek in Papua New Guinea this Anzac Day.
Mr Clare is walking the Black Cat Track from Wau to Salamaua in Papua New Guinea with a group of Australians to commemorate the 70th anniversary of World War II campaigns in the area.
The Mateship Trek is a bipartisan program established four years ago to bring together young Australians from different backgrounds to learn about each other, their potential and Australian military history.
The trek will conclude with a dawn service at the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Lae, where about 2800 men and women have been laid to rest. Almost 700 were killed in action on or around the Black Cat Track.
In January 1943, Australian forces defended the Wau airstrip against the Japanese.
On Anzac Day the order was given to surge towards Salamaua across what became known as the bloody ranges of northern New Guinea. Salamaua was taken by the Allies on September 11, 1943.
"The story of Kokoda is well known. Unfortunately, the heroic efforts of the Australian soldiers on the Black Cat Track a few months later have been largely forgotten," Mr Clare said.
"We need to fix this.
"That's what this trek is about. Walking in the footsteps of Australian soldiers, honouring them, learning their stories and making a commitment to live a life worthy of the sacrifices they made for us."
The Mateship Treks are held every two years.
The first, in 2009, was along the Kokoda Track. In 2011 the group retraced the path of the World War II prisoners of war in Borneo during the Sandakan Death March.

How a Tobruk Rat turned Pacific hero


NEIL Russell is turning 96 next month and he needs a walking stick to get around, but this extraordinary digger was on the winning side in two of the toughest WWII campaigns in the Middle East and the Pacific.
Captain Russell is one of a handful of surviving Rats of Tobruk, who successfully defended the crucial Libyan port and gave the German forces their first major setback of the war in 1941.
With little time to enjoy the victory, however, he was shipped off to Papua New Guinea, where he played his part in delivering the first blow to the advancing Japanese forces.
As a 25-year-old first lieutenant, he helped stop the Japanese from taking Port Moresby in the 1942 Battle of Milne Bay.
He was made a captain and after the war awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal - the second highest medal for valour behind the Victoria Cross.
The Brisbane resident, who turns 96 on May 18, says when the order came to fix bayonets and charge, his company "stormed the enemy stronghold".
"And the Japs shot off like a Bondi tram," he said.
His son Doug says his father's dry Aussie humour helped him deal with stressful, life-threatening moments.
"During the heat of battle, someone said to him, 'What's the time?'" he said.
"He said, 'Time for a Capstan' (a brand of popular cigarettes at the time)."
Capt Russell will take part in the Anzac Day march through Brisbane today from 10am (AEST).
The march will start at the corner of George and Elizabeth Streets.

Hidden Valley a problem child — Newcrest CEO

by Allan Seccombe, 24 April 2013, 10:29

THE Hidden Valley mine in Papua New Guinea was a "problem child" and three key areas had come under focus to bring costs down, Greg Robinson, CEO of Australia's Newcrest Mining, which shares the project with Harmony Gold, said yon Tuesday."Hidden Valley is our problem child on a negative cash flow basis to us and we continue to see poor results," Mr Robinson said during a presentation on Newcrest's March-quarter results. Newcrest is Australia's largest gold miner and has guided the market to expect output of 2-million ounces to 2.15-million ounces of gold for this financial year.
Like its peers in South Africa, Newcrest is struggling with the fall in the gold price, strong Australian and Papua New Guinea currencies and rising costs. It has already cut 150 jobs.
Newcrest shares Hidden Valley with Harmony as well as the Wafi-Golpu exploration project that promises to be a large copper and gold mine.
Hidden Valley produced 18,988oz of gold for Newcrest, and Harmony will report similar results when it releases its third-quarter results on May 3. Hidden Valley produced 20,649oz for Newcrest in the December quarter. Harmony declined to comment on Mr Robinson's view, citing a closed period ahead of releasing its own results.
Hidden Valley's cash cost in the March quarter, which included production of 205,651oz of silver, was A$1,790/oz, up from A$1,584 in the previous quarter.
Mr Robinson said the partners were addressing the continuing problems at Hidden Valley, with them taking delivery of a primary crusher in May instead of this month, as had been expected. This would allow the mine to ramp up production from a high-grade part of the mine using conveyor belts to move the ore to the processing plant instead of relying on an expensive trucking option.
"It's a big priority," Mr Robinson said. Mine management was looking at ways to improve metal recoveries at the plant and it had brought in an independent operational review team to reduce costs by between 20% and 30% in the "very short term".
"We will continue to review the viability of this operation in particular after the primary crusher is in place and that we've taken the appropriate steps. We hope once we've done those, we'll have this thing back in a reasonable return profile ."
With Newcrest becoming "stingy" with its capital, analysts quizzed Mr Robinson about Wafi-Golpu, a $4.9bn project that has attracted criticism for Harmony from some analysts who argue it should focus on returning capital to shareholders rather than spend billions of rand on this project.

