Thursday, May 5, 2016

Polye’s win set aside

Source:The National, Tuesday May 3rd, 2016

 THE National Court has set aside Kandep MP Don Polye’s victory during the 2012 general election ‒ pending the counting of votes in five ballot boxes initially rejected.
Justice Joseph Yagi in a ruling yesterday gave 30 days to the Electoral Commission to have the five ballot boxes counted.
Luke Alfred Manase, who was the runner-up in 2012 to Polye, the current Opposition Leader, in the Kandep Open seat, had sought four orders from the court including the recounting of votes in the five boxes.
Three were earlier in favour of Polye.
Yagi ordered yesterday that the candidate scoring the absolute majority after the counting of votes in the five boxes would be declared the Kandep MP.
The five boxes rejected were from the polling stations at Lungutenges No 1, Kombros No 1, Kambia No 1, Maru and Imipiaka in Kandep. 
Manase named Polye as the first respondent and the Electoral Commission as the second.
He disputed the election of Polye, questioning the conduct of election officials during the counting of votes.
The substance of the complaint by Manase in the petition was related to allegations of errors and omissions by the officers, servants and agents of the Electoral Commission. 
The court was satisfied with one of the grounds raised by Manase in his petition relating to the five boxes which were rejected. The votes in the five boxes were not scrutinised and counted. The other three grounds were dismissed because the court was not satisfied that the allegations stated in the grounds had been sufficiently proven.
Meanwhile, Polye said yesterday in response to the court ruling that he was the victim of an error made by the returning officer for the Kandep Open seat.
Polye said he had won the seat by a big margin but this had been set aside because of an error by the Electoral Commission and its agents.
“I am just a victim of an error by the Returning Officer,” Polye said.

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Court order costly

Source: The National, Wednesday May 4th, 2016

ELECTORAL Commissioner Patilias Gamato says it will cost about K850,000 to count the five disputed ballot boxes for the Kandep Open seat in Enga, as ordered by the National Court on Monday.
He said the five boxes contained 3248 ballot papers were from the Lungutenges No 1 (479), Kombros No 1 (635), Kambia No 1 (520), Maru (772) and Imipiaka (842) polling stations. They were excluded by election officials from the counting process during the 2012 general election. 
Don Polye won the seat with 23,952 votes. Luke Alfred Manase, the petitioner, was second with 11,418 votes.
Gamato told The National last night that Polye was no longer the Kandep MP. A new declaration of the winner will be made after the counting of the five boxes.
Gamato said the K850,000 was the figure reached following a consultation with his management team, “in case the five boxes changed the absolute majority and we go into the elimination process”.
“It means we have to count all eliminations until we find the winner. Once we start counting the five boxes, we cannot stop and go back to ask the Government to give us (more) money,” he said.
“They have to make money available at the first instance so when we start, we flow. We may not use the full K850,000.”
He said figure included costs for the petitioner as ordered by court, plus the lawyer representing the commission.
Justice Joseph Yagi ordered on Monday to have the five boxes counted, as one of the four orders sought by Manase in the petition. Three were ruled in favour of Polye. 
Gamato said the five boxes would be brought from Wabag and the counting done at the commission headquarters in Waigani within the 30 days as ordered by the court.
Gamato will write to Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari and Finance Secretary Dr Ken Ngangan to secure the funding.
In 2012, Polye was declared winner of the Kandep seat on primary votes because the total votes he polled after the last count reached the absolute majority required under the LPV system.
The total allowable ballot papers was 47,713 and the absolute majority was 23,858. 
Meanwhile, he said the commission had only received K600,000 out of the K2.5 million allocated for the Samarai-Murua by-election in Milne Bay.

