PNG success story should be recognised by journos
Get into parliament Sir Michael & test the numbers

Explaining PNG’s peaceful changes of government


PAPUA NEW GUINEA is seen as a Third World hellhole riddled with violent crime and to be avoided at all costs.

So why hasn't violence erupted, nor is it likely to erupt, over the present constitutional crisis?

It is a question of identity. Political violence often goes hand-in-hand with an ethnic, religious, geographic, linguistic or racial divide (or a mix of them) in which one side is disadvantaged.

PNG has 700 languages and myriad different villages and small regions. There are so many that permanent blocs cannot form - just occasional fluid alliances around a ''Big Man''.

Of all the Third World hellholes that became independent between the war and the mid-1970s PNG has had more democratic, peaceful changes of government than any other.

You need at least a 15% identifiable minority to get the seething resentment that arises from discrimination and erupts into violence: Northern Ireland; Lebanon; Sri Lanka; or any number of African nations with two or three tribes forced into colonial borders.

So don't expect political violence in PNG other than some opportunistic criminal acts.

That said, the place is still beset by corruption, AIDS, poverty and under-development and requires Australian help. We are lucky that a stream of boat people has not arrived on our shores from PNG.

Source: The Canberra Times, 17 December


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Crispin Hull

Dingi got it right. I was not saying PNG is a hellhole. I was saying that is the perception of most Australians and that it is a wrong perception.

I was praising PNG for having peaceful transitions of government.

But who can deny that PNG has problems with corruption, AIDS, poverty and under-development,which I said in the my last par? I was pointing out that it is in Australia's interest to continue helping PNG as much as possible.

I visited PNG five times while my brother was Australian Trade Commissioner there and enjoyed it immensely -- otherwise I would not have gone back.

I have written about PNG before. The articles are here:

A neat clarifying comment from Crispin - who has an impressive website here - - which I recommend you visit - KJ

Dingi Maua

I would think Crispin Hull did not call PNG a 'hellhole'. He was simply referring to it (as from someone else's perspective).

On the whole, he was positive about the non violence up here with the recent political fighting between two political figures and their members.

The PNG people have grown over the years and are smart these days. They won't be bought into violence for nothing.

May Australians and PNGns alike know that the PNG political arena is not the same as before where some racist Australians liked to push their way around to benefit themselves.

We have grown. Be careful where you tread these days.

Rex Kaupa

There are better words to describe a sovereign nation like PNG than "helhole".

Just by reading your heading concluded that your journalism profession is of very limited capacity and intelligence with insuficient evidence substantiating your statment.

PNG has a defined genealogy where one could never get confused.

Sure that you had an identity crisis, a son of convicts from an offshore country. You better get your facts right.

Peter Ghandhii

PNG will not fail, nor will it experience the eruption of violence as most commentators expected. This is because all of them didn't get their premise right.

It is the organic Melanesian way of solving problems internally without outside influence as Fiji has demonstrated by containing its own problem and now PNG has proven it to the outside world.

That's what we call the Melanesian way! Coz we have our culture and traditions which contemporary world cannot appreciate and acknowledge us...the Melanesian.

Gapsy Selkambang.

It's absoultely ridiculous for Crispin Hull to brand PNG as a hellhole in the third world.

Sure we are part of the emerging group of nations but Hull's instincts are immature, misinformed and lack credibility.

The current actions of the nation have obviously proved otherwise...

Get this right that PNG is an emerging bird of paradise nation. It does not hip-hop but flies.

God bless the island of paradise - New Guniea.

Paraeels Iriputi Amesi

We dont need people like Hull to be judgmental without substantiating facts.

PNG has grown to be mature and is always conscious of its progress. We apply the Melanesian statute.

We don't need Hull to talk for us in any circumstances. We have not struggled to be who we are. We are blessed with riches.

After just 35 years, its not bad.

David Kitchnoge

"Another reason which may contribute to the lack of violence is the fact that for so long the rural majority have had to do without or with very limited basic services.

"Whilst the rural dwellers continue to ask for these basic services of roads, schools, health services etc, they have come to accept that all politicians have failed them in the past. Therefore why should they take up arms for either of the two factions of government?" - Miriam Murphy.

Very well reasoned and articulated. This is the main reason no one want’s to fight the politicians’ battles in this particular instance. There is no point fighting their battles when they won’t fight ours.

