IT WAS a Facebook post that caught my eye. He’d posted two of his latest paintings, this Facebook friend I’d never met in person.
Clement Koys is a talented and down to earth young man with passion and commitment. He’s a lad from Simbu now living in Port Moresby.
Clement’s paintings are attractive and eye-catching. But since I am interested in Papua New Guinea’s cultural heritage and do volunteer work on cultural preservation and promotion, I was particularly intrigued.
You see dried grass over rough cut logs
And the earth floor of my house
When I open my home to you
And you think to yourself how you can help me.
I smelled the air that morning we cut the kunai grass
And I heard the children laughing as they played
On the green knoll beside us
And I tasted the sweet sour sweat
As we hewed the living trees to earth.
Two Sides to Every Story: A short guide to cross cultural awareness in Papua New Guinea, Philip Fitzpatrick, Pukpuk Publications, 2016, ISBN: 978-1537118406, 114 pages, US$5.53 plus postage from Amazon Books
SEVERAL years ago I wrote a paper about cultural awareness. It was based on my experiences working in Papua New Guinea, with indigenous communities in Australia and in some South Pacific islands, including Vanuatu and the Cook Islands.
My target audience was resource and project developers in Papua New Guinea. With that in mind I consulted many sources including a number of Papua New Guineans working in the field - geologists, camp managers and anthropologists.
I was prompted to write the paper, which finds a new life in this book, after watching the unnecessary problems that development workers and project managers seem to experience in Papua New Guinea because of their lack of cultural awareness.
An entry in the Crocodile Prize
As the Sun sets over Mount Kauka,
A magnificent ray of golden red splatters the horizon.
Before the night makes the world darker,
That ancient Sun is certain to rise again when it dawns.
Beautiful golden red, pink and purple,
Such are colours to behold.
But if a sunset has them all,
Now that is a moment untold.
CAIRNS businesses have lashed out at Qantas for abandoning direct Cairns-Papua New Guinea flights.
Qantas announced last month that, due to high demand for flights to Bali, it would be reducing its domestic flights in regional areas.
This includes shifting its Cairns-Port Moresby flights to Brisbane-Port Moresby from the end of October in order to better serve the business market.
DON Williams ('Old Baldy', he'd call himself) was hewn of the toughest and roughest stuff that they grow in the urban jungles of Sydney’s west.
Of gravel voice and challenging mien, he had a fondness for racehorses, bourbon, fishing and Camels. In no particular order of preference.
Those same cigarettes, he told me in our last conversation three weeks ago, were certainly responsible for the cancer in both lungs that killed him.
Don had called me to explain his circumstances and to say goodbye. We had a long conversation.
TANYA ZERIGA-ALONE | EmnauPNG’s Blog
GETTING ahead in life by cheating the system is extolled as the smarter way, smarter than following rules and regulations that keep societies fair for all citizens.
This is observed on PMV buses, in taxis and with political leaders. Smart lawyers divulge that information to business prospects.
How did this mentality come about? Maybe this lack of respect is a carry-over from the lack of trust pervasive along tribal lines. Everyone wants to get ahead at any cost but cannot trust anyone outside the tribe.
We need more common sense. But common sense is not common; it is a product of culture. If by common sense we mean Western custom, this alien custom needs to be learned. It is not captured through association or by watching reruns of Neighbours or Ramsey Street.
WHILE the political system in Papua New Guinea has thrown up a particularly venal type of politician, in Australia it has created something quite different.
Here the standout politicians are the cruel and unfeeling ones.
That isn’t to say Papua New Guinea’s politicians aren’t also cruel and unfeeling or that Australian politicians aren’t greedy and avaricious.
Greedy politicians still hurt people and cruel and unfeeling politicians usually have an economic motive at their base. It’s just that in our two supposedly democratic countries the emphasis is different.
MY SON Ben Jackson has just been appointed as communications specialist to an important Australian-funded project in Papua New Guinea.
Together with partner Becky and three-year old daughter Leilani, Ben will head to Port Moresby at the end of September to work in the new Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct.
This is a joint PNG-Australia program that aims to develop ethical leaders who will implement the PNG government’s priorities for national development. It’s a visionary project aimed at effective service delivery and equitable growth across PNG.
