Posted by rait man of ACT NOW!
The article below, by Kenn Mondiai, Chair of the PNG Eco-Forestry Forum, is about the dangers of suppressing freedom of speech and the need to protect whistleblowers. It is a response to the news the Board of NASFUND has offered a K50,000 reward for information ‘leading to the identification, arrest and prosecution’ of the authors and publishers of ‘factually incorrect, malicious and defamatory’ statements on PNG Blogs.
Kenn Mondiai

In Papua New Guinea we are fortunate to have freedom of speech and the media is free to write and the commentaries also have that great flexibility to say what they think is not right and offer options and alternatives.

We at PNG Eco-forestry Forum have our own website (www.ecoforestry.org.pg) and we have been speaking out about illegal logging, unsustainable forest management, poor governance, abuse of human rights and other issues.

No-one including the government tried to stop us or suppress us directly, although we have recently heard about government plans to regulate NGO work in PNG; since we are genuine in what we do and say it’s unlikely an action will occur now, but in the future maybe if NGOs become unreasonable and driven by people with ulterior motives.

So far we have fully used the media well to do our work for the common good of our nation, our people and our natural resources and PNGEFF as a Papua New Guinean national umbrella NGO are proud of this media freedom.

We were challenged once in the Courts along with the Post Courier by  logging interests, that is Rimbunan Hijau, but the TRUTH remained and we still stand today doing our job to educate the people of PNG about what is RIGHT and what is WRONG by exposing WRONGS in an HONEST and TRUTHFULL way and then also providing alternatives as possible solutions.

So, whoever that brought out the message on NASFUND’s decision in whichever media that gave the message out is only trying to educate the public about what is NOT RIGHT and why it is WRONG, (I have not seen that messages), but is also true that no false information should be added and it should not in anyway be defamatory on persons related to that decision.

So don’t panic, just see how best your organisation (NASFUND in this case) can improve on it’s failures and address the concerns raised.

NASFUND recently, according to the newspapers, made some bad decisions about members money, we thought these issues were sorted out when the Govt ammended the Super Funds Acts, but it seems NOT, so they must fix it. I am not a member of NASFUND, but if I was, I will not hide my name under a Blog but will honestly speak my mind in the media or I can talk directly to Ian Tarutia and Rod Mitchell directly as I know both very well.

With this reward of K50,000 put up by NASFUND I think it is in a way or rather a step closer to Suppressing the Freedom of Speech, not by government but by the private sector, by the imposition of a monetary reward on peolple trying to express their rights on issues.

For the public and NGOs, whilst we have that freedom of speech, again we must take caution in what one says in the media, say the truth and provide options for a good outcome and don’t add salt or sugar to your stories.

Don’t be like the politicians trying to suppress media and freedom of speech in this country when their bad decisions and weaknesses are exposed and in reaction for their guilt they go to the media issuing all kinds of threats about controlling and regulating NGOs and the media.

Yupela yet skelim na tingim em tru o giaman !!!

Press Release: Released at 10 AM, Thur 20/01/11, BTA Office, Waigani, NCD

NATIONAL Environment and community development NGO, Partners with Melanesians affirmed their support for Bulolo MP Sam Basil who took the court injunction against Morobe Mining Joint Venture for environmental pollution of the Watut River.

They follow in support of Basil’s call for people with personal and ulterior motives to cease from obstructing him in his constitutional right to speak up for the people that he has been mandated to represent. If more than 100 sensible and thinking leaders support Mr Basil’s move then those selfish and greedy leaders who are obstructing Mr Basil should be ashamed and refrain from obstructing Mr Basil and his lawyers.

What’s happening along the Watut River is a clear indication of the beginning of many big things to come. We do not have to look far to see evidence of such impacts on the natural environmental and its people. The most notable ones include Tolukuma, Ok Tedi and the Jaba River in Panguna, Bougainville.

After 27 years experience of working with the rural village communities of Papua New Guinea, PWM knows full well the impacts of such extractive industries on their livelihood, especially mining.

The more than 18000 people living in the Managalas Plateau within the Afore Sub-district of the Oro Province have strongly objected to logging, forestry, mining and oil palm extension. MRA and the Department of Mining and Petroleum have issued three (3) exploration licenses to an Australian mining company, Gold Minex for a mining lease covering the entire Managalas Plateau which was done without a proper consultation process. However the 152 clan groups of the Managalas Plateau stand firm objecting mining exploration on their land.

It is important that the land owners of PNG need to know about the negative impacts of such destructive activities, which among others include, soil and water pollution, loss of land and biodiversity, skin disease and other health related issues, as well as the deterioration of the social and cultural fabric of those societies living within the vicinity of mine sites throughout PNG.

Successive governments over the years have failed to not only educate these landowners but have denied them the right to a safer and healthier future through sustainable management and use of their natural resources.

Mr. Kenn Mondiai
Executive Director – Partners with Melanesians, Inc.

[ Partners with Melanesians is a member of The Papua New Guinea Eco-Forestry Forum www.ecoforestry.org.pg ]

If this is not pollution then what is, Mr Allen*?

photo courtesy of Hon Sam Basil 2010

 *Mr Benny Allen is the Minister for Environment & Conservation (at the time of this post).