Bougainville Education News : PNG education powers and functions transfer to Bougainville Government

A Joint Implementation Committee meeting was held this week to oversee the education powers and functions transfer from the education department to the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

Whilst commending his current and former department staff, AGB and Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for their contributions in the functions transfer, he also expressed concern that the two day meeting is the first after two years and attributed the lack of meetings and consultations to funding and leadership challenges. However, he was pleased that the reports he received from were promising and that work on the transfer of powers and functions was continuing.

Picture from James Tanis from http://bookgainville.com/about-us/

Full Name of School: Nariana Elementary School: Metonasi Class B :Region: Nagovisi, Via Panguna ,Central Bougainville

He noted that while there are some powers and functions be transferred there are some that remain to be transferred due to lack of capacity in the ABG education system to absorb and implement successfully. The powers and functions that remain to be transferred are to do with Inspections, Curriculum and Examinations.

Dr Kombra pledged the department’s support to the ABG Department of Education and called on both entities to maintain regular communication.

“We need to be mindful of some national government policies being implemented by the department. One of them is the Tuition Fee Free Policy. The intent of this Policy is to ensure that every child attends school and remove the burden of school fees from parents.

I am aware that Bougainville charged parents fees this year which you can do but school fee is the main barrier that stops children from attending school.”

The Secretary also mentioned the need for the committee to establish a joint monitoring group to review and monitor the implementation of the powers and functions that have been transferred and the ones that remain.

The Bougainville education department registration policy, enrolment policy, regulation of pre-schools in Bougainville, transfer of remaining TSC powers and functions to Bougainville, and status of the Bougainville Technical College under the Bougainville Act 2013 and the PNG Education Act were discussed at the two day meeting.

Meanwhile, the newly appointed Secretary for Bougainville Education Department Dr Justin Kehatsin said that his department is working together with the Bougainville Education Minister in implementing the transferred powers and functions.

One of the challenges Dr Kehatsin mentioned is the mushrooming of early childhood centres in Bougainville. He added that a standard curriculum is needed that will work well for both Bougainville and PNG.

He reaffirmed Bougainville’s commitment to ensuring the transfers.

Note from Bougainville News : Hopefully now we can get some funding support for

Bougainville Government News : First 100 days Achievements of Chief Secretary Joseph Nobetau

 ” The challenges that we face are immense. As Chief Secretary I am honoured to be able to serve Government and commit to maintaining the full degree of energy, integrity and direction required to help the Government achieve its objectives.

Whilst much has already been done, it is incumbent on all public servants, both senior and junior, to ensure we deliver the public services that all Bougainvilleans so richly deserve.

Challenges and Upcoming Priorities

Despite some achievements it is clear that much more needs to be done. Key priorities include:

  • Enhancing engagement to ensure a more joined up approach to Government service delivery;
  • Ensuring effective coordination of donor support so that we can maximize the value of existing international development assistance whilst harnessing new and emerging development opportunities;
  • Ensuring effective community engagement so that our people understand what it is that the Government is doing for them;
  • Ensuring that corporate plans are adhered to and remain reflective of Government objectives;
  • Ensuring that the BEC remains well supported and that submissions reflect whole-of-Government considerations and priorities;
  • Continuing work to undertake urban and town planning activities to enhance infrastructure and housing to address need;
  • Getting the new integrated financial management system in place to deliver more effective, transparent and accountable financial management practices across Government;
  • Continued work on the draw-down of powers to support autonomy;
  • Convening the Revenue and Taxation Summit; and
  • Ensuring that the Bougainville Referendum Commission is fully established and that important stakeholder and community engagement work commences.

Joseph Nobetau Chief Secretary ABG

Download a PDF Copy of this report :

Media_Statement_-_Achievements_Joseph_Nobetau_Chief_Secretary_2017

Following my appointment to the Office of Chief Secretary on 17 October 2017, I have been engaged in a process of reform aimed at enhancing the capacity of the Department of President and the BEC and the broader public service.

As Chief Secretary I have engaged extensively with key stakeholders including Ministers, Secretaries, donors, the private sector and civil society. Through this work I have gained valuable insight into the workings of the public sector and the need for change and reform.

The purpose of this statement is to provide the general public with an update of the work that has been undertaken since my appointment, outline the challenges that I see moving forward and to canvass the priorities that are ahead.

Consultations

Ministers

Since commencing as Chief Secretary I have been able to meet with all Ministers. Through these discussions I have gained valuable insight into key ministerial priorities which has in turn informed my work with portfolio Secretaries and keystake holders. These discussions have been invaluable in informing my Department’s broader reform agenda and have assisted with some critical organisational change decisions.

Secretaries

As Chief Secretary I see it as an important part of my role to provide leadership and guidance to Secretaries. Since commencing as Chief Secretary I have convened Senior Management Committee meetings and met one on one with all Secretaries.

In my discussions I have emphasised the President’s key messages around organisational capability and the need to deliver meaningful outcomes with respect to service delivery and public service reform. These discussions have been positive, and whilst there will continue to be some challenges I will continue to ensure that all public servants remain mindful of their need to be accountable and responsive to Government and the people that we serve.

Parliamentary Services

As Chief Secretary I consider it essential that clear lines of communication be in place with the Office of Parliamentary Services. To that end, I have developed a strong working relationship with the Speaker of Parliament with a view to ensuring better links between the public service, the BEC and parliament.

This work is already showing dividends through more effective coordination of public service policy development and programme delivery and parliamentary business.

Community Government

I have been working with the Secretary for Community Government to make changes to Executive Manager arrangements to ensure more responsive community government across Districts. In that context, some immediate changes have already been made to realign resources so that we can better meet the needs of local communities. I will continue to work with the Secretary to ensure that resources at the District level are appropriate so as to enable effective community engagement and service delivery.

International Engagement

International engagement is a critical part of the Chief Secretary role. With significant donor representation in Buka I have reached out to key bilateral and multilateral partners to discuss how donor activities support the work of the ABG and to explore opportunities for more effective engagement and aid coordination. This has included my work as chair of the Australian and New Zealand funded GIF (Governance Implementation Fund) and work with the Australian Funded PNG Governance Facility.

Advisory Support and Donor Engagement

The ABG continues to receive support from a range of donors in relation to the key areas of governance, peace building, health, transport, law and justice and election support. As Chief Secretary I acknowledge the value of this support with a number of key advisers providing advice to my office and across government to progress important initiatives in areas including: recruitment, legal advice and support, draw down of powers, election preparations, media and communication, strategic and corporate planning, economic development, revenue and taxation, urban planning, monitoring and evaluation, financial management and strategic engagement. While in the longer term it is my hope that the ABG will develop the internal capacity to manage these important issues independent of donor support, the support we currently receive has been a critical part of our recent progress.

Aid Coordination

In terms of aid coordination, I continue to engage with key donors regarding how we can target support to get the best possible outcomes. I am of the view that any support must be clearly aligned with ABG priorities and be based on ensuring meaningful capacity building where ABG officers are able to learn from the support provided and manage issues independently in the future. A key future priority will be developing an effective aid coordination mechanism within my Department to ensure the most efficient use of donor support.

Bilateral and Multilateral Engagement

In February 2017 my office coordinated briefing for the visit by NZ Minister for Foreign Affairs the Hon. Murray McCully. The meeting provided a valuable opportunity to talk with a key development partner and friend, with the Foreign Minister committing to ongoing support to the ABG in the lead up to the referendum and beyond.

Vice President Masono hosted a visit by a delegation from the European Union which comprised of the EU Ambassador to PNG, the French Ambassador to PNG and senior officials on 20 February 2017. The visit provided a valuable opportunity to reinforce the ABG’s development priorities and for delegation members to see firsthand some of the challenges that face our young and emerging democracy.

Feedback from the visit was positive, with the EU Ambassador indicating a very strong desire to provide support to Bougainville in key areas including infrastructure, water sanitation and vocational education (amongst others). These are consistent with priorities identified through the PNG-EU dialogue and present opportunities for the ABG to partner with the EU in a number of short to medium term high impact areas. It is hoped that in the near future a delegation led by the Vice President will travel to Port Moresby to meet with senior National Government Officials and the EU Ambassador to explore how this commitment for support can be translated into meaningful action.

Community Engagement

At the community level I have engaged widely with non-Government and volunteer organisations and the education sector. I consider these stakeholders to be essential from a social development perspective.

In December I was honoured to be asked to deliver the keynote address at the Hutjena High School graduation. This was an excellent opportunity for me to deliver a key message on leadership and the value of quality education. My message was that as emerging leaders high school graduates are well placed to make a long term contribution to our economic, social and development goals.

