The spectacularly beautiful
We recently had our long-term company website poached by someone called Dorofei Sokolov, of Siberia, email kgb_agent@Army.com (I kid you not) who'd been able to snap up the domain name www.nancysullivan.org barely days after our subsciption had lapsed. We wish Dorofei well with our name and hope our services will prove useful to his Siberian clientele, knowing that our offering of social science consulting in tropical Melanesia translates well to small soviet dissdent societies in the arctic north.
For our part, we keep moving on. One step ahead of the KGB. The company website is now:
New Year, new website, new business cards, new letterhead. They'll never find us now.
Conservative Australian political analyst Sue Windybank is the provocateur, not me this time:
Until the islands establish the rule of law, they will continue to suffer from the ‘dark side’ of globalisation, writes Sue Windybank in Policy Magazine (Centre for Independent Studies, Winter 2008)
Ten years ago, the Pacific islands were relatively free of organised crime. But almost overnight it has found a foothold, and is now expanding its actitivies and reach. Chinese crime gangs are the most active, smuggling drugs, people and counterfeit goods, and running gambling and prostitution in Port Moresby and Suva. Illegal migration drives the overall crime trend. While the scale of Chinese criminal activity may be limited by global standards, the impact is magnified in small and weak states.
Ten years ago, the prospect of armed inter-vention to prevent state failure in the region was considered low. A policy turnaround in 2003 saw Australian troops and police lead a regional intervention in Solomon Islands to restore law and order, with some returning less than three years later after rioting erupted in Honiara. Tonga burst into flames with riots in November 2006, while Fiji finished the year with its fourth military coup. As Kevin Rudd has pointed out, the ‘arc of instability’ in the Pacific has gone from being a ‘strategic concept’ to ‘strategic reality’ in less than a decade.(1)
It is no coincidence that organised crime is spreading at a time of growing instability. Poor governance, weak law enforcement, and corruption provide attractive conditions for crime syndicates. These problems are most acute in the larger Melanesian countries of Papua New Guinea, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. But even the smallest microstates have become breeding grounds for nefarious international activity. When Nauru frittered away its phosphate trust funds, it resorted to selling passports to raise funds and allowed the Russian mafiya to launder billions through its offshore banks. Money laundering and drug trafficking are thus growth industries in countries with stagnant economies and corrupt officials.
This article argues that the Pacific is devel-oping a comparative advantage in illegality,(2) a largely man-made endowment. It examines the evolution of drug trafficking, money laundering, and people-smuggling and illegal migration in the region. Some progress has been made in curtailing the first two, but illegal migration remains a serious problem. An article in the next issue of Policy will address so-called resource crime—illegal logging and fishing.
Two caveats must be noted from the outset. First, reliable data and statistics on the scale of organised crime in the region are very limited. Evidence is often anecdotal, contradictory, or fragmented. Drug seizures, for instance, provide some information on how drug traffickers operate, but the real extent of the problem remains unknown.
Second, distinguishing between lack of capacity, resources, and will is crucial. Some governments do not have the financial, human, or technical resources to implement sophisticated law enforcement and border management, and they welcome external assistance. Others turn a blind eye to illegal activity because they benefit from it. In such circumstances, progress is extremely difficult. As a recent report on regional security rightly noted, ‘the struggle against organised crime must go hand in hand with the campaign against corruption, because the two are linked.’(3)
Drug trafficking, production, and use
The Pacific is no stranger to illicit drugs. The region has long been a transit point for drug shipments destined for markets in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Examples include cocaine-stuffed Tongan yams bound for New Zealand, and heroin-filled pineapple tins sent from Asia to the Cook Islands for reshipping. In 2004, Islands Business reported that a ‘50 kilo packet of cocaine found floating in a Kiribati lagoon was thought to be washing powder and used for laundry purposes at US$50,000 a kilo.’(4)
What has changed is the size of drug shipments. In 2000, police seized 357 kg of heroin from a Suva warehouse. At the time, it was the fifth-largest shipment ever found outside heroin-producing countries. Until then, the head of the Fiji drug squad had never seen heroin.(5) Four years later, 120 kg of heroin was found buried on a beach in Vanuatu less than half an hour from the capital, Port Vila—the biggest seizure in its history. This haul was linked to Chinese nationals behind the 2000 bust in Fiji. Large shipments of cocaine have also been seized in Tonga (2001) and Samoa (2006).(6) Their very size indicates they were destined for bigger markets such as Australia.
Why the change? Like the Caribbean, where small island states located between cocaine-producing Andean countries and major northern markets became transshipment points, Pacific islands are used as a transit point between source countries—East Asia for ice and heroin, and South America for cocaine—and markets in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.(7) Routing drugs through the Pacific disguises the origin of shipments. As shipping routes in other parts of the world come under increased surveillance, the region also becomes a more attractive alternative route. Some five thousand vessels cross the region on any given day. Large shipments can be transferred from a mother ship into smaller boats that speed to isolated atolls to await transit to the next destination.(8)
But geography alone cannot explain why the Pacific has become attractive to organised crime. Isolation and distance from markets are often given as reasons for why the region has not developed, yet drug traffickers have not found remoteness a barrier to trade. The main appeal is the relative ease with which crime syndicates can operate. The Pacific’s smorgasbord of jurisdictions and outdated legislation—combined with weak law-enforcement and high levels of corruption—minimise risk. This gives organised crime the highest profit at the lowest risk of detection and prosecution, making transport costs irrelevant.(9) As then Pacific Islands Forum secretary-general Greg Irwin has pointed out, ‘People with evil intent can go shopping in the region. If one jurisdiction doesn’t suit them, there’s another one down the road.’(10) Visa rackets allow criminals to slip in and out of countries unhindered.
Ice: The next wave
The 2004 seizure of 5 kg of crystal metham-phetamine or ‘ice’—and enough chemicals to make another 1,000 kg—from a ‘superlab’ in the backstreets of Suva signalled another ominous change: the region’s evolution from transit point to production site. At the time, it was the biggest laboratory ever discovered in the southern hemisphere. Outdated legislation meant that police had to wait over a year before busting the lab because Fijian law banned only the finished product, not its ingredients. A new bill increasing the maximum penalty for drug trafficking from eight years to life—in line with Australia—went before Parliament on the day of the raid. Of the initial suspects arrested, two were Chinese nationals, one was Fijian-born, and four held Hong Kong passports.(11) Their company imported chemicals and lab equipment using false invoices and misleading customs declarations. A Fijian customs officer and a courier firm employee facilitated imports, while a Fijian immigration official arranged visas for lab workers. Funds from Hong Kong were regularly deposited into a Suva-based bank account.(12) The street value of the drugs seized—combined with the raw materials to manufacture more—was estimated at up to $500 million.
The Fiji bust sent a message that the Pacific is not necessarily the soft target it seems, but the establishment of another major laboratory—or several—may only be a matter of time. The scale of the Suva operation, increasing demand in New Zealand and Australia, and attempts to import large quantities of precursors into countries without a pharmaceutical sector all point to a potential growth industry.(13) Ice is easy to make and very profitable. A ‘point’ (0.1 g) costs less than a dollar to make and sells for up to $50 in Australia. Unlike marijuana, it can be easily shipped because it is not bulky or smelly. Unlike heroin and cocaine, production is mobile because it does not require large crops of opium or coca. A former Papua New Guinean parliamentarian warns that ‘As Colombia and cocaine are to the US, the Pacific rim and ice will be to Australia.’(14)
Equally—if not more—alarming is the potentially devastating impact of ice on small island societies. The North Pacific has seen a rise in drug abuse among jobless youth in Guam, Palau, and Hawaii, with ice causing social and economic havoc.(15) Young unemployed people who drift to urban areas across the South Pacific are just as vulnerable. Drug dealing is a way for them to make money, while drug use eases the boredom of having nothing to do. In Papua New Guinea, the combination of marijuana and alcohol has already led to mindless violence and rising crime in towns and villages. Adding ice to this mix could overwhelm medical staff and police. Users feel strong, even superhuman. Abuse may lead to hallucinations, with reckless criminality and extreme violence marking a psychotic episode. Imagine doctors and nurses trying to subdue violent patients in emergency wards, or police trying to apprehend armed raskols high on ice. Port Moresby drug squad detectives report that ice is now available on the club circuit.(16) Local production to meet demand is unlikely to lag far behind.