G-G attends Anzac dawn service in PNG


GOVERNOR-GENERAL Quentin Bryce has paid her respects to current and former Australian soldiers at an Anzac Day service at Papua New Guinea's Bomana war cemetery.
At today'smorning's ceremony, Ms Bryce was joined by PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill and Australian High Commissioner to PNG Deborah Stokes, as well as her PNG counterpart Sir Michael Ogio.
More than 2, 000 people armed with glow sticks crowded into Bomana, located about 19km outside of Port Moresby.
"Wherever we come from and wherever we go, this is a day that gives pause and silence to our journey," Ms Bryce said in a short speech.
"A moment to remember the Australian soldiers, merchant navy men and airmen - and members of the Papua New Guinea local forces - who died defending this territory and ours.
"The tranquility of this clearing belies the desperate, bloody confrontations of the Kokoda campaign that took place beyond."
Bomana is final testing place to more than 3,000 soldiers killed serving in Papua New Guniea.
Australia and PNG formed close ties during World War II, with Australian soldiers being aided by locals known as Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels.
Ms Bryce will later fly to Isurava and Kokoda to pay her respects at memorials in both locations.
Anzac Day will mark the fourth day of Ms Bryce's five-day state visit to PNG.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Through a veteran's eyes

Bob Iskov has an important role. The 92-year-old was a member of the 2nd/14th Battalion who fought along the Kokoda Track during World War II. While many members of his former battalion have passed away or do not want to talk about their war experiences, Bob is one of the one's who "needs" to do it. 
Word War II veteran and retired Lieutenant Bob Iskov ( - ABC Local)

"I think there is a message to pass on particularly to the younger generation.
"I like to think that the kids in some of the schools are taking a great interest in the War and what led up to it and I hope that makes sure it doesn't happen again, that is my biggest concern."
Iskov and his battalion arrived on the frontline of the Kokoda Track in 1942. The Kokoda Track campaign was a significant battle in World War II between the Japanese and the Allied forces - who were mostly Australian.
He says Anzac Day should always be remembered for the sacrifices and the mateships made in combat. During the Kokoda battle he says the role of the local Papua New Guinean villagers, fondly known as the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angles, should always be remembered.
"The usual jollity and fun and games ceased as we realised we were going into a serious situation, people kept their thoughts to themselves.
"You couldn't afford to be scared; you couldn't afford to show it 'cos you didn't want to let your mates down.
"One of the greatest fears we had was not being killed but being wounded and left behind. Perhaps to be slaughtered by the Japanese or left in the jungle to die."
The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels saved many soldiers lives.
"(During a battle) One of my boys Bruce Cooper, he was a tough Kalgoorlie miner, he got a bit of shrapnel in his backside, we put him on a stretcher with another few who had been wounded... A group of Fuzzy Wuzzy's were brought in and took the stretchers away from us. They went way into the bush and the wounded spent the next 29 days in the hands of the Fuzzy Wuzzy's who kept them supplied with food but they would have had no medical supplied... Bruce Copper survived, the story is the maggots got into his backside and kept the wound clean otherwise he probably would have got gangrene and not survived.
"We could not have fought without them because they carried our rations, our stores, our ammunition and they had to carry enough food to feed themselves... They did it with a smile on their face.
"When I was in New Guinea just recently people came up to me in the street the woman doing the bedroom in the hotel I was staying at came up and said 'I want to thank you for saving our country'. She gave me a kiss on the cheek and put her arms around me and she was genuine.
"There is still a huge bond between Australian and the Funny Wuzzy's and that will never die."
Bob Iskov lives in Wangaratta in north east Victoria.

