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Friday, 12 October


The Presumption of Innocence "IndyWatch Feed"

I have a friend in Papua New Guinea named Monica Paulus who was accused of casting sorcery spells because a person died in her village. Her neighbors almost murdered her until she fled the region. Now she works to save other women falsely accused of sorcery who are targets of torture and killing. This is a window into the mob violence Western civilization crawled slowly out of through the establishment of principles like the presumption of innocence.

To millions of Americans, Brett Kavanaugh seems just as guilty as Monica seemed to her accusers. They sincerely believe, because the power groupthink has over the human mind, that Kavanaugh has all the signs of their suspected profile of an abuser of women: rich, white, elite Catholic school attendee, conservative, and nominated by Donald Trump. Millions of people have repeated this so often that it feels deeply true. Plus, there were accusations!

Monicas accusers believed she fit the profile of a witch. Once the first accusation was levied, it was easy for others to believe it was true. From an outside vantage, charges of deadly sorcery seem absurd to third-party observers. But in Monicas culture, belief in the power of sorcery to kill children and cause calamity has been universal for millenia. Though recent infections of Christianity have shaken it, sorcery is still a fact of life.

Personhood has been a hard-fought prize of Western civilization. The idea that an individual person has a right to their own life and liberty regardless of the passions of the collective is a relatively new and fragile gain for humanity. For most of history, the individual person accused by a crowd or community had no ability to escape its all-consuming wrath.

Humans without Christ-rooted protection for the individual quickly descend into very dangerous, unthinking crowds.

In the book of Genesis, Potiphars wife accused her Hebrew servant Joseph of trying to rape her when, in fact, she tried to seduce him. Joseph was thrown into prison for this false accusation without any need for corroboration except the cloak she had ripped from him.

Believe Our Women! was the slogan organizers used during Jim Crow against black men falsely accused of sexual violence. The justice crowds felt as sure about their scapegoats guilt as new partisan crowds do about their conservative targets. To mobs, a persons wealth or poverty or race is sufficient reason to ignore their humanity and cast shame.

Even popular cinema reflects a healthy suspicion of collective accusations. In the film Edward Scissorhands, Edward was falsely accused by a woman of sexual assault after spurning her advances in a barber shop. Her tears led to an angry mob destroying the life of an innocent one.


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Thursday, 11 October



Waghi Mek Plantations Limited was by far the single biggest Coffee Exporter between 1976-1989 when it ceased operations due to landowner disputes. It spans 11 plantations form North Waghi into South Waghi in the Jiwaka Province. The company is owned by North Waghi LLG (37.5%), South Waghi LLG (37.5%) and Hunter Richard Hagon (25%). There have been many attempts to revive the plantations to no avail.

During the National Alliance led government, Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare allocated K2 Million to Waghi Mek Plantations for rehabilitation exercise but disappeared in the swamps of Waghi Valley. A clever move led a Wilfred Gurika and Waldam Association received the K2 million, registered a Company called Waghi Mek Plantations Holdings and laughed all the way to the bank.

This year, Hon. Richard Maru has committed K20 for the rehabilitation of Waghi Mek Plantations Limited. Jiwaka Provincial Government (JPG) does not own any shares in the company nor is a party to any willing and dealings of the company, quickly seizes the opportunity and convenes a meeting without the consent or participation of the rightful shareholders and directors of the company and appoints a Paul Tumun to the Managing Director....


Fortnightly links: new data on global poverty, tsunami in Indonesia, the Albanian miracle, and more "IndyWatch Feed"

ODIs Soumya Chattopadhyay looks at new data on global poverty. Poverty is still falling, but not as fast as previously.

Jasper Cooper has a fascinating looking discussion paper based on a recent impact evaluation of a community policing project in Bougainville. A central finding: As police enforce a more equal rule of law, and empower women, men seek to preserve their advantage by increasing their reliance on local chiefs.

Why did al-Qaeda succeed in some countries and fail in others? Why did it adopt different approaches in different parts of Middle-East? In this podcast on the Lawfare blog, academics Aaron Y. Zelin and Barak Mendelsohn discuss recent research on the terrorist groups strategies and the barriers it has faced.