Illegal migration and people-smuggling
Criminal activities are linked. It is thought that Chinese gang members were sent to the Pacific up to a decade ago, with islands such as Fiji and Tonga providing operational bases from which to expand.(17) Gangs originally viewed the region as a back door to American drug markets via Palau, Micronesia, and Guam in the north, and Fiji, Tonga, and American Samoa in the south. (American Samoa and Guam are US territories with easy access to the US mainland).(18) Drug trafficking routes were then used for illegal migration, so that Chinese organised crime island-hopped across the region. Some illegal migrants work in black labour markets, mainly in prostitution and illegal gambling. Others establish small businesses that often act as fronts for crime.
The illegal population in the South Pacific is conservatively estimated at twenty thousand.(19) Southern China is the main source of illegal migrants, with some seven thousand arriving in Fiji between 2003 and 2005 alone, and ten thousand arriving in Papua New Guinea since 2003.(20) Many simply overstay student, visitor, or business visas by disappearing into established networks. Others use false or altered passports and visas to gain entry.(21) Some buy citizenship not long after arriving, by bribing officials to overlook long-term residency requirements.(22) They then pressure officials to admit more migrants.(23) Their ultimate destination is often Australia.(24)
Pacific governments have effectively sponsored illegal entry:
• Passport sales to raise funds have opened the front door to crime networks. In the mid- to late 1990s, Nauru, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, and Tonga all established lucrative schemes. Some island governments—such as Nauru—hired outside agents to handle sales in Asia. Under its ‘Citizenship Investment Program,’ the phosphate isle sold over a thousand passports, earning the condemnation of then US Secretary of State Colin Powell for its ‘indiscriminate’ sales.(25) (Where was Australia?) Tonga ceased sales only after the value of its passports plummeted because of diminished international credibility. While most schemes have now ended, many passports remain missing.(26)
• In 2002 the database and passport-making machine were stolen from Papua New Guinea’s immigration department. It was an inside job. Of twelve officials implicated in the scam, only one was charged.(27) Not long after, streams of Chinese migrants began arriving. Six years on, the department remains under a cloud. Allegations persist of backroom payments for passports, visas, work permits, and citizenship certificates. The foreign minister blames inadequate staffing and a subsequent backlog for bribes to process applications. But hiring more personnel is not the answer if corrupt officers are not disciplined or dismissed.(28)
• Island governments desperate for foreign in-vestment have introduced incentive schemes that only invite abuse. In the mid-1990s, more than two hundred tax-free companies were established in Fiji after the Trade and Investment Board not only waived character checks on investors but also offered free entry to skilled workers and seven-year residency to company principals. Most were Chinese nationals from Hong Kong. Australian federal police checks showed that more than half the firms were paper companies and likely fronts for a people-smuggling racket to Australia.(29) The current military regime bears watching. It recently changed immigration rules so that Chinese citizens can now enter the country without visitor visas.
Nine Pacific countries have reported people-smuggling, although the numbers remain small. Similarly to drug smuggling, the region is used primarily as a transit point for people destined for other countries, mainly the United States and Canada.(30) The islands also facilitate people-smuggling through identity fraud. A people-smuggling ring in Vanuatu that supplied false passports to Chinese nationals to transit through Fiji en route to Australia was recently disrupted.(31) People—mostly Chinese, Sri Lankans, and Iraqis—have been smuggled on a small scale to Australia and New Zealand through Papua New Guinea.(32) This trickle is nothing compared to the flood of illegal migrants entering the islands.
As their economic ties with Asian countries grow, Pacific governments must balance the need for investment and trade (and hence the movement of people and goods) with more effective law enforcement and border control. The granting of Approved Destination Status for Chinese tourism to some island countries is a potential economic boon, for instance, but it is also likely to increase opportunities for illegal migration and crimin-ality—unless governments tighten up border management, weed out corrupt immigration and customs officials, enforce labour laws, and improve local policing. If they do, new Chinese migrants are likely to be more accepted. If they don’t, the potential for (further) ugly backlashes is very real. The deliberate targeting of Chinese shops and businesses during the 2006 riots in Honiara and Nuku’alofa demonstrated the depth of feeling. Similar tensions simmer elsewhere.(33)
A growing menace…
Pacific islanders have (correctly) associated many newly-arrived Chinese migrants with a rise in crime. Prostitution, contract killings, and illegal gambling are the most visible signs of a new criminal presence. Chinese prostitutes were originally brought to Fiji to service Asian fishing crews in backstreet brothels. Suva now has dozens of Chinese-only whorehouses. The current military government has since deported some prostitutes. To date, reported cases of human trafficking (also known as sex slavery) have been confined to the North Pacific.(34)
Underworld-style murders—from point-blank shootings in Fiji to ‘hammer killings’ in Vanuatu—have added a sinister dimension to local crime. These are business-related ‘hits,’ unlike the unpredictable raskol crime on the mean streets of Port Moresby. Cooperation between raskols and Chinese gangs is emerging, though, so that crime in Papua New Guinea is becoming more organised and sophisticated. Links between local and international criminals can be expected to grow in other Pacific countries, too.
Chinese crime gangs have put some professional backbone into illegal gambling. In Papua New Guinea, horse-racing machine operators allegedly pay senior police and other officials some $6 million a year in protection money, from annual revenues of up to $37 million. Profits are thought to be reinvested in other criminal activities.(35) A shared emphasis on patronage networks has led to a symbiotic relationship between official corruption and Chinese gangs, increasing the resources and power of uncivil society.(36) Papua New Guinea’s police minister has warned that the ‘Chinese mafia have bought off officials throughout the system.’(37) Known criminals have avoided deportation and almost gained citizenship.(38)
Chinese organised crime also invests in legal enterprises to disguise illegal activities and to launder funds. Typical businesses are casinos, restaurants and hotels. Chinese underground bankers provide startup capital at extortionate interest rates, leaving no paper trail.(39) Profits are moved offshore. Rumours that the Pacific Casino Hotel in Honiara was a hotbed of prostitution and money laundering—and that the Chinese owners bribed officials to get the land it was built on—saw it burned to the ground during the April 2006 riots.
…and the growing backlash
Crimes by islanders against new Chinese migrants are rising. These range from extortion, arson, and robbery through to physical attacks and even murder.(40) Two explanations stand out. First, some Pacific islanders fear they are becoming second-class citizens, as Chinese migrants take jobs and compete for business. Local newspapers are full of anguished letters: ‘Asians are taking our land’ is a common complaint. Second, many newly-arrived migrants are seen to corrupt officials and politicians and extract wealth without paying taxes or duties. Some are probably just cutting corners, but others are linked to crime.
A more insidious issue is the effect criminally owned or controlled small businesses and shops have on local economies. By corrupting customs officials, they avoid duty on smuggled high-value or counterfeit goods. False invoices and undervalued imports allow them to sell products at lower prices that undercut local retailers. Bribes paid to wharfies mean that Chinese goods are already in stores while others are still in customs warehouses. Corrupt officials then try to extract bribes from legitimate businesses too. The tiny indigenous small business sector that already struggles to overcome high costs, bureaucratic red tape, and clan inroads into profits is further undermined by the unfair trading advantage of criminally owned small businesses. A commercial climate develops where it becomes very costly to operate within the law and stay in business. Barely legal and illegal practices therefore become the norm.
The Pacific attracted international notoriety in the post September 11 climate after the OECD’s Financial Action Taskforce blacklisted Nauru, Niue, the Cook Islands, and the Marshall Islands for suspected money laundering, yet this white-collar crime has a long history in the region. Weak banking systems, strong secrecy laws, and poor oversight have led to the sordid abuse of the islands’ offshore financial centres. Established to provide a source of revenue through regi-stration fees to newly independent island states, management proved to be largely beyond local expertise. It fell to expatriate lawyers, accountants, and bankers to administer the fledgling centres. Some of these white-collar professionals are as culpable as elements within host governments for undermining the financial integrity of the South Pacific islands that established offshore banking: Vanuatu (the largest), Nauru (the most infamous), the ‘Crook Islands’ (as they became known), Samoa, Niue, and Tonga.(41)
The vast money flows through Pacific offshore financial centres have only made modest contributions to island GDP, and negligible contributions to local employment. In 1999, Nauru’s offshore financial centre contributed just 2% to GDP despite the Russian billions that flowed through it. Vanuatu’s offshore financial income is generously estimated at just over 6% of GDP.(42) The sector employs less than two hundred ni-Vanuatu. The damage to the country’s reputation for financial probity has been a considerable cost.