Man killed aunt over accusations she was a witch in Papua New Guinea


A PAPUA New Guinean who accused his aunt of sorcery and killed her with an axe has been jailed for 30 years.
Saku Uki Aiya, 21, was found guilty of the "senseless, barbaric and brutal" killing after a two-day trial in Enga province in the impoverished Pacific nation's northern highlands.
The ruling comes days after the United Nations urged a tougher stance on such murders.
The National newspaper cited local police commander Sergeant Simon Mek as saying it was the first sorcery-related killing in the area to reach a national court.
"So many such cases are reported but rarely go through to the high court as relatives accept their own customary ways of settlement in the village courts," Mek said.
There is a widespread belief in sorcery in PNG, where many people do not accept natural causes as an explanation for misfortune and death, and there have been a spate of recent high-profile cases.

A PNG woman was set alight in Mount Hagen in Papua New Guinea in February after being accused of sorcery. Picture: AFP Source: AFP
The beheading of an elderly woman accused of witchcraft earlier this month prompted the UN to demand the government in Port Moresby tackle the scourge.
The UN urged an end to extra-judicial killings linked to accusations of sorcery and renewed calls for the government to repeal the Sorcery Act 1971, introduced to aid the passage of witchcraft cases through the courts.
While the act criminalised the practice of sorcery, critics say that granting the phenomenon legal recognition has led to an increase in false accusations.
"The UN is deeply disturbed with the increasing reports of violence, torture and murder of persons accused of practising sorcery around the country," the UN said.
"These vigilante killings constitute murder and must not be treated with impunity."
In Aiya's case, the court heard he blamed his aunt for the death of his brother and with two accomplices, who remain at large, went to her home in 2010 and bludgeoned her on the neck and head with axes and knives.
In jailing him, Justice Mekeo Gauli said accusations of sorcery were becoming more frequent, the newspaper reported.
"In my view some are using sorcery as an excuse to terminate someone's life though the suspect may not be a sorcerer," the judge said, urging people to use the courts to settle disputes and not take the law into their own hands.

Australian Governor-General pays tribute to diggers in PNG

ByEoin Blackwell, 

AAP Papua New Guinea Correspondent

GOVERNOR-GENERAL Quentin Bryce has laid a flower at the grave of the first Australian fighter killed in World War I during her state visit to Papua New Guinea.
Ms Bryce paused at the grave of W.G.V. Williams at Bita Paka war cemetery in Rabaul on Tuesday, the second day of her visit.
Seaman Williams died on September 11, 1914, following a skirmish with the Germans on the site where the cemetery is now located.
Bita Paka is the final resting place of more than 400 Australians killed in two world wars.
Ms Bryce also laid a wreath at a memorial to members of Lark force who died in East New Britain and on the Montevideo Maru.
The sinking of the Japanese transport ship almost 71 years ago carrying prisoners of war and civilians from Rabaul is considered Australia's worst wartime maritime disaster.
After arriving in New Britain aboard a Royal Australian Airforce C130 Hercules, Ms Bryce travelled to a health clinic to deliver medicine and medical supplies.
She visited Kokopo primary school, where Ausaid has built two schoolrooms, to meet students and plant a tree.
At a lunch in her honour at the Kokopo beach bungalow, former PNG governor-general Sir Paulias Matane told Ms Bryce she and Prime Minister Julia Gillard were an inspiration to women in PNG.
Ms Bryce said the treatment of women was a grave problem in the Pacific island nation.
"It's the most important human rights issue in the world and it's a very grave issue in this country," Ms Bryce said.
"The world must take action in every country.
"It's time we heard more men speaking out."
Sir Paulias said PNG must face up to its treatment of women and confront the violence in society.
"We are going to do our best to change the thinking of these people," he said.
Violence against women is an endemic problem in PNG and has been brought to international attention following the burning murder in February of 20-year-old Kepari Leniata, accused of witchcraft.
More recently, a US academic was pack-raped near Madang on the nation's east coast.
Ms Bryce also visited the Family and Sexual Violence Unit at Kokopo police station for a private conversation with survivors of domestic violence.
On Wednesday Ms Bryce will meet with women's groups at PNG's Parliament House in Port Moresby.
On Thursday she will attend a dawn service at Port Moresby's Bomana war cemetery, before flying to Isurava and Kokoda to lay wreaths at memorials there.
She will return to Australia on Friday.

