72 Hours in Belden Namah’s Life: More than a nuisance?

How did Belden Namah go from volunteering to lead the State of Emergency as a Chairman of the Emergency Committee to arguing it is unconstitutional and invalid in less than 72 hours? But this is Namah-like, and you should not be surprised. But a much bigger question is, even if Namah appears to be a nuisance to many, does he have a point? Is he defending the constitution? What does his track record say about the man?

A little background: Namah has been pursuing a case in the Supreme Court, seeking the court to declare the election of Prime Minister James Marape on 30 May 2019 as unconstitutional and therefore invalid. PM James Marape and Deputy PM Steven Davis, and the Minister for Justice & Attorney General, countered this claim by first stating that election of the PM is governed by the Parliament Standing Orders which are non-judicial (not matters for the courts to decide), it is not constitutional matter which requires the courts’ involvement. Second the PM & AG argues that Belden Namah did not have the legal standing, that he was not eligible to pursue this case. PM and AG therefore wanted the case dismissed.

State of Emergency was declared before the Supreme Court ruled on this case on 23 March. Namah’s appeal to the PM to lead be the Chairman of the Emergency Committee was 24 hours earlier. James Marape did not give Namah the position, and assumed the Chairman position himself. The next day, as the nation went into lock down under James Marape as the Chairman of the Emergency Committee, the court ruled that Namah had legal standing to pursue the case that would potentially remove James Marape as the Prime Minister of PNG. Namah then raised another argument that the SOE was unconstitutional and invalid.

So far, Namah appears to be a nuisance.

Scenario One: James Marape appoints Namah as the Chairman of the Emergency Committee and 24 hours later the Supreme Court rules that Namah can pursue the case to remove the PM, who appointed him as the Chairman 24 hours earlier. Wouldn’t that be weird? Would Namah continue as the Chairman, reporting to the PM he intends to remove in the near future? Or would Namah just withdraw the case and retain his job as the Chairman? What was Namah thinking!

Scenario Two: James Marape appoints Namah as the Chairman of the Emergency Committee and 24 hours Namah realizes that the Committee he was appointed to lead is unconstitutional. Wouldn’t that be weird? Would Namah resign as the Chairman, and pursue the case to declare the SOE unconstitutional? Or would Namah be just silent and retain his job as the Chairman? What was Namah thinking!

OR DOES NAMAH’s ACTIONS MEAN MORE?

Part of the reason why the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Namah was because the judges thought the process in which James Marape was elected raises constitutional questions, not just a breach of Parliamentary Standing Orders. The constitution rises above everybody, even if the PM is beloved of the nation. The Constitution rules.

In the last decade, no MP has defended the constitutional more than Namah. Now bear with me as I provide reasons for this unpopular statement. When People’s National Congress led by Peter O’Neil had about 85 MPs, and almost all other parties and MPs under its coalition between 2012 and 2017, they amended about 14 provisions of the constitutions. They basically bulldozed amendments, legislations, budgets and just about any other decision in the parliament. The opposition, which was depleted, could not stop it. When nothing else was left to stop the carnage, Namah took on the fight individually.

He pursued until the courts ruled that the Manus Refugee Processing Centre was unconstitutional. The opposition could not stop it because they did not have the numbers. Namah had to stop it and reverse the parliament’s decision through the courts. When the grace period was moved from 18 months to 30 months, again the parliament could not stop it. Namah was among the others who pursued the matter in court until it was declared unconstitutional. The same goes for reduced parliamentary sitting days, and the number of MPs required to sign the motion for a vote of no confidence. And finally, when the parliament was adjourned in mid-2016 to avoid a vote of no confidence, Namah was among other MPs who sough the court’s interpretation. The court ruled in favour of Namah.

Despite all this, Namah is also known for orchestrating the overthrow of Somare as the PM in 2011, an action that the Supreme Court retrospectively ruled unconstitutional. He also burst into the Chief Justice’s chambers to arrest him.

It is difficult to say where Namah stands. Is he a defender of the constitution or a nuisance?

Comment below…..

Judiciary: PNG’s last defense against executive carnage, and a legislature on her knees.

There is so much conversation on Facebook on the decision of Deputy Chief Justice Kandakasi to summon Governor Alan Bird to appear before the court and show reason why he should not be held accountable for contempt of court. The governor is said to have expressed dissatisfaction on certain matter/matters before the courts. Justice Kandakasi also told Kramer to confine his role as Minister of Police to Policy matters and not indulge in police operations. The former has generated much debate.

There are many opinions, including those who argue that Alan Bird is protected by parliamentary privileges to debate and question any matter in parliament. And there are those who say this privilege does not extend to matters currently before court, therefore amounting to a contempt of court.

PNG is a land of many political and legal blunders, and exciting precedents, but very few are as memorable as the first contempt case between a MP and the courts. Manus MP Nahau Rooney was jailed for contempt of court in 1979. In 1979, when she was the Minister for Justice, she wrote a letter to the Chief Justice, and later went on to NBC, to talk about Dr Predmas’ case. The NEC had terminated Dr Predmas, a lecturer at UPNG, and wanted to deport him, but he took an injunction against the NEC decision, which the courts granted. The NEC were frustrated against the court’s decision. The Public Prosecutor took Rooney’s case as a contempt of court and raised it with the courts. The judges ruled that it was a contempt of court and jailed Nahau Rooney. Michael Somare, then Prime Minister, used his executive decision to release her from prison. All foreign judges resigned in protest, and the first national Chief Justice was appointed – Sir Buri Kidu. It is something that shouldn’t be repeated. 

You can read the court case on Paclii: Rooney (No 2), Public Prosecutor v [1979] PNGLR 448 

The difference between Nahau & Bird is that, apart from the facts of the case, which are different, Alan Bird has the parliamentary privilege to argue. Is that sufficient? We’ll wait and see.

But as far as power of judges go, criticizing judges on Facebook is a very bad trend. PNG is in a privileged position whereby lack of strong political party systems prevents appointments of Supreme Court judges who are aligned to certain political parties. In the US, the President gets to appoint the Supreme Court judges. And without exception since the 1930s Richard Nixon’s case, the Presidents have been appointing Supreme Court judges who belong to their party. These judges are appointed for life, subject to good behaviors. A Democrat appointee will always make decisions in line with liberals’ values, whilst a Republican judge will rule in line with conservative values. In Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party dominated Japanese politics post-WW2 until very recently. Because the executive appoints the Supreme Court judges, since WW2, the judges were appointees of the LDP, and ruled along the values of LDP. In Malaysia, for the last 40 or so years, the judiciary and the executive were the same guys. Anwar Ibrim, Opposition MP was continuously jailed over 20 or so years as the judges, who conspired with the ruling party to keep Anwar out of politics for as long as they could. Worse still, there are countries right now where the judiciary is a mere extension of the executive arm.

PNG has, despite all the criticisms, an independent judiciary. Judiciary is the only arm of government among the three, that has some integrity left in this country. The executive in the past decade has dominated parliament, diminished legislature to a mere rubber stamp, stifled debates and bulldozed legislations. The only institution to stand up against these carnage was the judiciary. The courts ruled the Manus Detention illegal and unconstitutional. That couldn’t be done in parliament because the opposition didn’t have the numbers to stop the government. We as a nation had to rely on the Supreme Court to do that for us. When the government in 2016 adjourned the parliament to avoid a vote of no confidence (next parliament sitting was scheduled to fall well within the 12 months grace period before issue of writs for the 2017 election, thereby preventing any vote of no confidence), we had to rely on the Supreme Court to rule it unconstitutional. The opposition could not stop the government from adjourning because they did not have the numbers.

