Source: The Jakarta Post
Mongolia: Caught between democratization and Rio Tinto
by Ratih Hardjono, Jakarta
Not much is heard about Mongolia, a country north of Indonesia, so far north that when I was a child I thought it was the closest place on earth to the abode of the heavenly Gods and a place where nomadic herdsmen rode on horses at lightning speed conquering the vast empty steppes.
Mongolians have recently evoked the spirit of their founder, Genghis Khan, who built the Mongolian empire in 1206. Everywhere you go, he is omnipresent, and for good reason. Having had to face giants such as the Soviet Union and China in the last few hundred years, Mongolia is now embarking on a new journey and taking on one of the world’s mining giants, Rio Tinto.
Mongolia is now reinforcing its economic sovereignty by developing its mining industry. The vast Gobi desert in the southern part of Mongolia is home to some of the most valuable minerals in the world, but has only recently begun to be developed as the harsh environmental conditions had deterred many before. The Oyu Tolgoi copper mine is only 80 kilometers from the border of China, and when it begins production in 2013 it will become one of the largest copper mines in the world.
It is said that even during Genghis Khan’s time, the outcropping rocks in Oyu Tolgoi, or Turquoise Hill, were smelted for copper. The mine was originally explored by Canadian company Ivanhoe and is now being developed by Rio Tinto. The Mongolian Government owns 34 percent of the mine and once in operation it is estimated that the mine will account for more than 30 percent of Mongolia’s GDP.
When the Soviet Union left in 1991 after occupying the country for 70 years, all critical mining exploration data on the country was taken back to Moscow. The Russians refused to share any of this mineral mapping data with the Mongolians.
One senior Mongolian official jokingly said, “You know how these mining investors started investing here? One of our bureaucrats who knew the mineral mapping data by heart said to the investor, just dig here and trust me, I know the stomach of Mongolia by heart and there is good stuff in the ground.”
Mongolia is a land of dramatic beauty. It also has one of the most dramatic histories, which is unknown to many. It won its independence in 1921 with Soviet backing and a communist regime was installed in 1924. When the Soviet Union left in 1991, the door to democratization was flung wide open, but poverty and deep economic depression also set in. The Soviet Union’s assistance at its height amounted to one third of Mongolia’s GDP, but suddenly disappeared over night.
The current President of Mongolia, Elbegdorj Tsakhia, who has a Harvard education, was a young man when the Russians left and led the first demonstrations for democracy and reforms in Mongolia. He told the story of how he was visited by the Polish Solidarity leaders and taught how to manage an effective demonstration, give rousing orations and write banners against the local ruling elites hanging on to Communism when the Russians left.
President Elbegdorj is a cheerful man with one of those faces which emanates eternal youth and optimism. The struggles he has been through over the last 22 years, which include being thrown out as prime minister of Mongolia twice, is reflected in his wiry old hands.
In a closed meeting with people who had come to Mongolia to share their experiences in democratic education, the passion for freedom and human rights was palpable in his being. He summarized the essence of his struggle when he said “This is my freedom; Mongolian freedom, not Western freedom and I will defend it with my life.”
The multinational mining corporation Rio Tinto operates in more than 50 countries and can be likened to a state of its own. It is a commercial company, but in many ways it operates like a state, with a well-thought out public affairs policy for different countries. If anything, it is perhaps run much better than many states in the world. It has no option because it has to deliver profit to its shareholders.
The good news is that Rio Tinto, like Mongolia, has also had a long journey in democratization, which began with its Bougainville mine in Papua New Guinea in the late 1980s. It is still facing legal challenges, with a US federal appeals court reviving a lawsuit in 2011, seeking to hold Rio Tinto responsible for human rights violations and the thousands of deaths linked to the Bougainville copper and gold mine it once ran. Rio Tinto today has a global code of business conduct, where human rights and doing business democratically is its center piece. The company has learned its lesson.