Four arrested over PNG gang rape


PORT MORESBY: Police in Papua New Guinea have detained four men over the gang-rape of a US academic after a massive manhunt, with officials urging locals to help find five suspects still on the run.
The American woman said she was was stripped naked, had her hands bound and was raped by the armed mob last week after they tied up her husband and a guide on a jungle trail on Karkar Island in Madang province.

Spoke out to raise awareness: the US academic.
Spoke out to raise awareness: the US academic. Photo: AFP
She spoke about her ordeal before returning to the United States to raise awareness about rampant violence against women in PNG.
"I hope my story can make a change," she said.
Madang provincial police commander Chief Superintendent Sylvester Kalaut on Tuesday told the National Broadcasting Corporation of PNG that seven of the men allegedly sexually assaulted the woman while two others kept watch.
"I'm appealing to the law-abiding citizens on Karkar to help police with information so we can have all of the suspects rounded up," he said. "Obviously it's best for our country.
"Our people are abusing expatriates who are here in the province or the country who are here to provide services to our people."
The academic's case came barely a week after an Australian was killed and his friend sexually assaulted by a group of men in the Western Highlands. Prime Minister Peter O'Neill condemned the attack as the "cowardly act of animals".
The National newspaper on Tuesday reported that two men were being questioned over that incident, but up to eight remained at large.
As well as the attacks on foreigners, PNG's reputation has been blighted recently by a savage spate of "sorcery"-related crimes, including murders and beheadings, prompting condemnation from the United Nations.

PNG needs some of our Anzac spirit

By Tim Costello

As we approach Anzac Day, Australians are prompted to reflect on our national character. Drawing on events far from our shores close to a century ago, we lay claim to a particular combination of traits: mateship, pulling together, and brave sacrifice.
Anzac Day should also prompt us to look at those actions closer to home that help define us as good mates, ready to pull together for a common cause. I'm talking about the importance of our relationship with Papua New Guinea – Australia's closest neighbour.
Our countries have enduring ties due to proximity, people, and history – and that includes shared experiences in theatres of war, like Kokoda.
The genuine warmth of the relationship is evidenced by the assistance our diggers received from ordinary Papua New Guineans during World War II (some of whom we continue to dub 'angels'), and our enduring gratitude for that.
So it is a natural expression of Australia's deep-rooted cultural values to continue to engage closely with PNG, and to assist our friends to meet the complex challenges they face. Together we can build bridges – sometimes life-giving ones.
Australia's Governor-General Quentin Bryce is currently in PNG, and I visited Port Moresby earlier this month. During that trip I was able to deepen my personal engagement with the people of PNG, as well as with some of the many Australians who live and work there.
Importantly, I was also able to witness how partnerships between the Australian and PNG governments, non-government organisations and local communities are improving the lives of Papua New Guineans.
One of the most pressing challenges facing Papua New Guinea and other countries in our immediate region is the prevalence of tuberculosis. TB is a major problem around the world, yet doesn't seem to claim as many headlines as malaria or HIV. According to World Health Organisation 2011 data, global TB hotspots include many countries in Africa (from Sierra Leone to South Africa), as well as Bangladesh, Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
In the Asia Pacific region, TB is a bigger killer than malaria, killing more than 200,000 people in the region in 2011.
In PNG, reducing the spread of TB is a difficult challenge – the remoteness of some villages and lack of advanced health infrastructure in these areas, coupled with the difficulty of patients sticking to a six-month course of medication, has seen drug-resistant strains of the disease gain a foothold.
The TB challenge in our immediate region is an urgent one, but the situation is improving. PNG is making encouraging headway on the issue. The Government of PNG (through the National Department of Health) has increased efforts, in cooperation with organisations including the Global Fund, World Health Organisation, AusAID and international NGOs like World Vision. Australia's aid program is a key part of this effort.
In the last few years, Papua New Guinea's National TB Program has seen the STOP TB Strategy rolled out in every province and tens of thousands of people have been enrolled and successfully treated for TB.
On the ground in TB-affected communities, World Vision's approach, as a partner in this program, involves helping to build and strengthen local systems to improve health and wellbeing – this is a good example of assistance delivering sustainable improvements.
TB detection rates are up, allowing more and more people to receive free treatment. Things are improving, but a long-term commitment is needed. Improved health facilities, better community-based monitoring of treatment regimes, and more research into cost-effective diagnostic technology are all needed.
My hope is that World Vision – together with the PNG and Australian governments, private and corporate partners and other agencies – can overcome the challenges and profoundly impact the lives of people in need in PNG for the better.
Essentially, it's the right thing to do – working together with our closest neighbour for a better future. It is our responsibility and it is in our interest. Just as the diggers were helped by Papua New Guineans wanting to do the right thing, Australia needs to keep on doing the right thing by them.

