PNG’s post-APEC technology dream leaves rural sector far behind

By Pauline Mago-King

It has only been two weeks since the conclusion of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, yet much has transpired – to the dismay of host country Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea’s trajectory to this monumental event has been one involving great strides from the moment it secured the bid to host APEC in 2013.

In preparation for the summit, the PNG government stretched its expenditure to clean up the nation’s capital of Port Moresby – a move to improve international perceptions that will eventually translate into investment opportunities.

READ MORE: PNG – like no summit on earth

One can see this “clean-up” in Port Moresby via newly sealed roads, the 145 million kina (NZ$62 million) upgrade of Jackson’s International Airport, and the extravagant APEC Haus and Convention Centre.

Not to mention the controversial boulevard consisting of a six-lane road, outside the National Parliament.

-Partners-

Prior to the 21 member states’ two-day meeting, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill described the event as one that would place PNG on the world map by boosting tourism and lucrative resource project agreements.

These advantages could lead to more employment, especially in an economy where only 15 percent of the population are employed in the formal sector.

Additionally, there is an opportunity to tackle skills shortages within PNG.

Yet for all the economic advantages that await PNG, a myriad of issues continue to beset the country and this has been magnified through APEC.

Questionable governance
The cost of rehabilitating PNG’s waning image has ultimately placed the people’s needs on the backburner, even after Australia’s donation of $100 million and China giving $35 million.

Currently, polio has re-emerged with three new cases having been reported just last week, now bringing the total to 25 and one death so far.

Apart from polio, tuberculosis continues to be a formidable challenge for PNG’s health system.

This is the bitter reality for most Papua New Guineans who lack access to basic health services.

While Port Moresby has new roads, much of the rural areas in PNG remain disconnected with services nowhere to be found.

Granted, if there are aid posts and clinics, it is likely that medicine is unavailable, as exemplified by prominent journalist Scott Waide.

Media freedom barriers
Apart from exacerbating health issues, PNG’s media freedom faces barriers which have been amplified throughout the APEC summit coverage.

Case in point: PNG journalists were not allowed to cover Chinese President Xi Jinping’s dinner with colleagues from eight Pacific nations.

The suspension-turned-reinstatement of Scott Waide amid his airing of a report on the government’s spending, particularly about the controversial 40 Maseratis.

His reinstatement, however, is a compelling testament to many Papua New Guineans’ frustration with the state of governance, particularly at the grassroots level.

A Maserati luxury sedan as portrayed in the controversial news item shown in EMTV. Image: EMTV screenshot

While Port Moresby came to a standstill for the 2018 APEC Summit, villages throughout PNG were occupied with their own routines.

Life is not as simple as it used to be and this rings true for villages like Efogi.

Nestled on the slopes of the Owen Stanley Ranges, Efogi receives trekking tourists embarking on the Kokoda Trail.

In all its years of participating in the “Kokoda experience”, Efogi seems untouched from the hustle and bustle in Port Moresby.

Rural realities
Papua New Guinean writer Rashmii Bell, who also has a background in psychology and criminology, recently trekked along the Kokoda where she was able to observe the state of development in rural areas such as Efogi.

“What’s being developed in Moresby is not translating to the rural population – there is a huge difference. We want to wait and see what happens after [APEC], but we have valid reason to pre-empt based on the development that has happened in the past 18 months where Moresby has transformed whereas the rest of PNG has not.”

Although acting as a campsite for trekkers, Efogi had no access to electricity despite being home to the main airstrip for the Kokoda Track.

The only semblance of electricity is a newly donated generator that is rarely used due to the difficulty in purchasing and transporting fuel.

Aside from that, the health centre still relies on the donation of medical supplies.

With the summit’s closure, Rashmii’s interaction with communities like Efogi point out the problematic nature of the PNG government’s sound bites on a stronger economy.

This is where little attention has concentrated on empowering the majority of Papua New Guineans in informal sectors like trek tourism.

The Kokoda Track … trekking tourism is a neglected sector with villagers supporting the industry living an exploited existence. Image: kokodatrack.net

‘Trekking carriers’
For example, most men from villages like Efogi and others along the trail turn to “trekking carriers” as a form of employment but are often exploited in terms of their safety and wellbeing.

