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180 posts from May 2012

Health or wealth – markets of convenience


DESPITE ALL THE HYPE about liquefied natural gas and the mineral boom, times are still tough for most people in Papua New Guinea.

One can see from a stroll through any neighbourhood in the capital city how the informal sector plays its part in enhancing the livelihood of the people.

Most back or front yards of homes have little tables where families sell everything from buai (betel nut) and cigarettes to the more appetising fresh fruits, kumu (greens) and vegetables.

In fact, some of what you can get at most designated markets are just at your (or your neighbour’s) doorstep.

For many people, certain markets have become unsafe due to the unchallenged presence of criminals, thus other alternatives are sought.

Home front selling I suppose is permissible, but it is the ‘markets of convenience’ at certain city bus stops or shop fronts that have been a concern to many city residents.

Such unplanned and undesignated locations for buying and selling are usually unhygienic and hazardous to the health of residents. In fact, I have just heard that the our national capital district council has banned such markets of convenience, but whether people adhere to it is another thing altogether.

Taking a route 11 PMV bus from Tabari\4 Mile will lead you to the bus stop just outside the North Waigani Stop and Shop supermarket.

The bus will stop right at a thriving market place where stalls are lined up along the side of the road and the usual cheap Chinese products like perfumes, batteries, torches and other interesting items are sold.

The aroma of sizzling barbeques entice your tastebuds, not unlike the spicy scents of the famous hawker centres in Singapore where fried noodles and other delicacies fill the air.

Back at the North Waigani bus stop, though, you will notice 44-gallon drum ovens lined side by side as vendors fry lamb flaps, sausages, pork, kaukau (sweet potatoes) and banana to sell to their hungry customers.

The cheapest drinks are also to be found there as canned Coke sells for just K2 while the 500ml plastic bottles will go for K3. Other items on the menu usually include boiled eggs, scones and hot dogs. Then of course, there is the ever present buai, PNG’s very own dessert!

While the provision of such cheap food is welcome, a quick look around the vicinity is enough to make one sick.

The place is littered with rubbish like plastic bags, newspapers that were used to wrap food in, plastic bottles, decaying food and buai spittle.

The drain that runs behind the market also acts as a toilet, especially for small children, thus bringing a stench to the nostrils.

Continue reading "Health or wealth – markets of convenience" »

On sedition, treason and other matters


RECENT DISCUSSIONS RELATING TO the Papua New Guinea’s deputy minister’s antics and previous criminal form got me thinking about how certain laws in PNG are somewhat out of date in terms of today’s more liberal way of thinking.

PNG’s current criminal code was originally adopted and adapted from the Queensland criminal code and, whilst certain offences still remain relevant to meeting the social controls required by society, it would seem that other breaches of the law still on the books are out of date.

The charge of sedition is a prime example of such irrelevance as it relates primarily to restricting the individuals right of free speech and originating in history’s previous allegiance to the Regal Crown and its agents as being the supreme governing body demanding allegiance without dissent.

The western concept of law originated, in most cases, in England. It has its check method the right of appeal whereby aggrieved parties can take their grievances to higher courts and those wiser mentors of society can, through interpretation, adjudicate that the original finding was either wrong in law or illegal in content.

Such process of law can result in legislators amending or appealing those laws so successfully appealed.

It would appear that certain current laws enshrined under PNG’s penal code, like dinosaurs, remain cemented in the colonial past.

The reliance by courts on accepting the confessions produced by Police as prima facie evidence is based upon the principle that the police are people of good character who will act in good faith and are above reproach.

Unfortunately this has not been the case in many instances whereby innocent people have found themselves convicted of crimes they did not commit based upon “confessions” allegedly made.

Many years go a famous barrister in Sydney was appearing before the court and during the proceedings a loud cry rang out from the adjoining corridor.

The wise judge looked up concerned to which the barrister commented.

“Don’t worry about it your honour it is merely the police extracting a statement from a witness”.

On matters relating to treason and sedition, the following article taken from the Goulburn Herald-Empire of 27 March 1868 provides an insight into the thinking of the government of that day and reinforcing that old slogan ‘loose lips sinks ships’.

As one of the people involved in this case was a forebear of mine, the matter had direct relevance to me and, intrigued, I tried to discover the eventual outcome the case – unfortunately without result.

It would appear that legal action never ensued probably as the defendant’s legal defence would have been based upon the legal excuse “mistake of fact” when he commented: “ It was not me, its was only the booze talking your honour”.

It also must be remembered that, at that time in Australia’s history, a new sense of nationalism was emerging as the new chum Australians started to exert their independence and revolt against the draconian and vile actions of their earlier penal history; a factor taken into consideration by the judges in this matter who thus reacted in a more favourable manner to the more liberal thinking being espoused at that time.

Continue reading "On sedition, treason and other matters" »

West Papua conflict is infiltration & rape of Melanesia


MELANESIA, OR ‘THE DARK ISLANDS’, is a region covering the big island of New Guinea and the smaller Solomons chain, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia.

It is the region considered to be the ancient gateway for human colonisation of the Pacific. Today the grip on this ancient cultural and political tranquillity is being lost by our brothers in West Papua.

With the arrival of Europeans, the long historical state of calm was shattered by the rapacious and belittling drawing up of lines of division across traditional nations.

After the dawn of decolonisation, West Papua found itself in Indonesia; Bougainville in Papua New Guinea; and New Caledonia struggling for self-determination from French rule.

The trio - West Papua, New Caledonia and Bougainville - have had significant influence on the political fabric of the countries that governed them. They have also had a history of resistance, in one way or the other, to those governors.

West Papuans, who are Melanesian, have been ignored by most other Melanesian leaders out of fear of negative repercussions from Indonesia.

Government after government in Papua New Guinea (as distinct from ordinary PNGeans) have not stood up for their fellow Melanesians. So far only Vanuatu and some little groups or individuals in the Solomon Islands and Fiji have spoken out.

Melanesian states, excluding the current regime in Fiji but especially Papua New Guinea, are good at worshipping powers that are militarily or politically powerful.

They have not been able to change the systems that they were given by the colonial powers, not because of the lack of natural capabilities but because of deliberate negligence out of fear of adverse external pressures if they create political and economic systems that are more realistic for Melanesia.

What the Melanesian states and people need to know is that, ‘liberal democracy’ today is not ‘people power’ but is a tyranny controlled by the western banking system through the military industrial complex to control the remaining natural resources in the world.

In West Papua, Melanesians must realise that they are at war with an imperialistic Asian parasite which is merciless in its torture, rapacity and gluttonous methods which are used to rob our fellow Melanesians of their land and wealth. PNG is already a collateral victim with all the Batas trading near Wutung that deny development to the town of Vanimo.

The island of New Guinea is said to be a bridge between Asia and Oceania. In this I see a hopeless situation for the future of Melanesia. If West Papua is to be controlled forever, then the spillover effect will eventually come to PNG, then into my Bougainville and the rest of the Solomon Islands and beyond.

Hearing of the West Papuans’ struggle, the first thing that bothers me is the fact that Asia houses more than 60% of the global human population and is currently the host of some of the world’s most rapidly rising economies that need natural resources to keep them running.

Continue reading "West Papua conflict is infiltration & rape of Melanesia" »

Australian bar deeply concerned about chief justice


THE AUSTRALIAN BAR ASSOCIATION has said it is deeply concerned about the manner and circumstances of the arrest on charges of sedition of Sir Salamo Injia, the Papua New Guinea chief justice.

In a statement, the Association said the arrest of the nation’s most senior judicial officer at a time when the court was dealing with the validity of the prime minister’s appointment “raises fundamental issues concerning judicial independence.”

“This is all the more so because the arrest is on the charge of sedition which has a politically charged history,” it said.

“The actions are also troubling given that they have occurred following the previous arrest of the chief justice within the judge’s chambers complex on 6 March this year.”

The Bar Association said that, while no judge was above the law, “it is fundamental to the maintenance of the rule of law that when allegations are made against judicial officers that those allegations are dealt with in a manner that upholds the independence of the judiciary.

“he handling of any such allegations must be, and must be seen to be, in the hands of independent prosecutors as part of a fair and transparent process free from government interference.”

The Bar Association called upon the PNG government ensure that proper steps are taken to recognise the independence of the judiciary in all its dealing with the chief justice.

The title, good reader, will become apparent…


You can slip on me, I suppose
Make you sniff and wrinkle your nose
Only you know where I will go
Your faithful companion, come rain or snow

More often than not, I'm covered in dirt
Through grime and grot, I've trundled through worse
I take quite a lot, no grumble or curse
Of mates that you've got, I surely come first

Brush me, scrub me, make me feel new
Pull my tongue out and clean in there too
Rub the back of your calves and gleam up at you
If only a dog or a cat were as true

Females love me, yes, I can be cute
I hold them up high and build their repute
No matter the girl, she'll think me a beaut
I'm paired up from birth, created to suit

I'll never die, but I've got a sole
I'll serve you till my body's riddled with holes
Only you know just where I can go
Your faithful companion, look down below

The shoe.

Steven Haurahaela Ilave Jr (25) was born in Port Moresby.  His father is from the Ihu district in the Gulf Province and his mother is from Sarawak, Malaysia. He is the third born in a family of eight competitive children. He lived and went to school in Port Moresby completing primary and secondary school, reached second year in medical school (UPNG), then switched to aviation. He currently works with Air Niugini in Flight Operations.  His creative work is mostly with music but he has always been one to enjoy wordplay

5:00PM - O'Neill has just been sworn in as prime minister.

4:30PM - PNG still does not have a prime minister, although there are signs of some action at government house. Mr Nape has been meeting for some time with both Peter O'Neill and Belden Namah. What can they be discussing?

1:40pm - Now acting governor-general Jeffrey Nape refuses to swear in Peter O'Neill as prime minister and leaves the room. O'Neill tells Nape's official secretary the governor-general has no choice.

12:00pm - Peter O’Neill has been re-elected prime minister of Papua New Guinea 56-0. He was unopposed. Nou Vada, Tavurvur and the ABC’s Liam Fox have all been tweeting from parliament house. Nou got his message out first, seconds ahead of Tavurvur.

Namorong offers candid views on Aussie politicians


Taking the Truth to AustraliaMartyn Namorong at Parliament HouseAS MARTYN NAMORONG FLIES OUT OF CANBERRA for Brisbane’s warmer climes this morning, he can sit back in his seat and contemplate a highly successful visit to Australia’s national capital.

And he will be reflecting on the calibre of some of the leading Australian political figures he met; being particularly unimpressed by parliamentary secretary for Pacific island affairs, Richard Marles MP.

Take the Truth to Australia was planned as an opportunity for a young Papua New Guinean intellectual to provide Australians with a somewhat different perspective of PNG than they may have been accustomed to previously.

A first-hand view of how the situation looks from the streets and from the villages.

Generally, Martyn’s messages fell on fertile ground.

The messages that Australia must do better for PNG in the area of more precisely targeting aid, reviewing how Australian resources companies operate, trying to understand Melanesian culture and identity, and ensuring that the people-to-people relationship works more productively.

Martyn was impressed by the interest shown in PNG amongst the politicians they met, as well as being somewhat surprised of the ignorance of PNG issues shown by a number of them, even by some members of the prestigious foreign affairs sub-committee.

This speaks of the failure of people like parliamentary secretary Marles to communicate more effectively, even to members of Parliament, about the strategic importance of the Australia-PNG relationship.

And the fact that foreign minister Bob Carr has yet to make his first foray to our nearest neighbour amplifies the “benign neglect” that Martyn Namorong wrote of in last week’s eloquent and stirring article in the Melbourne Age.

Early this morning Martyn 'tweeted' short grabs of his impressions of some of the political meetings he had yesterday. A couple of his comments are scathing:

I hope Bob Carr's advisor [Ed Vrkic] got the message I conveyed. No excuses for future stuff-ups.

Got great gifts [of support] from Senators Bob Brown and Anne McEwen.

Will never forget Alan Griffin MP; got real practical advice. Thanks dude.

Julie Bishop has certainly done a good job understanding PNG but she still has gaps.

If you thought John Howard was bad for Melanesia, try talking to Richard Marles.

Wherever he has gone on this tour, Martyn has spoken with elegance and intelligence about the real PNG. And because he is not a diplomat or politician and did not have to adopt weasel words, he could 'tell the truth' about the real situation on the ground.

