AND SO WE COME TO ESOTERICA CORNER. You have 10 seconds to answer. What is PNG Attitude's editorial policy? Hmmm. As you have failed, deafeningly so, you will just have to sit there while I summarise.
Of most importance, PNG Attitude has an unwavering bias towards original writing. If there was enough of it, and if it canvassed wide the matters that interest us (see Categories column at left for details), we would offer only material that had not seen the light of day elsewhere.
But that is too much to ask of a project that pays its contributors nothing and is unlikely to be in a position to do so this side of the publisher growing another two legs and winning the Melbourne Cup.
Here at PNG Attitude we especially enjoy material which has something new or insightful to say about Papua New Guinea, or the PNG-Australia relationship. Or which offer a glimpse into the beating heart of Melanesian culture, society and politics. Or which is an original expression of creative literature.
We are particularly fond of Papua New Guinean writers. In some respects, the regular presence on our main page of 20 or so of these prolific contributors from PNG represents a considerable raison d’etre.
In the same breath, I must mention those expats (for want of a better collective term) who retain close contacts with PNG and who also provide us with such distinctive and worthwhile material.
PNG Attitude is keen to encourage debate and feedback and the Comments column is the primary forum for this.
While we’re not fazed by conflict, and are passionate about exploring issues, we do abhor abuse and personal attack – an unfortunate characteristic of other parts of PNG’s social media. (We recognise, though, that what one person sees as critique another may take to be vilification. That's perception hard at work.)
That said, our readers overwhelmingly choose to play the ball and not the person, and should things become excessive, we find the delete button a useful tool.
This is not a news site. We neither have the resources nor the inclination. PNG Attitude seeks to explore beneath the surface and to offer something fresh on matters which, in news terms, are well canvassed elsewhere.
And so to those articles that most motivated our readers to hit the keyboard with gusto in February….
22 comments - Better education will tackle social issues in PNG. (Joe Wasia). “Do we have any coherent plans and strategies to combat tribal fights and other violent social unrest which are too common in Papua New Guinea? I believe education would be a greatest tool to solve these issues in our country - and most of our people are really lacking an education. Joe's article created some controversy; and a lot of discussion.
18 - Sherlock Holmes in New Guinea (Peter ‘Arthur Conan’ Kranz). We’re cheating a bit here because we’ve aggregated responses to the nine episodes into a single number. Peter reinterpreted the great detective’s exploits into a New Guinea context. "Don't go for your weapons, gentlemen, you are surrounded!" said Watson, brandishing his revolver. At this moment there was a distant roar followed quickly by a tremendous shaking of the ground as if the very air around them had erupted. "Wir kapitulation!" shrieked the terrified German Kiapitan.
18 - Deported! The mysterious story of PNG & Dr Schram (Albert Schram). “On 8 February this year, I was deported from Papua New Guinea to Australia. I’d been to Singapore for a brief medical visit and, upon returning to Port Moresby, I was refused entry and put on a plane to Brisbane. I was given no chance to say goodbye to my wife or speak to my lawyer and was given no valid reason for my deportation. I was threatened with force if I refused to leave.” Dr Schram is seeking justice – and an ethical government would offer it.
16 - Show gritty leadership & let me die happy (eventually) (John Fowke). “As a minor-courts magistrate in my youth in the Gulf, I gaoled many black magic practitioners of various sorts including those known as meamea and vada. Vada is simply sanguma under another name, a belief that a sorcerer can implant death within a living victim and cause the victim to die at a time and at a place of the sorcerer's choosing. It is difficult to go any distance with changing fear-based beliefs among unworldly and naive people, as the majority of Papua New Guineans are to this day, without ongoing efforts to raise the level of education and thus of worldliness and sophistication leading to dissipation of fear.”
13 - Walking out rich from the Bougainville government (Leonard Fong Roka). Leonard exposes the ex-politicians, and their families, who have ripped off the Bougainville people. “Our young men took up arms and … we the people stood up for them with our hearts. The sacrifice is not much recognised by our present day leaders. Post-conflict Bougainville is a massive fireball of opportunists tearing apart the Bougainville our people died to save.”
13 - Peter O’Neill must act to stamp out sorcery killings (Keith Jackson). After being accused of sorcery, Kepari Leniata, 20, was stripped, tortured, bound, doused in petrol and burned alive on a rubbish heap in Mount Hagen. It quickly became a global story that showed Papua New Guinea in the worst possible light.
12 - PNG military expansion is to guard foreign corporations (PNG Mine Watch). “The increase in (PNGDF) military personnel from the current 2,000 to around 10,000 is not a move designed to increase security along PNG’s border with Indonesia, nor to deal with international people smuggling and drug trafficking. The move to increase the size of the military has everything to do with guarding the huge operations of foreign corporations like Exxon-Mobil and MCC.”
10 - Why is that man standing on his head? Cultural awareness turned upside down (Phil Fitzpatrick). “I’ve discovered that instead of trying to teach the developers about the exotic traditional cultures upon which they are about to wreak havoc it is sometimes handier to teach the locals about the exotic modern culture that is about to be imposed upon them. In short, to teach locals how white people think and behave rather than teaching white people how locals think and behave.”
10 - Education in PNG: horror-child of Australian left ideology (John Fowke) It was those bloody left wing teachers wot done it, guv. “Any pretence to excellence of outcome in education was sacrificed to the sibilant susurrations of fluttering left wings,” Fowkey fulminated.
10 - Nothing more obscene than a fat man on a bicycle (Phil Fitzpatrick). “When that fat man on his bicycle, which is really the poor old groaning state of Papua New Guinea, rides past take a closer look at his face and you’ll see that it’s not a politician like you thought but a public servant. And as long as his fat arse is hanging over the saddle things will continue on just as they are now.”
10 - Hey Mr Somare, have we got a deal for you! (Phil Fitzpatrick). “Whether Papua New Guinea was ready to govern itself in 1975 is a moot point really. It had been governing itself for thousands of years already. The question was rather whether it was prepared to centralise its government in the same way as Australia and other western countries so that it could be dealt with on their terms rather than its own.”