In February I was honoured to speak at the Public Service Dedication Service. I used this as an opportunity to reinforce the need for a responsive public service, noting that planning is the cornerstone of success.

I continue to work with local mainline churches to progress aerial surveys of available land to enhance housing and community infrastructure. This work has included undertaking aerial surveys in Buka, Arawa and Buin to aid town planning, including the potential development of a teachers college in Buin and new housing development in Arawa and Buka.

Organisational Reform

Communication

Communication is the cornerstone of any well-functioning public service. As Chief Secretary my primary aim has been to enhance communication within Government and to our key stakeholders. I have achieved this by chairing Senior Management Committee meetings, engaging with Secretaries and senior leaders, connecting with Districts through radio programmes and working with our civil society partners.

This process is now starting to show results. Department Heads are becoming more engaged and my office has increased visibility of key public sector initiatives.

Despite this it is clear that much more needs to be done, particularly with respect to communicating initiatives to the broader community. In that context I am working with officials in my Department, including my Deputy Secretary, to enhance our media and communication strategy. Whilst there has been some good work in this area many of the initiatives that we need to enhance community awareness have stalled. With the referendum fast approaching this is not acceptable, and a key future priority will be to enhance mechanisms to more effectively communicate with the people.

Corporate Planning

A functional public service requires well thought out policy measures that respond to the needs of Government. This has been lacking in the past. It is clear to me that the public service must be more accountable and responsive.

To that end I have commenced a process to put in place departmental corporate plans. I see these documents as being key to addressing issues of accountability and ministerial expectations. By having in place well thought out plans that reflect Government and ministerial priorities the public service has a means by which to measure whether or not we are meeting core goals and responsibilities. It is my hope that these plans will be finalised in the coming month and that they will in turn help inform the development of a longer term strategic development plan that maps our key development priorities over the years to come.

Recruitment Processes

Open and merit based recruitment processes are an essential part of ensuring that we attract the best and brightest to our public service ranks. I have therefore taken a very close interest in recent recruitment rounds with a view to ensuring that the public service fully adheres to the principles of fair, open and transparent recruitment.

Retrenchments

In late 2016, in consultation with the Secretary for Personnel Management and Administration, arrangements were made to retire a number of officers who had reached the mandatory retirement age. This process was undertaken to ensure compliance with the Public Service Management Act and as part of a broader strategy of ensuring the appropriate resourcing of the public service in the longer term.

Senior leaders Training

As Chief Secretary I have participated in the Australian Government funded senior leaders training which is being conducted by the Queensland University of Technology. I see this training as being a valuable tool through which principles of management can be reinforced, whilst providing an ongoing opportunity for senior leaders to work closely with Ministers.

Overarching MoU on Draw Down of Powers

Work is currently underway to enable the signing of the overarching MoU on the draw-down of powers by the ABG and National Government Public Service Ministers. This will be a critical enabling step in achieving further autonomy.

Financial Management and Elimination of Corruption

Financial Management Systems

In line with the President and Government’s expectations I am heavily focused on financial management and accountability. As Chief Secretary I am conscious of my role in ensuring whole-of-Government financial accountability and working with the Secretary for Finance to enhance our financial management accountability frameworks. In particular, I am actively engaged in work to fast track implementation of the new Integrated Financial Management System within the ABG.

Revenue and Taxation Summit

For some time now it has been proposed that the ABG convene a Revenue and Taxation Summit to review existing revenue raising capacity and to explore means through which the ABG can enhance and consolidate our revenue base.

I am pleased to advise that work in the area is now progressing and that I am working with the Secretary of Finance to convene the summit in the coming months. The summit will provide an opportunity for key stakeholders and subject matter experts to convene.

Referendum Preparations

Bougainville Referendum Commission

On the 24th of January 2017 I travelled to Port Moresby to co-sign the enabling agreement with my national Government counterpart to establish the Bougainville Referendum Commission. The Commission will be an essential mechanism through which the operational management of the referendum will be conducted, and importantly, through which stakeholder and community engagement can occur. I am currently working with the Secretaries for Peace Agreement Implementation and Law and Justice to ensure that all constitutional and organic law requirements have been met prior to the final charter establishing the Commission being signed off by the Governor-General.

Challenges and Upcoming Priorities

Despite some achievements it is clear that much more needs to be done. Key priorities include:

  • Enhancing engagement to ensure a more joined up approach to Government service delivery;
  • Ensuring effective coordination of donor support so that we can maximize the value of existing international development assistance whilst harnessing new and emerging development opportunities;
  • Ensuring effective community engagement so that our people understand what it is that the Government is doing for them;
  • Ensuring that corporate plans are adhered to and remain reflective of Government objectives;
  • Ensuring that the BEC remains well supported and that submissions reflect whole-of-Government considerations and priorities;
  • Continuing work to undertake urban and town planning activities to enhance infrastructure and housing to address need;
  • Getting the new integrated financial management system in place to deliver more effective, transparent and accountable financial management practices across Government;
  • Continued work on the draw-down of powers to support autonomy;
  • Convening the Revenue and Taxation Summit; and
  • Ensuring that the Bougainville Referendum Commission is fully established and that important stakeholder and community engagement work commences.

 

 

 

Joseph Nobetau

Bougainville Communications News : New technologies to improve Bougainville Government governance and transparency

ABG

The Bougainville Peace Agreement is the real basis for us all being here today. It provides us with an exclusive right to self-determination. We can choose and shape our future, a right unique in PNG, and rare internationally. We should celebrate this right.”

President Chief Dr. John Momis Launching the AROB Website

31-_undp_helps_bougainville_with_hansard_reporting_system

The new system will strengthen accountability and transparency of Bougainville’s Parliament and its representatives, This equipment will help our electorates have more access to what their representatives are saying here on their behalf and will enable them to ask questions. It will help make the parliament more accountable.”

Overall, the support we have received from UN is helping us improve governance and the Parliamentary Service in particular.” 

Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea, Simon Pentanu

Picture: Hansard system handover ceremony with Lawrence Bassie, UNDP Programme Coordinator, Speaker of the Bougainville House of Representative Simon Pentanu and Acting Chief Secretary Paul Kebori.

FROM the new Bougainville Government Website http://www.abg.gov.pg/

The Bougainville Peace Agreement is a joint creation of the Government of Papua New guinea and Bougainville leaders, signed on 30 August 2001 in Arawa. It was heralded then as world class peace document. The Agreement provides a road map for all parties, based on three pillars: Autonomy, Weapons Disposal and a Referendum on Bougainville’s political status.

UNDERSTANDING THE BOUGAINVILLE PEACE AGREEMENT:

The Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) is the outcome of more than 20 agreements signed by Bougainville leaders and the National Government leaders on August 30 2001 to find lasting peace and a political settlement for the people of Bougainville. The BPA calls for Bougainville to have its own constitution and further calls for a Bougainville constitution that recognizes the sovereignty of PNG and the PNG Constitution.

Among the many agreed aspects contained in the BPA, they can be categorised under the three main pillars described as:

  • The agreed Autonomy arrangement for Bougainville;
  • The agreed weapons disposal plan adopted by the Peace Process Consultative Committee following consultation with the ex-combatants; and
  • The agreement to a constitutionally guaranteed referendum on Bougainville’s political future to be held amongst Bougainvilleans in 10-15 years after the establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government. When conditions are right with a separate independence as an option and the outcome subject to the final decision-making authority of the National Parliament.

LEARN MORE:

Read more about the three pillars (AutonomyWeapons Disposal & Referendum) and access the key documents associated with the BPA.

New Hansard recording system

New Hansard recording system has been installed at the Bougainville Parliament enabling it to record and transcribe its sessions and proceedings.

The Hansard system is a digital system used to produce transcripts of the Parliament’s debates and sessions, a global practice that ensures accountability and transparency of the Parliaments around the world. It was brought to Bougainville as part of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) support to the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

The Hansard system was installed by For The Record, an Australian based company. It is fitted with the most up to date software and is the same one used around the world including in Australia and UK Parliaments.

The system allows for primary and backup recording in both main parliamentary chamber and committee room. All recordings are then automatically replicated to a central archive server of the intranet, from where  all audio playback and log notes can be accessed and reviewed.

Lawrence Bassie, Programme Coordinator of the Peace Building Fund Programme in Bougainville, who handed over the equipment to the Speaker said that this is part of UNDP’s overall support to help build good governance and capacity of the Autonomous Bougainville Government: “The UN is here to support you in line with the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s initiatives and their aspirations for the people of Bougainville.”