This has been both a refreshing advocacy and a required realism.

In every one of his 10 or so radio and television interviews, he has given his audience clear insights into PNG as it really is.

Martyn is in Brisbane until he returns home on Sunday – more meetings, more speeches and more media.

He's been rather too busy to undertake any serious writing in the last little while – and, like you I expect, I eagerly wait to read in more detail his views of Australia and the people he met here.

But I think we can get a taste of what is to come from these brief notes on Facebook:

I have never felt so much responsibility my entire life. I have had to present to our colonial power the story of a people whose 50,000 year history has predominantly been one of an independent sovereign people....

Australians think PNG is a problematic place because they want to understand PNG from a western perspective.

Once you try to make them understand PNG from a Melanesian perspective they become defensive of their western world view and switch to 'patronising mode'.

An appropriate response for a Melanesian is to remind Australians that their western model of development has largely been a failure throughout Melanesia.

If you want to meet Martyn in Brisbane there will be an opportunity to do so informally on Friday from 3pm at the Sherwood Services Club, Corinda, near the railway station. Call Murray Bladwell on 0413 057 673

Believe me, my nomination day was challenging...


Candidate for the Lufa Open Electorate, 2012 Papua New Guinea National Elections

Nomination Day for Lufa OpenSOMETHING HEAVY HAD SETTLED on my head. I thought I felt my brain inflate and deflate rapidly. I didn’t know I wasn’t thinking. Then I heard a sweet voice cut through this wall of dense confusion.

“Mane!” I turned and saw my concerned mother. The wrinkles around her eyes have grown, her hair is more grey. And, clutched firmly in her palm at the end of a frail extended arm, a kaukau. “You must eat,” her voice sounding the more alarming because of its concern.

The scene was more of a successful gathering than one of failure but I, with less than zero experience in crowd control and management, was more worried than every other person who approached to greet me.

After I nominated to officially become a candidate for the Lufa Open Electorate in the Eastern Highlands, I met the crowd. They didn’t come in hundreds; there were over a thousand people.

Men, women, boys, girls, children and babies; some had walked hundreds of miles, taking days to arrive at Lufa government station to witness this event.

Others have flown to Goroka then caught rides on PMVs (public motor vehicles) to Lufa. They are the people of remote rural Lufa; those who sing: ‘They call use camels; they call us white horses; they call us semi-trailers…’

The ensuing excitement and confusion (as I saw it) was over a thousand voices to listen to and innumerable hands to shake and many more bodies to hug. It was overwhelming.

I thought there was no order, and something was brewing. Any moment from now it would burst and someone would be hurt. A child, a man, a woman, anyone…

Just to feed such a crowd was no easy task. A group of men and women in their mid-30s made it seem less arduous. They, young and untested, worked on  - and on.

Jeff HS frontThere were peaks and troughs, some of which almost derailed their efforts. But at the day’s end, not a single hungry soul was to be found.

I, on the other hand, with less village experience and knowledge, couldn’t envision a successful ending.

This, coupled with the day’s heat and smell of the crowd, almost laid the foundations for a brain explosion.

As the election days unravel along with their latent challenges, I am hoping and praying I’ll be able to cope.

Jeff Febi is an award-winning writer and poet, a regular contributor to PNG Attitude and an aspiring politician

Balancing the ledger on Belden Namah


Belden NamahI’M A SUPPORTER OF NEITHER Belden Namah nor Peter O’Neill and, just like millions of other well intentioned Papua New Guineans, it is my prayer that none of the current MPs are returned to Parliament.

That said, there are a few points I should make about Belden Namah.

First, with regards to Namah’s wealth. There has been much speculation about how he acquired such wealth within a short span of time.

For a start, let us be very clear here that he did not acquire it through corruption, theft or other dubious means.

He was just smart when going about gaining the support of the timber resource owners in the Bewani district of the Sandaun Province, who accorded him power of attorney to act on their behalf.

As he was paid his commission, he made wise investments and his wealth accumulated into what he has today: a self-made millionaire who simply used his God given brain. Nothing wrong with that one.

If he so desires to buy the Gold Coast Titans or buy half of Cairns with his own money, I would be last to whinge and envy him.

On the contrary, Somare and clan may be just as wealthy but their acquired wealth may not have been gained through ‘money trees’ as was the case with Namah.

Then there was the Falcon jet issue, the Sydney casino sexual harassment allegation, his storming of the Supreme Court and arrest of the chief justice.

I too have pondered these and concluded that they are questions that only O’Neill can and should answer (because Namah won’t; whilst Somare will continue to add more speculation).

After all, isn’t O’Neill the prime minister as opposed to Namah who is only the deputy?

Isn’t it the duty of the PM to ensure that a minimum standard of ethical conduct by his cabinet ministers is adhered to? Shouldn’t the buck stop with O’Neill as the CEO?

As it is, O’Neill lacks the courage, conviction and leadership to pull Namah into line.

Namah’s outrageous conduct to date is only demonstrative, and further confirmation, of O’Neill’s weakness and indecisiveness. So there you have it.

Benefits of LNG not passed on to wider population


THREE YEARS AFTER WORK BEGAN in earnest building the hardware to extract and pipe gas from the mountains of Papua New Guinea, initiating what is spruiked as a game-changing bonanza for the fragile nation, many local people remain excluded, frustrated and suspicious about the $US16 billion project.

The PNG LNG (liquefied natural gas) project has already utterly changed their lives, according to an academic investigation.

Failures to better inform the local Hela community about the project, together with flaws in the critical processes of identifying landowners entitled to a share of the windfall and concerns about how the benefits will ultimately be shared, are identified in the new report as potentially damaging concerns in a region infamous for volatility and violence.

Causing particular anxiety was that the failure - blamed largely on the PNG government - to facilitate a full landowner identification process and legislate around creating landowner companies threatened to ''undermine the LNGP and future progress''.

The report - launched in Canberra yesterday by parliamentary secretary for Pacific island affairs Richard Marles - says that although the LNG project represents a significant opportunity for PNG, one which has already yielded benefits for some in local jobs and a boosted economy, these gains are at risk of being undermined if local disenchantment and simmering social tensions ignite the powder-keg Highlands region.

The report lays out a detailed examination of some of the challenges to development in a country such as PNG.

Despite its bountiful resources - PNG is an island of gold, floating in a sea of oil, surrounded by gas, so the ritual boast goes - in terms of exploitation the result over the years ''has at best been mixed, with few long-term benefits being passed on to the wider population'', the authors write.

The reason PNG has struggled to capitalise on its natural abundance, and in some cases has ''suffered serious environmental and social harm in the wake of resources development'', is due to a mixture of factors, foremost among them failures of governance - ''the absence of good institutions and sound economic policy'' - and the fragility of vulnerable indigenous populations, many of whom struggle with the social fallout of the roller-coaster rush to modernity that comes in the wake of mining and logging operations.

Hela Province, which is the crucible of the nation's economic hope, presents a formidable set of hurdles to any potential investors and developers, the report explains.

Geographically it is remote and wild country - a landscape of steep mountains, choking forests, isolated subsistence gardens and villages connected by few roads and broken bridges. It also has some of the lowest literacy and highest levels of child and maternal deaths in the nation.

The report argues that the key to the LNG project achieving its potential to deliver benefits to the community - without overwhelming social costs - requires the resources companies, the community and the government to ''accept and discharge wider responsibilities beyond the narrow remit of self-interest.

''The role of resource development projects such as the LNGP should not just be income generation,'' the report argues, ''but the promotion of wider human development aspirations such as improved livelihoods, greater access to education, better nutrition and healthcare, surety against crime and physical violence, cultural and political freedoms and a feeling of participation in community life.''

''A unique partnership has to be built if this very important project is to succeed,'' said lead author Dr James McIlraith of New Zealand's University of Otago.

Given the nation's ongoing political crisis, ''in the immediate short term, the government doesn't have the capacity, it's going to have to be Esso and the churches who need to pick up the slack to some degree.

''I think Esso are a bit reluctant to do that - they have a business orientation - but these are very unique and challenging circumstances, and to succeed with this project, both in terms of its business and profitability, and to succeed in the community, Esso has to take that different track.''

A spokesman for Esso Highlands said the report identified many issues and challenges that were already being actively addressed.

''We are committed to developing the PNG LNG project in a manner that protects Papua New Guinea's natural and social environments, while providing economic benefits to its citizens.''

The research was sponsored by six partners - the PNG Church Partnership Program, ChildFund, Oxfam, the Melanesian Institute (a research and training body in Goroka), the University of Otago, and Jubilee Australia.

Behind these eyes


I am a woman of strength.
I am a woman of courage.
How would you know that behind these eyes?
Lies a trail of wounds now left behind.

Who would’ve guessed that in my past I was battered and bruised?
Who would’ve guessed that once upon a time I was torn and abused?
I thought I loved this man very much,
Sadly for this man love was never enough.

At times when he would hit me I’d just lay on the ground.
I’d let the blood trickle from my wounds.
I’d pray to God to let me die,
I denied my existence in this world, I hated my life.

God gave me hope in my little girl,
But the beatings never stopped.
In fact, the beatings went from bad to worse,
That in the midst of it many a time my daughter got hurt.

At times the abuse was mental where he would call me all sorts of names,
Feeling worthless I’d hideaway in shame.
I was so reserved I had no confidence,
My spirit was empty and I was always on edge.

Then there was the sexual abuse,
That happened every time he was drunk.
He would walk into the room the stench of the alcohol suffocating me,
The things he did scarred me for life I still remember the pain I felt it was inhumane.

Where could I escape to?
Who could I tell?
I couldn’t tell my family, or anyone else!

Back in the day women had no voice.
Domestic violence was a part of marriage life.
We had to accept it!
We couldn’t complain!

Times have changed,
Women are way stronger than before!
We have come to realise that we deserve nothing but the best and nothing less.
Especially not a man who shows us violence!

Rateone Tefuarani (28) comes from Takuu atoll in the Mortlock islands of Bougainville. She enjoys different types of writing and her dream is to one day to get one of her stories published

Namah says he'll nominate O’Neill to be PM


PETER O'NEILL HAS VOWED to stand again for Papua New Guinea's prime ministership tomorrow after the deputy speaker unexpectedly threw the position open.

And Belden Namah says he will not stand against him.

Deputy Speaker Francis Marus opened today’s special sitting of parliament saying the Supreme Court had declared Sir Michael Somare was the legitimate prime minister.

But he said Sir Michael, who was ousted as leader last August, couldn't serve in the position because he had been disqualified from parliament for missing three consecutive sittings.

Mr O'Neill challenged Sir Michael's supporters, many of whom have boycotted parliament, to turn up in numbers tomorrow and compete for the top job.

"Parliament has decided in its wisdom that we will recognise the court's decision today, and I acknowledge there is a vacancy in the office of prime minister," Mr O'Neill told reporters.

"I urge the Somare faction: let us end this once and for all.

"I urge him, take his faction to parliament so they can also have an opportunity to nominate a candidate."

Mr O'Neill's deputy, Belden Namah, said the government would nominate Mr O'Neill.

"Tomorrow will be fair game, fair play, like on the rugby field," he said.

"We shall put all questions on the prime ministership to rest.

"I will nominate Peter O'Neill to be the prime minister of this country," he said.

Stunned parliament finds that Namah may be PM

Sources: Liam Fox/ABC and Tavurvur [Twitter]

THIS MORNING’S SITTING OF THE PNG parliament took a peculiar twist when both prime minister Peter O’Neill and contender Sir Michael Somare were declared not to be duly elected leaders of Papua New Guinea.

Parliament accepted yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling and reinstated Somare as prime minister before disqualifying him on the grounds that he had missed three sittings of parliament since January.

With Speaker Jeffrey Nape acting as Governor-General, Deputy Speaker Francis Marus then declared the prime minister’s office vacant and announced that a new PM will be elected tomorrow, forcing O’Neill aside.

This means that deputy prime minister Belden Namah may become acting prime minister, at least for the next 24 hours.

Elevation of Nape as acting G-G creates uncertainty


THE ELEVATION OF Papua New Guinea’s controversial national parliament speaker Jeffrey Nape to acting governor general is set to create further uncertainty amongst Papua New Guineans as they countdown to the general election.