Land of the Unexpected: short stories, anecdotes and memoirs of Papua New Guinea, Peter Comerford, APM Publishing Services, 2016, ISBN: 978-0994447425, 360 pages, $25 plus postage from Peter. Email him here
WHEN Peter Comerford’s book arrived in the mail a few weeks ago I looked at the title and cover and thought, ‘Oh dear, not another one’, and put the book at the bottom of my stack of unread books.
When I eventually worked my way down to it I discovered a note inside from Peter that explained his own trepidation about the title,
“My original idea for a title was ‘Tingting Bek …’ but in the end I went with the highly ‘original’ title of ‘Land of the Unexpected’”.
I’ve never been very good with book titles and headlines either. That’s more in the line of an expert journalist like Keith Jackson and I can sympathise with Peter.
THE gaping hole carved into mountains was at one point the world's largest open-cut copper mine.
Right on Australia's doorstep, it delivered riches beyond imagining and a mess big enough to tear a country apart.
This controversial pit became the flashpoint for a bitter civil war in Papua New Guinea in the 1990s that cost as many as 20,000 lives.
THE turbulent events of recent months in Papua New Guinea have greatly affected our daily lives.
For the first time ever, I am beginning to think seriously about our country and what the future holds for us as a nation.
We are going to celebrate our country’s independence next month. It is an occasion when we come together as family and friends to celebrate the journey of triumphs and travails we have taken together.
So many people in PNG today are disillusioned by the accumulated injustices they see all around them.
They believe the future is really not promising.
IN HIS critical review of traditional kastom in Papua New Guinea, Sam Koim should have been more specific.
He should have stated that our culture has been politicised both by politicians and those mostly western educated men who have become bikman by money and who go back to the village to flaunt their wealth in order to buy support and recognition.
This is a total abuse of our customary systems.
I am writing this as someone who comes from a simple background and who has been privileged to witness and experience the benefits of customary practices like hauskrai and bride price and the benefits they have on society.
PAPUA New Guinea's deputy opposition leader Sam Basil has expressed concern over the 400% increase in local level government election candidate’s nomination fees from K2,000 to K10,000.
In parliament late last week, a series of questions was asked about the local level government elections and prime minister Peter O'Neill indicated that the next sitting of parliament will seek to amend the election laws.
"That is to increase the nomination fees to help fund the shortfalls in the overall funding of the Electoral Commission budget which was reduced from K500 million to K300-million,” Mr Basil said.
IT IS now clear that PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill’s decision to transfer part of his government’s equity in Bougainville Copper Ltd to “the Bougainville people” specifically excludes the transfer of shares to the Autonomous Bougainville Government.
O’Neill said he "deliberately decided" to do this so "the ABG does not control the shares.”
And Bougainville president John Momis is furious.
Rio Tinto recently decided to quit its stake in BCL and foolishly transferred shares to give the feuding PNG and Bougainville governments equal equity.
HELA landowners from the Hides area have signed a memorandum of understanding with a PNG government team paving the way for normal business operations to resume at the Exxon LNG project.
Petroleum and Energy Minister Nixon Duban was present at the signing and agreed to honour all the matters in a landowners’ petition that would be taken to cabinet for further action.
The government provided bank documents showing that royalty money had been deposited in Bank South Pacific and the Bank of PNG. Government officers have also begun the clan vetting process to determine who should receive payments.
An entry in the 2016 Crocodile Prize
You’re hurting me, please stop I cried
I’m sorry that your brother died.
Your brother was my son, you see,
So stop this pain. You’re hurting me.
I’m sorry that your father died,
He was my husband, at my side.
He was so old, he could not walk,
He even found it hard to talk.
I’m sorry that your daughter died.
In God’s own hand she’ll now abide.
She was my grandchild, dear to me,
I would not harm her, don’t you see.
OUR customary practices in Papua New Guinea are mostly geared towards wealth consumption not wealth generation.
Whether it's haus krai, compensation, bride price or Moka, all are designed to consume wealth.
There is no wealth transfer during these customary exercises nor is there wealth generation.
THE forgotten backwater that is Daru is to receive funding from Australian Aid for its seriously dilapidated hospital.