“Your life is in your carrier’s hand – that is how the tourism operation is running at the moment. Because we are putting that pressure on the carriers, you can see by their demeanour that they are very stoic.

“For them, it is a huge ask to be putting your life in someone’s hands. And as much as they say ‘that is our job’, at the end of the day we want to have a tourism industry where we are promoting ethical tourism,” said Rashmii.

As for women, they are excluded from gaining the financial rewards that this informal economy has to offer, which reiterates the resounding gender inequity in communities around PNG.

While PNG’s participation in APEC hopes to garner “digital breakthroughs”, it is debatable as to how rural communities can be included when technological infrastructure is absent, literacy is low and policies that protect and empower the people are void.

For communities like Efogi, life remains the same without any inkling of “APEC”.

APEC reservations
Although the carriers who trekked with Rashmii did not utter one word on APEC, the same cannot be said for those in Port Moresby.

When the 21 APEC member countries completed their intergovernmental talks, people like Cathy Smith felt anxious about what would transpire.

She described the lead up to the event as one of confusion.

The 28-year-old said she could not see any positive changes taking place anytime soon.

Life is already hard as it is, even with her cleaning job of five years where she earns only K3.50 (NZ$1.50) an hour – a rate that barely supports a normal standard of living in PNG.

“For my community, we will just listen and follow what they say… I’m seeing all the changes in the city but my own village has no services.”

Although the opportunities for development remain to be seen, Papua New Guineans like Cathy will go through the usual struggle to make a living in an economy that is already waning.

High living conditions, health budget cuts and the re-emergence of diseases such as polio and leprosy are just some of the many challenges being faced.

Hopefully, the PNG government will tackle these and other prevalent issues, particularly with the aim of development for its people.

Perhaps a good reference point to take from the APEC summit is human resource development, as stated by Rashmii Bell.

“For development to take place, you need that interaction. My understanding is that APEC is technology-driven and I did not even have reception along the Kokoda trail until we climbed up to the highest point… Technology will hopefully improve the economy but only for those who have access to it.”

Pauline Mago-King is a masters student based at Auckland University of Technology and is researching gender-based violence in Papua New Guinea. She compiled this report for the Pacific Media Centre.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Media freedom in Pacific a growing challenge, says journalism academic

EMTV journalist Scott Waide … “Papua New Guinea is a democracy and the media is free to hold those in authority to account.” Image: PMC

By Blessen Tom

Pacific media freedom and ignorance of Pacific issues by mainstream media in New Zealand are growing challenges for the region, says a journalism academic

“There are so many issues in the Pacific that are simply ignored by the mainstream media,” Pacific Media Centre director Professor Robie bluntly told the two-day Oceans and Islands conference for Pacific researchers that ended in the Fale Pasifika at Auckland University today.

He cited the ongoing human rights situation in West Papua – which will be marked tomorrow with flag raising ceremonies across New Zealand – and the recent New Caledonian independence referendum as examples of poorly covered issues.

READ MORE: The NZ news item that sparked the Scott Waide saga

The conference was hosted by the NZ Institute for Pacific Research, a NZ government-funded consortium of Auckland University, Otago University and Auckland University of Technology (AUT).

A Maserati luxury sedan as portrayed in the controversial news item shown in EMTV. Image: EMTV screenshot

Addressing the centre’s research and public strategy, Dr Robie also shared his concerns about media freedom in the Pacific region and highlighted this week’s dramatic developments in Papua New Guinea in the wake of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference.

-Partners-

Scott Waide, one of the country’s most high profile and influential journalists, was secretly suspended over broadcasting a New Zealand television news item that criticised government spending on 40 Maserati luxury sedans.

Waide, deputy regional news editor of EMTV and who blogs on social issues in his My Land, My Country website, was reinstated a day after news of his suspension was leaked through social media networks, sparking a flurry of protests in international media.

“This outrageous meddling by the state-owned Telikom company’s board was kept quiet for a week until it finally went viral last Sunday.

‘Blatant censorship’
“This blatant act of censorship – publicly defended by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill – rebounded heavily on the government.”