Governor general Sir Michael Ogio flew to London yesterday to join other heads of Commonwealth governments celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, his absence resulting in the elevation of the speaker to the office in an acting capacity.

Mr Nape played a key role in the formation of the O’Neill government in August last year and has not hesitated in giving his opinion on political issues, overlooking the need to remain impartial as chair of PNG’s 109-seat national parliament.

In the PNG parliament’s battle with the Supreme Court after it ruled last December that parliament’s 2 August 2011 election of Peter O’Neill as Prime Minister was illegal, Nape went to the rescue of the embattled government when he became acting governor general after the O’Neill majority parliament suspended Sir Michael Ogio over his refusal to swear in Mr O’Neill and his cabinet.

The speaker subsequently swore in Mr O’Neill and his cabinet on 14 December – two days after the Supreme Court reinstated veteran MP Sir Michael Somare as PM – and dismissed the latter’s cabinet which was appointed after the court ruled in his favour.

On 19 December Sir Michael Ogio wrote to parliament advising that he recognised Mr O’Neill as Prime Minister, resulting in parliament lifting its suspension and restoring him as governor general.

However the former North Bougainville MP recently declared in an interview with AAP that he will not vet the decisions of either the O’Neill or Somare governments until a new government is formed after the 2012 general election. Polling is scheduled to start on 23 June 23 will run for two weeks.

The governor general’s change in position caught the two rival camps by surprise, particularly the O’Neill government which managed to convene a special parliament sitting last Friday, reportedly without the approval of Sir Michael Ogio as head of state.

Despite questions over its convening, parliament reportedly passed legislation declaring a state of emergency (SOE) in the PNG capital Port Moresby and the Highlands provinces of Hela and Enga, and subsequently giving the O’Neill government more powers.

Details of the SOE and what it entails for Papua New Guineans living in Port Moresby and the two Highlands provinces are yet to be made public.

It is believed Sir Michael Ogio’s refusal to sign off on last Friday’s special parliament sitting and the SOE laws it passed was the hurdle the O’Neill government needed to overcome – Mr Nape’s acting role as vice regal should now see the SOE formalised.

Parliament’s declaration of an SOE came a day after Mr O’Neill’s deputy Belden Namah stormed the Supreme Court with a posse of policemen and soldiers and tried to arrest PNG’s Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia.

The head judge was later charged with sedition after a standoff with the Deputy PM and his company of policemen and soldiers while bench colleague, Justice Nicholas Kirriwom, was arrested and charged with the same offence with the ABC reporting that the matter has been adjourned to July.

Martyn Namorong facing a day of political encounters


Taking the Truth to Australia“PAPUA NEW GUINEA NEEDS FRIENDS in Canberra,” Martyn Namorong observed to me on the phone yesterday after his meeting with foreign affairs sub-committee chairman, Nick Champion MP, and today the writer and blogger will put in hard yards to achieve just that.

His day begins early with a meeting with Ed Vrkic, foreign minister Bob Carr’s adviser on PNG and the Pacific.

The message here will be identical to that which Martyn proposed to parliamentary secretary Richard Marles last night: that more be done to facilitate relationships between young Australian and PNG professionals by the respective governments jointly initiating an exchange program aimed at building better relationships for the future.

Following this meeting, Martyn will talk first with Alan Griffin MP and then with Laurie Ferguson MP, both members of the foreign affairs sub-committee, before meeting with shadow foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop MP.

There will be an informal public get-together at the Hotel Kurrajong from 4-5.30pm (call Ben Jackson on 0417 407 565) before Martyn and Ben have dinner with Senator Anne McEwen, chief government Senate whip and secretary of the Australia-Papua New Guinea parliamentary friendship group.

This pleasant encounter will end a busy two days in Canberra for Martyn, who will have held eight meetings with politicians, hosted two forums and participated in an extensive radio interview on the ABC as well as visiting the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru memorial, to be inaugurated on 1 July.

He will arrive in Brisbane early tomorrow afternoon, where he will be taken on a tour of the city before addressing Toowong Rotary Club in the evening.

If you want to meet Martyn in Brisbane there will be an opportunity to do so informally on Friday from 3pm at the Sherwood Services Club, Corinda, near the railway station. Call Murray Bladwell on 0413 057 673

What do you promise to do?


If we give our votes to you
And you form our government
What do you promise to do?

Pledge to us you will be true
And work for our betterment
If we give our votes to you

After all that we’ve been thru
Our doom seems imminent
What do you promise to do?

To raise us up, to renew
Our ailing parliament
If we give our votes to you

Or will you throw us askew
As others did with a bent
What do you promise to do?

Good leaders are far too few
Our democracy laments
If we give our votes to you
What do you promise to do?

A villanelle, Labu Station 10:30pm, 27/05/2012

Attitude publisher has eyes set on PR for PNG

JPR_roundTHE PUBLISHER AND EDITOR of PNG Attitude, Keith Jackson, has returned to full-time work after some years of semi-retirement that followed a period of ill health.

“Most people retire at the end of their careers,” Keith said, “but I seem to have retired in the middle of mine.”

Keith is chairman, and is now also general manager, of Jackson Public Relations (formerly Jackson Wells) which has been operating for 21 years since he established it.

“Over all that time, despite my abiding interest in Papua New Guinea, none of the 550 clients we’ve worked for in Australia and from around the world has been a PNG organisation.

“In this, my personal second coming, I’m looking to change that oversight.”

Jackson PR specialises in media relations and government relations and has worked for clients in every industry sector.

“When I set up the company in a spare room in my apartment in early 1991, I never expected that it would last for two decades and achieve what it has,” Keith said.

People interested in finding out more about Jackson PR can contact Keith here or visit the website here.

Timeless attitudes


Far from the freeway, near my house
of used materials and twenty people.
A toilet and shower fed by buckets of water
Firewood for the makeshift kitchen.
Son is celled-up crying mama;
Daughter happily rides an oiled-up sugar papa.
Mama plays Queen twenty four seven,
Papa stands King at the bar of every tavern.
Eda Ranu doesn’t give a piss
PNG Pawa is a rain scared miss.

Far from my house, near my street
Footpath-less tracks and non-existent lights…
Carjacking, pick-pocketing and street fights…
Betelnut splashed roads, corrugated high barbwire fences
Rubbish-clogged, open-air, sewerage-drains
Any day drink-ups and unauthorized traffic officers
Government officers boozing and blasting his car stereo.
Bitch full drunk, snorting in the back seat.
Police come panel beat…questions asked later…
Emergency room is waiting room
You wait until you’re an emergency

Far from my street, near the freeway
Four people cram the door, balance like a yachter
Anywhere’s a bus-stop; everywhere’s a cushion-less seat
Incomplete routes, police and transport road block
Officer walks by taxi, slyly picks up his tip and says ‘ok go’
Splayed on the canvassed roof, sing your forefathers memories
Smooch the yellow-top mama; fling her up in the air
Let her glitter on the pothole ridden coal-tar.

Give the driver his beer!
Piss drunk, he’s a seer…
Freeway ah?
Free…no challenges, no threats, no holdbacks;
Ways…roads, access, actions….
There are no challenges on this road, no threats to this access, no holding back of any action.
You are permitted entry and exit anytime, you have easy access to anything and everything. Do whatever action you want…do not hold back...’
A freeway…built far from the squatters, illiterate, and inaccessible
Fuck if you think I’m too drunk to drive! This is the real me!

Peter Sevara (29) was born in Port Moresby.  He loves everything Papua New Guinean

Magnificent satellite imagery of Bagana volcano


Bagana volcano from the ground []MOUNT BAGANA IS AN ACTIVE VOLCANO located in central Bougainville and is the most active volcano in PNG.

Just northeast of Bagana, one of 17 volcanoes on Bougainville, is the volcano crater lake, Billy Mitchell.

Bagana is a massive symmetrical lava cone about 1,750-metres high, largely constructed by an accumulation of lava flows. The entire cone could have been constructed in about 300 years at its present rate of lava production.

Bagana is poorly monitored. Located on the mountainous spine of Bougainville, it is far from any large towns and hard to reach due to the rough terrain.

Bagana emits volcanic gases (including water vapour and sulphur dioxide) almost continuously, and frequently extrudes thick lava flows. Satellites provide the most reliable way to watch this activity.

This natural-colour image, collected by the Earth Observing-1 satellite on 16 May, reveals a fresh lava flow on Bagana’s eastern flank.

Imagery from Landsat 7 shows that the flow was established some time between March 2011 and February 2012. The fresh lava is dark brown, while lighter brown areas were likely stripped of vegetation by volcanic debris or acidic gases.

Older lava flows are covered in light green vegetation, and the surrounding forests are dark green. The volcanic plume and clouds are both white.

Bagana volcano from space

Justice for PNG lies in the ballot box


THE STAND-OFF BETWEEN Papua New Guinea's parliament and its judiciary reached a dangerous flashpoint last week, which can only dismay the country's well-wishers in Australia.

The rights and wrongs of the legal and constitutional points involved are too arcane for all but a few specialists to grasp fully. What is clear is that both sides of the political contest at the bottom of it are resorting to force.

The action of the Deputy Prime Minister, Belden Namah, in storming into the Supreme Court at the head of a posse of police, to order the arrest of the chief justice, Salamo Injia, for sedition is outrageous. Namah is not the instrument of the law, nor are powers of prosecution on other laws such as sedition part of his ministerial responsibilities.

It was a snap, unilateral political arrest. The police, legal agencies and lower courts should have no bar of it but it appears they have. Five months ago Namah gave amnesty to some armed soldiers who had tried intervening in politics. Now he sees sedition in a private emails between two judges.

Similarly, some police associated with the officer appointed as police commissioner by the ousted prime minister Michael Somare made a disturbing intervention. They blocked access to the parliament on Friday to prevent Peter O'Neill, who replaced Somare in August, recalling MPs to reaffirm parliamentary support for his leadership. This is a contest between the law, as the highest court interprets it, and the parliament. The constitutional dilemma remains.

O'Neill convened parliament and retains its confidence, gaining extra emergency powers. The chief justice remains on the bench, despite government efforts to suspend him, and the court's ruling that the ousting of Somare was invalid also stands.

Fortunately, this parliament is in its last weeks, as elections are due next month - a resolution in practical terms. Debate will continue whether Salamo was right to push things on such fine points of parliamentary procedure, knowing political chaos could result, when the voters have an early chance to decide. The Supreme Court's important role against political misconduct now seems greatly weakened.

That PNG gets a fair and well-run election on schedule is supremely important. In its 37 years of independence from Australia, it has stuck to the constitutional schedule assiduously, despite many problems in holding elections in such difficult terrain.

Politics have been debased at times by bribery and intimidation but elections have delivered political change accepted by all.

O'Neill has headed off a push from within his ranks to delay the vote. He and his colleagues must now apply all possible resources to ensure an honest, transparent election.

The next parliament will present a tremendous opportunity for PNG's 7 million people. The ExxonMobil liquefied natural gas project centred on the southern highlands will start deliveries to foreign customers in 2014. In its first year, it will boost gross domestic product by 20 to 25 per cent. Already, development work has given PNG the seventh highest growth rate in the world. The revenue streams will mightily boost the government's resources.

But much of the population still lives a subsistence lifestyle, growing and catching food, barely touching the modern economy except in the odd cash sale. How to connect that LNG revenue and other resources from tax-paying activity with that subsistence village world is the job of the government.

It means steady painstaking work in extending roads and boat jetties, harnessing communication leaps such as the spread of mobile telephones, improving security on roads and in market places, and building human capacity through schooling, health services and adult education.

We can only hope the next parliament focuses more on these policies and less on squabbling over the spoils of office.

Intense day of activity for Martyn in Canberra

Take the Truth to AustraliaBY KEITH JACKSON


A VISIT TO THE AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL marks the start of two crowded days in Canberra for Martyn Namorong as he moves into the second and final week of his Take the Truth to Australia tour.

In the chill of a Canberra Autumn morning, he will visit the newly-installed Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Memorial in the AWM grounds, accompanied by Don Hook, a prominent member of the Society under whose auspices the memorial has been constructed.

Martyn Namorong and Ben JacksonThe memorial will be officially unveiled on 1 July, the seventieth anniversary of the sinking of the prison ship Montevideo Maru and the deaths of all 1,000 plus trrops and civilians who had been serving in Rabaul.