Acting Chief Secretary, head of the Bougainville Public Service, Paul Kebori, noted that the Parliament is critical for democracy and the Hansard equipment will ensure “Up-to-date records of Parliamentary proceedings which will also be accessed in the future by the public.”

UNDP’s support is made possible through the UN Peace Building Fund and is aimed at helping the Government of Papua New Guinea and Autonomous Bougainville Government consolidate peace, enhance community cohesion, good governance and build capacity of various government departments.

 

Bougainville Referendum News : Tanis to head up new Department for Referendum, Peace and Veteran Affairs

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The Bougainville Executive Council also resolved to appoint former President James Tanis as Acting Secretary of the newly created Department for Referendum, Peace and Veteran Affairs. 

‘With his strong networks across Bougainville, his great appreciation of the issues at stake and his high standing Bougainville, Mr Tanis will be a real asset to the ABG’s programs’

President Chief John Momis, MHR

Picture above at the recent ABG Inauguration  : Former Bougainville President James Tanis with former PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare, GCL, GCMG, CH, CF, KStJ, PC, MP,

The ABG is currently hosting a week-long induction program for the newly elected Members of the House of Representatives.

The induction program has highlighted the three pillars of the Bougainville Peace Agreement-weapons disposal, referendum and autonomy- must be pursued as the highest priority of the ABG in this critical period leading up to the referendum.

To this end, the Bougainville Executive Council held an urgent meeting last night and resolved to merge the current office of Bougainville Referendum into a newly formed Department for Referendum, Peace and Veteran Affairs.

The BEC is strongly of the view that linking the referendum, peace and veterans affairs together will position the ABG to move quickly and effectively on these crucial matters.

The Bougainville Executive Council also resolved to appoint former President James Tanis as Acting Secretary of the newly created Department.

‘With his strong networks across Bougainville, his great appreciation of the issues at stake and his high standing Bougainville, Mr Tanis will be a real asset to the ABG’s programs’ said the President.

The appointment is for a 6 month period. This will give time for the formal recruitment and appointment process to be undertaken for this position and a final appointment can be made.

Recent Speeches by James Tanis on the need for an education revolution

My thoughts on education

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James Tanis (patron ) Presenting a donation of Bookgainville Kindles at the Guava School in May of this Year :

I am not an expert on education; therefore I cannot offer any words about the philosophical aspects of the discipline.

Even though I am a school dropout, I never gave up hope that one day I would return to school again

If I ever I found that chance, however long I had to wait and whatever it would take me to sacrifice, I would one day be back in the classroom, hold a pen and write on paper and complete my schooling.

That has been my resolve for 25 years. After 25 years of waiting and hoping I was recently a student,studying International Affairs in the Graduate Studies, School of International Relations, College of Asia Pacific Studies (GSIA), located at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia

I present my beliefs based on the encounters that I had during the difficult times of the Bougainville conflict.

I learnt that education was everything one would wish to have.

Wars Cannot Destroy

In a war, when you lose your friends, lose property, get stripped naked and robbed of everything, the only property you will be left will be what is safely hidden in your brain.

When you are under surprise attack in the mist of confusion, you can lose your children, and the only child you will be left will be what is hidden in your head.

After a war, either in defeat or victory, you will be disarmed; but the only weapon that will not be taken away from you is whatever you are armed with in the mind.

The only property, the friend and the weapon that will withstand all the destruction and the carnage of a war, is your education and knowledge.

If you are educated you will be preserved and sustained under all of life’s circumstances.

Education is everything a person must strive to have, to transit from war to peace, and then from peace to national restoration.

 The Cornerstone for Nation Building

I joined the Bougainville war to fight, so to protect our resources, our gold and silver so that we could become an independent nation.

It took me many long hard years to face the reality that you don’t build nations by destroying your people.

Nation building is more than just raising guerrilla armies, raising flags, writing constitutions and making declarations.

Nations are founded on people who are not only rich in natural resources but rich in education.

A nation that is founded on gold and silver will last as long as the ore lasts under the ground.

But a nation founded on human resources and a rigorous education program will survive.

A nation’s progress goes only as far as how far its citizens are educated.

Education sustains peace.

Education progresses the nation.

Education is everything a nation must possess.

Bougainville Education News: Fundraising sports day in Panguna raises education funds for kindles

 

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“There are strong indications that the benefits of mobile reading like kindles are long-lasting and far-reaching, with the potential to improve literacy, increase education opportunities and change people’s lives for the better.

A revolution in reading is upon us…”

For now BookGainVille cannot afford to buy a kindle for every child but what we do afford to give every child here and now is the dream to have access to one

 James Tanis co-founder Bookgainville Education Revolution

The BookGainVille Cup Children’s Soccer kicked off last week at Kamex Children’s Field, Okangsira VA, Panguna District in Bougainville PNG

No uniforms, no boots and one soccer ball for both boys and girls.

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A humble beginning to a big dream to self-raise funds to buy kindles for every child in Bougainville schools.

Using e-readers (like the Amazon Kindle) and potentially recycled phones the BookGainVille project wants to provide Bougainville children and families access to hundreds of thousands of books, giving them an opportunity to change their lives.

In May 2014 the Kindle project was launched in Bougainville and 11 schools now have donated kindles ,the latest this month being the Guava School near Panguna (see picture below)

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The increasing ubiquity and diminishing costs of digital technology enabled BookGainville  to solve these problems in a simple and straight-forward way. Wherever possible, they will be building on digital platforms and mobile connectivity to make our books available to children and families who need them the most. To date they have been providing e-readers to schools in need through both sponsorships and sales.

In the first stage BookGainville has utilized Amazon Kindles that cost originally Aus$99.00 and can hold up to 1,400 books each. If you consider 1 hard copy of a book could cost say 35 Kina , that’s potentially 50,000 kina worth of books potentially on just one Kindle. Each school 250,000 kina of books

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BookGainVille will be actively curate books by Bougainville authors for our library. The more relevant and engaging a student’s first reads are, the more likely they are to continue learning and reading throughout their life

James Tanis continues to negotiate to ensure ABG adopts the kindle project for all Bougainville Schools . Recently Minister Michael Oni committed to funding kindles

The Bookgainville Cup and Kindles were donated by Colin Cowell, Simon Pentanu, Zhon Bosco and donors from PNG, Bougainville and International

Background to Bookgainville Education Project

In 2013 James Tanis the ex-President of Bougainville was studying at the Australian National  University and teamed up with Canberra based Colin Cowell a communications consultant (who had a 44 year  association with Bougainville)  to find a solution to the problem “that most Bougainville school children not have any books to read.”

James from the Nariana community (via Panguna) and his friend Simon Pentanu from Pokpok Island believed there were strong indications that the benefits of mobile reading technology could be long-lasting and far-reaching, with the potential to improve literacy, increase education opportunities  and change Bougainville students lives for the better

The need to improve literacy in Bougainville schools

According to UNESCO “Literacy is transformative: it increases earning potential, decreases inequality, improves health outcomes and breaks the cycle of poverty “.Yet there are still 740 million illiterate  people in this world and  in Bougainville there are many children of primary school age who lack basic reading and writing skills.

Books are necessary for the development of these skills, and still many schools in Bougainville have few or no books at all.

 The BookGainville education vision

BookGainVille Education project Leadership group will be the voice for

1.Students to do their best and achieve their best;

2.Parents to make education the first priority in the family;

3.Demand those in possession of arms to replace their guns with pens and papers;

4.Tell landowners to negotiate for educational scholarships instead of cash payouts as  compensation;

5.The political leaders to allocate the highest budget to education;

6.Reserve some resources now and leave some to our own children so that they will harvest when they acquire the technology,

7.Donors to advocate that education must form the highest portion of aid to   Papua New Guinea (Bougainville) and

8.Advocate for all groups that contribute to education and knowledge.

How can you donate a few dollars or kina ?

DONATE HERE

Bookgainville  Project on Bougainville PNG

 

Bougainville Election News : Mekamui Tribal Government says Panguna 100 % behind Momis

 

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“The Mekamui Tribal Government of Unity stands behind President Momis as we see him as the person who will lead us to freedom,”

“The Mekamui faction has also started the realignment process with the Autonomous Bougainville Government that will see reintegration and unity amongst all Bougainvilleans,”

Mekamui Defence Force hard man, Moses Pipiro declared that the people in Panguna area were 100 percent behind President Momis : Picture presenting shell money

Please note the following text supplied by ABG media

The Mekamui Tribal Government of Unity have pledged their support to incumbent ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis in this year’s ABG General Elections.