Dr Robie, who is also the convenor of the PMC’s Pacific Media Watch freedom project in collaboration with international press watchdogs such as the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, criticised corporate and political inference in PNG’s news and current affairs media.

He said what had happened was salutary for Pacific press freedoms. While he described the reinstatement for Waide as a victory for media freedom in the region, he said the journalists’ own reflective comments were “lessons for the rest of the Pacific”.

AUT’s Professor David Robie … critical of political and corporate “meddling” with Pacific media freedom. Image: Blessen Tom/PMC

“Papua New Guinea is a democracy and the media is free to hold those in authority to account,” Waide had said on his blog. “This means highlighting flaws in policy and making sure mistakes are pointed out and corrected. It is an essential part of our democracy.”

Dr Robie cited the Waide suspension as an example of some of the research, publication and storytelling provided by the PMC.

“We try to give lot more storytelling with Pacific voices and Pacific context,” he said.

“We try to provide an outlet for Pacific views and also information right across the region.”

Professional development
AUT’s PMC in the School of Communication Studies operated as independent university-based educational media by providing space for postgraduate students to have their stories published and broadcast for professional development.

This had contributed a lot to Pacific storytelling, he said.

“If we do things independently media-wise, there are a lot of stories that we can tell that much of the mainstream just ignores.”

PMC publishes the following media:

• An online general news and current affairs website called Asia-Pacific Report and PMC Online which focuses on media issues and research.

• Its own YouTube (more than 200,000 viewers) and Soundcloud channels.

Pacific Journalism Review, a peer reviewed journal, the only New Zealand-based publication specialising in journalism, media issues, communication and diversity in the South Pacific, Asia Pacific, Australia and New Zealand.

PJR is ranked on the SCOPUS metrics database and is in its 25th year of publication and is hosted on the open access indigenous research platform Tuwhera at Auckland University of Technology.

Pacific Journalism Monographs, a peer-reviewed research companion to Pacific Journalism Review, which publishes longer research projects in an online and booklet format.

Southern Cross, a weekly radio programme on Pacific affairs run by the PMC on Radio 95bfm at the University of Auckland.

Strong links
The PMC also has strong links with the University of the South Pacific journalism programme (Fiji) and Gadjah Mada University’s Centre for Southeast Asian Studies in Indonesia and the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre in the Philippines, and community publishing partnerships with organisations such as RNZ Pacific.

Professor Robie also mentioned PMC’s three-year-old Bearing Witness climate change project and talked about its “outstanding results” by award-winning postgraduate students reporting environmental issues.

He screened the trailer of Banabans of Rabi – A Story of Survival, a short documentary by Hele Ikimotu and Blessen Tom that was premiered at the Nuku’alofa International Film festival last week.

The inaugural Oceans and Islands conference concluded today.

Sri Krishnamurthi and Blessen Tom of the Pacific Media Centre are working as part of a PMC partnership with the NZ Institute for Pacific Research.

AUT’s Professor David Robie with two colleagues at the NZIPR Oceans and Islands conference. Image: NZIPR

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Scott Waide reinstated – ‘thank you’ message from EMTV journalist

Scott Waide reporting in a Papua New Guinea village … image from his blog My Land, My Country.

COMMENT: By Scott Waide, in an open letter posted on his blog after he was reinstated by EMTV today following suspension for broadcasting an APEC news item on November 17 criticising wasteful government spending.

Dear all,

Over the last 48 hours, I have been very humbled by the incredible support my family and I have received from people both here in Papua New Guinea and abroad. Support also came from friends in the media, academia, law enforcement, the military and many other circles, too many to name.

I have since been reinstated to my job as deputy regional head of news at EMTV.

I wish to thank our media friends here and overseas, especially. Thank you for your support and your words of encouragement. Thank you to my immediate and extended family and to the strangers who offered support and words of encouragement in Port Moresby, Lae and remote parts of PNG.

READ MORE: PNG journalist reinstated after suspension over APEC Maseratis story

Today’s EMTV reinstatement media release. Source: EMTV

My news teams both in Port Moresby, Lae, Kokopo, Madang and Mt Hagen demonstrated the highest level of professionalism and maturity by remaining away from everything that has happened.

