All of the 77 evil and corrupt SABL’s are cancelled.

By PNG Echo

Today will go down in the annals of PNG history as a day when something insightful, far-reaching and concrete was finally done about corrupt practises in PNG.  But this is not my story to tell – it belongs to all those that have fought tooth and nail to save the environment.  So over to you Tiffany Twivey-Nonggorr who writes:

Tiffany Twivey-Nonggorr, lawyer and eco-warrior
Tiffany Twivey-Nonggorr, lawyer and eco-warrior

You want to talk about corruption fighting?  Well this government has just killed the biggest corrupt dealing of the past 10 years.

During the Somare government, a heinous scheme of issuing SABLs over large forest areas was created under the guise of Agri/forestry leases.

The Forests Act was amended under the then Forest Minister Belden Namah to allow for large scale clear-felling permits that had never been allowed for over 50 hectares before.  SABLs were then given over hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest under the pretext that the trees needed to be clear felled so that agricultural projects could start.

Belden Namah the Minister (and logger) who altered the laws to allow for the evil SABLs and was first to take advantage in Bewani
Belden Namah the Minister (and logger) who altered the laws to allow for the evil SABLs and was first to take advantage in Bewani

These 99-year special purpose agricultural business leases were given over 5 million hectares of land in PNG amounting to the alienation of 10% of all of the land in PNG.

The leases meant that the peoples customary rights to the land were suspended for 99 years.

Up until these leases were issued, only 3% of the land in PNG had been alienated (taken away) since Independence from the customary landowners and 97% was still held customarily by landowners but within a few years 10% went.

That was the food and social security if 100s of thousands of people just taken from them.

Literally 100s of thousands of hectares of old-growth forest was cleared – with clearance permits obtained for shonky “agricultural projects”.

Alois Jerewai - the recalcitrant SABL Commission
Alois Jerewai – the recalcitrant SABL Commissioner

A commission of inquiry into these SABLs was started – yes there were issues with the reports as only two of the three commissioners submitted their reports [ Editor’s note: Alois Jerewai was the Commissioner who did not table his report – he later went on to become a legal representative of the man who enabled these leases – Belden Namah] – so a ministerial committee was established to pool the findings of the commissioners.

Their work is done.

NEC yesterday declared all of these disgraceful SABL leases cancelled.  They are gone.

This represents billions of kina worth of land and trees returned to the people – not to mention food security. This is the biggest decision in the history of this country.

I spent years working as a lawyer representing the great organisation that is the PNG Eco Forestry Forum with people like Kenn Mondial, Almah Tararia, Effrey Dademo, Thomas and Mary Paka, John Chitoa and Rosa Koain and everyone at the Bismark Ramu Group – and so many others…and they fought and fought and fought against this evil scheme and we actually had the issue of one SABL being over the 800,000 hectares of Kamula Doso restrained by the courts. But that wasn’t enough – they all had to go.

This is a great day for the people of PNG   This is your day to celebrate you people past and present of the PNG Eco Forestry Forum and Bismark Ramu Group.

Editors Note: It is also a day for the whole of PNG to thank their lucky stars that they have great eco-warriors to fight their battles and preserve their children’s heritage – and the name Tiffany Twivey-Nonggorr is right up there.  Bravo.

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11 thoughts on “All of the 77 evil and corrupt SABL’s are cancelled.

  1. Congratulations Tiffany and team. Finally the evil ways of our PNG corrupt leaders, is finally catching up to them.
    Thank you again Tiffany. A job well done. Thank you

  2. Job well done! Democracy at work at last in PNG! Namah, O’Neill and whoever else who has abused the mandate given to them at the polling booth to look after the welfare of their voters must start to respect the people. Land is traditionally owned in PNG and must remain so. After the non renewable resources such as copper, gold, oil and gas is extracted for export, the top soil remains for simple villagers to re-cultivate (as they have done so over thousands of years) for a sustainable lifestyle. The politicians who have in recent times sold the people’s heritage for a handful of cash should hang their heads in shame because they have sold their children’s and grand children’s future. God bless PNG!

  3. This has been long overdue and while I am happy with this decision, the timing still smacks of a political smokescreen. The excuse that one of the three reports had yet to be provided was the main cause of the delay is too convenient. The findings of the 2 reports should have been enough to warrant some form of action from the O’Neil government, yet they chose to do nothing. Now that O’Neil’s character is taking a hammering on all fronts, he tries to butter up the public by making this announcement. I guess desperate people clearly do desperate things.

  4. Better double check. What about the SABLs that were NOT investigated under the COI? What about the commissioner who never turned in his report or turned in a very poor report, and all the SABLs that person was tasked to investigate? Don’t get optimistic until you read the fine print.

  5. Thank you Susan and Tiffany for this article and it is with great satisfaction that PNG is legally whole now that the missing jigsaw puzzle have been fitted back.

    I am disappointed in the way a senior legal person in Alois Jerewai in his capacity as a Commissioner fail to render his report to the Government. A lot has to be desired on his part and one must be aware that these landowners who are tax payers forked out huge sums of kina through the COI for this report/exercise on their behalf.

    We expect Mr Jerewai who was mandated by the people through the COI and he has a responsibility to apologize to the people of PNG for his failure in submitting his repeort.

    Otherwise, all in all, the Government must be applauded and rest be assured that the peoples rights have been fully restored with this decision to nullify the SABL.

  6. The government absolutely should not be applauded for this. O’Neill only did this as one of several desperate measures to keep a coalition of opposition forces from coming together to topple him. If he didn’t feel under pressure of losing his PM’s seat he never would have made a move. Don’t give O’Neill credit for things he does with a bad taste in his mouth.

  7. Justice is finally done to the poor people of PNG who were promised great return on giving away their birth right in the form of thousands of hectares of forested land.

    The SABL experience and social injustice caused by Belden Namah and his Bewani Oil Palm in Sandaun Province is far more destructive than one could ever imagine.

    If this news is too good to be true then this is a big slap on the face of one of the most corrupt politician this nation has ever seen

  8. Hi Tiffany…now that you proclaim to fight corruption…can also send PM Oniel to jail for stealing K71 million from us the PNG public?

  9. Timely propaganda, now address the more intricate siphoning set ups that ensure this false governments numbers. Now that would be deserve a Nobel prize…not just an Oscar award.