If we bring the judiciary down to the same level as the legislature and executive arms, we are finished. Let the judiciary be. Even if one judge is wrong, there are others who, upon appeal, can review the decision. It has a self-correcting mechanism.

I recommend members of this page to grab a book titled “Anwar Returns” to see a real case of judges compromising. 

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The Tale of 16 Brothers: RH Logging Subsidiaries in PNG

With the PNG Forestry Association saying PNG will loose K1 billion in revenues with increased taxes, I decided to re-read a report published by the Oakland Institute, a California-based policy think tank that conducted detailed report on PNG logging companies in 2016, and 2018. This two reports show that logging companies in PNG engage in illegal logging, tax evasion and financial misreporting, costing PNG millions of Kina in lost revenue of more than US$100 million (K4 million). This blog will focus on the Oakland Institute Report 2018 findings relating to the 16 subsidiaries of HR Company engaged in logging alone (16 brothers is a reference to the 16 subsidiaries, not necessarily 16 humans).

Summary is as follows

  • HR subsidiaries keep reporting losses every year, but keep increasing their exports every year
  • There is possibility that RH logging companies misreport their real financial loss to avoid paying taxes
  • PNG Forestry Association was so wrong in 2017, so you should therefore not believe them now when they say PNG will loose K1 billion

Financial Misreporting (intentionally?)

The Oakland Institute Report reveals a pattern of possible financial misreporting and tax evasion by logging companies – and its getting worse. The financial records of 16 subsidiaries of PNG’s largest log exporter, the Rimbunan Hijau (RH) Group, show that these companies declare little to no profit! Between 2000 and 2016, all together, the 16 companies have declared losses of K776 million (US$277 million) from their operations, compared to a profit of K53 million (US$18.5 million).These companies therefore declare losing 15 dollars for each dollar of profit they make. 

Several subsidiaries have declared little or no profits for the entirety of their operations. RH subsidiary Niugini International Co. Ltd., for example, has declared zero profits and K126 million (US$44 million) in losses over the past 17 years, while more recently established operations such as Gilford Ltd, Sinar Tiasa, and Sinaran Papua have each declared more than K50 million (US$18 million) in losses. 

The Oakland Report observes “…. It is hard to comprehend how these companies continue to operate despite such significant financial losses…. the more these companies harvest and export timber, the more money they lose…” 

Even for non-accountants, you see the accounting blunder: If you make more loss after increasing exports, why increase exports every year? Shouldn’t it make sense to reduce exports instead? What is the incentive for increased logging and increased exports if you are making loss? 

What is the motivation for declaring loss?

Its something called the Future Income Tax Benefit (FITB).Under PNG tax law, when a company incurs a negative operating income, it does not have to pay the 30 percent income tax on its profits and is able to carry forward the loss for 20 years.The ability to carry a tax loss forward allows the company to accumulate tax credits from the government and apply these future income tax benefit (FITB) credits from prior years to reduce the amount of taxable income in following years.” The Oakland Institute Report (2018).

Because these companies have worked at an overwhelming loss over the past 17 years, most of them have never paid any income tax and instead, have accumulated a vast pool of “Future Income Tax Benefit” (FITB), which can be used to pay income taxes in future profitable years. The total FITB incurred by RH subsidiaries totaled US$32.6 million in 2011, and nearly doubled to US$58.8 million in 2016, five years of record losses. Because the FITB can be rolled forward and used to offset income taxes in profitable years, it is likely that these companies will never pay any income tax. 

How can you misreport losses?

There are several methods companies use to intentionally misreport their financial status (due to lack on publicly available data, it is not possible to establish how exactly RH provides this contradictory accounting, but the following are some of the ways in which you can do that). One is called transfer pricing. You can undervalue the price of logs that are sold and exported.

For instance, Company A and Company B are subsidiaries of the same company, lets say “Bau Group of Companies”. Company B, as a buyer pays a lower price than the real cost of the timber under an arrangement with the seller, Company A. However, since they both belong to the same company, Company A actually does not loose any money. Company A can declare loss in the country it is operating from, but that money can be recovered by Company B making excessive profits from buying cheap logs, and manufacturing and selling at premium prices. 

Another way is, Company A buys logging equipment and machinery from Company C. Both Company A and Company C are subsidiaries of the Bau Group of Companies. Company C artificially increases the price of the equipment so that it is very expensive. Company A buys the equipment nevertheless, but it is not making a loss. The money is going back to Bau Group of Companies via Company C. This way Company A’s expenses end up greater than its revenue, allowing the Company A to declare an operational loss for the year. Company A then can justify not paying corporate income tax under PNG laws, when in fact the group as a whole is making a excessive profits…!

Of the 60 or so companies in PNG identified as being owned or controlled by the Tiong family, which owns the RH Group, over 30 companies engage in logging and agribusiness in operations ranging from timber processing and distribution to the repair of heavy machinery and oil palm production. The Report notes that a “significant amount of RH subsidiaries’ operational expenses are spent on activities, goods, and services offered by their sister companies, leading to a situation in which transfer pricing could easily occur.” Also, according to the Report, “Data from 2000 to 2016 reveals that PNG’s export prices were US$92 less than world average for log prices .” Basically, PNG logs were sold less than the world price. 

Why you should not listen to PNG Forestry Association

The government realized this almost cheating behaviour, and introduced progressive tax rate on exported logs in 2017. The progressive tax system allows you to charge different tax rates to different timber species, with rate increasing with the value of timber. The new system resulted in a four percent increase in the average tax rate paid by exporters on the value of exported timber, from 27 percent to 31 percent in 2017.

The Minister of Forests Douglas Tomuriesa and the logging industry, especially Mr Bob Tate of the Papua New Guinea Forest Industries Association (PNGFIA) argued that the tax increase, combined with a falling demand for tropical timber affect the revenues of the companies and by extension, the nation.

According to Tate’s statement in November 2017, the impact of this policy is already being felt: “This year, raising the tax rate resulted in the Government collecting K32 million less in tax revenue than last year. Further tax increases may result in revenues – and landowner royalties – falling to zero, and to thousands more jobs disappearing.”

However, if you compare the export data from before and after the introduction of the progressive tax in 2017, you get a different result. There was in fact a six percent jump in duties paid from K293 million (US$103 million) in 2016 to K310 million (US$109 million) in 2017. The tax rate increase generated an additional K17 million (US$6 million). More interesting fact is that, this increase in revenues was achieved as exports of logs were reduced. Log exports dropped from 3.6 million cubic meters in 2016 to 3.3 million cubic meters in 2017). PNG earned more revenues for less logs. Exports did pick up again after that. So what this shows is that, the Minister and PNGFIA’s predictions were wrong.

Now, with the increase imposed on Log Export Levy tax by the Government from 35% to 59%. The Forest Industry Association reckons it will lose over K1 billion if the industry shuts down operations due to the increase. The same Association, and even the same guy is making this claims. Well here is a trade-off:

You can go into downstream processing as per the direction of the government, or continue to export raw logs, evade taxes, misreport financials, and be forced to pay 59% tax. It not too much, it about time PNG gets its lost revenue for more than 20 years.

