Logging companies must now pay for their crimes against our environment, our country, and our people.

I saw first-hand the damages logging companies are doing to the natural forests (and plants and animals) and the river systems in parts of New Guinea Ireland. It is a case of You never know till you see It. And the distractions caused by the logging companies are much bigger than we imagined.  PNG govt has got stop the logging operations in the country. 

PNG Insight photo | The importance of International Forest Day

Why complete ban on logging is urgent

In 2019 and 2020 I visited the provincial town of Namatanai in the New Ireland Province and Kimbe in the West New Britain Province. I fell in love with the natural wonders of the provinces. It was just stunning. 

You'll know what I mean if you know about the 'Bilas Peles' and 'Oil Palm Country'.

The rivers are crystal-clear blue. You can tell how healthy the forests and habitats are. 

But, I also saw the damages logging companies have done. Complete destruction of the forests and natural surroundings. The logging ships parked out in the sea and tugboats doing rounds, unloading logs. Even at night.

Read about illegal logging in Papua New Guinea

The locals call the foreign loggers, pirates. They live onboard the massive logging carriers, load the logs and take off.

Forestry Authority, provincial govt or the national govt care less

Drove past the Pinakin Roadside market along the Buluminskey highway back to Kavieng Town. And two Toyota Lancruisers parked on the roadside, Men in Uniform. The guide told me that they were the mobile squad from the Rabaul Tomaringa Barracks here on Logging Assignment.

It saddens me that some logging companies can do that:

  • running bulldozers up the delicates limestone rocks, clear-fell the trees,
  • destroying the natural habitats, the streams and river systems; and 
  • getting police to watch over the logging operation.
Inadvertently, one seems to care. Not even the provincial govt or the national govt. 

The impacts of logging an area of forest is obvious like day light. 

I saw what the logging companies have done to the pristine waters of New Ireland and West New Britain Provinces. Once, there was no mud in the river systems. You can literally jump in and slash and the water remained crystal-clear. 

The waters are no more clear. The river banks are covered in Mud. It may look clean on the surface. One splash and it turn murky.

The loggers have been doing a lot of damage than imagined

After the visit, I have been tweeting my frustrations about the destruction done to the environment by the logging companies. It is not nice. It is inhumane. And, it should stop. 

Today, it is reassuring that a govt body has put the logging 'pirates' under the spotlight. When we talk about logging companies, it is not just about tax evasion or tax exemption. No. 

It is about the natural beauty of our beautiful country. And, I think Dr Ketan put it nicely. The logging companies must pay for their crimes - crimes committed against the PNG govt and also the crimes they caused against nature.

 - We reproduce Dr Ketan article below, you can also see my tweets at the end of this article - 

Logging companies must now pay for their crimes against our environment, our country, and our people by Dr. Joseph Ketan

IRC Commissioner Sam Koim has a reputation for going after the big crooks in Papua New Guinea. After serving his legal apprenticeship at Justice Department, Mr Koim was handpicked by former prime minister Peter O’Neill to investigate and prosecute corrupt politicians and their foreign cronies. Mr Koim demonstrated diligence in his work by prosecuting crooked public officeholders. He took a step further by investigating his political boss, the prime minister, which ultimately cost him his job as head of Task Force Sweep.

Now, after being appointed IRC Commissioner by the current prime minister James Marape, Mr Koim promises us that he is going after the Malaysian timber cartel, an obnoxious gang of tax evaders, who have been corrupting PNG politicians and public servants over the last 40 years to steal billions of dollars through transfer pricing and false declarations on the value of logs for export.

The IRC must be thorough and ruthless in its approach to weeding out corruption with the forest industry. A 1980s inquiry into the forest industry by Justice Tos Barnett uncovered widespread corruption involving a deputy prime minister, parliamentarians, and departmental heads working in partnership with the Sia brothers and other Malaysians to steal money from the country.

All corrupt PNG politicians and public servants were named in the reports by Tos Barnett. Veteran PNG journalist Harlyne Joku and the Times newspaper editor Anna Solomon published a series of reports on corruption within the forest industry. I have published the names of crooked PNG government officials in a chapter of a book edited by Michael Rynkiewich of the Melanesian Institute.

Papua New Guineans tend to have collective amnesia on corrupt officials, so we need to constantly remind readers of the past sins of our leaders.

Sam Koim knows that state agencies and the officials who work within them have aided and abetted the work of crooked foreign businessmen. The Malaysian loggers were brought into this country by Michael Somare and other politicians. RH is at the forefront of destructive logging in this country. It owns the Vision City Mall as well as the Stanley Hotel, in addition to other companies. It will require the most skilled and imaginative auditors to trace the trail of transfers of funds from one company to another through a series of Holding companies and offshore accounts.

We need to set an example to deter crooks from robbing us in future. Lock up the big foreign crooks, including facilitators within PNG, and nationalize all assets acquired through fraud. The logging companies must now pay for their crimes against our environment, our country, and our people.


Illegal logging in PNG
Image: Oakland Institute

PNG Insight Tweets on Logging and Distructions of Forests


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