Mekamui Defence Force hard man, Moses Pipiro declared that the people in Panguna area were 100 percent behind President Momis’ bid to retain the ABG Presidency in a political rally held in the heart of the Panguna Township yesterday.

“The Mekamui Tribal Government of Unity stands behind President Momis as we see him as the person who will lead us to freedom,” Mr Pipiro said.

“The Mekamui faction has also started the realignment process with the Autonomous Bougainville Government that will see reintegration and unity amongst all Bougainvilleans,” he added.

“President Momis has been with us from the very start of our struggle for self-determination and he is the only one who knows where will go,” Mr Pipiro said.

Former ABG President James Tanis was also amongst a host of leaders from North, South and Central Bougainville who endorsed President Momis’s candidacy.(file picture )

 

Mr Tanis said that his decision not to stand for this year’s elections was to allow President Momis to complete the long journey that is Bougainville’s move to self-determination and should the people choose, total independence.

“President Momis’ is on the verge of completing what he started more than 40 years ago when he took up the fight for our people’s freedom,” Mr Tanis said.

“It would be unjust for me to usurp his leadership, as a respected elder statesman he has the necessary experience and will to lead us to independence,” Mr Tanis added.

“With Bougainville’s Referendum to be held within the term of the third and final Bougainville House of Representatives, as stipulated in the PNG Constitution, Bougainvilleans must know the type of leader they want to lead them and President Momis is that leader,” Tanis said.

In attendance at the rally were ABG President, Grand Chief Dr John Momis, Mekamui Government of Unity President, Philip Miriori, former Clerk of the National Parliament and Chief Ombudsman Simon Pentanu and various ABG Members from Central and South Bougainville.

 

Advertisement : Our current fundraiser for Bougainville education

Bookgainville.com

DONATE 10/50/100 Kina or dollars here www.bookgainville.com

 

Bougainville Education News: NRL League Bilong Laif program commences in Bougainville

NRL

Education is also a key priority for the people and government of Bougainville. The League Bilong Laif program will highlight the importance of education to the children of Bougainville so that they can strive to reach professions that will build a better future for Bougainville.”

NRL PNG In-Country General Manager, Mark Mom.

The League Bilong Laif program is expanding into a fourth region of Papua New Guinea, commencing its school-based rugby league activities in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville this month.

League Bilong Laif uses rugby league as a tool to support education outcomes. It is funded by the Australian Government and delivered by the National Rugby League (Australia) in partnership with the PNG National Department of Education and Bougainville’s Department of Education.

Photo : Children at Malasang Primary School at the launch of League Bilong Laif. Copyright: NRL Photos.

This month the program kicked off in Buka, where NRL development officers are working with around 950 students across two schools – Lonahan Primary School and Masalang Primary School

Each participating class receives five sessions of rugby league-related on-field and in-classroom activities that are non-contact and non-competitive and designed for girls and boys of all abilities.

Australian High Commissioner Ms Deborah Stokes said, “This program supports Australia’s strong youth focus in Bougainville. Empowering young boys and girls through sport is a powerful way to strengthen skills and community cohesion.”

The program uses a range of rugby league-themed educational and reading materials that the NRL has developed with Macmillan Education Australia that encourage healthy lifestyles and boost students’ physical, social, literacy and maths skills.

“Bougainville has been a nursery for many great rugby league players, including Kumuls representatives Bernard Wakatsi, Joe Katsi, Lauta Atoi (now the Honourable Member for North Bougainville), and Chris Siriosi (former Chief Secretary of the Autonomous Bougainville Government),” said NRL PNG In-Country General Manager, Mark Mom.

“Education is also a key priority for the people and government of Bougainville. The League Bilong Laif program will highlight the importance of education to the children of Bougainville so that they can strive to reach professions that will build a better future for Bougainville.”

Newly appointed Buka-based NRL PNG Development Officer, Stephanie Garea, said she is honoured to join the League Bilong Laif program, which employs female development officers in all its regions.

“I’m so happy to represent Buka as a woman in helping to establish this program and see female students running around with us during the sessions. I will make sure I do as much as I can as a female development officer to help my community and my region.”

The League Bilong Laif program will roll out into additional schools in Bougainville in term two.

How can you support Bougainville education ? Donate ebooks

More info and donations here BOOKGAINVILLE

Bookgainville  Project on Bougainville PNG

Bougainville Education News : Bougainville schools can win Laptop and Kindle in essay competition

Bougainville Education News :Essay competition is an opportunity for students to have their say about the Bougainville’s future

Please share with your schools and networks

2014-05-26 12.56.40

A new essay competition for secondary and high school students in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville will provide youth with an opportunity to have their say about the future of the region.

Revised Closing date Friday 13 March 2015

The topic

“Is having a vote enough? What are citizens’ responsibilities in promoting and upholding democracy?”

aims to engage youth in discussion and what they see for their own future as Bougainvilleans.

Sponsored by the Australian High Commission in Papua New Guinea, the competition offers a laptop computer as a first prize.

The secondary and high school that the winning student attends will receive a Kindle (Can hold up to 1,400 books) from the Arawa based Bougainville E-reader Education Revolution Project that currently has 55 Kindles being distributed to 11 schools throughout Bougainville. SEE WEBSITE

Entries are open now and close on Friday 13 March 2015

The essay competition is open to all high school and secondary school students in Bougainville. Essays are to be 600 – 1000 words.

Entries can be mailed or submitted in person to the Australian High Commission Buka Office, Tsirin Motors Building, Haku Street, Buka or emailed to Public-Affairs-PortMoresby@dfat.gov.au

photo (5)

Bookgainville  Project on Bougainville PNG

Bougainville “good news” Story: 2014 has been a very progressive year for Central Bougainville

Pic 1

The current government’s free education policy has seen increase in the number enrolments at schools around Central Bougainville. Numbers of schools are also on the increase and this means that more money must continue to put into education every year. Bougainville has missed out on education during the crisis and we have to bridge the gap created when children could not go to school during the troubled period.

What we need is a broader based economy instead of just relying on extractive industries that may run out one day. One of the biggest assets Bougainville has is its people who are creative and innovative. This is why there must be emphasis in putting a lot of money into education.

Picture above : A new classroom building funded by member for Central Bougainville, Jimmy Miringtoro at Raiovi Primary School Wakunai District, Our thanks to Chris Baria for assistance with this article

Good things ahead-On the Sunny Side

This year 2014 has been a very progressive year for Central Bougainville. The region started the year on a positive note with the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Peter O’Neill visiting all three regions of Bougainville including Central. During his visit he made a commitment to the people of Bougainville to fund high impact projects, several of which are in Central Bougainville.

Map 2

These are the water and sanitation restoration for Arawa Town, the Aropa Airport re-opening and the other major project is of course the sealing of Bougainville Coastal Trunk from Buka to Buin.

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This is a clear indication of commitment that the National Government with the support our four Bougainville MPs has a strong desire to see the Autonomous Region of Bougainville prosper in the coming years.

We have come a long way since the peace agreement was signed and there is a lot to be done as yet for Bougainville to achieve what was agreed to in the peace process. In Central Bougainville we have devoted a lot of time and money in improving education by providing more classrooms to accommodate ever increasing number enrolments in schools in the bid to bridge the gap left by the Bougainville crisis.

Education is one of the priority sectors that the government is putting money into along with Health, Infrastructure Development, Law and Order and Business Development. Health centers and aid-posts are also receiving funds from my electoral office. The police in Arawa have benefited from a vehicle allocation from the office of Member for Central as part of his community efforts to enhance the law and order sector. Funding has also been made available to the local Business Association as a form of assistance to grow small businesses in Central Bougainville.

Rural Communications Project and Integrated Government Information System (IGIS)

The government has already rolled out a rural communications project. You many have noticed new towers set up in areas that were not formerly serviced by mobile phone network. By the end of 2015 the government hopes that Bougainville will have more than 50% mobile network coverage that will include data, Internet and telephony. By 2016 Bougainville should have 100% mobile network coverage including remote and rural locations, which are not service by roads.

The main aim of the Rural Communications Project is to provide access to telecommunications and other ICT services including TV, internet, FM Radio and Data storage and transmission to rural and remote locations that lack these services.

The government has also established the “integrated government information system” or IGIS for short. This is the forerunner of e-government for Papua New Guinea. Under this ICT infrastructure all government departments and divisions will be interlinked through a computer network, which also has a data bank. This will prevent duplication and enable data and information sharing with ease.

