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157 posts from June 2012

Trawen calls on candidates to prevent fighting

RADIO NEW ZEALAND INTERNATIONAL

PAPUA NEW GUINEA’S electoral commissioner Andrew Trawen has called on election candidates to stop their supporters from fighting with supporters of rival candidates.

In the last few weeks, there have been two campaign-related killings and a number of shootings involving supporters of rival candidates in the Highlands.

The bulk of PNG’s security forces have been deployed to the Highlands well ahead of the two week polling period beginning Saturday.

Police have voiced concern about the arms build-up in the region and Mr Trawen says they are doing their best to stem the fighting.

“We did a lot of campaigning, trying to discourage people from taking up arms and accusing each other,” he said.

“But unfortunately it happened and I’d like to appeal to candidates out there to control their supporters and discourage them from fighting amongst themselves.”


Breaking the big man brand – A day with Kenneth Thomson

NOU VADA
EDEBAMONA BLOG

Kenneth Thomson election flierI CHECKED MY NEWSFEED on facebook and it was the usual; hormonal teenagers and their status updates, chronicling their fallings in and fallings out of love, in emotional and hybrid threads of Tok Pisin and English.

Among the love-sick clutter I found a thread by intending candidate for Moresby North-West Open and my Port Moresby National High School fellow alumni Kenneth Thomson.

The thread read: “Hosting a Fundraising BBQ now at the Gerehu Secondary School Hall. Everyone is welcome....!”

The thread struck me as unusual. Here was a candidate trying to raise funds for his campaign. Being a Moresby North-West native, that struck as extremely unusual and out-of-place with the “scheme of things” we in Papua New Guinea at election time have come to expect.

I have in my 21 years endured three general elections already and a by-election for the National Capital District regional seat in 2006 when Sir William Skate, the incumbent, died of heart failure.

I had never come across a fund-raising drive for a candidate in all these election experiences in the most ethnically diverse and commercialised district in Papua New Guinea.

Elections in Moresby North-West are unique. The urban road networks come to a standstill as noisy convoy competes with noisy convoy; loudspeakers, traditional dancers, messages of reform and all.

It’s the mad cacophony of the season’s carnival; its election fever in Port Moresby; of now or never sentiments and saviours of country and electorate, not foretold by prophets of old, but by posters, tarpaulin banners and rabid legions of supporter on file after dirty file of the noisy convoys.

The candidate is usually represented as the Big Man; he is the alpha-male in Melanesian society. It is hoped the notion of the Big Man will attract the confidence of potential voters.

In elections, this usually means establishing a reputation of material wealth; hence the noisy convoys – the saviour rhetoric is perhaps added for good measure.

The candidate, in order to come across as the Big Man has to be a man with money. His generosity with wealth and his seemingly depthless pockets are hoped to impress on the voters that he is the leader that they deserve.

Just like any Big Man of Melanesian old, the election candidate is an uneasy marriage of truth-telling, myth-making and mauswara. I was pleasantly surprised attending the fundraiser that Kenneth Thomson was none of these things.

At the fundraising barbeque I saw Kenneth’s schoolmates and teachers from Philip Aravure Primary School and Gerehu Primary School and Gerehu Secondary and Port Moresby National High School.

I saw youths and mothers from the Gerehu Stage 1 street where Kenneth grew up. I saw Kenneth’s family and his supporters from UPNG. Inside the Gerehu Secondary Hall, the giant mural of antiquity and modernity being bridged by two kids in school uniforms struck me as moving.

Continue reading "Breaking the big man brand – A day with Kenneth Thomson" »


Former MHA fronts up again for national election

KEITH JACKSON

WARREN DUTTON, WHO SERVED in the second House of Assembly from 1968-72, has again nominated for parliament, in the seat of North Fly where he’s lived for 50 years.

“Old but bold,” Mr Dutton says of his candidacy, hoping to resume a political career that, after the first stint, kicked on again from 1977 to 1987 and included periods as Police Minister and then Justice Minister.