Immediately after, accompanied by Ben Jackson, his program organiser and ‘minder’, Martyn will be interviewed on Alex Sloan’s Morning Program on 666 ABC Canberra before heading to Parliament House.

Nick Champion MPHere he will have his first political meeting with Nick Champion MP, ALP Member for Wakefield (SA) and chairman of the foreign affairs sub-committee.

As with all of the meetings at Parliament House, discussion will focus on the relationship between Australia and Papua New Guinea and how it might be improved in the interests of the PNG people. [See our earlier story here.]

Senator Bob BrownMartyn will then head across Canberra to the campus of the Australian National University where he will lead a seminar for the State, Society & Governance in Melanesia Program before returning to Parliament House for a meeting with former leader of the Australian Greens and friend of PNG, Senator Bob Brown.

The intense day’s activities will finish with discussions with Richard Marles, the parliamentary secretary for Pacific Island Affairs.

During this meeting, Martyn will propose to Mr Marles (as he will do also later to shadow foreign minister Julie Bishop) that the Australian and PNG governments jointly initiate an exchange program for young Australian and PNG professionals to get to know the other country and to build better relationships.

 If you would like to meet Martyn Namorong in Canberra there will be an informal opportunity at the Hotel Kurrajong from 4-5.30pm tomorrow (Tuesday). Call Ben Jackson on 0417 407 565

What my fathers taught me: a tribute


AT A TIME WHEN THE FOCUS of the world is upon Papua New Guinea and its attitude toward women, I have been reflecting upon the male influences in my life.

I know there are good men in PNG and we need their support and encouragement in order to create a safer more equitable society for both sexes. I want to introduce to you three such men who have impacted my life - my grandfather, uncle and father.

These men influenced me in unique ways and the lessons learned were not from longwinded lectures (although they were prone to those too) but rather from observing how they lived their lives.

What my grandfather taught me

Every individual is unique and must be accorded dignity.

My grandfather had a soft spot for the scorned and oft ignored of our clan and would strive to let them know they mattered. He had a way about him which made it seem that you were the favoured one, that you were special.

Most times upon his return from a feast, often the best meat cuts were quietly slipped to the widows, divorcees or the least favored wife of a clansman.  He would cut smaller portions, wrap them in banana leaves and hide them in various locations then give their children riddles to find them – a treasure hunt of his creation.

This was something he did regularly with his grandchildren and we thought we were the only ones with whom he played this game. At his funeral however I was overwhelmed by the amount of people (most I did not know well) who told of his generosity and recalled his treasure hunts.

He also made it a habit to every so often, visit the homes of the aforementioned women. He would ask them how they were and if there was something that needed doing. If they required assistance, appointments were made and at the set time he and his family would team up and help; fencing gardens, making new gardens, harvesting kunai to thatch roofs.

To us children he made such outings an event and would teach various chants and games turning work to play. Firewood distribution was another duty he took upon himself and would ensure that not only his own household was provided for but that of those who did not have a man to look after them. He never made any help seem like charity for he would call on those assisted to reciprocate by helping him in his garden etc.

Words cannot describe the bond I had with him and even though he has left us, his memory and the continuing of this legacy gives life a feeling of completeness.

Continue reading "What my fathers taught me: a tribute" »

Joseph Kabui & his leadership of Bougainville


Joseph Kabui (1954-2008)THE LATE JOSEPH CANNSIUS KABUI was the last premier of the North Solomons Province in 1990 when the Bougainville crisis erupted and the first President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government in 2005 as the result of the Bougainville Peace Process that slowly began in 2004.

Joseph Kabui was born around 1954 in Sipuru Village (new Paruparu in the Evo-Torau constituency). His mother, Agatha Sipura (my great grandmother), was a widower and hails from the Tumpusiong Valley of Panguna. She had my two grandmothers with her first husband and remarried into Evo (our neighbouring constituency) and had the next three that are from the elders, Martin Miriori, Joseph Kabui and a woman.

He was educated at Pirurari, Sipatako village schools, Tunuru, Saint Joseph’s Rigu mission schools and Ulapia (Channel College) in PNG. He took sometimes with the BCL civil works as a spotter handling the stop-go sign in the work places. From here, late Henry Moses (then head of BCL workers’ union) had him in the Panguna mining workers’ union and from here he spent a year or two at the University of PNG and back in BCL again. After sometime, the union had him in the United States in a program on labour laws.

After returning, he was into politics. He was with the community government for a while in the early 1980s and contested the provincial election in the mid-1980s and began the premier of North Solomons in 1987 to 1989 when the crisis came about to splash out the PNG people and government.

Has many, for example his NSP government secretary, late Peter Tsiamalili left the island he after being threatened by the BRA, he remained back and faced the consequences. Despite being harassed by the order less and unorganized BRA personnel of the 1990s, he remained steadfast a Bougainvillean leader.

In 1990, the late Francis Ona after shutting the mine and getting rid of non-Bougainvilleans had not much interest in the former NSP premier but, it was Ona’s military strategist, Sam Kauona, who actually invited Mr. Joseph Kabui in the BRA politics of that era. In one of the late months of 1990, Sam Kauona ordered his faction of the BRA to bring Mr Joseph Kabui and his elder brother, Mr Martin Miriori to his village in Tororei; there he officially asked them, especially Kabui to help the BRA in its political manoeuvring.

From here, the Bougainville Interim Government (BIG) was born. Some peace efforts like the Endeavour Accord, a trip to the UN Rights of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples hearing in Geneva, and the declaration of independence in 1991 (UDI). Also, there was this establishment of the Radio Free Bougainville that broadcasted from Arawa that drove a lot of BIG propaganda to the population.

Continue reading "Joseph Kabui & his leadership of Bougainville" »

Namah: Feathers fly as the point man weighs in


Belden Namah by Jeffry FeegerPAPUA NEW GUINEA HAS SEEN plenty of political wild men - like the late prime minister Bill Skate with his Albanian-Australian political adviser and connections to Port Moresby's raskol gangs. But has there been anything like Belden Namah, the present deputy prime minister?

This year alone he's made the headlines a lot. In March, the Herald reported he had been in Sydney's Star casino at 7am one day last year, drunk and propositioning the male croupier, with $800,000 to blow. Not him, Namah said.

On Thursday this week he turned up at the Supreme Court in Port Moresby at the head of a band of police, demanding the chief justice, Sir Salamo Injia, turn himself in to be charged with sedition. After a long stand-off, that seems to have happened.

Namah has been the point man in the government of the prime minister, Peter O'Neill, in its extended skirmishing with the country's highest court over the legality of the ousting in August of the independence leader Sir Michael Somare's government.

Twice, in December and again this week, benches of the court including Injia have ruled that the rules had not been followed to the letter and ordered that Sir Michael be reinstated. In December, O'Neill quickly got a big majority in the parliament to reaffirm his support.

The ailing Sir Michael has twice tried to meet the governor-general to get sworn back into office, but has been turned away at the gate by police following O'Neill's orders. In December, Sir Michael appointed his own police and military commanders, getting a small group of soldiers to come out for him, but the initiative soon faltered.

This week, Sir Michael also failed to get into Government House, while O'Neill struggled to get parliament recalled. But Namah decided to go for the judges, ordering Injia and the two others on the bench for the latest ruling to resign within 24 hours for alleged bias against the O'Neill government.

Before being charged, the chief justice appealed to police and military personal to abide by the court's ruling. Asking their chiefs to ''take your oath seriously and stand up for the constitution'', Injia said: ''This country is being run by men who are happy to use force rather than the rule of law.''

It is a nasty stand-off, and the only blessing is that writs have already been issued for a general election to start on 23 June. Within a couple of months, a new hand of political cards will be dealt and the Somare-O'Neill legal contest will be a matter of history.

But it will be a very tense time until the voting starts. Namah was also leader of the drive to postpone the elections for six months, in violation of the constitution's very explicit limits of leeway from the five-year parliament term.

O'Neill has managed to overrule him and election preparations are well under way. But PNG is always a land of surprises, good and bad.

Continue reading "Namah: Feathers fly as the point man weighs in" »

Courting trouble in Papua New Guinea


Sir Salamo InjiaJUDGES HAVE THROWN Papua New Guinea into turmoil by pronouncing yet again that the current government, led by Peter O’Neill, is illegal—this time on the eve of scheduled elections.

On 21 May, the chief justice, Sir Salamo Injia [pictured], joined two other judges in upholding the Supreme Court’s verdict from December, which ordered the restoration of Mr O’Neill’s predecessor as prime minister, Sir Michael Somare.

Another two judges from the five-member bench again dissented, but this time they were blunt with their disapproval: Gibbs Salika, the deputy chief justice, said the court’s deliberations had been compromised by the circulation of an email from one of the majority judges which called the O’Neill administration an “illegal regime”.

Another dissenting judge said that endorsing the majority verdict would be contrary to his judicial oath of office.

After the majority’s verdict was handed down, Sir Michael travelled to government house hoping to be sworn in. He was turned away by police officers, who insisted that “no one goes in until after the elections”.

Their operations commander, Colonel Walter Enuma, said that the police had had “enough of this chequebook war”, implying that both sides were using cash handouts to curry favour around the country.

The Supreme Court has had to wrestle with conflicting principles. The removal of Sir Michael Somare last August was clearly not in accordance with constitutional procedures, which required that two doctors appointed by the Governor-General declare the prime minister unfit to resume office.

At that time, Mr Somare was hospitalised in Singapore after a serious heart surgery, and his own family had announced that he was stepping down. The speaker of parliament prematurely declared the office of prime minister vacant. In the consequent election, Mr O’Neill obtained a large majority, with 70 MPs for him to 24 against.

But then Sir Michael made a miraculous recovery, and returned to Papua New Guinea (PNG) to claim back his old job. December’s Supreme Court ruling supported his case, which resulted in the first showdown between the judiciary and the legislature.

For a country where a large share of the population is beyond the effective reach of the state and where the rule of law is anyway highly precarious, confrontation between core institutions of government is a risky business. In any case, judges are usually sensibly wary of stepping into political affairs, and thus undermining the separation of powers.

The Supreme Court’s majority verdict in December was questionable, but to insist on the same decision now seems reckless. At the time the result was a constitutional crisis. The O’Neill and Somare camps battled for supremacy, even appointing rival Governor-Generals and police chiefs.

Continue reading "Courting trouble in Papua New Guinea" »

G-G won't sign off on emergency – heads overseas


PAPUA NEW GUINEA'S GOVERNOR-GENERAL has washed his hands of both sides of the nation's political dispute, with his office saying he will not sign any documents until a government is formed after the election.

A senior member of the office of Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio says the head of state has refused to sign any documents presented by parliamentary elected prime minister Peter O'Neill or from his court-appointed rival for the top job, Sir Michael Somare.

The spokesman says the governor-general has also refused to sign an instrument recalling parliament for a special sitting last week in which the government voted for a state of emergency in three provinces including the capital, Port Moresby.

"No documents have been received by the governor-general and that includes the state of emergency (declared by parliament on Friday)," the spokesman, who declined to be named, told AAP today.

He said Sir Michael Ogio had refused to sign the document approving Friday's special sitting of parliament at which MPs voted for a state of emergency.

"He received that document but he did not sign it," the spokesman said, answering "negative" when asked the question two more times.

"Go to the election. That was advised to everybody from the beginning, go to the election."

The spokesman said the governor-general was seeking legal advice.

Constitutional lawyer Ray Williams told AAP that parliament could not be convened without the consent of the governor-general.

"The instrument must be signed by the governor-general, otherwise it is not an instrument at all," Mr Williams said.

"In terms of the sitting itself, if it is not approved by the governor-general, in effect it would not be constitutional to do that."

AAP has learned that Sir Michael Ogio will depart PNG tomorrow for Britain to participate in the Queen's Birthday celebrations.

According to protocol, Speaker Jeffrey Nape will become acting governor-general until Sir Michael returns on 12 June.

Martyn Namorong hints at a future in politics

Take the Truth to AustraliaBY KEITH JACKSON

With Bruce Hill of Radio AustraliaIN A WIDE-RANGING interview on Radio Australia, Martyn Namorong has hinted that he may be interested in a future career in Papua New Guinea politics.

