Bougainville News Alerts : NRI Report : What needs to be done on Bougainville in the wake of the 2019 referendum.

“ Any form of self-determination will require some new institutions for Bougainville and some changes to existing ones, all of which will need a foundation in Bougainville’s Constitution. Exactly what changes are made, how they are made, and the future relationship between the Constitutions of Bougainville and PNG will depend in part on the form of self-determination.

  • If Bougainville achieved self-determination outside PNG, with no formal relationship with PNG other than as a close neighbour, this would be reflected in the terms of the Constitution, the range of matters for which it provides, and the mechanisms that it establishes for political and legal accountability.
  • If Bougainville achieved self-determination in a form of free association with PNG, this would be likely reflected in the Constitutions of both PNG and Bougainville, although the Constitutions need not otherwise be dependent on each other.
  • If Bougainville achieved self-determination on a basis that left it formally within PNG, significant constitutional changes still would be needed. In these circumstances, however, there would be a relationship of some kind between the two Constitutions, although it may not be the same as exists at present.
    On any of these scenarios for constitutional change, there is a further question for decision about whether Bougainville should amend the existing Constitution or make a new one. In principle, either is possible and there are advantages and disadvantages to both.

 Abridged from a National Research Institute research report ( Reseach Report 8: Institution Building in Post-Referendum Bougainville) under its Referendum Research Project. This was released along with Research Report 9: Increasing Revenues for the Bougainville Government.

What needs to be done on Bougainville in the wake of the 2019 referendum.

By ANNA DZIEDZIC and CHERYL SAUNDERS

THERE will be four key questions before decision-makers in the post-referendum consultations. While the primary focus of the consultations will be the future relationship between Bougainville and PNG, the other questions are necessarily linked to this relationship.

The questions are identified separately below, to ensure that each is actively considered, in the interests of workable and lasting outcomes.
The questions are:

  • What should be the future relationship between Bougainville and PNG, following the referendum?
  • What changes are necessary to achieve that relationship, in both PNG and Bougainville, in terms of governing authority and the way in which authority is exercised?
  • How should these changes be made, to ensure that they work as effectively as possible from the standpoint of both Bougainville and PNG?
  • Over what time frame should change occur and in what order of priority?

The future relationship between Bougainville and PNG might take different forms, with multiple different features, all of which are consistent with self-determination.

For the purposes of this report, as an aid to understanding the options, the possibilities are grouped into three broad categories.

We note, however, that there may be variations within each.

These categories are: Self-determination for Bougainville outside PNG, as a formally sovereign state; Self-determination outside PNG, but in a form of free association with it; Self-determination in a form that leaves Bougainville formally part of PNG.

Three influential factors

There are at least three contextual factors that are relevant to the form and outcomes of the consultations.

One is the nature of the existing relationship between PNG and Bougainville. These two territories have been connected for the purposes of governance for over 100 years. The legacies of this connection include both long collaboration and significant conflict (Regan & Griffin, 2015).

Both legacies are evident in the considerable achievements of the BPA, which brought a bitter conflict to a close in a way that has proved both manageable and lasting. Bougainville’s peace process provides a model from which others might learn.

Nevertheless, from the standpoint of the consultations, these legacies tend to pull in opposite directions. Complicating resolution further, a century of governance of PNG and Bougainville as a single entity also has encouraged the intermixture of peoples and the interdependence of economies.

Self-determination for Bougainville will require these to be disentangled to some degree, whatever form it takes. On the other hand, geography, shared history and the realities of globalisation suggest that a close relationship of some kind will continue.

A second contextual factor that demands consideration is Bougainville’s capability, now and into the future. Capability should be understood for this purpose as a combination of the knowledge, skills and integrity needed to develop policies, manage programs and run institutions in ways that work for the people of Bougainville and for the polity as a whole. Capability, including ways in which it might be developed, is relevant to all the key questions for decision in the course of the consultations.

Capability is an issue that arises when any political community acquires major new responsibilities for which it has final authority.

In one sense, Bougainville has an advantage in this regard over many other newly empowered political communities, thanks to the experience of nearly two decades of autonomy since the signing of the BPA. Capability is nevertheless a major issue for Bougainville, in ways that are documented in a range of relatively recent reports and reviews (Government of Papua New Guinea and Autonomous Bougainville Government Joint Supervisory Body, 2018; Government of Papua New Guinea and Autonomous Bougainville Government Joint Supervisory Body, 2013; McKenna, 2019; Nisira, 2017; Peake, 2019).

Comparisons

Bougainville and PNG have distinctive features and a distinctive history that must guide both the decisions that are made in the course of the consultations and the ways in which they are put into effect.

Properly used, however, the experiences of other countries can be a valuable source from which insights for the consultations between governments can be drawn.

The companion report, Increasing Revenues for the Bougainville Government (Chand et al., 2020), identifies 57 states that, like Bougainville, have small island territories, in order to examine their relevance as comparators for the purposes of Bougainville’s own economic and fiscal futures.

From this range, the report ultimately identifies 18 such states that are broadly comparable to Bougainville in terms of size and economic opportunity (Chand et al., 2020).This section of this report identifies three ways in particular in which comparative experience might be useful for the institutional and related issues covered by this report.First, the experiences of other countries may provide useful insight into each of the broad options for the relationship between Bougainville and PNG.

Some examples are given below.

Timor Leste and South Sudan are both states that have separated from larger states in relatively recent times and have achieved self-determination as independent states in their own right.44 Timor Leste became an independent state in 2002 and South Sudan in 2011.

Cook Islands, Niue, the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau are examples of states that are not part of a larger state but operate in ‘free association’ with one.5• Greenland is formally part of the Kingdom of Denmark, but it enjoys self-government on a basis that includes a right to secede and so offers an example of self-determination while formally remaining part of a larger state (Ackrén, 2017).

The experiences of these and other states show how each of the broad options for self-determination works, as a basis for determining their suitability for Bougainville.

Second, polities that are broadly similar to Bougainville in terms of geographic and population size, stage of development, and perhaps culture, offer insights into such matters as the range of institutions that Bougainville might need; the challenges of operating them; and the extent to which governance can be enhanced by local cultural practice.

A subset of the states identified in the report Increasing Revenues (Chand et al., 2021) is most likely to be relevant for these purposes. States that might offer particular insights into the design and operation of institutions in Bougainville include Fiji, Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga and Vanuatu.

While each of these polities is different to Bougainville in many respects, all are island states, all are relatively small in global terms, and all are in the same region of the world, with similar neighbours, some shared historical experiences, significant distinctive cultures and broadly similar aspirations.

Third, comparative experience can be useful also to demonstrate how smaller states, with limited resources, share institutions of various kinds, including by using institutions of others. Examples that will be given in the course of this report include currency, courts and diplomatic representation.

There is no shortage of public institutions that might be organised in this way, however, in the short term or even indefinitely. These practices are familiar in smaller states throughout the world, but the same range of Pacific states might be most useful comparators for Bougainville’s purposes.

It is not practicable in this report to canvass comparative experiences in any depth. Once the consultations get underway and the direction of the consultations becomes clear, more specific questions can be formulated. There may be value in organising a forum of representatives of selected states to provide detailed information on institutions and their operation in practice.

Political community

Creating a polity to realise self-determination requires an effective political community, in addition to the institutions and other trappings of statehood (Bogdandy et al., 2005). An effective political community requires cohesion between peoples, trust in public institutions and a shared commitment to the polity.

In an effective political community, disagreement is resolved through processes provided by or under the auspices of the state, potentially including customary law and practice. Members of a political community will not always be pleased by an election outcome, a new law or policy, or a decision of a court or other arbiter. Where a political community is working well, however, people accept such outcomes as part of a system to which they belong and on which they are prepared to rely, even while working to change decisions for the future. Bougainville already has a political community; however, greater demands will be placed on it by self-determination as Bougainville becomes increasingly self-reliant.

