Former PNG Defence Force Commander, Major General Jerry Singirok, has issued a stark warning that the Exxon-Mobil LNG project could lead to a civil war in PNG bigger than the Bougainville crisis.
“If they are not careful with what is happening in the LNG project area, the situation there can be much larger and far worse than Bougainville,” says the man who masterminded the departure of mercenaries hired by the Government to put down the Bougainville rebellion 13 years ago.
“My greatest fear right now is that we are now setting the stage for another Bougainville crisis in Southern Highlands because all the right conditions are there”.
Singirok says the government has failed to heed lessons about allowing foreign security companies to work in PNG, especially in big resource projects.
“Now with the LNG project in the Southern Highlands, the Government has allowed developers to bring in foreign-owned security companies [like G4S, the world’s largest security company, which has recently established itself in PNG] that have no appreciation of the local customs, cultures and the people.
“These companies are dismantling the police and Defence Force by recruiting their best men to work on the project sites with promises of better pay and conditions,” Gen Singirok said.
“With lousy pay and service conditions, police and Defence Force personnel are living below poverty line. That is why they are taking up offers to work as security personnel for foreign-owned security companies at the LNG project,” Gen Singirok said.
“Has anyone done any due diligence checks on these foreign security companies?” he asked.
Gen Singirok said the foreign-owned security companies came here with one purpose, to use maximum force against landowners or anyone who tried to frustrate work on the project.
“The presence of foreign-owned security companies in PNG poses a great threat to the country.
“I want to know what their rules of engagement are, what types of firepower they have and who authorised them to have high-powered firearms.
“The use of foreign private security companies happens in countries where the state has failed to provide the needed security.
“Conditions are ripe for a major crisis if the Government is not careful.
“Firstly, there is a serious breakdown of law and order in Southern Highlands province right now.
“Secondly is the massive build-up of illegal firearms as a result of lack of control by State law enforcement agencies to contain the influx of these firearms.
“Thirdly is the lack of border control on the PNG-Indonesia border as well as the PNG-Australian border.
“The fourth issue is the obvious lack of Government investment in Defence Force, police and Correctional Services.
“These are the concerns that all add up to what I call a very serious threat to our national security by governments in office,” Gen Singirok said.
Archive for the Crime – general Category
Porebada villagers from Central Province in Papua New Guinea have increased their compensation demands to Exxon Mobil for the killing of four youths, injuries to several others and destruction of food gardens over a land dispute along the corridor road to Exxon’s Liquified Natural Gas plant site.
Angry at the company’s failure to meet a 14 day deadline for compensation the villagers have begun blockading the Porebada/Boera road – again disrupting preparatory construction work for the LNG plant – and have upped the compensation demand from K700,000 and 50 pigs to K2 million and 100 pigs.
According to Porebada villagers’ spokesman, Colin Morea the purpose of their peaceful sit-in protest was to force Sir Moi Avei, his Boera people, Exxon Mobil and the National Government to pay their compensation claim because the deadline had lapsed.
“We gave them 14 days to respond but they failed to meet our demand therefore we decided to halt the PNG LNG project,” said Mr Morea.
He said from yesterday onwards their new demand from Sir Moi and Boera people, Exxon Mobil and the State would be K2 million plus 100 pigs from previous demands of K700,000 plus 50 pigs.
Mr Morea said they would continue with their sit-in protest, blocking the road until their demands are met.
By SIMON ERORO
“Yes, there is corruption rampant within our police force,” says John Mombre. He is a longtime policeman and like many of his colleagues, they continue to uphold the integrity of the profession they were trained for.
“Many of us (policemen) allow our personal emotions to make decisions which in many instances are unnecessary. “We arrest someone with charges of obstruction of duty…just because he or she wants to state his or her reasons, what occurs does not define the whole scenario”.
