Reminiscences of a long association with Papua New Guinea
From the Kundiawa News 50 years ago today

Governor Gary Juffa hits back at corrupt logging interests

Gary-juffaGARY JUFFA

I was bemused and intrigued by a recent press release of seven Oro local level government presidents and Ijivitari Open member David Arore proclaiming a vote of no confidence in me.

I am glad. It gives me an opportunity to say what has been happening and what I have been doing.

It also gives me an opportunity to gauge my people’s views and see where they stand. Whether they want change for the better or whether they want to continue to slip into the abyss of miserable anarchy and deteriorate as a people.

Already the support is mounting and overwhelming. Tribesmen from all parts of Oro mobilised with the intent of demonstrating their outrage with violence. I stopped them all.

This is not the way my people. Let us exhaust all legal means and let us not be shaken by the mere whimpering of a collection of sad people who claim they are leaders.

They are not leaders. They are politicians. There is a fundamental difference.

So I sipped my black tea and watched semi-interested as they aired their views.

I had been monitoring these group since they came to Port Moresby some two weeks ago and were sighted drinking in the usual nightclubs and comfort lounges around Port Moresby. They were all at some little lodge in Boroko.

Intelligence is the end product of analysed information and data. I have a system to collect and collate and present such intelligence to me so I can make informed decisions.

Our intelligence told us several things: that several weeks before the media stunt there were several meetings between certain Asian entities and the presidents and their open member.

These Asians are heavily involved in the logging industry. Our informant was in their very midst. He sighted them and heard them discussing their plans. They would stop at nothing to log our forests.

The recent suspension by the Forest Minister - after we had furnished his office with an investigation report based on complaints of our landowners in the Yema Gaipa Timber Permit Area where illegal logging had been occurring at day and night - was yet another catalyst.

Further intelligence deduced that actions in the last month by Land Enforcement, to travel to Collingwood Bay and impound logging machines and give notice to foreign workers illegally there to vacate that property in seven days, has added to the desire by the logging fraternity to see me removed.

Imagine what would happen if everyone rose up behind me and removed them? That is a frightening thought. They must stop this and nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand. The people cannot be allowed to rise up and stand for their own rights, they say to each other, in between bales of illicit logging cash they make from our forests.

All this only added to growing anxiety that the illicit revenue stream of the pirates and their minions would come to an end...

Now add to this the recent Provincial Government reforms undertaken that have since seen the establishing of stringent controls to ensure transparent expenditure of public funds by all custodians including me.

This has suddenly exposed the two Open Members who have been using their Joint District Planning and Budget Prioritisation Committees as procurement authorities, which is illegal. The laws do not allow that.

The JDPBPC is merely a committee to prioritise the disbursement of DSIP funds. The process must come through the Administration for vetting, analysing, review and monitoring.

 I am pleased to see that we have changed the public service mindset in Oro and they are now well on track to deliver. I have asked that the Open Members must put their DSIP through this legitimate process, as I am doing.

Meanwhile stringent efforts to tackle corruption continue. The great job undertaken by PPC Victor Isuove to analyse Auditor General Reports for the last so many years and act upon recommendations is well underway.

PPC Jacob Singura has continued with this effort and, so far, 11 public servants have been criminally charged. Others are to follow. The Ijivitari District Treasury, closed by angry landowners for two weeks, has had no less than three-quarters of its staff charged.

As of last month, a Treasury Officer in the Provincial Government Treasury was charged for stealing K400,000 with her husband. More will follow.

As for service delivery, the Province has not received its K10 million Special Support Infrastructure Grants for this year though they have been promised and I have former Treasury Don Polye making that commitment on video. I have been advised it will happen next year.

We have not received the balance of K3 million for disaster relief which we wanted to build a Disaster Management Centre. I am informed that this will happen next year as well.

We have not received the K10 million promised to help with our tourism industry. I am assured it is in next year’s budget.

Three-quarters of my PSIP is now about to be expended as we now have the Provincial Supplies and Tenders Board in place and the first meeting is this week. Prior to that leaders and the Administration were illegally issuing COIs - Certificates of Inexpediency - which are only for disaster periods.

This allowed the circumventing of proper procurement processes and procedures stipulated by the Finance Management Act.

Despite this, we have established a Health Authority (thanks kakana Micheal Malabag) and have taken our health esatblishment from four to 18 doctors (thanks Dr Gunzee Gawin - my adopted Hunjara tribesman).