Today, many in Mongolia feel that life was better under communism than it is under capitalism. There are high economic growth rates, but Mongolians note that this is not being translated into prosperity.
Poverty is at 30 percent and the disparity of income is already causing social problems. Yet there are more brand new Hummers and Mercedes Benz four wheel drives found in Ulaanbaatar than in Jakarta. President Elbegdorj is worried about this and asked “Is this economic development a blessing or a curse?”
Democratization in Rio Tinto has helped sustain profits. There may be many weaknesses in Rio Tinto, but it is in Mongolia’s interest to ensure that like Rio Tinto, Mongolia can also produce profit while adhering to human rights, business integrity and accountability — all of which are pillars of democracy. This will ensure that democracy delivers and economic development can be enjoyed by all Mongolians.
Ghenghis Khan, meaning Universal Ruler, once guided Mongolia to prosperity and victory. May his spirit descend on the leaders of Mongolia today and guide them through this next challenge facing yet another giant in order that welfare is delivered to all the people of Mongolia.
The writer, a former journalist, is secretary-general of the Indonesian Community for Democracy (KID). She was a recipient of the Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard University in the class of 1994.
Source: The National
It is O'Neil and it's official
IT is official. It is legal. It is unanimous. And it conforms with the established traditions and practices of national parliament.
Ialibu-Pangia MP, Peter O’Neill, is the prime minister of Papua New Guinea.
Even the question of whether or not the recall of parliament is legal has been resolved. We have now been advised that before Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio left for England, he signed papers authorising the recall of parliament.
Parliament acting Speaker Francis Marus on Tuesday declared a vacancy in the office of the prime minister following the decision of the Supreme Court invalidating the election of O’Neill on Dec 12 last year and restoring Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare as prime minister.
Marus had declared that Sir Michael was ineligible to hold the post as he had been absent from more than three consecutive sittings of parliament since January this year.
By law, any MP who has missed three consecutive sittings of parliament without leave of absence automatically loses his seat.
As the office of the prime minister is the exclusive preserve of members of parliament, loss of membership to the house also meant the person cannot hold the post.
The Supreme Court, in its recent split decision, had restored Sir Michael to both his East Sepik seat and as prime minister but that seems to be negated by this new ruling
from the speaker.
After declaring a vacancy in the office of the prime minister on Tuesday, parliament adjourned to yesterday – the next sitting day – for nominations and the vote for a new prime minister. This is the practice, as established in the Supreme Court in the case of the snap resignation and election of Paias Wingti in 1994 (Haiveta vs Wingti).
It being parliament, there can always be something unexpected to turn up, and this was when Marus stunned parliament by declaring that both Somare and O’Neill were ineligible to offer themselves for election as they were both instigators of the political impasse. He was very quickly disabused of the notion by Vanimo-Green MP Belden Namah through a dissent motion. Although the motion was seconded by Kandep MP and Treasurer Don Polye, we cannot remember the motion being voted on.
It quickly became obvious who was the person behind the attempt to disqualify. Speaker Jeffery Nape was in his office in parliament moments before the vote and not in the offices of the governor-general where he is acting governor-general as he should have been.
He later kept the newly-elected prime minister waiting allegedly while he (Nape) studied the papers instead of signing him in.
Another group whose actions must be called into question is the Somare faction which was absent from parliament yesterday.
Ever since the political coup of Aug 2, and the subsequent actions and decisions, it has been disappointing to see that the Somare faction has hardly gone into parliament.
Even if they do not have the numbers, parliament is the only place where a member of parliament ought to be. Every MP has an office in Parliament House and there is a fully parliamentary service staff there at the member’s beck and call.
There are restaurants, function rooms, a library and postal services. There are plumbers and carpenters if you care for them.
You can hardly want for more.
Yet, the Somare group has consistently operated outside of parliament, mostly out of the Ela Beach Hotel, ever since the August 2011 debacle. Whatever their reasons, this can be taken as disrespect for the workings of parliament.