Corruption is a global phenomenon that is eating away at the very fabric of our society. Literally every policeman must be challenged to shirk the “who cares” attitude and fight the menace of corruption the way individuals who have successfully done, goaded on as they were by the courage of their convictions to avoid taking things lying down. “As we deal with major corruption we must avoid petty corruption. As the saying goes, to cook a big fish well you must know how to cook a small one.”
Mr Mombre went on to say that 99 per cent of policemen who breach traffic rules in PNG do not get arrested. He said this was for mere traffic rules like putting on your seat belts and blinkers to show the direction you are turning. “Anyone else does it…gets arrested,” he said.
He said many charges for obstruction of police duty are completely irrelevant. “Look at the drunkard policemen with beers packed in their cars driving around…no one can imagine whether they can be arrested by another cop. “At the road blocks…many are out there performing honestly while a few are taking the road blocks as a chance to try their luck in getting a toea or two,” this officer said. “In fear of being locked up…many decide to pull out a few notes which eventually works out well. This is corruption,” he said.
Recent revelations about the behavior of security guards employed by Barrack Gold’s at its Pogera mine and the use of Fijian mercenaries at the Simberi gold mine, reveal how foreign mining companies can increase lawlessness and invoke violent reprisals.
In October last year, Sarah Knuckey, a lawyer at the center for human rights at New York University School of Law, told a Canadian parliamentary hearing security guards working at Barrack Gold’s Pogera mine in Papua New Guinea habitually gang rape local women.
Knuckly told the hearing “the guards, usually in a group of five or more, find a woman while they are patrolling on or near mine property. They take turns threatening, beating and raping her. In a number of cases, women reported to me being forced to chew and swallow condoms used by guards during the rape.”
Amnesty International has also complained about the actions of police employed as guards at the Pogera mine. In December last year Amnesty revealed that local police had violently evicted local families and burned down and destroyed at least 130 buildings and houses. While Barrack Gold initially denied the allegations, the company was later forced to accept the findings.
Meanwhile it has been revealed that the Simberi gold mine has been illegally employing 14 Fijian mercenaries to guard its mining operations in New Ireland province. The mercenaries were working without valid visa’s and their employment by the mine company provoked an angry response from local landowners.
The local police commander in New Ireland described the mercenaries as a ‘private army’ brought in to control protests by local landowners over the mines environmental performance. Landowners in New Ireland allege the mercenaries were flown in with their own firearms.
A prominent lawyer in Mount Hagan, Papua New Guinea, has rubbished cliams by ExxonMobil that the death of 11 people in a tribal dispute has nothing to do with the company or its massive $15billion liquified natural gas project.
Papau New Guinea was stuned on Monday when news of the 11 deaths from a gun battle involving high powered rifles and the destruction of up to 270 homes emerged from the remote Southern Highlands region. The deaths reportedly occurred as a result of a tribal dispute over benefit sharing from ExxonMobils gas project.
However, ExxonMobil quickly moved to deny the deaths were in any way related to the company or its LNG project, saying instead that it was “a long standing tribal dispute”.
These denials did not impress a prominent human rights lawyer who works in Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highland region and is well versed in large scale resource developments. “What a load of cr*p” she responded when told of ExxonMobils denials.
“The fact is that none of the killings would have happened if the developer [ExxonMobil] and the government had obtained the prior informed consent of the indigenous local people to the project going ahead”.
“ExxonMobil has failed to identify the resource owners. It has not resourced them to understand the dealings and developments that are proposed. They don’t have their own advisors or experts or even an advisory council.”
“If Exxon says its not their fault, that makes me sick”
ExxonMobil’s denial of responsibility was, rather bizarrely, backed up by the PNG police. Highlands police commander Jimmy Onopia could not confirm the number of deaths and said police had not been able to access the remote area, but he was able to state categorically “It is definitely not linked to do with the LNG project.” He was though unable to say how he came to that conclusion.
Corruption is well documented in the PNG police force and teams of officers often act as private security for foreign owned businesses.