What principles are they fighting for that warrant our action? Only the politicians know the reasons for their current squabbles and they must sort it out themselves. I’d rather die for a principle.

And yes Miriam is right again. There are many of us who are still very much connected to and are proud of our individual cultural heritage, but are even more proud to be Papua New Guineans.

Miriam Murphy

Mr Hull raises the question of identity and uses this argument to draw his conclusions on why there won’t be political violence stemming from this political power struggle.

However many who are like Mr Hull fail to see an emerging generation of people who consider themselves as Papua New Guineans from a sovereign nation taking its place in the global environment.

This generation of people are well rooted in their 700 plus cultures and languages but are able to speak as Papua New Guineans. This is the 21st century PNG, not the colonialistic status quo of the 1960’s.

Another reason which may contribute to the lack of violence is the fact that for so long the rural majority have had to do without or with very limited basic services.

Whilst the rural dwellers continue to ask for these basic services of roads, schools, health services etc, they have come to accept that all politicians have failed them in the past. Therefore why should they take up arms for either of the two factions of government?

Unfortunately, the hellhole I see and hear of is of father setting fire to a family home with his wife and two children still inside, old people set aside in beautifully manicured lawns and tiled units to be visited once a year if they are lucky waiting...waiting to be called to their final resting home, no longer useful to their society, a society that boasts one of the highest teenage suicide rates in the world, mental problems in 1 in 5 people, gang violence that is more insidious than tribal warfare.

The hellhole I see is hopelessness of a people who once roamed the wide expanse of the Australian continent constrained into the four walls of brick and mortar, fighting to find their identity but loosing generations to violence, drug, poverty and underdevelopment.

Need I say anymore about our own backyard, Mr Hull?

Poyap Rooney

Steady on... In fairness to Mr Hull, he has not actually said that PNG is "a hell hole" rather it is "seen as a hell hole", much to the credit of the sensational negative press coverage as alluded to in some of the recent posts.

Perhaps Mr Hull's use of words may have struck a defensive chord amongst some readers, but the fact does still remain that PNG and especially Port Moresby is a very difficult place to live and with that we cannot argue.

There is one room that is never filled and that is "the room for improvement". Overall I thought Mr. Hull's article was a positive one for PNG.

Frank Martin

Congratulations Keith on posting this piece of rubbish without comment and letting PNG citizens treat it with the contempt it deserves.

Tine Ningal

The hell-hole topic definitely causes the irate of many readers.

There are problems in every country and cities, it just depends on the scale and severity. In a country as diverse as PNG, it would be total chaos to manage but we have done pretty well so far and are proud of who we are.

When 85% of the population is relying on subsistence agriculture to meet their basic needs and wants, why should we jump on the boat and show up in Australia?

Mr Hull or whoever you are, you write without thinking and this shallow doltish and ill-thought out article is a slap to every proud Papua New Guinean.

Whatever credibility you have, we don't give a rat's behind. If you want to write something about the country, you must know it from inside and not making commentaries remotely from the comfort of your home/office and based on what you can glean from secondary sources.


The term Hellhole is an insult and cannot be viewed as anything other than an insult.

Even more so an insult is that you suggest that Papua New Guineans should be trying to escape from their country seeking asylum elsewhere.

Well let me make it clear to you Mr Hull, unlike Australians we know where our home is, we know our heritage. Our land is our own and we love it.

Hellhole or otherwise. We did not steal it, murder for it, buy it and or otherwise occupy it.

I see how you would fail to understand the true meaning of homeland. So come down from your high horse and if and when you find yourself standing on your actual home ground perhaps then and only then can you comment on the homes of others.

Johnny Mortel

Other journalists or news reporters should not tarnish another country, rather look for a means to a solution instead of expecting the worst.

No reason to be alarmed, this is his living and he wants his article to be sold. More attention will be to him now, and the more 'juicy' his comments are, the more bucks he can make. That's the bottom line.

Now we don't know whether our cry for help is a mere laughing stock. We can read between the lines, you know, some of us had Australian teachers and Australian bosses, so cut some slack, and do responsible journalism that has ethics.