Information can be stored at central location where those who need it and/or if they require it. The Rural Communication Project roll out will establish communication network that will become integrated into IGIS and link up all local level governments with the main government network and data center. This will mean that leaders will have to be more transparent in their work because the people will be able to monitor their performance online through IGIS.

Supporting sustainable development

Papua New Guinea is heavily reliant on logging, minerals, oil and gas for its revenue generation. These industries while they may bring economic boom to a country do have large problems associated with them and for one thing they are non-renewable, and finite and therefore unsustainable. Central Bougainville has had its taste of mining activity during the 70s and 80s.

What we need is a broader based economy instead of just relying on extractive industries that may run out one day. One of the biggest assets Bougainville has is its people who are creative and innovative. This is why there must be emphasis in putting a lot of money into education.

The current government’s free education policy has seen increase in the number enrolments at schools around Central Bougainville. Numbers of schools are also on the increase and this means that more money must continue to put into education every year. Bougainville has missed out on education during the crisis and we have to bridge the gap created when children could not go to school during the troubled period.

Kindles a revolutionary literacy tool in Bougainville schools

In another first for Central Bougainville and in fact Papua New Guinea,James Tanis (former Bougainville President) has established Book-Gain-Ville E reader Revolution in a number of schools in Central Bougainville including Nariana, St. Judes Pok Pok Island, Dareenai Kavearonau and Piruana .

It was launched as  an initiative to improve literacy throughout Bougainville.

Bookgainville.com

Each Kindle can hold up to 1,400 books and by the end of 2014 there will over 50 kindles in 11 Bougainville schools. To date there has been no government support but hopefully in 2015 with the support of Government and NGO’s more schools can get these E reader libraries

See Website for more details or make a donation  http://www.bookgainville.com/

Government Development Priorities

As part of its continuing commitment the National Government development policy covers five development sectors, which are in, line with its Medium Term Development Plan (MTDP). These are also applicable to Bougainville. These sectors are Health, Education, Infrastructure, Law and Order and Small Business. In line with this plan Bougainville MPs have funded a number of health facilities. In Central this includes Manetai and Wakunai Health Centres and a number of village level aid posts in the rural communities.

PiC 3

In the health sector, the office of MP for in Central has also funded ambulances to all major health centres in Central Bougainville. More money has been spent on building classrooms and other school infrastructure to cater for the increase in the number of enrolments over the years.

With regard to infrastructure, considerable amount of money is being used on feeder road maintenance including, for the first time a new road into remote and densely populated area in Paruparu previously inaccessible by road. A considerable level of funds has also allocated to restoration of Aropa Airport, which is about to be opened soon. PNG Power also received funding to provide power to Arawa town, Kieta port and to the new Kieta Distict entre in Toniva. Up to K1million has been committed to the Central Bougainville Business Association to assist small business in the region.

Looking ahead

Pic 5

Children are our future

Lot of work has been done to provide much needed infrastructure such as roads, schools, and of course the soon be reopened Aropa Airport. Services such as health and education continue to more draw more funds from the government through my electoral office and the treasury.

A lot more needs to be done to improve current services and to build more roads and schools. The government is ready to help out in anyway it can. However, there are certain areas where the community can contribute to the development process. For example, in order for feeder roads to last longer, drains need to kept clear of debris and grass has to be cut along the roadside. A little preventive maintenance can make a lot of difference.

Same goes for schools. Parents and community must devote sometime to do maintenance work, cleaning and grass-cutting in the school areas. The community must help to look after what the government has provided for them. The government cannot be expected to do everything. In order for us to move ahead it requires joint effort by all.

Bougainville Panguna News : President Momis in depth response to controversial Jubilee report

President Momis

 

Members of the Board and Academic Advisory Board 24 October 2014

Dear Board Member,

I refer to my letter of 20th September 2014 expressing concerns about Jubilee Australia’s report, ‘Voices of Bougainville’. Almost five weeks have elapsed, and I’m yet to receive even an acknowledgment of my letter, let alone a considered response.

On the other hand, there have been several public statements made about the report. Some were made by Jubilee CEO, Ms. Brynnie Goodwill, both in advance of, and since, my letter. Others were made only after my letter, by Jubilee Board Chair, Luke Fletcher, and by Kristian Lasslett (an academic who acknowledges overseeing preparation of the report). In this letter I raise grave concerns about misleading statements made in those statements, and raise issues about aspects of the report additional to those raised in my earlier letter.

Jubilee’s Condescending Public Response

See printed version here Jubilee Australia_Board Response to President Momis

I have general concerns about the remarkably condescending nature of the position taken by the Chair of the Jubilee Board, Luke Fletcher, in his comments reported on Radio Australia on 2nd October.

First he claimed that ‘some of the comments on the report may reflect people who perhaps didn’t read it carefully enough, in terms of some of the criticism that have been made’. In the context this appears to refer to my assertion that the report claimed to represent views of ‘mine-affected communities’, and not merely the few people interviewed. I can assure Mr. Fletcher that I have read the report with great care. As he challenges my assertions in regard to what the report claims, I have little choice but to set out clearly for him (and for Mr. Lasslett, who made much the same comment), in the next part of this letter, exactly what the report says as to it representing the views of the mine-affected communities.

Second, Mr. Fletcher said that Jubilee will carefully consider the criticisms of the report. But by also saying that it’s ‘very unlikely’ that the report will be ‘withdrawn’, he made it quite clear that Jubilee had essentially pre-judged the issues involved. To me, it’s like a court announcing publicly before a criminal trial that it will consider the evidence seriously, but it’s ‘very unlikely’ the defendant could be innocent.

Jubilee’s Claim that Report Represent only the Views of those Interviewed

In my letter of 20th September, a key concern was that the report claimed that interviews with 65 people (and a ‘focus group’ of 17 others) represented the views of the 10,000 or more people of the former Panguna mine lease areas. I vigorously disputed that claim.

Fletcher responded by saying: ‘The report stated a number of times it represented only the people in Panguna who were consulted in the study’ (Post Courier, 8/10/2014). Fletcher was ‘echoing’ Lasslett, who said: ‘The report never claims to speak on behalf of Bougainvilleans. It only claims to have presented the views relayed by 65 interviewees’ (see his response to a critique by Dr. Don Mitchell: http://ramumine.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/momis-makes-a-predictable-attack-on-voices-of-bougainville-report/).

It’s true that at some points the report does state that it records views expressed by interviewees (mainly in sections dealing with ‘research findings’ derived from interviews).

But in fact the report makes far grander claims. Significantly, such claims appear mainly in sections discussing research goals (under the heading ‘Addressing Gaps in Knowledge’) and conclusions. Frequent and explicit statements are made that the report represents views of the people of the ‘mine-affected areas’, or ‘mine-affected communities’, or ‘stakeholders … affected by the Panguna mine’.

Given the limited understanding that those involved in overseeing preparation of the report evidently have about many aspects of contemporary Bougainville, it may assist the Board if I explain what the term ‘mine-affected areas’ means in Bougainville. It covers a swathe of land areas once covered by mining tenements held by BCL (though recently done away with by the ABG Mining (Transitional Arrangements) Act), or land leases associated with the Panguna mine. These include:

 The three main former ‘leases for mining purposes’, namely:

o the Loloho lease, used for port facilities, power station and a recreation area;

o the Port-Mine-Access Road lease; and

o the Tailings lease, and

 the former Special Mining Lease; and

 the Siokate Lease, involving Arawa Village land used for part of Arawa Town.

The term also includes large areas adjacent to those former leases that were also affected by mine. These include an extended area south and north of the main leases on the western side of the mountains, where landowners received compensation from BCL for loss of fish in creeks and rivers that feed into the Kawerong and Jaba rivers.

The people of all of these areas are represented by the nine landowner associations mentioned in the Jubilee Report (p.6). It is estimated that well over 10,000 people live in the areas covered by the former BCL tenements and the Siokate lease, and several thousand more live in the area where many once received fish compensation, and now covered by the Bolave Fish Owners Association (one of the nine landowner associations).

Under the heading ‘Addressing Gaps in Knowledge’, the report talks of ‘this study’s systematic attempt to record the views of those living in the mine affected areas’ (emphasis added). It goes on to say that ‘this study was undertaken in order to empirically gauge the feelings of the mine-affected communities towards current plans to reopen the mine’ (emphasis added). The report states that important questions associated with that major goal include examining: ‘To what extent have communities been adequately engaged with, and consulted’ and whether ‘they’ (i.e. ‘communities’) ‘want the mine to reopen’ and so on (p.17). Very clearly, the report aims to draw conclusions from the research as to what ‘mine-affected communities’ (not just those interviewed) believe about the future of mining.