Although institutions based on western constitutional models have been established, customary institutions, such as councils of elders and chiefs, customary law, and customary methods of decision making and dispute resolution are recognised in Bougainville’s constitution and laws. Customary institutions have a high degree of legitimacy and operate alongside state institutions in what has been described as an example of successful ‘hybrid’ state building (Boege et al., 2008).

Customary institutions and processes have played a crucial role during the period of autonomy under the BPA. Bougainville can continue to draw on these institutions to develop a political community that suits its new circumstances and needs.

But there are challenges in building political community in Bougainville as well. Regionalism and factionalism are as present in Bougainville as elsewhere (Bougainville News, 2019).

The animosities of the civil war are not entirely overcome and continue to affect the cohesion of local communities (Autonomous Bougainville Government Department of Peace and Conciliation Resources, 2019).

Divisions could be exacerbated by future initiatives including, most obviously, reopening the Panguna mine. The struggle for self-determination has been a catalyst for unity of purpose within Bougainville that could be weakened once that struggle is over. Governance in Bougainville in conditions of self-determination is certain to be difficult, has the potential to give rise to dissatisfaction among sections of the people, and could undermine the solidarity on which political community depends.

Citizenship and passports

Any political community has rules or practices that identify its members. At present, Bougainville’s Constitution recognises the legal status of a ‘Bougainvillean’. Section 7 of the Constitution sets out the way in which Bougainvillean status is acquired. Section 8 identifies key rights held by Bougainvilleans to own customary land and to stand for election. Section 9 sets out the obligations of a Bougainvillean.

If Bougainville were to become a polity outside PNG, it would be necessary to create a status of Bougainville citizen and to provide for a system of Bougainville passports. By contrast, if Bougainville were to achieve a form of self-determination in free association with PNG, it could have its own citizenship and issue its own passports, but it need not do so.

So, for example, Niue, which has a form of free association with New Zealand, relies on New Zealand citizenship and accepts that its people use New Zealand passports, as convenient but not necessary attributes of free association (Angelo, 2009).

Ideas about membership and belonging are not exclusive to independent countries, however.
They also apply in distinct political communities within countries.

Some of these use the terminology of ‘citizenship’ to describe the status of belonging. In these cases, people may have multiple citizenships within the same country, at different levels of government, each of which is meaningful and valued in its own way.

A similar idea of multiple citizenships within the same polity can be found in some supra-national arrangements. For example, someone who lives in France may be a citizen of both France and the European Union.

It follows that even if Bougainville were to achieve self-determination in a form that meant it formally remained part of PNG, a status of Bougainville citizen could be created; although, in this case, passports would continue to be issued by PNG.

If a new status of citizen of Bougainville were created, it would be necessary to decide who is entitled to it. A broadly similar issue was faced in many Pacific states as they obtained independence from colonial rule.

One possibility would be to define citizenship of Bougainville by reference to the previous status of belonging, as a ‘Bougainvillean’. With this approach, anyone who meets the definition of ‘Bougainvillean’ in the current constitution could automatically become a citizen of Bougainville on a specified date.

The existing criteria would prescribe the bases on which citizenship of Bougainville might be acquired in the future. If this approach were adopted, consideration should be given to whether place of birth or other connection with the territory of Bougainville should be added to the criteria for Bougainville citizenship.

Under the current provisions, the requirement for Bougainvilleans to be citizens of PNG before exercising political rights ensures a territorial connection, which would be lost if the two citizenships are separated from each other. An alternative would be to define citizenship of Bougainville by reference to the standard criteria of place of birth and descent that are used in a variety of combinations in most countries in the world. This approach was taken by PNG on independence in 1975.

PNG conferred automatic citizenship at the date of independence on any person born in PNG who had two grandparents born in PNG or in specified neighbouring islands.

Under current PNG law, a person acquires PNG citizenship if he or she is born in PNG and has at least one parent who is a PNG citizen; is born outside of PNG but has at least one citizen parent and is registered; or has had some connection to the people and territory of PNG before naturalisation.8 Bougainville could develop citizenship requirements of its own, broadly along these lines, possibly accepting that birth in PNG and the ‘adjacent area’ as well as in Bougainville is acceptable for the purpose.

With either approach, there are likely to be cases where a person’s citizenship status is unclear. To accommodate these cases, other states in the Pacific also have set out a process for certain classes of people to register or to apply for citizenship (Dziedzic, 2020). Flexibility of some kind would be useful for prescribing the citizenship requirements for Bougainville.

Symbols

Every polity uses symbols to reinforce its sense of political community and for use on official occasions. Symbols usually reflect the polity’s sense of its own identity, in terms of its people and their culture, its territory, its history and its place in the world. Bougainville already has a distinctive identity, which is the product of its story so far.

A move to self-determination, whatever form it takes, will change Bougainville’s identity in some ways while leaving it unaltered in others.

There is no exhaustive list of the symbols that a polity may have for these purposes. Bougainville already has many of the usual symbols: a flag, emblem, motto and anthem. Bougainville also celebrates commemorative days, including Autonomous Bougainville Government Foundation Day and Peace Agreement Commemoration Day.

In connection with a move to self-determination, consideration might be given to whether these symbols adequately reflect the identity that Bougainville wishes to project, internally and externally. The answer could depend on the chosen form of self-determination. For example, the BPA and PNG Constitution presently require that official markings of the Bougainville Police and Bougainville Correctional Service include the national PNG emblem.

Changes in the relationship between PNG and Bougainville in consequence of self-determination may affect this practice and certainly would do so if Bougainville achieved self-determination outside PNG, whether as an independent state or in a form of free association.

Self-determination may have other implications for Bougainville’s identity as well, which could be reflected in the symbols used by Bougainville and the circumstances in which they are used.
Self-determination may ultimately lead to the creation of new symbols. A Bougainville system of honours or awards is a possible example.

In addition, self-determination may bring other changes to Bougainville that take on a symbolic character. To take one example: currency, which is considered further below in Part 5.2, can have a symbolic as well as practical function. As Part 5.2 explains, countries do not need to have their own currency; this is a choice for each to make. Some countries with their own currency also use it as a symbol.

Whatever the outcome of the consultations between the two governments, some changes to the Constitution of Bougainville are needed. The existing Constitution was made within parameters agreed in the BPA and reflected in the Constitution of PNG. It is expressly transitional, bridging the period of autonomy following the BPA and a decision on Bougainville’s future political status.
Both the Constitution itself and the process of making or changing it are relevant to self-determination for Bougainville.

A new or renewed constitution would mark the beginning of a new collective identity for Bougainville, symbolising the unity of the people and signifying Bougainville’s new status to the rest of the world (Haysom, 2005).

The Constitution also has practical significance for institution building, providing the basic framework for institutions of government and setting out their powers and functions.

 

 

Bougainville leaders pay tribute to Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare : From Dr John Momis, Simon Pentanu, Peter L Tsiamalili , Ishmael Toroama

1.Together Somare and Momis united a nation of more than 800 tribes and languages and began a friendship that has lasted for 50 years.

That bond between the father of the nation, Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare, and the father of the constitution, Grand Chief John Lawrence Momis, was a close friendship.

Sir Michael, came to Bougainville in 2018 as part of his farewell and thanksgiving to the people of Papua New Guinea.

Originally published HERE

His political career spanned from 1968 until his retirement from parliament in 2017. He was PNG’s first and longest serving prime minister.

Dr Momis, was a Catholic priest from 1970-93, He became active in politics and was elected to parliament in 1972. He co-wrote the PNG constitution and, following the end of the civil war, he was appointed Bougainville governor from 1999 until 2005. He has also served as PNG’s ambassador to China.