Even an opposition with no great majority has always chosen to respect parliament, to abide by its rulings and to be present when it is in session.
Laws have been flouted a great number of times in the recent past and within the walls of Parliament House itself, but the only place to correct them or to even raise an opposition to them is within parliament.
Absenting themselves in parliament repeatedly while raising protests on the run from outside parliament does not speak well of Sir Michael and his group.
Now the question of the prime minister is resolved, it is hoped we can get down to the business of running a free, fair and peaceful general election.
Source: Radio New Zealand International
Somare urges new PNG leaders to stop mocking parliament
A former Papua New Guinea prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, has called on the new prime minister, Peter O’Neill, to stop making PNG the laughing stock of the Pacific and the Commonwealth.
This follows yesterday’s election of Mr O’Neill who was elected prime minister for a third time after the deputy speaker conceded that Mr O’Neill’s accession to power last year was not legal.
Sir Michael has accused him and his supporters of demeaning parliament with continued irreverent and illegal behaviour and warned that they were setting a dangerous precedent for future MPs.
He says if they cannot take parliament seriously and continue to abuse their power, they are not fit to continue in future positions of leadership in PNG.
Sir Michael says nowhere in the Commonwealth an MP orders police to pursue a chief justice in the manner in which Belden Namah pursued Sir Salamo Injia.
He says intending candidates should return to their electorates and start campaigning instead of making a mockery of parliament.
ESBC: Once again, ousted Prime Minister Michael Somare proved his intellectual inability to rule a country: Why did he and his faction not show up in the parliament? Finally that old Black PapuanSnake has lost its venemous fangs now ! But his daughter Betha Somare and her corrupt brother Arthur are still desperately struggling for power and funds! Quite obviously the Marcos family in the Philippines is their shining example. PNG needs restore its reputation by bringing these people to justice for sedition!
Highly poisonous Black Papuan Snake and highly ambitious Betha Somare
Source: ABC Australian Network News
Peter O'Neill again sworn in as PNG Prime Minister
Source: THE JET online
Land Bank impresses Bougainville Delegation
The introduction of a land bank system in Fiji has impressed a visiting delegation from the Autonomous Government of Bougainville.
The delegation is in the country to study Fiji's structure of land lease and other economic related movement.
Delegation head and Minister for Information for the AGB region Joseph Nope says they will try to implement a similar system
back in their region.
"We are really impressed with the land bank system that has been introduced by the Fijian Government," he said.
The delegation has been visiting government departments and agencies to learn from Fiji before they return home.
Prime Minister and Minister for Lands, Voreqe Bainimarama said the setting up of the land bank was to ensure proper use of land in generating economic activity.
The land bank has been set up so native owners can allow Government to use their property for development purposes and lease it at market rates.
Potential investors and farmers can sub-lease or lease land from the State for a period of up to 99 years from the land bank which was established under the Land Use Decree 2010.
The unit will only use land that has been designated by native titled landowners, from whom consent will have to be obtained.
The long processes and the delay to finalise leases frustrates applicants and therefore reduces the development of the economy in general.
Mr Nope said the Bougainville region had a lot of land, however they do not have a robust strategy such as the land bank.
Source: THE JET online
Fijian Tourism in the Right Direction
With 600,000 visitor arrivals annually and a robust approach adopted by the Fijian Government, the tourism industry in Fiji is now placed on solid footings.
Those are the sentiments of the Minister for Traditional Authority, Information and Communication Joseph Nope of the Autonomous Government of Bougainville (AGB), which is in the country.
Mr Nope says they hope to learn from Fiji to better the AGB region in the tourism sector once they return home.
"Fiji's tourism sector is just magnificent. We have seen the Fijian hospitality and hope to learn as much from the Fijians," he said.
The delegation witnessed Fijian hospitality and how Fijians approached tourists in town and cities and how this has benefited the Fijian economy via the tourism industry.
