THE Qaqet Stewardship Council would like to respond to a letter titled Stop Funding Qaqet Council (The National, Oct 3) by Alois Balar.
Balar raised some points however erroneous that need to be challenged.
The Qaqet Stewardship Council advises our working partners, including the national and provincial governments and administration, and all Qaqet-Bainings, that Balar is an idealist who likes using jargon that one may be inclined to believe he is an intellectual, specifically regarding the Kairak oil palm project, which is totally removed from the truth.
Balar makes bold claims that the Qaqet council is at the forefront of the current land issues before the courts relating to the Kairak Oil Palm Project.
We correct that assumption.
The current land issues relate to settlers, and those who have sold pieces of customary land to settlers, from conforming to indigenous Qaqet-Baining land laws to maintain customary land under all of our five major clans that make up the Baining tribe of East New Britain.
This is an initiative by the council of chiefs and elders from all the clans that comprise the council under its land mobilisation programme to ensure our clans hold ownership rights over our clan land, and not minor family trees like the Avirs who are sub-clans of the Kairak Clan, or even settlers.
This is to allow for easy facilitation of land development to bring in the socioeconomic and infrastructural needs for Qaqet-Baining people.
The Kairak project is not under any SABL. Balar knows this. One wonders what his motivation is raising incorrect information for public consumption.
SABL applies to forest areas/virgin forest areas such as the Illi-Wawas and Memalo projects.
Kairak was never a logging project.
It went straight into oil palm. Oil palm is one of the driving forces behind the construction and maintenance of new roads and bridges to the Baining people in rural East New Britain.
Oil palm was a choice development project by the Kairak clan.
The council only facilitates for these choices, taking into account suitability of such impact projects.
The council has certainly not pushed for these choices – that remains for our Qaqet-Baining people.
We are, however, there to facilitate and address challenges and issues that arise from these choices, and, of course, facilitate awareness programmes on development issues so that our people can make good and informed choices of the type of development they can integrate to drive their own destiny.
This can be proved by the council’s recent partnership with the World Bank’s Progressive Productive Agricultural Partnership (PPAP) programme that has signed and implemented a K3 million deal to rehabilitate and grow coffee in the hinterlands of the Baining in Arabam and inside Sinivit LLG.
Again, coffee is the suitable choice agricultural crop to be cultivated in these areas, and thus, the council facilitated this upon informed decisions by rural coffee farmers in the area.
Balar seems incapable of understanding this.
Thus, there is no need for the council to sink down to his low level and create an unnecessary “media fight”.
We encourage him to come to the council and find out.
There is nothing to hide. We are transparent and accountable.
The simple reason being that the council answers to a higher authority as a monitoring mechanism of our progress.
Unlike Balar, who claims to be with conservation and development strategies, an organisation that seems to have no affiliation and no answering authority.
It begs to the question as to whether his comments after such a dormant period are politically motivated at this stage.
Funding to the council is unlikely to be ceased.
It is an approved funding under the government of East New Britain and endorsed by the provincial administration.
The entity is a result of continuous attempts by prominent Baining leaders such as the late Henry Saminga and James Tapele to drive service delivery into the rural Baining majority.
In effect, Balar is questioning the integrity of all our Qaqet-Baining chiefs and elders who have made this possible.
Following the cries of the Baining chiefs and elders in the course of their desire to develop their own destiny, the entity was registered.
Until today it is a vehicle driving socioeconomic development benefits to the people.
One has to travel into these rural Baining areas to see the enormous development changes in terms of infrastructure such as roads and bridges and other economic activities present.
Ironically the council’s student assistance programme was responsible for sponsoring Balar’s daughter to become a teacher.
This programme is to ensure boosting our Qaqet-Baining human resource development, a pillar programme to embrace current development taking place.
We now have sponsored more than 100 Qaqet-Baining students in various universities/tertiary and technical educational institutions around the country.
It seems hypocritical of Balar to condemn a recognised entity of development after he has benefited from it.
Qaqet Stewardship Council