Illegally granted Special Agriculture and Business Leases (SABLs)

The increase in log exports by PNG in recent years is largely the result of illegally-granted Special Agriculture and Business Leases (SABLs),which have added 5.5 million hectares of land to the ten million hectares already under active logging concession. As a result, PNG has surpassed Malaysia as the largest exporter of tropical timber in 2011. Despite PNG being a major timber exporter, the forestry sector contributes a mere three percent to PNG’s total export earnings. To date no decisive action has been taken to stop illegal logging or return land to traditional owners. 

In January 2020, company hired policeman went into Foru, lower Musa in Popondetta, and assaulted local land owners who refused to let a logging company from trespassing through their land to log in the virgin forest of the lower Musa Plateau. Oro Governor Gary Juffa has since then stopped the logging after consultation with landowners pending verification of how the loggers attained the license to cut time in the area. 

This is just one example. Elsewhere in PNG, loggers act with impunity. Tax evasion is a norm. Illegal practice has become normal. And when the government directs the companies to go into downstream processing, they claim loss of billons of Kina for PNG. There is already massive loss of billions. If you have not read the Oakland Institute Report titled “The Great Heist: Tax Evasion & Illegal Logging in Papua New Guinea”, you should read it. 

Not Selected? Here are Four Ways to Pursue Studies in PNG: Grade 8, 10 & 12 School Leavers, and even Adults.

Note: […On 24 January 2020, the Academic_Nomad blog published an article titled Limited Quotas In Tertiary Institution Fails Even the Qualified Students in PNG.It shows that many students meet the requirement set by the universities, and even exceed them by large margins, but still miss out due to limited spaces.  At the primary school level (grade 8), and high school level (grade 10) even higher number of students miss out because they do not meet the requirements of secondary schools. To help parents and students who may have missed out of selections for after grades 8 and 10 examinations, as well as those who missed out on selections for tertiary institutions after completing grade 12 in 2019, and even those who have not completed secondary and tertiary education, we asked Mrs Lingewe Peiva Simiongto contribute to the discussion. Mrs Simiong conducts awareness called “EDUCATION PARTH WAYS FOR SCHOOL DROP OUTS” where she talks to young women on how they can advance their education. Her advice is helpful for students who may want to pursue their education….]  –   Academia_Nomad Team

By Mrs Lingewe Peiva Simiong

EDUCATION PARTH WAYS FOR SCHOOL DROP OUTS 

This article highlights three main ways that are currently available for school drop-outs to continue their education after being rejected from the mainstream. 

  1. FODE –Flexible Open Distance Education.  (Formerly called College of Distance Education-CODE).This system is directly attached to Provincial Education system but independently administered from Waigani. It has centres in all main towns across the country. FODE system provides syllabuses for Grades 6 to Grade 10 with the recent inclusion for Grades 11 and 12. 

FODE centre enrolments:

  1. Enrolment of any Grade six (6) drop outs from formal primary schools to do Grade seven (7) through FODE and continue onto grade ten (10) and obtain grade ten (10) certificate.
  • Enrolment of any grade eight (8) drop outs from formal primary schools to repeat grade eight (8)  and continue onto Grade nine (9) and ten (10) or do Grade nine (9) and continue onto Grade ten (10) and obtain grade ten (10) certificate. There is no age limitation for this partway.
  • Enrolment of any Grade ten (10) drop outs from formal secondary schools to repeat Grade ten (10) and obtain Grade ten (10) certificate with better results and seek space in formal secondary school systems, to do grade eleven (11).
  • With the inclusion of Grade eleven (11) and twelve (12) syllabuses recently, any Grade ten (10) drop outs can enrol to do Grade eleven (11) and twelve (12) and obtain a Grade twelve (12) certificate through FODE and apply for tertiary institutions in the country. Or those who have completed grade ten (10) through FODE can continue to do Grade eleven (11) and twelve (12).

Subjects Offered at FODE

  • Subjects offered at FODE for grades 7, 8, 9 and 10 includes: 
  • English,
  • Mathematics,
  • Science and 
  • Social Science. 
  • Major Subjects offered at FODE for grades 11 and 12 includes: 
  • English,
  • Advance Mathematics
  •  General Mathematics
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • Geography
  • History and  
  • Economics

How to enrol at FODE

Following steps will be required to complete the enrolment at ant FODE Centre. 

  1. Present relevant certificate (Grade 6, Grade 8, Grade 10, and Grade 12) to the nearest FODE Centre and request enrolment.
  2. Fill out application form and select numbers of subjects to be done.
  • Participate in the entry test on a scheduled date and issuance of entry test results.
  • Payment of the subject fees at the bank and presentation of the receipt 
  • Issuance of the subject materials, assignment and the schedules for completion of each of the subject.
  • Sit for subject examinations at the end of the year based on schedules issued by the FODE Office
  • Issuance of certificate and transcript based on the cumulative assessments 

For further information, check FODE website by clicking this link.For more information on entry test and other requirements, check this link.For more information on course offered see here, and to contact the respective provincial representatives check this link.

  • DODL UNITECH – “DODL(Department Of Open and Distance Learning) is an adult matriculation centre offered by the University of Technology. The DODL study centres are located in all major centres of Papua New Guinea including:
  1. Alotau Study Centre
  2. Arawa Study Centre
  3. Daru Study Centre 
  4. Goroka Study Centre
  5. Kavieng Study Centre 
  6. Kimbe Study Centre
  7. Kokopo study centre
  8. Kudiawa Study Centre
  9. Lae Study Centre study – Unitech
  10. Lorengau Study Centre
  11. Madang Study Centre
  12. Mendi Study Centre
  13. Mt Hagen study centre
  14. NDC Study Centre – Gerehu Secondary school
  15. Popondetta Study Centre
  16. Wabag Study Centre
  17. Wewak Study Centre

The adult matriculation for University of Technology (Unitech) is now open. You can visit their website to download the application forms by clicking here.

DODL Enrolments

  • DODL enrols Grade 10 school leavers to do Grade 11 and 12 certificates with transcripts. This is called adult matriculation studies.
  • DODL also enrols candidates who have completed Grade twelve (12) in the formal education system to upgrade and better their results before applying for tertiary studies.

Courses or Subjects offered at DODL for adult Matriculation studies (any Grade 10 drop outs with Grade 10 certificate)

Persons interested in doing Grade 11 through DODL can choose either science pathway or social science pathway.

Science pathway subjects for Grade 11                                

  • English 1
  • Mathematics 1
  • Physics 1
  • Chemistry 1
  • Biology 1

Science pathway subjects for Grade 12

  • English 2
  • Mathematics 2
  • Physics 2
  • Chemistry 2
  • Biology 2

Social Science pathway subjects for Grade 11                                

  • English 1
  • Mathematics 1
  • Geography 1
  • History 1
  • Economics 1

Social Science pathway subjects for Grade 12

  • English 2
  • Mathematics 2
  • Geography 2
  • History 2
  • Economics 2

Click this linkto learn more about the current adult and grade 12 matriculation program.

Courses or subjects offered at DODL for candidates seeking to upgrade their Grade 12 results 

Persons seeking enrolment to upgrade Grade 12 results are allowed choose either of the two pathways, the Science and the social science based on subject they studied in Grade 12.