*Tim Costello is chief executive of World Vision Australia

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/png-needs-some-of-our-anzac-spirit-20130422-2iaw5.html#ixzz2RElbtOTc

Clough Curtain JV wins PNG LNG contract

Clough Curtain JV Wins PNG LNG Contract
Engineering and project services company Clough Limited (ASX:CLO) yesterday announced that the Clough Curtain Joint Venture (CCJV) has received work orders worth approximately A$76 million associated with the PNG LNG Project's upstream contract.
The PNG LNG Project is an integrated development that includes natural gas production and processing facilities, onshore and offshore pipelines and liquefaction facilities.
The PNG LNG Project is operated by Esso Highlands Limited, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corporation, in co-venture with Oil Search Limited, National Petroleum Company PNG Limited, Santos Limited, JX Nippon Oil and Gas Exploration Corporation, Mineral Resources Development Company Limited and Petromin PNG Holdings Limited, and their affiliates.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Australian Governor-General arrives in PNG on 5-day visit


Australian Governor-General Quentin Bryce arrived in Papua New Guinea today on a five-day visit.
She flew into Port Moresby and was welcomed by the unique sounds of a bamboo band from Bougainville island.
Ms Bryce is scheduled to meet her PNG counterpart, Sir Michael Ogio, and prime minister Peter O'Neill.
During the visit Ms Bryce will travel to Rabaul on New Britain Island and to Alotau on Papua New Guinea's eastern tip.
On Thursday, weather permitting, Ms Bryce will take part in Anzac Day commemorations at the village of Kokoda.
She will also visit numerous local initiatives that focus on education, health and violence against women.

American recounts horrific gang rape at the hands of 9 armed men in rural Papua New Guinea

The woman, her husband and a guide were ambushed and left alone on Karkar Island, hours away from the nearest village.


The victim of the brutal attack, who was researching birds and climate change, wants her story to empower the women of Papua New Guinea to stand up against violence.

-Ness Kerton/AFP

A brutal gang rape at the hands of nine armed men in Papua New Guinea has the American victim speaking out about violence against women in the Pacific country.
It's the latest in a string of horrific violent crimes this year in the country, most of them targeting women accused of "sorcery" and burned alive for their "crimes."
On Friday, the 32-year-old victim was researching birds in a remote forest on Karkar Island when she, her husband and a guide were ambushed by nine men wielding rifles and knives. They tied up the two men and stripped them naked, then bound the woman's hands and gang-raped her for 20 minutes. The men completed the atrocity by hacking off her blond hair with a knife, leaving the group tied up alone hours away from the nearest village.
"This story should not come out because I am white," the woman, who was on her fifth visit to Papua New Guinea, told The Telegraph, noting that it is rare for white women to be targeted. "It should come out in hopes that it empowers Papua New Guinean women to stand up and say no more violence against women in this country. I hope my story can make a change."