-Partners-

I am proud to lead this team of young journalists, camera operators and support staff.

A great many thanks also to management of EMTV and CEO for working through this very trying time, despite the challenges and pressures. A very special thank you to head of news, Neville Choi, and the powerful Sincha Dimara. (I apologise if I missed out anyone.)

I was suspended on Sunday, 18 November, on the last day of the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) meetings. The reasons for the suspensions are now public knowledge and I do not wish to dwell too much on them.

Essential part of democracy
However, I do wish to make the following points:

  • Papua New Guinea is a democracy and the media is free to hold those in authority to account. This means highlighting flaws in policy and making sure mistakes are pointed out and corrected. It is an essential part of our democracy.
  • There should NEVER be any interference at the operational level by board members. The media is an institution of democracy and must remain free and independent. It is our constitutional right to report AND be critical.
  • Journalists of “state owned” media are NOT government public relations officers, nor are media organisations PR machines.
  • EMTV is “state-owned” which means the PEOPLE own this company through their elected government.
  • Journalism is an art… and art and creativity cannot operate in an environment of suppression and fear.

Papua New Guinea is at a critical moment of its history with the growth and influence of China, US-China trade tensions and challenges within our own country.

We are a largely rural nation. Many of our people still have no access to basic services.

We will continue to promote critical, proactive and transparent journalism. The people’s voice has to be heard and the media must remain as the conduit and platform for opinions and debate and those who cannot accept it MUST step aside and let progress happen.

– Scott Waide

The Pacific Media Centre’s Asia Pacific Report frequently republishes articles from Scott Waide’s blog My Land, My Country with permission to provide a PNG “voice” on developments.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

PM blames Bougainville missing budget on ‘administrative error’

The Bougainville flag … a critical year for the referendum on independence next year. Image: Bougainville News

By RNZ Pacific

The Bougainville President, John Momis, says he has been assured by Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, that the absence of a vital grant from the 2019 Budget was an “administrative error”.

Both leaders met last week in Port Moresby

PNG’s budget, announced last week, makes no mention of the Restoration and Development Grant which is constitutionally guaranteed under the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

READ MORE: PNG budget reports lack transparency, says economist

Momis said Bougainville relied on this grant for essential projects and a failure by the national government to pay it would reflect badly on both Port Moresby and Bougainville.

The budget did feature a cut to recurrent funding for the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

-Partners-

Next year, 2019, will be a critical year with a referendum on Bougainville’s long term political future scheduled to take place in June, Momis said.

The PNG and Bougainville governments must ensure that together they provide the funding and support needed to allow the vote to take place and for the important work of peace building to continue, he said.

O’Neill has promised to rectify the issues.

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Bryan Kramer: Who was culprit behind O’Neill government revenge on Waide?

Revenge against one of PNG’s leading journalists Scott Waide, says opposition MP for Madang = Bryan Kramer. Image: Bryan Kramer Facebook

COMMENT: By Bryan Kramer, MP for Madang

Papua New Guinea’s O’Neill government has taken revenge against senior EMTV Reporter Scott Waide, who was suspended over his broadcasting of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s comments about the Maserati scandal.

I was informed soon after APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) that the O’Neil  actually planned on sacking Waide. However, there was pushback from the management and staff so they decided to instead suspend him and order that he go on leave.

I suspect given the recent unrest in Port Moresby involving security forces, they had to be careful not to trigger another incident.

READ MORE: O’Neill defends government on suspension of EMTV journalist Waide

Opposition MP Bryan Kramer … wants to get to the bottom of the attempt to sack Scott Waide. Image: Kramer Report

So the real question is, who was behind the decision calling for Waide’s “sacking/suspension”, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill himself, or the usual suspects such as O’Neill’s Chief Media Officer Chris Hawkins and Minister for APEC Justin Tkatchenko?

EMTV is owned by Telikom PNG that is ultimately owned by Kumul Holdings Consolidated, a state-owned enterprise.

-Partners-

Shadow minister
The minister responsible for state-owned enterprises is William Duma and I am the shadow minister.

I will be writing to the minister and CEO of Kumul Consolidated Holdings asking them for an explanation behind this suspension.