In partnership with YWAM and Dr Alice Lee we have immunised more than 3,000 children, removed countless cataracts and fixed countless dental issues in remote areas - never before seen.

Tribal Foundation is sending a 40ft container of hospital equipment from Australia and our own efforts will see another 40ft from Brisbane with school and hospital equipment (thanks brother Simon P Merton who is single-handedly doing something for his beloved mother Felicity Juffa's people).

We have also partnered with the SDA and Anglican churches in sponsoring their programs when and where we can. Saiho Hospital is refurbished and operational in the Kaiva area serving 50,000 people.

A real winner is the establishment of the Disaster Management Centre and many thanks go to Trevor Magei and Donald Moi for their contribution. We now have a Provincial Disaster Management Policy and a Provincial Disaster Management Centre will be built.

More importantly, we are able to respond in 24 hours and the Disaster Management Team has saved countless lives already. Thanks guys.

Law and order is manageable. We are building Police houses and the patrol post at Saiho and the Police are working tirelessly and with great enthusiasm. Prior to my coming in, Popondetta was a township with one murder a month at the least and carried the tag of Cowboy Kantri.

That is no more. Nights are peaceful and women and children can rest and go about their daily duties in peace without drunkard partying into the early hours as was normal.

Economic progress will see Oro take charge of its own resources and destiny. I will remain tight-lipped here until I deliver. I have three years and I will deliver the economic independence my people have lacked. Agriculture and tourism will be the backbone.

I can't list everything we have done. It is too long. My mistake was not promoting my efforts. I will do more. I write my own media and press releases and it is exhausting when one is trying to do much.

Finally, four bridges worth K135 million are being built. It took seven long years. No one followed up or did anything. I took six months to walk every process through until the contracts were finally signed at Government House and Canstruct Ltd, an Australian company, was selected.

Constract is now on the ground and it is busy building the bridges that were washed away in 2007 by floods caused by Cyclone Guba. They will save more lives.

Intelligence is necessary for gauging what is going on and acting accordingly.

I am informed that my efforts are touching many people who have fed on a corrupt system for too long...there is light at the end of the tunnel...


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Keith Dahlberg

Good work, Gary! Keep the improvements coming, and replant trees in the loggers' clear-cuts

Jimmy Awagl

A leader with caliber to be tranparent and own up for his people.

its first of this kind to read a leader who is vocal and brought the light into the system of evildoers to distort their desires of greed and corruption.

Hon GJ keep the lighthouse flaming for Oro and PNG as a whole.

Bomai D Witne

Not many MPs in PNG are capable of writing and telling people of what they are doing and Parliament has been perceived as a dark dungeon by the commoners for a long time.

Governor Juffa represents a few MPs in the current parliament who are able to change the image of parliament.

Keep shining for Oro and PNG.

Maureen Wari

Here's a leader who is earning his good night's sleep and an enjoyable cup of black tea.

The people in rural PNG are not blind and neither are the people in this particular electorate. Usually there really is no one to think, speak or do what needs to be thought, spoken or done for them.

You, Governor, are doing your best and it sounds like improvement, it sounds like progress. The people will see, the greater PNG area will see.
At least, you are having something to show for your time there.

You're an example. It would be great to read of what all the governors are doing in their electorates.

Indeed light at the of the tunnel!

Livingstone Mal

Honourable Garry Juffa, as a PNGuinean, I salute you for what you are doing especially in your effort to expose and depose corruption and ensure concerned authorities proceed with legal proceedings against those culprits.

Come on PNGuineans, let us back people like the Honourable GJ to stand up and fight against these evildoers and protect and preserve what is our birthright now and for the future generations to come. It is now or never.

Keep it up Honourable Governor Mr Juffa.

 Lindsay F Bond

In 2005 at Northern (Oro) Province, after 30 years of independence for PNG, material wealth appeared mostly as the upgrade in clothing upon the inhabitant people, yet so very little of infrastructure and maintenance of equipment.

The buildings and other infrastructure were not just a very large disappointment (perhaps expected), but gave hint of possible scandals of inequality, inactivity, incompetence and indifference.

Contrast that with the skill and preparation which go into matters of local significance such as dance and other ceremonies, and contrasting with ready expenditure on such social ceremony.