Some progress has been made. There are no longer any Pacific states on the Financial Action Task Force blacklist. Most island governments now have financial intelligence units to monitor and report transactions, as well as anti-money-laundering legislation, to comply with United Nations conventions. In some countries—such as Vanuatu—these measures have only been grudgingly introduced. It remains to be seen whether legislation will be watered down. Reporting is still weak. A 2006 Australian Federal Police assessment described the state of anti-money-laundering capacity in the region as ‘debatable.’(43)
High compliance costs have since forced Tonga and Niue to end offshore banking. Vanuatu has seen the number of offshore banks drop from thirty-seven to seven since new banking rules were introduced.(44) It blames—with some justification—the OECD’s self-interested campaign against ‘harmful tax competition’ for falling business. But studies show that the success of an offshore financial centre ultimately depends on good governance: ‘sound legal institutions, low levels of corruption, and checks and balances on government.’(45) As other offshore centres clean up their act or close down, pressure on remaining Pacific jurisdictions to turn a blind eye to dubious customers may increase.
Money laundering may also take other forms. The use of underground banking to launder funds could become an issue given the large proportion of remittances that is thought to pass through unofficial or informal channels.(46) Online casinos throughout the region are a vulnerable new trend, as internet gambling is another means of money laundering.
Regional cooperation on organised crime is crucial. Instead of trying to build an EU-style Pacific community, the Pacific Islands Forum should emphasise practical cooperation by coordinating a common regional stance on illegality of all kinds. Progress on money laundering and drug trafficking indicates that some success is possible.
The Forum has led the creation of a regional framework on transnational crime through declarations and model laws that island govern-ments can adjust to their needs. This legislative focus is a necessary first step. Domestic laws in some Pacific countries date back to independence and do not address transnational crime issues. The 2004 ice bust in Fiji demonstrated the importance of a more uniform approach to law enforcement—such as a consistent approach to offences and penalties—to reduce the legal discrepancies that organised crime exploits. And Fiji has some of the stronger laws in the Pacific. Along with Tonga, it is the only island country that is party to all three international drug control treaties.(47) Legislation must then be implemented and enforced. The Pacific has many laws, but rule of law remains weak.
At the institutional level, a regional security ‘architecture’ has emerged and an alphabet soup of regional security ‘agencies’ now meets regularly. A swag of initiatives mainly concerned with counteracting terrorism and money laund-ering are underway. The Australian-funded Pac-ific Transnational Crime Coordination Centre has made some major drug busts. Australia also funds Transnational Crime teams to Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. Regional police training initiatives and liaison between Australian and Pacific police complete the picture. Improving coordination between agencies and establishing a better knowledge base will be key tasks in the years ahead.
Illegal migration is an urgent issue. A concerted international effort will be needed to stop it, starting with high-level support from governments in Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific island countries—as well as full cooperation from China. It should be noted that there is considerable suspicion about the relationship between some Chinese embassies and Chinese crime, particularly in Papua New Guinea. Chinese diplomats are thought to cultivate criminals to spy on countries, corrupt politicians, and infiltrate bureaucracies.(48) Action on Chinese crime gangs is thus emerging as an early litmus test for Chinese claims to be a benign ‘friend’ to the region.
International criminals operating in the Pacific once hailed principally from Australia, New Zealand, France, and the United States. These crooks are still active. What has changed is that crime syndicates from outside the region (mainly China) are now doing business from within it. Similarly, where Australian, British, and Japanese companies once dominated the Pacific’s timber industries, now Chinese-Malaysian timber firms are the main players. This reflects a long-term shift away from the ‘old’ Pacific—the postcolonial order dominated by Western powers—toward the ‘new’ Pacific, a more fluid regional order in which Asian powers play a greater role. Asian countries are mainly interested in the region as a cheap source of natural resources and international votes. The Pacific stands to benefit greatly from looking north to Asian dynamism for export markets, tourism, and investment, but only if island governments establish and enforce the rules of the game.
It is not necessarily the source of illegal activity that matters, but the networks and infrastructure established that can then be used for other purposes. Links between logging and fishing activities and organised crime exist at the margins. Papua New Guinean police claim some timber camps run a sideline in trading guns for drugs. Fishing boats have ferried illegal migrants to Fiji. A 2006 strategic assessment warns that the potential for arms trafficking via established transport routes looms as a major concern. Demand is high, and weapons are easily and cheaply available in Asia, where most fishing fleets and logging vessels in the Pacific originate.(49)
While organised crime is a serious problem, the biggest threat to the islands comes from within. As former Australian Federal policeman John Murray, with ten years’ experience in the region, lamented in his memoirs, ‘The prevailing menace comes from a combination of pre-meditated opportunism by white-collar fraudsters and widespread domestic corruption which is destroying the fiscal and political integrity of Pacific island countries and annihilating the natural resources belonging to their societies as a patrimonial right.’(50) A key challenge is over-coming the influence of corrupt elites who are willing to sell their country’s sovereignty and natural heritage to the most active external players for a quick and easy buck.
Australia can help the islands hold the line against organised crime, but it cannot export the rule of law. Better governance and law enforcement are only possible with improvements in economic, social, and political conditions, yet nearly all the relevant indicators point the wrong way. The Rudd government has indicated that it will balance its predecessor’s lopsided emphasis on governance and security with a greater focus on development and growth. This is often presented as a chicken-and-egg dilemma when, in reality, both the chicken and egg are necessary. Corruption cannot be addressed if there is no economy outside resources and aid. Only the demands of citizens can improve governance, and demands are more likely to arise with jobs, rising incomes, and better living standards. The South Pacific is a rare case where strategic and humanitarian interests converge.
Sue Windybank is a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies, and is a former Editor of Policy. She has written widely on the Pacific
(1) Kevin Rudd, ‘Future Challenges in Foreign Policy,’ (address to the Lowy Institute for International Policy, Sydney, 5 July 2007).
(2) Francisco Thoumi, ‘What Creates Comparative Advantage for Drug Production?: Lessons from Columbia,’ Policy 23:1 (Autumn 2007), 16–21.
(3) Stewart Firth, ‘Threat Spectrum,’ Australia and the South Pacific: Rising to the Challenge, ASPI (Australian Strategic Policy Institute) Special Report (Canberra: ASPI, 2008), 12.
(4) ‘Campaign Against Organised Crime,’ Islands Business (June 2004); John Murray, The Minnows of Triton: Policing, Politics, Crime and Corruption in the South Pacific Islands (Sydney: 2006), 194.
(5) According to Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty, quoted in ‘Pacific Haven for Crime Gangs,’ Herald Sun (18 June 2001).
(6)The shipment sizes were 101 kg in Tonga and 500 g plus nine handguns in Samoa. Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Transnational Crime Strategic Assessment (April 2006), 5.
(7) Rod McCusker, Transnational Crime in the Pacific Islands: Real or Apparent Danger, Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice 308 (Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, 2006), 4.
(8) United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Pacific Islands: Pacific Profile (Bangkok: Regional Centre for East Asia and the Pacific, 2003), 11.
(9) John McFarlane, ‘Transnational Crime and Asia-Pacific Security,’ in The Many Faces of Asian Security, ed. Sheldon W. Simon (Lanham: Littlefield Publishers, 2001), 200.
(10) Quoted in ‘Campaign Against Organised Crime,’ Pacific Magazine (June 2004).
(11) Later raids in Malaysia and Hong Kong led to six more arrests. Elizabeth Feizkhah, ‘Ice: From Gang To Bust,’ Time Asia(15 June 2004).
(12) John Hill, ‘Transnational Crime Proves Problematic in Pacific Islands,’ Jane’s Intelligence Review (1 December 2006); Anna Powles and Brendan Taylor, ‘Double-headed Dragon,’ The Diplomat (July 2005), 32.
(13) It took the International Narcotics Control Board in Vienna to raise the alarm in 2000 after a Port Moresby based company tried to import 8,000 kg of ephedrine from India and 4,000 kg of pseudoephedrine from China into Papua New Guinea. These quantities would have made up to 6,000 kg of ice with a street value of around US$200 million. The only previously reported delivery was 46.5 kg of precursor chemicals. James Laki, Non-traditional Security Issues: Securitisation of Transnational Crime in Asia, Working Paper 98, (Singapore: Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, 2006), 22. Friends in high places help. In 2005 the Papua New Guinean Health Minister awarded a company exclusive ten-year import rights for ATS inputs under the Medicines and Cosmetics Act. Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Transnational Crime Strategic Assessment, 20.
(14) John Pasquarelli, ‘We Must Be Ready For Island Exodus,’ The Australian (5 December 2006): ‘A major concern is that the South Pacific is following the global trend towards ATS [Amphetamine-Type Substances] manufacture, importation and use.’ Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat quoted in Madonna Devaney, Gary Reid and Simon Baldwin, Situational Analysis of Illicit Drug Issues and Responses in the Asia-Pacific Region (Canberra: Australian National Council on Drugs, 2006), 305.