And he said the PNG government should make the five ‘directive principles’ of its constitution enforceable by law in order to correct the current imbalance between government and people.

Asked what might be the reaction of the people if there was not a more equitable distribution of PNG’s wealth, he responded that if the elite failed in its obligation the people “would eat them”.

You can listen here to this hard-hitting interview with Pacific Beat host Bruce Hill.

UPNG campus in crisis as admin buildings looted


A MONTH-LONG POWER BLACK-OUT at the University of Papua New Guinea’s Waigani Campus has incited angry residential students to loot the Administration and other buildings.

UPNG students on popular social media sites Facebook and Twitter have reported that tensions are high at Waigani and are demanding the Administration act immediately to fix the situation.

The black-outs started a month ago when an underground electricity service cable became faulty and could not provide electricity to the majority of dormitories in the main campus.

Next week will see examinations go into full gear on campus and students are frustrated at the frequent disruptions to their studies.

Last night many students felt that it was not fair to conduct exams when they were not afforded the proper facilities to study.

At about 7.30pm the temporary generator servicing the dormitories Tuloan, Luavi, Lasitewa, Poroman, Veari and Toa 2 and 3 failed and frustrated students mobilised in the darkness and spilled out on the road and attacked the Gunther Administration Building, breaking glass and blocking off the entrance road.

A meeting was held between security personnel, Police and student leaders during which, among other things, it was agreed that the students return to their rooms and properly address the situation this morning. \

A University security spokesperson was reported to have said that, while the looting of school property was not good, the black-out was causing problems for security operations as well.

A Police spokesperson said that Police were there upon calls from concerned parents but would only enter the campus grounds upon request of university security.

Student leaders condemned the Administration for stalling in rectifying the black-out situation for over a month and called for a swift response of face further action. The Administration could not be reached for comment.

Now Martyn Namorong takes the truth to Canberra


Take the Truth to AustraliaPNG WRITER AND ACTIVIST Martyn Namorong continues his Take the Truth to Australia tour in Canberra over the next two days where he will meet with senior Australian political figures.

Included in a busy program will be encounters with shadow foreign minister Julie Bishop, parliamentary secretary for Pacific affairs Richard Marles, foreign minister Bob Carr's adviser on PNG matters, and a number of members of parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

It is still hoped to arrange a short meeting with Senator Carr.

The messages Martyn will take to the corridors of parliament house will be the same he canvassed in an article he wrote for The Age newspaper last Thursday (Australia not a good friend), focusing on what Australia can do to improve its relationship with the people of Papua New Guinea.

He is also expected to ask that the Australian government work with the PNG government to offer more exchange programs between young Australian and Papua New Guinean professionals in an effort to build better personal links between the two countries, so strengthening the overall relationship.

Martyn will use the experience of his current visit to emphasise how such exchanges can work and have an impact on hundreds of people in both countries.

While in Canberra, he will also join Don Hook for a visit to the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru memorial, due to be unveiled on 1 July.

Later he’ll conduct a seminar at the Australian National University, be interviewed for ABC Radio Canberra, and meet people interested in PNG at an informal function at the Hotel Kurrajong.

Martyn will be accompanied in Canberra, as he was in Sydney, by Ben Jackson, a young Australian communications professional who has been responsible for the tour itinerary – which in its first week included eight media interviews and 10 meetings as well as sightseeing in Sydney and Melbourne, and a night at rugby league where he saw the Storm-Broncos encounter.

Today he drives to Canberra with his Melbourne host, Linda Koerner.

Martyn’s visit is funded in its entirety by readers of PNG Attitude.

Here’s Martyn’s recent interview on the Australia Network….


Literary shame games in the PNG intelligentsia


An essay on the underlying reasons for the sacking of Storyboard, and its progenitor, from The National newspaper

FOLLOWING PNG ATTITUDE’S ARTICLE of 31 March (‘The National bans two prominent writers’), this is how The National reacted in its Column 1 section. The wording was the work of both the Weekender editor and the overall editor of the paper.

OK, we admit it. Journalists (and writers) are generally egoistic people, some to the extent that they regard themselves as god’s gift to the profession. Criticise or offend and you are likely to experience first-hand a reaction akin to the saying, “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

Perhaps that explains Russell Soaba’s response when we decided to end his Storyboard column in our Weekender after some vitriolic and less eloquent emails spewed forth from the writer. The professional relationship between Soaba and the Weekender editor had descended to a personal one…..

In the first instance, for some unknown reason, he retracted his allegations the next day. The peace lasted only a while though. The mysterious fever returned and the poor man went on a venomous binge again. Rather than have such an unstable and unpleasant relationship, The National decided that the column come to an end. Of course if you ask Soaba, he will have a different story to tell as he seems to be doing so now.

[The National, Tuesday 3 April 2012]

But the underlying reasons to Soaba’s sacking still remain a mystery. What does seem to be slowly emerging to the surface is that soul searching attempt at self-redemption or hypocritical cover-up that makes the whole scenario all the more comical and profane.

This by email dated 10 May 2012 in response to the ungodly flyer that ran: check out the blogs for the underlying reasons behind Storyboard’s sacking.


What really is the matter with you?

Are you lonely, bitter, angry, sad, mentally affected, unrepentant, lost perhaps.

Why do you carry on and on and on. Like a spoilt child who wants a toy from the shop. Let it go, get over it.

Commit everything to God, pray, read your Bible, go to church, spend time re-thinking your life. Repent, recommit your life to God. It is never too late to do this while we still live and breathe.

Maybe there are things in your past which you need to put right with your children and your family, your late wife's family.

I urge you to do these now and you will find peace. God's peace that passeth all understanding. Don't look down on yourself, don't compare yourself to others and above all don't think that nobody loves you. God loves you and He is a forgiving God, He is merciful and full of grace and He loves you more than you will ever know. Seek God, He is the only one that will grant you the peace of mind that you so desperately need.

I tell you this because I have found that for myself in a number of situations in my life.  Mum and I have been praying for you and for your salvation. I felt I had to share to her about this situation because this is a spiritual battle and I need Mum to stand with me in prayer.

God works in mysterious ways. He allows things to happen to save and protect His children from evil. I have found peace. I rest in the knowledge that God is in control of everything and I stand on the scripture, "The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."  Exodus 14:14

Take good care of yourself. Have a pleasant evening and a wonderful weekend.

God bless you,


There are times when people who are spared the Christian principles of forgiveness simply take advantage of their moment of relief and choose rather to exercise their powers in the opposite direction.

But then who is Russell Soaba anyway that even a large organisation such as The National newspaper would take the trouble of paying so much attention to?

There will be more on this coming soon under the title, The underlying reasons to Storyboard’s sacking. 

Continue reading "Literary shame games in the PNG intelligentsia" »

Lloyd Hurrell - Kiap, soldier, planter – dies at 95


Hurrell_LloydLLOYD HURRELL CMG OBE MC DIED PEACEFULLY at home last Tuesday. He was the last of the pre-World War II Kiaps- and one with an exemplary record.

Later a pioneer coffee-planter at Wau in the 1950s, Lloyd was a member of the TPNG Legislative Council and one of the founders of the old Coffee Industry Board - the boardroom at the present Coffee Industry Corp in Goroka is named after him.

Lloyd is survived by his wife and five children. His son Don is one of the few AusAID consultants serving in PNG who can be said to have made a real difference by his presence as a police adviser in Goroka.

The National Archives of Australia note:

In 1939, (Albert) Lloyd Hurrell applied for the position of cadet patrol officer advertised in Sydney newspapers. After serving briefly as a Kiap in New Guinea, Hurrell joined the Australian Military Forces in 1940 (NGX18). He was awarded the Military Cross for his actions on 11 November 1942 during fierce fighting after the recapture of Kokoda.

After World War II, Hurrell returned to Kiap duties in New Guinea. In 1950 he was appointed Acting District Officer of the Menyamya district, and was instructed to establish a new settlement at this remote post in the ‘uncontrolled’ Western Highlands.

The following year, Hurrell was ordered to investigate a raid on the village of Kiatsong during which several people were killed. While investigating the raid, Hurrell’s party was attacked. He fired a warning shot, which unfortunately killed one of the attacking men.

Hurrell resigned from his Kiap duties in 1954, and established a farm and coffee plantation near Wau in the province of Morobe. He entered national politics in Papua New Guinea, and served for many years as President of the PNG Coffee Marketing Board. In 1969 Hurrell was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to the Board.

Hurrell's WayThree years ago, Lloyd published an account of his early PNG experiences in the memoir Hurrell's Way, described by James Sinclair as “a marvellous, highly informative read by an ex-soldier – Syria and Kokoda Track in World War II – and then patrol officer in New Guinea’s early days of Australian administration.”

Lloyd Hurrell’s funeral will be held at 11am on Monday 4 June at Tweed Heads Crematorium.

Top photograph from Lloyd Hurrell’s World War II army record of 1939

Scars of the storm


After the chaos and confusion of Mum’s death

Debris on beaches;
Meet my stare
Flotsam below still waters;
Give that eerie glare

Broken branches;
Strewn here and there
Scattered leaves;
Left lying without care

Jigsaw puzzle pieces;
Now marred and bare
Jagged, not smooth edges;
Suddenly not so rare

Heaps of missing parts;
Life can be so unfair !
Must pick up the fragments;
And once more dare

The fleeting calm’s;
My time to prepare
Another storm looms;
And I’d better be AWARE!

Steven Hulamari Ilave Snr (54) was born in Kikori in Gulf Province.  His family comes from Ihu on the coast to the east. He is married to Annie and has eight children. He studied at UPNG and in the UK and is a development economist by profession. His inspiration to write comes from two prominent Gulf Province men: Albert Moari Kiki and Vincent Eri. He has started his first book which he hopes to finish in 2013.  He writes poems part-time as an escape from the rat-race of a life in the city of Port Moresby

Born with a purpose


A life’s journey destined to fulfil God’s purpose

TYRA GREW UP IN THE REMOTE TOWN of Tabubil located in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea. Amazing landscapes, rainforest and waterfalls surround the township. A place that, long hidden, has now been discovered to be rich in the natural resources of gold and copper.

Tyra’s father had been a heavy equipment operator for Ok Tedi Mining Limited, the company that owns the mine. While her mother is just an ordinary homemaker who comes from an ordinary village life, she appreciates the privilege of living a modern lifestyle of having to travel and using modern whitegoods.

Being third in a family of six can be fun and exciting, but the family’s regular domestic violence placed a negative impact on Tyra’s life while growing up. She developed bitterness and hatred for her father for his violent abuse of her mother. But she was never afraid to stand up for what was right and cared for her mother more than anyone in her life.

Tyra has a strong personality - she enjoys adventures, embraces nature and outdoor activities. A character that is passionate about helping poor and needy people and living a life that brings glory to God.

At the age of 14, Tyra transferred to a mission school called the School of Tomorrow in a remote village in her hometown Wewak, in the East Sepik Province. That year there was a drought and it was difficult for the small town of Tabubil to supply food for the whole population of the town and so the company had to send the wives and children of the workers away.

Those years taught her to be independent and to take care of herself. She was taught Christian values while studying at the mission school. Memorising bible scriptures, having regular devotions and fellowships were a normal discipline of the mission run schools.

The mission school was a few kilometres away from her traditional village and so she spent a lot of the term breaks in the village with Grandma. During those years of being away from her parents, she loved village life and mostly her love for her Grandma.

They shared such a special bond and friendship that Tyra kept her Grandma as one of those special people in her heart. She prayed that God could give Grandma the strength to live each day so she could see her get a job and take care of her one day. The drought ended after two years and Tyra moved back to Tabubil to be with the rest of her family.

Continue reading "Born with a purpose" »

Life goes on at the bottom as PNG reels from the top


ENLISTING THE MIGHTY MODERN EPISTLE of the tweet, and the old magic of a powerful image, the ABC's Port Moresby correspondent nailed the bleak, stranger-than-fiction reality his city woke to yesterday morning.

There in a stream - a rubbish-clogged drain, really - running just below the blockaded gates of the Papua New Guinea Parliament, unbothered and unnoticed by rebel police protesting against the latest twist in the Byzantine power play capturing the capital, a young woman scrubbed her laundry.

On her head she proudly wore the national colours. ''While the political storm rages, the lives of grassroots PNGeans continue unaffected,'' observed Liam Fox.