Commentary on The Conversation asks whether a better tsunami warning system could have saved lives in Indonesia.

Have you heard about the Albanian miracle? Ricardo Hausmann argues on Project Syndicate that its unfolding right before our eyes thanks to a savvy grab bag approach to economic reform. (Its worth reading the comments under the article for some skepticism too, though.)

Also on Project Syndicate, the UNDPs regional gender adviser for Eastern Europe and Central Asia on how making women part of the planning process can guard against reproducing gender bias in disaster mitigation and recovery.

The post Fortnightly links: new data on global poverty, tsunami in Indonesia, the Albanian miracle, and more appeared first on Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre.


Joint recruitment in New Zealand. Why not in Australia? "IndyWatch Feed"

Joint ATRs are good for employers who get to share some of the costs, like half the return airfares, and theyre good for workers because they get [a] longer time in New Zealand to earn more money James Dalmar, Operations Manager for Immigration NZs Wellington area office.

In 2009, the joint Approval to Recruit (ATR) system was made available for employers in New Zealands Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme, allowing them to share Pacific workers across different crops and regions. This significant change has led to an overall increase in the number of RSE workers employed and has provided smaller enterprises in New Zealands horticulture and viticulture industries with the opportunity to participate in the RSE scheme.

Prior to the joint ATR system, a single approved employer was responsible for the recruitment and transport costs for their RSE workers as well as providing guaranteed hours of work.[i]  For smaller enterprises, these costs and minimum guarantees of work made participation in the scheme difficult, particularly as employers without work were not allowed to place their RSE workers in other temporary employment (though, out of concern for their workers, there had been a few cases of employers illegally placing workers in other employment). With the joint ATR system, smaller approved employers are able to work with other employers to share workers and the associated costs over the season, ensuring guaranteed hours of work are met, and extending workers periods of employment. The system is increasingly popular with employers as their enterprises expand and they require workers at different times, and for different tasks, throughout the season. By 2017, there were over 2,000 workers employed on joint ATRs across the country.

Approved employers submit joint ATRs together to Immigration New Zealand, specifying the number of workers and periods of work on both ATRs. RSE workers enter into individual employment contracts with each employer. Costs of recruitment and transport of RSE workers to and from New Zealand are generally shared by the employers, and each employer is responsible for the workers pastoral care during the employment period. Once approved, workers are allocated to the employer...


APEC COST TO PNG TO DATE approaching K2 BILLION "IndyWatch Feed"


Insiders at APEC Authority have estimated the following costs to the nation to date over the last 2 years:

1. APEC Haus construction - K300m.
2. Hilton Hotel construction contribution - K200m.
3.  Sealing of Jacksons airport (old terminal area) for 767 aircrafts to park - K70m.
4. Cruise Ship hires - K90m.
5. Joint Security task force costs including cars and bikes and boats and related cost under Police Comm etc. - K60m.
6. Hire cars -  K65m.
7. Hotels and venue hire for all the lead up meetings so far - K90m.
8. Motor vehicles including executive Praods - K50m.
9. New Maserati sports sedans - K40m.
10. Salaries for staff and consultants for staff and foreign consultants for years for both APEC Authority and APEC secretariat - K90m.
11. Travel and allowances for attending meetings etc over 2 years - K60m.
12.  Staff accommodation - K30m.
13.  Uniforms and attire we see littering Pom - K50m.
14. Banners and flyers and signages by a certain Lady's company- K30m.
15. Computers and meeting registration software - K20m.
16. Medical Services to PIH for meetings so far- K10m.
17.  Work on wharf to accommodate cruise ships - K30m.
18.  Water supply piping with Eda Ranu to Motukea for cruise ships - K10m.
19. National Weather Service Upgrade  - K10m.
20.  PNG Air Safety Ltd equipment upgrade - K20m.
21. Staff meals and allowances during meetings for all State Agencies including Police and govt departmenta- K10m.
22.  Fuel and maintenance costs for over 120 vehicles for 2 year - K30m.
23. Cost of hosting several lead up meetings in certain provinces- K20m
23.  Other administration costs like mobile phones and internet and stationery etc etc  - K40m.

