Solomon Islands businesswoman Millicent Barty is a champion of kastom, and of the need to use traditional ways of acquiring knowledge and transferring information in addressing some the most pressing social and development questions facing her country and our region.
Barty started her company, Millicent Designs, after returning home as a design graduate from Goldsmith’s College at the university of London. While she was well-qualified, and had life experience gained from living ten years in Jakarta, Barty was unable to find work in Honiara. Now she has not only her own company, but is the Chair of the Young Entrepreneurs Council of Solomon Islands, and is mentoring other young Pacific island social entrepreneurs though ygap.
“What really frustrated me being back in the village context was simply that my aunties and my uncles couldn’t participate in a simple conversation around ‘why don’t we have running water, what is the role of my Minister,’ Barty said. “I realised that a lot of NGOs and ministries through their civic awareness outreach programs, what they were leaving behind was text-heavy brochures and pamphlets. I often disagreed with that.”
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For those on the front line, fighting corruption in Papua New Guinea can be a dangerous occupation. It wasn’t that long ago that a former Ombudsman Commissioner was shot. Sam Koim, chairman of PNG’s anti-corruption coordinating body, Taskforce Sweep, knows all about the dangers that come with the job. In February this year, his office was ransacked. In a video footage of the aftermath, Koim looks down the camera lens in defiance; he asserts that the incident will not deter him or his team. The office of Taskforce Sweep was targeted because of its success. It has registered over 200 cases of corruption, and recovered over 68 million Kina (around A$32 million). This has meant Koim has become somewhat of a celebrity, sought by the media, researchers and policy makers. Despite his busy schedule, I managed to catch up with him while he was in Geelong for a symposium on PNG at Deakin University. This blog post, based on our conversation, reports on Koim’s perceptions about corruption, the taskforce, new anti-corruption organisations, the challenges facing anti-corruption organisations, solutions and the road ahead. Taskforce Sweep is a multi-agency taskforce that was established by the national government of PNG in August 2011. Initially set up to investigate allegations aimed at the Department of National Planning, the taskforce’s mandate was subsequently extended to cover other government departments. Koim told me the government recently agreed to support Taskforce Sweep until arrangements for a new anti-corruption institution are decided. As outlined in PNG’s National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2010-2030, this new institution is likely to be an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
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