He has been the chairman of Ningerum Transport Ltd since 1969 and of North Fly Rubber. since 1992. He has also played a large part in seeking to secure the development and well-being of a region often described as being the poorest in Papua New Guinea.

Mr Dutton’s policies include continuing to promote the rubber industry by building roads and providing affordable river transport where it is more efficient than roads.

With the slogan “help all people to help themselves”, he also intends to cooperate with the Western Province administration, Ok Tedi Mining and other resource development companies to provide improved services to rubber growers, vanilla growers and “all other people who are prepared to work hard for their children’s future.”

Mr Dutton says he will also work with local level government to provide development projects at village level.

Among his more expansive policies is to assist West Papuan refugees become full citizens of PNG and to insist that all outstanding land disputes be mediated as soon as possible, “so that all true landowners can participate in the development of their traditional land.”


Top politicians trade insults in lead up to poll

JOHNNY BLADES
RADIO NEW ZEALAND INTERNATIONAL

PAPUA NEW GUINEA’S leading politicians are busy trading insults as campaigning heats up for the general election.

With polling starting this weekend, the current output of PNG’s media outlets is dominated by sound bites from would-be Prime Ministers.

The man who PNG’s Supreme Court ruled was illegally ousted as prime minister last August, Sir Michael Somare, predicts he’ll retain the East Sepik seat, become prime minister again and topple what he describes as the rogue regime of Peter O’Neill and Belden Namah.

Mr Namah, who has made clear his intention to be prime minister, says Sir Michael will be lucky to come fourth in his seat and has told Chimbu voters not to vote for Mr O’Neill’s People’s National Congress Party, alleging they are thieves.

This is despite he and Mr O’Neill having signed a pact to maintain their coalition.

Subsequently, a senior PNC MP, Francis Awesa, declared that neither Mr Namah nor another leading prime ministerial candidate Don Polye are qualified to be prime minister.”


The blight on us that is the Zero Tavern

DOREEN PHILIP

THE ZERO TAVERN HAS BECOME a breeding ground for prostitution, diseases and social problems in Markham District.

Mipla sta lo Zero na kam ya” [‘we’ve been at Zero’] are the words from the drunkards returning from ‘nightshifts’ at Ngarubaruamp, which has become a hot spot for drivers travelling along the Okuk Highway.

The place is just a few minutes drive from Mutzing, near the district headquarters of Kaiapit in the Markham District.

Situated right next to the local village of Sangan lies the Zero Tavern. The place where people of all shape and sizes come to drink and find that big word ‘sex’.

It comes to life only at night. Young girls and mothers are found in tight jeans with eyes searching for money givers. Wait a minute and you will see them approaching and then off they head for the car.

These immoral activities have been going on for years now and have caused too many problems.

Many Highlanders have settled near the tavern, living in shelters which are not fit to be called houses because they looked abandoned and destroyed. Elderly women who can still make good kaukau gardens and look after pigs live in these so-called houses.

There are cases where the people steal from each other and you see them lining up in front of the Mutzing police station arguing and calling out all sorts of obscene words.

I have witnessed a case where an elderly woman from the Western Highlands was accused of stealing K500 from a man was belted her right in front of the police station, tearing her skirt and exposing the buttocks.

In another incident, the wife of man from Sampubangin, a local village, fought another woman claiming she had an affair with her husband.

Those are just some of the shows put on by the people from the Zero Traven. You see these when you come out of your house trying to catch the rising sun or strolling to the market perhaps to grab a handful of Madang buai and loose cigarettes.

It is a big concern, as students from the Markham Valley secondary school are also seen in front of the tavern enjoying themselves. Teachers have raised concerns because some students have been expelled from school.

After having a good time at Zero Tavern, the drinkers march up and down the station swearing and shouting and disturbing the peace.

My dad works there with the Department of Agriculture and Livestock, so I have been witness to all these nuisance.