How to Enrol at DODL

  1. Adult Matriculation studies
  1. Person interested in adult matriculation studies can present their Grade 10 certificate at the nearest DODL study centres and request for an application form. 
  • Issuance of the application form and a bank deposit form is issued. 
  • On the registration form, you can fill in your details and choose your pathway of studies, either science pathway or social science pathway.
  • You will then be advised to pay up the subject fees for each subject you have indicated to take.
  • There are two semesters each year so you can divide your subjects into the two semesters and complete grade 11 and then you can do the same with Grade 12.
  • When you complete grade 12 at DODL, you will then apply for a grade 12 certificate. Application form will be provided by the DODL study centre you enrolled in.
  • DODL study centre and PNG Unitech liaises with the Department of Education for the issuance of Grade 12 certificate for students who complete their studies at the centre. 
  • Certificate and transcript issued by the DODL study centre can be used in pursuing studies at the UoT as well as other institutions in the country. 
  • Grade 12 School leavers 
  1. Persons interested upgrading their Grade 12 results can present their Grade 12 certificate at any of the DODL centres.
  • An application or registration form will be given to be completed and submitted with the receipt of payment for the subject fee.
  • DODL Program is spread over two semesters therefore a student can have the freedom to enrol in semester 1 or semester 2 to upgrade one or two subjects. At least two subjects are offered per semester and therefore to upgrade two or more subject, a student must enrol for both semesters. 
  • Transcript with upgraded result is issued by the DODL study centre which can be used in pursuing studies at the UoT as well as other institutions in the country. 

Tutors (teachers) of DODL

  • DODL Unitech gives the responsibility to each of its study centres to recruit specialised secondary school teachers to be tutors of the respective subjects offered. These tutors teach two (2) hours of lessons per week, normally over the weekends (that is, Saturdays and Sundays). One semester runs for 15 weeks, 14 weeks of lesson and the last week is the exam week for the semester.

Assessment

  • During the course of the semester, students are required to do six (6) assignments for the subject they are enrolled for. The only exception is mathematics which is nine (9) assignments. These assignments are prepared by the tutors of the respective subject and makes up 30% of the assessment. At the end of the semester, students do an examination for each subject they are enrolled for, which makes up 70% of the assessment. All examinations are uniformly prepared by the DODL headquarters at Unitech and are delivered to each study centres to be administered.
  • The semester for students is over after the examinations are conducted. Examinations are marked and added onto the assignment marks and sent to Unitech for the final grade to be processed. 

For information on where DODL is offered, including centres and specific locations, click thislink.

  • UPNG OPEN COLLEGE (Formerly Open campus) 

UPNG Open Campusoffers opportunity to Grade 12 school leavers to enrol when their GPA is below the requirement set by the four schools and they are left out of the main selection process of the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG). Four schools of UPNG are:

  1. School of Law
  2. School of Natural and Physical Science 
  3. School of Business Administration 
  4. School of Social Science and Art 

UPNG Open College Campuses in Papua New Guinea 

Open Campuses.

  1. NCD Open Campus
  2. Kokopo Open Campus
  3. Madang Open Campus
  4. Buka Open Campus
  5. Hagen Open Campus

Provincial University Centers.

  1. Enga University Centre
  2. Mendi University Centre
  3. Simbu University Centre
  4. Morobe University Centre
  5. Oro University Centre
  6. Milne Bay University Centre
  7. West New Britain University Centre
  8. Manus University Centre
  9. New Ireland University Centre
  10. Wewak University Centre

Franchise Sub Centers

  1. Help Resource Centre Wewak.
  2. Institute of Business Studies (IBS).
  3. CDI-Moro Foundation- Moro SHP

The contact for the main office for Open Campus can be found here.

How to apply for UPNG Open College  

Follow these six (6) steps 

  1. Get the Application Form for the University of Papua New Guinea.

You can get the Student Application form from the following places: At any of the Open Campuses and Provincial University Centres. All Centers location and contact details are listed on Step 5: Go for Registration below.If you have access to Internet, you can download the form in PDF format from the UPNG Website.

  • Choose your desired Program which is available through the UPNG Open College.

The Study Programs are offered by the University of Papua New Guinea Academic Schools. The Schools that have Programs on offer through Distance Learning are from the following Schools. The programs the school offers are listed under it. 

  • School of Business Administration (SBA). 
  • Diploma in Accounting 
  • Bachelors Degree in Accounting 
  • Bachelors Degree in Business Management 
  • Bachelors Degree in Public Policy Management 
  • School of Humanities & Social Sciences (SHSS). 
  • Bachelors Degree in Education. 
  • Bachelors Degree in Arts. 
  • School of Natural & Physical Sciences (SNPS).
  • Bachelors of Science (Foundation Year only and offered only at the 4 Open Campuses. NCD, Kokopo, Buka, Madang).
  • Launch your application Form. 

Once you have got the Application Form and chosen your program you can launch the Application. To launch the application; 

  1. Fill the Application Form with all the required information. 
  2. Make sure all the required attachments are intact, such as copies of certificates and etc. 
  3. Pay the Registration Fee of K20.00 into the UPNG Account indicated on the Form. 
  4. Attach the Registration to your filled Application. 
  5. Bring it to the Open Campuses or University Centre closest to you. Or you can post it.          direct to; 

The Executive Officer 

UPNG OPEN COLLEGE 

P.O.BOX 341 

University, NCD, Papua New Guinea. 

  • Confirm your acceptance.

The University of Papua New Guinea receives so many applications academic year and it publishes all the accepted Applicants in a list in the local newspapers as the official Acceptance List. The University may respond to individual students notifying them of the application outcome not to all. Acceptance listed published in the newspapers is often regarded as the official notification. The list is published mid-December for the following academic year and around June for 2nd Semester applicants.

  • Go for Registration at your desired UPNG Open Campuses or Provincial University Centres.

Accepted students can report to the Open Campuses and Provincial Universities of choice to register on the official registration week. The Registration Date and other related details are published with the Acceptance list. 

  • Contact appropriate people for assistance during your study.

Successful applicants must make it their responsibility to contact appropriate people and follow up on their own progress. 

  • TVET AND COMMUNITY COLLEGES Technical Vocational Education training and community colleges.

These refer to institutions like vocational schools and community colleges set up by the government and non-governmental organisations like churches.

The motive for these institutions is to train any Grade 6, Grade 8, grade 10 and Grade 12 school leavers in any trades and graduate them with trade certificates to better their lives by seeking employment or use these skills to do something for themselves.

Some examples of trade certificates to be obtained from these institutions are

  1. Trade certificate in motor mechanics
  2. Trade certificate in carpentry
  3. Trade certificates in brick laying
  4. Trade certificate in cookery
  5. Trade certificate in sewing
  6. Trade certificate in tourism and hospitality
  7. Trade certificate in panel beating
  8. Trade certificate in office management
  9. Trade certificate in plumbing

For more information about TVET, including the email addresses of each of the centres, check this link.

For Grade 12 students who missed out on selections to tertiary institutions in PNG, and adults who may want to pursue studies, University of Technology’s DODL and University of Papua New Guinea’s Open College may be the best option. For Grade 8 students who were not selected for Grade 9, and Grade 10 students who were not considered for Grade 11, the best option would be FODE. For anyone interested in technical education, TVET is the best choice. 

About the Guest Contributor: Lingewe Peiva Simiong

Lingewe Peiva Simiong holds a Bachelor of Education (B-Ed) from the University of Goroka (UoG) specialising in Science and Home Economics and a Diploma in Science (DSc) from the University of Technology (UoT) specialising in Biology. She has taught in a number of high school and secondary schools in the country including Sogeri National High School. She is currently teaching Biology at Port National High School. Apart from teaching in the classroom, Lingewe is a passionate advocator for female education. She maintains that education is the principal factor that determines liberation of women in PNG. She advices all young female Papua New Guineans who are out of the mainstream education system to pursue life through other education pathways created by the Government.