I don’t expect a response, but what I can assure them is that following the removal of O’Neill in February 2019, the person behind the decision can expect to be sacked.

Last week, Opposition Members were on FM100 radio talkback that was telecast live on EMTV. However, half way through the programme we were cut off air. This is the second time it has happened.

It appears those feeding from a corrupt O’Neill government are starting to get desperate in their efforts to take away our rights – including our freedom of speech.

It’s time Papua New Guineans start to seriously think about organising ourselves in the cause to hold to account a corrupt prime minister and his cronies.

Opposition Madang MP Bryan Kramer is the shadow minister for state-owned enterprises, including the Telikom-owned EMTV. He founded the Allegiance Party and is an investigative journalist who publishes Kramer Report.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

PNG Media Council says bring back Waide – stop attacking free media

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as she appeared on the “negative” EMTV News during APEC – she refused to ride in a Maserati luxury sedan and criticised the funding. Image: PMC screenshot from EMTV News

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

The Media Council of PNG has called on the board and management of Media Niugini
Limited to allow senior EMTV journalist Scott Waide to return to active duty.

This follows Waide’s suspension for reportedly broadcasting a “negative” news story on national EMTV News relayed by the New Zealand Newshub television from Port Moresby that criticised PNG’s purchase of 40 Maserati luxury sedans for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

In the story, visiting NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is featured saying that none of the NZ$15 million in aid money went towards buying the Maseratis and she would not travel in one in one of the cars.

“I will not and I have been advised that I will be travelling in a Toyota Highlander, I believe,” she added at the time.

READ MORE: EMTV suspends senior journalist Scott Waide over NZ Maserati news story

“Reinstate Scott Waide” … currently a popular meme on PNG social media. Image: PMC

The news item on November 17 was considered “negative” by the EMTV state ownership – MNL board, the Kumul Telikom Holdings board and the Kumul Consolidated Holdings board.

-Partners-

“The Media Council (MCPNG) sees this as a clear case of ignorance on the part of the chairmen and members of these boards, about the business of reporting the news,” the council said in a statement.

“The media in PNG is in the business of reporting the truth. Regardless of whatever form
it may take.

“It is clear that the owners of EMTV, do not appreciate the strength and commitment of
its news team, to tell the truth.

“EMTV News has been at the forefront of setting new ways of covering and reporting
the news, that is now international standard.

“Mr Waide and the EMTV News team has been leading this change. It is a step backward for democracy, and development in the The MCPNG maintains that the job of portraying a positive image of the country rests solely with the government of the day.

“The media is not responsible for this aspect of a country’s well-being. Its sole responsibility is to the people, and not to government, regardless of whether it owns some, or all of any media company’s shareholding.

“The media must not bend to the whims of insecure politicians, and spineless ‘yes-men’ who flaunt their authority, with impunity, and against all moral and ethical judgement.

“We in the media are in the business of reporting the truth. Journalists should not be looking over their shoulders, every time they work on a sensitive story, just because it may not paint the government of the day, in a good light.”

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Open letter from MP for Wabag: EMTV move ‘dictatorship before our eyes’

Papua New Guinean journalists at APEC 2018 … “freedom of speech and expression are a fundamental right … and entrenched in the constitution”. Image: Loop PNG

OPINION: By Dr Lino Jeremaih Tom, MP for Wabag

The suspension of EMTV deputy news editor Scott Waide has brought us to a new low in Papua New Guinea’s downward spiral.

Freedom of speech and expression are a fundamental constitutional right entrenched in the constitution, are pillars of democracy and this suspension is a breach of this fundamental right.

We have become a dictatorship in essence and it’s happening right before our eyes. Leadership comes with the territory, and scrutiny and criticism are part of this package and the media plays a big part.

Wabag MP Lino Jeremaih Tom … “sad day for PNG for one of its most loved journalists to be treated this way”. Image: PNG Parliament

Biased reporting is not healthy for this country and it is indeed a sad day for PNG for one of its most loved journalists to be treated this way.

In fact, it’s disgusting and nauseating witnessing the gross abuse of power in recent times by those vested few in their bid for survival.

