This is Part 1 of a series of articles that will be published regarding the smear campaign against Samuel Pepena and the Petroleum Parks Holdings Limited (Hong Kong) through the publication of the article “Konebada Petroleum Park Piles Up” on November 6, 2017, by author (s) from the PNGi.
The article was gravely malicious and misleading in nature, and has no basis in truth. In the light of the many wild allegations of corruption and adverse profiling of individuals in the social media and the like that is so prevalent in this country, anyone can just about say anything about anyone, even the Prime Minister, and get away with it regardless of its veracity in truth. As troubling as it is, this practice is now developing into a culture of smearing of individuals with the wide brush of corruption and all manner of wrongs, whilst all the time hiding behind the cloak of anonymity. Hence, there is no accountability or responsibility by those who smear innocent people and persons holding high offices, or responsible positions in public institutions are unfairly tainted.
The allegations levelled against Mr. Pepena and PPHL by PNGi cannot go unanswered, because in our view these allegations are not only untrue, but also have serious implications against their credit, reputation and thereby the sound management of public institutions.
In its truest definition, these allegations not only encompass defamation and negative insinuation on his character, but also put his family under undue stress and unnecessary pain.
At the outset, it is our firm belief that these issues can be adequately and satisfactorily settled in a proper forum. The proper forum is set out by law. KPPA has a reporting mechanism through the Department of Petroleum & Energy, through the Minister for Petroleum & Energy, to NEC and Parliament. KPPA has a public accounting responsibility through the office of the Auditor General. KPPA has complied with these reporting mechanisms as an ongoing statutory body. The relevant bodies will raise issues, if any, and KPPA will deal with it. That is the normal process of governance and of government.
Outside of that, neither KPPA nor PPHL have any reporting responsibility to the mass media or the social media. However, for the sake of the general public who may have been misled, we would like to clear the air, because the truth is far from what has been misrepresented to the public, and the public needs to know this.
NO EVIDENCE OF WRONGFUL CONDUCT
The author (s) of PNGi correctly pointed out in their so-called investigative report that there are no evidences of wrongful conduct by Mr. Samuel Pepena regarding the money scheme he was involved, the abduction of his children, and fraudulently obtaining a parcel of land. Then why publish issues with his family with that of his business dealings? This kind of journalistic misinformation and negative profiling is very cunning, but at the same time deceitfully duplicitous. The language employed emanates from a hateful source that dredges up nothing new, but more and more hate against Mr Pepena. What is the useful end and to serve what public purpose?
This appears to be a matter of personal vendetta for personal purposes. Personal vendettas should not be dragged up and dressed as materials of public interest. It serves no public purpose. PNGi’s investigative authors (s) have inexorably subjected Mr. Pepena, his family, and his friends to unnecessary stress and public ridicule. These sorts of grandstanding are quite unnecessary for us to respond to.
Here is the truth.
- Pyramid Scheme
The claim that Mr. Pepena benefitted from the monies invested by investors, or proceeds from the investment are untrue and misleading. It is again a form of negative profiling of a person. Mr. Pepena and his team did not benefit from the investment, or proceeds of any profits. The scheme they started was short-lived as the global financial markets failed, and his team had encountered difficulties with their investments and suffered losses. Apparently, with the delays in returns, the investors filed a lawsuit against Mr. Pepena in 2006, but the court after a protracted legal battle, cleared him of every account of wrong doing brought against him. Mr Pepena has been cleared of any liability. There is now no pending case against him.
2. Removal of Children to FIJI
The claim that Mr. Pepena abducted his children to Fiji is also untrue, bogus and malicious misrepresentation. It is again a form of negative profiling of Mr Pepena. Mr Pepena relocated his children to a safe and peaceful environment where they now attend University and live happily. The relocation of his children to Fiji was solely done to protect his children from the threats he received from unknown persons. Mr. Pepena feels that this narrative is grossly misrepresented and fabricated to tarnish his reputation by individuals/groups with ulterior motives. Where he takes his own children and how he educates them and protects their welfare is none of the author (s) of PNGi or anyone else’s business.