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Poll officials to face probe

Source: The National, Thursday May 5th, 2016

THE election manager and returning officer for the Kandep Open seat in Enga during the 2012 general election will be referred to police to be investigated over alleged corruption, an official says.
Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato told The National that he wrote to Police Commissioner Gari Baki yesterday to have election manager Henry Kyakas and returning officer Naepet Keae investigated.
Kyakas is employed by the commission while Keae is employed by the Enga provincial administration.
The National Court on Monday set aside Kandep MP Don Polye’s victory during the 2012 general election pending the counting of five ballot boxes which were initially rejected by election officials. The five boxes rejected were from the polling stations at Lungutenges No. 1, Kombros No. 1, Kambia No. 1, Maru and Imipiaka in Kandep.
The substance of the complaint by petitioner Luke Alfred Manase was related to allegations of errors and omissions by the officers, servants and agents of the Electoral Commission.
Gamato said the electoral processes were not followed in the Kandep election.
He said it was important that election managers and returning officers avoid corrupt practices during the election process.
Gamato said the court on Monday concluded that there was a lot of “foul play” involved.
“What the judgement and the court order said was that there was a lot of foul play,” he said.
“The evidence the petitioner (Manase) and his supporters gave was strong and based on that the judge made a ruling. We at the Electoral Commission must be strong in upholding the Constitution and the laws that govern elections.”
Polye won the seat with 23,952 votes.

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Ruling on governor’s seat deferred

Source: The National, Thursday May 5th, 2016

A NATIONAL Court has deferred the decision regarding the dispute over the position of Hela governor between Anderson Agiru and Komo-Margarima MP Francis Potape.
Justice Ere Kariko instructed the court registry yesterday to defer the decision, which was supposed to be handed down yesterday, because of the death of Agiru last Thursday.
Kariko’s associate Alesana Babona told The National that the decision was postponed because of the death.
Agiru’s lawyer Goiye Gileng, from Posman Kua Aisi Lawyers, said that the court was expected to hand down the decision after the mourning period. He said there was no specific date set.
Lawyers representing Agiru and Potape and the eight members of the provincial assembly had made their submissions on March 31.
Meanwhile, Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato said a date for a possible by-election for the Hela Governor’s seat would be considered after a month in respect of Agiru.
He said yesterday that as a mark of respect for Agiru, who became governor of the new Hela province in 2012, a one-month period would be allowed.
“I would like to wait until the mourning is formally ended before I make a statement,” Gamato said.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Basil takes over as Opposition leader

Source: The National, Thursday May 5th, 2016

PANGU Party leader Sam Basil is the new Opposition leader.
He takes over from Triumph Heritage Party leader Don Polye after the National Court suspended Polye as the Kandep MP over uncounted votes in five ballot boxes in the 2012 general elections.
Polye, in handing over the position to his deputy and Bulolo MP Basil yesterday, said he stepped down from Parliament by respecting the law.
“Although I disagree with the court ruling, we need to set an example to our people – and to the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Police Commissioner Gari Baki about respect for the law. 
“So, I therefore accept my 30 days suspension from Parliament. I wish, for the sake of our country, PNG, and its people, that O’Neill would similarly subject himself to the decision of courts and a Leadership Tribunal in order to prove his innocence or the courts to prove his guilt.”
Basil said that he would lead 11 Opposition MPs to provide an effective Opposition against the Government on issues that the Opposition believed were not best for PNG. “I also call on other MPs implicated in cases before the courts, and some of them are still operating as MPs under court orders and not respecting the courts,” Basil said. 
“I believe that what Polye has done today, we must see as an example to follow, particular O’Neill and his government and his ministers. 
“They are not following the law and not respecting court orders,” he said.
“They are also using the courts to prolong their stay.”

Saturday, August 15, 2015

2015 Godzilla EL Nino maybe worse - NASA

THEY are calling it the Godzilla.
An El Nino weather pattern so destructive that it will surpass all previous El Ninos.

And while there is still some debate as to how fierce this event will be, there is one thing experts are sure of — it’s already happening.

Since March scientists and meteorologists have been monitoring sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean and in May, agreed the world was in the midst of an El Niño.

But this declaration was a little earlier than usual, (El Ninos normally occur between June and November) prompting Australian authorities to predict back then that this would be an intense event.

A few months on, NASA is now saying the 2015 El Niño has the potential to be the most powerful on record.

And the space agency’s climatologists are claiming the disruptive weather pattern will cause so much rain that it will end the severe drought in California.

“This definitely has the potential of being the Godzilla El Niño,” Bill Patzert, a climatologist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge told The LA Times.

“Everything now is going to the right way for El Niño. If this lives up to its potential, this thing can bring a lot of floods, mudslides and mayhem.”

According to experts, this year’s event is already on track to be stronger than the El Niño from 1997 which brought heavy rainfall to Southern California during its winter and twice as much snow in the Sierra Nevada.