The group eventually freed itself and found the way to the nearest village. Husband and wife returned Saturday to Port Moresby, the nation's capital, where they filed a report with police and the American embassy. On Sunday, the brave victim spoke publicly about the incident with reporters.
The crime drew a sharp rebuke from Peter O'Neill, the prime minister of Papua New Guinea, who called it the "cowardly act of animals."
"This kind of behavior totally undermines our efforts to make our country a safe destination for investment and tourists," he said. "We cannot allow the entire nation to suffer because of the behavior of one or two sick people."
The heinous crime is similar to an incident from just a week ago, when an Australian was fatally shot at his Mount Hagen home. The 10 armed men then gang-raped his girlfriend.
The country does have a high crime rate, according to a State Department advisory on the nation, though tourists are less frequently attacked.
Native women have also been targeted in "sorcery" incidents. The Telegraph reports a heavy belief of sorcery in the nation, with many of its 7 million people doubting death by natural causes. Near Mount Hagen, a young woman in February was stripped, tied up and burned to death after a mob accused her of sorcery in the death of a 6-year-old boy.
So common are such attacks that the nation has a controversial Sorcery Act on the books to protect those who claim their crimes were done to stop sorcery.
Six women were tortured during an Easter sacrifice ceremony, and earlier this month two women accused of sorcery were publicly beheaded.
"I understand that there are limitations with resources, but it's not an adequate excuse for government to say that they can't protect someone's life," said Kate Schuetze, an official from the human rights organization Amnesty International.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

US academic gang-raped on Karkar Island, Madang


A US academic has been gang-raped by an armed mob in Papua New Guinea, barely a week after an Australian was killed and his friend sexually assaulted by a group of men.The incidents come after a brutal spate of sorcery-related crimes that have sparked condemnation from the United Nations and undermined the poor Pacific country's standing as a destination for tourism and investment.
In the latest case, the white academic told AFP that she was attacked on Friday while conducting research on birds and the impact of climate change in a remote forest on Karkar Island in Madang province.
Police in the capital Port Moresby on Sunday confirmed the attack.
"We have taken statements but no arrests have been made yet," a spokesman told AFP. "This is a very serious incident."
The 32-year-old was walking along a bush track with her husband and a guide when nine men armed with rifles and knives ambushed them, stripping the husband and guide naked and tying them up, she said.
They then stripped her, bound her hands, cut off her blonde hair to the scalp and gang-raped her for about 20 minutes before something in the forest startled them and they ran away.
The guide managed to break free and the three of them fled naked back to the nearest village, several hours away, she said.
The husband and wife returned to Port Moresby on Saturday, where they were met by a photographer working for AFP who helped them file police reports and organise a flight out of the country.
The case was also reported to the US embassy. A duty officer told AFP Sunday that the embassy had no comment to offer.
Violence against women is endemic in Papua New Guinea, but it is rare for a white woman to be targeted, and the academic said she wanted to tell her story to shine a light on the issue.
"This story should not come out because I am white," said the woman, who was on her fifth visit to the country since 2010, often staying for up to four months to conduct research.
"It should come out in hopes that it empowers Papua New Guinean women to stand up and say no more violence against women in this country.
"I hope my story can make a change."
The American's ordeal comes barely a week after Australian Robert Purdy, 62, was shot dead at Mount Hagen, in PNG's Western Highlands, and a woman he was with, reportedly from the Philippines, was gang-raped by 10 armed men.
PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill condemned that attack as the "cowardly act of animals".
"This kind of behaviour totally undermines our efforts to make our country a safe destination for investment and tourists," he said.
"We cannot allow the entire nation to suffer because of the behaviour of one or two sick people."
The incidents follow a series of gruesome murders, including a 20-year-old mother who was accused of witchcraft, stripped and burned alive in front of a crowd at a market near Mount Hagen in February.
Earlier this month, an elderly woman was beheaded after being accused of sorcery.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Beautiful Milne Bay gears up for tourists

Source: The National, Wednesday, April 17,  2013 

CULTURALLY-rich Trobriand Islands, also known as the Islands of Love, along the northern straits of Milne Bay, is gearing up for its biggest ever invasion of tourists.
Milne Bay will be inundated with hundreds of tourists later this year, the biggest number ever, as P&O Cruises launches the first dedicated Papua New Guinea cruises.
In a first for P&O Cruises, PNG will feature in two dedicated itineraries, with Pacific Dawn sailing from Brisbane to the turquoise waters of Milne Bay, where it will visit provincial capital Alotau as well as the beautiful white sand beaches of Doini Island and the Trobriand Islands.

View of Milne Bay from Alotau International Hotel.-Pictures by MALUM NALU

The first cruise from Oct 31 to Nov 9, takes in Alotau, Kiriwina Island, Kawanasausau, and Doini Island.
The second cruise from Nov 16-Nov 26, takes in Kitava, Kiriwina Island, Alotau, Kawanasausau, and Doini Island.