Culturally, Fijians are known to the world as the friendliest people on earth with the reknowned Bula spirit, topped up with traditional programs that are evident in all hotels and resorts around the country.
"The Fijian fire walking is one such case, there are trips for visitors to the highlands, river safari and traditional Fijian cooking (lovo) which are now known everywhere," Mr Nope said.
"Back in the AGB region we are also very cultural and hope to increase tourist activity there by working closely with the Fijian concepts.
"We have a lot of beautiful islands and beaches too and we hope to finalise something soon with the Fijian Government."
When asked if Fijians could be given opportunities to work in Bougainville to help the region's tourism growth, Mr Nope said this was something they were seriously considering and he was optimistic that things would materialise soon.
Source: Radio New Zealand International
PNG parliament elects O’Neill as PM
The Papua New Guinea parliament has elected Peter O’Neill as prime minister in an extraordinary sitting in Port Moresby.
Mr O’Neill stood unopposed and won 56 votes.
The election was called after the deputy speaker accepted last week’s Supreme Court ruling upholding an earlier judgment that Sir Michael Somare was illegally removed as the country’s prime minister last August.
The speaker also disqualified Sir Michael as a member of parliament for missing three consecutive sittings this year.
Sir Michael had taken court action last year after parliament controversially declared the prime ministership vacant and chose Mr O’Neill as head of government.
The judges who ruled that Sir Michael’s prime ministership was still valid have in the past week been charged with sedition.
It is not immediately clear if the charges will be upheld as Mr O’Neill and his supporters have now accepted the court ruling that they were an illegal government.
Observers say the legality of today’s election may be subject to a challenge because the sitting to choose Mr O’Neill was called after parliament had risen for next month’s election.
Source: Radio New Zealand International
Four Bougainville women to stand in PNG election
As Papua New Guinea is gearing up for elections next month, four women candidates have come forward in the autonomous region of Bougainville to contest seats against 65 men.
Magdeline Toroansi is vying for the Bougainville regional seat.
Rachael Konaka and Francesca Semoso are endorsed by the People Party for the North Bougainville seat.
Theresa Jaintong is the People Party candidate for the Central Bougainville seat.
Ms Jaintong, from Arawa, is a paramount chief of five clans.
The PNG parliament has had only one woman MP in its last term.
Efforts to set up 22 reserved seats for women in the next parliament have been unsuccessful.
Source: PNG Attitude
Peter O’Neill has been re-elected prime minister of Papua New Guinea 56-0. He was unopposed. Nou Vada, Tavurvur and the ABC’s Liam Fox have all been tweeting from parliament house. Nou got his message out first, seconds ahead of Tavurvur.
Source: Fiji Times
ABG officials in Fiji
A GROUP of senior officials from the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) are in the country to study the iTaukei traditional governance structures and systems.
A government statement released yesterday confirmed that the group would visit the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs and its affiliated statutory bodies this week.
The statement said the group aimed to develop a governance system that best met the cultures of the people of Bougainville.
The group will look at Fijis system of land ownership and scrutinise how Fiji kept its records of traditional communal land and fishing rights, iTaukei Affairs permanent secretary Savenaca Kaunisela said in the statement.
They are also interested in knowing the different roles played by the provincial and district (tikina) councils in the affairs of the iTaukei, and at the same time try and understand the functions played by the iTaukei Lands & Fisheries Commission and iTaukei Lands Appeal Tribunal, Mr Kaunisela said.
The ABG is the government of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, which was established in 2000 following a peace agreement between the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA).
Source: Radio New Zealand International
PNG parliament to elect new PM today in ongoing political turmoil
Papua New Guinea’s parliament is due to sit again today to elect a Prime Minister after the position was declared vacant yesterday.
The acting Speaker has acknowledged last week’s Supreme Court ruling that Sir Michael Somare was illegally removed as the country’s prime minister in August last year.
He then immediately disqualified Sir Michael as a member of parliament for missing three consecutive sessions since January this year.