Desperation calls for desperate measures. All our oversight institutions and laws have been raped and plundered to a point where the remains are a dysfunctional wreck.

-Partners-

If we can’t condemn this stupid and selfish act then all of us leaders should resign in shame as we’d have failed miserably our mandated responsibilities as freedom of speech and expression is one of the foundation principles of any democratic society.

This is totally wrong EMTV. What’s your role as a media outlet in nation building in PNG? The management should hang their heads in shame for stooping this low.

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EMTV suspends senior journalist Scott Waide over NZ Maserati news story

The Maserati item from New Zealand’s Newshub screened on EMTV News on 17 November 2018.

By Vincent Moses in Port Moresby

The Papua New Guinean state-owned media company EMTV has been forced to act against its wishes and media ethics to suspend one of the country’s best reporters, their award-winning Lae bureau chief and senior journalist Scott Waide.

In an email sent to all staff of EMTV, the HR manager informed staff that EMTV management were forced by the government to take the action of suspending Waide.

READ MORE: The inside story of China’s ‘tantrum diplomacy’ at APEC

The email said: “EMTV is addressing with the utmost importance and priority, the situation with regards to our senior news personnel, Scott Waide, over a story broadcast during last Saturday’s news bulletin, 17th November 2018.

The EMTV memo shared widely on Pacific region social media.

“The decisions are not favourable to EMTV, and goes against our responsibility to report on all views, with freedom and fairness. However, we must remember we are state owned and that some sensitive reporting will be questioned, queried and even actioned upon.

-Partners-

“EMTV management would like it known to all staff that Mr Waide has not been NOT TERMINATED as speculated, and anyone who takes it upon themselves to act on such assumptions will be dealt with accordingly….” 

The poor management is not to be blamed for this action. After all EMTV is now state-owned and must adhere to instructions from their owners who happen to be Prime Minister Peter O’Neill-led government.

Scott Waide … suspended EMTV deputy news editor responsible for APEC news. Image: FB

The challenge is now on Communications Minister Sam Basil who was a very strong critic of media control when he was Deputy Opposition Leader to see if he will maintain his stand as a strong advocate of free media and do something to save this senior news reporter.

This action by the dictatorship O’Neill PNC government is not new. The same thing happened in 2013 when very senior staff and reporters of NBC Television were sacked, suspended and demoted for reporting about O’Neill’s nationalisation of OK Tedi copper and gold mine.

A freeze frame from the Maserati item on EMTV News on November 17. Image: PMC screenshot

Peter O’Neill is acting like another Chinese dictator in Papua New Guinea by exerting control over both state-owned and private media to not report truths and facts that expose his government and their corrupt acts to PNG and the world.

This is a huge attack on media freedom in PNG and must be condemned by everyone both in government, opposition, media council, Transparency International, media organisations both local and international and everyone in PNG.

Pacific reaction
Reaction around the Pacific on social media to this action by EMTV has been widely condemned. Reaction included:

Dr Shailendra Singh, journalism coordinator of the University of the South Pacific, said: “That Scott Waide was suspended for carrying out his journalistic duty is despicable and deplorable, but not unexpected or unusual in PNG, where tensions between media and government are increasing in proportion to the rise in alleged corruption, with one story after another to report in quick succession, and government lashing out to prevent exposure and to warn and intimidate journalists.”

The Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie described the action as “shameful and a blow to media independence and freedom of information in Papua New Guinea”.

He said it was understood the item objected to by the PNG government was a NZ Newshub item about the Maseratis controversy rebroadcast by EMTV News on November 17.

Dr Robie said it was clear to anybody monitoring PNG affairs and issues that Scott Waide was one of the country’s outstanding journalists with a great deal of courage and integrity, and an example to all reporters in the Pacific.

Dr Robie is also convenor of the PMC’s Pacific Media Watch freedom project.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Scott Waide: PNGFM news boss calls for investigations, penalties for troops who assaulted journalists

Parliament Haus in Waigani … scene of the reported assault against PNGFM journalists. Image Scott Waide’s blog

Scott Waide’s blog highlights an open letter by Genesis Ketan, director of news, PNGFM:

As director of News for PNGFM, I am very disappointed at the manner at which two of my reporters – one male and one female – were assaulted by disciplinary officers while covering the storming of Parliament on Tuesday,  20 November 2018.