(15) With its transport links to the United States, the North Pacific has become a smuggling hub and transit zone for ice sourced from Asia, particularly China and the Philippines. Some leakage is inevitable. ‘Breaking the Ice,’ Pacific Magazine (September 2006).
(16) ‘A New Menace On Our Social Scene,’ Papua New Guinea Post-Courier (6 February 2008).
(17) Jim Rolfe, Oceania and Terrorism: Some Linkages with the Wider Region and the Necessary Responses, Working Paper 19/04 (New Zealand: Victoria University of Wellington, Centre for Strategic and International Studies, 2004), 7.
(18) John Hill, ‘Transnational Crime Proves Problematic in Pacific Islands,’ 8.
(19) Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Transnational Crime Strategic Assessment, 27, note 45.
(20) Fiji estimate: ‘Fiji Military Concerned by Rise in Illegal Chinese Immigrants,’ ABC Radio Australia (3 October 2005); 2003 PNG estimate: PNG Minister for Internal Security quoted in Ron May, ‘A Brief Overview of Pacific Security Issues,’ (paper presented to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Project, National Security Workshop, Port Vila, 30 March–1 April 2004), 4.
(21) An estimated 40% of all border refusals in the region between 2003 and 2005 were because applicants held false or altered documents, or were impostors. Michael Moriarty, Border Management in the Pacific Region, Pasifika Series Draft Paper (New Zealand: Victoria University, Institute of Policy Studies, 2006), 13.
(22) For example, a Solomon Islands government minister was arrested in late 2005 for the corrupt granting of citizenship to Chinese. In Vanuatu, police are investigating the Citizenship Commission after naturalisation was granted to Chinese not even close to fulfilling long-term residency requirements. Craig Skehan, ‘Crime Fears Follow Trail of Migrants,’ Sydney Morning Herald (19–20 Feburary 2005).
(23) Michael Moriarty, Border Management in the Pacific Region, 13.
(24) Craig Skehan, ‘Crime Fears Follow Trail of Migrants.’
(25) Under the Scotty government, the Nauru parliament formed a select committee on passport sales in 2004 to investigate allegations of misconduct, fraud, and corruption. Its exhaustive 2006 report called for criminal prosecutions of former members of Parliament and other high-level government officials implicated in illegal sales, and recommended a full audit of all transactions under the program. ‘Nauru Seeks Prosecution on Illegal Passports,’ Pacific Islands Report (9 May 2006), www.pireport.org.
(26) Andreas Scholenhardt, ‘Transnational Crime and Island State Security in the South Pacific,’ in Security in Oceania in the 21st Century, ed. Eric Shibuya and Jim Rolfe (Honolulu: Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, 2003), 175–176.
(27) Four had their charges withdrawn, six had their cases withdrawn and were later retrenched, and one was acquitted. Papua New Guinea Post-Courier (7 April 2003), quoted in James Laki, Non-traditional Security Issues, 19, note 44.
(28) ‘New Revelations’ and ‘Citizenship Not to Be Bought: Tiensten,’ Papua New Guinea Post-Courier (25–27 May 2007); ‘PNG: Foreign Minister Acknowledges Corruption Problem,’ ABC Radio National (29 May 2007); ‘Violence Against Reporter Condemned,’ Papua New Guinea Post-Courier (31 May 2007). In early 2007 the Papua New Guinean ambassador to China was sacked after unauthorised visas were issued at the Beijing mission.
(29) John Murray, The Minnows of Triton, 15
(30) Smuggled people leave within a few days for destination countries, or pass through the islands as part of a convoluted itinerary. The main routes are Fiji, Tonga, and American Samoa in the South Pacific, and Palau, Micronesia, and Guam in the North Pacific. American Samoa and Guam are US territories and offer fast and easy access to the American mainland. Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Transnational Crime Strategic Assessment, 27–28.
(31) As above, 28, note 53.
(32) According to Australian Police Commissioner Mick Keelty, quoted in Andreas Scholenhardt, ‘Transnational Crime and Island State Security in the South Pacific,’ 176, note 9.
(33) A potential flashpoint is the billion-dollar, Chinese-owned Ramu nickel mine in Papua New Guinea’s Madang province. See, for example, ‘Ramu On Our Terms’, The National (31 January 2008) The standard Chinese practice of importing dirt-cheap and probably coerced unskilled labour to work in conditions locals complain about may have broken several laws. See Rowan Callick, ‘China’s Neo-Colonial Slavery in PNG’, The Australian (12 February 2007). Allegations that illegal Chinese migrants are arriving in shipping containers to work at the mine represent ‘the failure of government departments to execute their duties.’ Papua New Guinea MP quoted in ‘Chinese Workers Sneaking Into PNG In Containers’, Papua New Guinea Post-Courier (14 April 2008).
(34) Palau jailed a Chinese national in 2005 for recruiting Chinese females to work as waitresses but then forcing them into prostitution. Micronesia and American Samoa have reported similar cases. Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Transnational Crime Strategic Assessment, 28.
(35) As above, 33.
(36) Michael Moriarty draws on the institutional economics of corruption to argue that there is a natural ‘fit’ between Chinese guanxi networks and traditional governance in the Pacific. Michael Moriarty, Border Management in the Pacific Region, 47–50.
(37) Forbes, ‘Danger On Our Doorstep: Organised Crime Takes Hold in Papua New Guinea,’ Defender (Autumn 2005), 22–24.
(38) A former Papua New Guinean Prime Minister provided a character reference for a notorious Chinese ‘snakehead’ or people smuggler. Sir Michael Somare has personally intervened to overturn the deportation of a Chinese national accused of illegal activity. Forbes, ‘Danger On Our Doorstep’; ‘National Security Must be Upheld,’ Papua New Guinea Post-Courier (9 August 2005).
(39) Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Transnational Crime Strategic Assessment, 10.
(40) Ron Crocombe notes that, according to Tonga’s police commissioner, one of the reasons behind the November 2006 riots that all but destroyed the capital’s business district was local resentment of Chinese retailers. In the late 1990s, around four hundred Chinese nationals settled in Nuku’alofa after buying Tongan passports and citizenship. Crimes against them became so serious they were told to leave for their own protection. But they stayed, and by 2006 some two-thirds of local commerce was in Chinese hands. See Ron Crocombe, ‘The Fourth Wave: Chinese in the Pacific Islands in the Twenty-first Century,’ CSCSD (Centre for the Study of the Chinese Southern Diaspora) Occasional Paper 1 (Canberra: Australian National University, 2007), 28–30.
(41) In the North Pacific, the Marshall Islands, Palau, Guam, and the Northern Marianas also established offshore financial centres.
(42) Anthony B. Van Fossen, ‘Money Laundering, Global Financial Instability and Tax Havens in the Pacific Islands,’ The Contemporary Pacific 15:2 (Fall 2003), 270, note 13.
(43) Rod McCusker, Transnational Crime in the Pacific Islands: Real or Apparent Danger?, Trends and Issues in Criminal Justice 309 (Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, 2006), 3. In Palau, a lack of effective anti-money laundering measures contributed to the recent collapse of a local bank where US$15 million went missing.
(44) Joanne Ramos, ‘Places in the Sun,’ The Economist (24 February 2007), 6.
(45) As above, 6.
(46) Rod McCusker, ‘Transnational Crime in the Pacific Islands,’ 4.
(47) The Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu have not signed any of these. Palau and Papua New Guinea are party to two treaties (1961 and 1971); the three other Forum member countries—Samoa (1998), the Solomon Islands (1961), and the Marshall Islands (1961)—are party to just one treaty. International Narotics Control Board, Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2005, (New York: United Nations, 2006), www.incb.org/incb/annual_report_2005.html.
(48) Bertil Litner, Blood Brothers: The Criminal Underworld of Asia (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003); Anna Powles and Brendan Taylor, ‘Double-headed Dragon,’ 32–33.
(49) Barges load logs at remote sites in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands without port security and customs clearances, ‘an open invitation to criminal activity.’ Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Transnational Crime Strategic Assessment, 32.
(50) John Murray, The Minnows of Triton, 7–8.
Kudos to the Chamber of Commerce. Finally.
The Madang Chamber of Commerce is not in favour of the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone moving ahead unless the following is done first:
· There should be very open and very public meetings to hear the true feelings of all the people in Madang about this project – The National Government has held meetings by invitation only.
· An independent environmental study should be commissioned by the National and or the Madang Provincial Government. When this is completed it should be made public.
· The National government should show the people of Madang that there is sufficient infrastructure (telephone, electricity, police, health care) in place for such a large project to go ahead.