The tavern is attracting a lot of people and causing an increase in prostitution and the number of sexually transmitted diseases. Young girls are engaging in sex for money causing problems for married couples and the community as a whole.

Meanwhile domestic violence is a daily activity. According to Wanti Wain, a local welfare officer, the number of women going to the office to seek advice is increasing.

In addition, there are no proper toilets built near the site and this gives rise to diarrhoea and cholera. Rubbish is found everywhere and the cooked food sold is poor and causes health problems.

The number of Highlanders settling here is increasing and the overcrowding might create conflicts between the Markhams and the Highlanders.

It is about time the responsible authorities and the Health Department stepped in and did something for the good of the local people and those living and working in the district. Migration has to be controlled and there has to be a friendly relationship between people of different cultures and traditions.

HIV AIDS is now everyone’s business and people should work together to fight against it. Domestic violence is a crime against women and needs to be addressed. Moreover, we all need respect and a friendly peaceful environment to live in.


The man who binged with Mary Jane

JIMMY APIU

Young and blissful
Oh so playful
Someone’s brother
Son, dear lover
Only this once
Then I renounce
Fly the height
High as a kite
Serenade to Mary Jane
Marry me, oh Mary Jane
Ride the sane with Mary Jane
Oh what madness
Into Darkness

AKIN TO HIS BACKDROP, which looked dull and gloomy, the lone figure reminded me of Bingmalu, a clerk come beggar I met some months back in Lae.

His face was contorted, perhaps from the hardship the city dished out to him; no one could tell, as his feeble hand stretched forth its open palm over the pathway which the town populace used each day.

Someone found it irresistible to parody the placard behind him with ‘Sick man, Seek mani [money]’.

His faded tee-shirt, displaying Australian rock band Cold Chisel, was placed neatly before him, as he bent his knees together with the soles of his feet cushioning his bottom.

A few passers-by felt it their duty to donate so they tossed coins with occasional notes onto the tee-shirt, while others were dispelled by his coughing and wheezing.

My observations were disturbed by the sound of voices, which pitched at every opportunity. I directed my gaze to its source and, lo and behold, five young girls, dressed in smart school attire were gesticulating in their own version of a Lady Gaga number with vigour.

As they passed the beggar, a petite one among them made remarks which were immediately punctuated by various exclamations of ‘True?’, ‘Oh my God!’, ‘Oh no!’ and ‘Oh please!’

I never considered myself a sensitive person, but after eavesdropping on their shocking expletives I scurried across the bitumen road to a snitchy little buai reseller from Tari, who was at the peak of his sales.

I bought two and, as I attacked the buai, offered him one so as to notch up friendship. Spitting a load of crimson red, I threw in a shaggy dog story, immediately transforming his ill-humoured expression.

I felt I was accepted in his little environment and sat myself close by, engaging in friendly banter with him, he reminded me of an information kiosk.

The conversation led to Money, Politics, and Women until I touched on Drugs, then he nudged my side to follow his glance to the beggar.

“See Tumun over there?’’ he asked.

I nodded.

“That’s your classic example of a smart kid gone insane” he said.

“How?’’ I asked.

“Marijuana.” he answered casually, pulling his stool closer to me. “I didn’t know marijuana could make one insane and look so bewildered.”

“You mean?” I was perplexed.

“Yeah,’’ he replied.

“We went to the same school together till I dropped out and he continued to year 12 and University, where he never let up and flunked semester 2.’’ He paused to serve a customer.

Continue reading "The man who binged with Mary Jane" »


Oh, Belden mate, why do this in public at all?

REGINALD RENAGI

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER Belden Namah of the caretaker government is now on a whirlwind election campaign tour of the New Guinea Islands region and is currently transiting through Manus Province.

Yesterday, the MP for Vanimo-Green took some 45 minutes to tour the Lombrum naval base.

