REFLECTIONS

Weekender

What a crazy year it has been

Bulgaria is testing a wristband that can track people during the coronavirus pandemic.

By Rev SEIK PITOI
BY the grace of God, we find ourselves safely over the yearly divide, having just crossed into the new year, 2021.
A belated Happy New Year and congratulations on making it through! But what a crazy year 2020 was. It was the Hebrew year 5780, and the exciting prospect of a double decade with its “new beginnings” meant that something special was on the horizon.
However, not too many foresaw that a “new normal” would be enveloped inside the “new beginnings!” Soon, the world sat up and took notice of that tiny bug as it wreaked havoc, bringing mighty nations down to their knees. And the craziest thing is, a year on, Covid-19 marches on abated. It is not over yet. The drama continues!
By way of assessment, I wish to share in this article some of the things I have observed as we journeyed through this tempestuous year. These are things that have taken place on the world scene, as well as in our nation and in the church of God. From these, we will have some idea of what to expect as the rest of this year unfolds.
In crossing over, we are now into the first month of January. Some of you will be familiar with the Roman god, Janus, whom the month is named after. Ancient Roman religion and mythology mentions him as the god of beginnings and transitions, as well as of gates, doorways and passages. Statues of Janus have him with two faces – one looking behind and the other looking ahead. As such, January is when we look back to assess the year that was, and look ahead to the challenges of the coming year.

A shaken world
In 2020, the vulnerability of all the nations was exposed. When coronavirus attacked, each nation took a hit, with some suffering more than others. As the death rates soared across the world, lockdowns were imposed restricting the movement of citizens. Economies all over started to nosedive, workers were laid off, companies shut down and the ordinary person began to feel the pinch. Soon, revolts and general unrest broke out in many countries as the people protested the poverty brought upon them, and the severe treatment dished out by the authorities to control their movement in fear of the virus spreading.
Meanwhile, it seemed like here in the Pacific, we were having it easy. Soon, however, the virus made its entrance but it did not behave the same way as it did on the other continents. Nonetheless, our national government and her agencies sprang into action, taking necessary measures to ensure the population was safe.
We too had our lockdowns and the economy also took a hit. However, as was expressed by the Pandemic Controller, Commissioner Manning recently, we can attribute our good fortune so far mainly to the grace and mercy of God. Indeed, we are grateful to the many Christians in PNG who prayed, fasted, repented and interceded, based on 2 Chronicles 7: 14, on behalf of our people. That, together with the Government’s efforts, including our frontline health workers, plus the general cooperation of the people to adhere to Covid-19 protocols of social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing, made all the difference.
As the controller said, it is not over yet. We must continue to adhere to the protocols.
Life as we knew it changed somewhat. Business meetings were conducted using “zoom”, and even seeing masked men entering banks didn’t raise any security alarm as they normally would! On the education front, schools, colleges and universities explored new avenues such as online teaching/learning, with some moving comfortably into those areas. The education department and all the hard working teachers nationwide should be commended for a job well done. By the end of the year, exams were completed and student selections made. Even graduation ceremonies were held, but with slight changes. Despite the disturbances made by the onset of the virus, the year ended quite well for all.

Churches
For the first time, churches remained empty on the days of worship during the lockdown period. For those who don’t care to worship God, that was not an issue. But for churches who do not receive handouts from the Government or any other source, it was certainly an issue. These churches depend on the tithes and offerings of their parishioners, so to keep people away meant churches would not have enough to pay for utilities, bills and rates, not to mention salaries for pastors and church staff.
Church leaders also noticed and spoke up about the anomaly of imposing restrictions on weekly church services while markets, bus stops, sports venues and disco houses were packed daily with people! Thankfully again, normal church services were soon restored, but with calls to maintain the Covid protocols.
Covid-19 revealed something else in the Church of God. It revealed that man is man, and God alone is God. Not even the most gifted of prophets can take God’s place. I took note of prophecies made by men of God on video about Covid-19 and I noticed one thing – they were all wrong!
Apart from Emmanuel Makandiwa, who was spot on with his prophecy given some years before Covid-19 on the origin, nature and severity of the pandemic, all others such as Prophet TB Joshua, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Tracey Cooke, to name a few, were off the mark. Each predicted that on a certain date, or after a certain number of deaths, the virus would disappear. That did not happen.
While I will not judge these servants of God whom I respect, I believe the Lord was simply affirming His word that says, “Let God be true and every man a liar” (Rom 3:4); and, “for we know in part and we prophecy in part” (1 Cor 13: 9).

