ONE of the wondrous things about this labour of love which is the daily compilation of PNG Attitude is that not a month goes by in Papua New Guinea without some soaring moments of exhilaration and an occasional black mood of despair. June was no exception.
The exhilaration arrived in scores of emails as the Crocodile Prize moved towards the closing date for entries. It was also experienced observing the courage of corruption fighter Sam Koim and police investigators as they refused to respond with defeatism to their malevolent sacking by Peter O’Neill. And, yes Peter, you did get that very wrong.
On the last day of June, entries closed for Crocodile Prize 2014 – with 612 contributions received from 130 writers. It was a magnificent result and, among those 600 poems, stories and essays, were many that would excel in any company.
The judges are now hard at work and the winners will be announced late in August with the seven awards being presented on Thursday 18 September in a function at the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Crocodile Prize, you should visit its website here.
The corruption crunch we’ve been awaiting occurred in PNG during June when Task Force Sweep and the Royal PNG Constabulary fraud squad decided there was enough evidence to arrest the prime minister in relation to alleged illicit payments to Paul Paraka Lawyers.
This triggered an explosive chain of events that saw the task force disbanded and “unreliable elements” of the Police pushed out of their jobs.
If any action was meant to smack of guilt, this would have to be it.
As July progresses, the court cases continue. It seems that all that stands between PNG and the institutionalisation of malign governance is the thin line of the judiciary.
And now to more pleasant fields: the writing that most moved our readers to comment on or to tick the box that indicated they liked what they read….
MOST COMMENTED ON BY READERS
16 comments - New voices, old questions and the way forward for PNG (Martyn Namorong). Martyn doesn’t write as many essay length analytical pieces as he used to, but when he does he makes the bells ring. “During the final session of the Lowy Institute’s PNG New Voices conference, I was asked what the solutions are to Papua New Guinea’s development challenges.There are people and organisations in PNG who think they have the answers. The Christians are the worst culprits. They are closely followed by the so called developers/development partners, who seems to promise ‘development’ in exchange for PNG’s sovereignty, land and resources.” Read the complete article, it’s a beauty.
14 - Steamships reneges on its Crocodile Prize short story award (Keith Jackson). When Steamships Trading Company, which describes itself as having a “pre-eminent position in the (PNG) community”, at the last minute reneged on its commitment to sponsor the short story award in this year’s Crocodile Prize, I was more than mildly irritated. A follow-up article on this issue also made our top 10 in June. You can read more below.
14 - PNG images – how popular novelists saw PNG way back then (Phil Fitzpatrick). Phil went back to the period between 1945 and about 1985, which was the heyday of the paperback novel. Papua New Guinea provided a suitable setting for a number of Australian writers at the time. They and their cover illustrators invoked the theme with varyinf degrees of literary and artistic licence.
12 - Sam Koim, weak-kneed Aussie politicians & rumours of treason (Keith Jackson). “On Thursday, with anti-corruption protests in full swing in Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby’s rumour mill was running in overdrive and belching the smoke of conspiracy theories.One of the most lurid of these was that Sam Koim, the sacked head of corruption-busting Task Force Sweep, was to be arrested on his return from Australia that day and charged with treason.
“Mr Koim had been in Australia as a guest of Transparency International and during his trip he had meetings with senior Australian officials and foreign minister Julie Bishop and appeared on one of the country’s most influential current affairs television programs. Bishop had subsequently issued a statement cautioning against political instability in PNG while totally ignoring the pernicious issue of high level corruption and the related sidelining of officials like Koim who were trying to do something about it.”
11 – Dependency syndrome drove PNG to let Australia off refugee hook (Bernard Yegiora). Bernard argued that PNG reliance on Australian largesse led it to agree to imprison refugees on Manus, thereby letting the Abbott government off the hook of failing to be able to implement its policy that no asylum seeker will ever reach Australia. “Educated Papua New Guineans are asking some tough questions,” wrote Bernard. “Why are we helping Australia? Do we have a choice in deciding against Australia using us for its own benefit? Is the Manus Island issue a breach of PNG’s sovereignty?”
10 - The corrosive effect of westernisation on nuptial tradition (Francis S Nii). “Among the problems that exist in marriage in Papua New Guinea today are the domino effects of disintegration and adulteration of customary nuptial principles by the callous forces of westernisation.” Francis argues persuasively that, in modernising PNG, the baby has been thrown out with the bathwater. Not all that is traditional in PNG is bad, far from it, but the good stuff has been ditched along with that which needed to go. Marriage protocols have been part of this.
10 - Did Steamies breach its own values in abandoning Croc Prize (Keith Jackson). “In an extraordinary turn of events, it seems that Steamships Trading Company may have breached its own corporate value of ‘integrity’ in the manner in which it reneged on its sponsorship of the Crocodile Prize after seven months of promising 'the cheque is in the mail'.
“Steamships most recent annual report discloses that it ‘redefined its values’ in 2013, with the value of integrity (truth, honour, uprightness) said to include ‘taking the more ethical and honest path; honouring our commitments and delivering on our promises; creating a bond of trust that sustains relationships with ... the communities in which we do business.’
“There is a long list of promises Steamships did not deliver on in relation to the 2014 Crocodile Prize, all of them contained in emails from corporate relations officer, Wanita Wakus, to me….”
9 - ‘Overwhelmed’: PNG cabinet minister calls for social media regulation (Bernard Sinai). PNG petroleum and energy minister Nixon Duban called upon “the responsible authorities” to regulate the use of social media. He said the PNG cabinetmade a decision last year for social media regulation. However, the policy had not materialised. He said while PNG citizens enjoy the ideals of democracy, persons with political inclinations and opportunists were abusing these rights.
9 - PNG’s political crisis intensifies as Kerenga Kua is sacked (Keith Jackson). PNG attorney-general and justice minister Kerenga Kua was sacked by prime minister Peter O’Neill. Kua had written to O’Neill opposing the government's plan to amend section 145 of the constitution to make parliamentary votes of no confidence a bit harder to pull off. O’Neill claimed this undermined cabinet and government solidarity.
9 - PNG a victim of flawed nurturing – an historical commentary (Mathias Kin). Mathias returned to the years preceding independence to explain why PNG’s political and social development is not proceeding as everyone expected and wanted. Australia’s administration of its colony was flawed, he argued.
MOST LIKED BY READERS
66 likes - Arrest warrant issued for PNG leader Peter O'Neill in fraud case (Keith Jackson)
62 - Secret letter reveals new evidence against Peter O'Neill (Nick McKenzie & Richard Baker)
61 - ‘Overwhelmed’: PNG cabinet minister calls for social media regulation (Bernard Sinai)
59 - The Ivo/Yalwai story: Across the cultural divide at Goroka University (Bomai D Witne)
59 - Outpouring of public support for PNG corruption fighter Sam Koim (Keith Jackson)
58 - Shadrach: RaitAPP whizz kid puts PNG on world stage (Benny Geteng)
42 - Now Kranki Koim’s gone, Sweet Pete sets up Task Force Bleep (Our Man at the Bar)
41 - Australia underestimates impacts of Manus refugee settlement (Bernard Yegiora)
39 - Unitech students will protest against O’Neill government (Genesis Ketan)
31 - New voices, old questions and the way forward for PNG (Martyn Namorong)
30 - Steamships reneges on its Crocodile Prize short story award (Keith Jackson)