Whether that holds true this morning, following potentially explosive moves within the Parliament late yesterday to declare a state of emergency in the capital - the first in well over a decade, and the first ever provoked by political events - and in restive parts of the highlands, remains to be seen.

For several hours early in the day, the group of apparently unarmed police at the blockade refused to let anyone into Parliament.

No MPs would be allowed in until after the national elections, scheduled to begin late next month, they told reporters.

The action of the police in blocking the gates - trying to thwart any political moves that might derail the election - reflected the exasperation and yearning of people across PNG who are desperate to use their votes to bring about an end to seven months of crippling political impasse.

Such sentiments are shared by street vendors, rural farmers and the elite ''twitterati'' who have harnessed social media to campaign, all the while urging fellow citizens to keep a lid on their frustrations lest they provide authorities with an excuse to delay the poll.

Although Parliament had been officially dissolved almost two weeks back, for three days Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has been trying to rustle up a quorum to deal with the latest crisis - a controversial decision by the Supreme Court on Monday reaffirming its judgment of last December that his claim on power is illegitimate.

Despite enjoying the support of the bureaucracy, the majority of the police, military chiefs and a population largely disenchanted with the failures of the Somare era, the court has now twice determined the process by which Sir Michael was removed was unconstitutional.

O'Neill and his deputy, Belden Namah, accused the court of bias. Namah's tirades against the judges had already provoked them to whack him with contempt charges.

On Thursday, he displayed his contempt by charging into the Supreme Court with a posse of police and soldiers and demanding the arrest of Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia for sedition. Sir Salamo secured himself in his chambers, telling reporters he feared for his safety and for PNG's democracy. The Chief Justice yesterday found himself before a court, and bailed until July 1.

By yesterday afternoon, the police blockade had been overcome by the momentum of the conflict between the nation's executive and the judiciary. The MPs made their way into the chamber and more than 40 of them voted to nullify the Supreme Court order and to declare the state of emergency across the capital and in the volatile Southern Highlands provinces, where the $16 billion Exxon-led gas project approaches completion.

Some experts say that under the constitution, a state of emergency does allow the deferral of an election, and this prospect ignited distress on PNG's social media political sites. Anxieties were also high that the crisis might provoke another attempted military intervention. It's understood military leaders are deeply divided over the events.

This was despite the PM's declaration the election would go ahead on schedule, and his assurance that people's movements would not be restricted.

Police would ''do their best'' to respect the rights of citizens, he said. But experts recall that previous emergency provisions have enlisted heavy-handed policing, harassment and abuses of human rights.

Land, money & the contradictions of rural life


WHILE WE MAY VIEW VILLAGE LIFE, and people living by subsistence agriculture, to have food security challenges, it should be appreciated that villagers also wish to take part in the cash economy and see that as a direct means to address their needs.

This is true of today’s village living despite the perceived hand-out mentality, which was created by successive governments failing to fulfill their fundamental development role of helping their people to help themselves.

To those Australians who may be less familiar with Papua New Guineans and our outlook on how we live, please take this poem as a snapshot of the contradictions of simple village life in ‘The Land of the Unexpected’.

We are not as poor as some people say

Michael Dom

Our land is our source of food and our home
We work on our land almost every day
Selling coffee beans is our main income

In remote lands, where tourists find welcome
An old aid post is sixty miles away
Our land is our source of food and our home

Since there are no roads to town from our home
We carry coffee bags most of the way
Selling coffee beans is our main income

We don’t just wait for services to come
While struggling to survive another day
Our land is our source of food and our home

Enjoy some coffee when your tour is done
That cup or two of brew gives our day’s pay
Selling coffee beans is our main income

We own our land and work it, unlike some
We are not as poor as some people say
Our land is our source of food and our home
Selling coffee beans is our main income.

A villanelle: Labu Station, 19:00 – 20:00, 24/05/2012

A tribute to Papua New Guinean writers of old


MOST OF US TAKE THIS COMPUTER AGE for granted. I couldn’t help but admire those authors from the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Man, talk of using typewriters and handwriting drafts! It must have been a pretty mega headache with more time spent on dictionaries and libraries.

They are hardworking and committed people and we the current generation must appreciate their work fully and truly. For such men as Vincent Eri, Sir Paulias Matane, Sir Albert Maori Kiki, Dr John Waiko, Sir Ignatius Kilage, John Kasaipwalova, Russell Soaba and others where English is but a second language, I cannot help but admire them.

As Papua New Guineans, we truly should be proud of them. They thought and thought and searched and searched. The library became their home and the dictionary their bible. The countless hours of work they did for us, their future generations, so we could have an insight into their lives and appreciate their work.

I always thought that writing a book is easy, just like reading it—especially fiction. Now I will never look at it the same way again. You simply have to appreciate every word written, its uses in descriptive writing that captures your imagination and draw the authors view into your mind.

Most times when I read books, I just read for the story that it tells but not with a writer’s eyes.  I never really valued their evocative words that embed the picture into my mind.

Now that I am almost in the middle of my book, I went back to re-reading my novels— this time with a writer’s eyes— and I am overwhelmed with the play of words and their proficiently in the turns and twist of events.

The first time I entered the Crocodile Prize, I mentioned that anyone can be a writer, but I take back those words. Anyone can, but you have to learn and grow each time you write.

You have to put your thinking caps on and express yourself in a way that your readers will fully comprehend what your intentions are. Anyone can be a writer, but then, not just anyone. It takes a lot of self-discipline and courage and a lot of brain-wrecking moments.

When I started writing my book, I just wrote as the words came and I was sort of full of pride—at first. But then as I wrote on, pressure built up. I had to research to describe everything from my character’s clothes to their houses to food to everything that we take for granted.

Man, it was hell of a job and still is. Sometimes I would stare into space for hours just thinking and looking a bit lost, even in between conversation. My friends thought I was on my way to Laloki Mental Institute!

I went back on re-reading my books; I found out that my first ten thousand words were rubbish! Yes, I got the story, but hell, I was not descriptive enough! I had to re-read, rewrite and re-read and re-write! And as I wrote on, new characters entered and my location changed and villages had to be made into cities and east had to be west! Directions and maps gave me the biggest headache.

From one article I read on writer’s guidelines, there are no laws when you write a fiction. You can write whatever you please but you cannot lie or break your own rules either. Some things had to be true so that you capture your reader’s attention and make them want to find out more. I had to make my characters and their lives real and it is very frustrating.

Once I was reading a Stephen King novel and at the end, he gave insights into being a writer. He mentioned how he had to write his drafts thirty times to finally get it right. God help me if I will write my book thirty times! I have not even completed the first draft!

I would like to thank the writers of the past for this inspiration and hope that many Papua New Guineans use the opportunity we have and be like them, or even greater. And I would like to express my sincere gratitude to PNG Attitude for giving us modern and young PNG writers  inspiration and assistance. No dream is bigger than us.

You play with words, in your minds.
So that we may comprehend
You wrote them down
So that we may recollect
You put inspiration into our hearts
So that we can be like you
You sat up sleepless hours
So that your dreams may come into life
Now you are our shining star
So we are grateful
Thank you.

The miraculous birth of baby Francis Kiln Kiken


Baby KilnABORTION HAS BEEN AND IS a very controversial subject.  One important question is whether a woman should be permitted by law to have an abortion and, to what extent, laws should protect the unborn.

People who wish to legally limit or forbid abortions describe their position as “right-to-life” or “pro-life”.  Those who believe a woman should have the right to an abortion refer to them as “pro-choice”.

This article is written especially for those that believe in pro-choice.  However, I personally believe, as I am a right-to-life advocate, that natural mothers of such children should be brought to justice but somewhere along the line, there should be a place for some leniencies based on sympathetic grounds.  But the truth remains that one day nature will take its own course of action and there is no doubt about it.

Many major medical centres have a neonatal intensive care unit and Kundiawa General Hospital has everything.  There, sick infants and pre-maturely born babies are usually cared for by a team of neo-natologists, Registered Nurses, Respiratory Therapists, Paediatric Doctors, nurses and supporting staff.

The definition of abortion is, as we know, the termination of a pregnancy before the infant can survive outside the uterus.  The age at which a foetus is considered viable has not been completely agreed upon by medical books. 

Many obstetricians use either 21 weeks or 400 to 500 grams birth weight as the baseline between abortion and premature delivery, because few infants have survived when they weighed less than 500 grams at birth or when the pregnancy was less than 21 weeks duration. 

From the outset, it can generally be seen that the foetus has almost no chance of living it if weighs less than 1 kilogram and if the pregnancy is of less than 24 weeks duration.

The inducing of premature delivery is in order to destroy the offspring and it often occurs with young mothers out of unwanted pregnancies.  According to medical text books, most neonatal deaths occur among infants who weigh less than 1 kilogram at birth but my son’s birth weight was a mere 900 grams.

One such birth was the birth of young neonate, Francis Kiln Kiken (male) who is now 3 years, 4 months old and weighs 13 kilograms (at the time of writing this article).  The neonate survived the ordeal and was born 4 months premature on 6 January 2008 at Wandi Sub-Health Centre, Simbu Province.

The body was not fully formed in that he has no ears, still has a tail, the face profile did not fully take shape and he has soft spots all over his head.  At the nursery he was fed from a tube inserted through his nose into his stomach as his mouth was not opened to suck his mother’s breast milk and nothing could be taken orally. 

The feeding tube was pushed through his nose and was visually seen going down and settling in his stomach and the outline of his guts could be clearly seen from the outside.

Continue reading "The miraculous birth of baby Francis Kiln Kiken" »

A lesson too late to learn….


The folly of wife-beating - A young father’s rueful contemplation

SHE LOOKED LIKE A LITTLE ANGEL. The black and white laced dress she wore wrapped itself cozily around her cute little body, and the coconut shell-made hair clips her mother had bought her were beautifully arranged on her flowing black hair.

She stretched her legs and sank down in her seat, her chubby little hands tightly clutching her mother’s photo. It had been a long night and she was tired. She nestled down, leaning towards her aunty who drew her close and hugged her.

Little Janine rested her head on her aunty’s chest while her tired eyes surveyed the faces of the mourners. She glanced briefly across to where her father sat. He sat motionless and deep in thought. Soon, the sound of weeping subsided as the minister began his homily. After a brief while, Janine peeked back into the open casket. She noted how her mother lay peacefully; but her once ever-smiling beautiful face was now still forever…

Meleni leaned forward, his head in his hands. He had cried his heart out when he first heard the news. Now, his own thoughts drowned out the words of the preacher. He tried hard to gather himself together. Realization was beginning to dawn on him. Was that really Martha lying there? Meleni reminisced, his thoughts retracing the happier years of his life.

A fun loving boy from the atolls, Meleni grew up enjoying the sun and surf. He showed at a young age his superior skills in canoeing and fishing. His father was the paramount chief of Lei Islands and his mother was the second of Chief Tomale’s seven wives.

After completing his secondary education on the island, Meleni enrolled at the University of Papua New Guinea. He was proud that he was the first of Chief Tomale’s children to get a university education.

Coming from a small island community, Meleni was initially taken aback at the sight of tall buildings and numerous vehicles of all sizes in the capital, but he finally got over that. Meleni made friends easily and soon joined the university’s Rugby League team. He proved himself to be a star player which made him quite popular. Meanwhile, he plodded on persistently with his studies in law.

The university sports teams often held fundraising dances at the Drill Hall. Meleni looked forward to those evenings because of the chance to meet with female students. He was normally shy and couldn’t strike up a conversation when sober; but after a couple of beers under his belt, he found he could chat up any girl.

It was at one such dance that he met a pretty young lady called Martha. Martha was part Australian and part Bougainvillean, and her father had passed away some years before. She was doing a degree in social work. Her older sister, Veronica, had recently graduated in surveying and was now working with the Lands Department. Meleni had befriended a number of girls earlier on, but he seemed now to fancy this quiet spoken girl, much to the annoyance of the others.

It wasn’t long before Meleni began to take Martha out on dates. The pair enjoyed a pleasant relationship in the main but also had their share of ups and downs like every other relationship. There were times, however, when Martha felt like giving up on Meleni because he started to show traits of jealousy.