They were simply there to do their jobs and cover the proceedings of what was happening at National Parliament when they were accosted by a group of inflamed disciplinary officers, both police and correctional service officers.

Upon seeing the journalists – one officer called out “Em ol Reporter ya, ol laik kisim wanem kain story, paitim ol”. (“They are reporters, what kind of story are they here for, beat them up.”)

READ MORE: RSF condemns exclusion of PNG journalists

Police Commissioner Gary Baki … received PNGFM’s assault complaint. Image: Loop PNG

The female journalist was manhandled by a group of police officers who pulled at her shirt attempting to rip it:

“One of the police officers pulled out my camera from my bag and smashed it right in front of me. While I was trying to take in what was happening, another officer pulled my bag causing the leather handle of my bag to break. He then threw my bag on the ground, kicked it towards the other officers, they in turn kicked the bag back to him, emptying out all my belongings in my bag. Another officer picked up my phone and smashed it while others were shouting and yelling abusive languages.”

-Partners-

She was pushed back and forth during the commotion with just one elderly officer attempting to assist her and help her out to safety.

At the same time, the male reporter was separated from his colleague, then told to put his camera away and not film or take shots.

“During the struggle, I was attacked by a Correctional Service officer at first, which then led to police officers surrounding me and attacking me. During the incident, I was trying to see what was happening to my colleague, but kept getting punched until one Police Mobile Squad officer pulled me away to safety. I had my vest broken, my note book gone and the company camera destroyed by the officers.”

PNGFM has written a letter of complaint to Correctional Service Commissioner Stephen Pokanis and Police Commissioner Gary Baki calling for those involved to be penalized.

Such an attack is an attack on our media freedom when journalists should be protected and not be subjected to such attacks for merely doing their jobs.

Meanwhile, at separate media conferences on Thursday, November 22, both Commissioner Pokanis and Commissioner Baki were informed of the assault against our journalists and have given assurance they will investigate this matter thoroughly.

– Genesis Ketan, director of news, PNGFM

Scott Waide’s blog columns are frequently published by Asia Pacific Report with permission. He is also EMTV deputy news editor based in Lae.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

RSF condemns Chinese exclusion of journalists at APEC side events

Chinese President Xi Jinping in Port Moresby … accused over “new media control strategy” in South Pacific. Image: SCMP

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned the discrimination practised by the Chinese delegation against local and international media at the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) held last weekend in Papua New Guinea and attended by President Xi Jinping.

During the APEC leaders summit, held from November 17-18 in Port Moresby, several accredited media – including the Australian public broadcasting TV channel ABC and the local EMTV News channel and National daily newspaper – were prevented from covering three events organised by the Chinese delegation and involving Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The events included a dinner with President Xi’s counterparts from eight Pacific Island States, reports RSF.

READ MORE: Nothing to see here … Chinese state media has little to say over APEC summit drama

Chinese journalists were apparently the only ones allowed to cover these events.

“The delegation, which did not see fit to explain the reasons for this discrimination, cynically invited excluded journalists to use the recordings broadcast by the Chinese media as the source of information for their articles,” RSF said.

-Partners-

Cédric Alviani, director of RSF’s East Asia office, said: “It is intolerable that a foreign delegation in an international event would claim the right to choose which journalists can be admitted or not to cover the proceedings.”

He added that this incident was “a new example of the media control strategy established by Beijing, which is no longer limited to the Chinese territory and tends to spread internationally”.

China is one of the world’s worst jailers of journalists, holding more than 60 professional and non-professional journalists behind bars.

In the 2018 World Press Freedom Index published by RSF, the country stagnates at 176 out of 180. In the RSF Index, President Xi is described as a “predator” against press freedom.

In Auckland, the Pacific Media Centre’s Pacific Media Watch freedom project also condemned the “assault on Papua New Guinea’s freedoms of speech, expression and access to information” in a country that has a constitutionally guaranteed free media.

President Xi Jinping’s “predator” against media freedom file with RSF. Source: RSF

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media