· There should be sufficient meetings and agreements between the traditional landowners and the National Government so that the landowners understand how they will benefit from this project. This has not been done to this point.
· If the provisions made public though rumors and news about the loan the National Government is taking from the Bank of China are true, then government must explain this. From the information the Madang Chamber of Commerce has, the loan will be given under the condition that only Chinese owned companies are allowed to participate.
· The National Government must make public a plan for the PMIZ that shows how it will improve the lives of the people of
There’s a poster inside the baggage claim at international arrivals in
Im a longstanding fan of PNG popular media, always interested in what, for example, Digicel is trying with its youth and beauty angle (that BeMobile has cleverly responded to by offering pigs as prizes), and why so many Papua New Guineans elicit far-flung kastom markers before their own. Gone are the days when the Manus tattoo was the new pan-PNG accessory. Gone too are the ubiquitous Bob Marley t-shirts, in favor of nose rings and Nippon swag. My interest stems from the days when Greg Seeto openly gagged at an idea I had for a Tarikana video of John Wong and Patti Doi---where they would be walking the boardwalks of old Rabaul in laplaps with guitars for a remake of Under the Boardwalk. Greg won, with his idea of of the man in black steel-toed boot look for John, which went well with Patti's granny glasses. Those days Titus Tilly was making the Ronnie Galama videos that put him on the map---where beautiful Marshall Lagoon men and women made old song-legends into catchy pop---but the vast majority of young people couldn’t find a middle road between jerry curls and meri blouses. Pepsi had a strangely postmodern, marginally demeaning ad running on posters at the Goroka Show around this time, with disembodied images of an old Goroka man, a betelnut, a highlands cap, and a can of Pepsi, saying: My favorite chew, my favorite hat, my favorite drink. You could read the adman and his overseas target right through the camp design.
Haus Boi and other mixed identity kids today have captured the syncretism I was yearning for then, moving their own ironic ‘structure of conjuncture’ into the twentyfirst century. But then there are those efforts by Jahwaiian star O’Shen whose blond dreds, Maori tattoos and gangsta gestures belie what seems to me makes him most interesting, his roots as a missionary kid in Morobe There’s a willed innocence to his image that feels cloying and sweet in equal measures. (Roland Barthes turns in his grave: “The photographic image... is a message without a code.”). His newest album is caled Rebel----and what exactly is he rebelling against?
I myself find it interesting that my two year old grandson can strike a rapper pose as soon as a camera gets raised. That my albino daughter wanted desperately to have her hair straightened, and reviles any freckles that crop up on her skin. And that my daughter in law knows exactly what meri blouse to loan a visitor for midnight mass. That cornrolls are good for a small girl but extensions say more about the Mum. That Kimbe women can bleach their hair but
Now I want to know about how the new Asian wave is shaping self-image. I flew to Cairns recently and found the departure lounge absolutely filled with holdiay-returning (escaping?) Filippinos, Malaysians and Chinese, with barely a handful of Australians and PNGuineans by contrast. These were whole families, wives and children and hand carry rainbow bags filled with gifts for overseas relatives. The last ten years---really the last five years---in PNG has been a cultural revolution, filled with geegaws at the Papindo registers, plastic flowers and cheap jewelry and an explosion of cute brandings everywhere. It travels on trouser pockets, t shirts, handbags and hair bands, and I wonder how it's competing with the pan-Pacific-Caribbean pride that young people are simultaneously demonstrating (and Digicel is fostering). Having been called racist for pointing these things out in the past, I risk it again by saying that these new PNG residents are not exactly assimilants, not themselves inclined to wear bilum bags or laplaps or humm a tune in Kuanua.
Ive just had my company website domain name expire and get snapped up by a Russian dopmain name entrepreneur, whose improbably email tag reads 'kgbagent' --. This entirely new and obscure act of partial identity theft apparently enables pfishing on the part of profressonal spammers (go figger) and must somehow be worth their while for the effort it takes (and headache it inspires). If they believe my small anthropology business is somehow a portal to wonderful revenue, they're in for a surprise. It may be that my company is of international importance to Putin and his puppets (of course we certianly think so), and such is the long hand of the soviet state. But I am hereby sending out apologies to any and everyone who has tried to access the site and couldn't. You may have been redirected to the blog. As soon as I have another address for the company, I'll blog it. For the time being, apologies to everyone looking for information or articles by Nancy Sullivan & Associates Ltd. Bloody KGB. What's next: poison?
I want to thank Ramu Nico for coming around to my house now and again to make friends with me. I apologize for not always being available, unlike so many who've waited to be courted by you.
Everyone wants to be your friend now that we've learned of your leisure activities: smoking on airplanes, renting fishing boats for offshore target practice with guns and balloons (at what point in our seven offshore sister island town is there even a clear range ? Those are outriggers, not flotsam)
Who doesn't want to be your friend? It's an ever-shortening list, thanks to tea and scones with the boss.
I think of the Kananam landowners who jumped on the gravy train to Mindanao where RD Tuna were able to demonstrate the advantages of industrial parks for small island populations. They too could imagine karaoke kits and poles in every bar from Rempi to Alexishafen. In the end it really doesn't matter what everyone gets paid, you're part of the global capital club now. Oh wait-- I forgot: Alfredo Hernandez of the National, my very favorite reporter for long extolling the economic benefits to Madang of RD Tuna and recently calling for my deportation on the basis of 'economic sabotage' has just let us in on the real benefits of the PMIZ and LNG projects--all those new jobs for Asian workers. Something like 20,000 jobs available in Madang alone! Manila employment agencies are busy at work!
Im confused: wasn't this why everyone called me anti-Chinese? Because I called the so-called '20,000 job opportunities' promised to Madang people a fiction? I get it: I should be deported because I rock the Philipinnes economy.
I read with interest of Commerce and Industry Minister, best friend of the Philippines, Gabriel Kapris (who is sure to have a plinth in his name installed somewhere in Mindanao) admitted all this foreign employ is unavoidale. We know how hard he tried. So much that when Jamie Maxton-Graham took the fall for the Anti-Asian Riots Commission he is said to have had Kapris' name on his last breath.
But read for yourself why we should be jubilant about the PMIZ:
Jobs for Filipinos at Papua new Guinea LNG project
By Alfredo P Hernandez
IN 1974 and in the years that followed, Philippine Airlines and Qantas
chartered flights brought to Port Moresby several hundreds of Filipino
professionals and highly-skilled workers.
They were recruited by the colonial government of Australia the previous
year after it determined that the growing economy of Papua New Guinea needed
better skills and expertise to help sustain the needs of the local
industries and to run the various units in the national government.
To prepare the country for eventual independence from Australia that was to
take place on September 16, 1975, the administration launched a massive
recruitment exercise targeting Filipino workers.
They were chosen over other Asian nationals for their English proficiency
and inherent patience and ability to adapt to the local culture.
The first batch was made of 136 professionals, technicians, teachers,
professors, architects, surveyors, fishery experts and agriculturists who
set foot on PNG on May 10, 1974.
They were either posted in various government units along with their white
counterparts or taught elementary and vocational courses to the youths
across the country.
Lacking in expertise and skills and the needed manpower to operate the
various sectors of its infant business, trade, commerce and various other
industries, and to streamline the functioning of government bureaucracies,
PNG looked to the Philippines for manpower help.
Having done this, the nation was not disappointed. And it wanted more of
them to come and help build the economy.
Most of the professional Filipinos excelled in their line of expertise; a
number made their name in banking, commerce and industry; others became the
spawn from which learning sprouted like mushrooms among the youths in
various levels of education.
With PNG becoming their second home, most of the Pinoys stayed put till past
This group was considered the first-ever from an Asian country to become
expatriate workers here in Papua New Guinea.
Many more Filipinos in several batches followed - this time, all recruited
by the first PNG government - during the initial years of the country's
My father, a diesel-gasoline engine expert, came in 1977, along with a big
group of new recruits that included educators, technical and highly skilled
workers, agriculturists, vocational teachers, accountants, administrators
The economy was beginning to grow and there was no homegrown expertise yet
available to fill up various jobs. Again, the only readily-available
manpower during those days could be found in the Philippines. So, the stream
of in-bound Filipinos did not stop. And they still do these days.
It was thought earlier that it would only be a temporary affair, a stopgap
measure to fill an urgent need. But the proponents of Philippine hiring were
dead wrong. And outsourcing from this country has become a convenient and
When PNG's pioneering oil refinery at Napa-Napa just outside Port Moresby
finally took off a few years ago, it had, and it has until now, many of
Filipinos working in its various sectors - many of them pirated en masse
from two to three rival oil refineries back in the Philippines.