Continue reading "A lesson too late to learn…." »

State of emergency declared in Port Moresby


THE O’NEILL GOVERNMENT has declared a state of emergency in the National Capital District and in the Hela and Southern Highlands Provinces as it moves to tighten its grip on threats to its economic and political well-being.

It has also given itself the ability to declare a state of emergency anywhere else in the country "that poses a threat to national security".

After three failed attempts this week, Parliament finally secured a quorum of members and was able to convene.

And it moved straight into an agenda of controversial decision-making.

Parliament passed legislation to declare a state of emergency for the three regions in which the government believes it faces - or, in the case of NCD, may face - serious problems.

It also approved a motion nullifying Monday's Supreme Court decision that declared the O’Neill government illegitimate.

Hela and the Southern Highlands have significant resource developments underway, and there has been associated civil unrest.

But more sinisterly, the emergency was extended to Port Moresby where strenuous civil disobedience would be assessed to be more likely after effective protests against government policy in past months.

Papua New Guinea now moves into uncharted waters as the government adopts a more authoritarian approach to its role.

The major outstanding issue it could face now is how the disciplined forces of the PNG Defence Force and Police will react.

There was already antagonism to the government shown by some police who barricaded the Haus Tamberan for a period this morning.

It has become clear that the O’Neill-Namah combination does not intend to easily give up its control of PNG.

It could be that next month’s  general elections may now be in jeopardy.

And Australia has a huge crisis - it may end akin to Fiji - occurring right on its doorstep.

Australia urges restraint after chief justice charged

AUSTRALIA’S MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, Senator Bob Carr, today counselled all sides in Papua New Guinea to act with restraint following developments in Port Moresby concerning Chief Justice Injia.

Senator Carr said he had spoken directly with the PNG Foreign Minister Ano Pala to discuss the issue.

“As a friend of Papua New Guinea, Australia urges all parties to act with restraint in very difficult circumstances.

“Papua New Guinea has taken the crucial decision to proceed to elections in accordance with the Constitution — to give the PNG people the chance to determine their national leadership.

“It is important that recent events not distract from proceeding to those elections in a peaceful and orderly way.

“Australia remains fully committed to assist Papua New Guinea in the planning and holding of its elections.”

Chief Justice Injia arrested in new political crisis


Police wait outside the National CourtPOLICE IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA stormed the Supreme Court in Port Moresby yesterday afternoon and arrested the nation's top judge on sedition charges in response to the Court’s ruling that the prime minister held power illegally and should step down.

On the day nominations closed for June elections, police arrested Chief Justice Salamo Injia after the Court ruled former leader Michael Somare should be reinstated as prime minister.

Somare and prime minister Peter O'Neill have been jostling for power since August 2011, when O'Neill took office after Somare was ruled ineligible to be a lawmaker after a prolonged absence from parliament due to illness.

But the Supreme Court in December ruled Somare should be reinstated, and in another ruling this week the court said Somare should be the caretaker prime minister during the current election period.

O'Neill and his deputy, Belden Namah, have refused to accept the court ruling, accusing the judges of bias and demanding they resign, extending a prolonged feud with the judiciary.

Namah led armed police who arrived at the court as Injia started hearing a case, forcing the judge to run to his secure chambers where he remained holed up for several hours.

Sir Salamo InjiaIn a brief statement, he told reporters he would not be forced out of his job. "I've done nothing wrong. I will not resign," he said.

Injia was charged with sedition late on Thursday, and was released on bail. He was due to appear in court on Friday.

The dramatic development comes after months of political uncertainty in PNG.

O'Neill, who has the support of the majority of PNG's politicians, has attempted to recall parliament to deal with the latest court finding, but he has failed to muster a quorum three days in a row. Most lawmakers are in their electorates campaigning for the elections.

Somare, meanwhile, has written to PNG's media, warning they could be held in contempt if they do not recognize him as the legitimate prime minister.

Somare has also twice attempted to visit the country's governor-general to be sworn in as caretaker prime minister, in line with the Supreme Court rulings, but the titular head of state has refused to intervene.

This morning’s newspaper headlines in Australia:

Papua New Guinea Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia held for sedition - Herald-Sun (Melbourne)

PNG top judge charged and will face court - Sydney Morning Herald

Carr tries to dial down PNG drama - Courier-Mail (Brisbane)

Gillard urges restraint in PNG - Business Spectator

Australia urges restraint as PNG judge arrested - Yahoo 7 News

PNG to charge judges with sedition - The Australian

PNG top judge charged and will face court - Brisbane Times

Deputy PM Namah leads security operation to 'arrest' Chief Justice - PNG Perspective

We now have a national conversation in PNG


“I thought all my life that I was destined to great things. Today, faced with the hardship of living in the city, I’m more concerned with being able to survive each day. I don’t dream anymore, I am grounded in the reality. Perhaps there are too many visionaries and no one is there to deal with the reality of life in Papua New Guinea” – Martyn Namorong

Martyn Namorong, Ben Jackson and a Sydney iconI AM A WRITER AND STREET VENDOR. I sell buai – betel nut – in the markets of Port Moresby. I also write about political and social issues, usually for social media.

I am in Australia to tell people things they perhaps don’t know about my country, Papua New Guinea.

I want to bring the truth to Australia.

Martyn Namorong at Circular QuayI am here because I believe in the dignity of all human persons.

I believe that human beings are born with certain inalienable rights.

I believe that Melanesians have inalienable rights conferred upon them by Nature and Kastom – our culture and tradition - at birth.

Martyn Namorong and cameraman Thomas Ybarra at The RocksI am here because I believe in the defence of those rights.

I am here because I believe that, in defending those rights, we need to take into consideration fundamental questions of governance and the use of land and resources for the benefit of our people and the preservation of our Papua New Guinean ways.

Papua New Guinea is a country of 7 million people. It is a great country and we are a Martyn Namorong and the Sydney Harbour Bridgegreat people. Like Australia, we are also a country of vast natural resources which have the power to transform our lives.

But we do have our problems – problems of governance, problems of equitable wealth distribution and problems of effectiveness in service delivery.


We must build the capacity and create enabling mechanisms to defend and improve the lives of our people as well as to promote and preserve our Papua New Guinean ways.

Martyn Namorong in the Opera House forecourtIn recent years, there has been a power that has descended on our nation of 800 tribes that wields an influence like nothing else before it.

It is the internet. And, with the comparatively recent deregulation of our telecommunications industry, the so-called Information Superhighway has been opened up to millions of our citizens.

Many Papua New Guineans have seized this opportunity to articulate our hopes and dreams. A national conversation has begun online and - despite ominous rumblings from our government from time to time - it will continue to happen.

Photographs: (1) Martyn and minder Ben Jackson in front of one of the great Sydney icons; (2) Martyn at Circular Quay; (3) Martyn and cameraman Thomas Ybarra at the Rocks; (4) Martyn and a coat hanger; (5) In the Opera House forecourt

Dominoes of love


THE DRUNK’S EYES ARE MOLTEN RED as he sets out to grab innocent females in the evening dimness. The female’s yelps of fear are drowned by the loud music blaring from the taxis parked leisurely at the bus-stop.

The cop-shop is all but empty and deserted. It’s Fortnight Friday at Boroko bus-stop at its peak hour. Hova is among a handful of late passengers heading for Waigani. She checks her phone. Why isn’t he answering my text messages?

Darl I need you. Fear creeps up her spine. She logs into facebook: dayumm…stranded @ bko bustop 4 2 hrs nau! Log in time: 5:30pm.

The sun glares down at Ela Beach. Haivavu is sweltering in the 38 degree heat; He brushes off the droplets of sweat on his “goaty” and tucks back his sharp jaw in a yawn. His brown deep eyes scan the sea for some peace of mind. His tall lanky frame steaming under the heat!

The beach is mostly filled with teenage love-birds, street vendors, and a handful of public servants boozing away. He walks towards the Okari trees lining the beach. He is playing patience because Hova is late - again.

Hova wipes her broad sweaty brows as she waits with her cousin-sister, Uaopou at Boroko bus-stop. The buses are all full. Her dimples show because she knows that Haivavu is already tired of waiting. Her full lips sucked in. It’s been two hours now and she still hasn’t got a chance to get on a bus. She looks around at the raskols sneering for an opportunity, pushing amongst the passengers to fish out a phone or wallet. She shivers. No! She would rather wait for an empty bus. She turns to Uaopou.

“Sorry for keeping you with me tita.”

“Nah it’s okay, you just worry about your bf ok?” She offers kindly.

She gives her a weak smile and logs into facebook: oi osem wanem? PMV short ah? Kasssttt!! Log in time: 2:00pm.

Haivavu tires of waiting. Two hours is too much to wait. He ignores her messages and leaves town. An hour later as the bus rolls into Tokarara Service station, Haivavu checks his phone and sees a new message. It’s from Hova. 

“Wer r u? m @ town alredi. Walkn 2 ela beach nau. Wer r u?”

‘Ye lon taim yu stap lo wer? Wari blo yu.’  He ignores the text and sets the alert to silent. Its 3:30 pm.

He gets off for the main market. As he walks toward the market he senses eyes on his back. He turns around and hears Hirisi calling his name as she crosses the road.

“Hi sexy?” she drawls.

Haivavu can tell from her watery eyes that she had a little too much.

“Upla drin ah? tokaut tokstret! Haha!” he asks smiling, taking her hand into his.

“Darl I’m sure you wouldn’t be bothered. And of course…I kinda get hot when I’m oiled up ya know!” She laughs a deep throated laugh.

He feels his face get warm and manages a feeble laugh through clenched teeth. He checks his phone to avoid her directness. Nineteen missed calls, seven messages and five voice messages! Hova is at Boroko. What the fuck? I thought she’s already at her house! A look of concern crosses his face.

Continue reading "Dominoes of love" »

He broke the egg


ONE MOONLIT NIGHT in April 1953 the sky was inundated with twinkling stars. Nineteen year old Apa, standing at the peak of Dua, saw the flicker of lights at Urgiai, Gor and the Bari II lands to the south and south east.

The lights were an indication that people were staying indoors because of the stiff cold wind.  Indeed, the rushing wind up the hill from the Ulma and Gapal Rivers made him too yearn for warmth.

‘It is a perfect evening to crawl into a bed with a beautiful girl to generate some heat and squeeze out the aches in the muscles,’ he thought.

He whistled a courtship song but it was whisked away by the wind. He looked at the hills ahead and saw a cane grass torch at Mebir. It was a sign that Molpa, his girlfriend was going to and fro to the pig’s hut feeding them but Apa also knew that the torch was also a deliberate ploy to signal him to walk over to her home that very evening. The Ulma River separated him and the bearer of the cane grass torch that he saw on the other side of the hill.

Molpa was an innocent 17 year old Mor Baulo girl. They had been friends for a while.

He could see Molpa’s beautiful body and her smiles in his mind’s eye from where he stood. He wanted to sleep close to her heart and feel her maturity. Yes, he was willing to walk the distance to her home that night.

He strolled down the hill and crossed the Ulma River. He ascended the hill with speed and arrived at Molpa’s home and hid in the dark shadow of the banana patch. Once in a while he had to wave off the fire flies that circled the banana patch.

From the rear of the hut he heard voices a few times and quickly worked out the occupants of the hut. Molpa and her parents were inside. The smaller siblings must have gone to their uncle’s hut for the night.  

That night he was convinced that he would take Molpa home as his wife for the first time and break the egg just like the other boys.

Molpa had retired to bed but was not asleep because she expected a soft whisper on the wall nearest her bed calling her name.

The week before Molpa and Apa had met at the Ulma River when she returned from her garden. They had sat on a huge boulder and Apa had told her that he would come this very night to take her home as his wife. Molpa who was determined to become Apa’s esteemed wife for as long as she was alive and was keeping a vigil that evening to see if Apa would come and take her as promised.

‘Close the door, cover the embers and sleep. I am already tired and am off to bed,’ instructed Molpa’s father, Yau and jumped onto his log bed.

His wife, Wari started to bury the embers with the ash and said, ‘I am going to bed as well. I have to wake up early tomorrow to go weeding.’

In the cold night Apa crept over to where Molpa slept and quietly scratched the wall.

Molpa whispered from inside her room, ‘Apa.’

‘I am outside,’ said he.

‘As soon as Wari goes to bed I will come out and let you in. Right now sit under the banana trees and wait. Make sure nobody sees you,’ warned Molpa.

