LAST month PNG Attitude was dominated by the tragic shambles that is Manus, an apparent pharmaceuticals tender rort and some bloody fine writing on a range of subjects seeping from the Asianisation of Madang, the social complexities underpinning Simbu elections and the sinister Li Wu practise that is corrupting public officials in Port Moresby.
Meanwhile, the Crocodile Prize national literary contest, which still has nearly four months to run, has already received about 180 entries from some 50 writers.
Here at PNG Attitude, we’re trying to publish as many of these entries as we can and, in doing so, are providing many first time writers with their first public exposure.
And I can add, in this respect, that the writers do enjoy reading your comments. It is hard to put too high a value on the importance of feedback to most writers who, after all, are not writing purely for their own amusement.
Anyway let me move to the pieces of writing that in February drew the most comments from our readers and also the most ticks in the ‘Like’ box. The crossover between the two groups is not as great as you might think.
TOP 10 MOST COMMENTED UPON
1st 31 comments -Pork-barrelling Jeffery ‘Santu’ Nape - saviour, giver & Nimai ninja (Bernard Yegiora). Readers responded with enthusiasm to Bernard’s insider’s account of how elections are really conducted in the PNG highlands. The DWU academic filled a gap in outsiders’ understanding of why the generally astute Simbu nations persist in electing people to national parliament who will later disappoint them. Bit like Australians ….
2nd 26 comments - The despair that is Manus: How many more will die? (Gary Juffa). The Oro governor pondered upon the plight of asylum seekers cooped up on Manus in conditions that turn them to madness and violence and he wondered about the morality of those Australians and Papua New Guineans who would condemn people fleeing oppression to such depravity.
3rd 25 comments - Why didn’t the Pharaohs build pyramids in Papua New Guinea? (Phil Fitzpatrick). Phil took a look at unusual phenomena that seem to defy explanation – except from our readers. “There seems to be a plethora of this stuff in Australia. I’ve heard about stone harbours in Queensland built by ancient Phoenician seafarers but I’ve never heard about similar things in Papua New Guinea. At least not until I read Gordon Saville’s 1974 book, ‘King’ of Kiriwina.
4th 20 comments - Michael Dom poetry collection is latest entry in Book of the Year (Keith Jackson). PNG’s first Book of the Year Award (sponsored by Ok Tedi Mining Ltd) is going gang busters with five entries already. The most recent is At Another Crossroads, a first collection of the poetry of Michael Dom (I’m awaiting my copy from Amazon). Michael, an agricultural scientist by profession, is one of Papua New Guinea’s most talented and prolific poets and a previous Crocodile Prize winner.
5th 16 comments - PNG drugs crisis - how many will die before morality prevails? (Barbara Short). Barbara has been pursuing the Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals scandal with admirable tenacity and in this article she brought together much of the salient information on an issue which caused a major (if under-reported) rift in Australia’s foreign aid program to PNG.
6th 14 comments- Where has foreign policy gone wrong? The Asianisation of Madang (Samuel Roth). Many of the indigenous people of Madang are feeling like strangers in their own land as people from various Asian countries gradually take over the commanding heights of the local economy. Samuel sees this trend as a major foreign policy failure by the PNG government.
7th 12 comments - Breeding new leaders for PNG – limiting the right to public office (Bernard Yegiora). “Democracy permits individual rights to citizens who are abusing their privileges when intentionally engaging in corrupt activities,” wrote Bernard. “To minimise this scenario, the state needs to restrict certain rights of individuals. The right to contest for public office as stipulated in Section 50 of the Constitution of the Independent State of PNG is one such right.”
8th 11 comments - The Old Man (John Kaupa Kamasua). A beautiful short story that John dedicated to “the eternal memories of the old people who had a part to play in influencing my life’s journey”….. ‘The morning air was quiet for many miles around. The sharp cries of the cicadas somehow stopped for a while, and no wind blew the leaves. Only a moment later children’s voices could be heard from the direction of the garden.’
9th 9 comments - PNG as a banana republic: Chinese Li Wu suborns officials (Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin). Sil witnessed an incident at Port Moresby’s Taurama Shopping Centre that left him feeling disturbed. There was a fight involving a Tari man and Chinese storekeepers. The police came. It was clear they were being paid off by the Chinese. This expose blows open the Li Wu system that seems to have entangled many influential Papua New Guinean government officials.
=10th 7 comments - Trashing tradition: distracting from the real social evils (John Gimiseve). Eastern Highlands Governor Julie Soso-Akeke wants to change the provincial Nokondi emblem to the much adopted bird of paradise icon. It’s all to do with Nokondi being a spirit figure and a mood running through the PNG polity that, if these ancient icons are destroyed or dispensed with, corruption will go out of the door with them. John argues for rationality: “The evils of society in the Province have nothing to do with this spiritual being. It’s people who do these immoral things and it is wrong to blame an innocent spiritual being.”
=10th 7 comments - O’Neill’s Panguna visit: how the opportunists were thwarted (Leonard Fong Roka). Leonard Roka’s analysis January’s ‘goodwill visit’ to Bougainville by Peter O’Neill explains why it was such a success. Bougainvilleans are fed up to the back teeth with conflict and want a productive pathway defined which will restore their society to stability and progress.
=10th 7 comments - Award-winning Bougainville author facing legal challenge (Ishmael Palipal). Ishmael wrote: “Bougainville’s award-winning writer and pre-eminent author, Leonard Fong Roka, is likely to face a court battle over a short story featured in his second collection of short stories, Moments in Bougainville published last year. Litigation for defamation has been threatened by the family of an ex-girlfriend in Mr Roka’s home area in the Tumpusiong Valley near Panguna.” A fascinating real life story.
FACEBOOK’S TOP 10 MOST LIKED
1st 52 likes - Maria von Trapp, last member of a celebrated family, dies at 99 (Mary Mennis)
2nd 49 likes - The despair that is Manus: How many more will die? (Gary Juffa)
3rd 38 likes - Students' eloquent plea: Unitech needs return of Albert Schram (Samuel Magiri)
4th 33 likes - Michael Dom poetry collection is latest entry in Book of the Year (Keith Jackson)
5th 20 likes - One bright sunny day by the river Iora…. (Gary Juffa)
6th 19 likes - Battle over betel nut as 25,000 a year die from mouth cancer (IRIN)
7th 17 likes - Flight to Port Moresby - A review of Air Niugini (Bernie Leighton)
8th 16 likes- PNG as a banana republic: Chinese Li Wu suborns officials (Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin)
=9th 15 likes - O’Neill’s Panguna visit: how the opportunists were thwarted (Leonard Fong Roka)
=9th 15 likes - Pork-barrelling Jeffery ‘Santu’ Nape - saviour, giver & Nimai ninja (Bernard Yegiora)
=9th 15 likes PNG medical researcher says many drugs are substandard (Radio New Zealand International)