On Sir Michael’s retirement from politics, Dr Momis wrote:

“My personal relationship with Sir Michael Somare dates back to our younger days. Fate brought us together over barbecue and beer in Wewak. Little did we know that soon we would be partners in forging a path for Papua New Guinea. I was full of idealism and he was brimming with pragmatism.

“The combination of two different yet attuned minds resulted in greater efforts to blaze that path; one which not many at that time dared to tread.

Our minds were shaped by the events of the tumultuous 1960s when young men in America were sent to wage war in Vietnam and personalities like Martin Luther King and the Kennedys were taking the world by storm with their ideals and advocacy….

“Sir Michael exercised his role as a true politician – guided by his faith and embracing his role as a vocation. He ventured into the unknown, responding to a call without fear. He was there always ready to listen and to implement results of choices and judgements….

“Instead of shrinking from the challenges of his time, like the fear of independence and the injustices of colonialism, he literally gave himself to pursue his vision of an inspiring future for Papua New Guinea. It was a mark of a true leader that he took the bold step of making things happen and took ownership of major decisions, unpopular as they might have been.

“I owe Sir Michael much. For a pragmatist to put his full trust and confidence in an ideologue like me is a rarity.”

2.Condolence Message from the Office of the President on the passing of the Late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare

It is with the greatest of sadness that the Autonomous Region of Bougainville joins the rest of the nation to mourn the loss of the Father of the country Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare.

The Late Sir Michael Somare has had a close relationship with Bougainville from the formative years of Papua New Guinea until our most recent history. His association with Bougainville goes back to the days when PNG and Bougainville sought independence from our Australian colonial masters.

It was through this association that he forged a lifelong relationship with the people as well as our early leaders such as Sir Paul Lapun, Sir Donatus Mola, Raphael Bele and Grand Chief Dr. John Momis.

As President I pay tribute to Sir Michael’s contribution to the Bougainville Peace Process. During the tumultuous years of the Crisis Sir Michael played a pivotal role in the negotiations. In 2002 when he reassumed the Prime Ministership he continued the work of his predecessor the Late Sir Mekere Morauta to implement the Bougainville Peace Agreement. As Prime Minister, Sir Michael oversaw the formation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government in 2005.

The Late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare was a pious man, a Christian man who upheld the values of devotion to God, Country and Family. His lasting legacy was his ability to lead a nation of a thousand tribes and unify them under a common goal and that was freedom. The freedom to express ourselves, the freedom to be masters of our own destiny and the freedom to be diversified yet unified as one nation under God.

On behalf of my family and the Autonomous Bougainville Government I would like to extend the sincerest condolences of the people and government of Bougainville to family of the Late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare. May God Almighty grant you solace in your time of bereavement.

You served this country faithfully and with love, now let you find eternal peace in the arms of your creator.

Hon. Ishmael Toroama MHR

President

3.Peter L Tsiamalili SPEECH – STATE FUNERAL IN PARLIAMENT

Thank you Mr Speaker, Your Excellency Governor General, Chief Justice, Hon. Prime Minister, Former Prime Ministers,Hon. Members, Distinguish Guests Papua New Guinea and Bouganville.

Olsem Regional Member blong Bogenvil mi laik makim maus blo President blong Mipla, Hon. Ismael Toroama, ABG Govenment na ol Pipol blong Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Mi laik kisim displa taim too long givim luk save long ol chief man blo mipla husait bin sanap wantaim late Grand Chief, Sir Paul Lapun- Passed Pangu Leadership to him in 1972, Sir Alexius Holyweek Sarei- Somare’s First Chief Of Staff Sir, Donatus Mola, Anthony Anugu, Joseph Lue, Raphael Bele na Grand Chief Dr John Momis- who he appointed to chair the Constitutional Planning Committee

Today is a sad day for Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB) as we mourn the passing of our founding father.

On behalf my wife, Wendy, my children, my mother Ruth Tsiamalili, my siblings, the people of Kunua, Keriaka, Torokina, Bana and my people of Bougainville , I would like to pass my deepest condolences and heart felt sorrow to lady and mama Veronica , my brothers Sana, Arthur , Michael junior and my sisters Bertha and Dulciana together with your children .

For me and my mother and sibling we have a special appreciation for Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare.

When the Bougainville crisis erupted furiously in 1988 with reckless killings, he rescued my father late Peter Tsiamalili (snr) and us (family) from Kieta and brought us to Popondetta, where my mother is from.

My late father was the last North Solomon Provincial Secretary (now known as the Provincial Administrator) under the old Provincial Government system. North Solomon was known as that before we got our autonomous status under the Bougainville Peace Agreement(ABG).

Grand Chief was the Foreign Affairs Minister under the Namaliu Government, at that time during the peak of the crisis, the rebels were threatening the elite Bougainvilleans and my late father was one of the elite Bougainvilleans on the rebels list.

But Grand Chief is a man who foresees the future ahead of any one.

Just like he had foreseen a bright future to unite Papua New Guinea to become one nation when the odds were against him, he also foresaw the future of Bougainville right from the starting of the criss.

And when everyone was considering violence to solve the crisis and a bleak future between Bougainvilleans and Papua New Guineans, he foresaw a peaceful Bougainville once again and how Bougainvilleans and Papua New Guineans will work together to restore Government services and to restore normalcy back on Bougainville.

Fellow Papua New Guineans and Bougainvilleans, Grand Chief saw that my father will be needed to restore Government Services back on Bougainville for Bougainvilleans to carry on their peaceful daily lives by continuing their colorful and unique Melanesian traditional culture in their tranquility environment , living in harmony with our Melanesian brothers of the Solomon Island and maintaining the relationships between these two great Melanesian brothers (PNG and Solomon Island ) .

And so he removed my father and brought him to Popondetta. Although in Popondetta, Grand Chief was still concern of my late father’s safety as he still had plans for Bougainville future after the crisis.

And so he sent my father to the United Nations in New York City, USA, then appointed him to be High Commissioner to Fiji and then as far away to Europe to be the Ambassador to the European Union in Brussels, far away from the turmoil that was raging between PNG and Bougainville and at times threatened Solomon Island as well.

While my father was far away in safety, Grand Chief was heavily involved in restoring peace on Bougainville as the Bougainville Minister under the late Sir Mekere Government.

By the time the crisis was over, Grand Chief as the Prime Minister, sent my father back to Bougainville to be the first Administrator (now known as Chief Secretary to the Autonomous Bougainville Government) in 2005 after the formation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) to restore Government services back on Bougainville.

And it was very heartwarming for Grand Chief during my late father’s funeral services at Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Port Moresby to retell this story as part of his tribute to my late father in April 2007. I’m now retelling this story as part of my tribute to Grand Chief state funeral here at the National Parliament.

This story is not only for the Somare and the Tsiamalili families.

This is the story for the new relationship and future of Bougainvilleans and Papua New Guineans.

My fellow Bougainvilleans and Papua New Guineans, Grand Chief already fore saw peace on Bougainville long before the signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001, long before restoration of Government services through the formation of the ABG and long before the referendum which saw 98 % of the Bougainvilleans voted for Independence.

The people of west and east Sepik mipla tok tenkiu long upla long givim mipla Sana, The Greatest ever Melanesian Paramount Chief of all time, and trailblazing Pacific leader, PNG’s father Of Unity. Farewell My Grand Chief may your soul rest in eternal peace with our Creator until we meet again, God bless Papua New Guinea and Bougainville.

4. Tribute to Sir Michael Somare  by SIMON PENTANU

Like a candle you grew from a flicker to a national light that made everyone realise arguing for independence was not evil or risky but inevitable”. Simon Pentanu

It was at the pinnacle of high school education at Hutjena, Buka, and the following final year high school at Malabunga, ENB 1968 that I started hearing about an angry young man in Papua and New Guinea. To be exact in the emerging politics of what was then pre-independence TPNG.