“The race is not to the swift or battle to the strong…. but time and chance happen to them all” Ecclesiastes 9:11 

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Limited Quotas In Tertiary Institution Fails Even the Qualified Students in PNG

Every year, about 20, 000 to 28, 000 students compete for 11, 000 spaces in tertiary institutions in Papua New Guinea (not counting non-school leavers or working class applying for undergraduate degree, and international – mostly other Pacific Islanders – applying to PNG institutions). Many students meet the requirement set by the universities, and even exceed them by large margins, but still miss out. To squeeze students into these limited spaces, the universities are raising the bar higher and higher, forcing out more and more qualified students as a result.

On Monday, I assisted a friend, who brought his nephew’s Grade 12 certificate and a screenshot of his choices. He scored an aggregate GPA (Grade Point Average) of 3.8 out of 4.0. His first choice was to study law at the University of Papua New Guinea’ Law School. His second choice was to study Political Science at the University of Papua New Guinea.

Minimum GPA for Law is 3.0, though one needs to score A or B for English (L&L) and Maths, and avoid getting a D grade for any of the subjects. Political Science entry requirement is even lower, at 2.75. With a GPA of 3.8, this kid was 0.8 points more than qualified to study Law, and 1. 3 points more than qualified to study politics (he was over qualified for both subjects).

He was not selected for either of his choices – Law & Politics, even though he exceeded the requirements. We first went to the law school and asked a senior law lecturer why he was not selected. His explanation was as follows:

The law school has quota or limit of 150 students in any given year. Of the 150 spaces, they must allocate a percentage to school leavers (those finishing Grade 12 the preceding year), a percentage to non-school leavers (those who have completed first degree either at UPNG or other tertiary institutions), and a percentage allocated to international students (usually other Pacific Islanders).

This year, they selected straight A students: that is, students with GPA of 4.0. Even after filling the quota with students with GPA of 4.0, there were still a large number of applicants with GPA of 4.0 who were left out. They were left out not because they were not qualified, but because the faculty does not have enough room to accommodate all the applicants who met the requirement to study law.

So how do they determine who gets selected and who misses out if both students qualify, or even qualify with exactly the same GPA, lets say 4.0.? First, remember the percentage allocated to school leavers, non-school leavers, and international students? Well, the applicants in each pool (percentage allocated to each group) compete among themselves. All school leavers compete for the school leavers sub-quota, which is about half (75 spaces). The non-school leavers and international students compete in their respective categories, which is the other 75 spaces divided among the two groups. Ideally, students with higher GPAs (4.0) gets selected ahead of my friend’s nephew (with a GPA of 3.8). Even then the guys with GPA of 4.0 cannot fit into their respective spaces because there are too many of them.

This is when the A(s) on your certificates are further grade into (A+) , (A) , and (A -) . There process is called Tertiary Selection Score. This method further classifies your grades into three sub-categories e.g. A minus (-A), A, and A plus (A+). If the norm referencing for English, or cut-off mark (set by the Measurement Services Unit) is that any grade above 70 marks is A, then the classifications would be as

follows:

-A: 70-80%

A: 81%-90

A+: 91%-100,

the three grades classified as ‘A’s are further are classified into sub- categories for selection purposes.

Okay, that explains why my friend’s nephew not getting into law, but why was he not selected for Political Science, his second choice? It is the same as the law problem. Politics, which has a quota of 30 (accepts 30 students every year), is way lower than Law quota of 150 (Politics is a discipline within Social Sciences and Humanities, whilst Law is a School of its own). Even though Politics has a minimum GPA requirement of 2.75, only students with straight A(s), GPA of 4.0 got selected because of limited spaces.

This UPNG case can be applied to all universities and tertiary institutions across the nation.

Because they use online selection, the students who do not get into tertiary institutions of their choice are automatically selected for course that they did not apply for, but have met the requirements. My friend’s nephew got selected to study a course at Divine Word University. He neither applied to study in DWU, let alone study the subject he is not selected to study. When students are selected for studies in other institutions or to study other subjects, they are usually selected ahead of students who actually applied to study the same course in that institution as their first choice. The former gets in because of higher GPA even though he did not apply for it. This means that students who have applied for that course, and have met the GPA miss out because their spaces are taken up by someone who did not apply for it at the first place.

Out hope now is to expand existing universities, and build new ones. There is always the debate about jobs. Where are the jobs when they graduate? Getting a job is not the goal, getting a net educated population is the goal. Having the highest per capita university graduate in the region should be our goal. With knowledge they can find their way in life.

This article was first published under the “Education” section of Academia_Nomad.

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Welcome To Academia_Nomad

We are glad you visited the Academia_Nomad blog. This blog is dedicated to bringing research based articles on issues ranging from politics, to business and economics, religion, and sports in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific. The articles are divided into different themes:

PNG Politics – articles on PNG politics are discusses current political issues. Politics of PNG is unstable and changes all the time, there is high unpredictability, that makes even the best analyst is thrown off-guard.

Regional Politics – this bit ventures beyond PNG to cover the Pacific Islands, and the role of metropolitan powers. Chinese increase in the Pacific region has drawn Australia to “step up” in the Pacific, but also witnessed the increasing presence of the United States. More importantly, Pacific islands that used to recognize Taiwan as an independent country are now switching to align with China and renouncing the Chinese influence.

Economic & Business – The part on economic & business covers a wide range of economic and business in PNG and the Pacific region

Letters – this is a collection of inspiring letters written by Papua New Guineans,

Education – This section provides discussions on education policies, standards, and other related issues

Conversation with Founding Fathers & Mothers – this is a very interesting series where the author interviews existing mothers and fathers of this nation, PNG.

Student Loans, Chained Careers : The Other Perspective

Imagine this: You’re a UPNG student accessing PNG-HELP FUND (aka student loan). To reside at UPNG’s Games Village (e.g) each student is required to pay approximately K12, 000 per year, unless you are on HECAS or AES, in which case you pay about half. Assuming they all graduate after four years, each student owes the state K48, 000 – without interest. High costs, generous offer from the government, looks real great. Does it?

Below are scenarios you ought to know before you and your parents decide whether to get these loans, and how much to get.

The student completes fours years bachelor degree and gets a job job. The repayment is tied to your income (income based repayment): your first pay will have at least two deductions, tax & automatic deduction to repay your student loans. The details are not yet released, but here is how US & Australian Governments structure repayments:

A. A minimum income threshold is set so that graduates earning low incomes delay their repayments. Just like low income earners are exempted from paying taxes, Graduates with low income (let’s say K600/fortnight) do not repay student loans. After exceeding threshold the graduates start repayments. 

B. Beyond the threshold, the graduate pays progressively higher rates. The higher your income, the more you pay. 

Sounds cool right? Not so fast. Research in both the US and Australia show that student loans do have negative implications. 

First, with a degree, the graduates will start earning higher wages, higher than the exemption threshold for student loan repayments. They will not be exempted from either taxes or repayments, from the very first pay. It will affect many decisions in life. Marriage, buying a car, starting a business, and just about anything that requires money.

All bachelor degrees cost the same at UPNG (apart from medicine) but not all degrees earn the same when you start working – it’s the same for most universities. There are those that earn higher because of the type of degree or the type of job/sector they are employed in. Graduates in high paying jobs will pay off their loans faster than the others.