But it also caused widespread flooding in the region.

In early 1998, the heavy rainfall not only led to flooding but deadly mudslides.

17 people died and more than half a billion dollars worth of damage was caused. Downtown LA received almost a year’s worth of rain in a month, The LA Times reported.
A still of NASA data showing the weather patterns indicating El Niño for 1997.
A still of NASA data showing the weather patterns indicating El Niño for 1997. Source: Supplied
A still of NASA data showing the weather patterns indicating El Niño for 2015.
A still of NASA data showing the weather patterns indicating El Niño for 2015. Source: Supplied

So what is an El Niño?

It’s a warming of sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean that disrupts weather patterns across the Pacific and can cause a corresponding cooling of the ocean in the western Pacific and around Northern Australia

Every few years, the winds shift and the water in the Pacific Ocean gets warmer than usual.

The resulting El Niño changes weather worldwide, mostly affecting the US.

But it can also affect Australia.

Australia experienced one of its worst droughts during a weak El Niño in 2006—07, but the strongest event, the El Niño in 1997—98, only had a modest impact on Australian rainfall.

The last El Niño, five years ago, also triggered monsoons in Southeast Asia, droughts in the Philippines and Ecuador, blizzards in the US, heatwaves in Brazil and killer floods in Mexico.

This current pattern is now being blamed for drought conditions in parts of the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia, just like in 1997-98.
The dry banks of La Plata River in Naranjito in central Puerto Rico which is in severe dr
The dry banks of La Plata River in Naranjito in central Puerto Rico which is in severe drought. Experts are predicting this year’s El Niño event could cause more widespread drought in Australia. Source: AP

Will the big one hit?

For this year’s El Niño to truly rival its 1997 counterpart, there still needs to be “a major collapse in trade winds from August to November as we saw in 1997,” Mr Patzert said.

“We’re waiting for the big trade wind collapse. If it does, it could be stronger than 1997. There’s always a possibility these trade winds could surprise us and come back.”

However he also concedes it also might not happen.

Mike Halpert, deputy director of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Centre, said a big El Niño “guarantees nothing”.

“At this point there’s no cause for rejoicing that El Niño is here to save the day,” he added.

California’s state climatologist Michael Anderson told AAP that only half the time when there have been big El Ninos has there been meaningfully heavy rains.

Mr Halpert said California would need three time its normal rainfall to balance out the drought, which he believed was unlikely.

Despite that he also believes this El Niño was on track to be a record-setter because of incredible warmth in the key part of the Pacific in the last three months.

He said the current El Niño is likely to rival those from 1997-1998, 1982-83 and 1972-73 and the NOAA, on a blog, has labelled it the “Bruce Lee” of El Ninos.

NASA believes it will be more powerful than previous events according to its satellite measurements.

And Mr Patzert believes because it is likely to cause mudslides and other mayhem, using Godzilla to describe it was more appropriate.

When will it hit?

According to the experts, they are predicting the El Niño to peak in the late fall (Australian spring) or early winter (Australian summer).
NASA oceanographer Bill Patzert speaks about an El Nino weather system that could strike
NASA oceanographer Bill Patzert speaks about an El Nino weather system that could strike California. Source: AP

Frost is worst in district, LLG president says

Source: The National,Friday August 14th, 2015
THE people of Mendi-Munihu district in Southern Highlands have been severely affected by frost following the long dry weather.
In an emergency meeting yesterday at Mendi town, four Local Level Government presidents led by Upper Mendi LLG president Solomon Timbol, submitted reports of the disaster saying it was the worst in the district.
Lai Valley LLG president Jack Soal, Karintz LLG’s Simon Tolpe, Mendi Urban’s Vincent Manda and Timbol are appealing to the National Disaster and Emergency Centre to help the people.
Vegetables, kaukau tubers, sugar cane, bananas and pandanas have withered. Creeks and rivers have dried up and people are also facing a water shortage.
Timbol said people were calling them from everywhere seeking assistance. “But we (LLG presidents) cannot do anything because we not have funds. It is up to the national, provincial and district disaster and emergency centres to help,” he said.
“It is a real disaster and hundreds of people would soon starve.”
Timbol said it was important that a team from the National Disaster and Emergency Centre visit the area to assess the situation.
Farmer Joe Pila from the Ialibu-Pangia district lost his entire food garden after frost hit the area on Monday night.
He lost 23 hectares of taro and sweet potato plots. He said earnings from his farm had helped him set up a small business including a trade store, kai bar and hire vehicles.
“I have 10 fulltime labourers and I pay them fortnightly,” he said.
“I have a piggery farm, poultry and breed fish apart from the garden crops.”