The Napa-Napa refinery had no other place from which to outsource manpower
but Manila. It had no option. Without them, operations could not start. Oil
refining, a process that gives added value to crude oil, is a new thing in
the country, and therefore, the needed local manpower has remained
With PNG's massive resource development project like the liquefied natural
gas (LNG) now on the horizon, the likelihood of another "Filipino invasion"
is becoming imminent
Already, the Philippine Ambassador to PNG, Madam Shirley Ho-Vicario, has
been in talks with at least three big job recruitment companies based in
Port Moresby to facilitate the hiring of Filipinos and their deployment in
the LNG project. And she's also urging them to hire more Filipinos for the
One of them, the JDA Wokman of Port Moresby, has already requested the
Philippine Embassy in Port Moresby to help it outsource expatriate workers
through the Philippine Overseas Employment Authority (POEA), a government
agency charged with the deployment of Filipinos for overseas jobs, and
certain Manila-based private recruitment companies.
JDA Wokman business development manager Peter Garnsey told this writer that
the Filipinos are an "attractive option" for deployment.
"They could make up the bulk of the more than 10,000 expatriate workers
projected to be required by the project during its 30-yar lifespan," he
However, Mr Garnsey would not be able to know the exact number of workers to
hire from Manila until ExxonMobil and the project contractors have
determined the actual manpower needs.
"But we are looking at a few thousands from the Philippines alone for
deployment during the entire life of the project," Mr Garnsey said.
In a formal letter to Madam Ho-Vicario, Mr Garnsey enumerated "reasons we
believe the Filipino workers will be the desired expatriate workforce for
the PNG LNG project:
1. Superior English language skills
2. They interface well with PNG Nationals;
3. Filipino Workers are considered to have good work ethics;
4. The skills/training of Filipino workers is considered to be superior;
5. Ease of travel between PNG and the Philippines"
The two other recruitment companies are also looking to the Philippines for
professionals and highly-skilled technical workers numbering a few
thousands -- a ballpark figure that was mentioned during their initial talks
with the Philippine Ambassador.
Full-blast hiring of engineers of various specializations, specialized
mechanics, pipe layers, feeders, heavy equipment operators, fabrication
specialists, accountants, administrative staff and many more could begin in
April next year.
The ExxonMobil LNG project is expected to operate for at least 30 years.
It is feared that this projected "invasion" of Filipino workers and those
from other Asian countries might cause "paper fatigue" at the PNG Labor
Department and Immigration Department, which are right now bogged down by
A tsunami of applications for work permits and working visas could come
crashing onto their respective counters. Not to mention those requests for
working documents from the other sectors of the industry such as the
nickel/cobalt and the tuna processing zone projects in Madang province.
Their combined manpower requirement from overseas could go beyond 20,000.
Orly Alvarez, one of the Pinoy expatriates who came to Port Moresby in 1974
with the first batch, told this writer recently: "I'm not surprised if the
LNG project would outsource from the Philippines . LNG is a new thing here
in PNG and there are no local workers to do the job.
"It's actually a repeat of what happened in 1974 when the first batch of
Filipinos came here because there was nobody to do the job for the
Government ." says Alvarez, who was then a 29-year-old mechanical engineer.
Currently, he is the Transport Director at the Royal Papua New Guinea
"It can't be helped," says Commerce and Industry Minister Gabriel Kapris of
the hiring plan.
He told me in one of our recent chats: "Ever since, we've been reliant on
the Filipinos to do some vital jobs for us . it has become a habit, an easy
way out to meet manpower needs . but the Government is now trying to do
something to correct this."
Was it lack of foresight on the part of successive governments?
Until today, it has miserably failed to train local workforce to man the
nation's resources development program such as the LNG, which is now on its
fast-track phase, with the second one coming up.
Not to mention the upcoming tuna processing zone known as the Pacific Marine
Industrial Zone (PMIZ) in Madang province, which is expected to outsource
more than 20,000 highly-skilled Asian workers - expectedly several of them
Filipinos -- to man the operations of at least seven tuna canning plants
along with local workforce.
For years, the PNG government has been crowing about the nation's rich gas
and oil resources and its plan to have them fully developed, and thus become
a big dollar earner for the economy. But it never included in its agenda the
training of home-grown workforce to man the industry.
Is the PNG Government conveniently relegating this responsibility to
countries like the Philippines?
Out of desperate necessity, the Philippine government has established a
systematic technical education and skills and development program in which
hundreds of new proficient workers are produced every six months in regional
They are not for local employment as there are no jobs available. This is
because the country's various industries have failed to generate enough jobs
to cater to excess manpower, maybe because of not-so-good economic climate.
Since there is an abundance of qualified workers but not enough jobs for all
of them, the only option is to bring the expertise overseas where good
paying jobs are available, particularly in the Middle East, Canada, Europe,
Asia, America and PNG, which is now the new Mecca for Filipino workers.
At any given time, there are at least 10 million Filipinos overseas, who
last year, sent home US$16.43 billion - an amount that handily shored up the
Philippine economy. During the first nine months of this year, OFWs sent a
total of US$12.83 billion, up 4.2% from the same period last year.
The Philippine government has succeeded in keeping them perennially overseas
by failing to encourage the country's business and industry to create enough
jobs for them back home.
That's why the reliance on its millions of OFWs for national survival has
become the Arroyo government's major economic strategy, and called OFWs
Early this year, Madam Ho-Vicario told Prime Minister Michael Somare about
the Philippines' skills development scheme which is run by the Technical
Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), a government-sponsored
When Sir Michael visited the Philippines last May, he and the Ambassador
toured TESDA facilities at its Metro Manila headquarters in Taguig City.
Impressed by the way the skills training scheme is being carried out through
the use of latest facilities, the Prime Minister vowed to have it replicated
here in PNG.
Likewise, Mr Garnsey went to Manila last September to establish a tie-up
with local recruitment agencies and to see for himself how TESDA develops
new skilled workers and how it validates skill proficiencies that would meet
the needs of the PNG LNG project.
Seeing how things were done at TESDA, he was convinced he came to the right
ExxonMobil, the mother company of the PNG LNG operator Esso Highlands,
intends to carry out its own skills training program for qualified locals.
This is a part of its national content development to cater to various jobs
that would be offered to Papua New Guinean workforce.
But the magnitude of the manpower requirement at the gas fields, at the head
office and at the processing plants is just too staggering to imagine that
whatever skilled workforce ExxonMobil could produce would not be enough. In
fact, it could only be a drop in the bucket.
For one thing, the LNG project owners cannot jeopardize its operational
timetable by not having the necessary workforce in place to man every unit
of the facility. And it cannot wait for such home-grown manpower to be
developed and honed until it is up to industry standards.
They have commitments to deliver billion dollars worth of LNG to its various
clients overseas - Japan and China, being the biggest buyers -- at a
specific time. And the bottom line to fulfilling these commitments boils
down to one basic element: manpower to support the entire production system
with efficiency and precession.
That's why the gas project has tapped the three big recruitment agencies in
Port Moresby for its manpower needs. And these agents are almost certain
most of those workers will come from the Philippines.
Barring unforeseen events, there's no reason why this could not happen.
Email the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org
The new holiday baby has finally been named. Floyd Roderick Keleba, after Floyd a friend, Rod, Jacob's son, and Kritoe and Ma, our favorite Kelebas. So we think we'll call him Kelly. Here is is dreaming of all kinds of names for us, especially the one who put a Christmas stocking on his head.
Of course we have not forgotten to thank the home delivery doctor, below.
Jared Diamond’s Ecocidal NYT Op-Ed
by Stephanie McMillan
Published on Tuesday, December 8, 2009 by CommonDreams.org
Instead of being honest, though, Diamond, answers the question in the affirmative and subjects us to a poorly-argued, mind-warping, illogical and denial-drenched apology for some of the most destructive corporations that curse our planet with their existence.
His overall argument doesn’t hold up to even the most casual scrutiny. He spends the whole column arguing that we shouldn’t hate big corporations because market forces are causing them to make changes to help the planet.
“Lower consumption of environmental resources saves money in the short run. Maintaining sustainable resource levels and not polluting saves money in the long run.” He attempts to show that Wal-Mart, Coca Cola and Chevron are transforming their production practices to reflect their concern for the natural world (and that this also improves their bottom line, so it’s a big win-win).
in Papua New Guinea, where Chevron’s oil drilling was vehemently resisted by the affected indigenous people. (See “Shilling for Chevron: Jared Diamond Greenwasher” at:
The motivations for these companies to reign in their destruction of the world are, without exception, self-serving and purely concerned with the bottom line. It costs too much to clean up oil spills, retrofit factories, and crush angry natives. Diamond’s sympathies are 100% in line with this, and his only desire seems to be to assist these corporations in their accumulation of profit. “We should reward companies that work to keep the planet healthy,” he urges. He doesn’t express the slightest concern for the well-being of the natural world itself or for the living beings who comprise it.