‘I know.’

Apa sat under the banana trees for some 30 minutes. The damp soil and cold winds made him restless.

Continue reading "He broke the egg" »

Struggling between two cultures


Young, wild and free
I grew to believe that the tapa and grass-skirt is for the villager
I chose to wear jeans and shirts
Accusations and assault appalled me

Aren’t I a Papua New Guinean growing up between two cultures?
I disposed the thought to relieve myself of shame
For not knowing my peoples’ ways
Bored and bothered, I bungled the bridge of my cultural identity

Logic started whispering tormenting scads of loss
From what?
Haughty hugged me tight
And gave me sobriquet

On a fast lane, fast food and falling frenzy
I heard voices chanting
Goon… Goon… Goon… Goon
Have you forgotten?

That being a Papua New Guinean
You have cultural roots
Your ancestors wore tapa and grass-skirt
Simplicity was the order in the village

And oh, yes there is a place called village
Where the father and brother of your father live
Where your father’s brother can also be called dad
Where your grandmother cooks food in a clay pot

Where dinner is served in wooden bowls
Where you sit on a sago leaf woven mat and eat
Where you sleep in a bush material house
This is shelter and home to your people

I blush yet baffled
What has become of me?
To live that life is difficult
To adapt is unthinkable

Pride rests in the deepest part of my inner being
To know who I really am
The comfort of what I am experiencing now
Inhibits me from confronting the truth

I hear an unpleasant continuous music
Beckoning me to sing
I choose instead to listen
Intently will I listen

The dark cloud hovering over me will be diffused
Then I will embrace reality
And be liberated
To accept growing up between two distinct cultures

Patricia Martin (42) was born in Port Moresby and now lives in Lae.  She is a teacher and enjoys teaching poetry and story writing.  She is hoping to one day have her poems published

The chief justice's sacrifice is a sad day for PNG



2000 (AEST) - Chief Justice Salamo has been charged under section 54 of the Criminal Code and will face Committal Court tomorrow [Tavurvur]


1740 [AEST] - Tavurvur ‏@Tavurvur - It also appears that CJ Injia Salamo has agreed to be charged with "sedition" if peace is maintained in the Supreme Court

Tavurvur ‏@Tavurvur - It is clear to me that no appropriate warrant was issued by any relevant bench. CJ Salamo has sacrificed himself. It's a sad day for PNG

Liam Fox ‏@liamfoxpng - Chief Justice Sir Salamo says his attempted arrest sets a dangerous precedent. Says he fears for his safety & democracy in PNG


1630 (AEST) - CJ Salamo, Registrar for the National/Supreme Court Ian Augerea, J Kirriwom and J Gavara-Nanu have surrendered [Tavurvur tweet]

Earlier - There were scene of chaos in Port Moresby this afternoon after deputy prime minister Belden Namah, together with police and soldiers, attempted and then succeeded in arresting Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia and other judicial officers.

Sir Salamo locked himself in his chambers for some hours before surrendering to polkice and, it seems, soldiers.

Earlier this week the Court declared Sir Michael Somare to be the constitutionally-determined leader of Papua New Guinea.

Since then there has been a number of unsuccessful attempts to reconvene Parliament, presumably with the intent of seeking to override this ruling.

Mr Namah says the Chief Justice will be charged with treason and sedition.

Upon arriving at the Supreme Court, Namah is said to have shouted "This country is bigger than Injia!".

It is not known whether there was a warrant for the Chief Justice's arrest and, if so, wehere this may have come from.

Blogger Tavurvur tweeted that it was "very possible" that prime minister Peter O'Neill may have not been consulted about this action.

Link here to read Tavurvur's background to this afternoon's dramatic events

Australia not a good friend: Namorong in 'The Age'

Martyn_Awayang_Namorong [The Age]Take the Truth to AustraliaI'M ON MY FIRST VISIT to Australia right now - and what an introduction to your country. A two-week run of four major cities where I'm meeting politicians, journalists and ordinary Australians.

I'm trying to help foster a relationship between Papua New Guineans and Australians beyond business, politics, diplomacy and academia.

After all, PNG is a lot more than the Kokoda Track and birds of paradise. We're a nation of 7 million people who aspire to be better than we are.

The relationship between my country and Australia is complex. You were once our coloniser. You created institutions: Western democracy on our behalf - a Westminster-style parliament, a free press, a fairly robust judicial system, university education - and modern commerce and a working infrastructure. All on our behalf. And yours too, let's be honest.

Campaigning is under way in PNG for the general election.

When Australia thought the election might be delayed, it spoke patronisingly to us and got a telling off for its trouble.

When the Papua New Guinean people thought it might be delayed, we marched in the streets and got an election.

The message is clear - as a people, Papua New Guineans might just be a bit better and more effective than Australians think we are.

There are some other issues between Australia and PNG that need to be addressed

When you get to PNG and land at Jackson airport in Port Moresby, you can buy a visa at our front door and we let you in. When we want to come to Australia, we are regarded as potential absconders and the visa process is a torture. I know people who couldn't even visit Australia for weddings and funerals of relatives.

Papua New Guineans do not present a major overstayer issue for Australia. We really do love the country we come from, despite its faults and privations. And we don't like being treated like potential criminals when we want to visit your place.

PNG is geographically closer than New Zealand and all other neighbours of Australia. Yet Australians don't see boatloads of Papua New Guineans heading down south. We have a strong attachment to our ancestral lands and as such we prefer living on our land. Yet the treatment we get for wanting to temporarily visit Australia is perhaps based on a lot of Australian prejudice.

This sort of treatment of Papua New Guineans also extends to the arena of business.

In my home of Western Province, BHP Billiton is responsible for the destruction of the Fly River by Ok Tedi mine, an environmental disaster of world-scale proportions.

Australian gold miner Newcrest dumps mine wastes into the sea around the island of Lihir in the north-east of Papua New Guinea. Newcrest also has a 50 per cent stake in Morobe Mining's Hidden Valley project that has been blamed for fish deaths in the Markham River.

Papua New Guineans are becoming increasingly weary of Australian attitudes towards us. As the Australian government pursues its trade agenda with PNG and other Pacific Island nations, we Papua New Guineans are concerned about the likelihood of further exploitation of our people by your government and businesses.

We protected and cared for young Australian men during World War II. We have also developed many friendships with Australians. But we are not happy with Australia's attitude to us.

I don't know if you've heard the expression ''boomerang aid'' - it's got a real Aussie ring to it, hasn't it? A lot of the half-billion-dollar-a-year aid you give to PNG boomerangs right back to Australia - as consultants' fees or for the purchase of goods and services.

Australia's development agency, AusAID, has invested in training and equipping PNG police. While maintaining law and order is a critical issue in PNG, recently serious and credible allegations have emerged of police being retained by resources companies and acting inappropriately against protesting landowners.

There have been some excellent Australian aid projects in Papua New Guinea but you need to know the truth - most of the aid money doesn't get to where it could do the most good: the provision of better health services; better roads; you know the list.

PNG's increasing engagement with China is in many ways a rejection of Australia due to Australia's failure to be a good friend since independence.

I do not suggest for a moment that it is not possible for our land to be used for other than traditional purposes. But this must happen with our informed consent and approval.

Australia has been good to my country - and I think my country has been good to Australia. You are, by and large, a benign neighbour. But there is such a concept as benign neglect.

We need a more understanding relationship with Australia. And that means you must adopt a more engaged and intelligent approach to Papua New Guinea and its people.

Martyn Awayang Namorong is an award-winning writer and blogger on PNG politics and a social activist. This article was published in the The Age (Melbourne) this morning

PNG parliament – the highest form of mobocracy


IF THERE WAS EVER A TIME the Melanesian way of conflict resolution was needed, it is now.

If both factions go into a tug o' war using the security forces then we will see a possible destabilisation of security for the Electoral Process... and that won't be good for anyone.

Both sides must consider a coalition caretaker government to see the country through elections. If the election fails, we are looking at intervention from Australia and maybe America.

PNG is no longer an obscure country to the American machine...

PNG will serve American energy interests in the future and for that the yanks and Oz will pay much attention to how effectively elections can be conducted.

For the judges, the judicial activism shown thus far is a double-edged sword. While it compounds the constitutional call to develop a Melanesian jurisprudence, the danger of furthering destabilisation of the country is very real.

The courts are traditionally regarded as "the least dangerous arm" but the way in which our constitution literally cycles the exercise of power in the three arms is tricky.

The system hasn’t developed over hundreds of years as in the case of England and Oz. The processes aren’t entrenched.

I remember feeling that all it takes for a meltdown is a bunch of stubborn people in the wrong seats of power.

While Kirriwom J and Injia CJ's refusal to step down at the slightest hint of apprehension is a concern objectively, it also tells a deeper story of how fragile judicial power in the country is, and yet how great the responsibility must be for the Supreme Court as the Office of Judicial Government in PNG...

The decision given by Kirriwom J, Gavara-Nanu J and Injia CJ is by and far logical, legal and in order.

Imagine what the outcome could’ve been if Kirriwom J and Injia CJ would have stepped down because of mere allegations of bias... The court system would have been effectively compromised! That is the scary flipside to the calls that both learned men should’ve stepped down.

I mean, what if they did... and the Supreme Court ended up legitimising a government that is unconstitutional?

You might as well run the constitution through a shredder eh?

This impasse has been caused by stubborn people who think they can muscle in anything... that might is right.

This is the cause of corruption. Koim calls it a "mobocracy"... When parliament uses numbers to circumvent the Supreme Court that is the highest form of mobocracy.

O’Neill-Somare struggle is now irrelevant to PNG


I UNDERSTAND THE RATIONALE behind the suggestion of the possibility of military intervention by the PNGDF in assuming some type of authority until the return of the writs for the general election.

But it's the wrong solution to the issue.

The problem with any domestic military intervention is that unless it has the ubiquitous support and direction of the government, it is essentially an unauthorised military action similar to that of a military coup.

The police would be a better option here.

But in saying that, the reality is that PNG has already begun the process of elections - parliament has risen, the writs have been issued and nominations close today.

The government (whoever that is) is in caretaker mode and that should mean a very limited role in the affairs of national governance as per pre-approved financial allocations.

No major decisions should be made right now, that is, unless a state of emergency is declared as per the constitution.

The PNGDF, police, and the public service have always had a role to play in terms of the period of time between the signing of the writs and the return of writs - but this has always been under the supervision of parliament via the caretaker government.

Anything else is not acceptable. Furthermore, I am totally against any type of 'intervention' - whether military or civil - from foreign nations (e.g. Australia).

If we really look at latest political development - that is, the friction between O'Neill and Somare as to who is the legitimate PM - it is actually irrelevant and should have no bearing on elections going ahead (as they are).

I use "should have" because, as others have observed, the only interest in both O'Neill and Somare in being the caretaker government is being in control of government resources in the lead up to polling. It's as simple as that.

Apart from that one aspect which does have significant ramifications on how elections are contested, and possibly how they may be influenced and even won, having Somare and O'Neill argue over the prime ministership really is now negligible on PNG.

Meetings & interviews dominate Sydney trip

Take the Truth to AustraliaBY MARTYN AWAYANG NAMORONG

I DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT the Kokoda Track Foundation till I met the lovely staff [pictured with me] who work at the Foundation's Office in Sydney.

Martyn with Kokoda Foundation staffI must say I'm impressed with the work they're doing and wish them well.

In Sydney I have also had the privilege of meeting some ex kiaps, teachers, broadcasters and military men who have seen Papua New Guinea from its formative years to its transformation into a Melanesian State.

I got a sense of how things were around independence, and learnt of the "D-cell Battery" index for inflation in PNG, which is now at the grand sum of 500%.

I had two interviews on Tuesday. One on SBS World News regarding the political dogfight in PNG between the Judges and Politicians. The other with Philip Adams on ABC Radio National [click links to view and listen]. I was also interviewed for ABC TV’s News 24 last night after I arrived in Melbourne

Am I enjoying myself? Hell yeah!

I've also learnt something about Australia's knowledge of PNG and the Pacific: like the USA, Aussies know very little.

This lack of knowledge is graphically illustrated by the priority the ABC gives to its Pacific Beat program.

Forget the website images, visit the Pacbeat office in Sydney and you will realise where Australia's priorities are - not the South Pacific.