Similarly, in the ‘Appendix: Research Methodology’, under the heading ‘Aims and Objectives’, the report discusses research aims as recording ‘perceptions’, ‘experiences’, and ‘understandings’ of the ‘community’ and of ‘mine-affected communities’ (p.48).

At page 46, under the heading ‘Conclusion’, the report states that it is presenting ‘a number of preliminary observations about the views of the mine-affected communities’ (emphasis added):

 ‘First, and most importantly, the stakeholders who have been most affected by the Panguna mine and subsequent conflict, are at present staunchly opposed to any discussion of the mine’s reopening’ (emphasis added);

 In relation to the second observation, that ‘people we spoke to were deeply critical of the mine consultation process’, the report draws a conclusion that ‘any attempt to reopen the mine in the present environment would almost certainly be received by most in the landowning community as illegitimate’ (emphasis added);

 The third observation is that ‘the people of Panguna have developed a sophisticated understanding of the actors involved in the conflict’, an observation which while expressed to be based on the views of ‘the people who have been consulted in this study’ is clearly stated to be a conclusion applying far beyond just those people (emphasis added);

 The fourth observation concerns the view of ‘those who participated in this study’ on the need to consider alternatives to industrial scale mining. But the report goes on to say: ‘These are the deeply held views of large sections of the mine-affected communities, and cannot be simply dismissed as an outside agenda, or as materially infeasible’. The report then takes a stronger stance on the extent to which such views are held, stating that ‘the mine-affected communities would like to see a modality of development take place that they control … (emphasis added).

In a sub-section of the Conclusion headed ‘Connecting the Past and the Future’, after several paragraphs that do refer to the views of the people spoken to, the report says: ‘The people of Panguna clearly say that, unlike in the past, they would like a say in how they control natural resources of the land in which they live’, which ‘would appear to preclude the sort of industrial scale operations that the ABG appears to have in mind… (emphasis added) (p.46).

There seems little doubt as to what Jubilee believed, at least initially, as to the views of those interviewed in fact representing the views of many others. Jubilee chief executive, Ms. Brynnie Goodwill, is reported as having said in a discussion of the report and its findings on Radio New Zealand on 17 September, before any public criticism had been made of the report:

 ‘Currently there is near unanimity among the Pangunans that they do not want mining in their region’ (‘Pangunan’ is not a term used in Bougainville);

 ’I think that what has been loudly said by the Panguna communities is that other opportunities need to be explored …;

 ‘So I think what the Pangunan communities are saying is that many more issues need to be addressed first and foremost…,

(emphasis added).

Not only does the report reach conclusions about what ‘mine-affected communities’ want, but it records conclusions about what the relevant views of those communities ‘preclude’, in terms of ABG policy!

I was undoubtedly the most outspoken critic of the report prior to 2nd October, when Mr. Fletcher made comments on Radio Australia on 2nd October concerning criticisms made of the report. As noted already, responses from both Fletcher and Lasslett attacked assertions that the report claims to represent mine-affected communities. In the context, I must assume that Fletcher’s remarks about critics not having read the report ‘carefully enough’ were at least in part directed at me.

In circumstances where the aims and concluding sections of the report are so clearly expressed as broadly representative, I am compelled to seek an explanation for his response, which is not only condescending, but also false. Of course, I do not suggest Mr. Fletcher or Mr. Lasslett have been deliberately dishonest in their responses on this issue. Is it they, perhaps, that have not read their report carefully enough? If not, what other explanation could there be?

Representation of Voices not Heard

The report makes much of the claim that it ‘endeavours to relay voices from mine-affected communities in Bougainville, voices that have been distant from recent public discussions surrounding the mine’ (p.5). Ms. Goodwill is quoted as saying the report was intended to ‘support the airing of voices of mine-affected communities …and to ensure those voices could become part of a broader discussion and debate.’ (Helen Davidson, Guardian Australia, 1st October 2014).

Not only does Jubilee imply that it is breaking remarkable new ground by revealing opposition to mining, but there is also a strong implication that such voices have been excluded from debates on the subject. There is absolutely no basis for such views.

It is absolutely no surprise that there Bougainvilleans, especially in the mine-affected areas, that oppose resumption of mining at Panguna. Their views are well-known, well-understood, well-respected, and accepted. Those who support resumption of mining are not trying to suppress such views, for invariably they too have deep concerns about, and make strong criticisms of, mining, especially (though not only) in relation to the way it was conducted at Panguna from the late 1960s.

There is no exclusion, however, of anti-mining views from debate on the future of mining in Bougainville. If you or your researchers had engaged with the ABG or the executives of the landowner associations, you could have heard much more about the role of such voices in the ongoing debates. At the various public forums on the future of mining, vigorous debate has always included voices strongly opposed to mining. Such voices have been welcomed, and listened to with care.

For example, at the two day Women’s Forum on the future of mining, held in Buka in March this year, over 200 women attended. They were selected not by the ABG, but rather by a wide range of women’s organisations. After a day of general discussion, involving a multiplicity of voices, some strongly opposed to mining, they broke into their district groupings to discuss their views. In the report-back session at the end of the second day, of the 13 district groups all but one reported support for resumption of mining at Panguna, subject to strict conditions. Panguna district was amongst those in support. The exception (where mining was opposed) was Kunua District, on the north-west coast. No pressure was applied to any individual or group to support or to oppose resumption of mining.

Again, it’s not surprising that there are some Bougainvilleans who hold negative views of the consultation processes conducted by the ABG and landowner associations. Part of the problem concerns access difficulties arising from such things as scattered settlement patterns, limited transport, limits on access to some mine-affected communities resulting from the armed Me’ekamui roadblock at the Morgan Junction, and the limited financial resources available under the ABG budget. But to suggest that those few views about the consultation processes are representative of ‘most in the landowning community’ (Report, p.47) is deeply misleading.

The ABG is a government committed to consultation and to listening. We are not squashing any voice. We welcome the contributions of those who oppose mining. The strong opposite implication in your report is unjustified and unfair.

Fear and Trepidation on the Part of Interviewees

Mr. Fletcher is reported as saying that Jubilee’s decision not to talk to the ABG or Landowner associations ‘was deliberate’. As there was no communication of any kind with us at any point from initial planning through to public release of the report, he clearly believes that to communicate with us in any way at all and at any stage may have made it difficult for landowners ‘to feel comfortable’. It seems that the only option for Jubilee was total secrecy! Accordingly, Fletcher says, it was ‘a deliberate strategy to try and come in as independent and not be perceived and to be part any particular agenda’. This approach, he says, was demonstrated to be needed because some people ‘wouldn’t have spoken to us if we were allied with these groups’ (Radio Australia interview, 2 October 2014).

The clear implication here goes beyond suggesting that opponents of mining are excluded from debate. The suggestion is that they must also live in in fear of the ABG or the landowner associations should they express views contrary to mining. That is simply not the case. In all the extensive public consultation about mining conducted by the ABG and landowner associations, all voices are encouraged and supported to speak out. Read the daily newspapers, listen to the two main radio services, look at social media (such as the Facebook Bougainville Forum), and you will find many contributions to the debate on the future of mining coming from opponents to mining. These contributors freely provide their names, clearly not feeling any fear of retribution for their actions. There is absolutely no sense of this reality portrayed in the report, with its suggestions of the need for secrecy.

Given the limited contact that some people in parts of the Panguna area have with the outside world, it’s no surprise that some might express concern about researchers not being independent. But being in communication with the ABG is not the same as being allied to it. Surely independence can be demonstrated by means other than having no communication of any kind, or at any time, with the ABG or the landowner associations? Many other researchers work in Bougainville, and remain independent, whilst at the same time maintaining communication with us. At the very least, Jubilee could have been in contact with the ABG after the interviews had been done. 6

The ABG and the landowner associations are significant stakeholders, and as such at the very least a draft of the report could have been provided to us. We may even have assisted you with information that reduced the factual errors and significant mis-representations that litter the report.

Frankly, the most likely explanation of your failure to have any contact with the ABG and the landowners associations seems to be completely unfounded assumptions made by those involved in overseeing development of the report about voices opposed to mining being excluded or suppressed by the ABG.

Research Methodology

In addition to the critique of the methodology used in the research that I made in my earlier letter, I note that providing key stakeholders an opportunity to comment on a draft report before it is released is usually part of appropriate and robust research methodology. Jubilee’s failure to follow this quite standard approach is yet another grave weakness in methodology.