3. Acquisition of Parcel of Land
The claim that Mr. Pepena falsely acquired a parcel of land along the Poreporena Freeway in Port Moresby is also untrue, bogus, and misleading. The parcel of land along the Poreporena Freeway was properly acquired, following all the legal processes at the Lands Department. If anyone feels aggrieved by the acquisition of this parcel of land, there are proper avenues to bring up the matter. Let the author (s) of PNGi go and appeal the title and challenge it through proper processes if they have a case of merit. Better still, let them go to court and challenge his title! Mr. Pepena fought seven (7) years with the landowners in the courts for this land and his entitlement, and the courts have vindicated Mr. Pepena. The court files are there for PNGi and the public to go and scrutinize to their hearts content. There is no crime or wrong doing.
PPHL IN HONG KONG
The establishment of Petroleum Parks Holdings Limited (PPHL) in Hong Kong is true, but the process is still in its infant stages. In Mr. Pepena’s capacity as the Managing Director of Konebada Petroleum Parks Limited, set up this company primarily as a resource incubation company in a strategic location and the most important Financial Market in the region. While the wisdom of setting this company in this strategic location makes economic sense, this is only a shelf company still, never traded, and is worth zero dollars.
It is this very simple proposition that PNG State owned businesses need to access financial markets and do business internationally is a visionary step in the right direction. Mr Pepena’s bold business acumen and foresight as a strategic play in the region is to be highly commended, not demonized, even if nothing comes of this foray.
- Wisdom of Economic Strategy
Here is the wisdom of this economic strategy. Hong Kong is Asia’s largest Financial Market outside of Wall Street and we envisioned that with this strategic move, we would have an advantage to make connections with market players and financers in our extractive resources, where we can attract mezzanine finance partners for resource projects in PNG. There is nothing wrong or sinister in this move by Mr. Pepena. For too long PNG business executives have been too timid to venture into the market places of the world, such as New York, London, and Hong Kong, and demand a fair price for our resources. Papua New Guinean CEOs of SOEs must take the cue from Mr. Pepena and follow suit and open up opportunities for our people and our resources.
PPHL AND KPPA
The allegations of land-grabbing, bad governance, abuse, and mismanagement by officials from the Konebada Petroleum Park Authority are nothing new. PNGi and its band of key board warriors keep taking turns making a punching bag out of KPPA, but the same allegations have been resoundingly answered over and over again.
Only dogs eat their own vomit, over and over again. PNGi must enjoy the world of negativity and bad profiling of public institutions with same old rehashed allegations over and over.
What KPPA is doing at the moment in relation to creation of a Special Economic Zone is of significant benefit to all individuals and corporations who fall within this Zone. KPPA stands to create a highly beneficial fiscal regime for this Zone that will be equal or more competitive to other FTZs in the Asia Pacific Region.
This initiative will be a key innovation of this government, and therefore all the negative media publicity about KPPA’s role regarding the economic activities within the Konebada Petroleum Park is a smear campaign.
We will not let the enemies of our government sabotage the aspirations and goals for our people’s welfare and future. We are of the view that opponents of our government’s economic policies are driving the agenda to enslave our country and its people against economic advancement and prosperity.
KPPA is a legally mandated vehicle which is set to drive the economic policies of the government in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ). We have a future mapped out for economic prosperity.
KPPA through its subsidiary company Petroleum Parks Holdings Limited (PPHL) is spearheading the initiative of the down-stream processing of our hydro-carbon products that will spur the economic growth of our country, provide taxes to our governments, and provide economic opportunities and employment for our populace.
The new team at KPPA is in advanced stages of the realization of the total transformation of our nation’s economic landscape—the establishment of downstream processing activities for our hydro-carbon resources in the Special Economic Zone.
With such colossal undertaking with the interests of this country at stake, the adverse publicity and grandstanding by PNGi and its band of nay Sayers are in a bid to sabotage our government’s sound economic policy direction for the SEZ and the future of this nation.
KPPA is not here to grab any land from any landowner. KPPA is here to create wealth, prosperity and economic opportunity for all Papua New Guineans, including the landowners of Central Province and the landowners of lands immediately surrounding Konebada Petroleum Park Precinct. This point must be understood by PNGi and everyone concerned.
KPPA IS NOT GRABBING LAND
We are reiterating that the creation of the KPPA by Act of Parliament in 2008 is NOT a mistake by Parliament. Parliament did not create a monster to scam and steal land from landowners within the Konebada LNG corridor. KPPA’s official objectives and functions are clear, and it has been working to fulfil these official mandates with very little resources.