From high stakes gambling to designer drugs, high profile prostitution and the import of counterfeit products, the PNG underworld is being ruled by persons from a certain Asian nationality.
Beyond the alluring neon splash of Port Moresby’s glitzy night-life exists a murky underworld of illegal high-stakes gambling, subtle bribery, designer drugs and high-profile prostitution. These are no longer rumours; a reliable source with inside knowledge confirmed these highly illicit activities to be happening with blatant disregard for the laws of the land.
The source, who wished anonymity (for apparent reasons), claimed these activities are perpetrated by resident persons from a single Asian nationality.The source said the high-stakes gambling and use of designer drugs referred to by them as the “bean” (a derivative of highly addictive manufactured drug Ecstasy) are somewhat restricted for their personal amusement (mostly due to affordability rather than moral conscience) but “bribery” and “high-profile prostitution” involving imported professional sex-workers are masterfully concealed and marketed to an appreciating demand in Papua New Guinea for fast money and promiscuous sex.
The bribery component, according to the source, is ingeniously incorporated into the mechanism of PNG’s own brand of the notorious “Black Market Dinau Moni”; a highly lucrative street money-lending scheme that operates purely on trust and the need for discretion. But the former deflects from the latter’s exorbitant interest rates (40%-50%) and rigid repayment schedule (1-2 weeks), zeroing in on the trust and discretion aspects alone.
Monies loaned out by these people are interest-free with no conditions attached apart from a subtle line “pay me back when you can”. The real shocker drops in the amounts loaned-out. According to the source, cold-hard cash from anywhere between K2000 to K20,000 (even more) are known to exchange hands at the ease and speed it takes to make a phone call. It does not end there; the source said an individual can owe these people excessive amounts in additional loans at any one time.
And only an “exotic hostess” (imported prostitute) possesses the savvy to pop the cork on the celebratory ‘bottle of bubbly’ with that ‘exact’ measure of finesse to ease the cloying air of embarrassment and uneasiness every time a transaction transpires, always in inconspicuous locations, which is usually a posh air-conditioned backroom of a club or upmarket restaurant (hotel rooms are considered too obvious for their comfort).
A startling number of high profile nationals are already entangled in the sticky-sweet web spawned through subtlety and deception. Short of disclosing names, the source implied the majority of these persons to be in strategic positions at executive levels of leading public and private institutions. Thus, the much hyped “on the payroll” phrase does have merit after-all. The source said these persons borrow their way into dual servitude and are no longer serving the interests of Papua New Guinea alone.
And that is one facet of the operation. Counterfeit products is another. The source said fake products are circulating in bulk but ingenuously saturated among genuine items throughout Papua New Guinea. What you think is the authentic Reebok or Red Joe Jean or Pall Mall cigarette might actually be a copy-cat version. “You can never know for sure,” the source said. According to the source, this specific Asian grouping are ideally suited to accomplish this feat because; “They have multitudes of unregistered small scale back-alley factories highly specialised in counterfeiting back in their home country; And they have an excellent nation-wide retail network developed over the years that is proving very efficient in the distribution and merchandising of counterfeit goods like no other”.
The source told of an individual of that nationality who had financed the counterfeiting, shipment and distribution of Pall Mall cigarettes a while back. According to the source, the estimated street retail value of one 20-foot container of cigarettes is K4.5 – K5 million. The source said the person managed to ship and fully distribute five capacity containers before word leaked-out and his operation was terminated. He walked away with somewhere between K15 million and K20 million, give or take a couple of thousands in bribery expenses.
But contrary to rising sentiments today that international crime syndicates are already operating in the country, given further credibility by the recent spate of attempted assassinations and organised kidnappings, the source believes Papua New Guinea is not faced with that menace yet. According to the source these are isolated one-off crimes that are commissioned by individuals rather than an organised mob. But the source conceded that the possibility is there because a network is already in place.
“It is only a matter of time and opportunity,” the source said