Second, it gets tougher for those who may want to take loans to start a business, buy a car, buy a house etc. One of the non-compromising conditions of the commercial banks is whether the individual has outstanding loans. A graduate with K48, 000 debt has lower chances of successfully applying for loans from commercial banks. Any graduate with student loans will have to deal with this challenge.

Third, there is sometimes a disincentive for those in low paying incomes with exemptions to work hard and climb up the income ladder. They would want to delay the repayments as long as they could. Because the repayment is progressive, even those above the exemption mark would always be conscious that higher income equals higher taxes and higher repayment rates.

The state itself will have its share of problems with non-repayments. What if the graduates do not repay and debts start to accumulate? Student loans in the US alone is a staggering $1.4 trillion (+K4 trillion). 

The US and Australians solved this by further reducing the exemption threshold and increasing the repayment rates. This doesn’t help the graduates.

Also, what happens to graduates who don’t get into formal employment where a portion of the income can be automatically deducted? After 25 years US forgives the loans. Australians are less generous, they don’t forgive the debt. We don’t know how generous our government will be until the complete policy is published.

Noble Prize winning economist Joseph Stiligtz equates the student loans in the US to housing bubble that led to 2008 economic crisis. The access to finance and the promised benefits is enticing. But with limited market for those graduating, it runs the risk of a bubble.

In both Australia and US, access to student loans by students attending all institutions led to so many profit oriented institutions entering the higher education space. Institutions compete for students, who rely on loans to pay their tuitions, with loans they will struggle to repay later. These institutions provided qualifications for profit, produced low quality qualifications, and students and the state struggled later: students struggled to to find jobs, state struggled to get back its money.

What you can do about it:

1. Parents – if you can pay, pay for your child. You have done it before. Or at least let your child get half loan, you pay half.

2. Crowd funding – learn from the Highlands. Someone from your tribe goes to university, take pride, contribute and pay for it.

3. If you cannot afford higher education fees, get the loan and study very hard. Get a good job and repay the loans.

4. Encourage your provincial and district governments to contribute subsidies and scholarships at the tertiary level. This could could be accompanied by a deal to work in the province or district for a certain time, especially if your qualification can help the rural population. 

5. Very importantly, as a student, concentrate on your studies, get good GPAs to quality for HECAS & AES scholarships so the government can pay half of the fees, and you and your parents pay the other half, or get the student loan to pay the other half. Half burden is better than the whole amount. Hopefully TESAS is not scrapped off as is rumored.

Government: provide more grants and scholarships (less loans). High performing students compete for it. You actually produce high quality through such competition. The last thing we want is a tied K48, 000 burden on the legs of our young people.

Happy New Decade to you all.

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Slashing DSIP/PSIPs to NO Reserve Seats – Why is James Marape so bold?

PC: business glitz.com

The Prime Minister James Marape boldly declared that there will be NO reserve seats for women under his watch, which means there will be no reserve seats come 2022. This follows slashing the DSIP/PSIP funds. He is not afraid of firing PNC MPs from his government, who were his colleagues, for 10 years or more. Apart from Pangu Pati’s 28 MPs, the second largest party that voted him as PM on 30 May 2019 was the 22 PNC MPs. In a coalition government like PNG’s, keeping party happy is integral for survival of the government.  Marape is content on violating this rule, by firing the second largest party that he was part of for more than 10 years. 

Why is James Marape so bold?

First Possible Explanation

There are two potential explanations. First, PMJM is as safe as any PM can be – the chance that there will be another vote of no confidence is non-plausible.  James Marape is secured from 30 May 2019 to November 2020, before he is exposed to vote of no confidence. After November 2020, the 18 months grace period expires, where a vote of no confidence is allowed. However, this gap lasts for less than less than 7 months. After the 7 months are over, the parliament enters the next phase of grace period. Twelve (12) months starting in July 2020, the government cannot be removed. 

What succeeding governments (prime ministers) have done is to adjourn the parliament so the next sitting can fall well within the remaining 12 months before elections (between July 2021 and July 2022), which makes it impossible to change the government via vote of no confidence. And this could be a possible explanation for James Marape’s boldness. He is as safe as any PM in a fluid environment as PNG can be. The adjournment will require a simple majority. All Marape needs is to keep the coalition numbers slightly above the combined opposition and PNC numbers, to stop the adjournment. James Marape may not adjourn the parliament, and there may be no attempt to challenge him 12 months from now. But it does give anyone in position such as Marape’s confidence to take bold decisions. 

Second Possible Explanation

It is possible that Marape is taking bold choices as a matter of policy choice. DISP/PSIP had to be slashed. Except for a few successful cases, these funds were the most wasteful portion of the budget (not public servants pay that government likes to use as a case for public wastage).   By 2013, PNG’s 89 districts MPs – open electorates – were entitled to K10 million each, Local Level Governments were allocated K500, 000 and the Governors’ were entitled to K5 million per district multiplied by the number of open electorates. A total of K1, 490 million was spent for these programs every year from 2013 onwards under a combined Services Improvement Program (SIP). The provincial component alone was K445 million each year, which was more than the amount that the provinces receive through functional grants (K398 million in 2013) (Howe et al., 2014).Functional grants are non-discretionary, which means the MPs cannot spend it at their discretion. The discretionary funds far exceeded the non-discretionary funds by 2013. When these discretionary funds began in 1984 as Electoral Development Funds, the discretionary funds were in equal proportion to the non-discretionary components. (Read full report here/ for a comprehensive discussion on discretionary funds see Dr Ketan’s work here)

IT HAD TO GO! At one point, whilst writing a piece for ANU’s Development Policy Blog in 2018, I remember pausing for a minute, and thinking to myself – DSIP/PSIP will never be slashed, given the significant role it plays in maintaining the ruling coalitions intact. I’m not sure these funds would have been slashed under another PM. Peter O’Neill temporarily reduced it in 2018, but given his habit of using this funds to manipulate MPs, he would have increased it again. Marape did what many analysts thought was not going to happen anytime soon.

What about the Reserve Seats?

The lack of women representation in PNG parliament is not a new debate, which is often attributed to an “unequal playing field of politics with undemocratic processes and embedded traditional norms that hinder women from representation in parliament”

(See this linkfor more). Women are disadvantaged for all host of reasons, ranging from financial difficulties, to volatile environment during election, and the cultural preferences for male leadership in PNG societies. 

As this study documents, “only 1.4 percent of women are elected out of 319 local level governments and 6,190 wards in the country. Compared to the last national election, three women were elected to Parliament (2012 -2017), and women represented 10 percent of elected officials at the LLGs and wards (2008 – 2013) (Department of Provincial and Local Level Government Affairs, 2018). This data clearly shows that we are not improving the number of women in leadership at all levels of government” (See this linkfor more). Woods (2018) recently published a blog that showed that women who “subsequently contest” elections do not necessarily lead to improved chances that they will win. 

The solution that was advocated for years has been therefore, to have temporary special measures (TSMs) where reserve seats are created for only women candidates to contest, in addition to the rights to contest the 111 seats nationwide. Because it is temporary, it can be abolished after, lets say, three terms – 15 years. The idea is that, by giving creating reserve seats in the 22 provincial seats, women will then perform, and over 15 years change the male preference attitude in PNG.

Is (TSM) Reserve Seats favourable in PNG?