He talks about the challenges that Coca-Cola faces in finding acceptable sources of water, and tries to convince us that “Hence Coca-Cola’s survival compels it to be deeply concerned with problems of water scarcity, energy, climate change and agriculture.” But the obvious point remainsunsaid: Coke is not a necessity. It is in fact harmful to those who drink it. We don’t NEED to solve the problem of how Coca-Cola obtains water, or provide incentives for them to do it less destructively, because they could just fucking stop making it. Now there’s a simple solution.
Diamond's piece is below. Astonishing self-interest for a man who makes $25K +per lecture on the circuit and hardly needs to appease the Board of any corporation. Unless of course they're all in the same gated community somewhere and it might be awkward at the local deli.
Op-Ed ContributorNY Times
Op-Ed ContributorNY Times
THERE is a widespread view, particularly among environmentalists and liberals, that big businesses are environmentally destructive, greedy, evil and driven by short-term profits. I know — because I used to share that view.
But today I have more nuanced feelings. Over the years I’ve joined the boards of two environmental groups, the World Wildlife Fund and Conservation International, serving alongside many business executives.
As part of my board work, I have been asked to assess the environments in oil fields, and have had frank discussions with oil company employees at all levels. I’ve also worked with executives of mining, retail, logging and financial services companies. I’ve discovered that while some businesses are indeed as destructive as many suspect, others are among the world’s strongest positive forces for environmental sustainability.
The embrace of environmental concerns by chief executives has accelerated recently for several reasons. Lower consumption of environmental resources saves money in the short run. Maintaining sustainable resource levels and not polluting saves money in the long run. And a clean image — one attained by, say, avoiding oil spills and other environmental disasters — reduces criticism from employees, consumers and government.
What’s my evidence for this? Here are a few examples involving three corporations — Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola and Chevron — that many critics of business love to hate, in my opinion, unjustly.
Let’s start with Wal-Mart. Obviously, a business can save money by finding ways to spend less while maintaining sales. This is what Wal-Mart did with fuel costs, which the company reduced by $26 million per year simply by changing the way it managed its enormous truck fleet. Instead of running a truck’s engine all night to heat or cool the cab during mandatory 10-hour rest stops, the company installed small auxiliary power units to do the job. In addition to lowering fuel costs, the move eliminated the carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to taking 18,300 passenger vehicles off the road.
Wal-Mart is also working to double the fuel efficiency of its truck fleet by 2015, thereby saving more than $200 million a year at the pump. Among the efficient prototypes now being tested are trucks that burn biofuels generated from waste grease at Wal-Mart’s delis. Similarly, as the country’s biggest private user of electricity, Wal-Mart is saving money by decreasing store energy use.
Another Wal-Mart example involves lowering costs associated with packaging materials. Wal-Mart now sells only concentrated liquid laundry detergents in North America, which has reduced the size of packaging by up to 50 percent. Wal-Mart stores also have machines called bailers that recycle plastics that once would have been discarded. Wal-Mart’s eventual goal is to end up with no packaging waste.
One last Wal-Mart example shows how a company can save money in the long run by buying from sustainably managed sources. Because most wild fisheries are managed unsustainably, prices for Chilean sea bass and Atlantic tuna have been soaring. To my pleasant astonishment, in 2006 Wal-Mart decided to switch, within five years, all its purchases of wild-caught seafood to fisheries certified as sustainable.
Coca-Cola’s problems are different from Wal-Mart’s in that they are largely long-term. The key ingredient in Coke products is water. The company produces its beverages in about 200 countries through local franchises, all of which require a reliable local supply of clean fresh water.
But water supplies are under severe pressure around the world, with most already allocated for human use. The little remaining unallocated fresh water is in remote areas unsuitable for beverage factories, like Arctic Russia and northwestern Australia.
Coca-Cola can’t meet its water needs just by desalinizing seawater, because that requires energy, which is also increasingly expensive. Global climate change is making water scarcer, especially in the densely populated temperate-zone countries, like the United States, that are Coca-Cola’s main customers. Most competing water use around the world is for agriculture, which presents sustainability problems of its own.
Hence Coca-Cola’s survival compels it to be deeply concerned with problems of water scarcity, energy, climate change and agriculture. One company goal is to make its plants water-neutral, returning to the environment water in quantities equal to the amount used in beverages and their production. Another goal is to work on the conservation of seven of the world’s river basins, including the Rio Grande, Yangtze, Mekong and Danube — all of them sites of major environmental concerns besides supplying water for Coca-Cola.
These long-term goals are in addition to Coca-Cola’s short-term cost-saving environmental practices, like recycling plastic bottles, replacing petroleum-based plastic in bottles with organic material, reducing energy consumption and increasing sales volume while decreasing water use.
The third company is Chevron. Not even in any national park have I seen such rigorous environmental protection as I encountered in five visits to new Chevron-managed oil fields in Papua New Guinea. (Chevron has since sold its stake in these properties to a New Guinea-based oil company.) When I asked how a publicly traded company could justify to its shareholders its expenditures on the environment, Chevron employees and executives gave me at least five reasons.
First, oil spills can be horribly expensive: it is far cheaper to prevent them than to clean them up. Second, clean practices reduce the risk that New Guinean landowners become angry, sue for damages and close the fields. (The company has been sued for problems in Ecuador that Chevron inherited when it merged with Texaco in 2001.) Next, environmental standards are becoming stricter around the world, so building clean facilities now minimizes having to do expensive retrofitting later.
Also, clean operations in one country give a company an advantage in bidding on leases in other countries. Finally, environmental practices of which employees are proud improve morale, help with recruitment and increase the length of time employees are likely to remain at the company.
In view of all those advantages that businesses gain from environmentally sustainable policies, why do such policies face resistance from some businesses and many politicians? The objections often take the form of one-liners.
• We have to balance the environment against the economy. The assumption underlying this statement is that measures promoting environmental sustainability inevitably yield a net economic cost rather than a profit. This line of thinking turns the truth upside down. Economic reasons furnish the strongest motives for sustainability, because in the long run (and often in the short run as well) it is much more expensive and difficult to try to fix problems, environmental or otherwise, than to avoid them at the outset.
Americans learned that lesson from Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, when, as a result of government agencies balking for a decade at spending several hundred million dollars to fix New Orleans’s defenses, we suffered hundreds of billions of dollars in damage — not to mention thousands of dead Americans. Likewise, John Holdren, the top White House science adviser, estimates that solving problems of climate change would cost the United States 2 percent of our gross domestic product by the year 2050, but that not solving those problems would damage the economy by 20 percent to 30 percent of G.D.P.
• Technology will solve our problems. Yes, technology can contribute to solving problems. But major technological advances require years to develop and put in place, and regularly turn out to have unanticipated side effects — consider the destruction of the atmosphere’s ozone layer by the nontoxic, nonflammable chlorofluorocarbons initially hailed for replacing poisonous refrigerant gases.
• World population growth is leveling off and won’t be the problem that we used to fear. It’s true that the rate of world population growth has been decreasing. However, the real problem isn’t people themselves, but the resources that people consume and the waste that they produce. Per-person average consumption rates and waste production rates, now 32 times higher in rich countries than in poor ones, are rising steeply around the world, as developing countries emulate industrialized nations’ lifestyles.
• It’s futile to preach to us Americans about lowering our standard of living: we will never sacrifice just so other people can raise their standard of living. This conflates consumption rates with standards of living: they are only loosely correlated, because so much of our consumption is wasteful and doesn’t contribute to our quality of life. Once basic needs are met, increasing consumption often doesn’t increase happiness.
Replacing a car that gets 15 miles per gallon with a more efficient model wouldn’t lower one’s standard of living, but would help improve all of our lives by reducing the political and military consequences of our dependence on imported oil. Western Europeans have lower per-capita consumption rates than Americans, but enjoy a higher standard of living as measured by access to medical care, financial security after retirement, infant mortality, life expectancy, literacy and public transport.
NOT surprisingly, the problem of climate change has attracted its own particular crop of objections.