Sarah Haoda Todd

PNG is truly the Land of the Unexpected, its people are diverse, resilient and tolerant; it is home to Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia; rich in language & culture and totally blessed with natural flora and fauna, our land is naturally fertile; PNG, an island of gold floating on oil and gas; the whole world is flocking to our beautiful island right now...but you ain't welcome Crispin Hull....


Mr Hull - shocking doesn't even come close to describing your article - Please don't shame the real profession in Australia and in PNG where Journalism standards and ethics include providing factual content (believe it or not) rather than trying to pass off poorly structured halfbaked opinion pieces as an 'insight' to something that is obviously beyond your meagre comprehension.

David Kitchnoge

Negativity breeds negativity and people like Crispin Hull will be pleasantly surprised that this generation of Papua New Guineans have made a conscious decision to reject negativity.

Say whatever you like about us, but we know ourselves best and we don’t buy your hellhole garbage!

Tanya Zeriga Alone said it well in her response and I endorse everything she said.

J Kopunye

Mr Hull, hellhole is certainly not what PNG is. It sounds more like yourself. I believe your article is just as narrow minded as you are.

Papua New Guinea is a country proud of its diverse people and culture, and it's a paradise.

In almost all areas we live peacefully together. Although we have our differences, we have continually strived to build this nation together.

Tok Ples

Not all Australians regard PNG wayback and uncivilised. But a significant number of them do.

So why are they trying to make friends with us if we are not appealing to them? Stop making negative comments about us and give respect for our colour and humanity..

Tom Rosser

Who the hell is Crispin Hull or is it Hell? Check your grammar Crispin, I rarely see such basic mistakes in the two PNG newspapers or is your wording the modern journalism standards that are debasing that profession throughout Australia.

Please tell the good people of Papua New Guinea about the constant knife crimes in all your state capital cities, the gangster type shootings, the public drug problems including alcohol abuse, the white collar crime in private enterprise and government departments and the savage extortionary cost of living expenses in Australia.

I am an Australian, born in Port Moresby and reside in Cairns. I visit PNG occasionally and to date have encountered no discomfort whatsoever.

If your comments were to draw a negative reaction and self gratification, then you have succeeded, if your piece was genuine, then you have lost the Australian sense of fairness.

Papua New Guinea has done a pretty good job so far. Mistakes have definitely been made, however, no worse than other emerging nation, in fact, in most cases, PNG has managed far better.

Australia also made mistakes thirty years into its self government and had the gaul to abandon the Australian Territory of Papua.

What's that old adage about glass houses?

Philip Naru

Where do you get the term "hellhole" from? I am a Papua New Guinean living in Papua New Guinea. The term hellhole does not go down well with me and is very discriminatory to the everyday Papua New Guinean that works hard to make our country a better place.

If you have ever been to PNG and seen what my country is like, then I reckon you should get your facts right! I invite the writer to come and experience our country and see whether or not we indeed are a hellhole or not.

Dave Ekins

I find the term "hellhole" in relation to PNG to be highly offensive. Who sees it as such?

This smacks of the crass titillation that passes for journalism from those who were once charged with providing factual information but now merely engage in a sensationalist form of entertainment for the masses.

PNG does indeed have violent crime and the wealth, and subsequent development of the nation, has been stolen by every politician since 1975.

It could also do with a bit of appropriate help from Australia, but not the well-meaning but inappropriate, bureaucrat driven aid provided to date.

What PNG has in abundance is physical beauty and a population of which 95% are the most gracious, welcoming, generous and tolerant people I have ever met.

The other 5% are probably not dissimilar to the disaffected and disillusioned populations found in every country in the world.

So I do agree that violence is unlikely to erupt over the current political situation and, if it does, it will be small, localised outbreaks by the usual opportunists. The rest of the people are too smart to be sucked into mass demonstrations.

Tanya Zeriga Alone

Having travelled overseas and seen the plight of other indigenous people, I feel blessed to be from PNG.

PNGeans are empowered people, there is just too much to live for here in PNG, such that no one from PNG is even thinking of getting on a boat to Australia, except for the failed Bauri attempt.

But then again, in statistics, one occurrence is a non significant result when compared against the numerous attempts made by other countries.

Papua New Guineans easily fly on Air Niugini to Australia ,despite the discriminatory visa process (which we tolerate) and we always get back home.

These issues arising are just growing pains.

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