Doing final year high school I wondered how long it would take before the colonial government pulled this angry young man aside and into line.

To cut a long story short, when we were given the stock career book then at the end of high school to make our career choices, two things influenced my decision to apply as an interpreter in the pre-independence House of Assembly.

First was the intriguingly interesting history of Indonesia we were taught at the school. The Dutch had to hand the reigns of sovereignty to the Indonesians and leave, as much as they would have liked to prolong their stay. Secondly, we learnt then that there always comes a time when colonial governments had to leave their territories or acquisitions one day with examples of independence struggles in other parts of the world.

Michael Somare’s name was on the airwaves when radios covered the Territory very well and very widely. I thought then what an opportunity to see this man in the House and hear everything that was being reported and attributed to him, from the horse’s mouth.

I joined the pre-independence House of Assembly on 6 March 1969. I saw Michael Somare for the first time on the floor of the House on that same day I arrived on a TAA F27 flight from Kieta to Port Moresby. It was an acquaintance with my first job that would put me in eye contact with the angry young man from Sepik representing his people on the floor of the House as he spoke his mind.

The ensuing years would put me in professional contact with Somare as Chief Minister, Prime Minister as well as Leader of Opposition as I progressed in my parliamentary service career in the service of the country’s national parliamentarians.

My first impressions, seeing and interpreting for members on the floor, of the man who became Chief and our first Prime Minister and the father of the nation was this. Most of his questions to the official members who represented the colonial administration and in most of the debate in the House Michael Somare dwelled mostly on national matters and interests than on the interest of the Province he represented. This was in contrast to the parochial, and quite rightly, of questions and discussions by most of the members in the House concerning their electorates.

Sir Michael assumed the national mantra and dwelled in all-encompassing metaphors about a country he envisioned very early in his political bits and pieces and, of course, a country he would lead to independence and become its first Prime Minister.

The Chief spoke, argued and questioned vehemently about the inevitability of independence. In full sight of members looking down from the interpreter’s booths in the House of Assembly I thought then that the man who represented my own Province, Paul Lapun was in the right company with a man who spoke his mind, who articulated more than anyone what he saw and wanted for Papua New Guinea. Somare the member for Sepik, leader of Pangu Party and later Chief Minister and, of course, first Prime Minister expressed and exuded confidence on his feet and chose his interjections well when he was not on his feet.

Michael Thomas Somare grew into politics not just as an angry young man but led with his vision of a country he would later lead at its helm as a determined, confident and self-assured former teacher and broadcast journalist turned a visionary politician of his own generation and past his generation.

All of us that saw him on his feet in those early years revered and respected him. He was fearless in a House stacked with official members who represented senior posts in the Australian colonial administration. But as we would do in our cultures he respected and gave way to others so that he would also listen to responses.

Somare had a solid backing and foundation of like-minded men with him and around him. He was masterful in brokering Pangu’s successful coalition with PPP under Julius Chan at the time. Despite the political rift it was always heartening to see the two remained close friends in and out of politics.

It was Sir Michael Somare as Prime Minister that approved a new Parliament House at Waigani. Importantly and most significantly it was his decision and commitment that gave PNG a new House that symbolised our fledgeling democracy at the highest level of politics and governance. And too that the House embodied many cultural symbols and values representing the diversity of the country. Sir Michael was determined that every toea spent in building the House had to come wholly from the country’s national budget.

Writing this now from memory, this was a long journey but one I would say has paid dividends when I chose at high school’s end in 1968 a career in Parliament ruffled in no small part by a combination of curiosity and desire to see an angry young man and his political and his angry ‘antics’ which made their mark in the House. The colonial administration couldn’t help but take a lot of notice of Somare soon after he entered politics in 1967.

My refrain to my tribute is this. Little did I know that in November 1984, Sir Michael as Prime Minister, through his Departmental head late Andrew Yauieb, at recess during a meeting sent word that if I was ready the Cabinet would formalise its decision for my appointment as Clerk. I nodded I was. I was appointed Clerk of the Parliament on 8 November 1984 and served while Sir Michael served twice more as Prime Minister until I left in November 1993.

Thank you for the opportunity to know you and serve you. I thank you for knowing your service to the country and the legacy you have left will take much more than umpteen chapters of one or two books and more than a handful of people to write and tell.

The modern political history of PNG is so much also about the political journey and history of one Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare. Like a candle you grew from a flicker to a national light that made everyone realise arguing for independence was not evil or risky but inevitable.

My heartfelt condolences to Lady Veronica and the family and relatives in their period of bereavement.

Rest, Rest in Peace.

PHOTO: As Secretary-General of Inter-Parliamentary Union PNG Branch, I asked the Chief and Sir Noel Levi to represent PNG Parliament and the country at the IPU in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1986. I made the choice to give the Chief time off after he lost the prime ministership in the House.

It was a well-deserved break from the high office in another role on the parliamentary world stage where he delivered a speech on PNG’s parliamentary status in the region and the world. It gave me an opportunity to chat and mingle with the Chief outside the workplace, and Sir Noel Levi and Sir Barry Holloway who were close to the Chief.

@simonpentanu

 

Bougainville #COVID19 News Alert : The following Public Health Measures are issued as a response to the exponential rise in confirmed 26 Covid-19 cases in Bougainville.

The following Public Health Measures are issued as a response to the exponential rise in confirmed Covid-19 cases in Bougainville.

Updates 

ABG #Covid19 Public Health Committee : 14 new Covid 19 reported on Saturday 28 Feb- ARoB total cases at 23

If you have Covid-19 symptoms such as fever, dry cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, call toll-free : self isolation at home and call ABG toll free number 74460830

Pursuant to the Ministerial Directive issued by Hon. Raymond Masono, MHR, Health Minister dated 26 February, 2021, as Secretary Health, and Chairman of the Bougainville Covid-19 Public Health Committee, I hereby issue the Public Health Measure No. 02 of 2021.

1. The clinical medical officers within Covid-19 Rapid Response Team will step up compulsory Covid-19 contact tracing tests within regional health facilities of Arawa, Buka and Buin.

2. Swabs will be done on any patients who exhibit Influenza Like Illness (ILIs), simple cough, pneumonia, and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) when attended to at the regional health facilities at Buka, Arawa and Buin, and based on referrals from District Health facilities.

3. All Covid-19 Medical Clearance Certificate issued by recognised public and private Medical Officers as compulsory requirement for entry into Bougainville through air and sea ports is hereby lifted.

4. A GeneXpert or Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test will be conducted at points of entry for both inbound and outbound passengers who exhibit Influenza Like Illness (ILIs), simple cough, pneumonia, and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) and a body temperature above 37 Degrees Celsius.

5. The role of the Gazetted National Dep’t of Health Quarantine Officer is hereby affirmed consistent with the Quarantine Act 1953 to continue routine quarantine checks at points of entry, and maintain food and safety standards inspection as part of the ‘Niupla Pasin’ protocols.

6. As part of the Covid-19 Public Health Measures the following must be observed and adhered to by all persons at schools, churches, sea ports, airports, business houses, work places, social clubs, restaurants, public parks and markets, towns, and other public gathering spaces:

6.1. Social distancing of 1metre – 2metres,

6.2. Mandatory body temperature checks,

6.3. Wearing of face masks or shields,

6.4. Hand washing facilities and resources,

6.5. Covid-19 awareness materials.

7. In the event of confirmed community transmission within an education institution in AROB, the Bougainville Education Board working in consultation with the Covid-19 Public Health Committee, will suspend teaching and learning in targeted school(s) pursuant to Section 57, subsection 1(b), of Bougainville Education Act 2013.

8. Consistent with Public Health Measure No. 07, alternative modes of study such as home study, distance learning, online learning, and other learning approaches be recommended by respective schools or institutions for the affected students.