Beautiful sun, surf and sand along the road from East Cape to Alotau.

The maiden cruise to Milne Bay in October is timed to coincide with Alotau’s Canoe and Kundu Festival, where local communities compete in canoe races, costume display and other cultural performances.

Milne Bay baskets at the arts and crafts shop in Alotau. So many more will be needed for the tourist 'invasion'.

Kiriwina-Goodenough district administrator, Nou Labui Bua, is now working against time to get things ready, including setting up new jetties on Kitava and Kaibola.
“We’re expecting cultural groups from the Trobriand Islands to perform in all those venues that we will put up,” he told The National in Alotau.

One of the many forest streams along the road from East Cape to Alotau.

“In the meantime, the preparation work is that we will have to put up jetties.
“Jetties will cost K1 million at Kaibola and K600,000 at Kitava.
“Kiriwina-Goodenough MP Douglas Tomuriesa is getting the money out of his district services improvement programme (DSIP) funds to have these jetties put up.

Milne Bay magic along the road from East Cape to Alotau.

“There is enough time.
“PNG Ports, with the assistance of cruise operator P&O, is getting the plans for the jetties prepared.
“We expect the entire Kiriwina community plus the smaller islands around there to converge on Kaibola on the day to perform.
“They have been told to get their baskets, whatever they can put up, to make a bit of money on the day.”

PNG and Fiji seal Vodafone deal

By Eoin Blackwell, AAP Port Moresby Correspondent

Vodafone Fiji will take over management of PNG mobile phone carrier bemobile, as the nations' leaders announced closer economic ties.
PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill and Fiji's interim prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, signed off on the Vodafone Fiji venture in Port Moresby on Tuesday.

Vodafone Fiji will take over management of PNG mobile phone carrier BeMobile.
PAA © Vodafone Fiji will take over management of PNG mobile phone carrier bemobile.
The plan will see the Vodafone brand brought to PNG and the Solomon Islands.
"We have more mobiles than people," Mr Bainimarama said.
"The term historic is often over-used, but not in this instance. The two leading island nations, Fiji and PNG, have joined hands in a joint commercial venture that promises to revolutionise the lives of all our people for the better."
About 35 per cent of PNG's roughly seven million people currently have access to a mobile phone, compared with 110 per cent coverage in the smaller Fiji islands.
Fiji's National Provident Fund will take a 40 per cent share of bemobile, while the PNG government's commercial arm, the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC), will take 51 per cent.
The remaining nine per cent of shares will be spread between the PNG Sustainable Development Program and superannuation providers Nambawan Super, Nasfund and GEMS (PNG).
"This is an exciting venture and an important milestone in the new relationship Fiji is building with Papua New Guinea," Mr Bainimarama said.
"We are pursuing closer economic ties with the view of eventually creating a single market for the countries of the Melanesian Spearhead group."
The Vodafone deal is part of a broader package of economic ties.
PNG and Fiji will engage in annual trade talks and relax visa requirements for travel between the two nations, while PNG will hire Fijian public servants to bolster its ailing public service.
"We will be sending a team to go to Fiji within this year to start recruiting Fijians to come and work here to take up positions where we have a huge chronic shortage in our public service structure," Mr O'Neill said.
He also announced PNG will grant 50 million kina ($A22.2 million) in two tranches to Fiji to help it prepare for elections in March 2014.
The pair did not take questions from the press.
Mr Bainimarama arrived in PNG on Monday for a four-day state visit.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Prime Minister condemns killing of Australian in Mt Hagen

 Prime Minister Peter O'Neill was today angered at reports of the murder of an Australian tourist in Mt Hagen on Monday morning.
Media reports said the Australian, who was identified, was shot dead at a friend’s home while his girl friend was pack raped.
“I condemn the killing of this tourist and the attack on his girlfriend. It is a cowardly act of animals. This kind of behaviour totally undermines our efforts to make our country a safe destination for investment and tourists,” the Prime Minister said.
He demanded Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga to do all that is necessary to bring those responsible to justice.
“Our community cannot be safe until we bring perpetrators of such heinous crimes to face the full force of the law.
“We cannot allow the entire nation to suffer because of the behaviour of one or two sick people,” Mr O’Neill said.