In 2007, people of that Province were beset by the result of too sparse a resource and too scant preparation for the results of events as predictable as intense rainfall (the Province was earlier unexpectedly and tragically beset both by international war in the 1940s and by volcanic eruption in 1951.)

Along with so many folk in 2007, I shed tears on hearing of the loss of the 1969 steel/concrete bridge over the Kumusi River, and then so gladdened to learn of act of the Australian Government generosity in pledging some $A35 million for new bridges at the four larger rivers, in addition to immediate relief-aid expenditure and on-the-spot activity.

In 2014, for all people of that Province to see, as I did in September, the 1951 location known as Saiho has again a creditable health facility in operation.

At Katereda (Oro Bay) again the hospital facility that opened in 1967 is upgraded and functioning. Such improvements are better if accompanied and attended by facility and folk who are faithfully focussed, taking action and reporting to a wider community.

Any credit for assistance in those improvements ought to be acknowledged, no matter if some of it is anonymous. Yet even where memorialised, the most hoped-for and true expression of gratitude is in the actual uptake and input of work effort to make these facilities fully functioning and with improvement as the main agenda.

In 2007, photographs of flood damage at that Province, brought sorrow. Those photographs become more useful for planning improvements, and better if these are matched with images of facilities from before any disaster. Maybe earlier photos can be shared and collected into a useful catalogue. So who can do this?

Governor Gary Juffa states: "I can't list everything we have done."

Maybe Oro Province people are already keeping their own lists and can share these along with photos. Why wait for gavman? Why just tok? Why so much is WW2 the history of tok, when 'today story' is the basis for being well and planning improvement?

Busa Jeremiah Wenogo

Governor Juffa, I salute as you are only one of the few Papua New Guineans who truly has a heart for the people.

I know that your rise to become the Governor of Oro Province is a divine intervention and I know that fighting evil in all forms does not come easy.

It is very enlightening to read about your tireless efforts to do what is right. You have proven that great things start from getting the basics right.

"A future is built one brick at a time." I can see that you are laying that foundation for a brighter future for Oro.

Governor, may God continue to bless and protect you and your family as you take this journey to fight for justice.

Bernard Yegiora

Publicity is a bargaining chip that may keep you in the game for a long time. Keep on making public the rot you are finding and fixing and you will be untouchable!

Paulus Ripa

Great work Mr Juffa. You have widespread support for what you are doing in the rest of PNG. Whatever happens you will have done what is worth doing. Keep it up.

Mathias Kin

Great read, Hon Garry Juffa. PNG look out for this Orokaiva man!

George Kuias

Governor Juffa, you are doing a great job.Do not give mercy on foreigners illegal activities in you province and discipline your leaders accordingly. Never give up.

Johnny Blades

The words "They would stop at nothing" to log the forests must be taken seriously.

The Asian logging players are deeply involved in local sectors, including lucrative REDD-type carbon credit markets, ripping off PNG at various points in the process.

Anyone who threatens their foothold in PNG by trying to expose their illegal operations, and the depth of collusion with local politicians, risks being taken out.

William Dunlop

Gary - Greetings. You have certainly put a stop to the rot in Oro.

I have fond memories from when I was stationed in the then Northern Province as Transport Officer in 1971-73.

The bridges that were built in my time by Stan 'The Man' Raybaz are finally being replaced through your hard toil.

You could not use a better company than Canstruct Pty Ltd, originally set up by civil engineer Robin Murphy when he was the regional works manager in Mt Hagen in the 1960's.

He tendered in his own right to build a bridge in the
Western Highlands, was successful and resigned as regional works manager going to live in a pitpit house on site with his family.

This was the start of what eventually become the very respected Canstruct Pty Ltd.

I was involved with Robin in works for the Portuguese embassy, United Nations and the East Timor government,
in Timor Leste in 1999-2001.

Arthur Williams

It makes me happy to hear you, Governor. I hope that your efforts to rid Oro of illegal loggers, their corrupt bag carriers and hangers on.

Justice Barnett said, "Without corrupt local elites the robbers of the rainforest couldn't get into PNG's forests."

Hope you can succeed and show other true sons and daughters of PNG that there is a better way to develop the nation's natural resources.

Michael Dom

Digging up the foundations of a corrupt system you're bound to unearth a few worms, grubs, cockroaches, rats in their holes and all manner of detritus feeding organisms.

Good stuff Gary Juffa.

Robin Lillicrapp

Great news, Gary.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)