9.  With evidence of high prevalence rate of community transmission, all travellers between rural and urban constituencies are hereby advised to practice home isolation to prevent further spread of the Covid-19 infection.

10. Departmental Heads, Business Houses, Town Managers, and other responsible authorities  to be notified by Chief Secretary or Secretary Health in consultation with Chief of Bougainville Police Service if no compliance with Covid-19 Public Health Measures.

11. All Urban Community Governments in three (3) Regions (North, Central, South) to take a lead in managing public health, water, sanitation and hygiene measures in four (4) main town of Buka, Kokopau, Arawa, and Buin).

12. Alcohol consumption to be regulated under the Community Government Act 2016 and Liquor Act 1963 consumption regulations and laws. Directives could be issued by the Chief Secretary in consultation with Secretary Community Government and Chief of Bougainville Police Service for enforcement.

13. The Motor Traffic Act 1950, and relevant regulations in the land transport sector will be enforced by the Bougainville Police Service through its Traffic Division to ensure there is no overcrowding, and other related traffic related offences.

14.  All domestic vessels may berth at the ports of entry in Buka and Loloho, Kieta, and Kangu Ports to allow for routine quarantine checks. No shipping crews be allowed to disembark the ships without proper quarantine checks.

15. Pursuant to Public Health Measure No. 14, all foreign vessels must still be cleared at anchorage.

16. All small crafts moving between nearby Maritime Provinces and Bougainville must comply with endorsed Covid-19 public health measures.

17. In the event of lack of compliance with the Ministerial Directives and Public Health Measures, the Bougainville Police Service under its community policing program will intervene to ensure peace, order, and stability within the three (3) regions consistent with the Police Act 1998, Summary Offences Act 1977, Criminal Code Act 1974, and other related law enforcement Act to ensure compliance and adherence to the Quarantine and public health protocols.

All other relevant public health measures issued by the Ministry of Health on 22 January, 2021, and 29 December, 2020 remains enforceable.

Bougainville News Alert : Read / Download Official media statement and resolutions of the February Joint Supervisory Body Meeting in Arawa

Official Joint Media Statement of the Joint Supervisory Body Meeting in Arawa, Bougainville on Friday 05 February 2021, by Co-Chairs Hon. James Marape, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea and Hon. Ishmael Toroama, MHR, President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Hon. James Marape and President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville Hon. Ishmael Toroama, on February 5 met at the Joint Supervisory Body meeting.

To download the full JSB Resolution 

050221_Arawa_JSB_Resolution

In the meeting the two leaders reaffirmed their joint commitment to the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

In his opening remarks, Prime Minister James Marape acknowledged that both governments had taken a long break from progressing discussions since the last JSB meeting in March 2020 due to the global pandemic.

However, he thanked the Autonomous Bougainville Government for the patience showed and acknowledged all technical officials for maintaining consistent dialogue on both sides.

Prime Minister Marape said that the national government recognizes the referendum choice of the people of Bougainville, and that the two governments must continue to use the Bougainville Peace Agreement as its main guide while on this peace process.

He announced his government’s commitment to have the joint consultations commence in the first quarter of this year, and reaffirmed his commitment to pursue the path as outlined in the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement, which should eventually see National Parliament dealing with the Referendum result.

President Ishmael Toroama in his remarks acknowledged the Prime Minister and his delegation, and described the National Government’s commitment to Bougainville as very strong.

He said that there is great anticipation from the people of Bougainville on the 97.7% vote and much needs to be done to actualize this on both sides. The two leaders discussed on a total of nine agenda items.

Key of which was the Post Referendum Consultation Framework where the two leaders agreed to have the first joint consultation meeting on the referendum result on the 4th-5th March 2021 in Kokopo, East New Britain Province.

The Leaders also resolved through the JSB to formally accept the recent Joint Communique as the roadmap to consultations on the outcome of the Bougainville Referendum. On the Economic and Investment Summit, the leaders acknowledged the preparatory work done so far, and accepted the recommendation to have the Summit held from 5th to 6th May 2021 in Arawa, Central Bougainville.

On Fisheries matters, the JSB resolved to prioritize creation of investment in the fisheries sector to generate revenue for Bougainville, and also to further explore the development of a Tuna Cannery in Bougainville.

The meeting also considered other key issues such as the SME funding, establishment of Foreign Development Offices in Bougainville, taxation and revenue matters and other outstanding financial issues including National Governments commitment to retire fully the K621million outstanding RDG and the K100million a year Special Infrastructure Funds.

The leaders agreed that the next meeting of the Joint Supervisory Body will take place in June 2021, and a third JSB meeting to be held in December 2021.

Part 2

In appreciation of the continued peace between our Governments and our people as enabled by the Bougainville Peace Agreement, we, in our humility, praise and acknowledge that our Lord  is above all and that  this Resolution is commended to God for his wisdom and guide on us his servants.

We acknowledge that this is the first JSB co-chaired by the Honourable President of Bougainville Ishmael Toroama and on that note, we recognise that this is a new era of dialogue through peace by peaceful means.

We fully pledge support to each other to continue to maintain and strengthen our relationships at all levels of leadership.

Having met today at the Sharp Memorial Centre in Arawa, we note the recommendations of the Joint Technical Team meeting of February 5, 2021 and endorse the following resolutions;

Agenda 1: Joint Communique on the Outcome of the Bougainville Referendum

  1. The JSB notes the intentions of the Joint Communique to be the road map to the Inter-Government joint consultations and that the Joint Communique aims to create a mutual understanding and agreement on implementation of the Referendum outcome and defining next
  2. The JSB notes that the Joint Com1nunique on the Outcome of the Bougainville Referendum was signed on January 11, 2021 at the Sir Manasupe Haus, Port Moresby by the Honourable Prime Minister James Marape, MP and the Honourable President Ishmael Toroama, MHR and witnessed by GoPNG and ABG Attorney Generals Hon. Pila Niningi and Hon. Ezekiel
  3. The JSB accepts and endorses the Joint Communique as the road map to consultations on the Outcome of the Bougainville Referendum.

Sharp Agreement on the Dispensation of the Constitutional Requirements relating to the Process of Transfer of Functions and Powers:

 In the context of the 97.7% vote for Independence by the people of Bougainville in the 2019 Bougainville Referendum;

  • The JSB notes the explanation of the ABG on the intent of the ‘Sharp Agreement on the Dispensation on the Constitutional Requirements relating to the Transfer of Functions and Powers to fast track the process under Section 290 of the National

 

  • The JSB notes that the ABG has provided to the GoPNG State Solicitors the document on the Sharp Agreement and notes that the GoPNG State Solicitors have yet to provide legal feedback on the document hence the JSB recommends that a timeframe of two weeks is accorded to provide legal clearance on behalf of the National

 

  • The JSB accepts the Sharp Agreement on the Dispensation of the Constitutional Requirements relating to the Process of Transfer of Functions and Powers and directs that the legal clearance on behalf of the National Government is completed within the timeframe and that the ‘Sharp Agreement’ is signed no earlier than 19th February and no later than 26th February 2021, before the commencement of the Inter-Government Joint Consultations in 4th and 5thMarch,

Agenda 2: Bougainville Economic and Investment Summit

  1. The JSB acknowledges the JTT recommendations and endorses that Bougainville Economic and Investment Summit be held from 5th to 6th May, 2021 in Arawa, Central
  2. The JSB cautions that the venue be considered carefully as the JSB expects that the venue must be sufficient to cater for the large number of stakeholders to the Bougainville Economic and Investment

Agenda 3: BCL Shares

  1. The JSB acknowledges the work in progress on the transfer of BCL shares to ABG’s Bougainville Minerals Limited,
  2. The JSB endorses the work in progress brief on the transfer of BCL
  3. The JSB emphasises that lead agencies responsible for this agenda timeframe the transfer of shares and report to the JSB the progress of this

To download the full JSB Resolution 

050221_Arawa_JSB_Resolution

Joint Statement:

Genuine in our intentions for sustained peace between us, we endorse that our official statements delivered at the opening and closing of this meeting and all records of discussions and notes in this meeting is an integral part of this meeting.

