Claims Prime Minister offered ‘K40m to drop case’

From the Post Courier

THE Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare is alleged to have offered a substantial amount of money to have disgruntled landowners drop their court challenge which has stopped development of the deep sea tailing placement project in Basamuk by Ramu NiCo Limited (MCC).

The offer is alleged to have been made to Sama Mellambo, who is one of the plaintiffs in the court case, during a closed door meeting held with Sir Michael at the Madang Resort on Monday morning.

Mr Mellambo when responding to questions put to him by this paper yesterday confirmed that an offer had been made to him for K40 million to withdraw the case.

He said he had received a call while he was at home, from a person whom he did not name, and was told that the Prime Minister was in town and wanted to meet with him.

He said a vehicle was sent to his family home and because there was nobody else to go with him, as a witness and for court purposes should the need arise, had opted to take his wife along with him.

He said at the hotel they were instructed to wait until the PM was ready. At 11am, he and his wife were ushered into one of the conference rooms where they met Sir Michael. Mr Mellambo said during the exchanges he was presented with a document containing social and economic development projects to the tune of K40 million and asked to “sign off’’ on it. He said the projects would cover all four impact areas.

“I was put in an awkward position and I don’t know why I was being asked to sign off on the deals when rightfully these were matters that should be dealt with by the respective landowner chairmen. Because the issue of the Ramu Nickel Foundation (RNF) was brought up I thought I should pursue it in the discussions as this is something that is well overdue.

“I am fighting for my land and my people and I would like this to be made clear and this to be respected,” he said. Mr Mellambo said because the projects were part of the project agreement and would include a number of areas and involve the RNF he had asked for Madang Governor Sir Arnold Amet and Raicoast MP James Gau Gelak to be at the meeting and to also have a look at the document.

He said he was told there would be a follow-up meeting next Wednesday.

Following the meeting with Mr Mellambo, Sir Arnold and Mr Gau had called a press conference during which Sir Arnold said that he Mr Gau were helping with talks with landowners, civil society leaders, ward councillors and the LLG presidents and church leaders who were open to transparent dialogue.

He said that they were also in the process of getting the company involved, government, Environment plan, Mineral Resources Authority and the Mineral Resources Development Corporation to explain to the people about the DSTP.

During the conference Mr Gau said that when he met Mr Mellambo, he was critical about the DSTP but he said that Mr Mellambo told him that the reason behind the people taking out a court injunction was the Government’s failure to honour its commitments which the PM personally committed to, including the establishment of the RNF to be funded by the Government for K20 million.

Mr Gau said that among other things, the landowners were denied spinoff benefits too, prompting the court injunction as well. He said that the Government was in negotiations with the landowners to settle the matter of court in “the Madang way’’. He said that they had reached an understanding with Mr Mellambo to resolve this issue and also to advise the plaintiff’s lawyer to settle the matter out of court.

Mr Gau said that Mr Mellambo had given an undertaking that as long as the Government honoured its commitment, he would withdraw the case. Mr Mellambo is just one of the five plaintiffs who have taken out a court injunction stopping work on the DSTP.



Filed under Corruption, Environmental impact, Human rights, Mine construction

11 responses to “Claims Prime Minister offered ‘K40m to drop case’

  1. Naing Barang

    Sama please fight for the land, don’t accept the money.

  2. Dietmar lehr

    money talks, seems all the hard work for nothing.
    how can one man decide for the rest, where there consultation between the groups. no solidarity
    why not use the money to built a tailing dam instead of wasting it on so called spin off businesses which will be all bottle shops and gambling halls

  3. Hold Steady

    Sama, if you accept the money (and we all know it would be difficult not to) you will have betrayed your own people and their future and those who have supported you in this struggle.

    What guarantee do you have that the money will actually get to you. Somare is a snake and will probably want half, and you can sing for the remainder.

    Please hold steady.

  4. Fed up

    by all means somare and the chinese must deliver on their promises. but that must not be allowed to deviate from the reason for the court injunction.

    simply delivering some charity still does not address the issues about DSTP as raised. this is a typical technique employed by chinese to confuse people’s thought processes and deviate attention away from the real issues.

    somare unfortunately is deep inside the chaiko’s pockets and sucking so hard that he can’t tell the difference anymore. long long lapun man nambaut!

    • dexter bland

      Fed Up,
      You may have to admit that you’ve been fooled (as have I myself) into thinking this was about DSTP. Looks like that was never the case, it was just the best way to lever the government into getting what they wanted.

      Well done, as a negotiating tactic it seems to have worked. From what I read promises made to them weren’t kept, so its not a bad outcome.

      As for DSTP, well the SAMS people must have had an inkling of what was going on when they described it as “a red herring”. It has always seemed that way to me from a scientific viewpoint, and now the rest of the pieces are starting to fall into place…

      • Fed up

        i haven’t been fooled as you obviously are dexter bland. there is a reason for ‘fast tracking’ the payment to the landowners. and there is only one. to get them to drop the case against DSTP in exchange for the ‘gift’.

        and it’s not a god damn gift. the people rightfully deserve the services as well as an environmentally friendly mine.

        you and your cohorts must disprove the Lutheran report and stop cutting corners. and take your confused thinking elsewhere. we know exactly what we want and we will fight to get it.

      • dexter bland

        Fed Up,
        The Lutheran report HAS been disproved by an independent party, and you can read it right here on this site:

        Click to access sams-report.pdf

        The SAMS report describes environmental concern about DSTP as a “red herring” and says that it is surface operations that need the greater attention. The history of mining in PNG also shows this. Those arguing for a land based tailings solution are arguing for a LESS environmentally friendly, RISKIER solution. Why? Lets hope that these other issues can be put to rest and common sense can finally prevail on DSTP.

      • Fed up

        oh yeah?? so why was’t the SAMS report published then?

  5. Lenton

    Sama is the fifth plaintiff in the court, he cannot make any decision without consulting the other four plaintiffs…
    Sama would also put himself in a risky position if he accepted the money, bad game for him or anyone to play…
    the last paragraph of what Mr Gau said is total bulls crap….

  6. Stranger

    Its shocking because why would the prime minister do it behind closed doors?its basically the locals rights to have a say in this.this was probably done due to some sort of circumstances however there is deeper investigation to be done as to why the prime minister would act this way i mean its a bit fishy.

  7. Pingback: Highlands Pacific turn to legal threats against landowners « Ramu Nickel Mine Watch

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