"We declare our first goal to be for every person to be dynamically involved in the process of freeing himself or herself from every form of domination or oppression so that each man or woman will have the opportunity to develop as a whole person in relationship with others".

- Papua New Guinea National Goals and Directive Principles

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Constitution is Being Breached by ExxonMobil et al!

Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea

(1) Every person has the right to freedom of expression and publication…
(2) In Subsection (1), “freedom of expression and publication” includes–
(a) freedom to hold opinions, to receive ideas and information and to
communicate ideas and information, whether to the public generally or to a
person or class of persons; and
          (b) freedom of the press and other mass communications media.

Freedom of expression and information are fundamental human rights inscribed in the constitution. These rights are currently being breached by a network of corporate actors who have undue influence on the press.

Recently on Facebook LNG Watch was criticised by a friend for focusing on Exxon's relationship with the Post-Courier, when more information is desperately needed on communities resisting this operation. We accept the latter criticism, however, LNG Watch still nonetheless believe that it is essential to be vigilant in exposing Exxon's relationship with major media outlets in PNG.

The fact is, LNG Watch PNG is run by volunteers, who lack the resources to fly to the affected regions on a regular basis. Media agencies on the other hand have the resources to make these trips. However, when media agencies are compromised by their relationship with  corporations or state actors, their vital role as circulators of information becomes muted. In PNG we have a free press, yet it often acts in a manner that one would expect in a authoritarian country such as China. This is a product of self-censorship.

Media agencies self-censor in PNG for a variety reasons. At the journalist level, reporters rely on the patronage of major companies, business lobbies, and state agencies, for breaking stories, and they are not about to burn their masters by publishing regular critical commentary. At the managerial level, executives have to worry about generating income and satisfying the ideological ambitions of their corporate owners.

Collectively these factors generate a system of self-censorship that is arguably more effective than state initiated censorship. Nevertheless, nothing is inevitable. If we resist, expose, and critique these systems of corporate power, there is the possibility that we can begin to change the way information is generated and distributed in PNG. Civil society is doing this by developing alternative mediums of information circulation, such as blogs and Facebook. However, just because we are developing other forms of social media we should not be prepared to surrender our radios and newspapers to the multinationals and the national elite.

On that front, we would like to finsih this blog with ANOTHER!!!! example of the Post-Courier publishing ExxonMobil press releases as news.

The question is how can we begin to mobilise against the iron grip multinationals have on our media so that information can circulate freely? After all freedom of information is a fundamental human right which is inscribed into our constitution. Yet it is being breached on a daily basis, not because of censorship laws imposed by the state, but because corporate actors have taken control of the media via the backdoor and have through a variety of tactics restricted the free flow of information!

 The Press Release

The Press Release as 'News Report'

73 Graduate

Konopa Kana

Post-Courier, Thursday, 8 December 2011

SEVENTY-three student trainees of the PNG LNG technician trainees completed their 18 months of basic operation and Maintenance training program.
The graduation was held on Monday night at the Gateway Hotel to commemorate the trainees' efforts and commitment with parents, loved ones and the media who where invited to witness the inspirational event.
The trainees are the first intake, and have spent the last 18 months undertaking training in Port Moresby.
In January next year they will travel to Canada for further advanced skills training.
On completion of their training, the trainees will be responsible for operating the LNG Plant and Hides Gas conditioning plant in the Hela Province.
Manager of production operation training centre, Tom Hooper said that he had the opportunity to train one of PNG's finest batches of students who are pioneers of the training. He said he was happy with the raw talent and intelligence they have shown during training, which he termed as a priceless commodity for this country.
He said in the last 18 months of training and observation the students have gained a lot to become one of the best teams in the entire world.
"Building your trade in specific skills will be useful for the rest of your life and I urge you to start embarking on them now before you leave for the training facility in Canada so you can be confident in what you do," Hooper said.
He said that he is very optimistic of the trainees and has high expectations in their advance training program in Canada because they have demonstrated that they are capable of strong leadership and can adhere to safety which is the paramount culture of Exxon Mobil in the PNG LNG project.

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