Second, I request Jubilee to consider the critiques of Jubilee’s research methodology made by Dr. Don Mitchell (above) and also by Joanne Wallis on the Dev Policy Blog on 3rd October (http://devpolicy.org/the-dangers-of-development-ngos-sacrificing-accuracy-for-advocacy-20141003/).

I emphasise again my deep concern that the actual interview questions asked of the interviewees have not been provided as part of the report. Dr. Mitchell quite rightly said: ‘I’m sure I could go back to Nagovisi …and create a series of questions to get pretty much any response I wanted to. Anybody could …It’s not difficult; it has to do with the nature of the questions and the way that they’re asked, as well as of whom they are asked. It’s basic research design, and research reports that do not divulge the questions cannot be taken seriously’.

In that connection, I draw your attention to issues about the broad ‘research questions’ which were the focus of the research (see p.17 and p.50). Were the interview questions asked in the same order as those broader research questions (listed on p.50)? If so, that involved taking interviewees through discussion of first, their concerns about and/or experience of the mine and the conflict, and only then asking their views on re-opening of the mine. As I presume you are aware, the ordering of the subjects discussed could alone have a significant impact on answers about re-opening the mine. (As Dr. Mitchell says of interview questions, ‘the way that they’re asked is critically important’.) Anyone conducting even a basis public opinion survey is well aware of the need to avoid such problems.

The report states that there was ‘a list of questions and main topics for the interviewers to draw on and use as guides to orient the interviews’ (p.49).

If this report is to have any credibility, it is essential not only that the list of questions asked, but also the order in which they were asked, be revealed.

Who Did the Research?

Dr. Mitchell also asked: ’Who did the data analysis? Were any of the fieldworkers social scientists?’. When Lasslett defended what had been done, Mitchell commented further: ‘I didn’t see the names and credentials of the researchers. I think that is important. Can you tell me why that is? Field research isn’t something just anybody can do, or, putting it another way, even a first rate researcher’s skill set might not be appropriate to a particular research setting. I’d like to know whether the two researchers were social scientists, whether they had advanced training ..’. I concur with Dr. Mitchell.

Similarly, in answering criticism of the Report, Mr. Fletcher states that even though Jubilee will look at comments made, it ‘is very unlikely’ that the Report will be withdrawn. He advances what he calls a ‘particular reason’ for that view: ‘…that the people who were involved in this report are all very highly qualified academics and all the questions that are being raised about the report are questions we had with ourselves and very deeply before we released it’. Lasslett ‘echoes’ Fletcher in his response to Don Mitchell.

These points do not advance Jubilee’s cause. The claim that ‘highly qualified academics’ were involved means little when their names are not provided. Moreover, as Mitchell notes, even the best researchers may not be well qualified for particular tasks. Please advise us who they were.

Finally, the argument advanced by both Fletcher and Lasslett that those involved in the research asked themselves questions similar to the criticisms now being made in no way answers the criticisms. If those questions were in fact asked by Jubilee, then it seems clear that its answers were, at best, somewhat flawed.

Jubilee’s Collaborators

In my earlier letter I commented upon Jubilee having collaborated in this research with organisations ‘vehemently opposed to large-scale mining and to the ABG’s mining policy’ (namely Bismarck Ramu Group – BRG – and International State Crime Initiative – ISCI). Mr. Fletcher responds by saying that Jubilee has ‘found them to be thoroughly professional’ (PNG Post Courier, 8/10/2014).

Perhaps Mr. Fletcher has not had the opportunity to examine the remarkable range of utterly unsubstantiated, deeply unfair and unbalanced, and often quite inflammatory and divisive attacks on the ABG, on me, and on advisers to the ABG, made on the BRG Blog, PNG Mine Watch. These attacks are part of a concerted campaign mounted against the ABG since about February 2013, in relation to its efforts to develop an appropriate mining policy for Bougainville. Significantly, most attacks on the Blog are anonymous.

Should Jubilee Board members not be familiar with it, the link to Bougainville material on the PNG Mine Watch Blog is https://ramumine.wordpress.com/tag/bougainville/.

Perhaps Mr. Fletcher is also unaware of the wide range of contributions by Lasslett on various forms of social media, again since early 2013. Lasslett is apparently well-intentioned, He is articulate, writes well, and is able to debate issues well. He often puts well-reasoned positions, and can make positive contributions to debates. But he is cocooned in a particular view of Bougainville’s history, one he shares with a small group of others, and which shapes all his views on Bougainville.

He is focused on what he sees as not only the single worst set of wrongs that has occurred in Bougainville – namely actions of Rio Tinto/BCL in the 1988-1990 period – but also the imperative to hold Rio Tinto/BCL to account for such wrongs. In his view, Rio Tinto/BCL can have no place in contemporary Bougainville without first being held to account. Should we Bougainvilleans (or the government Bougainvilleans elected to represent them) foolishly decide otherwise, he would seek to save us from our misguided course.

Yet his is at best a highly contested view not only of our complex history (despite his claims to the contrary), but also of the way the difficult and complex problems and issues we face should be dealt with. But it is clearly very much his particular analysis that informs the ‘historical’ account in the Jubilee report, at pp.7 to 16.

Contributions by Lasslett to ongoing debates can be found on the PNG Mine Watch Blog (above), the PNG Exposed Blog (http://pngexposed.wordpress.com/tag/bougainville/) Bougainville Forum, (https://www.facebook.com/index.php#!/groups/bougainvilleforum/), the ‘closed’ Facebook group, Mind, Body and Spirit Bougainville (see https://www.facebook.com/groups/mbsbougainville/).

While his ability to understand contemporary Bougainville is severely restricted by the position he takes on Rio Tinto/BCL, Lasslett often presents his position reasonably. There are, however, a few instances where he too makes unsubstantiated and false allegations. One example involves those made in an April 2013 article rejected by Crikey, after the editor was advised that a number of false allegations against ABG advisers made in the article were defamatory. Much the same allegations had been made to SBS television a few days earlier, but the story was not taken up when the lack of factual basis was explained to SBS. A version of the article rejected by Crikey, with a few of the most baseless allegations modified, was published a few days later by New Matilda (though it still made baseless allegations against ABG advisers (see https://newmatilda.com/2013/04/23/ausaid-fuels-bougainville-mining-tensions). Unlike Crikey, the New Matilda editor at the time failed to provide any pre-publication opportunity to refute the allegations made. It’s interesting that remarkably similar allegations are amongst those regularly made in the anonymous attacks on the ABG in the PNG Mine Watch and PNG Exposed Blogs.

Perhaps the most serious issue here is not so much the ongoing grossly unfair campaign against the ABG, but more that those involved (Lasslett, BRG, the moderators of PNG Mine Watch Blog, the anonymous author(s) of the attacks on the Blog, etc.) have never put any of their allegations to me, the ABG or the advisers that they are attacking. They never check the facts, which seem to be phenomena irrelevant to their purpose.

Let me be clear: there has been absolutely no contact with me, the ABG, nor the relevant ABG advisers by not only Lasslett, but also the anonymous attackers on the BRG website, and those administering the BRG Blog. Is this really the track record of ‘professional organisations’?

A Skewed Historical Account

The historical account advanced in the report, pp.8-16, is highly selective and unbalanced, and in parts quite incorrect, often reflecting the BRG and Lasslett view of Bougainville. Amongst many problems in that account, I mention just a few.

The claim is made that the New Panguna Landowner Association executive elected in 1987 ‘opposed the mine’ (p.9), and that the BRA demanded ‘the mine’s permanent closure’ (p.10), and that any view to the contrary – such as those advanced by me in a 2010 speech ‘contradict the archival material on Ona’s position with respect to the mine’ (p.14). As a person who attended the 1987 meeting where the new executive was elected, who remained in communication with the new executive for a considerable period thereafter, and who personally discussed with Francis Ona his views about the future of the mine as late as June 1997, I assure you from my personal knowledge that the report’s assertions on this issue are quite wrong. If Lasslett had ever troubled to interview me, I could have provided him with personal, as opposed to archival, evidence about Ona’s views, and advised him of the names of key ‘founders’ of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, and others, whom I am confident would substantiate my views in this regard.

The claims on pages 10 to 11 concerning BCL’s roles in the early period of the conflict are a muted version of claims Lasslett advances elsewhere. I can state from my personal knowledge as a Cabinet minister at the time, that in many respects his view of what happened is quite unbalanced. To give just one example, the report talks of BCL’s request for police mobile squad units being made on 26 November (p.9), failing to mention that the North Solons Provincial Government also made that request, and that the National Government strongly supported the request, and had its own strong reasons for doing so. Neither government was in any way bowing to pressure from BCL.