• Even experts disagree about the reality of climate change. That was true 30 years ago, and some experts still disagreed a decade ago. Today, virtually every climatologist agrees that average global temperatures, warming rates and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are higher than at any time in the earth’s recent past, and that the main cause is greenhouse gas emissions by humans. Instead, the questions still being debated concern whether average global temperatures will increase by 13 degrees or “only” by 4 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050, and whether humans account for 90 percent or “only” 85 percent of the global warming trend.
• The magnitude and cause of global climate change are uncertain. We shouldn’t adopt expensive countermeasures until we have certainty. In other spheres of life — picking a spouse, educating our children, buying life insurance and stocks, avoiding cancer and so on — we admit that certainty is unattainable, and that we must decide as best we can on the basis of available evidence. Why should the impossible quest for certainty paralyze us solely about acting on climate change? As Mr. Holdren, the White House adviser, expressed it, not acting on climate change would be like being “in a car with bad brakes driving toward a cliff in the fog.”
• Global warming will be good for us, by letting us grow crops in places formerly too cold for agriculture. The term “global warming” is a misnomer; we should instead talk about global climate change, which isn’t uniform. The global average temperature is indeed rising, but many areas are becoming drier, and frequencies of droughts, floods and other extreme weather events are increasing. Some areas will be winners, while others will be losers. Most of us will be losers, because the temperate zones where most people live are becoming drier.
•It’s useless for the United States to act on climate change, when we don’t know what China will do. Actually, China will arrive at this week’s Copenhagen climate change negotiations with a whole package of measures to reduce its “carbon intensity.”
While the United States is dithering about long-distance energy transmission from our rural areas with the highest potential for wind energy generation to our urban areas with the highest need for energy, China is far ahead of us. It is developing ultra-high-voltage transmission lines from wind and solar generation sites in rural western China to cities in eastern China. If America doesn’t act to develop innovative energy technology, we will lose the green jobs competition not only to Finland and Germany (as we are now) but also to China.
On each of these issues, American businesses are going to play as much or more of a role in our progress as the government. And this isn’t a bad thing, as corporations know they have a lot to gain by establishing environmentally friendly business practices.
My friends in the business world keep telling me that Washington can help on two fronts: by investing in green research, offering tax incentives and passing cap-and-trade legislation; and by setting and enforcing tough standards to ensure that companies with cheap, dirty standards don’t have a competitive advantage over those businesses protecting the environment. As for the rest of us, we should get over the misimpression that American business cares only about immediate profits, and we should reward companies that work to keep the planet healthy.
Jared Diamond, a professor of geography at the University of California at Los Angeles, is the author of “Guns, Germs and Steel” and “Collapse.”
Jared Diamond, a professor of geography at the University of California at Los Angeles, is the author of “Guns, Germs and Steel” and “Collapse.”
The following has been circulated by email this morning in Madang. I hope Fr Phil doesn't mind me reprinting here, but he deserves some high praise for his efforts.
12/6/2009 4:37:51 PM
In the small hours of Sunday morning, I was awoken by the screams of a woman in distress, calling for help and yelling for whoever was assaulting her to stop. "No, No, Stop, Stop, Rape, Rape sompela help mi." was her cry. Guard Dog Security told me that as she was "outside the gate..." it was none of their business. I called the police at town station and Yomba no one bothered to answer the phones I took a torch and approached the car where two men where pushing he woman into the back seat very much against her will. As I approached they pushed her head into the cushion of the seat to silence her and I could hear muffled screams as they drove away. I drove to Yomba station and told the police to come quickly and find the vehicle BBA998. As I was driving home, now around 1.30am, I saw the car turn down the road near the Catholic Mission so I drove back to the police station and insisted they come with me. We found the car back at the scene of the crime, minus the woman, whom they had dumped off. One of the occupants of the car, known to me and he knew me, told me that he came back to explain to me that what I had heard was simply a misunderstanding and by him explaining to me all would be well. I asked him what words he misunderstood, NO, STOP or RAPE. I insisted that the police arrest the two men and charge them with rape, aggrevated assault, driving under the influence and any other law they had broken. The police arrested and have charged them and they appear in court on Tuesday after having spent a few days in the calaboose to reflect upon their actions.. Both men were not from settlements but "middleclass" employees of businesses in Madang. BNBM will be looking for a new head salesman tomorrow! Of course the woman was stupiud to be around at that hour of the night, but there is no law against stupidity. The men broke the law and will, hopefully suffer the full consequences of their worse than animal like behaviour. Both men had been drinking at the Redscar nighclub...a venue that should be permanently closed down. My point for retelling the story is this: Madang's malaise is not just about the settlements, the rot goes much deeper and right into the fabric of the society. If there ever were, "The good old days" in Madang they are now gone forever.
Madang marched to the Governor's office today, a whole sea of men and women filling Modilon Drive from downtown all the way to the Headquarters staring from 10 AM. Trucks crawled along filled with women and children, utes crowded with people joined the snaking procession, the entire cavalcade gathering force and building a barely supressed collective rage over the recent violence in town---violence against women and children. Rapes, break-ins, and murder. At the headquarters we stood barely metres from several young men in the police cells who were collected hours after the most horrible of these recent crimes, when the woman who has dedicated her life to the Red Cross and Modilon Hospital was assaulted by men living in the hospital PHD compound. All our MPS were there, but for Rai Coast (RIP)--from Bogia, Sumkar, Madang Open, Usino-Bundi. Crowds of people carried signs calling for Death to Rapists, Capital Punishment, and a few other extreme slogans. Later I heard from Moresby that people elsewhere thought Madang was calling for death to the Chinese (and I imagine the rumour involves me somehow). But in fact people were very controlled, if angry, and in typically Madang fashion stood for a sries of megaphone tirades in orderly fashion, while the Governors, Ken Fairweather, Buka Malau, Joe Dorpar and others looked on. Thanks goes to MP John Hickey, Dr John Mackerel and other concerned citizens who persevered in the march despite calls to postpone, and inevitably dissipate, the protest until Thursday. The Governor, it was said, wanted to give out graduation awards to a primary school up the north coast. Somehow he was persuaded to stay back.
To his credit, he did listen and did not preach. He also hosted a PEC meeting afterwards that formulated some response. The promise is that police who have been farmed out to Basamuk, Ramu Nickel and Rempi (PMIZ) will return to town now, where the oldest and least able-bodied have been left to watch over us. This will add up to 30 members to the force. We will also have police checking the residential rights of every household in the PHD compound, and presumably elsewhere in town, where we know trouble is always brewing. And on that theme, there will also be a beer ban, Im told. Probably for 3 months or more. A voluntary curfew from 10 PM to 6 AM (until the paperwork can be completed to make it official) and a ban on bottle shops, local taverns and everywhere that does not also serve a meal with their SP.
I have two things to day about this. First, it is an effort, and should be applauded. But also we need to recall that Madang has never had a bad beer problem, and our 'illegal' operators are all very up front and accessible. It is the underground alcohol we need to fear, and that includes yawa (whether the original banana fermented jungle juice or the yeasted version), steam (the distilled alcohol that stupifies, blinds and even kills when it doesnt just drive you mad), Liva Lava (which is a fuck-me-Im drunk drink for women in the highlands) and whatever else people need to snoke or inbibe when they can't get a 5.5% SP.
Someone's going to be making lots of bootleg money over the holidays.
I look forward to a holiday season with 140-proof drunks marauding the streets. Please please give me binge SP drinkers, and local kava, before any of these newer vices, thank you.
An alocohol ban is only a ssymbol of government response, and if it does make some people sleep better in the settlements, it will not solve the problem of encroaching greed over land in Madang. This is a far more ruthless and unconscionable trend because it involves displacing old residents and muscling out the law abiding bidders, even sending death threats to long-time citizens, and possibly breaking into their house with guns to pillage and, as we know, rape.
Sometimes it feels like the responses we devise, from curfews to a handful of younger cops, are little more than a flimsy latch on the front door when the greater evil has already broken the padlock on the back door.
Thanks to Heather Young-Leslie for her photos here. Check out her blog on the event here: www.HeatherYoungLeslie.wordpress.com
This week has been filled with awfulness in Madang: muder, hold-ups, rape. So awful it's not possible to blog about right now. But in the midst of all of this Sanda and Chris had a new baby boy, 4 kg, on 28 November. Happy, healthy, as yet unnamed. He was born two days before I disembarked from MV The World, the enormous floating condominium, where I spent 3 weeks lecturing through PNG with 100 or so of the very rich and their below deck crew quarters of 260. A floating Upstairs Downstairs, complete with rigourous protocols, sharp uniforms, cliques, betrayals and intrigue. Upstairs is comparatively peaceful.
Here is the beautiful little boy with sisters Nancy and Madonna. There are now three little boys under age 5 in the house. I need a nap.