Belden Namah wooed the ship’s company by saying something to the effect that when he forms the next government and becomes the top honcho, he will build up the PNGDF (K1 billion), RPNGC (K1 billion) and Corrective Services (K0.5 billion) respectively.

The navy boys may be smiling to themselves as they see new fast patrol craft on the horizon under the next government (possibly).

Later in the day the DPM attended a political rally in Lorengau township.

Belden Namah surprised the crowd whilst certain official speakers were still addressing them by quietly leaving the grandstand.

He was then seen being escorted by the police to the nearby Bank South Pacific.

After a few minutes inside the bank, Namah returns to the rally, mounted the stage and openly made a K100,000 cash donation to two PNG Party-endorsed candidates.

Namah told the crowd to give their support to them as they applauded this gesture, while some unhappy people called out to the two endorsed candidates, “Na u tasol? Na blo mipela wer?” [‘That’s yours; where’s ours?’]

Radio Manus reported the DPM’s visit to Manus but only refrained from what happened at yesterday’s political rally at Lorengau (especially the antics).

Former Manus MP Nahau Rooney spoke live on the Dabai radio program this morning with NBC’s Matilda Gaveva to express her disappointment about Namah's strange behaviour.

Nahau Rooney asked the question: why couldn’t the DPM do this behind closed doors?

She then appealed to all PNGeans not to put this government into office due to such antics by politicians and candidates during their election campaign.


Your muruk might be my emu – PNG motives & perspectives

PHIL FITZPATRICK

IF YOU FOLLOW LEONARD FONG ROKA’S articles and short stories about the war in Bougainville you quickly realise that what started as opposition to the mine at Panguna escalated and spread as various opportunists capitalised on the turmoil and confusion to pursue their own particular motives and vendettas which were largely unrelated to the original cause.

Many people died, not as a result of opposition to the mine but because the opportunity arose to revisit inter-clan rivalries and other frustrations under the cover of what was promulgated as a just cause.

Many of those young men roaming the countryside perpetuating murder and mayhem in the name of Bougainville autonomy couldn’t have cared less about whether the mine remained closed or not. 

Those cynical leaders directing this savagery simply saw the mine issue as a convenient excuse and opportunity to address ancient animosities.  Demonising the ‘redskins’ from the mainland, justifiably or otherwise, was part and parcel of the process.

If you read Nicholas Thomas’ excellent book, Islanders, about the impact of European incursions, settlement and colonialism in Oceania you will realise that what happened in Bougainville is a reflection of similar past events in other places in the Pacific such as Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga, Hawaii, Tahiti and Papua New Guinea.

One of the main points that Thomas makes is that those Europeans and other expatriates involved in these happenings very often misunderstood or had a completely different perspective on what was actually happening on the ground.  The locals, on the other hand, if they weren’t manipulating the situation, often had no idea that the Europeans had a totally different view of these events.

In those situations where the local people were working in concert with European officials to solve what were often completely different problems with completely different outcome expectations the only people who actually knew what was really going on were the long-term expatriate residents who had bothered to learn the language and had exposed themselves and been immersed in the local culture.

Often these people were the so-called ‘beachcombers’ or people of inconsequential rank who had, nevertheless, been accepted into local communities and were distinct from those other long-term residents who had kept apart from and remained aloof from local people.

These behavioural observations by Thomas and latterly and specifically by people like John Fowke highlight the naivety of AusAID, resource developers and other organisations sending inexperienced consultants into places like Papua New Guinea.

While many of the consultants may have vast experience in their particular fields of expertise and may have worked in other developing countries they very often have no prior experience with the particular nuances of Papua New Guinea. 

A consultant who has run an aid program in outer-Mongolia isn’t necessarily equipped to do the same thing in Papua New Guinea; indeed, such prior experience elsewhere might be a positive disadvantage.  It’s akin to putting an ex-state premier in charge of foreign affairs.

Continue reading "Your muruk might be my emu – PNG motives & perspectives" »


Whimsy politics: people, make your vote count!

JAMES GIVENS

IT IS SAID OF Papua New Guinea that it is an island of gold, floating on oil and powered by gas. Yes, we are abundantly rich in natural resources, yet the majority of the population lives in poverty. Where is the fairness?

Through the ballot box we gave our consent to dubious morons in high places who have nothing but hot air to cover the traces of their corrupt practices.

That was not our intention. These duly elected representatives turned deaf mute and deliberately pushed the boat into the uncharted waters of corruption. Billions of kina deviated. Funds siphoned off to these unproductive punks who are too lazy to earn an honest living. Getting paid for doing nothing is a crime as serious as armed robbery.

Where did go we wrong? Was it because we are illiterate or have we been ill-informed? Perhaps we should go back to the basics to unravel the mess.

We may live amongst crowned aristocrats but let us not choose to lose the common touch. It is the people who build a nation. Stretched across the length and breadth of the nation, our people seek a redemption package. The cry for a change is prevalent.

We know that every nook and cranny needs overhaul. Civilisation and progress are dependent on change. A total makeover will have a therapeutic effect and corresponding benefits.

As the national election 2012 draws nigh, the stakes are high. Let us assume the election is a massive recruitment exercise organised by a reputable company, in this case the employer is of course you and me, the eligible voters.

Our ballot choice has the ability to make or break. A valid vote gives a mandate to a certain individual who can be an asset or a liability. An asset will be the light that leads us to prosperity. A liability, caused by an erroneous vote, leaves us in the whirlpool of whimsy politics.

In preparation for the prospect ahead, the Electoral Commission and the National Research Institute should seriously consider introducing a selection criteria blueprint and make it available as a voters’ guide to choosing ideal candidates with strong emphasis on what makes a visionary leader.

At least we would have a genuine mechanism designed to eliminate white elephants and window dressing.

Once the citizens are educated and informed, every voter will have the upper hand and be able to choose candidates on merit. This would minimise the risk of wasting a valid vote on devious crooks.

Continue reading "Whimsy politics: people, make your vote count!" »


Advice to my son

PETER KEPA

This is a dedication to my children who accept things from my hands

Son
You see
I see in you
The beauty of manhood
Take the pathways
I would
Take

When
Your days
Are green with age
You will have won the crown
That many would wear
Take heed
Clean

Live
Clean life
Set your pathways
To the promised land
Everyone
Happy

See
Young one
I lived my life
Take out the good in me
You will live on
To the
Next

Death
May come
Sooner than time
A sure good step for ever
For the good ones
Pay back
Great

Peter Kepa (54) comes from Nera Gaima in Kerowagi District in Simbu Province. He is married with six children. He is a writer and compiler of curriculum material for the Simbu English Teachers Association at the Provincial Education Office in Kundiawa


Memorial to worst maritime disaster to be unveiled

RABAUL & MONTEVIDEO MARU SOCIETY

ON 1 JULY 1942, nearly 70 years ago, the Japanese prison ship Montevideo Maru was sunk by an American submarine off the Philippines and more than 1,000 Australian soldiers and civilians perished.

Next week, hundreds of relatives and friends of the men who died will converge on Canberra to attend the dedication of the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Memorial on Sunday 1 July.

The service at the Australian War Memorial will be attended by Governor-General Quentin Bryce and ver 500 other guests.

The Australian soldiers were taken prisoners of war in Rabaul in the aftermath of the Japanese invasion of the New Guinea Islands in January 1942.

The POWs were variously members of the 2/22nd Infantry Battalion, 1st Independent Company, New Guinea Volunteer Rifles along with civilian internees - officers of the Australian Administration, businessmen, bankers, planters, missionaries and merchant seaman.

Their number included relatives of some well known Australians: Kim Beazley's uncle (a builder with the Methodist Mission); Peter Garrett's grandfather (a planter); former Senate President Kerry Sibraa’s cousin; and one time Prime Minister Sir Earl Page’s brother, who was the senior government official in Rabaul.

Women and children had been evacuated to Australia in the weeks preceding the Japanese invasion and it was not until 1945 when the war ended that they learned whether their husbands and fathers were alive or dead.

About 400 Australians did manage to escape and many more died trying to do so. Some were captured and summarily executed; others died from illness and starvation, or drowned crossing fast flowing rivers.

Apart from the dedication service at the Australian War Memorial, there will a luncheon at the Lakeside Hotel on Saturday 30 June and a concert that evening by the Salvation Army's Melbourne Staff Band.


Oil Search said to be a Chinese takeover target

JAMES PATON
BLOOMBERG

OIL SEARCH, EXXON MOBIL’S PARTNER in the $15.7 billion natural gas project in Papua New Guinea, may attract a takeover bid, potentially from a Chinese buyer, the Royal Bank of Scotland says.

“We see a distinct possibility that a cashed-up Chinese major could take a swing at Oil Search,” said Philipp Kin, a Sydney- based RBS analyst. “PNG has vast potential for more gas and oil discoveries.”

Oil Search and Exxon should find sufficient reserves to underpin an expansion of their liquefied natural gas development, according to RBS. Oil Search also may sign a high-profile partner to develop fields in the Gulf of Papua region, Kin wrote.

Port Moresby-based Oil Search has started the largest drilling program in its history and is seeking supplies to support further LNG production units. The company is reviewing Gulf of Papua partnership offers, Oil Search said in April.

“Sovereign risk would probably be an impediment for any prospective buyer,” including a Chinese company, RBS said.

A spokeswoman for Oil Search in Sydney declined to comment on the RBS report.


Tricks and traps for the Aussie cops redux

BY JOHN FOWKE

I HAVE JUST READ Patrick Lindsay’s  plea for help for Papua New Guinea’s police following the senseless  murder of young  Rex John during a robbery at Laloki on Port Moresby’s outskirts .A relaunch of the ill-fated police ECP [enhanced cooperation program] was advocated.

Whilst it has long been obvious that PNG’s police need urgent help, in 2009 I penned a piece demonstrating that sending Australians whose experience and training is entirely Australian, to be mentors to PNG policemen, is not a valuable exercise. Indeed not a valid one at all except where technology and legal procedure are concerned.

The article may bear repeating, now that many in positions of influence in Canberra and Port Moresby are regular readers of PNG Attitude.

In 2009 I wrote as follows: “A new group of Australian Federal Police officers may move to PNG next year to act as advisers to the RPNGC. At the same time a comment was made to the effect that these men and women may end up sidelined due to resentment within RPNGC where there is a perception that this will be an unwanted  “neo-colonial intrusion.” (In fact something like this did occur and the operation was drastically scaled down.)

I went on to say ”if more Aussies are seconded to PNG by the AFP and regardless of the fact that PNG’s public at large as well as some sections of RPNGC may welcome this, there’s another, more insidious trap waiting, one which will be difficult to combat.”

PNG supports an inappropriately-large, expensive and inefficient Public Service, of which RP&NGC is a part. In the form it has taken over the years the PS constitutes a huge self-help shop supporting tens of thousands of government employees and their extended families, rather than a service-provider to its owners, the public.

At Tari, for instance, in 2008 there was a large, new, two-storey District Administration building. Because furniture and electrical appliances had not been supplied (what happened to the ones in use in earlier facilities?) no-one turned up to work except the unusually-dedicated District Manager, the equivalent of yesteryear’s ADC.

He brought his own table and chair and I was able to arrange a mobile phone for him. His files all lay in neat piles around the walls of his office.

The rest of the staff, of all operating departments represented at Tari except for Health, remained at home, doing no work but still drawing fortnightly salary payments.

And even at the hospital five new, AusAID-built doctors houses remained empty because no-one wanted a posting to Tari. The hospital was taken over by Medicins sans Frontieres, which runs it still, together with Angau Hospital in Lae.