We conclude by reaffirming that ‘man can make decisions  but God has the last say, with this affirmation, we leave all resolutions reached here today in the care of our God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bougainville News : Let me make it clear that the current ABG under my Presidency is not colluding with any mining company or any landowner group to redevelop the Panguna Mine at this time.

Press statement from the office of the president on the issue of the Panguna Mine re-opening.

The idea of Caballus operating a mine on Bougainville has long been shelved after their failed attempt to co-sponsor the mining amendments with the former Momis led ABG.

Let me make it clear that the current ABG under my Presidency is not colluding with Caballus, RTZ, Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) or any landowner group to redevelop the Panguna Mine at this time.

Statements by companies or landowner groups with a vested interest in Panguna who claim to be working with the current ABG are false; we are not backing any company or any landowner group to reopen the mine.

My government is committed protecting landowner rights from undue influence by persons wishing to solicit favours from the Autonomous Bougainville Government in an attempt to reopen the mine.

Any company wishing to develop Bougainville’s mineral resources be it Panguna or the exploration of a green field site must come through the proper channels.

Bougainville has a Mining Act that governs the exploitation of our mineral resources, any parties wishing to be involved in the mining industry on Bougainville must comply with the laws of the land.

As it stands there is a moratorium in place over Panguna as well as the surrounding areas around the proximity of the mine.

The Panguna Mine remains a very sensitive issue on Bougainville and parties wishing to reopen it must maintain a sense of decorum that respects the land, the landowners and the ABG.

We cannot continue to make unfounded claims that are based on promises from the previous regime and its band of leaders and public servants who sought to manipulate the people of Bougainville and wantonly exploit its resources.

I urge leaders from the past government as well as the current ABG to refrain from making unsubstantiated claims over the future of the mine at this time.

Let us be frank in our dealings and be considerate of the welfare of all our people on Bougainville. It is high time we stopped using our Independence aspirations as a bargaining chip to further our personal agenda.

Hon. Ishmael Toroama MHR

President

https://www.abg.gov.pg/index.php/news/read/toroama-my-government-is-committed-in-protecting-landowner-rights?fbclid=IwAR0Uhgh0orzeP3lcVXqRxAwEdJJUtEpHImeFaM5RvUYhSTbGk6FPjUpea38

 

Bougainville News Alert : On the occasion of the signing of the Joint Communique by the Prime Minister of PNG and the President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government

In furthering the Bougainville Peace process in the Post Referendum period and having met 11 January 2020, we officially reaffirm and assure the people of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville that the Governments of PNG and Bougainville is committed to the process of the joint consultations on the outcome of the referendum.” 

The signing of the Joint Communique today signals our intention to immediately commence the joint consultations as is required by the National Constitution under Section 342 (1) and the Bougainville Peace Agreement under Clause 311 (b) for the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government to consult over the outcome or result of the Bougainville referendum.

This Joint Communique affirms that as required by the Bougainville Peace Agreement, the referendum outcome will be subject to ratification (final decision making) of the National Parliament while Section 342 (2) of the National Constitution has made the decision of the National Parliament relating to the referendum result subject to the consultation under Section 342 (1).

  • The Joint Communique builds on the tremendous achievements of both Governments and establishes the following facts and principles of the Bougainville Peace process;
  • That the Bougainville Peace Agreement provides for a political right to Bougainvilleans to a referendum, among Bougainvilleans, on the future political status of Bougainville; and
  • That the National Government had guaranteed that political right through Section 338 (1) of the National Constitution; and
  • That the constitutional guarantee for the referendum under Section 338 (1) of the National Constitution depended on the fulfillment by the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) of conditions relating to weapons disposal and good governance, of which the ABG satisfactorily met; and
  • That the choice for separate independence was guaranteed under Section 339 (c) of the National Constitution as one of a number of possible choices available to Bougainvilleans in the referendum; and
  • That the both Governments had agreed to the definition of independence before the conduct of the referendum to mean an independent nation with sovereign powers and laws, recognized under international law and by other international states to be an independent state, separate from the state of Papua New Guinea, with a defined territory, inclusive of maritime boundaries and associated exclusive economic zones; and a government chosen by its people; and capacity to enter into and manage international relations and United Nations membership; and
  • That the referendum question and the following two choices presented to Bougainvilleans in the referendum were intended to facilitate a clear result: Option 1 – Greater Autonomy, and Option 2 – Independence; and
  • That the referendum was conducted by an impartial Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC), headed by Mr. Bertie Ahern of Ireland, which comprised of a fair number of representatives from the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government; and
  • That the referendum that was held between November and December 2019 and witnessed by international observers was free and fair, and according to observer groups “credible, transparent and inclusive”; and
  • That a total number of 181,067 Bougainvilleans voted in the referendum, and out of that 97.7 % of them chose independence; and
  • That the report of the Bougainville Referendum Commission was tabled in both the National Parliament and the Bougainville House of Representatives, and was unanimously endorsed by both parliaments.

In adopting fully these established facts and principles; We hereby agree that the upcoming joint consultations will be moderated by an appointed Moderator and will be, but not limited to, addressing the key issues on the future political status of Bougainville, the method of endorsement by the National Parliament and the Documentation of record of the joint consultation.

Finally, in memory of the late Sir Mekere Morauta, for his contributions to the Bougainville Peace process as a former Prime Minister of our Nation and for his role as a signatory to the Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001, this Joint Communique embodies both our Government’s sincerity to continued peace by peaceful means.

God Bless our people.

Hon. JAMES MARAPE, MP, Prime Minister, PNG

Hon. ISHMAEL TOROAMA, President, ABG

 

Bougainville News : Reflections of memory and reality , there is rhyme, reason and ritual to hunting, gathering and fishing.

“It is circa 1973/74. We are gutting fish on the main village shore after returning home with a decent haul of tuna to share at the dinner table. The rest will be sold at the fish market. It was a good day out because we returned before sundown with a good amount of daylight still left to do other things.

John next to me in the photograph had recently commenced work and studies with a government entity in Port Moresby. I was almost nearing the end of my undergraduate studies at UPNG and eager to return to full time work with the House of Assembly. We met in the village at Christmas holidays.

These are some of the best times in the lives of our generation. We had just gotten one foot in the modern world in a country with everything going for it, and another foot still supplanted at home so that we combined and enjoyed the best of both worlds. “

Simon Pentanu 

PHOTO above : c1973/74: We are a sensible, sharing and giving society. Greed is incongruent to the values of social egalitarian societies where the community benefits, the family or clan shares from collective efforts of everyone.

It was the land of plenty everywhere in PNG. And it still is but it is not the same place with the same kind of regard it deserves any more. Bougainville, not unlike other  provinces at the time, was a good example of an Island with abundance of resources more than enough to ably support its population.

Generally, then we could not falter people’s enthusiasm. I remember in the villages and in the towns and cities for example no one could falter the enthusiasm for education every child desired to better themselves or to land a good paid job in a government office or in a company business in the city. It was affordable to go to school.

Going back to fishing, we didn’t know, or had heard about overfishing. The fish around our Island waters were schooling around in large numbers. You did not have to go far as we do today to make a good catch before heading home.  The migratory pelagic fish were plentiful  in the harbour, other fish were good game around the the edges of the island’s shoals and shores.

It was worthwhile going out not because you expected to bring in a good catch all the time but because the sea was nice, in good heath,  alive and vibrant and thus able to support a lot of sensible fishing. And we could swim as much and as long as we wanted.