These exclude all aid funded projects like the Poreporena Freeway upgrade for K30m and Convention centre upgrade for K25m.

Minister Tkachenko blatantly lied to the country when asked in Parliament in August that only K56m was spent so far.

Will the country, especially other elected politicians, just stand by silently and allow 2 politicians just run amok spending money on a wasteful meeting that is of no benefit to the country?

Wednesday, 10 October



by Spot Check Investigation

Morobe Set to Embrace US$100 Billion was the catchy headline splashed across the front pages of Post Couriers 8th October 2018 coverage. The prominently featured story claimed that Morobe Province was set to embrace a US$100 billion in provincial developments covering more than 60 projects.

The projects are to be delivered by a company called MPM Mining & Industrial Development Corporation Limited, based in the Philippines with partners in the USA, and is claimed to have business investment operations in mining and financial services as well.

Post Courier reported that MPM Mining & Industrial Development Corporation co chairman Romeo Villarosa Sr said his company is ready to execute and deliver identified development projects for Morobe as soon as possible depending on how soon and ready are the plans in place for the province are put forward to them. He said Morobe is an ideal location in PNG to invest in and the company is ready to fund it to start works on the identified development projects as soon as possible. Not only infrastructure but other development agendas that are listed will be fully funded and developed.

Click Link:
A follow up article was run on Wednesdays (10 October) Post Courier (at p.5) reassuring that the projects will commence once the Morobe Provincial Government approves and the company will complete delivery between five to ten years. This article refers to a vague arrangement with Treasury Bank of United States to be advised on certain project funding they will be undertaking.

See Link:...




Today the talk on social media was the arrival of forty (40) K1 million luxury sports cars that were purchased by the O'Neill Government and flown in from Italy, a country halfway around the world or 14,000 km away.

O'Neill Government placed an order for 40 Italian make Maserati Luxury Sports Cars; a vehicle that retails anywhere from AUD$210,000 to AUD$300,000. When imported into PNG it could cost close to K1 million after taking into account duty, clearance and freight.

In the last session of Parliament, Prime Minister Peter O'Neill was questioned why his Government was ripping up a perfectly good road only to reseal it.

O'Neill claimed the road was in disrepair and the road works was a gift by Chinese Government at a cost of K40 million. However, what O'Neill was hiding was that they were only resealing the road just so 40, 1 million kina sports luxury cars could drive on it.

K40 million would have been better spent on building new class rooms or hospitals instead of being wasted for the comfort of APEC delegates.

Minister for APEC Justice Tkatchenco released a press statement today claiming the vehicles only cost K229,000 each and would be resold to the private sector following APEC.

So should we take this to mean Tkatchenco and a number of his close friends and associates will be able to buy them dirt cheap only to export them overseas to be parked in their million Kina mansions. All while the majority of Papua New Guineans live in poverty and teachers and public servants face pay cuts.

Perhaps its time Papua New Guineans start exercising their Constitutional right to bring to account a corrupt O'Neill Government.


Revisiting the MDG Housing Program in Timor-Leste "IndyWatch Feed"

In 2013, my colleague and I wrote about the difficulties of development in Timor-Leste, citing the MDG Suco Program (a housing program) as an example of poor infrastructure development. Aligned with the broader United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Timor-Leste Government constructed over 5,000 houses nationwide for social housing, to improve the quality of life of the most disadvantaged members of society.

The MDG housing initiative aimed to provide vulnerable Timorese with modern Western houses with solar energy, water and sanitation. When we wrote our blog post in 2013, we were concerned that the diverse housing needs of beneficiaries (in relation to their capabilities, livelihood activities, socio-cultural contexts and physical environments) were overlooked.

In August, I had the opportunity to revisit the case study site in Manatuto Municipality to see how things have evolved. Five years on, the lack of a consultative social housing approach has become more apparent.

