BIG POLITICAL ISSUES don’t come much more elephantine than government nationalisation of a major private enterprise and it was no surprise that readers found this move and its many related issues to be a source of great controversy during the month.
But trumping even that development for PNG Attitude commenters was a range of other matters readers thought worth focussing attention on.
They included the continuing saga of Belden Namah; the fate of Simbu émigrés who, upon their return home, are conned by cunning locals; how PNG will have prospered in 20 years’ time; the plight of the street children; and even a controversy about one of Michael Dom’s more abstract poems.
And, before moving on to our most commented writing in September, a reminder that the K500 Rivers Harmony Writing Prize is open for business and it’s time to start sending in your entries. Check out the details at the top of this page.
1st 22 comments– Misconceptions & bad assumptions about Belden (David Ephraim). Opposition leader Belden Namah is perhaps Papua New Guinea’s most controversial politician, and a man people can’t decide is a hero or a villain. Like most of us, perhaps, he’s a mixture. “The idea that he is a dictatorial type, a danger to democracy and rule of law and other things some people write about him, is totally baseless,” argues David Ephraim. It was bound to trigger a debate on the character of this prominent PNG political figure.
2nd 19 comments - The gullible one-day millionaires of Simbu (Sil Bolkin). The enterprise of the Simbu people has meant that they have done well for themselves in the world beyond the mountains of PNG’s central highlands. But when they come home to visit, they too frequently discover that some of those left behind have found less than honest ways of expressing that enterprise. As well as exposing the cons, Sil Bolkin mourns the hausman tradition by which “ethics and morality, planning and budgeting, warfare and peace, weather patterns and astronomy, and much else were all diligently taught to the youths in the twilight of the glowing embers of the fireplace”.
3rd 18 comments - In 20 years, Fiji will be Singapore & we’ll be Nigeria (David Ephraim). David used Nigeria and Singapore as figurative not literal models for the future of PNG but that was too subtle for some readers. Still it was a debate worth having because it is arguable that, even after 38 years of independence, PNG’s ultimate personality and structure has not yet been determined. The current generation still retains much influence over that question.
4th 17 comments - Remarkable story: The nationalisation of Ok Tedi (Stephen Howes). “The short version of my argument,” wrote Prof Howes, “is that, while the government has achieved a stunning victory, it is quite possibly a temporary one, and it is an outcome which represents poor public policy and a setback to development in PNG.” An article that explained and analysed the takeover of PNG’s second largest mine and that attracted an audience worldwide.
5th 16 comments - The Parody of Perfection - new poetry from PNG (Michael Dom). There is plenty of argument in abstraction, as the response to this wry and subterranean poetry showed….
Suppose Perfection is a state of mind
And the ‘mind’ is a result of complex
Electrochemical reactions which
Occur within isolated systems
Approximated by an aqueous
Solution, then define Perfection as
Perfection = axy + bx + c
Perfect + ion (aq) = axy + bx + c
Perfect = axy + bx + c – ion (aq)
=6th 15 comments - The street people for whom there is no tomorrow (Francis S Nii). “The number of waifs and strays on the streets is constantly on the rise…. If they are lucky, a cup of coffee complements the flour balls. Otherwise cold water suffices.” Another high impact essay from Francis illustrating the devastating effects of poverty and neglect on some of the most vulnerable people in PNG – the children.
=6th 15 comments - Big game fishing in the Highlands & other lessons (Phil Fitzpatrick). Phil employs three interesting articles in PNG Attitude to reflect on the state of PNG society today and to wonder where it might lead. “One wonders whether it is possible to see what has happened on Bougainville as a portending microcosm of the anarchy that might overtake the whole of Papua New Guinea one day. The absurdity of tinpot and criminal warlords in Bougainville jockeying for position in the queue waiting to feed off the proceeds of a re-opened mine seems to be very real.”
=8th 13 comments – Stability for whom? 1 – On thieves & pilferers (Gary Juffa). And this was one of the articles that set Phil’s mind racing. Oro Province Governor Gary Juffa addressed the issue of whether the PNG government’s search for political stability may be hiding deeper, more sinister developments in the body politic.
=8th 13 comments - PNG government takes full ownership of Ok Tedi (Liam Fox). More on the dramatic move by the O’Neill government to take full ownership of the controversial Ok Tedi mine.
10th 11 comments - Colonialism? Change would have happened anyway (Bernard Yegiora). Bernard responded to Sil Bolkin’s ‘one-day millionaires’ article by positing that PNG would have ended up with the problems and challenges it faces today whether it had been colonised or not.