I don’t mind having reserve seats for women, but what I do not agree is that the argument that the reasons why women do not win is because of an unequal playing filed (financial constraints, security etc.) or even male preference society. 

(For all womenfolk who follow Academia_Nomad, give me the grace to make my argument – I have the utmost respect for you all).

 The financial constraints, security concerns, etc. is NOT EXCLUSIVELY and female constraint! With the exception of incumbent candidates in recent years who amassed wealth as MPs to spend during elections, the lack of financial resources affects all candidates – male and female. There is no concrete study that suggests that females are financially more disadvantaged. If that is the case, even more male candidates are financially more disadvantaged, as statistically, more male candidates contest, than female candidates. So if you were to randomly select candidates, it is highly probable that you’ll end up with more “poor” male candidates. 

Security? Almost all election related deaths recorded in 2017 elections were males. If women were killed, again, statistically, it is way less than male numbers (Read the 2017 Election Report here). If violence prevented females from campaigning in a certain location, it prevented hundreds of male candidates from doing the same. Violence does not discriminate. It affects every body, regardless of gender. If location A is Uncle Pablo Eachobar’s stronghold, both Aunt Angela and Uncle Dwyne are equally not allowed to campaign freely. 

The emphasis on unequal playing filed and patriarchy takes the debate away from the real cause for election problems in PNG: lawlessness. There is a general breakdown in law and order across the breath and length of this country. It finds it finest expression during elections. You can have reserve seats, and after 20 years, abolish it, and women will still face security issues, if lawlessness is not dealt with. Security concerns, and other causes for unequal playing fields are not the “factors”, they are “symptoms.” You do not solve a crisis by addressing the symptoms. The government must first address lawlessness and create equal economic opportunities – for everybody.

The case often use by proponents of reserve seats is Rwanda. In 2003, Rwanda had 24 women MPs out of 80 MPs. Now 68% are females (see here). There are two fallacies here: first, you cannot use Rwanda, at least not yet. The logic of reserve seats is not necessarily the mere increase of women reps, which will always increase if you create reserve seats. But whether the increase of women MPs do actually lead to increased impact on policy – whether they are influencing policy decisions. Research on Rwanda’s case shows that increase in women MPs did not translate into increase women influence on matters of policy – the party leaders, who are male, dictate policy (we can go into the circus of male dominance of party leadership as the reason for lack of influence on policy etc. but the point is increase in female MPs does not necessarily lead to greater influence on policy). So if there is less impact on policy, how then are the people supposed to change their minds and vote female candidates after the 15 or 30 years expire? 

A more substantive reason why Rwanda should not be used (not yet) is: Rwanda is still in the experimentation phase. You can make a case for successful TSM if Rwanda had abolished reserve seats after years of practicing it, and the people voted another 68% women candidates because they were impressed with women over the TSM era. That is not the case. They are still in the TSM phase. What happens if Rwanda abolishes the TSM, and the people are not impressed, and the women number fall? Furthermore, Rwanda already increasing female representations after return to normalcy following the genocide. By the time they introduced reserve seats, they already had more than 20 women MPs out of the 80 MPs elected. This means they would still have continued to vote at least 20 women MPs on average if there were no reserve seats. It also means that if they vote more women after TSM is removed, it may be a natural trend. They were already voting 20+ female MP, remember?

So does Marape’s decision make sense? I would say yes. He must concentrate on creating equal economic opportunities, for all genders, and address law and order. These are the structural impediments to the PNG citizens’ Constitutional rights to free and fair elections, as candidates as well as voters.

Before I end, and be bashed for my position, I must say I have the utmost respect for female candidates, and advocates. Some of the smartest people I know are females, and that is why I think there should be increased representation. But I must respectfully state what I think, and that is what I attempted to do.

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Sam Basil the Political Entrepreneur: Four party leadership, six party memberships, two new parties

PC: EMTV

Sam Basil is officially the first MP to assume leadership of three political parties with no parliamentary leadership, and at least one new party. Furthermore, since entering politics, Basil has associated himself as a member of at six political parties, initiated two new political parties, moved from government to opposition after failing to changing the latter. In the political market of PNG, Basil has that entrepreneurial spirit only tech nerds in Silicon Valley have. 

Sam Basil the Political Entrepreneur: Four party leadership, six party memberships, two new partiesSam Basil is officially the first MP to assume leadership of two political parties with no parliamentary leadership, and at least one new party. Furthermore, since entering politics, Basil has associated himself as a member of six political parties, initiated two new political parties, and moved from government to opposition after failing to changing the latter. In the political market of PNG, Basil has that entrepreneurial spirit only tech nerds in Silicon Valley have.

Basil entered politics first as a People’s Progress Party endorsed candidate, led by Sir J, and won the 2007 national elections for Wau-Bulolo Open. He subsequently switched sides in 2011 to PNG Party led by Belden Namah, where he briefly served as Minister for National Planning after the unconstitutional removal of Somare in 2011. He won again in 2012 under the PNG Party banner. Serving as PNG Party MP and deputy opposition leader is about the longest time he has ever been associated with any party. After that he has been party shopping across the 44 political party market of PNG.

In 2014 he left PNG Party to become the party leader of Pangu Pati, a party that didn’t have parliamentary leader at the time. This move had widespread support in Morobe and other parts of PNG. Pangu Pati has a historical place in PNG, and the fact that Sam Basil had been consistent voice of reason, and a voice against corruption and mismanagement, many saw this move as a force for change. Some of them candudates he endorsed for the 2017 elections were equally popular figures, including Bryan Kramer. Morobe Province, one of the bases that Pangu Pati had first established branches in the lead up to independence took ownership again, and voted 8 Pangu MPs. In neighbouring Madang Bryan Kramer won, one in Oro and another in Goilala. Reputable individuals like Robert Agarobe and Sir Mekere Mourata joined them later on. Pangu was now back in a big way.Then in August of 2017, after failing to initially form the alternate government, Basil announced his party’s move to the government side. This is probably where Sam Basil lost the revered status that he cultivated over a decade. He was the embodiment of anti-O’Neill, anti-PNC sentiments. I would even argue that the reason why Pangu did well in 2017 was because of Sam Basil’s ability to personalise the anti-O’Neill/PNC sentiments which was shared by many people. All the incumbent MPs who lost their seats in Morobe in 2017 were either O’Neill’s PNC MPs or those who were supportive of O’Neill in the 2012 – 2017 term. It was an indication of Basil’s effective campaign against O’Neill, and the people of Morobe again rallying behind the old Pangu brand.

His reason for switching sides to O’Neill led coalition? He said he did not want his new MPs to be deprived of DSIP/PSIP. There were claims that the O’Neill government has a habit of rewarding MPs with the SIP funds for supporting the government, and disciplining them for criticising the government by withholding or delaying the payments. Basil, Namah, and Juffa have been the most vocal against this injustice. But 2017 was different: the opposition had a very huge presence – 46 MPs. It would have been a foolish thing if O’Neill had to continue this ‘discipline.’ Basil led about 14 MPs to the government. Other like Bryan Kramer and Sir Mek protested this move and remained in the opposition.

In May of 2019, Sam Basil broke away from Pangu Pati, and joined Melanesian Alliance, taking all Pangu Pati MPs except one, Ginson Soanu, the governor for Morobe who refused to leave Pangu. This was Sam Basil’s fourth switch between parties (PPP, PNG Party, Pangu Pati and Melanesian Alliance). This was also the second time Sam Basil moved to a party without a MP (MA did not have any MP in parliament, just like Pangu Pati, in 2014 when Basil made his move). This was also the second time Sam Basil assumed party leadership of another party without leadership.