It wasn’t just the sea that mattered and the subject of conversation of fishermen. Looking forward returning home the land looked very lush green with thriving forests. It always gave  us a sense and appreciation that our world of the living was not just about our species but about a world where everything thrived all around us.

Our lives were intimated with the natural surroundings that we are very much a part of.

These kinds of memories and stories are rarer, and far and in between to tell. Why? Because we are no longer able to control the scripts and scenarios and tell the stories they represent. Instead we start our mornings reading gloomy stories that are carried on front page newspaper headlines.

These past weeks, instead of working and thinking things through together for the people and for the love of the country, the first love of those who we elect to represent us is self preservation, by and large.

May be all is not lost. Not yet anyway but we can’t say the scepticism and cynicism isn’t around. If we can go back to telling simple, perhaps unassuming, stories about where we have come from, where we are now and where we might be headed, perhaps some sense and sobriety will remain.

We expect leaders to make the hard decisions. But they must be sensible decisions. It is irrelevant who is making the decisions. What is important and relevant is the decisions are in the best interest and benefit of the People. Our leaders are like our trustees, we are the beneficiaries.

If we are not careful, the first thing we may lose is ourselves, our sense and sensibility of who we are and where we are at. The next thing we may lose is care, love and respect for the state. Beyond this starts to get a bit beyond the pale where  only a handful of people care and we must wonder whether the leaders recognise or know where we are going and might end up.

When all is said and done the worst position to be in is to not realise or recognise or feel whether any of  this  may not be a self indictment of how little we care any more for the country.

There is rhyme, reason and ritual to hunting, gathering and fishing. Not so long ago the  beneficiaries which is the community always recognised this knowing that their hunters, gatherers and fishers always brought home something to the dinner table for all to share.

After two adjournments and a third one yesterday after the intervention of the Judiciary I’m not sure what this House will bring anything to the dinner table that is beneficial and palatable to share with its people that are developing a growing concern (may be even fear) and a reason to be sceptical and cynical about leadership and governance in this country.

 

 

Bougainville News Feature : If we have all learnt anything from Panguna, it is this. We have not learnt enough.

 ” PANGUNA and its landowners have had a mixture of these feelings and positions during the time of mining but have not felt much this way since the mine was forcibly shut down at the end of 1989. That is 31 years ago now.

The ordinary folk up there that still wake up to an altered landscape with their women – mothers of the land – are still asking what they did to deserve this as they eke out their livelihood from their usable plots of land which are mostly on hillsides.” 

Contributed by Simon Pentanu

Their biggest local hero Francis Ona came to prominence when he took a stand against his own extended family members and BCL for what he saw as an unfair and unjust payment and distribution of royalty, lease, inconvenience payments and other payments.

Ona was incensed by what he thought and saw as the vanguard of RMTL Executives supported by BCL against a mounting dissatisfaction of younger landowners who felt their grievances and interests for the share of the pie was not being given due consideration.

Their growing frustration culminated in an attempt to out-vote and replace the elderly and duly elected PLOA whose numbers comprised the majority in the RMTL Executive. Rather defiantly, if not boisterously, an AGM was convoked by Francis with this specific aim in mind.

Let us say the rest is history now, a short and sad history that BCL and the rest of Bougainville became embroiled in without any indication or warning that armed conflict, menace and mass exodus was going to follow. It is a history that is intertwined with irreverent behaviour, blood letting and a descent into the abyss that we must never follow or repeat.

The fall out from the voluntary pull out and disbursement of shares in BCL by Rio has developed into arguments and differences between some of the same people that Francis took a singular hard line stance against. If time heals, up in Panguna the healing has been slow though not exactly without some positive progress.

The reverberations have been still audible and the fractures have been still visible. In the mean time everyone else is still trying to figure out what Panguna means now after Rio has pulled the plug and cartwheeled out of Bougainville.

Well not quite! Rio was left in both an unenviable and untenable position that left it little choice but to make the commercial decision it made. The pros and cons, the timing and implications of Rio’s decision will long be argued, possibly in the Court rooms as well. What is most certain is Rio will never find any favour in Bougainville by landowners. Not in any obvious way anyway.

In the beginning everyone rushed into Panguna like honey bees taking to a new beehive. To the mining investor at the time it was seen as a cash cow ideally located in the largely virgin Crown Prince Range. The forest was dense green, the creeks and flowing rivers and estuaries pristine and bird life and marsupials adorning their habitat in plentiful numbers.

For everyone, including the often bewildered, sometimes excited and expectant landowners this was probably the best opportunity to catapult Bougainville from the backwaters to unimaginable affluence. No one foresaw or imagined the stuff of effluence that everyone from miner to landowner, hardliner to politician and the environmentalist would be mired in.

When the decision was made to mine, its timing and the set and scene was ideal. To the colonial administering authority Panguna provided the perfect investment to finance the Territory of Papua and New Guinea which was already showing signs that its political independence was emerging as an issue for open and frank discussion with Canberra. To Australian PM then, John Gorton, and his Ministers at the time Charles Barnes, Andrew Peacock and those in Konedobu like David Hay, APJ Newman, Tom Ellis and others Panguna looked a very promising prospect if Independence was going to be forced and fostered on PNG sooner than later.

As the turnstiles sometimes turn in history, it turned out it was Gough Whitlam and his Labour Government that gave the inevitable nod to Independence.

The dye was cast both for Panguna to go ahead as a real mining proposition and for the inevitable political process and transition to Independence for Papua and New Guinea as a single entity and as one country.

I’m not sure whether Panguna today is lying flat on its face or lying down on its belly. I don’t think it is either. After the landscape has been defaced and the booty and loot is gone there isn’t much of the old Panguna face that is left to be recognizable any more. And it has no belly to speak of or talk about after it has been gutted out.

But for the insatiable world hungry for minerals there is not any aota of doubt that Panguna and and its surroundings and vicinity still hold billions worth of copper, gold and silver below people’s customary land.

So what else is left of Panguna? Among the LOs they are pitted at different ends of the same table but they are seeking the same outcomes in different ways with different foreign interests.

The remnants of the old and new LOs may not be obviously visible but some of the same players that bore much of the brunt of Francis Ona’s spite and antagonism still differ in their demands and approach, even the modus operandi on how the last of the spoils from the damages might be shared or divided and how the mine might be regurgitated into the future.

What is more and more stark is, in the landowning family and extended family the differences and cracks in their arguments and claims about who has more rights to entice investors or negotiate with ABG or deal with anybody for that matter has never been more uncertain and never more confusing.

The alliances and dalliances landowners have formed with foreign interests has also added to the differences and arguments, and even doubts, as to who has more rights and claims to SML and other leases up there.

In this regard the Bougainville mining law has been tested more or less whether it adequately covers the interest of the landowners as espoused or intended in the preamble and opening provisions of the Bougainville constitution.

IF we have all learnt anything from Panguna, it is this. We have not learnt enough.

 

 

Bougainville News Webinar Alert : The use of mobile technologies in the 2019 Bougainville referendum presents both opportunities and challenges for the future of democracy in the Pacific

 ” The use of mobile technologies in the 2019 Bougainville referendum presents both opportunities and challenges for the future of democracy in the Pacific, Amanda H A Watson, Jeremy Miller and Adriana Schmidt write.

In late 2019, the people of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea (PNG) voted in a non-binding referendum offering two choices: greater autonomy or independence. People voted overwhelmingly for independence (97.71 per cent) in what was widely regarded to be a successful process, with an informed and engaged citizenry.

In the pre-referendum period, there was a strong emphasis on the need for widespread voter education to enhance the credibility and legitimacy of the vote itself, and to maintain unity and peace. A number of initiatives were undertaken by the Bougainville government and other partners to overcome people’s lack of access to traditional mass media (radio, television and newspapers).”