Daru hospital has only three wards in one unit. According to Hospital CEO Sister Orpah Tugo, the paediatrics ward, the surgery ward and the medical ward are all stationed in one unit with 10 beds allocated for each.
Furthermore, the gynaecology ward, the labour ward and the obstetrics ward share one unit again with 10 beds allocated for each.
An entry in the 2016 Crocodile Prize
Tell me now, what have I become, a creature of the dark?
I don’t have my own soul.
I am not my own.
Living on the wasted
Feeding on the remains of the night
A life I call mine
Screams out through the window of my insanity.
Tell me now, what have I become, a creature of the dark?
I cannot sleep.
It has ceased with time.
I remain locked, trapped, a prisoner of my insanity
Robbed from the joys that were once mine.
WHEN prime minister Peter O’Neill welcomed the passing of Papua New Guinea’s cybercrime legislation this week, he said the internet must be a place where "human rights are respected and cowards not misuse technology to hurt people and incite violence.”
Commentator Martyn Namorong’s immediate response was to say he was quitting his long-running and respected blog, The Namorong Report.
He said the new laws had elements that caused him concern, including a section with vague references to "defamation" and "undermining the state"which could potentially be used to quash criticism of the government.
THE University of Papua New Guinea will today initiate contempt of court proceedings against Student's Representative Council lawyer Laken Lepatu Aigilo.
UPNG allege the young lawyer (pictured) encouraged students to go on strike after the court issued a restraining order not to do so.
UPNG is also blaming Aigilo for property damage that occurred when campus buildings were burned down.
"I welcome the proceeding and, if the law finds me guilty, let me serve the prison term," Aigilo said.
THE CATHOLIC church dedicates August as the month of the bible and Catholics everywhere are called to read the good book with renewed energy, zeal and commitment to prayer.
This year’s theme is ‘listen to God’s heartbeat in the bible’. For Christians, God speaks to us in the bible and, when we read the bible, meditate and listen deeper, we can feel God’s heart beat in his words.
In Goroka, Bishop Francesco Sarego, in one of his final homilies, challenged parishioners of St Mary of Help Kefamo to make the gospel become a reality in their lives.
“If you don’t read your bibles, it is useless,” Bishop Sarego observed. “The words of God do not reach your hearts. Read your bibles and let it open your hearts.”
The bishop concluded that Jesus was a model in serving others; he lived a life of serving, sharing and caring for others. Jesus revealed God’s infinite mercy for mankind.
PETER O’Neill has avoided a full frontal clash with the Autonomous Bougainville Government by agreeing to give it a majority stake in the Panguna gold and copper mine.
In a move that was fundamentally stupid, mining giant Rio Tinto in June decided to split its 53.8% stake in Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) to leave the PNG and Bougainville governments each with 36.4% of the equity.
It was a recipe for potential conflict and tragedy which only a global company with no sense of the society and culture within which it was operating could have formulated.
ON THE eve of his visit to Australia to attend the Brisbane Writers Festival, award winning writer and political commentator Martyn Namorong has decided to shut down his blog to, as he put it, “avoid the risk of being charged under PNG's new cybercrime laws”.
Namorong announced to his readers yesterday that “in light of PNG's new draconian cybercrime legislation, I regret to inform you all that my blog is no longer available for public viewing.”
He says he is concerned that the new legislation, passed by parliament last week, could lead to a crackdown on freedom of expression in Papua New Guinea although officially the Cybercrime Bill seeks to control things like spam, hacking, forgery and computer fraud.
IN PARLIAMENT on Wednesday 10 August, prime minister Peter O’Neill made a number of statements, which were published in the media, about the PNG Sustainable Development Program Ltd (PNGSDP) and me.
All of them are untrue. The prime minister should apologise for misleading parliament and the public.
It reflects very badly on the office of the prime minister for Mr O’Neill to regularly twist the facts, tell half-truths and make misleading statements designed to deceive the public and justify his actions.
LANDOWNERS in Papua New Guinea's Hides and Agnore areas of Hela Province remain firmly of the view that the government must provide the benefits they were promised in relation to the liquefied natural gas project.
In Port Moresby at the weekend they formed a group - the Angore Well Head Leadership Committee (AWLC) - to address their issues with the government.
Chairman Hari John Agipe said the group will fill a leadership vacuum in order to pursue important issues affecting landowners.
THE first ever appearance by a group of Papua New Guinean writers at the Brisbane Writers Festival in September has just been upgraded to a prime lunchtime slot.
Francis Nii, Martyn Namorong, Rashmii Bell and Daniel Kumbon will participate in the one-hour panel discussion that organisers have entitled, ‘PNG: A State of Writing,’ from 12.30 in Auditorium 2 in the State Library of Queensland conference venue.
Collectively the four writers represent a splendid cross-section of contemporary PNG writing, ranging across the spectrum from novels to poetry, commentary and journalism.
Their names are well known to PNG Attitude readers, of course, and also to those many Papua New Guineans interested in public affairs.
REPORTS from Papua New Guinea's Hela province say landowners continue to block access to a key site in the ExxonMobil-operated LNG gas project.
The project's gas conditioning plant at Hides remains locked by landowners protesting that the government owes five years of outstanding project commitments worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
They had threatened to shut down the entire LNG project this month if government didn't respond adequately with payments.
Speaking in parliament last week, the prime minister Peter O'Neill said all outstanding payments would be made in due course, while a government delegation travelled to Hela last Wednesday for discussions with the landowners.
THE [Australian] coalition government has rightly made much recently of its policy to promote growth and jobs through its support of small and medium-size Australian businesses.
The Australian publishing industry is made up of hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses. The independent Australian publishing industry, on which printers and allied trades also rely for much of their work, directly and indirectly employs thousands of skilled and professional workers.
Abolishing territorial copyright would place Australian publishing at an impossible business disadvantage in relation to its overseas competitors. Some publishers would almost certainly be driven to the wall.
HENRY MacDonald Bodman, who died in Brisbane yesterday afternoon aged 77, began his career as a school teacher in Papua New Guinea and, upon returning to Australia after independence, emerged as a successful entrepreneur.
He was one of the ‘old men’ (at 23) and leaders of the 1962 intake at the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) and, after arriving in PNG in late 1963, spent the next year teaching at Tavui Primary T School, near the submarine base in Rabaul.
This began a distinguished career in PNG education including three years as headmaster at Kabagap near Kokopo and five years in the high pressure position of headmaster of Hohola Demonstration School in Port Moresby.
PAPUA New Guinea’s trade minister Richard Maru has accused Fiji of not honouring the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) free trade agreement between the two countries.
Maru said that for over a decade Fiji has refused to import PNG products such as Ox & Palm corned beef, Trukai Rice and others.
“We have allowed Fiji to have a trade surplus with PNG for a long time and trade volumes are increasing,” he said.
AMBULLUA is an isolated mission station in the upper Jimi valley in Jiwaka Province; about five hours walk from Kol, the nearest government station.
And if you want to walk down to the Wahgi Valley from Ambullua, you should allow yourself two days.
Because of this isolation, the Catholic priest who established the mission at Ambullua, Fr Joe McDermott, built and maintained a bush airstrip.
The approach to the strip was not great, pilots had to manoeuvre their aircraft with skill to touch down safely on the not-too-long and uphill runway where, like many of PNG’s airstrips, they could only land from one direction.
ON Saturday I went into my local bookstore and picked up a collection of essays by 23 of Australia’s most prominent writers: Tom Keneally, Kate Grenville, David Malouf, Richard Flanagan, Anna Funder, etc. They were all in there.
The unusual thing about this book was the price. It was free.
The book, #SaveOzStories, is a response to Australia’s Philistine government’s plans to destroy Australian publishing.
This crew of neo-liberal morons has already severely damaged the Australian arts industry by cutting funding and re-arranging it in favour of a select few. And now they are out to get Australian writers.
The advice they are acting upon comes from an Orwellian mob called the Productivity Commission.
These colourless characters have produced a report of over 500 pages of dense and maddening economist-speak that recommends two major changes to Australian publishing.
The first is a reduction in the copyright period from 70 years to 15-25 years. This would mean that anyone could publish a writer’s work 15 years after it was published, or after the writer has died, without permission and without any sort of remuneration for the writer or their heirs.
THE NATIONAL Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate says it is concerned with the number of court cases being struck out or dismissed.
The most recent case involved former police commissioner Geoffrey Vaki. The Waigani Committal Court dismissed it last week after finding insufficient evidence against him.
“We have come to a frightening stage where a number of unusual interferences in the criminal justice process have led to the lost cases,” said fraud head Chief Superintendent Matthew Damaru (right).
DR JOSEF Goebbels was Nazi Germany’s Minister for Propaganda from 1933 until his death in 1945.
Goebbels (pictured) is widely credited with being the first politician of the modern era to fully understand and utilise the potential of the radio, print and film media to propagate political messages to the masses.
In particular, he understood the power and persuasiveness of relentlessly repeating statements and ideas.
He reputedly boasted that no matter how big the lie, its relentless repetition would eventual convince most people it was the truth.
The psychology behind this thinking is that a lie can be converted into "the truth" provided enough people come to believe it is correct.
An entry in the 2016 Crocodile Prize
I've tried harder and harder to improve
But I'm always convicted, defeated
The course of sin is much at work
As a virus inhabiting a poor soul
Sucking out all the good I try to do
I persist in vain with these shackles
And the yoke, so overpowering
Everywhere I turn, sin is not absent
It dwells in three dimension in the world of living
I am not a perfect folk
THREE years ago Francis Xavier (Frank) Alcorta was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to veterans and their families and to journalism.
But this week it was announced that he was to be awarded a long overdue national honour for what was an episode of extraordinary bravery in a lifetime of astonishing achievement.
The Australian Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal released its recommendations for gallantry awards for 11 soldiers who fought in the epic Battle of Long Tan in Vietnam 50 years ago next Thursday. Frank was one of them.
IT IS always a proud moment for peace advocates when they see peace being built and maintained in society.
One such moment came for me when I had the opportunity to witness the peace and reconciliation ceremony between Papua New Guinea highlands students at the University of Goroka late last month.
The master of ceremonies took the stage and took the microphone to make few announcements while the pastors’ fraternal and the choir sang. The event took place about four weeks after a serious fight among students.
Tambul District in the Western Highlands Province has been neglected for the last 23 years in terms of basic government services including a road link.
The road link between Wambul and Palme villages was built in 1993by men wioelding spades and bush knives. Since then no machinery equipment has been seen in the area.
Today, thanks to Western Highlands Governor Paias Wingti, funding to gravel and upgrade the road network has been made available.
OPPOSITION Leader Don Polye has challenged Peter O'Neill’s government to take immediate corrective measures to save PNG's worsening economy from further deterioration.
"The worst is yet to come; the economy will shrink and life will be tougher, " Polye said.
But O’Neill has countered, saying PNG has a positive economic story to tell.
“The facts are that the economy is growing and that is obvious to anyone who wants to be honest,” he said.
MANY Australian readers of PNG Attitude trace their association with Papua New Guinea to a time before and maybe shortly after independence in 1975.
Those were halcyon days, not only because of the unique nature of that experience but also because it was when most of us were in the prime of our life.
Now we are all getting old and becoming reflective, no longer looking forward as much as backwards. We are now a collegiate of elders.
For many of us not a month seems to go by that we don’t hear of the passing of someone we knew back in those good old days.
Another one has fallen off the perch, another one bites the dust or, in the case of kiaps, another one has set out for the patrol post in the sky.
Some of the more colourful departures get a mention on PNG Attitude, while the Ex-Kiap website maintains a special section for reporting such transitions.
I’VE MADE many announcements since taking on the responsibility for community announcements after Sunday service at our local church in Goroka.
But last Sunday I made an announcement that I thought needed to be shared with the wider community.
Catholic Health Services in Eastern Highlands Province, in collaboration with many other organisations, is pooling ideas and resources to raise money to buy cancer treatment facilities.
The theme of the fundraising is ‘Walk the talk against cancer’ and the initiative was provoked by the lack of early detection, diagnosis, testing and specialist treatment of cancer patients in Papua New Guinea.
The death rate from cancer is increasing each year with women topping the list. Most victims are unaccounted for and suffer silently in rural areas throughout PNG.
The organisers of ‘Walk the talk’ aim to raise K10 million to buy cancer treatment facilities for facilities in Goroka, Port Moresby, Mingende and Kundiawa.
THE McKinnon-Paga Hill fellowship scheme is a great opportunity for Daniel Kumbon, Martyn Namarong and me to learn new ideas and skills about managing literature from a developed society perspective.
Australia has come a long way in the development of a national literature. Authors like Kate Forsyth, Thomas Keneally, Philip Fitzpatrick, Bob Cleland and others including our friends in the media profession will have a lot to share during our meetings and I am looking forward to all of it.
This is the first time I have travelled outside Papua New Guinea and for me there is no better place and people to visit than Australia and Australians, for they are the one that exposed PNG to the outside world and paved the way for modernisation.
EVERY weekend deep in Melanesia, a Papua New Guinea Catholic priest walks miles along rough bush tracks and scales steep mountainous terrain to reach his remote flock in the poorest parishes.
“These people live in a difficult and rugged terrain,” says Fr Christian Sieland of the Kundiawa Diocese. “God has put them there. It is their home.
“All the material used to build their church was carried by their grandfathers on their shoulders. They are proud to have the presence of the Church in their area,” Fr Sieland said.
THE World Food Program says more than 200,000 people are still in need of food aid in Papua New Guinea's highlands, as the region continues its slow recovery from the most severe El Nino-related drought in decades.
The WFP also started distributing food in Milne Bay Province this week, hoping to reach more than 50,000 people.
"We have already reached 127,000 [people] so they have been given six weeks' rations, but we need to restart the same activity again for another round and then they should be able to manage on their own," WFP Emergency Coordinator Mats Persson told the ABC.
WHEN I was a kid, my siblings and I enjoyed reading the adventures of Blinky Bill, a cute Australian koala.
But on my trip down under to the Brisbane Writers Festival in September I’ll be seeking the higher pursuit of learning from internationally recognised writers and building networks that help promote literature in Papua New Guinea.
The favourite moment of my first trip to Australia – the ‘Taking the Truth’ tour of 2012 - was visiting the Australian National Museum in Canberra where I saw the Taim Bipo (Time Before) exhibition on Torres Straits Island culture. It showed how closely connected our people are despite the modern day boundaries.
ANGRY landowners from the Hides area of the Hela Province have forced ExxonMobil to shut down its gas conditioning plant and wellheads as they seek the payment of long-promised funds.
ExxonMobil sources in Komo also confirmed that the entire pipeline corridor is closed and all wellhead operators have been forced back to the main camp.
Landowners said that if ExxonMobil doesn't cooperate, they are prepared to shut the control room themselves.
Meanwhile, Opposition leader Don Polye warned the government not to use the security force to resolve the issues. Polye said there should be dialogue and the dispute should be resolved in an amicable manner.
GRAND Chief Sir Michael Somare has declared he is supporting Sinasina-Yonggamugl (Simbu) MP Kerenga Kua to form a national government after next year’s Papua New Guinea elections.
Sir Michael, speaking at a National Party fundraiser in Port Moresby, said he wants to see the National Party – one of PNG’s first political parties - and others like it to grow in number and form the next government.
He said he supported the National Party because he believed it would be the political vehicle to change the destiny of the country.
Mr Kua, a lawyer and former Attorney-General, left the National Alliance Party – in coalition with the O’Neill government – early this year.
ALONG with Francis Nii and Martyn Namorong, I’ll be paying Australia a literary visit in the first half of September under the auspices of the McKinnon-Paga Hill Fellowhsip program.
I’m looking forward to meeting the people at the forefront, those Australians who are really concerned about the development of literature in Papua New Guinea - like Keith Jackson, Phil Fitzpatrick, Bob Cleland, Professor Ken McKinnon and many other friends of PNG.
I also look forward to meeting Australian writers, authors, journalists and publishers and compare their experiences with the situation in PNG and see if their work gets any recognition at all from the Australian government.
Previously I have entered Australia through Cairns and Brisbane a couple of times. On one of those trips, I crossed Sydney Harbour Bridge for the first time late one night and visited the Sydney Opera House, Botanical Gardens and rode on a ferry around the harbour. I felt I was really in Australia when I was in this historic spot with its iconic landmarks.