ONE OF THE GREAT things about PNG Attitude is the way in which its readers also become its contributors through the Recent Comments feature, which provides one of the social media’s most civilised and scintillating forums for discussion and debate on Papua New Guinea affairs.
While the statistics we gather at Attitude show Comments to be as well read as the main page, we nevertheless reproduce as lead articles some of the more thoughtful and well argued commentaries (dutifully edited) where we believe they deserve wider attention.
In December it was pleasing to see that four of the most commented pieces were written by our writing fellowship holders. Not all the fellows have produced the goods (the fellowship grant was handed over up front in trust that the writing would follow) but there’s time yet for the laggards to show us their full range of wares.
The fellowships – entirely funded by PNG Attitude readers – were offered to encourage emerging writers to produce original articles and essays for original publication in these columns.
No restraint was placed on their further publication and many have found other homes, especially in the pages of the PNG Post-Courier’s weekend literary section, edited by the formidable Patrick (‘Big Pat’) Levo.
And so to the most commented upon articles in December 2012….
20 comments - Human rights without morality become human wrongs (Ganjiki D Wayne, Bea Amaya Writing Fellow). Just the merest suggestion by Ganjiki that secular morality might not be as pure as religious morality set off a grand debate that went well beyond the compelling-enough issue of human rights.
16 - A senior police officer's view of policing in PNG (John Murray APM). John has spent many years scrutinising South Pacific police forces and in this article cast a practised eye over Papua New Guinea.... “Deaths from sorcery, tribal battles and cannibalism continue in PNG but tend to be neglected by the chronically incompetent Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary on the basis that the people are acting according to their traditions.”
15 - Christians say a law against polygamy is urgent (Agenzia Fides). “Polygamy is not just an anti-Christian practice and against the moral law, but it is also a social threat and this is why a law to prevent it is urgent, say Christian communities in Papua New Guinea.”
14 - Is it going to rain in Moresby today, Karl? Lisa? Anyone? (Richard Marles). Australia’s parliamentary secretary for Pacific Island Affairs urged Channel 9’s morning program, Today, which apparently has many viewers in PNG, to start covering the Port Moresby weather. Back to solving some real problems now, eh Richard….
13 - Volte farce! Bob Carr is PNG’s newest, bestest friend (Keith Jackson). After an inauspicious start to his tenure over the bilateral relationship, Australian foreign minister Bob Carr made his first visit to PNG in December and became both an instant expert and PNG’s best buddy. It was quite a turnaround, which we look forward to being maintained until at least the next election.
12 - Australian advisers to be appointed to 89 PNG districts (Paul Oates). The story itself turned out to be a furphy but Paul’s well-structured curriculum for how advisers should be recruited and orientated was a contribution well appreciated by readers.
11 - Belden Namah’s prison dreams: a couple of steps to go (Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin, Phil Fitzpatrick Writing Fellow). Sil Bolkin met the charismatic Namah while he was doing time at Bomana gaol for sedition. In this article he recounted the incident and his subsequent feelings about the former deputy prime minister.
11 - Singing dog caught on camera for first time in 23 years (Sara Tan). “In August, in the PNG highlands, Tom Hewitt stumbled upon one of the rarest and most mysterious animals in the world - the New Guinea singing dog [and] Hewitt was lucky enough to capture one of the only photographs of the shy canine creature.”
10 - Discovering that death & taxes are the only certainties (Joe Wasia, Bob Cleland Writing Fellow). “I took out the pay slip and started reading. The words ‘gross pay’ were written at the top and upon seeing the figure next to it my lungs flapped. I stopped and thanked myself for the hard work and sleepless nights at school. Then I continued reading the details and, towards the end, there was the word ‘tax’ - a word I had only read about in text books and newspapers. Beside it was an amount which was almost half of the salary.”
8 - PNG’s 12 turbulent months – what really happened (Ian Kemish). Australia’s high commissioner to Papua New Guinea gave one of the year’s most interesting commentaries on Australia’s relationship with PNG. “To understand Papua New Guinea – the maturity or otherwise of its institutions, the commitment of its people to democracy – it is important to appreciate what really happened in the 12 turbulent months leading to Peter O’Neill’s finally undisputed emergence, on 3 August this year, at the head of this new and energetic government. It is a story of painful generational succession - one which tested the country’s constitution and political institutions more than any other moment in its post-independence history. It was a crisis that lasted exactly a year and a day.”
8 - The mad, bad and beautiful dogs of Moresby (Peter Kranz). “Whilst living at Fort Banner in Port Moresby we decided we needed some bodyguards. So Rose came home from Gordon's market one day with two puppies.” One of our commenters turned out to be the architect who had given Fort Banner its name.
8 - Decision on seabed mining in PNG must be reversed (Joe Wasia, Bob Cleland Writing Fellow). Joe argued that the PNG government had rushed into this revolutionary form of minerals extraction and should pause for greater investigation and consideration.