There are many other factual errors in the relevant pages, as well as in other parts of the report. Some of the major ones are mentioned elsewhere in this letter. But there are many more.

Using the Historical Account to Substantiate Baseless ‘Research Findings’

Perhaps the greater concern about the skewed historical account is what is perhaps best described as a ‘sly’ approach to using it to provide some substance to otherwise baseless allegations attributed to interviewees in the latter part of the report.

For example, it’s reported that the ‘majority of interviewees (49 out of 53) expressed dissatisfaction with what they saw as the illegitimate role of Australia (though AusAID) in the peacebuilding and consultation processes … There was strong disapproval of the perceived interference of the Austrian Government or AusAID in both the past and present of Bougainville’ (p.37). No indication is provided in the report’s discussion of what interviewees said constituted the ‘illegitimate role’ or the ‘perceived interference’. In the absence of such material, the reader would expect to look to the earlier historical account. And there it is, in the discussion of ‘The Consultation Process’ (about the future of mining): ‘The Australian government has assisted UPMALA and the ABG through the provision of advisors, paid for out of Australia’s foreign aid budget, for the development of a new mining bill, and in the process of community consultations surrounding the mine’ (p.16).

Of course, this fits so neatly with the endless allegations about the role of Australia and of Australian advisers in Bougainville advanced by Lasslett and the anonymous contributors to the Mine Watch Blog that it seems most unlikely that there is no connection here. To my mind, this reflects bias.

Yet the notion that provision of advisers, in accordance with ABG requests, is in fact ‘illegitimate’ or constitutes ‘interference’, must be challenged. There is a deep paternalism – even racism – involved. It is clear that those who constantly advance such views assume that Australian funded advisers necessarily act only in the interests of Australia, and are somehow (in a manner never defined) readily able to bend the ABG to their wills. That advisers could be provided without being controlled by or answerable to Australia, or that they could be professional and independent, and might act only in accordance with ABG direction, is clearly inconceivable to Lasslett and the BRG. Lasslett, also exhibits a ‘holier than thou’ attitude in his criticisms of advisers, regularly reporting how much he is opposed to those in the pay of foreign, working as consultants, all of whom are tainted in his purist view of the world. It is his particular, somewhat warped, and certainly biased, view of Bougainville that has clearly influenced the content of the Jubilee report.

Inaccuracies Advanced as ‘Research Findings’, Without Qualification

Many positions on issues claimed in the report as advanced by interviewees are grossly inaccurate. The report advances them without qualification, implying that they are in fact accurate. The result is presentation of a seriously flawed picture. Moreover, the material derived from interviews is presented under the general heading of ‘Research Findings’, a term that seems intended to convey substance in what is discussed.

In the interests of shortening this letter, I’ll provide examples from just the first three pages of the 25 pages of ‘Research Findings’ (pp.20-45). However, similar problems exist with many of the following pages:

 Apparently summarising views expressed in interviews, the report claims that (at the time the Panguna mine was being established) ‘the introduction of ‘land titles’ and individual male ‘land title owners’ who later formed the old landowners association (PLA), was denounced by some interviewees’ (p.20). That is a profoundly inaccurate picture of what in fact occurred. From 1969 to 1974, the Land Titles Commission (LTC) held public hearings in relation to each piece of customary land within mine related tenements or leases. This exercise did not involve ‘introduction of land titles’. Rather, the LTC files for the period show clearly that, on the basis of the evidence presented at each public hearing, the LTC determined: the boundaries of the piece of land in question; which clan lineage, descended from a named ancestor, owned that land; and the member of the lineage who should be recognised as the ‘customary head’ of the lineage (for the purposes of receiving and distributing rents, compensation and royalties, payable in respect of the land). ‘Customary heads’ were not all males – many were females. As males are members, together with their mothers, aunts and sisters (and sister’s children), of matrilineal clan lineages, it was often in order for a male to be recorded as ‘customary head’. At some point, and for reasons that are not yet clear, the term ‘title holder’ became used instead of ‘customary head’. While use of the former term may have contributed to some confusion about ‘titles’, it introduction of land titles was not involved.

 An interviewee is recorded as saying: ‘Another big issue was to do with the title holders …our leaders gave the land to their children while it should have been given to the women’ (p.20). This too is incorrect. LTC files show that when a ‘customary head’ died (something that occurred as early as 1970 in relation to a few pieces of land previously dealt with in early LTC hearings), fresh LTC hearings were held, and a new ‘customary head’ was appointed. In a few instances, a child of a deceased ‘customary head’ (and so not a member of the deceased person’s clan) was designated as the new ‘customary head’. But this occurred only where the LTC had received satisfactory evidence that the appropriate customary arrangements had been made between the clan lineages concerned, before the death of the ‘customary head’ – for example, kirinula in the case of Nasioi landowning clan lineages.

 An interviewee is recorded as saying: ‘There was this problem with BCL using other people to sign on behalf of the true landowners’ (p.20). In fact, BCL played no role in the processes for determining boundaries, ownership and ‘customary heads’ of land. That was all handled by the colonial administration (to 1975), mainly through the LTC and the kiaps. BCL was required, by law, to make payments to those identified by the LTC as ‘customary heads’. It is true that there were disputes about whether a few of the ‘customary heads’ were really entitled to be designated as such, but such problems were not the fault of BCL.

 Experience of the period of mine operation was ‘a negative one’, with only one respondent suggesting any positives (p.21). Many in the mine-affected communities are clear that while there were many major negatives for many there were also at least as few important positives, many mentioning BCL’s training.

 An interviewee is recorded as saying: ‘Only those who had landowner titles were getting benefits’ (p.22). That is completely incorrect. ‘Customary heads’ recognised by the LTC were expected to distribute rents, compensation and royalties to members of the lineage. In the absence of not only genealogies (or social mapping), but also clear customary principles for distribution of money from such sources, problems did occur in some cases. But in many cases, ‘customary heads’ were regarded by clan lineage members as doing a good job.

Clearly, no attempt was made by those overseeing preparation of the report to sift inaccurate opinions from ones based on fact.

A partial explanation for the presence of such inaccuracy may be provided in footnote 104 (p.20). It states that interviewees ‘were specifically asked to talk about their ancestors’ general living conditions during the mine’, and that those interviewees not born at the time in question ‘answered these questions based on personal knowledge of what they had heard from other community and family members’. Because views of such younger interviewees ‘cohered with what other, older participants …recalled’, the report records that the analysis does not separate answers of youth from those of adults and elders.

This explanation suggests, however, little interest in accuracy. Interviewees have been ‘specifically asked’ to talk of things of which they have no personal knowledge. The fact that those views ‘cohere’ with views of older people does not improve accuracy.

The real concern is that this lack of accuracy is not acknowledged in any way in the report. Perhaps those involved might seek to justify such inaccuracy on the basis that the report merely records views. But when those views are advanced as representing the views of the ‘mine-affected community’, then advancing them without qualification carries significant implications.

The reasons for failure to qualify inaccuracies need to be considered. For example, reasons could include poor knowledge of the subject matter by those overseeing production of the report, or perhaps bias on their part or that of the researchers (a not unreasonable conclusion given the significant evidence of bias already discussed). Perhaps those involved might be able to suggest some other explanation.

In conclusion

It troubles me that, beyond a very narrow spectrum of issues, filtered through a particular view of what happened in 1988-90, Jubilee and its collaborators appear to have such little understanding of, or interest in, the complexity and difficulty of the current situation we face in post-conflict Bougainville. Yes, the concerns and fears of the interviewees presented in the report are present amongst Bougainvilleans, and yes, there are a few for whom such views are dominant. But most of us hold far more complex and nuanced views that we bring to bear in trying to weigh the still rather limited options that face us as we try to find a sustainable road to development, to highest autonomy, and possibly to independence.

In the fragile situation we are dealing with, advancing the views recorded in this report as truly representing the views of Bougainville’s ‘mine-affected communities’ – as this report does – is misleading, divisive and destructive.

I can only repeat what I said in concluding my earlier letter: The Jubilee Report is deeply flawed. Jubilee Australia’s Board bears responsibility for allowing such a misleading and irresponsible document to be released, and for limiting and redressing the damage it can cause.

In addition, however, I call on Jubilee to withdraw this defective document.

Yours sincerely,

Chief Dr. John L. Momis

President

Autonomous Region of Bougainville

Contact: Anthony Kaybing

Media Director

Dept. of President & BEC

Email: anthony.kaybing@gmail.com

Phone: +675-70259926