OPEN LETTER TO:
The Right Honourable Sir Michael Somare
SUBJECT: FOREST SECTOR AND KIUNGA AIAMBAK ROAD DEED OF SETTLEMENT
Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea
Office of the Prime Minister (A4-11)
5th Floor Morauta Haus,
PO Box 639, WAIGANI, NCD
Papua New Guinea
Dear Prime Minister,
We are writing to raise our deep concern and increasing frustration over the current state of governance in
Papua New Guinea’s forests sector and its debilitating impact on the economy and security of the Nation.
It is clear that there has been a complete breakdown in forestry governance over the past 12 months. This
is evidenced by a number of facts
1. All 3 major new concessions last year were unlawfully allocated and there is evidence the Forestry
Act and proper procedures were not complied with.
2. We understand that two major project extensions in 2002 – Wawoi Guavi and Vailala – were also
3. It has just been revealed that another major logging project, in the Islands region was unlawfully
extended in Jan 2003, and
4. there has been no attempt to implement the Ombudsman Commissions findings on Kamula Dosa -
indeed the evidence is that senior ministers and law officers have taken steps to overturn or avoid
the Ombudsman Commission’s findings.
The appalling situation in the forestry sector is only compounded by the handling of the Kiunga-Aiambak
At the end of last year, a Deed of Settlement was filed in the National Court, ending attempts by the PNG
Forest Authority to stop the illegal logging operations of Concord Pacific. The Deed purports to:
Legitimise the illegal Kiunga Aiambak timber authority;
Recognise an invalid landowner company;
Legitimise continuing unlawful exploitation of resources;
Illegally ignore the stated wishes of the legitimate land owners;
Make the State liable for over 150,000 Kina in court costs.
The Chief Secretary has written in a letter to the Managing Director of the Forest Authority that the Deed
“entails one unscrupulous company apparently illegally securing extensive forest resources” and that the
settlement “is unacceptable and lacks transparency”. The Chief Secretary has also stated that “this project
has been an internationally high profile case, which has long undermined the credibility of the organs of
State in PNG”.
We welcome the reported announcement by the Minister for Forests that the Kiunga Aiambak project is
“definitely illegal” and that the government’s "position is clear, we will not execute the Deed of Settlement”.
We also acknowledge that he has stated he would “immediately terminate the Kiunga-Aiambak timber
The National, 10.03.2003
These comments indicate that, the government agrees this unlawful logging project should be brought to an
end and the company involved, Concord Pacific, ejected from Papua New Guinea. However these
statements must be matched by clear and extensive public commitments and action across the logging
industry if you are to re-instil confidence in your government.
The following actions are well within your scope:
Overturn the Deed of Settlement either through the courts, by legislation, or any other means at your
Ensure that there is a independent investigation of all those who have been involved in this corrupt deal
and prosecution of those who are implicated in any criminal acts.
Halt all operations of Concord Pacific and have them removed from Papua New Guinea
Ensure that the Timber Authority is not allocated to any other company.
Ensure that no extension of the road project is approved, legally or otherwise.
The Deed impacts on the Sovereignty of Papua New Guinea and the rights of its people. Philip Lee, a key
player in the whole project, is alleged to have been involved in a disgraceful passport scam. The
landowners of Kiunga Aiambak have lost their land and forest resource to a selfish Malaysian company in
return for a logging road that is unlikely to be ever upgraded or maintained.
AusAID has recently recognised the concept of a lost decade in the development of PNG due to corruption
and mismanagement. The matters above clearly show the pivotal role of the logging industry in causing this
loss. Unless the Government shows resolve and gets tough then we will see another lost decade and
increasing pressure on AusAID and the World Bank to abandon their attempts to assist Papua New Guinea.
Does the Prime Minister wish for the complete domination of corruption and mismanagement and the
withdrawal of overseas funding to be his final legacy?
We seek your urgent response on how and when you and your government intend to deal with the situation
and we urge you to deal with this matter immediately.
For our part, we will seek to ensure that any and all misconduct in relation to the Kiunga Aiambak project,
and the forestry industry are uncovered and brought to the attention of the public and the international
The Board of PNG Ecoforestry Forum Inc.
Damien Ase, Director, Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR)
Almah Tararia, Senior Lawyer, Environmental Law Centre (ELC)
Brian Brunton, Alotau Environment Ltd.
Bismark Rama Group
Peter Mullins, CEO, Greenpeace Australia Pacific
Don Anton, Director, The Australian Centre for Environmental Law
John Seed, Rainforest Information Centre
Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth Australia
John Connor, Campaigns Manager, Australian Conservation Foundation
Randall Hayes, President, Rainforest Action Network
ADD: Patrick Alley, Global Witness,
Gerd Leipold, Executive Director, Greenpeace International
John Kuenzle, Director, Bruno Manser Foundation
Beste Grüsse, Society For Threatened Peoples - Switzerland
Bernhard Henselmann, Executive Director, EarthLink - The People & Nature Network
Lafcadio Cortesi, Boreal Program Director, Forest Ethics
Paula Palmer, Program Director, Global Response USA.
Ricardo Carrere, International Secretariat, World Rainforest Movement
Wolfgang Kuhlmann, Working Group on Rainforests and Biodiversity, Germany
Glen Barry, Forests.org, Inc.
Heffa Schuecking, Urgewald, Germany
Mr. Yoshio Nishioka, Bhutan Group, Japan
Mr. Yoshihiko Tamura, Ohdaigahara-Ohmine Nature Protection Society, Japan
Terry L. Brown, Fins in the Forest, Canada
Ed Matthew, Corporate Campaigner, Friends of the Earth UK
Tove Selin, Chairperson, Finnish Asiatic Society
Leo Stranius, chairperson, Friends of the Earth Finland
Heikki Simola Chairperson & Eero Yrjö-Koskinen director, Finnish Association for Nature Conservation
Baden Cross, Applied Conservation GIS
Andrea Reimer, Executive Director, Wilderness Committee, Canada
John Hocevar, Executive Director, Students for a Free Tibet
Mr.Maekawa, Tropical Forest Kyoto, Japan
The Chief Secretary to Government
Mr Joshua Kalinoe
The Right Honourable Peter Costello MP, Treasurer of Australia
Mr Xian Zhu, Country Director for PNG, The World Bank
John Davidson, Counsellor for Development Cooperation, AUSAID
Senator Peter Cook, Committee Chair, Australia’s Relationship with Papua New Guinea and Pacific Island
Nations Senate Inquiry, Parliament of Australia.
Anthony Crasner, Program Specialist, Agro-Forestry and Rural Development, European Union.
Perry Head, PNG Branch, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade