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180 posts from May 2012

My disability. B/ville war led to a hard luck story


SITTING DOWN IN MY HOUSE in the village I decided to write this brief history of my disability, inflicted during the Bougainville Crisis.  Before the injury I was a normal healthy and physically-fit person; a top Soccer and Aussie Rules player in my younger days.

The Bougainville Crisis started in mid-1988 and was fuelled by a frustrated landowner and civil engineer, the late Francis Ona, with a mob of young relatives.

Within months Ona formed the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) to lay siege to giant company, Conzinc Rio Tinto Australia (CRA) about environmental damage and landowner benefits.

By 1989 the crisis was at its peak and the PNG Defence Force and mobile squad police were sent to Bougainville.  By 1990 the government imposed a total blockade on all services in Bougainville.  The blockade caused severe sufferings to the people. 

At that time I was teaching at Tonu High School in the Siwai District.  In October 1990 we travelled to Kieta to board MV Sankamap to go to Rabaul to do our banking and shopping, as our families were really suffering from the blockade. 

Unfortunately, the BRA chased us with guns at the Kieta wharf so we had to return to Siwai.  It was really frightening.

A car dropped me and four other people at Panguna so we had to walk all the way back to Siwai, about 100 kilometres away.  There were no vehicles as there was no fuel or petrol due to the blockade.  The situation was very tense as anyone could be easily killed by the BRA or the PNGDF.

After walking about 30 km, somewhere in the Nagovis area my legs went dead resulting in my knees becoming totally numb.  On arrival in Siwai, I was in bed for weeks as I could not walk.  There were no health services available and it was very difficult.  I just had to cope with the pain by resting and drinking lots of water.

After the pain eased, I continued teaching in Bougainville high schools until 1994.  In 1995 I took up teaching at the Divine Word University in Madang.  While in Madang two cups of green liquid was sucked out from my knees at the Madang Medical Centre. 

After two years in Madang I returned to Bougainville to take up a senior position with the Bougainville Administration.  Here, for the next ten years, I sat in a comfortable chair with the air conditioner providing cool fresh air.

In mid 2007 I had to stand down from the job as my health was getting worse.  I was admitted to Nonga General Hospital in East New Britain as the Buka General Hospital lacked proper doctors and medical drugs.

I was diagnosed with severe gout coupled with rheumatic arthritis.  Since then I have been travelling to other major hospitals seeking better medical treatment but without much luck.

Continue reading "My disability. B/ville war led to a hard luck story" »

Private Archibald’s spirit returns to his Country


Didge calls Private Frank's soirit to his parents graveON SATURDAY IN ARMIDALE, New South Wales, the Archibald family completed the return of Private Frank Archibald's spirit to his Country.

Eighteen days after the Behiri traditional owners of the land Bomana War Cemetery stands on so carefully dug up soil from Private Frank's grave, and the graves of five of his Aboriginal comrades killed defending Papua New Guinea and Australia, he is at rest.

More than 40 Archibald descendants from four generations joined hands around the graves of Frank and Sarah, the parents of Private Frank.

The Bomana service was read in English and Gumbaynggirr, and the didgeridoo players and dancers performed exactly as they had done in Bomana.

Each relative then took tiny pieces of the soil from Private Frank's grave and scattered it on at least ten Archibald family graves around the Armidale Cemetery.

As we were finishing on a sunny afternoon, a mighty storm blew up, raged briefly, then passed.  We felt that all the spirits called from Bomana and Lae cemeteries, and from the start of the Kokoda Track, had come with Private Frank.

Perhaps they will rest with him until the relatives of the other diggers have received their soil and scatter it on the Country of each of the fallen, to help them find their way back home at last.

We trust this will bring peace to his family - a warrior returned to his Country.

Rod Plant is chairperson of the Kokoda Aboriginal Servicemen's Campaign Committee

SYDNEY: Monday 21 May, 2pm - Jackson Wells Board Room, Level 2, 81-91 Military Road, Neutral Bay (opp Oaks Hotel). Register here
CANBERRA: Tuesday 29 May, 4pm, Hotel Kurrajong, National Circuit, Barton. To register email Ben Jackson here
BRISBANE: Friday 1 June, 3pm, Sherwood Services Club, Corinda [cnr Browne and Clewley Sts, directly opposite Corinda Railway Station]. Email Murray Bladwell here if you’d like to attend

Kidu heavied as she protests destruction of homes


Dame Carol Kidu being heavied by two policemen

DAME CAROL KIDU, the only female MP in Papua New Guinea’s male-dominated rogue parliament, has been accosted by two policemen after she protested at the destruction of the homes of 2,000 people of Paga Hill in Port Moresby.

PNG’s opposition leader and former community development minister was told to “stop interfering” and then was threatened. That was when I took this photograph and told the two officers to back off.

A company claiming a commercial land title of the Paga Hill area had begun to demolish the houses of over 2,000 residents.

The Kikori people were the original Paga settlers who where given permission to reside on the land by the Motu Koita after World War II.

The land also includes war heritage sites, including bunkers and left over bombs, which are a very real part of our history and should be part of a national park.

It is utterly outrageous how this land has been fraudulently obtained. No one in their right mind would allow such historical landmarks to be traded as commercial land.

If we tolerate this kind of forceful action by developers, then we continue to feed this country to the dogs.

The past decade has seen some terribly corrupt events, but I'm afraid this takes my pick as one of the lowest.

The stakes are so high that human beings lose their rights, which are trampled on. Over 2,000 people affected, many of whom have spent their entire lives living in the area.

A sad day for human rights in this country!

Stop making buai traders the scapegoats


The buai sellerTHERE APPEARS TO BE a systematic crackdown on one of Papua New Guinea's most economically and socially integral trades, buai [betel nut].

Assistant Police Commissioner Francis Tokura issued an order last week for policemen to remove all vendors from the streets of Port Moresby. [See also this earlier story in PNG Attitude].

The deep disrespect for the rights of PNG's self-employed was revealed by the heavy-handed, abusive behaviour of the police as they broke up the buai markets.

We do not commend Asst Commr Tokura for his "efforts to clean up Port Moresby".

If you want to clean up Moresby, don't look at the buai traders but at the government.

PNG street traders are scapegoats of a corrupt system.

Think about it. The litter issue arises through inefficient public administration - isn't the government paying someone for garbage disposal?

And if markets are a magnet for crime, it is because too many of our youths are let down by a system that is profit rather than people driven.

The buai sellers and their colleagues in our markets are entrepreneurs, not criminals. If you are making up to K500 a day, you're unlikely to go out and steal handbags afterwards. So why are we treating them as criminals? 

The informal economy appears to be expanding as more Papua New Guineans shake the delusion that being a buai trader is socially unacceptable.

Recent research found urban Papua New Guineans are quitting their 9-5 jobs as they realise the buai trade offers more lucrative prospects and better social security than the so-called formal economy.

As it expands, the market infrastructure struggles to accommodate its growth, resulting in more litter and overcrowded markets.

But oppressing and removing markets is not the answer, because the informal economy is really the People's Economy, and in light of the absence an even slightly superior alternative, it will continue to grow and thrive.

It is also, unlike the formal economy's extractive-obsessed sector, economically and socially sustainable. We know the profits made from using our natural resources stay in our communities.

Forget the hype about the LNG-driven economic boom: the People's Economy offers PNG (and the Pacific) a sustainable future (just as it has sustained our peoples for 50,000 years).

The government and police, and all of us, need to change their attitudes to street markets from one of disdain to support. Only with adequate support for our nation's most vital traders will the social debris be cleaned up.

For one example, look at this example in Durban, South Africa. The result is one of the most successful dual economic and tourism ventures in the country.

Change your attitude. Stop looking at buai traders as a problem.

They are, in reality, one of the few positive examples in a city and country where corporate greed in the formal economy - the driver for our government and therefore our police - really is turning our streets into ghettoes.

Pacific tilts west to PNG & super power rivalry

Prof Waden NarseyBY WADAN NARSEY

IF PAPUA NEW GUINEA ever decides to flex its burgeoning muscles, encouraged by a belligerent Fiji, the alarm bells would be ringing loudest in Canberra and Wellington.

Without doubt, Pacific politics is tilting towards the west, drawn by the all-powerful and inexorable gravitational forces of the massive LNG and other minerals wealth being generated in Papua New Guinea (and in West Papua – another sorry saga).

But are the PNG politicians prepared for the leadership role that comes with their wealth and markets? Or will they be too bogged down in their debilitating internal squabbles for political power so as to ensure preferential access to the massive new wealth flows being created?

Relations with Australia and NZ are going to be a key factor in the direction taken by PNG and the Melanesian Spearhead Group. Understanding the complex chop suey of forces at work in the Pacific is extremely difficult, as the diversity of issues indicates.

But almost certainly, history, time and the “Pacific tilt” are not on Australia’s side.

More than a decade ago, the US withdrew its Peace Corps program from the Pacific. But in 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned the Senate Foreign Relations Committee not to cut the foreign aid budget, citing the growing competition with China for global influence, specifically mentioning the Pacific and its vast natural resources.

The US is now back in the Pacific with a large new US embassy in Suva, to rival the equally large Chinese embassy. The US has also now stationed a small number of troops in North Australia, a move which is seen by an annoyed China as part of the US “containment policy” towards China.

The numbers of US troops will no doubt slowly grow, alarming Australian strategy advisers who see too close an attachment to US military strategies as being potentially harmful to long term Australian economic interests, which are inextricably linked to China’s economic growth (and which was the most significant factor saving Australia from the Global Financial Crisis).

Without doubt, super-power rivalry in the Pacific is now escalating.

PNG will have far more bargaining chips than ever before, especially if its leaders are able to successfully play off one super power against another, and take a leadership role in the Pacific, including the MSG.

Papua New Guinea with its population of 7 million people is the largest market in the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA), with the others just making up less than 2 million.

Yet 10 years ago, the PNG market was not given much importance by Pacific Island companies because the largely rural PNG consumers were too poor to spend money on modern goods.

That has now totally changed with the massive economic growth now taking place in PNG, with equally large investment and consumer expenditures from both the private sector and government.

Continue reading "Pacific tilts west to PNG & super power rivalry" »

Australia and Melanesia: On bullies and respect


INSTANCES OF AUSTRALIAN LACK OF RESPECT for Melanesian leaders are many in our country’s long and sorry racial history. Patronage through aid programs helps prop up these colonial-like attitudes. The cases of Melanesian leaders standing up to Australia are less common.

That is why it is worth noting the actions of Vanuatu prime minister, Sato Kilman, in kicking out an Australian federal police contingent in retaliation for the AFP’s disgraceful treatment of Mr Kilman’s delegation when they transited Sydney airport last month.

Apparently Australian officials made the Vanuatu PM’s delegation fill out immigration forms, even though they were only in transit. Then the AFP arrested Mr Kilman’s private secretary, Clarence Marae, on money laundering charges.

Vanuatu responded last week by ordering a resident AFP delegation to leave the country.

Not since the Solomon Islands PM Manasseh Sogavare stood up to the AFP and the Howard Government in 2006-07 have we seen something similar. In that case, Sogavare’s government launched an inquiry into the April 2006 Honiara riots, an inquiry which would include examination of the role of the AFP.

Australian PM John Howard reacted angrily and AFP officers searched PM Sogavare’s office as they prosecuted government ministers. Sogavare then stood up to Howard.

The heavy handed role of the AFP in Honiara had become an aggravating factor. As Honiara Bishop Terry Roberts wrote, “the 'spark' that sent the rioters into central Honiara was the use of tear gas by the Australian RAMSI contingent”.

The Bishop said “Honiara people have never liked the Australian RAMSI contingent [who are] sullen and hostile. 'Helpim fren' has turned into 'Spoilem fren'.”

In early 2008 I was in Honiara, interviewing a number of well-educated Solomon Islanders about the AFP-dominated RAMSI mission. By then, both the Sogavare government and Howard government had gone.

A common thread emerged. Every Solomon Islander I spoke with (including some of Mr Sogavare’s political opponents) agreed with and respected Sogavare’s criticisms of Howard; but hardly any of them were comfortable about it.

Maybe it is a cultural thing, of Melanesians avoiding confrontation; maybe it is the legacy of colonial history; maybe it is the pragmatism of small groups confronting bigger powers; but there has been a profound reluctance in the region to stand up to Australian bullies. Yet bullies, like dogs, never respect people who run away; in fact they tend to chase them.

Continue reading "Australia and Melanesia: On bullies and respect" »

Toua Guba & Hanuabada: neighbours worlds apart


Toua Gouba Hill residencesHERE’S A SIMPLE EXERCISE. Try comparing the standard of living between the average family residing at the Toua Guba Hill suburb and Hanuabada village.

One is a wealthy Port Moresby neighbourhood, and the other a modern village left behind by the process of modernisation.

Generations back, Toua Guba Hill used to be traditional gardening land for Hanuabada clans. Now Hanuabada village sceneit is a suburb that boasts real estate worth million of kina with 24-hour security, water, and backup generator support.

Just a stone’s throw away, contemporary Hanuabadans are still using pit latrines and over-the-sea toilets, collecting water in buckets at the communal tap with its unpredictable water pressure, bathing in the open air, living in a crowded family houses, looking for firewood to cook their meals, attending run-down local schools, and competing for health services at a clinic that also services many other settlement communities.

It is a wonder that salaried Hanuabadans and their counterpart Toua Guba Hill residents are working for the same employers with such divergent standards of living.

How can next door neighbours live worlds apart?

Hanuabada is significant place for people from the Papuan region. In 1884, it was at Metoreia in Hanuabada where Commodore James Erskine hoisted the Union Jack to proclaim Papua as a protectorate of the Queen of England.

It was also at Metoreia where Polynesian pastors of the London Missionary Society landed in 1873 after a failed attempt at setting up camp at Manumanu village to evangelise locals.

Hanuabada was arguably the crucible of pre-independence Papua New Guinea. So how do we explain the absurdity of the present Hanuabada? Who is responsible for allowing this decline to happen?

Successive PNG governments, by action or inaction, seem to have subscribed to an assimilation policy when it comes to urban landowner rights. History shows that urban communities such as Hanuabada have been systematically assimilated as an ethnic group and as a community.

There is no denying that government laws and policies have been aimed at accelerating acculturation; pushing an urban community like Hanuabada into the waiting arms of the metropolis that is Port Moresby city.

The problem and solution could be tied to land. In the National Capital District, about 60% of land is State-owned and 40% lies under customary ownership. The Hanuabadan people cannot do anything about the State land that they once owned. The land laws and policies that govern former customary land owners are not in their favour.

Hanuabadans should not expect the government to clean up this mess. As a solution, one proposes that landowning clans that together own the remaining 40% of customary land make a decision to title part or all of their customary land.

If this is possible, each landowning clan will then come together by virtue of a trust deed and pool their land titles under a trust arrangement.

A competent board of trustees would use the titles and trust lands to create equity for each landholding clan. Under this arrangement, the board of trustees will be empowered by the landholding clans to engage with developers with a view to leasing titled clan land for commercial development and lease.

In this way, clans will directly participate in wealth creation activities, and they will have a voice and a choice in creating the desired standard of living.

Continue reading "Toua Guba & Hanuabada: neighbours worlds apart" »

A pebble in d waves


She told me she needed me
She said my girls needed me
The times were tough on us
I had to work far way

But nothing could move me more
Then the thought of my babies facing d rough without me
So I left my job to work closer to home
It's tough
But the smiles of my girls mean more than the world to me

I keep telling her to see through my eyes but she thinks otherwise
The slightest of waves move her yet again

She wants to take d kids n leave me
I tell her to b strong with me but she would rather find strength in
familiar surroundings of her family
Rather then trusting in me

I know d waves they shape a rock
n with time it becomes smooth
n finds rest in a spot on shore somewhere
and with time the tides change
Or river changes course
So Forever the pebble will remain where it lies

And so I pray that with each wave
She will learn
To hold on to what matters between us
And see d bigger picture
above d struggles of the present
And become stronger like me
Holding on
no matter how rough or strong
the currents of life may be

So that when the waves have moved us
To that one place
And d currents have done all they have been destined to do
They will move us no more
And there we shall be

Carl Kingston (28) says “I write in my free time and often do so as an outlet for situations I face in life”

Land ownership the Bougainville way


The Buka Passage and SohanoAS THE SAYING GOES, without food and water one cannot survive.  If the saying also applies to land it is true to itself because it is only land that must provide food and water.

Therefore, whether through the matrilineal or patrilineal society one has to acquire and own land especially by inheritance.  And this inheritance must continue for many years from generation to generation.

It is very important that the trend of ownership follow the same process.  If the process is not followed it may lead to land disputes or bloodshed.

Land has a number of definitions, and the three that must be noted are the solid part of the earth surface, ground as used for farming, or a country or nation. 

In Bougainville land is acquired through the matrilineal system except for Buin which is through the patrilineal system.  Land is owned by a clan.  Every clan must have a chief who oversees all matters relating to land.  They have to make sure land is used wisely and that there is no land dispute, especially when the population is increasing.

Historically it is believed many people on Bougainville migrated from New Ireland some 28,000 years ago.  Since then people have led normal lives with fishing and gardening.

Good leadership played its role in allowing people to respect land ownership by avoiding land disputes.  It was a process emphasised throughout Bougainville to make sure the ownership was permanent with genuine understanding and respect from both sides.

Bougainville wants to overcome what has been experienced in PNG and other parts of the world especially Africa.  It wants to control and manage land for its people. 

With the establishment of its Autonomous Bougainville Government, multi-million foreign mining companies are not allowed to mine without its approval.  The experience from the Panguna mine has taught Bougainville a lesson and it is very careful with its dealing with foreign companies. 

For the villagers in Panguna can no longer go fishing or gardening because the land has been turned into a pit 700 feet deep under by a huge mining company.

Development in its definition means something that has been developed or development area where new industries are encouraged by government for employment and change.  We have to make sure development benefits the very people who own the land.  Bougainville needs development in order to progress.

Now that it has experienced the Panguna mine land dispute, negotiations have become key: negotiations to try to reach an agreement and to get over any difficulty. 

Already there have been a number of negotiations in Bougainville where foreign companies are willing to establish palm oil, fishing and mining industries.  Through the negotiation process, the Autonomous Bougainville Government is really making sure that the landowners are heavily involved.

Continue reading "Land ownership the Bougainville way" »

An approach to the challenges of land tenure


Land law and economic developmentLand Law and Economic Development in Papua New Guinea by David Lea and Timothy Curtin, Cambridge, ISBN 1-4438-2651-0, USD59.99

THIS BOOK IS DEVOTED TO an analysis of alternative land tenure systems in Papua New Guinea and offers a blend of philosophical, legal, sociological and economic approaches to this issue.

The text is divided roughly into two sections. The first six chapters provide a religious, philosophical, historical, sociological and legal context in which to understand Melanesian culture and Melanesian customary land tenure, and its contemporary recognition within the country s legal system.

The early chapters review the historical approaches to customary land tenure from the pre-independence period up to and including the most recent amendments that deal with the incorporation of customary land owning groups.

In these chapters we recommend that the present system be replaced with one that gives greater emphasis to formalized forms of private individual ownership and provides answers to various cultural, social and philosophical objections to such proposals.

The latter section of the book demonstrates the economic advantages to be gained through the conversion of customary forms of individual land tenure to private ownership based on documented titling.

The economic issues considered include the serious shortage of land for other than purely subsistence food production; the inadequacy of both food and cash crop production for export when based on customary land ownership; and the failure of the new Forestry Act to promote increased levels of sustainable production by Papua New Guineans themselves.

The book concludes with examination of the scope for land registration in Papua New Guinea with reference to developments in Kenya that transformed customary ownership across much of the country into individual private ownership.

Tim Curtin has been an academic and economic adviser in Tanzania, Kenya, London, Egypt, Nigeria, and Papua New Guinea (1970–1999). He is now retired and living in Canberra. Dr David Lea teaches philosophy at the American University of Sharjah. He previously taught at the University of Papua New Guinea

P&O cruises provide a boost to PNG tourism


Ann Sherry and Peter O'NeillPRIME MINISTER PETER O’NEILL has welcomed cruise company, Carnival Australia, to Papua New Guinea.

The entry of P & O Cruises is a major boost for PNG tourism and comes after years of hard work by the PNG Ports Corporation and the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority to develop the cruise tourism sector.

Carnival Australia, which operates a fleet of seven P&O and Princess vessels, recently announced that P&O Cruises will do a series of cruises to PNG beginning in October next year.

Friday’s joint announcement by Mr O’Neill and Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, highlighted PNG’s strengths as a cruise destination.

“We are taking steps to ensure cruising becomes an important contributor to our nation,” Mr O’Neill said. “Infrastructure improvements are part of that strategy.”

Pacific DawnIn 2013-2014, Pacific Dawn [pictured] will sail to Milne Bay with calls at Alotau, Doini Island and the Trobriand Islands.

“We always believed in PNG’s potential as a cruise destination and this has been confirmed by the strong interest following the announcement of P&O Cruises’ initial three cruises to the Milne Bay area,” Ms Sherry said.

“The PNG government’s decision to accelerate funding for the port upgrade at Alotau is a positive investment to achieve the economic benefits of regular cruise ship visits.”

Ms Sherry said the Milne Bay area would be popular with Australian travellers for its exquisite scenery, its colourful culture and for its historic World War II links for many Australian families.

Authorities attack the poor who help themselves


Squatter settlement at a rubbish tip in MoresbyWHAT’S A POOR FELLA TO DO? Give up and you live in abject poverty. Strive and you’re pushed aside.

Papua New Guinea’s urban economies rely heavily upon what economists term “the informal sector”.

The informal sector consists of the people who modern capitalism forgot, who became outsiders and who, to secure a job and some cash flow, found small chinks in the commercial sector which they could exploit.

They are the street vendors. They are micro-entrepreneurs.

In Sydney they wash reluctant motorists’ windscreens at traffic lights. Or sell copies of The Big Issue on street corners.

In Papua New Guinea’s cities and towns they sell cigarettes by the one, buai, lucky tickets, little trinkets to make you look good, little bits of food, even themselves….

By and large, these are not bad people. They are good people denied a reasonable opportunity and who are trying to earn a living. To support themselves and their families.

Buai na simokAnd now the Port Moresby police commander, one Assistant Commissioner Francis Tokura - who I presume lives in a half decent house, earns a half decent salary and whose kids go to a half decent school - has ordered police to remove these people from the city’s streets.

Mr Tokura claimed street vending in Port Moresby is both a safety and a crime issue. He also had a thought for the vendors – claiming they are at risk.

But he spoiled this spin by alleging their presence on the roadside provided opportunities for crimes such as carjacking.

The informal business sector constitutes the bulk of the PNG economy.

You just have to question the good sense of marginalising even further the most impoverished in the Moresby community.

People who need a bit of organisation not a heap of bureaucratic, authoritarian repression.

Lower photo: Our favourite street vendor, the award winning writer, Martyn Namorong

Can I defeat a political giant in the Lae Open?


THIS WEEK people in the Lae Open electorate received a booklet in the mail about my campaign to win a seat in the national parliament at this year’s general elections.

A few contributors to PNG Attitude, as well as some of the entrants in the Crocodile Prize, are standing for election and I am one of them.

Along with the booklet there was a covering letter seeking financial support and setting out my bid for election.

I’m seeking to raise K220,000 for my campaign, a far cry from Belden Namah’s alleged K30 million budget.

I am also taking on a formidable opponent in Bart Philemon, who has held the seat for the last 20 years.  He is a consummate strategist and will be hard to beat.

Mr Philemon has kept the seat for so long because he has aligned himself with the Lae Chamber of Commerce and business houses in the city.  His base vote comes from public servants and private sector employees in the town.  It has been alleged that some business houses pay their employees a bonus to vote for him.

Mr Philemon opposed the recent parliamentary Bill for the 22 reserved seats for women, kept himself distant from the riots in Lae and seems uninterested in land issues involving the Ahi people, the traditional landowners of Lae City.  Mr Philemon and I are members of Ahi clans.

My focus in the campaign is the increasing lawlessness and poverty caused by immigration into Lae.  My strategy to deal with this involves the creation of ward registries so that those who have overstayed their welcome and need to return to their home provinces can be identified.

A bit drastic perhaps, but the registries will also record statistics which can be used to take stock of our human resource potential.

My campaign slogan is “Knowledge is power to change for a better quality of life”. Poverty alleviation can be achieved when we have the knowledge to make a change.  I hope people will catch my vision for change: which begins in the mindset.

I’m well-educated (MA in Communication Studies) and have a long history of community-based work.  I contested the 2007 elections in Lae and ended up fifth.  This time I hope to win.

In preparation for my tilt at power I attended a four-day training workshop to assist intending women candidates and their campaign managers conducted in March by the Department of Community Development.

There is a tendency in Papua New Guinea for women to vote the same as their men, sometimes unwillingly.  This time women and people with disabilities will be allowed separate polling booths and I am hoping this will give me an edge.

If you want to find out more about Loujaya’s policies email her at or call her on (675) 7308 5873. And if there are more candidates out there who would like to share their vision for Papua New Guinea after 2012, PNG Attitude readers would like to hear from you

The bloody frontier


“NO CLASS TODAY, BOYS AND GIRLS,” Miss Ketu, a year five student, interrupted the silent community of her classmates as she dashed for her desk. Carelessly, she raked her scattered books and biros and packed them into a nicely designed Papua New Guinean highlands bilum.

The class was disturbed and mentally despatched like a pack of sleeping wild bats. Was this related to this month’s Papua New Guinea gun-boat gunning off the coast, a few wondered?

“What is that girl doing?” a couple of contemptuous voices chorused as Miss Ketu rushed for the doorway. Their expected mid-term test was no more!

“Eh, Mrs Takinu has gone to Happy Valley to see her husband; he is leaving for the Solomons this afternoon - or tonight.”

Silence enveloped the class as the messenger left.

This was Bougainville in 1991 and Mrs Takinu was a maths teacher at Bovo Community School in Arawa. She was a newlywed and expectant mama.

Five months pregnant; she was a proud mother to be. Often she boasted about what a nice baby she would be cuddling soon.

In the school her good temperament and attitude towards the students earned her high levels of respect compared to the rest of the staff.  Lately, however, her class was often bored with her continuous complaints about headaches.

Her husband, Mr Takinu was also a fine citizen of the suffering township that had been swiftly turned into a sort of a military camp.

He had broad shoulders, light fuzzy-wuzzy hair and the slightly thick lips that Kietas often referred to as, ‘African Lips’.

Because of his sexy jokes he was considered by the students to be a sex maniac…a soul that can’t go without a bit of it for the long restive night.  Across their Namira Street, opposite Bovo School, this was the topic of the moment. The couple were often spotted kissing on their veranda, like Europeans.

Continue reading "The bloody frontier" »

Always wish for a better tomorrow but it starts with us


Who makes the decision?
No one is to be blamed, blame yourselves.
You only think about yourselves and money.
You eat and it’s gone down the toilet, it never returns.

Think before you do a thing, the decision you make will affect you and your future.
If you drop it, it breaks and you will be sorry.
People say eat and give it to anyone but I say, your future, your say.
Leaders are there to lead the people, some are good and some are bad.

The choice is yours.
We all need leaders to lead us but we need to choose.
You are the one who change the community and the country.
Don’t be in a hurry, otherwise you will fall in a pit.

Think big and you’ll achieve something.
Oh people, thinking about money and forgetting about tomorrow
Too much stubbornness and less development.
Wake up from your sleep and see the light, now is the time to say.

Your decision is important
You are the leader in your own right, you make the choice.
If we are wise, we’ll be okay
Foolishness comes when we only think about ourselves.

For better or for worse.
Quality leaders we need.
When it comes to decision there is one thing.
You make the choice, they make the decision.

Who will be affected, you or them?
Blame yourselves, there is no development.
It starts with you for a better tomorrow
Think before you do a thing.

Why cry for a better leader now?
Whose fault is it?
Who’s decision?
When you make the choice.

Think about your children, your choice affects them in one way or the other.
Think about that, you make the change for tomorrow.

Forward or backward, it’s up to you.

Carolyn Gaige (23) comes from Marawaka in Eastern Highlands Province.  She is a student at PNGI training to become an elementary school teacher

Women and children look to community justice


A NEW COMMUNITY JUSTICE program being rolled out in Papua New Guinea’s vast village court system is bringing international human rights-based laws to rural communities and boosting the protection and empowerment of women and children.

In the long term, it could help to reduce the high numbers of female and juvenile victims of abuse.

Village courts wield immense influence within the mainly rural population in Papua New Guinea. Many live in areas too remote to access the formal judicial system in the capital, Port Moresby, and main urban centres.

Equipped with 1,414 courts and 14,000 officials, the village court system, managed by provincial governments, administers justice in 90 percent of all villages and hears up to 600,000 cases per year.

Restorative justice is mainly used in the village context where mediation between parties aims to preserve social harmony. Traditionally, village court magistrates who do not have legal training employ local customary practices to deliver restorative justice.

But serious government concerns about widespread violence against women and children have prompted action to overhaul the training and capacity of village court officials and community leaders.

According to Margaret Inamuka, who presides as magistrate of the Kabiufa Village Court in the Eastern Highlands, "Most cases involve adultery, violence against women and eviction of women and children from their homes."

She hears three to five cases of violence against women per month. Children’s cases frequently involve stealing, physical abuse and neglect.

Women and children’s rights are especially critical in instances of violence, neglect, the customary tradition of marrying girls as young as 14 years old, sexual exploitation, discrimination against adopted and homeless children and those with HIV/AIDS, allegations of sorcery and the repayment of bride price in divorce cases.

Papua New Guinea ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1993, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in 1995 and introduced the Lukautim Pikinini (Child Protection) Act in 2009. The nation’s constitution also contains the provision that customary practices may not be applied if they result in injustice.

But the remoteness of many communities and poor rural infrastructure has hindered effective implementation of these national and international agreements.

The Women and Children’s Access to Community Justice (Child Protection) Program, initiated by the Village Court Secretariat, began a pilot phase in 2007 with funding and technical expertise provided by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Its vision is to strengthen community protection of the most vulnerable members of society.

The pilot program was conducted in the Eastern Highlands, Simbu, Milne Bay, East Sepik and Western Highlands provinces. Training tailored to community and women leaders, village court officials and youth representatives addressed human rights, the right to non-discrimination, the unacceptability of violence against women, juvenile justice, the importance of building a protective environment for children and facts about HIV/AIDS.

Continue reading "Women and children look to community justice" »

35 MPs & public servants arrested in PNG graft bust


FOLLOWING YESTERDAY’S STARTLING revelation by Papua New Guinea’s corruption busting watchdog that graft in the country’s government departments has become institutionalised, it is reported that Task Force Sweep this morning arrested 35 people including several current and former MPs as well as 24 public servants.

Commentator Tavurvur has just reported the arrests on Twitter. They follow a report by the task force that said that illegality and secrecy is sanctioned in PNG to the extent that the nation is now a "mobocracy".

Task Force Sweep yesterday presented the final report on its seven-month investigation into malpractice across government agencies.

"Generally our investigations have revealed a very frightening trend of corruption in this country," taskforce chairman Sam Koim said.

"The level of corruption has migrated from sporadic to systematic and now to institutionalisation, where government institutions are dominated by corrupt people who orchestrate corruption using lawful authorities.

"Institutions that are supposed to practice openness and provide check and balance are now becoming a secrecy haven, where they sanction illegality and secrecy."

Mr Koim described corrupt officials as a mob and said they had turned PNG from a constitutional democracy into a mobocracy.

In an early response, prime minister Peter O'Neill is reported to have said PNG needs a permanent anti-corruption body, an initiative long advocated by PNG Attitude contyributor, Barbara Short.

PNG’s 2012 Crocodile Prize national literary contest closes at the end of May. So far 100 writers have submitted 257 poems, 55 short stories, 47 essays, 17 heritage stories and 51 student entries. There's still time to enter! Further details here

The tyranny of terrain & the chance of a railway


Jungle railwayTHEY CALL US CAMELS. They call us white horses. They call us semi-trailers. They call us many names. Names of things we don’t know much of.

We’re they who walk with the strength of our grandfathers; those bygone men who had tamed angry rivers; appeased bellowing clouds and walked with mists. Our coffee beans shall not go to waste! Our coffee beans shall not go to waste! O no – no – no; shall not go to waste!

On many a rugged hill, where clouds most often than not come to watch and cry over them that rise on any given gloomy day with sweaty brows, blistered shoulders and burdened hearts; a father, a mother, or a child continues on a journey this day; a journey that began 38 years ago. The destination however seems further still.

On a rocky ridge where violent winds come to play, a mother firmly cuddles in her weary arms a package from which a pair of sickly eyes peered into her eyes; though devoid of animation, manifests life and all its flaws quiet dramatically. It is only a matter of steps before life itself is shut out.

At the foot of a ridge, way down below, over a fast flowing river, a rope bridge swings dangerously to the left then right under a massive load. A stretcher, of wood and reinforced used-rice bags, is being ferried across on shoulders; a step at a time.

 One wrong step and death is inevitable. A skinny arm, like a dried tree bark, reaches out and attempts to grasp a side pole as if to steady the unsteady stretcher.

On a lookout, a resting place where multitudes have paused here to gaze and marvel at the beauty of the seemingly unending mountain ranges, waterfalls and the evergreen faces of those ranges; a teenager pulls out a piece of newspaper leaf from a side bag.

Before he rolls his dried tobacco leaves, he reads: …the gov…ern...ment… and stops. However the next word is pronounced and whatever the bloody hell it means isn’t going to harass his exhausted mind; not now. Soon he’ll be puffing his exhaustion into tiny circular and skinny columns of drifting mists of vapour.

These typify the struggles of many of our rural Eastern Highlanders. Places like Unavi, Gimi, Marrawaka, Unggai and Wesan, for instance are daily impoverished by the tyranny of our rugged terrains.

Other places in Papua New Guinea: Teleformin, Menyyama, and Salt-Nomane to name a few encounter similarly daunting circumstances.

The prevailing challenge is how to connect these largely organically rich and pristine areas to vital government infrastructure and or how to deliver vital government services to them on a daily basis.

Roads seem to be the answer at the outset however, over time PNG has learned that they become increasingly problematic due to neglect as we know. In addition, soil type, high tropical rain falls and sheer vastness of these ranges and the likely enormous costs of maintenance makes building roads an overwhelming challenge if it isn’t impossible.

This brings to mind railways and trains. Though untested technology in the PNG situation, it’s worth a try.

The next face of development and growth envisioned in the PNG Vision 2050 could ride on the back of trains and railways connecting the potentially rich and under-utilised rural Eastern Highlands and other rural areas of PNG.

The great


On the tussle for power in the political arena in PNG

A title accorded to few
Those who earned the right to be so esteemed

Too few of such remain
Must our land continue to thirst for them?

Men of such calibre
Have no hesitance to declare
The worthiness of another
Or the promise of even the darkest of times

They show the path of greatness
A tittle born of a worthy opponent
Be it human or circumstance

They say little about themselves
Leaving that to come from the lips of others
In their moment of honour
They still choose to give
Not take
To give credit
To ascribe worthiness
To acknowledge
The greatness of the human spirit
In another
Or against circumstance

That is the essence of greatness
An honour bestowed
A title given
A life lived
A story on the lips of others
Not self proclaimed

Will we ever see the truly great?

Carl Jones Kingston (28) was born at Yaibos, near Wapenamanda, of Morobe and Oro Provinces parentage.  He is doctor and married with two children; his wife is also a doctor. He enjoys writing in his free time, especially when inspired to or compelled to find a means of expression. In his poems he tries to make people see through his eyes and hope they too will have the same sentiments that promote freedom, peace and respect and realise they can make a change and take action to bring about positive changes in their lives or circumstances.

The Mountain


‘The Mountain’ is based on a factual event and is my first time to write in a long while

THE AIR AROUND ME was freezing even as the midday sun blazed down on my head. I listened to the river gurgle merrily over the grey stones. The never-ending cacophony of birds and insects tried to outdo each. Yet it was the sound of peace and tranquility. Leaves stirred as the gentle breeze blew through them. I shivered even more.

Green - nothing but green as far as the eye could see until you saw the mountain. A physical mass with the blue sky beyond.  The mountain, where she had just come from. I watched the woman wash the sweet potatoes that she had dug up this morning from the garden up on the mountain.

This should last us for two days, she was thinking. Funny, I could hear her thoughts as if she'd spoken aloud. Every now and then, she would stop and wipe away a tear that had managed to escape her eyes, trying to quell the sobs that threatened to erupt and the bile that rose too, leaving a bitter taste in her mouth. To stop the memory of last night - all the memories.

Images exploded before my mind's eye. The memory of last night, her memories. She couldn't stop them. They ran amok. She pushed a fist into her mouth and bit hard. Probably the pain would stop them.

I heard the rustle in the bushes. I turned and watched as he crept up behind her. The creeping of a skilled hunter towards his prey. I saw the two shade tree branches in his hands. Realisation slowly dawned on me. I began to shout.

Then, a myriad of emotions overwhelmed me, threatening to drown out my shouting. Emotions emanating from the woman who sat beside the river and the man creeping up behind her. The raging anger, the bitter jealousy, the deep sadness, the encompassing loneliness and the love. Yes, love. Love for her children, love for him - though a little flame now, about to be extinguished.

She was now so lost in her painful reminiscence. I was beside myself with shouting. I became lost with her.

Continue reading "The Mountain" »

PNG looks to strengthen relationship with Cairns


Honk Kiap, Dame Carol Kidu, Lawrence Martin and Kila AminiPORT MORESBY COULD USE CAIRNS as a model for how to embrace indigenous culture as authorities fight against growing modernisation in the Papua New Guinea capital.

A delegation of local government and business officials has spent 10-days in the Cairns region. It was led by Opposition leader Dame Carol Kidu and visited various centres and tourist attractions looking to build relationships.

Port Moresby has a sister city relationship with Townsville, but Dame Carol believes the link between the PNG capital and Cairns could be stronger.

"It gives us a lot of perspective here with what we can learn, and if we can forge a relationship we can have more than what we have with Townsville," Dame Carol said.

"Our culture has been eroded and the more we can keep this exchange program going, the more we can learn.

"We also visited tourist centres like Tjapukai and Mossman Gorge.

"We don’t have tourism at home because of the image of PNG, but if we got our act together it could be even better than here."

Crackers ready to offer hand to help tribe


Craig 'Crackers' HandIN AN EFFORT to provide an isolated Papua New Guinea tribe with basic supplies, former Lismore resident Craig "Crackers" Hand will have to navigate danger in a 15-foot boat.

This week, Crackers will sail from Darwin to PNG to provide the secluded Sibidiri tribe with 200kg of medical supplies, educational materials and construction tools.

"I'm expecting to run into problems on this trip because I'm going into waters I've never been in, but they're just challenges I'll have to work through myself," he said.

It will be Crackers' third trip to the region and he will be alone for the best part of six to eight months.

However, a "Cracker tracker" device, created by mapping company Esri Australia, will monitor his journey and allow him to upload content to the internet.

"Every four hours a signal is sent to the server to show everyone where I am," Crackers explained.

"When I'm within range of a Telstra tower I'll be able to upload pictures, YouTube clips and diary entries.

"The whole idea is people will be drawn to the project; it will raise awareness and at the end of the day, it will help this tribe."

In 2008, Crackers set a record by sailing the smallest boat from Australia to another country, which was PNG. When he arrived there, he stumbled across the secluded Sibidiri tribe.

"I came across this tribe in PNG and they had nothing; no electricity, no roads, no anything," he said.

"The tribal king's brother had to paddle for two days to get his son, who had a badly broken arm, to medical care."

When Crackers returned, he founded Friends of Papua New Guinea, a non-profit organisation which aims to develop basic health care and educational facilities in remote parts of the country.

He said isolated citizens of PNG endured particularly bad living conditions because there was little to no government support.

"The only government person I've ever seen in PNG is a customs person," he said.

"There is no real government over there."

You can keep up to date with Crackers' journey at

Task Force Sweep says PNG is a corrupt 'mobocracy'


CORRUPTION IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA's government departments has become institutionalised, where illegality and secrecy is sanctioned to the extent that the nation is now a "mobocracy".

That's what the government of PNG has been told by its corruption watchdog, Task Force Sweep, which today handed its final report on its seven-month investigation into malpractice across government agencies.

"Generally our investigations have revealed a very frightening trend of corruption in this country," taskforce chairman Sam Koim said.

"The level of corruption has migrated from sporadic to systematic and now to institutionalisation, where government institutions are dominated by corrupt people who orchestrate corruption using lawful authorities.

"Institutions that are supposed to practice openness and provide check and balance are now becoming a secrecy haven, where they sanction illegality and secrecy."

Describing corrupt officials as a mob, Mr Koim said they had turned PNG from a constitutional democracy into a mobocracy.

The full report has yet to be made public, but Mr Koim said 20 politicians will be referred to the ombudsman commission for further investigation, while 24 public servants had been suspended for "facilitating or benefiting from corruption".

Mr Koim also said more than 10 lawyers will be referred to the PNG law society for investigation.

The job of the PNG prime minister is not for sale


Belden NamahIT'S WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! It's bloody wrong even if you have the money! It's not about the money Belden!

Deputy prime minister Belden Namah [pictured] will fund from his own pocket the operations of the PNG Party he’s leading into the 2012 National General Election.

Mr Namah is reportedly donating K30 million to the Party for its election campaign.

He’s donating this money he says "...from his backyard garden in Bewani because I am serious about winning this election with PNG Party and to bring change to the political landscape in PNG".

Mr Namah is also challenging leaders of other political parties to state where their funding is coming from and says they must declare this on the floor of parliament for Papua New Guineans to see and evaluate.

“I want to challenge them: where is their garden and how will they fund their operations.”

He also spent K1 million to buy eight brand new Toyota Land Cruisers for provinces in the Momase and Highlands regions.

“I am putting my own money because I believe in what I am doing,” Mr Namah said.

“I want to see a change and I want to be next Prime Minister of PNG. PNG Party is the party for the grassroots of PNG and I came from a village setting to be where I am and I am for the people of PNG."

Personally I see this gesture by the deputy prime minister as a very bad and wrong move by an MP and one that the citizens of PNG must not believe in for very many good reasons.

I definitely do not want to see politicians use money to buy the people's favours at this stage when the country is about to go to the polls.

This is a very blatant of the local member for Vanimo-Green to use big money to buy his way back into the People's Assembly.

What Mr Namah has done is not what PNG needs now.

The job of PNG prime minister is not for sale and all citizens and civil society should be up in arms to reject politicians using pork-barrelling tricks to buy people's votes the coming national general elections.

The day the Kukukukus came to town: a recollection


Kukuku Warriors 1970

MID-WAY THROUGH 1970, it came time for the annual Lae Show and this was something District Commissioner Bill (Father) Seale gave much attention to.

It was a splendid opportunity for each Sub District to display the craft and produce of its region. Each was required to submit a display and most of the liklik kiaps were required to provide some sort of supervision for those who were attending. Many of us were also required to help organise the Sub District exhibit.

The prestige of winning the Sub District award was, we discovered, much sought after and competition was fierce.  Various Show committees had been preparing for months but to many of us ‘Johnnies come lately’ it was a new experience.

So there we were, three liklik kiaps from the Finschhafen Sub District, who had been extracted from our stations, flown to Lae at short notice and told we were to organise our exhibit.

Lae Show 1970 - CarversI remember arriving at the showground, showing my Police Warrant Card to get in and being met with a mountain of produce, various exhibits including a live tree kangaroo in a wire-fronted box and a group of Tami Island wood carvers. A large display stand had been allocated for our use and we observed other field staff busily erecting their own Sub District exhibits nearby.

Having visited the Sydney Royal Easter Show in my youth, my artistic temperament came to the fore and I suggested we collect all the fruit and vegetables from the Sub District that had been piled in a heap at the front of the stand, and separate it into groups of various colours and sizes.

We could then place this fruit and vegetables into various geometric patterns on the stand. So for the want of any other direction or even a better idea, this we started to do.

At that point, some Kukukuku warriors in full dress intervened. Their Sub District (was it Wau or Menyamya?), had brought these blokes as part of their display.

The ‘Kuks’ as everyone else referred to them (although I understand this was originally a derogatory term in their language meaning muruk, cassowary), decided to stage an impromptu singsing rehearsal.

The Kukukuku form of singsing is quite different from other places. Firstly, they do not use drums (kundu) and, instead of having eloquent head dresses, costumes and dance steps, they grab their weapons and men and women run around in a circle yelling “Eyahh…yah…yah…’ in a high pitched yell.

We didn’t hear that initial cry however we did hear the result. There was a sudden rumble, not unlike a guria (earthquake), a great cloud of dust and, within 30 seconds, the whole area cleared of people.

Continue reading "The day the Kukukukus came to town: a recollection" »

'For the enemy faction is ready to kill...'


Creeping quietly out of my thatched roof hut
I make sure not a single noise is made
To avoid being heard by the enemy faction

Ears as sharp as a donkey
I snatch an empty basket and a knife
As blunt as a rough stone
Quickly I make my way
To the garden for the day’s portion of food.

Every movement is made with caution
For the enemy faction is ready to kill
For reasons unknown
Quickly I harvest what crop is ready
And get ready to make my way back to my hut.

As I’m loading my basket
Behind my stooped back a figure moves
Swiftly as a black crow
Among the trees and shrubs nearby.

My heart starts to beat faster than normal
And I ponder about all these happenings
Thoughts of my children
Left behind in the hut trouble me
Questions come my way
Is this the last day of my life?
Am I one of the targets?
And why?

Bang! The sound of a gun is heard nearby
Quickly I throw the basket down
Making a noise as loud as a falling dry coconut
And stumble away to the nearby bushes
Breathing even faster than usual
I try not to be heard by anyone.

As I try to comfort myself and peep amongst
The bushes in the direction of the gun fire
I feel prickles on my legs
Looking down to see what it is
I’m startled to see hundreds of ants
As many as an army of soldiers
I cannot shout though the pain
On my legs is getting worse
I have disturbed these ants
And I deserve to be bitten.

I try to move a few steps
Away from these ants
At the same time rubbing them
Off my legs but to no avail
More seem to be coming and no ending
To these insects.

In the act of doing that
I feel a hand on my
Left shoulder from the back
I cry out with great fright and run
Out to the open garden
The hand still felt on my shoulder

I cry the loudest with all my might
The cry is heard by women in the neighbouring garden
Anxious to know what it is
All run to the commotion site.

I hate to turn back and see who it is
Quickly he shouts out my name
Panno …………!
At that instant I turn around
To see who it is
My young uncle with a gun.

The frightening cry turns into a
Cry of joy joined by the women
Who ran to my shouting.

The laughter continues till the tear bags
Can give no more tears.

Sophie Garana (55) comes from Siwai in South Bougainville. She is a retired primary school teacher who taught in Bougainville and Madang for more than 34 years.  She has a Certificate in Teaching and a Diploma in Primary Teaching from the PNG Institute of Education

Minerals galore! Bright resource prospects for PNG

Hidden Valley Mine - Morobe ProvinceOXFORD BUSINESS GROUP

A SERIES OF SIGNIFICANT mineral finds in Papua New Guinea have highlighted the role exports are set to play in the nation’s economic future. However, there have been calls from industry players and opposition officials asking the government to do more to ensure revenues stay in the country.

In mid-April, state-owned Petromin announced that it had found a 364-metre intersection of porphyry copper, molybdenum and gold mineralisation at its Ipi River prospect, located 50 km north of its Tolukuma gold mine in Central Province.

In the same month, Australia-based Indochine Mining announced that gold and silver finds at Mount Kare had underlined the “outstanding potential” of the project to become one of PNG’s next major mining operations.

Officials also revealed that Kula Gold’s Woodlark Island project, which has estimated reserves of 700,000 ounces, was on track to start producing in 2014.

Also in April, Nautilus Minerals of Australia announced that it had obtained a license from PNG to mine a site the size of 21 football fields under the sea. The company hopes to develop and expand undersea mining to obtain copper, gold, silver and zinc from the seafloor.

These recent finds and progress underline the significant contribution metals are set to make to PNG’s growth in the coming years. In 2010, activities directly attributed to mining comprised 21% of domestic revenues, while GDP is projected to grow 8% this year.

At the same time, concerns over the environmental impacts of mining and foreign miners over-exploiting PNG’s resources have led to calls for the country to tighten its tax regime. Observers have called for the country to emulate Australia’s controversial mining tax, which will levy 30% of the “super profits” from corporations mining iron ore and coal.

Women mining at Porgera - Enga ProvinceThe government has proposed legislative reforms to increase domestic involvement in mining projects, with deputy prime minister Belden Namah saying in February that the Mining Act will be reviewed to increase landowner participation in mining projects. However, Namah’s plans were met with a strong backlash from industry players and opposition officials.

In February, the IMF echoed these concerns, stating the resource sector could make a larger contribution to public revenues. It recommended that the government strengthen its current means of revenue collection, reinforce the internal revenue and Customs services, streamline tax concessions and apply the additional profits tax to mining activities.

The government’s grip on mining revenues will come under more scrutiny as speculation grows over the potential of the Wafi-Golpu copper-gold project, which Marian van der Walt, the investor relations manager at South Africa-based Harmony Gold Mining, in March described as the “find of the century”.

Prime minister Peter O’Neill stressed in March that the revenues from Wafi-Golpu will, like those from the $15.7 billion Exxon-led PNG liquefied natural gas project, be carefully managed by the country’s Sovereign Wealth Fund to ensure that they benefit development in infrastructure and education.

To address the multiple factors limiting investment in the mineral sector, observers say stronger political will is needed for resources-driven economic growth to translate into real development.

“Public sector weaknesses and the extent to which corruption has infected this sector will be a real challenge in capitalising on this opportunity,” said Ian Kemish, Australia’s High Commissioner to PNG, in March. “Political stability will also be very important.”

Chinese worker exposes Ramu’s dodgy bunch


Ramu Nickel - Chinese workers at BasamukIT’S NOT OFTEN one gets insights into how the Chinese do business in Papua New Guinea. And this is the moment I’ve been awaiting for six months.

The delay has been due to the translation of a blog published by a Chinese worker who left the Ramu Nickel Mine rather disappointed.

The delay also has been due to ethical debates as to whether extracts should be published at all, given the possibility of this young Chinese blogger facing negative repercussions back home.

This kid has got guts all right, publishing such a controversial piece in China.

It provides insights into the bullying and corruption at MCC’s Ramu nickel mine and highlights China’s global economic agenda of primitive accumulation and neo-colonialism.

It also reveals that not all Chinese who come to work for MCC are bad and those with a moral conscience leave Ramu Nico rather disappointed.

Those who do remain seem to be some of the most corrupt mine officials and workers.

Later today I’m presenting more material at a lecture I’m giving to students at Divine Word University in Madang and publishing more details online on the Namorong Report.

Elections, security and economy – which way PNG?


FOR THE FIRST TIME in the history of Papua New Guinea electoral politics we have witnessed a controversial attempt to defer the election due to political and constitutional crises and deficiencies in electoral common rolls.

It seems that the constitutional deadlock between the legislative and judiciary may continue until the next government is sworn into office.

According to Electoral Commission it is expected that more than 4,000 candidates and more than 40 political parties will contest the election, competing for the top political posts and 109 seats.

The current coalition government seems confident it will retain the top posts given political marriage between O’Neill (PNC), Nama (PNGP), Polye (THE), Duma (URP) and other small factions.

Meanwhile the NA, led by veteran Grand Chief, Sir Michael Somare flanked by his historical party, PANGU and 12 disciples, maintain strong allegiance to return to the government benches.

There is nothing new to the political party manifestos. On the one hand, the current Onama government vows to continue reform and fight corruption. On the other hand, the NA faction claims to command the economy and says it will restore the Constitution.

In my view, the political manifestos are simply strategic orientations for public opinion given the nature of the political crisis – candidates and political parties will use public opinion on Somare’s regime performance and the current political impasse to lure votes.

The emergence of new political parties such as Ila Geno’s Constitutional Democratic Party, Gary Juffa’s Movement for Change Party and veteran environmental and women’s activist Dorothy Tekwe’s Greens Party are bound to make at least some difference.

The Greens may attract a positive outcome under the banner of indigenous land and environmental rights and women rights while Juffa’s party looks promising with his new strategic policy of maintaining law and order, good governance and service delivery.

On the other hand, the Constitutional Democratic Party may compete with existing parties fighting for constitutional reform. Parkop’s Social Democratic Party is well funded and may attract concrete attention.

There are implications for party politics. The current government may have some setbacks given the intent and motive of key players’ who are putting their hands-up for PM.

The major players in the game include O’Neill, Namah, Polye, Duma, Philemon and Parkop. Given PNG’s uniquely unpredictable and contradictory political culture, we may expect this rivalry may manufacture instability.

As far as the new parties are concerned, history has shown that it is quite a difficult task to command leadership. A party leader with extensive experience inside the Haus Tambaran can navigate through uncertain waters to command the state.

Continue reading "Elections, security and economy – which way PNG? " »

A rough guide to the PNG general elections


MORE THAN 40 POLITICAL PARTIES and well over 4,000 candidates have thrown their hats into the ring to contest late June’s general election in Papua New Guinea.

There are 109 seats on offer, which means that many putative representatives have been called - of whom few will be chosen.

We list here some of the main political parties which are contesting the elections(together with some of their leaders):

CDP - Christian Democratic Party

CDP - Constitutional Democratic Party [Ila Geno]

Greens Party [Dorothy Tekwe]

MA - Melanesian Alliance

MCP - Movement for Change Party [Gary Juffa]

NA - National Alliance Party [Sir Michael Somare]

NGP - New Generation Party [Bart Philemon]

PAP - People’s Action Party

PDM - People’s Democratic Movement Party [Paias Wingti]

PLP - People’s Labor Party

PNA - People National Assembly [Anderson Agiru]

PNC - People’s Congress Party [Peter O’Neill]

PNGCDP - PNG Constitutional Democratic Party

PNGCP - PNG Conservative Party

PNGCP - PNG Country Party

PNGNP - PNG National Party

PNP - Papua New Guinea Party [Belden Namah]

PP - Peoples Party [Peter Ipatas]

PPP - People’s Progress Party [Sir Julius Chan]

RDP - Rural Development Party [Jeffrey Nape]

THE - Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party [Don Polye]

UP - United Party [Sam Abal]

URP - United Response Party [William Duma]

Lucky little lizard


Gecko cartoonTak! Tak! Tak-tak, tak-tak, tak-tak, tak-tak! …
Small mercies fall upon a tin roof
Glad tidings whistle through rafters
A pleasant evening between here and there
And a song to share with musing geckos
Eating silly bugs bedazzled
By luminous glows.

Tchk! Tchk-tchk, tchk-tchk, tchk-tchk! …
Staccato feeling at a flick of tail
Defying laws that hold me
Neither over nor under
Neutrally buoyant or rather
Drowning in suspended animation
Better a ceiling clinging critter.

Tshhh! Tshhh-tshhh, tshhh! tshh, tssshhhhhh!
Simmering rice on a hot gas stove
Is habit not hunger driven
Mouthful of moth
He scurries off
Like some freak reflection
Of me entering the kitchen.

Wibbly-wobbly, dribbly-gobbly, bibbly-bobbly, blur!
Glaring, defiant, lizard to giant
In retort to my musing, at a meager moth,
He snaps once then twice ­–it’s gone!
In a quick lick n’ a wink: ‘Urrrp!’
Then them-there glazed eyes
Lucky little lizard.

The Galkope’s Doubting Thomas


THE MINGENDE CATHOLIC MISSION, built by the Society of the Divine Word in the Simbu area, was already well established by the end of World War II.

A catechist training school had also been built a kilometre away down at Kupwai for any Simbu men who aspired to become catechists. Men who were able to learn and speak Tok Pisin well were sent out as catechists to the different Simbu tribes to tell them about Christ.

Early one morning, Dama and his father Kone checked their hunting traps and returned with some rats to prepare for a later meal.

‘Men, any big catches?’ asked Yaire, their mission friend who had entered their fence with his badge of insignia hanging on his hairy chest.

‘Oh, man! It’s too early. What brings you here?’ asked Kone.

‘I am here to take your son to Kupwai,’ said Yaire. ‘I think he will make a good catechist.’

After much sweet talking Kone was finally convinced and agreed that Dama could go to the catechist school. Dama was among the last batch of Galkope men who were trained at Kupwai as catechists in the early 1950s.

In Nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti, Amen is the main prayer in the Catholic Church. Prayers like Pater Noster, Ave Maria, Credo and Salve Regina with the commandments and the articles of the Catholic faith were taught and said in Latin.

The trainees learnt the Latin prayers by heart. The Latin prayers and Eucharistic celebrations were changed to the current form in 1965 by the second Vatican Council.

Dama’s first posting as a catechist was at Genabona. He settled at Genabona and taught the Dom people about the messianic age, incarnation and redemption. He also taught the people many of the basic prayers of the Catholic Church.

The catechumens followed both the words and motions in the In Nomine Patris but some of them would touch their right shoulders before the left and Dama would cut in to help until they did it correctly.

That is how the word of God was spread in the fifties and sixties in the Galkope territory.

The villagers envied the catechists because they were close to the European priests.  They also equated them with wealth and access to young women. As a young catechist at Genabona, Dama had to manage the long queue of young women who admired him.

Finally, giving in to human weakness, he ended up in a relationship with one of the many beautiful young women at Genabona.

One fateful night he went to Morwai’s hut. He crept into her bed as he done before. He sprinkled white men’s salt on his lips every time they kissed. Morwai, never having tasted salt before, thought the catechist was sweet.

That night, in their madness, Dama somehow broke the crescent shell she wore on her neck. That was an error of the highest ranking. Shells came from a faraway land called the nambis. They were invaluable in the Galkope territory.

Tine, the father of the girl realized that the shell was missing from her neck the next day.

‘Where is the shell that I bought with a pig?’

‘The catechist broke it,’ his daughter replied timidly.


‘The catechist broke it.’

‘You mean that good for nothing dog’s off-spring that the white men call a catechist,’ yelled Tine.

The daughter did not respond.

‘I’ll summon him to the padre at Neragaima because of this,’ said Tine.

Continue reading "The Galkope’s Doubting Thomas" »

Flawed political model disunites Papua New Guinea


PAPUA NEW GUINEA is not a united country after 39 years of self-government and independence because it inherited a flawed political model.

The two-tier (national-provincial) and three-tier (national-provincial-local) government arrangements have not effectively functioned due to an ineffective delivery system of goods and services to all provinces since the mid-1970s when the decentralised system (later renamed provincial government) was introduced.

The current political model is not working and there is uneven wealth distribution. PNG needs major political and social reforms and good political leaders.

The bureaucracy needs to be totally overhauled with a new professional national workforce.

PNG must be now governed under a federal political model so the whole country and its bureaucracy work to deliver services to all provinces.

The country needs to have regional state governments to properly manage and control their own administration, budget, resources and movement of their own people to other provinces.

The state governments of these regions: Papua, Highlands, Momase, New Guinea Islands and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville will in effect manage their own regions with their own budget to develop their own regions.

This will also ensure a good level of autonomy is practiced by each region to see the country's resources properly managed and not squandered as is at the present case since independence.

South’s power!


Lying idly on the south of the equator
A strong handsome warrior
Stood proudly among the arc of mountains
Looking over the ranges of mountains
Just at the age of 37
His heart delighted at how beautiful his southern highlands daughter has bloom
So innocent and under developed
She wears the breath-taking fragrant of liquefied natural gas
Lightening captures her pose among the lush, high valleys
Between towering limestone
The oil of lust for her father
Her intricately decorated wigs wiggle towards the wind
She smiles into her reflection at the Lake Kutubu
For she knows how her father loves her the most among his 20 daughters
She knows her beauty has capture the attention of the world
Father’s hungry pot of belly growl for power and statutes
Selfishness sweating his flesh he called out her name
Will she hide, she can’t!
Father will earn a lot of wealth if she is given away
These foreign lovers will explore her again
Whatever it takes she will be in their arms.

Sign language


THE BOY, BANGI WANGARR, is a descendent of the Tugerr tribe within the swamp plains of the large Morehead area of the Western District of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The years are the early 1970s. The years leading to the formation of an independent nation to be called Papua New Guinea on 16 September 1975.

Bangi had completed Standard Three in 1973 and this year, 1974, at the age of 12 was being enrolled in Standard Four; quite a senior grade he thought to himself. His little sister, Werrma, at age 7, was enrolling for Preparatory class or “Prep” as it was called.

Bangi had suggested that they should call the Prep class the baby sitting class. Because Bangi had observed last year, that the kids in Prep could not even spell very simple English words like “boy” or “girl” from memory.

When Bangi would chuckle about this his father would remind him that he was much worse than that. That he could not tell the difference between “mother” and “father” in English. That he had even asked the Head Teacher to return Bangi to the Prep class to join his small sister!

But Bangi had a natural gift; no joke, no intimidation, no rumour would affect him. He would laugh about the comments or stories and continue life. It is said he never cried in school.

Bangi had two brothers ahead of him, one in Standard Six in the same school and one in Form Four at Daru High School. But he did not like the fact that they existed because he wanted the world to think that he was the eldest in the family and he made a particular point that his little sister call him “Big Bro” at school.

One day after school Bangi stayed for awhile, playing with Mila, the Head Teacher’s son and Wills and Boni from the local village. The boys were playing a game called “Cowboys and Indians”.

Bangi and Wills were the Indians and they were being chased around by Mila and Boni who were Cowboys. The Cowboys had horses and pistols while the Indians had neither and had to run for their lives.

Bangi had been run around by the Cowboys so much that he was now so tired.

“Hey boys can we sssttoopp!”  shouted Bangi and crashed to the ground.

As he crashed landed and hit the ground there was this long and hard “sound”  !!Pppprrrrrrpp!.  The three boys crashed landed next to Bangi and roared into wild laughter. Bangi of course joined in the laughter.

All of a sudden the boys heard Mr. Kuala, Mila’s father join in the laughter.

“Oh boys that is truly the sound of joy,” he said in his laughter. 

The boys looked surprised but on recognising Mila’s father laughed even louder. The boys laughed for quite awhile. Then Mr. Kuala said; “Okay boys, better be going home!”

Bangi, Wills and Boni ran together and separated along the road as Wills and Boni ran to the village. Bangi ran along to the Department of Primary Industry (DPI) section of the Morehead Government Station, where his father served as an Agricultural Officer.

“No, no, no it’s you, you are lying,” sounded a woman’s voice.

“Yeah when did I do such a thing?” came the reply from another woman.

Bangi ran towards the sounds of the women arguing. As he came closer he recognised Aunty Uri and Aunty Mari talking loudly to each other and pointing their fingers at each other or up into the sky. Bangi decided not to go closer.

Continue reading "Sign language" »

Diplomatic ruckus: envoy tells off Aussie journo


PAPUA NEW GUINEA HIGH COMMISSIONER to Solomon Islands and Vanuatu Brian Yombon-Copio has refuted issues raised by Australian freelance journalist Susan Merrell in this paper yesterday.

Mr Yombon-Copio said his statement in The Solomon Star last Thursday on the political issues in PNG were done to clarify the adequacy surrounding certain issues raised by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

“This is the work of another foreigner who had damaged the country by criticising my clarification on the issues facing PNG at the moment,” Mr Yombon-Copio said.

“I simply corrected a colleague diplomat who had made remarks which were totally a mixture of facts and exaggerations based on hear-say stories which had a bad impact on my country,” he added.

The high commissioner said every diplomat has a duty to defend his or her country and that was exactly what he did.

Mr Yombon-Copio said he has no intention of defending the current Government of PNG or any particular person in the Government.

“I am a professional diplomat and I have no political affiliations with anyone in PNG,” the PNG envoy said.

He said he has no hidden agenda defending anyone in PNG for that matter as queried by Ms Merrell but simply tried to put the accurate perspective of PNG with its political issues. 

Mr Yombon-Copio said diplomats are neutral persons in politics and they are the managers of national interest from abroad.

The high commissioner said unlike in other countries where political issues translate into violence where innocent lives are lost, freedom of speech barred, and pressure groups are barred from expressing issues of concern; PNG’s case is different as the perceived political issues are manageable.

“The concerned parties are capable of resolving their issues and they do not require foreigners to set the agenda for them,” said Mr Yombon-Copio.

He warned Ms Susan Merrell to refrain from issuing statements from a distance and avoid being continuously controversial on PNG issues.

“It is also interesting to know a foreigner whom I have no knowledge of her to discuss misleading information about my personal life too.

“I think Susan Merrell has collaborated with someone in PNG to deliberately assassinate my character but seriously no price will be paid to them for such work,” Mr Yombon-Copio said.

Read Susan Merrell’s article in full here: PNG High Commissioner - 'What's your agenda?'

Most commented on articles in April


APRIL SAW A SIGNIFICANT MILESTONE for contributors to PNG Attitude – for it was last month that the site registered its 10,000th comment. That’s a lot of words by any measure. I estimate about one and a half million.

The content of PNG Attitude stands on two legs: one being the articles (by myself and others) that I post each day; the other, no less important, being the responses, ripostes, rebuffs and rhetoric posted by our readers.

John Fowke observed recently that one reason he is something of a fan of this site is because of the transparency of contributors willing to use their own names in offering their views.

By and large this is true. And I do reject most comments and contributions that bear pseudonyms or false names – except where there may be good reasons to the contrary.

The two key reasons are that the writer’s well-being would be compromised in some way by the use of a real name, or where the contribution is of such substantial value that I am willing to overlook the anonymity of the source.

But these are relatively rare occurrences – and the occasional abusive anonymous comment we receive is always deleted, usually without being read.

And so we turn to a busy month of commentary. To qualify for our league table in April, an article had to score at least 10 published comments – quite a hurdle.

26 – East Sepik declares ‘independence’ from PNG (Keith Jackson). Tim Koeser, former self-styled leader of the World Indigenous Council of Jesus Christ, re-emerged as the no less self-styled President of the East Sepik Interim Government.

16 – Bicamerality: reforming the PNG parliament (Paul Oates). Paul observed that recent events in the PNG parliament revealed glaring deficiencies in the framework that took the nation into Independence in 1975.

15 - Martyn is ready to take the truth to Australia (Keith Jackson). Martyn Namorong, the man whose name is anathema to PNG's The National newspaper, is getting ready to take the truth to Australia.

15 – Is the supreme court a threat to democracy (Tiffany Twivey-Nonggorr). The leading lawyer and human rights advocate argued that the constitutional crisis in PNG has been created by certain members of the Supreme Court, not by Peter O’Neill or Michael Somare.

12 – Bougainville stoush: today’s politics or history’s legacy (Keith Jackson). A public dispute erupted between Dr Kris Lasslett, an academic specialising in the social and political impacts of mining, and Axel G Sturm, the president of the European Shareholders of Bougainville Copper.

12 – Namah’s triumph: PNG to defer elections (Keith Jackson). It looked like a signal victory for deputy prime minister Belden Namah – the wild man of PNG politics - when parliament voted to postpone the national elections for six months. But after some days of confusion, reason prevailed.

11 – Intrigue: the henchmen who sacked the storyboard (Russell Soaba). According to Russell, the anxiety of The National newspaper to rid itself of his Storyboard column began in April 2011 when a new editor was appointed by Star Printing Pty Ltd to head the national daily. One of PNG's leading authors and poets revealed all.

11 – Bougainville outlaws must be brought to justice (Axel G Sturm). "In 2004 I started to invest in Bougainville Copper because an old friend of mine told me about this investment opportunity." Innocent enough words that led to a heated debate on the recent history of this turbulent province.

10 – The circus that is the O’Namah government (Tavurvur). April's mass protest against the deferment of the 2012 general elections and the implementation of the Judicial Conduct Act was "a visibly emphatic and clear message to Peter O’Neill as to how the people of PNG feel about his government’s actions", according to Tavurvur.

10 - The National bans two prominent PNG writers (Keith Jackson). We broke the news of The National's ban on Nou Vada and Russell Soaba, the doyen of PNG literature.

10 – Government ignores Huawei security concerns (Alexander Rheeney). Confidential email correspondence revealed that PNG ambassador to India, Tarcy Eri wrote to then foreign minister Sam Abal in October 2010 to warn that the PNG government should reconsider the engagement of China’s Huawei Technologies on the grounds of national security.

Gordon’s: today’s snapshot of our bleak future


Gordon's MarketI SPENT AN HOUR at Gordon’s Market the other day, a burning hot April Saturday in Port Moresby. I parked right opposite the Gordon’s Police Station around midday and waited for a friend.

As is usual with appointments in Papua New Guinea, one must be prepared to wait anywhere between 10 minutes and an entire hour. It was an hour I spent fascinated.

The population of people walking, talking and carrying on in the humid, steaming, muddy, filthy so-called market was captivating. Teeming with energy and abuzz with all manner of activity, there were traders and vendors, hawkers and street sellers, betel nut connoisseurs and buyers.

Scam artists and con artists and petty criminals also were active and everyone was a potential victim. A boom box belted out loud noise. There was no sign of authority of any sort. The order was disorder.

Across the road, a Chinese store thrived with people streaming in and out like ants, walking in empty handed and carrying out all manner of goods or, more correctly, junk, for resale. Business is booming for the Chinese traders thanks to increased liberalisation of trade, relaxing of regulatory laws to protect consumers and the introduction of an unregulated, unpoliced informal sector.

The sector was supposedly intended to benefit Papua New Guineans involved in cottage industries selling handicraft and arts and incubating their small entrepreneurial efforts.

But the real winners are the mainland Chinese traders who import container loads of cheap household products from numerous factories proliferating throughout China to resell in developing nations like Papua New Guinea.

In PNG, the Chinese traders target settlements and rural townships stretching their tentacles throughout the length and breadth of this Pacific island economy like a giant octopus leech sucking everything and anything out and transmitting the profits offshore to fund investments in Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Other octopi are busy throughout the region, and indeed the world, as China shifts into gear in its drive for world dominance. They are taking advantage of a weakening West which is in pivotal transition, changing from a defined set of geographic nations to becoming a globalised Corporatedom, the new manor of the rich, overseeing a global population of serfs.

Back in Gordon’s Market, raw sewage and waste streamed through the market in drains carrying dirty plastic bags, and writhing naked children happily splashed under the baking Port Moresby sun as parents wearily gambled, played cards and turned their heads occasionally to scream at their offspring or to spit streaming betelnut juice anywhere, everywhere.

A drunkard stumbled through the market, miraculously weaving his way through the human traffic, a beer bottle lovingly cradled against his bare bony chest, inch long globules of mucous and blood trailing off his moustache. He was humming Elton John’s Yellow Brick Road.

Swarms of flies and other insects formed small clouds around a dead dog recently run over by a Public Motor Vehicle in the middle of the main street, its putrid juices running off towards the drain.

A man lay in a drunken stupor, snoring under a rain tree, devoid of shoes, belt and all clothes accept dirty, ragged jeans. Bored betelnut vendors played games on their mobile phones and bickered with each other.

My appointment arrived, sweating and sucking on an iceblock. I opened the car door and he climbed in.

Continue reading "Gordon’s: today’s snapshot of our bleak future" »

Boera: coastal village on an economic joyride


Children and pots at Boera VillageBOERA VILLAGE located on the coast about 30 kilometres west of Port Moresby, is a Motuan village on an economic joyride to destination anywhere - courtesy of industrial and commercial developments taking place on the land and sea surrounding it.

They are types of development unprecedented in the region. And not many people are aware that, because of this, Boera’s land area under customary ownership has been greatly reduced.

The diminishing customary land area is a reality that a land custodian in an average clan in Boera has to grapple with when faced with a decision to distribute or register title over customary land. Add to that a people who are not used to the metropolitan lifestyle that awaits them with open arms.

To Boera’s north and north-east is state land which became freehold after its acquisition by agreement in 1908 and 1915. In 2007, the State acquired two portions through a process of compulsory acquisition thus freeing each one from their leaseholders.

Ex-portion 152 was divided into portion 2456 and portion 2459 respectively. Portion 2456 is the western half of ex-portion 152. It was granted under a 99-year lease to Esso Highlands Limited to develop a petroleum processing facility for the Exxon Mobil-led PNG LNG Project.

Portion 2459 is the eastern half of ex-portion 152 which is not part of the PNG LNG Project and presumed vacant land.

Portion 11 is the latest State portion slated for development, and another indication that Port Moresby city is expanding this way. There are already unconfirmed reports that local landowner company, Boera Holdings Limited, is planning to commission the construction of a satellite township development on the 155-plus hectares of land.

It’s aptly named Edai Town - after Edai Siabo, the inventor of the lagatoi vessel prominent in the Hiri trade and Motuan folklore - the proposed township comprises a total of 791 allotments.

Located near Boera is another state lease, portion 2174C. It is where a high frequency radio transmitting station owned and operated by Telikom PNG Limited can be found.

In July 2004, customary landowner representatives from Boera signed a memorandum of agreement allowing construction of the station, and annual land lease rental to be withheld by the State due to a dispute between signatories over individual land boundaries within portion 2174C.

The dispute was transferred to the Central Local Land Court and to date this has not been resolved.

There are developments at sea as well.

Portion 2456 borders with another state lease, portion 2457. Portion 2457 is a strip of land (foreshore) between portion 2456 and the ocean. Portion 2457 is required for the processing facilities and for access to portion 2458, which lies between Boera and Papa. Portion 2458 is the offshore area required by Esso Highlands Limited for the construction of a pier and other pipeline facilities for the export of liquefied natural gas.

Portion 2458 is over 900 hectares of sea and seabed. Until 2009, it was a traditional route or fishing spot frequented by local fishermen. But like portion 2456, Esso Highlands Limited also holds 99-year leases over portions 2457 and 2458.

Although it is not the first time Boera people have been deprived of fishing, hunting, water, and gardening rights, pressure from issues like population growth, project-related labour movement, and urbanisation will accelerate a change in the cultural behaviour and thinking of Boera villagers through contact with another culture.

The effect of post-contact acculturation was steady for the past 100 years and has certainly picked up with the industrial and commercial developments.

How are Boera villagers managing with this process of acculturation post-2009? There is no comprehensive study.

Continue reading "Boera: coastal village on an economic joyride" »

Haiku for Hiri Moale festival


Hiri Moale dancerSails whack and whip –
Racing winds on ancient paths
Where trade once flourished

Brave seafarers sailed
With clay pots for sago flour:
In proud tradition

Wind rustling grass-skirts
drumbeats and songs crash to shore –
upon cheering crowds

Strongest of strong men
Dancing beauty of beauties:
Hiri Moale!

Media leader tells news groups to get act together


Peter Aitsi MBEPETER AITSI, A FORMER PRESIDENT of the Papua New Guinea Media Council has called on “isolated” Pacific news organisations to strike a better relationship with civil society groups to have a stronger stake in the community.

In a speech marking the World Press Freedom Day in Port Moresby, Mr Aitsi said media groups needed stronger community ties to stand up to government attempts to muzzle them.

He also called on media groups to cooperate with their rivals in campaigning for media freedom.

“In most Pacific countries we have one or two major media players; some of them are government-owned or have some form of government ownership,” he said.

“Most, if not all, of these organisations work in isolation, by that I mean they do not actively seek engagement with other media organisations because they view them as competitors.”

They also did not actively interact with the broader community in the form of NGO groups – “some say because they want to retain their independence”, Mr Aitsi said.

“The opportunity for governments to introduce media control is greater in this type of environment where the media is isolated and there is no real demonstrable – let me say that again – no real demonstrable link between them and their communities.”

In Melanesian politics, MPs often used the defence “it is in the best interest of the people”, he said.

“How many times have we heard that? Our objective is to ensure the people see that the media is part of them, that we are representing their interest it is only when we have achieved this level of relationship can we reasonably expect their support.”

It needed to be asked how civil society could be mobilised and actively involved in the process of protecting media freedom.

Peter Aitsi MBE was president of the PNG Media Council from 1999-2007. Peter Aitsi’s full speech is on Pacific Media Centre Online

Rosaline and Roven import some PNG magic



WHEN DUBBO DAVE KESBY, who died last week, had to give away driving his cab because of ill health, he put his time into forming and playing with the Hornsby Berowra Ukulele Group (otherwise known as Hornsby BUGs) in Sydney’s north.

The 24-strong group played at Dave’s memorial service last Wednesday and now has been joined by two new Papua New Guinean residents of Berowra, Rosaline and Roven, who had their initial outing with BUGS at the Berowra Pub last Friday.

I think you’ll find their performance (which is now on YouTube) as exhilarating and joyful as the live audience did.

Thanks to Elissa Kesby for the tip-off. “They wanted to sing a traditional song and they seem quite at home with the ukuleles,” Elissa says. “I thought it was quite nice that this connection with Dave, unwittingly, happened.”

Me too. Because BUGS is part of Dave's legacy now. And I love the chocolate moment at the end of the clip....

A salute and a caveat redux

John & Sinake, 80, 200210BY JOHN FOWKE

TWO THINGS REALLY PLEASE ME about the commentary upon Martyn Namorong’s A Salute and a Caveat… and other lines of discourse being conducted on Attitude.

One is that Phil Fitzpatrick and Paul Oates continue to contribute. The other is the emergence of an ever-increasing number of Papua New Guinean thinkers whose opinions are both germane and well-expressed, and are signed by real people.

Happily most of the fuddy-duddies from the Admin days have run out of ink.

Opinions on PNG-based blogs and letters-to-the-editor, however, are almost exclusively posted under false names and pen-names like "Mangisepik". This latter says something about PNG'ans today.

Don’t waste time posting a comment on the PNG blogs because your words will be greeted by a mostly-anonymous volley of "piss-off waitman"- type responses by nameless writers.

One hopes that courage may again flow in the veins of these "once-were-warriors" –educated men who should stand up and be counted behind the likes of Martyn Namorong and other thinkers who are both open and explicit in their opinions.

Otherwise nothing will ever change. More of the same, on and on. PNG Attitude has carved a solid niche for itself as the blackboard for those in PNG who have something meaningful and/or creative to say.

To return to the particular line of commentary which follows Martyn's latest posting, and with honourable exceptions as mentioned, what a mish-mash of aimless and inconclusive nonsense.

Globalism, multi-national exploitation and cultural colonialism is all beside the point.

The real issue is the lack of control by PNG's citizenry over their common wealth, and the services, benefits and improved living environment which it might, in different conditions, and under the control of different PNG’ans, be generating today.

Giving voice to those idealistic and capable and honest PNG’ans and providing them with the basis of a linkage is what Attitude does best.

The fact that PNG is not in fact a democracy, but a hegemony controlled by a small, highly-advantaged and self-consolidating hierarchy of the very wealthy and their flunkies (whose close links with, as opposed to close monitoring and control of, the resource exploiters and mercantile colonists are both their source of power and the hole in the nations bucket of common wealth) is the matrix from which almost all the big problems facing PNG society flow.

These colonising institutions are like electric power. Controlled as to voltage and amperage, channelled through insulated delivery systems and used in controlled and efficient mechanisms, electric power is hugely beneficial.

Development capital, technical and physical input funded by it, and the income and other benefits which flow from it are essential if living standards are to be lifted from the present sad levels.

Firm and expert assessment of value and firm and expert control of the output and agreed contributions to the state must be a part of development. Without these conditions greed and corrupt practices grow exponentially like an infected tropical sore left untreated.

Continue reading "A salute and a caveat redux" »

The blond haired riddle of the Solomons


The blond in the SolomonsTHE INHABITANTS OF THE SOLOMON ISLANDS are very dark-skinned - but have puzzled scientists for decades with their blond hair.

Now a genetic study has found that the islanders have a 'homegrown' gene that gives them blond hair - and it's different from the one in Europeans.

‘Its frequency is between 5 and 10% across the Solomon Islands, which is about the same as where I'm from,’ said study author Dr Eimear Kenny.

Globally, blond hair is rare, occurring with substantial frequency only in northern Europe and in Oceania, which includes the Solomon Islands and its neighbors.

Many assumed the blond hair of Melanesia was the result of gene flow — a trait passed on by European explorers, traders and others who visited in the preceding centuries.

The islanders themselves give several possible explanations for its presence - they generally chalked it up to sun exposure, or a diet rich in fish, say the researchers.

‘Within a week we had our initial result. It was such a striking signal pointing to a single gene — a result you could hang your hat on. That rarely happens in science,’ said Kenny. ‘It was one of the best experiences of my career.’

In terms of genetic studies, the analysis was straightforward said Kenny.

But gathering the data was more difficult. Much of the Solomon Islands is undeveloped, without roads, electricity or telephones.

It's also one of the most linguistically diverse nations in the world, with dozens of languages spoken.

Authorities hopeful about PNG handling TB problem


A FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND doctor who has been treating Papua New Guinea tuberculosis sufferers in the Torres Strait Islands says the final patients will be handed over to their own health system in early June.

Agencies including AusAID and the Federal, State and PNG health departments have met in Cairns to discuss the transition of tuberculosis services to PNG.

Dr Graham Simpson says progress is being made to prepare for the transition.

"They've got some very dedicated people over there and they've now got access to a lot of the drugs and so on that they just didn't have before," he said.

"Things are a lot better than we probably anticipated they would get in that length of time.

"It's still going to be an unproven service but they're very keen and we've just got to wish them luck and wait and see."

Dr Simpson says the final patients not be left on their own.

"We plan to continue to have joint meetings - both sides want to have that - not clinics seeing patients but just meeting," he said.

"I hope that'll happen - alternating between meetings in Daru and meetings in Australia, so that we'll keep in touch in that way."

Degree no more


As educated as I am
Thought life would be sweet
All along as I live

Your paper is nothing
Degree no more
A lousy degree I give up

Though work in high offices
With aircon and comfort chairs
What a fool I am

Cannot pay my rents
Nor last for two weeks
No extras to buy a cigar

Hopeless, hopeless, hopeless
There is no value in me
Cannot provide enough
For the family I raise

What type of man I am
Helpless like a toddler
Think of going back home
And toil my land
Coz degree no more.

Broken home, broken life


This story is dedicated to all the youth of this great country, Papua New Guinea

NO! JIMMY HEARD A FAMILIAR VOICE SCREAMING as he waited for the bullet to hit him. He wasn’t dead, it was somebody else. But who was this person with the familiar voice?

Jimmy was two years old when his father divorced his mother.  He was a charming little boy who grew up alone with his mother in a small suburban house. His mother loved and cared for him very much, she did all she could to see Jimmy happy.

Jimmy’s father was a local policeman whom Jimmy had never met. When Jimmy turned six, his mother enrolled him in a local school. It all began when Jimmy started school.

Every day when Jimmy returned home from school, he would go into his room and cry, his mother with caring heart, would ask him, “Jimmy what’s the matter?” His answer was always the same every day, “some boys had bullied me and teased me in school.” Jimmy was always being bullied in school by big boys. His mother would encourage him and tell him, “Son don’t worry some day you will be big enough to challenge these boys.” These were the words in Jimmy’s mind when he was growing up.

When Jimmy was in his early teens he made friends with some of the local boys who lived in the same suburb. Jimmy got himself involved with drugs and alcohol; he wanted to show others that he was fit. With all these things he was doing he thought he would take his revenge, he would show others that he was as strong them, or better still; he wanted to show that he was even stronger than them. 

By the time Jimmy was sixteen, he already knew everyone in the little township where he lived. He knew the drug dealers and gangsters, and he even joined a gang.  The connection he had with the gang also gave him access to guns.

One day Jimmy borrowed a six shot revolver from one of his gang members, he told his friend he wanted to do a private robbery job, he promised his friend that if he succeeded in the job, the friend would have a share of the money, that’s how the gang operated, so the friend allowed Jimmy to use the gun.

Jimmy thought to himself, this is the time to prove to others that I am a man. I will show the boys who bullied me when I was a small boy, I will show them all that I am better than them, I am stronger than them.  With a loud bang on his room wall he said, “I will do it!” Luckily his mother was outdoors and didn’t hear the bang. 

Continue reading "Broken home, broken life" »

An initiative of PNG Attitude & our readers

Sydney - Monday 21 May 2pm - Jackson Wells, Neutral Bay
Melbourne - Thursday 24 May 4pm - Venue TBA
Canberra - Tuesday 29 May 4pm - Hotel Kurrajong
Brisbane - Friday 1 June - watch this space for venue & time
Contact Keith Jackson here to book