The ratio of public employees to the general population is around 1 in 80. It is said that the Police service is not recruiting  and training at an appropriate rate, and that many members are approaching retirement. This is true but it is not the reason for the RP&NGC’s low level of efficiency.

Continue reading "Tricks and traps for the Aussie cops redux" »


The challenges of sea and air travel in PNG

SEIK PITOI

THE NEWS IN FEBRUARY about the sinking of the Rabaul Queen shocked the entire nation. Over two hundred lives were lost at sea. At this present time, a commission of enquiry has been held and the CEO of the shipping company, Peter Sharp, has said he is quitting industry.

In this short article, I would like to talk about my experience on the sister ship of the ill-fated Rabaul Queen - the Solomon Queen.

I am not from a maritime province; hence do not need to travel regularly by ship. I have heard stories about sea travel from many friends from island provinces, many of them quite daunting.

Last year, while completing my pre-ordination studies at my denominational seminary in Rabaul, an opportunity to experience sea travel arose.

The seminary has a program every couple of years to send students and lecturers to other island provinces for a week of studies and interaction with local United Church congregations on certain themes.

The theme for last year related to the care of the environment. I considered the topic quite important in the light of the LNG project and mining boom which, if not monitored well, can bring destruction to the environment and deprive our future generations from enjoying the benefits of their land and sea.

Teams were duly set up by faculty and I found myself in the group going to Kimbe in the neighboring West New Britain Province. I also learnt that we were to travel aboard the Solomon Queen.

There was a sense of excitement in me as I looked forward to my first boat trip, and a quiet relief that we’d be sailing just down the coast to the port at Bialla, rather than crossing the ocean to Buka, Kavieng or even to Lae!

On Tuesday morning 21 June 2011, I was part of a group of 15 students and lecturers dropped off at the Rabaul wharf. I strolled around to the side of the wharf and took a peek at the ship we would be travelling on. The Solomon Queen looked quite impressive, lying majestically at berth. I couldn’t wait to get on board.

Boarding time was 2pm, and we joined a large number of people in a shed-like building. This was where we would sit and wait until check in time, and then we’d move to the departure lounge.

As there were no chairs, we all had to sit on the concrete floor in sweltering heat. The boarding time of 2pm came and went. Then, at 4pm, the call was made to start checking in. Like cattle being herded for the abattoir, we made our way one by one painstakingly through the check point and into the departure lounge. By 5pm, we were boarding the ship.

Continue reading "The challenges of sea and air travel in PNG" »


My beautiful country Papua New Guinea

NOAH WAKAI

DAWN RISES OVER THE HORIZON of my sleeping country, the land of beauty.  The birds of different colours and voices chant out their beautiful melodies in the tree tops to the vibrant sky and spilling onto the mountains and rivers; the fish of different sizes and shapes splash and dive in the sea, praising the lord for the new day.

The first rays of the sun spills over the mountains of the highlands and in the sleeping villages comes the sound of the beating of the kundu drums from the haus man.  On the peaceful coast comes the beating of the garamuts from the haus tambarans.

There is going to be a feast, come everyone, come all of you around the world, come and witness one of the greatest feasts your eyes have ever seen, come witness the people of my beloved country show their pride, their strength, their wealth and their cultures.  It will be one of the most beautiful scenes your eyes have ever seen, we will win your heart and your soul will be lost forever in the country of no return.

O my country your beauty will forever remain in my heart, the land of many languages, different cultures and one people united under heaven.  My beautiful country Papua New Guinea the good lord has richly blessed you; there is no other place on earth that I would rather be than to call you my home. 

O my country the land of the unexpected, the land of thanksgiving, the land of honey and milk, the land of freedom, the land of peace, the land where I was born and the land I will die in.