This article is based upon a paper published by the ANU Department of Pacific Affairs (DPA) as part of its ‘Discussion paper’ series. The original paper can be found here.

The research will also be presented in a webinar on 27 October 2020. 

This article focuses on one initiative, a telephone information hotline that operated for eight weeks just before polling. It allowed people to ring a free-call number and hear pre-recorded messages about peacebuilding and the three pillars of the Bougainville Peace Agreement. Callers were able to press 1 to hear information on peacebuilding, 2 for autonomy, 3 for the referendum and 4 for weapons disposal.

Each message was less than two minutes and recordings were updated weekly. This provided about an hour’s worth of audio information in total. The service was promoted through traditional media channels, but principally through an introductory, automated ‘robocall’ from the President of Bougainville. This was followed by subsequent weekly text messages announcing the availability of new recordings. 

The service was the first of its kind in PNG and was envisaged as a short pilot to identify the usefulness of the technology for public information dissemination in Bougainville. It was implemented by the Autonomous Bougainville Government with the support of the PNG, Australian and New Zealand governments, and operated by Digicel.

Research into the efficacy of the service was undertaken during its final two weeks, just prior to polling. Eight group interviews were conducted with local community leaders, women and youths in a mix of rural and urban settings across Bougainville.

Of the 42 people who participated in the group interviews, 37 owned mobile telephones at the time of the research. Many of the handsets were basic mobile telephones – suitable for text messaging and calls only – rather than smartphones. Many handsets had flat batteries on the day of the group interview – this indicates a technological challenge of daily life in Bougainville, which has consequences for mobile telephone initiatives.

While 79,285 calls were made to the hotline over the eight-week pilot, overall, the knowledge of the telephone hotline amongst research participants was generally low. The automated ‘robocall’ from the President announcing the service was not in fact received by most participants, and many did not consistently receive the weekly text message reminders. This indicated that the strategy fell short of its promise, which reduced uptake of the service.

As intended, some users gathered in groups to listen to the recordings. Also, the hotline had been used in places where people had no access to radio and very limited access to other forms of media. Participants generally thought the hotline should be continued in the post-referendum period but suggested increasing awareness of the service itself.

There was much discussion about the need to improve mobile network coverage, which participants said was weak and inconsistent, with no coverage in some villages. There were also requests for improvements to other communication mediums, particularly radio broadcasting. Despite these challenges, it was perceived that referendum awareness had been thorough. Most participants felt they and their fellow community members had sufficient knowledge about the referendum and were ready to vote. 

The research found no striking differences in the awareness or use of the service by age or gender. Differences were noticeable, however, between the three regions of Bougainville regarding access to mobile network coverage, as well as access to other information and communication mediums. For example, in South Bougainville, participants reported substantial challenges with the quality and reach of mobile network signals and said that they had almost no access to radio stations, newspapers or television.

As Hogeveen argues, there is a trend in the Pacific region towards ‘digital aid’ in which international donors utilise information and communication technologies. The Bougainville hotline is one such example. Chand contends that, given limited access to radio, textbooks and other information sources, the utilisation of digital technologies could allow delivery of basic services in Bougainville. For example, as part of their emergency response to COVID-19, both the PNG and Bougainville governments are operating free-call telephone information hotlines for their citizens. 

The design of the referendum hotline was in line with published guidelines for the strategic use of mobile telephones in PNG. For instance, that technology should be simple to use for people with low literacy, numeracy and technical skills. This hotline was relatively simple to use, providing a free-call number, with four options of audio messages to listen to.

 Even so, some research participants did not understand how to select the four options or that the messages changed each week. Careful consideration of ‘mobile telephone literacy’ is needed in the design and promotion of future innovative services.

Research participants commented that the free-call design was beneficial for them. Lack of mobile telephone credit is a huge barrier for people throughout PNG, due to both affordability and logistical challenges of locating a place or method to buy credit. 

So, what are the implications for the delivery of public information in Bougainville and elsewhere in the Pacific? 

Effective government-to-people communications are vital for an informed and engaged citizenry and are essential for the effective operation of democracy. For Bougainville, it could be argued that the post-referendum negotiation process now taking place between the Bougainville and national governments requires an even more intensive communications and community engagement effort. If there are broader lessons to be learnt, it is that an engaged and informed population, reached through a range of mediums, can make a positive contribution to the process. 

If there are to be future iterations of a telephone hotline in Bougainville or elsewhere, it must be but one tool in an multi-channel effort. The technology must be pre-tested and well promoted. Research participants also suggested leveraging the hotline for use in community-based, face-to-face activities.

Some asked if the audio files could be made available through other means, such as flash drives. Sharing of digital content by Bluetooth or local Wi-Fi hotspots does present another opportunity for those with suitable devices.

Mobile telephones, particularly when paired with other mediums, can play a role in delivering civic education and increasing community engagement throughout the Pacific. However, the design of future mobile telephone-led interventions may benefit from being realistic about the effective reach of current mobile telephone service and infrastructure. 

This bigger issue of large information ‘blackspots’ in Bougainville, due to poor access to mobile telephony, radio or other information channels, will continue to challenge government and development communicators alike. Mobile telephone users in Bougainville struggle with accessing continuous, reliable mobile network coverage and keeping their handset batteries charged – and they want radio coverage restored to pre-conflict standards. Both in Bougainville and elsewhere in PNG, there is a large gap between ideal and actual service delivery. 

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This article is based upon a paper published by the ANU Department of Pacific Affairs (DPA) as part of its ‘Discussion paper’ series. The original paper can be found here. The research will also be presented in a webinar on 27 October 2020. 

Bougainville News Alert : WEBINAR – Mobile telephones on for public messaging: Did the Bougainville referendum information hotline make a difference? @AdrianaAdri09 @ahawatson @GordonPeake @Jezzamiller

 

Last year, the people of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville voted overwhelmingly to break away from Papua New Guinea in a non-binding referendum.

In the pre-referendum period, there was a strong focus on informing voters about the two referendum options (independence or greater autonomy) to enhance the credibility and legitimacy of the result and help maintain peace in a post-conflict setting.

This seminar will include brief presentations by the producers of a telephone information hotline that operated for eight weeks just before polling. The hotline was a national first in the application of a mobile telephone-based platform to deliver public information en masse.

 It allowed Bougainvilleans to ring a free-call number and hear pre-recorded messages about the referendum and the two other pillars of the Bougainville Peace Agreement – autonomy and weapons disposal.

The hotline was one element of a multi-media package of government information initiatives supported by Australia and New Zealand.

There will also be a presentation by the audience researcher who analysed the impact of the service.

The qualitative research findings, which were recently published as a part of the Discussion Paper Series of the Department of Pacific Affairs, assess the effectiveness of the telephone hotline in delivering government information directly to citizens. Recommendations will be made about whether such a service should continue.

NOTE: For our audience in Port Moresby and Bougainville, the event will be at 3PM and 4PM respectively (local times).

REGISTER HERE

Chair

Gordon Peake
Gordon Peake is a 2020-2021 Visitor with the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) at the Australian National University. He worked as an adviser to the Bougainville government 2016-2020.

Panellists

Amanda H.A. Watson
Amanda H.A. Watson is a Research Fellow with the Department of Pacific Affairs at Australian National University.

Jeremy Miller
Jeremy Miller is a strategic media and communications adviser with over 15 years of experience in Melanesia. He has worked with the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s Directorate of Media and Communication since 2014. In 2019 he was seconded to the Bougainville Referendum Commission to lead the media and voter communications campaign. Mr Miller’s position is supported by the Bougainville Partnership, a development partnership between the governments of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand.

Adriana Schmidt
Adriana Schmidt is the Director of the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s Directorate of Media and Communication, the agency responsible for whole of government communications. The Directorate is under the Department of President and the Bougainville Executive Council.