During the MP movements that led to change of the PM, 6 Melanesian Alliance MPs (former Pangu Pati MPs) left MA and moved back to Pangu Pati – eventually joined by 22 others from different parties, among them was Marape and 14 MPs who followed him. Marape was elected as PM when O’Neill resigned on 30 May 2019.Also during this period when MPs were switching sides, Sam Basil was said to form a new party, Our Party. He was/would have been the default party leader of Our Party. That would make it the 3rd time Sam Basil was the leader of a political party, and his first for a party he formed. However, Basil remained as MA leader with the remnants of Pangu Pati defectors.

Yesterday (5 Nov 2019) Radio NZ reported Basil forming a new party, United Labour Party. This will be the second party he forms, and second time he assumes leadership of the party he formed. But in total, this would be Sam Basil’s 4th leadership of a party – Pangu Pati, MA, Our Party & United Labour Party. He was deputy party leader for PNG party if you wanna count that as well.

In his party hopping journey he has proven this one thing beyond doubt: Basil has no policy conviction. You join a party because you identify with the policies, values, and ideologies. Basil has been to different parties, with different policies. He’s been to coalitions that had different policies (PNC has free education as a policy, Pangu has subsidized – despite the differences he led Pangu over to join PNC).

We don’t know what Basil stands for… if he ever became the PM, which policies would he implement: PPP? PNG Party? Pangu Pati? Our Party? Melanesian Alliance? United Labour Party? By believing all, he believes in nothing.

Sam Basil is not alone in this. Almost all MPs in the current parliament have been guilty of at least one of this: switched parties, switched sides in parliament, assumed leadership of another/new political parties, broke away and formed new parties, and for those who have not done so yet (if there is any), they will be guilty of one before 2022 national elections. In May 2019, Open MP for Sohe MP of Oro Province switched sides 5 times in three weeks. So Basil is not alone. However, the case of Basil is unique to the extend that he has done everything known under the sun except for the PM position. And if he does conquer that one day, which policies will he implement?

PS: in one of his posts, Bryan Kramer claimed that the reason Basil switched from opposition to government in 2017 was so that he could become the prime minister one day. Basil confided in Kramer (back in the good days) that prime minister in PNG is changed within the government ranks. He was correct in that, except this time it was Marape’s season. If this is true, we can conclude that the entrepreneur spirit of Basil has one goal: PM post.

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Conversation with Founding Fathers: Part One

Yesterday (01/11/2019) I had over 3 hours long conversation with the one of the advisors of the Constitutional Planning Committee who were the architects behind the Constitution of PNG. It was for a book I am working on, exploring the reasons behind the resilience of PNG democracy. To be clear, this guy, Ted (Edward) Wolfers is not, though I think he should be, called the Founding Fathers of the Nation, because he was engaged as consultant by the CPC… however as you read through you will realize that there is no denying the passion he had, and still when he talks about this nation. I will leave out the discussions we had that relates to the book, but there were interesting stories, and insights he shared that as a PNGean I never knew nor appreciated.

He arrived in PNG in 1967 as a researcher for a US foundation called Institute of Current World Affairs. He was to research and write about PNG culture, language, people etc., which was what the organization did in colonial countries. His quickly understood what others at the time didn’t: that PNG societies were very efficient, in their own traditional ways. He recounted how, for instance, PNG tribes had a differing but quite developed arithmetic system. When he went over to Canada & US, he presented at the universities on the arithmetic systems of PNG. The same applied to telling seasons, wind directions and negotiation (he travelled with Keremas on a canoe to Pom once back in the day).

He then went on to teach at what has become known as ADCOL (Pacific Leadership Princint). Back then, only 2 Papua New Guineans had cars – John Kaputin & Palaus Matane 😂. In the afternoons he would walk down the road with his 30-40 students, and white people would drive past with amusements. They would offer to pick him but not his students. He would of course refuse it. In those days clubs were segregated. Natives were not allowed into whites only clubs, so one day he followed his Chimbu friend to a natives club. All the angras and other natives were so surprised to see him they bought him beer. He walked away having had 14 bottles too many.

This race dynamics irritated him, and he wrote the seminal book “Race Relations & Colonial Rule In PNG.” It was criticized by the colonizers but guys like Ron Crocombe supported him. The newly established UPNG heard about it, requested for a copy and had external examiners evaluate it. It was considered good enough for a PhD. He was given PhD in Political Science. The first PhD from the University of Papua New Guinea. 

He then returned to Australia to teach at a university and one day got a call to come work with the Constitutional Planning Committee. 

He speaks with fondness of his role at CPC. The team travelled the breath & length of PNG. He said “France colonies’ constitutions were written in Parish, other English colonies’ constitutions were negotiated over the table, PNG constitution was written with the consent of the people.” I asked him questions like: did the people understand the questions you asked? He said “Yes.” They simplified the questions to a basic level and translated it for the people to understand. The people wanted Ombudsman Commission, the people wanted Provincial Governments, so is most of the provisions of the constitution (not all CPC recommendations were adopted though).

He told a story of one of their trips. He told Sir Mattaiba Yuwi (not sure I got the spelling of the first name correct) that they were now going to consult with the people about the role of Ombudsman Commission. Sir Yuwi replied: “why do we need another Bushman? I have a lot of them in my village!” He misunderstood Ombudsman for Bushman. From then on the CPC gave him the nickname Bushman. 😂.

I asked him questions about National Goals & Direction Principles. He said the idea came from a Catholic Priest, who told Momis that the Constitution should have Social Goals, not just institutions. But CPC didn’t know how to fit it into the Constitution. Then they looked at Indian Constitution, it had something called National Goals & Directive Principles. They renamed the Social Goals as National Goals & Directive Principles. He said NGDPs was not the idea of one particular man, so is every provision of the constitution. It was all a group thing.

He ended by saying…” ask yourself questions like ‘how do I explain why PNG is now one of the longest unbroken constitutional democracies of the post WWII countries in the world… so far you young academics have been asking ‘what is wrong with this… what is wrong with that etc.” He said he walked out of Hubert Murray on September 16, 1975, thinking “I may not return. Troubled whether PNG would survive.” He said we take it for granted. Many countries succumbed to chaos and dictatorship after independence.

When the first vote of no confidence was initiated in 1980, he was worried. Rightly so because it was during such times that dictators either established themselves, not willing to release power, or took over by force. He thinks Somare’s greatest achievement was accepting defeat in the VoNC. And the first to do so. This came as a surprise to me, as Somare is know for more ‘important’ achievements. But you have to understand it from the context of other post-independent colonies where leaders refused to relinquish power.

Towards the end I asked “why you?” I put it to him that he was first asked by the PNG government to assist because of a lack of expertise at the disposal of the government. It was my assumption. He paused and thought for a while, then in a low voice replied “No. It was because they trusted me. And I never took that trust for granted.”

He ended up marrying a Kerema beauty, and even bought bride price.

Note: hope you enjoyed reading. I need help to interview other founding figures… if you have connections with the other remaining CPC members, or to our Founding Fathers I would like to chat with them. I will keep the more substantive details for my project but share conversations like this on this page. 

And, if you haven’t liked this page yet, you should do it now! You read it to the people end, why log out without liking it? 😊

PC: Gabriel Cherokee . This photo was taken earlier this year, 2019.

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