At first glance, the Oma Boku MDG settlement looks more liveable than it did on my last visit. Many households now have established gardens and trimmed bushes. The settlement has social amenities such as a village meeting hall, chapel, health centre and a kindergarten. Yet it continues to experience a low occupancy rate: approximately 56%. Beneficiaries are allocated a two or three bedroom house on a 15 square metre plot of land. With much of the plot taken up by the house, only a marginal area is left for cultivation. Most rural Timorese households are subsistence farmers with some off-farm and seasonal cash crop incomes. For the poorest and most vulnerable individuals and families, having adequate and secure access to land is even more crucial, not only for household food security but as a means to a livelihood. For example, lack of land near the home means that larger livestock must be raised away from the settlement.

A number of households in this settlement have cleared up larger plots of land in the surrounding area land held communally by the village to cultivate staple food crops such as maize, cassava, and sweet potato. Others farm on their own fields or that of their relatives at a further distance. In accordance to traditional Timorese tenure systems, households cultivating on communal or leased land are limited to user-rights, neither having the rights to grow trees as cash crops nor to pass the land down to their descendants, which in turn limits income-earning opportunities.

We also cautioned against separating vulnerable people from their familial support networks. The large majority of rural Timorese households are multi-generational, comprised of two and three generations of families residing...


Minister must name cancelled SABL leases "IndyWatch Feed"

Video of zmlVBdiVsiU


ACT NOW! is calling on the Minister for Lands, Justin Tkatchenko to name the Special Agriculture Business Leases he claims have been cancelled. 

The Minister has stated on social media that of 53 Special Agriculture Business Leases reviewed, 34% have been cancelled via voluntary surrender, 2% cancelled via consent or court order and 12% have been referred for further verification. 

However, the numbers reported in various other media are different and contradictory. TVWAN for example has published a table showing 68 leases have been reviewed.

The Minister needs to publish a full list of the SABL leases with their names, portion numbers, locations and size, and identify those that have already been cancelled, those recommended to be cancelled, those that have been surrendered and those whose files are missing.

It is also noted that while the Minister says 53 leases have been reviewed, there were 77 that were investigated by the Commission of Inquiry, so what about the additional 24 leases?

These are leases that affect customary land and the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people. We all have a right to know the details of which leases the Minister is talking about and he should not be trying to hide the facts or confuse the public.



Femili PNG hiring in Canberra "IndyWatch Feed"

Femili PNG is advertising for a new Development Officer in Canberra. This person will work with the Development Manager on a range of areas to support Femili PNG, including communications, stakeholder engagement, fundraising, reporting, policy development, finance and administration.

This position provides an exciting opportunity to work on an innovative and pioneering project that is making a real difference on the ground while also contributing to the development of PNG civil society. We require an individual with practical problem solving skills, who is patient, organised and hands-on, and combines a considered approach with a strong commitment to improving services for survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence and child abuse in Papua New Guinea.

It is envisaged that the position will be filled on a full-time basis for a twelve month period, but part-time offers and/or availability for shorter periods will be considered. The position will be reviewed after this initial period.

This is a salaried position, with superannuation. Details on remuneration will be available to shortlisted candidates. We are working to a tight deadline, so get your application in as soon as possible and no later than Thursday 25 October 2018. Please indicate when you can start.

A full job description is available here, and more information about the important work of Femili PNG is available at

The post Femili PNG hiring in Canberra appeared first on Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre.


Is Papua New Guinea really as dangerous as people say? "IndyWatch Feed"

Recently I made a trip to Papua New Guinea, the remote southwestern Pacific island country that is due to host the 2018 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November.
Before I set out for the place, I was warned by a number of my friends, including seasoned war correspondent Susanna Cheung Chui-yung, that Papua New Guinea has a reputation of being the worlds most dangerous place.
Given that I got such advance warnings from my friends even in the past when I decided to travel to places such as Brazil, Paraguay, Pakistan and Palestine, I was not too perturbed.
There is no shortage of stories and hearsay on the Internet about how dangerous and horrible Papua New Guinea is. Yet the more dangerous it sounded, the more I wanted to find it out myself.
There is a prevailing notion that there is a structural reason behind the poor law and order conditions in Papua New Guinea, more commonly known as PNG among international travelers: the country has a whopping unemployment rate of over 60 percent.
Ever since the PNG gained independence from Australia in 1975, only its capital city, Port Moresby, has undergone rapid modernization and urbanization.


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