More health tips

Source:The National, Thursday May 21st, 2015

Making these small changes to your daily life will significantly improve your well-being and put you on the road to better health.
Give up smoking
It is never too late to quit smoking, and there are many benefits to be gained no matter what your age is when you give up.
Using tobacco puts you on a collision course with cancer.
Even if you don’t use tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke might increase your risk of lung cancer.
Tobacco smoke is made up of thousands of chemicals, and many of them are very harmful.
The poisons in tobacco smoke include:
Carbon monoxide: Fatal in large doses, this poisonous gas, is found in car exhaust fumes. It takes the place of oxygen in your blood, starving your lungs, heart, and other organs of the oxygen they need to function properly.
Tar: This sticky brown substance coats your lungs like soot in a chimney. Tar and smoke irritate your lungs, increasing the amount of mucus in your chest and restricting your breathing.

Long-term smokers are at a higher risk of developing a range of potentially deadly diseases including:
Cancer – Smoking can cause cancer of the lungs, mouth, nose, throat, oesophagus, pancreas, kidney, liver, bladder, bowel, ovary, cervix, bone marrow, and stomach;
Lung diseases – such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema;
Heart disease – such as heart attack and stroke; and
Poor blood circulation - in feet and hands, which can lead to pain and, in severe cases, gangrene and amputation.
Quit smoking now and reduce your risk of serious and life-threatening disease.
Tip: If you need help quitting smoking ask your doctor about stop-smoking products and other strategies for quitting.

Reducing stress
Stress is a normal reaction to the ever-increasing demands of life. Unfortunately, long-term stress can cause many complications on your health. Everyone has stress at some point in life. However, if you are stressed often, it puts you at risk for heart disease, depression, and other problems.
Stress that continues without relief can lead to headaches, an upset stomach, high blood pressure, chest pain, problems with sleeping or sex, depression, panic attacks, or other forms of anxiety and worry.
Manage stress with these tips:
  • Ask yourself what you can do about the sources of your stress. Think through the pros and cons. Take action where you can;
  • keep a positive, realistic attitude. Accept that although you can’t control certain things, you’re in charge of how you respond;
  • stand up for yourself in a polite way. Share your feelings, opinions or beliefs, instead of becoming angry, defensive, or passive; and,
  • Don’t rely on alcohol, drugs, or food to help against stress.
Remember: If you feel your stress is not manageable or has continued for some time, talk to your doctor.

Get enough sleep
Healthy sleep habits can make a big difference in your quality of life. Sleep is vital for healthy physical, mental and emotional processing.
When we go without sleep or have insufficient sleep, our bodies struggle to perform to their full potential and, as a consequence, we can expect impairments to our next-day physical and mental performance.
Humans, like all animals, need sleep, food, water and oxygen to survive. For humans, sleep is a vital indicator of overall health and well-being.

How much sleep do I need?
Most adults need seven to eight hours of good quality sleep on a regular schedule each night.
Make changes to your routine if you can’t find enough time to sleep.
Important point: It is important that you go to sleep at around the same time every day.
Try to get good quality sleep so you feel rested when you wake up.
Tip: If you often have trouble sleeping – or if you don’t feel well rested after sleeping – talk to your doctor.

Don’t skip breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially for weight loss seekers.
If you skip it, you’ll get hungry before lunchtime and will potentially start snacking on foods that are high in fat and sugar and low in vitamins.
Eating breakfast can positively impact your energy level, blood sugar level, weight and even your ability to focus and be productive.
After fasting all night, breakfast fuels your body, so you start the day with energy.
Skipping breakfast affect a person’s effectiveness at work or in school.
Studies have shown that:
  • Adults who skip breakfast are not as productive at work, are less effective problem-solvers and have less mental clarity compared to people who regularly eat a healthy breakfast; and,
  • Children who eat nutritional breakfast tend to have higher grades in school. They have better concentration, alertness, and more energy, and can retain knowledge faster and think more clearly than non-breakfast eaters.
Tip: While a good breakfast is vital, eating a heavy breakfast, one which is high in carbohydrates and fat, may actually do you more harm than good.