In fact, the lawmakers who created this authority were NOT a bunch of ignorant officials. They were optimistic that by the creation of this Authority, it will help the government’s economic policy of creation of a SEZ that will advance our nation and transform it from a developing nation to an industrialized state.
KPPA IS NOT DISADVANTAGING LANDOWNERS
KPPA is of the view that under the provisions of the Private Public Partnership (PPP) Act 2014, Minister Benny Allan’s decision to declare in April 2017 the Special Economic Zone in Konebada adds to and increases the value of all the surrounding lands ( including all lands owned by Customary Landowners) for further commercial developments, business activities, and investments that will empower and give fiscal advantage to the landowners and businesses established within the vicinity of the designated zone.
KPPA is now working on the fiscal regime underpinning the SEZ which involves co-ordination with all relevant state agencies and stakeholders. KPPA is our government’s vehicle to drive positive economic growth and creation of wealth and opportunity for our people.
WE ONLY CREATE POSITIVE AND ATTRACTIVE FISCAL INCENTIVES AND CONDUSIVE ENVIRONMENT AT KONEBADA SO AS TO DRIVE ECONOMIC GROWTH. We set the rules (for investors), they will come.
Our concept of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is quite different from the SEZ’s of countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam in that our Fiscal Regime will be the most attractive and competitive of all of them. Again, we set the rules, they will come.
Public Servants in PNG have been talking about SEZs for the last 30 years. But now KPPA is actually doing it!
The SEZ will drive investment in downstream processing of hydrocarbons in this country as is the statutory mandate of KPPA through its subsidiary PPHL. As we advance this, by sourcing crude oil and raw gas through our own Licences or commercial arrangements, citizens of this country can benefit from all the spin off activities and other opportunities we create, including training and advancement of our people.
The Minister for Lands and Physical Planning has acted very much within the bounds of the prescribed laws. Under these arrangements, the current SEZ is an imaginary line in which those who wish to participate in business activities, can subscribe and engage with interested investors and industries through the assistance of KPPA. KPPA is not about taking anyone’s lands, but to provide overall Fiscal Regime over the area so that those who own land and fall within this Zoning can do business and benefit from all the incentives provided by this Zoning.
Any sane and intelligent person can understand this narrative. Only those who are intellectually errant and have a personal axe to grind can keep dredging up all the same old garbage and bags of lies, over and over again.
Finally, we urge PNGi and its band of key board warriors to refrain from misleading and misinforming our esteemed landowners and their leaders from the lands surrounding Konebada Park Precinct. We invite any landowner at any time to approach KPPA should they have any query and KPPA is always available to assist and clarify any issues.
KPPA and PPHL are under new Boards and management of astute and experienced Papua New Guineans, with requisite professional advice, who have the best interests of the country at heart. They have a vision for our people’s prosperity and advancement. They have a vision for KPPA and PPHL to drive economic growth in support of the ONeill-Abel government.
The establishment of Konebada Petroleum Park Authority (KPPA) is not a scam to grab land. This is a misguided view of the opponents of economic progress and wealth creation. Our land laws are quite clear. Customary lands belong to customary landowners. It does not belong to the State or KPPA.
Our SEZ’s are designed is such a way that landowners through their ILG’s can register their land and engage in business with investors and industry players, who will develop lands and our resources for the benefit of everyone.
The misguided push for dissolving KPPA by the landowners from the LNG corridor does not make economic sense, short sighted and driven by personal vendetta. KPPA is the only legally mandated vehicle by law whereby the petro-chemical products can be processed at the Konebada Petroleum Park Precinct. We have not disadvantaged traditional landowners of their rights to their land in anyway while pursuing the statutory mandate.
KPPA and PPHL need to be left alone to do what they have been mandated to do by law.
Anyone who has any query or doubt about anything to do with KPPA and its operations are always welcome to contact KPPA directly, and similarly PPHL, instead of engaging in baseless smear campaign and adverse profiling of good Papua New Guineans doing and giving their best for the country. Anyone with any useful or constructive comments or contributions is welcome to contact KPPA or PPHL. We recognize we don’t have a monopoly over wisdom or knowledge, and are only too happy for sound advice and contributions. Let us work together and build this nation.
Managing Director, PPHL