A forecast for 2021
No, I am not going to prophecy in detail like our friends mentioned above. I’m not qualified enough. Also, I’m not a prophet, nor do I make a profit! But I will safely say what the economists, political scientists, health experts and even weather forecasters are telling us. We are being warned of some very trying times coming ahead. In fact, just recently another strain of the virus has been detected in Great Britain.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who almost died from the virus earlier on, said this new version of Covid-19 “is 70 per cent more contagious than the original strain”. The new variant has made its way through Europe and has been detected in Israel, Australia and recently in America. As the new strain moves across the world, lockdowns are being reimposed. Economists and financial forecasters are looking nervously at what this new wave of attack will bring about on their nations’ economies!
To curtail this spread, though, measures are being taken by world governments. Right now, visitors to certain countries will be required by law to wear bracelets that will detect their movements using GPS satellite location data. To enforce quarantine, several nations are testing similar wristbands to make sure people are obeying orders to stay at home.
South Korea and Hong Kong have also been using electronic trackers to help enforce quarantine. Other nations are spying on their citizens using satellite tracking devises to make sure Covid-19 rules are not broken. As a result, civil liberties groups are now beginning to protest this invasion of privacy which governments claim is necessary to keep the population safe.
Together with the above measures, we now have the much talked about vaccine being rolled out. This is supposed to be the solution to all our problems. Life can return to normal after everyone gets vaccinated.
It was initially being offered to those who choose to get it, however, many nations are now considering enforcing it by law. Not to be vaccinated means one will not be able to buy or sell, travel by airplane, or enjoy other privileges. Interestingly, two thousand years ago, God showed an old man who was exiled on a lonely island that something like this would happen.
He wrote about it thus: “And he causeth all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the bond, that there be given them a mark on their right hand, or upon their forehead; and that no man should be able to buy or to sell, save he that hath the mark…” (Rev 13: 16-17 KJV).
What else is the Lord telling us about this year? Despite what may look like a gloomy start to the year, these are exciting days to be alive. God is ready to do some tremendous things in our lives. Join me in my next article to see what He says in His word to encourage us!

  • Rev Seik Pitoi is a freelance writer.

The Aporo’uri Resource Owners Association Incorporated Land Groups chairmen with representatives from Namo’aporo Landowners Association and Mineral Resource Development Company after the annual general meeting last Monday at Sisibia village, Kutubu local level government. – Nationalpics by PETER WARI

Land groups affirm solidarity

By PETER WARI
TWO ethnic groups, the Foe to the south and Fasu to the north are landowners of the Kutubu oil project in Southern Highlands.
Oil was first discovered in the Iagifu structure in 1986, and production commenced in 1992 by Chevron Niugini. The operations have now been taken over by Oil Search Ltd. The 139 incorporated land groups (ILGs) from the Foe tribe formed the Foe Landowner Association, while the 117 ILGs from Fasu formed the Namo’aporo Landowners Association to be the mouthpieces of the project impact landowners.
Mineral Resources Development Company (MRDC) was mandated as the umbrella company to manage the landowners’ interest in both mining and petroleum projects. The landowner company Petroleum Resource Kutubu (PRK) Ltd’s corporate, financial investment and other affairs are managed by MRDC under agreement.
PRK is a subsidiary of MRDC. It was incorporated in 1989 under the Companies Act to hold the landowner and provincial government equity in the Kutubu petroleum project. It currently manages 6.75 per cent equity in the project on behalf of the beneficiaries in Petroleum Development License 2 (PDL2). The beneficiaries of PRK are the Southern Highlands and Gulf provincial governments and landowners of Foe and Fasu in SHP, and Kikori pipeline area of Gulf.
However, for the Fasu tribe, an agreement was reached for an association to be established to look after affairs of some of the ILGs within Namo’aporo Landowners Association (NLA) so the Aporo’uri Resource Owners Association (AUROA) came into existence.
These associations recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the Stanley Hotel in Port Moresby to review a previous one signed in 2001. Four days before Christmas Day, the two parties gathered at Sisibia village in the Kutubu local level government and showed their unity in traditional Fasu way in front of ILG chairmen and their people. The event coincided with the first AUROA annual general meeting.
AUROA chairman Paul Yawe said NLA was the umbrella association representing the Fasu tribal landowners of the PDL 2 area and AUROA was the subsidiary association to NLA.
He said the MOU signed between AUROA and NLA was purposely to give powers and rights for AUROA to take a lead role for and on behalf of the Fasu tribal landowners in Moran PDL 2 unitised project, South east Manada PDL 2, Moran PDL 5 and North west Moran PDL 6.
He said NLA as the umbrella association was the custodian of the Fasu tribal landowners and the ILGs affiliated to AUROA were part of the 117 ILGs which affiliated to NLA. He said NLA did not have any control over them, especially those from Moran project.
“Today about 47 ILGs have been affiliated to AUROA and it held its first AGM. This is the beginning of a new era where the two associations will work together.
“In the AGM, the ILG chairmen resolved and agreed in the presence of NLA and MRDC that all affiliated ILGs would pay a yearly K200 affiliation fee into the AUROA account and approved the amended constitution to enforce provisions in the association’s constitution,” he said.
He said they have agreed for AUROA to institute legal proceedings against Kumul Petroleum Holdings Ltd (KPHL), Homa Pawa People’s Association and Moran Oil Ltd for transferring Moran PDL 5, equity shares initially held by Eda Oil Ltd to Moran Oil Ltd without their knowledge.
He said the reason for the resolution was that Moran PDL 5 was principally owned by two tribal groups; Moran Fasu and Moran Huli. All the project related agreements were signed by both tribal groups. The Moran Fasu Landowners have 10 per cent interest in the Moran PDL 5.
Yawe said the beneficiaries of the Fasu Moran PDL 5 received their benefits through AUROA.
Yawe said as landowner associations, they would now cooperate and fight hard for better social and economic benefits.
He said three decades have passed since the start of oil production and no tangible social and economic benefits have been achieved.
He said this was because of ignorance by elected MPs and differences between the tribe and the first AGM meeting and MoU signed has given confidence for a better tomorrow.

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