EACH month at about this time, I take a look at readers’ responses to the previous month’s articles, stories, essays and poems to get a fix on what made you respond with a comment or tick that little like box at the end of each piece.
Well there’s little doubt that March was Albert Schram’s month. After more than a year in exile the Unitech vice-chancellor was allowed back in to PNG and to his job. It was an epic tale of endurance by both Schram and his loyal students and staff back home in Lae. Who will write the book?
The asylum seeker issue also continued to bubble along remorselessly, with the Catholic Church in PNG becoming more engaged in demonstrating concern for the welfare of the poor wretches – whose only crime in the vast majority of cases was to flee persecution – are imprisoned in concentration camp conditions on Manus island.
Meanwhile, the Crocodile Prize national literary awards continued to attract a regular flow of entries, there’s less than three months remaining before the closing date of 30 June. By the way, if you want an early peek at the developing Prize website, you can see it underway here – www.crocodileprize.org.
So let’s get on with our most commented upon and most ‘liked’ pieces in March….
MOST COMMENTED UPON
1st 24 comments - We’ve done our best against the enemies of honest governance (Anonymous Open Letter). Towards the end of their successful campaign to have vice-chancellor Albert Schram reinstated at Unitech in Lae, undergraduate and postgraduate students, academic and non-academic staff issues a desperate call for support from universities worldwide. It is a passionate and well-advocated piece of writing and certainly got our readers engaged.
2nd 17 comments - ‘Grassroots’, ‘elites’ & the new ‘working class’ of PNG (John Cox). “Where urban wage earners were once regarded as straightforwardly elite,” wrote John, “increasingly, middle-class budgets are coming under strain. In the face of rising costs of living, deteriorating housing stock and faltering services, discourses of nation and citizenship that previously included the middle class are becoming embittering.” Fascinating and overdue analysis.
3rd 15 comments - Is it possible to live an ethical life? (John Kaupa Kamasua). Heavy question; big subject. John began his essay with some blank verse: “Imagine a world in which everybody / Is treated with equal respect; / Whose worth is valued the same, / And whose dreams and pursuits are upheld; / And who can go as far as their dreams can take them.”
4th 14 comments - Students fire back as Minister threatens to shut down Unitech (Keith Jackson). Just before the students’ triumphed in the Unitech-Schram imbroglio, new Higher Education Minister Delilah Gore made an abortive attempt to make the students buckle bythreatening to shut down the Lae university for the rest of 2014 and declare a ‘state of emergency’. A foolish over-reach which got nowhere.
5th 13 comments - Dealing with tradition today: the case of the excessive price of a bride(Ishmael Palipal). One of PNG’s most promising young writers took a hard and revealing look at marriage protocols in Bougainville, where there have been a few notable attempts to breach the imposed K500 limit on bride price.
6th 12 comments - The Flame of the Forest (Michael Dom). Beautiful writing from PNG’s award-winning poet. “No more you flame, where forefathers / Spied your furtive flare from afar, / Amidst green canopies, piled higher, / The Flame of the Forest’s bright fire! / Brief beauty hid from bitter stars.” There’s more. You must read it.
=7th 10 comments - ‘Criminals in uniform’: Jiwaka police terror as Simbu villages raided (Fr Christian Sieland). “On Saturday 8 March, we picked up eight women from the shabby cells of Minj police station in the central highlands province of Jiwaka,” wrote Fr Sieland. “It was another case of police brutality.The women had been detained three days earlier together with 21 men … most of those arrested were mourning the death of one of their local leaders who was assaulted at Molka Lodge in Minj and died some weeks later due to the injuries he had sustained.”
=7th 10 comments - Bougainville writer Ishmael Palipal injured in DWU fighting (Leonard Fong Roka). PNG Attitude contributor Ishmael Palipal was amongst students injured in a confrontation with settlers near Divine Word University in Madang. Tragically, the fight cost the life of Nigel Laki, a third year communications student.
=7th 10 comments - Leonard Roka’s ‘Brokenville’ latest entry in PNG Book of the Year (Keith Jackson). It says something about how PNG literature is developing when this year’s Crocodile prize has been to initiate a Book of the Year award, sponsored by Ok Tedi Mining. The sixth entry was Roka’s Bougainville civil war memoir,Brokenville. Judges Dame Carol Kidu, Trevor Freestone and Phil Fitzpatrick certainly have their hands full.
10th 9 comments - Francis gets his new wheels, thanks to PNG Attitude readers (Keith Jackson). After more than a year in his hospital bed unable to do more than lie on his back, paraplegic author Francis Nii was doing in tough. Then PNG Attitude readers stepped in to help. Now Francis is up and wheeling free in his flash newchair purchased with funds from our project.
1st 380 likes - Abbott & O’Neill: Soothsayers or able to see into the mind of God? (Keith Jackson)
2nd 98 likes - We’ve done our best against the enemies of honest governance (Anonymous Open Letter)
3rd 65 likes - New Ireland identity arrested for standing up to illegal logging (Act Now!)
4th 50 likes - I saw the rioting on Manus coming, says Archbishop of Rabaul (Archbishop Francesco Panfilo)
5th 39 likes - Little interest shown in Madang hearing on asylum seekers (Fr Phil Smith)
6th 33 likes - Students fire back as Minister threatens to shut down Unitech (Keith Jackson)
7th 31 likes - Schram tension intensifies: Students force 48 hour Unitech closure (Titi Gabi)
8th 30 likes - In praise of Goroka Uni’s commitment to professional development (Jane Pumai Awi)
9th 26 likes - Resolution! Albert Schram back to work as soon as tomorrow (Sally Pokiton)
10th 25 likes - Juffa calls on PNGns to go beyond rhetoric & resist injustice & evil (Gary Juffa MP)