Our correspondent Titi Gabi reports that this current special sitting, called by the rival administration of Peter O’Neill, comes two weeks after parliament was officially dissolved ahead of general elections next month.
“And they adjourned. Then O’Neill wasn’t in parliament but shortly after they adjourned he turned up and they had a caucus and the latest we hear is that they will put him up as a candidate when they resume (parliament) at 10AM.”
Source: ABC Radio Australia - Pacific Beat
Rapidly changing events in PNG politics
It's been a day of rapidly changing and dramatic events in Papua New Guinea.
From the country with two prime ministers PNG now does not have a prime minister.
In the latest bizarre twist Sir Michael Somare was today declared the Prime Minister before almost immediately the position was declared vacant and a prime ministerial election set down for tomorrow.
Radio Australia's PNG Correspondent Liam Fox has just returned from a media conference with now former prime minister, Peter O'Neill.
Presenter: Brian Abbott
Speaker: Liam Fox
Listen here !
Tsora for North Bougainville
BY PETERSON TSERAHA
BOUGAIVILLE’S former Education advisor Anthony Tsora has put his hands up to race for the North Bougainville open seat against incumbent member Louta Atoi.
A trained teacher by profession and a former curriculum advisor for the department of Education, his
main aim is to talk about Bougainville’s issues on the floor of parliament.
Mr Tsora nominated on Monday at the Kokopau District office and was witnessed by village chiefs, electoral officials and supporters.
“My nomination fee was sponsored by ordinary village people in a fundraising here in Kokopau
across the Buka passage.” Mr Tsora said.
“Our past members have forgotten to address the Bougainville situation, and have forgotten to fight for the independence of Bougainville.” he said.
“I am going to be pro Bougainville when I happen to get into power.”Mr Tsora said.
Mr. Tsora was the man behind Bougainville’s education recovery after the crisis when he was called by the education department from the Gulf province.
Because of his aggressiveness and commitment, as an educationist he was the right man recommended by the Education department for Bougainville when the crisis was at its very crucial stage.
His education restoration began in 1993 and ended in 2006 in which he was also Chief Executive Officer of the Education division on Bougainville.
‘Make intelligent choice’, Pentanu
By Alex Munme and Peterson Tseraha
THREE Women have so far nominated for the Central Bougainville Open, the North Bougainville Open and the Bougainville regional seat respectively.
Also PNG’s former Clerk of the National Parliament and former Ombudsman Commissioner Simon Pentanu (pictured) nominated on Saturday after the issue of writs, to contest Bougainville’s regional seat with former ABG member Magdeline Toroansi.
The two female candidates vying for the two open seats are Rachael Opeti Konaka, who is contesting the North Bougainville seat for the second time after being the runner-up to standing member Lauta Atoi in the by-election last year, and Theresa Jaintong who will be contesting against the Communication Minister Jimmy Miringtoro for the Central Bougainville seat.
“My personal appeal to all candidates including me is to be truthful and realistic in what we say and tell the people of Bougainville, about what we can do to deliver and develop Bougainville as leaders.” Mr Pentanu said.
“My message to the Bougainville people is to make a careful, considered and intelligent choice at the ballot,” he said.
He further stated that an elected leader is a trustee, the people are the beneficiaries. This requires a life of service where the leader’s role is essentially as a servant of the people. I urge every voter in Bougainville to cast his or her vote with a lot of thought, expectation, and anticipation when they cast their three votes. Voters must always ask simple and pertinent questions in assessing the suitability of candidates vying for public office,” he said. Bougainville Electoral Manager Reitama Taravaru said that since the Issue of Writs last week the situation in Bougainville has been relatively quiet and he is appealing to all Bougainvilleans to keep the same quiet atmosphere right through this election period.
The other contestants nominated since last Friday are Joe Lera for the Regional seat, Donald Hamao Tato and businessman William Nakin for North Bougainville.