Stay connected
Just like a balanced diet and exercise, an active social life is an important part of healthy living.
Studies suggest that people who have good social networks may live longer and better.
It takes effort to stay connected when your life is busy. Sometimes it may feel like it’s just too hard to stay in touch.
But, having a few close, mutually supportive friends can be a key to staying healthy.
These relationships may help you feel supported, stay mentally sharp, reach your goals, develop a more active lifestyle, reduce stress, have better health outcomes, enhance your sense of well-being and happiness, lengthen your lifespan.

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Source: The National,Friday August 14th, 2015
THE National Court has suspended an eight-year jail term it imposed on former National Provident Fund chairman Jimmy Maladina on fraud charges, and placed him on a two-year good behaviour bond.
Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika convicted Maladina in May on one count of conspiracy to defraud the NPF (now Nasfund) of K2.65 million between November 1, 1998, and October 10, 2000, and one count of misappropriation of the superannuation funds between February 26, 1999 and July 30, 1999.
Sir Gibbs imposed a sentence of six years on the first count and eight years on the second count, to be served concurrently.
Sir Gibbs explained in his 28-page ruling that the suspension of the eight-year jail term was because Maladina had repaid more than the K2.65m taken.
He also took into account the long delay to have the matter tried, which denied Maladina’s “constitutional right to a trial within a reasonable time”.
“The State had a primary role to expedite his trial,” Sir Gibb said.
He also noted that Maladina “will no longer be able to practice law ever again”, and “will suffer in that he will have to find other ways to survive”.
Sir Gibbs said a pre-sentence report by current Nasfund chief executive officer Ian Tauritia stated that the organisation had since flourished from K1.24 million to K3.8 billion “making (Maladina’s court) case look stale and of little consequence”.
Maladina made full restitution on July 24 and had sold his assets in Australia worth AUD$500,000 which was paid to National Superannuation Fund (Nasfund).
Sir Gibbs also pointed out that others involved in the fraud were never charged.
“I think the prisoner (Maladina) has learnt a valuable lesson from this case, is not likely to re-offend and is not a danger to society,” Sir Gibbs said.
Maladina, 49, from Mena’ala village in Esa’ala, Milne Bay, elected to remain silent during the proceeding.
A lawyer by profession, he is married and has four children now living and studying in Australia.
The State accused Maladina of conspiring with others to defraud the fund of K2.65 million by fraudulently increasing the construction costs of the NPF tower in Port Moresby.
It also accused Maladina of dishonestly applying to his own use and to the use of others K2.65m belonging to the fund.
The court found that Maladina and others agreed that construction company Kumagai Gumi, contracted to build a tower, to falsely charge an extra K2.65 million as “further accelerated fees” on top of the agreed construction cost of the tower of K50 million.
Maladina used K400,000 of the K2.65 million, according to the court’s assessment of the evidence.
Sir Gibbs said: “The court must continue to send out a stern message to deter those in positions of trust from abusing and manipulating the systems to benefit themselves and their cronies.
“This case calls for a stern punitive and deterrent sentence to serve as a clear warning to trustees and board chairmen looking after superannuation funds that high standards of integrity and honesty are expected from and of them.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

PNG opposition says LNG money handled corruptly

Updated at 5:31 pm today
The leader of the Papua New Guinea Opposition, Don Polye, has accused the Peter O'Neill Government of corruption over the way it handles LNG project money.
The huge liquified natural gas project is now the biggest earner in PNG and has been touted for several years as the economic saviour of the country.
Papua New Guinea Opposition Leader, Don Polye
Mr Polye says a huge UBS Bank loan by the Government to buy a slice of Oil Search was not done through Parliament as it should have been.
And he says the O'Neill Government is not channelling the earnings from the project through the public accounts, but through an entity it has created, called the National Petroleum Company PNG or NPCP.

"And funds are channelled there, repaying the loan, as well as being managed in a very untransparent manner, and that is the cry out by the people of this nation, especially by academia, the professional institutions and other bodies at present in Papua New Guinea."

Topics:   Papua New Guinea
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