Choose the right leader
By Fabian Gatana
BOUGAINVILLE Police Chief ACP Thomas Eluh (pictured) has called on all eligible voters in Bougainville to be prepared for the upcoming 2012 National Elections and not lose sight of their main objective of choosing the right leader
He also challenged candidates to be honest and abide by the laws of the land when contesting.
He said that by this time voters should have already decided on who to vote for, which he said should make them (voters) invulnerable to corrupt practices during election time.
“Choose a leader who has the people of Bougainville at heart,” he said.
Meanwhile, he has praised Bougainvilleans for proving to the world that democracy still prevails in the autonomous region.
“Democracy is well and truly alive in Bougainville. We don’t need the huge numbers of security/military personnel during elections.
That’s because the people of Bougainville always take ownership of their elections. I want the same sort of peaceful attitude to be on display again during
the 2012 National Elections,” he said.
Mr Eluh also appealed to the Meekamui factions in Central and South Bougainville to cooperate with police and the Autonomous Bougainville Government to achieve their goal of Referendum and independence.
Mr Eluh also apologized to members of the Bougainville Police Service for his period of absence from the region.
He said he was called up to sort out important legal issues affecting the Constabulary.
Moreover, he challenged Bougainville Police Service members to be highly disciplined at all times.
Source: Post-Courier - Reader's letter
Keep quiet Somares
I would personally like to appeal to Arthur Somare and Betha Somare to keep their mouths shut, if they have any respect for their father Sir M.T.Somare.
These two have created a lot of problems for their father. My late uncle Sir Pita Simogun and my late father have assisted the young Michael Thomas Somare in his career as a politician in removing the late Frank Martin, who is also a great friend of my late uncle and my late father.
We have been sitting quietly and watching all the events that have transpired and saw how this great Charismatic leader, whom our late fathers and elder brothers and also our people have assisted in whatever way possible so that he ( Sir Michael) can archive his political ambition of being the first Chief Minister and then Prime Minister of this great country.
Sir Michael would not have been treated the way he had been treated by those young man in parliament if some family members have used their heads.
When I was a young man in my teens working for TAA (Trans Australian Airlines)with a best friend of mine who is still in Wewak today Mr Jacob Ginau. I remembered an incident which happened in Wewak Hotel in the night of 1973 nearly 39 years ago. At that time Wewak Hotel had two separate drinking bars, one with a black dog painting on it at the door and had these words also written on it “NO DOGS ALLOWED”. Jacob and I worked with TAA so we decided to go into the bar where only Europeans were allowed. We were refused service at the bar.
We refused to leave and Jacob Ginau was very angry and told the European hotel manager and owner at that time, “ I will tell the Chief Minister and you will fold your blanket and go back to Australia.”
At that incident in the night a European man came and said to us “…you have a very good Chief Minister in PNG. I wish we could have a Prime Minister in Australia like him.”
In the morning next day when we both returned from dispatching the aircraft at Boram airpot to TAA/ Air Niugini office in town we were surprised when the Chief Minister’s officer Mr Joseph Ulaipo came and told Mr Fraser our boss that the Chief Minister wanted to see us. We were both shocked and very nervous, yet we went with Mr Ulaipo and appeared before the Chief Minister Mr Michael Thomas Somare. Mr Somare looked at us and told us to sit on the two chairs in his office, where Tang Mow’s Home Centre is located today.
The Chief Minister then asked Jacob and I “ Tell me, does the country have enough doctors, nurses, dentists, teachers, engineers,etc., etc.” We both replied “No Sir.”
“ Why did you tell the manager of Wewak Hotel to fold his blanket and go back to Australia?” We replied that we were very sorry and would not allow that to happen again and he let us go.
I would like to put this question to the Karau people of Murik Lakes, especially the Somare clan to tell the people of Papua New Guinea and also we the But, Boiken, and Dagua people where did their original ancestors come from who went and settled at the mouth of Sepik River and also into parts of Madang Province?
I would also like to thank the Post- Courier.
Peter Devis Sorulen.
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