My beautiful country the land of sunshine and rain, my beloved home Papua New Guinea, the land where I lost my heart …

Noah Wakai (17) was born in Lae of parents from Kerowagi in Simbu Province.  He is in Year 10 at Kundiawa Lutheran High School.  He enjoys reading and writing poetry, where he can express his feelings about beautiful Papua New Guinea


Walk of a lifetime

IAN DABASORI HETRI

Perception sees what reason blurs
Unceasing urgency, with an unimagined brow
Threading along the white sandy coastline of Huon Gulf
Long-lunging waves crashing in raging force

Scorching sunlight spills over the glutted sea salted leaves
Hills waver and disappear in the distance
Grains of ignited sand crack under the feet
And rumbling tummy cries in agonizing hunger

I walked on, with might of a salvaged warrior
Every step a struggle, interrogating my courage
I long to fly like the seagulls, hovering above the windy South Sea
I want to lie down and sleep forever
Like the lazy flowing Markham River

My bones are weary, drugged with numbness
My skin feels like burnt elastic sitting on fine rust nails
Stretching along the body curves that aches
Torturing spasms of weariness and thirst threatens life
My legs are giving in, answering dying prayers of my body

My heart is sinking like my feet on the sand
Pictures of decaying corpse indecorously drawn on the crumbled sand dunes
Maybe I am the next
My vision is blurry with mystical images my mind hates to decipher
Grunts and moans scribbled over the lips, but I refuse to give up

Tired, hungry and lonely, on the verge of defeat
But my mine is set. I will get there, even if I died trying
I did trying

Ian Dabasori Hetri (26) is a freelance writer from the Waria valley, sandwiched between Oro and Morobe Provinces.  He has an honours degree in agricultural science and is a candidate for a Master of Philosophy in Agriculture. But he says “forget about those papers – it is all about writing I’m passionate about”


China (and its workers) will rebuild highlands highway

FIRMIN NANOL
RADIO AUSTRALIA

PAPUA NEW GUINEA IS CLOSE to securing over $3 billion in a loan from China to rebuild and rehabilitate road infrastructure throughout the country.

Under a memorandum of understanding, China's Exim Bank will provide a 'soft loan' that will be repaid over a 30 year period.

PNG's prime minister Peter O'Neill announced the Chinese government loan in Port Moresby this week.

Mr O'Neill says his works minister Francis Awesa has struck a deal with Chinese government and Exim bank officials, who agreed to lend over $3 billion dollars.

He says most of the money will be used to fund and rehabilitate the country's deteriorating economic lifeline, the Highlands Highway.

The highway has been deteriorating as heavy traffic moving cargo and supplies for the LNG project has added more pressure to the road network.

Peter O'Neill says rebuilding road infrastructure is part of his government's policy to improve service delivery.

He says under the loan agreement, Chinese companies will be contracted to rebuild the highlands highway and construct new roads.

"With the Exim bank loans that we have been getting in the past, they prefer Chinese contractors,” Mr Oeill said.

“The Chinese loans are always … conditional to the fact that Chinese companies do the roads and the contract work.

“Many of these companies are world class companies, and they have got experience in many of these infrastructure projects all round the world.

“We are going to screen the Chinese companies properly, so that they are not just fly by night operators.”

Mr Awesa also backed Chinese firms to rebuild run down road networks in the country.

"They come good at this time, they have said any amount up to $10 billion we are more than happy to give,” Mr Awesa said.

“That's a vote of confidence, in this government and we need to move fast on this one.”

The final loan agreement is expected to be signed within two weeks time in Port Moresby.


Mobiles: the new communication drum of PNG

LISA PUNAU

I ATTENDED THE 2012 MEDIA FREEDOM DAY here at Divine Word University, where a small drama was put on by the first year students in the Communication Arts Department showing traditional ways of communicating (garamut, conch shell, kundu) and modern ways of communicating (newspapers, television, radio, mobile phones).

What interests me about this is that the introduction of modern ways of communicating has overridden the traditional ways, especially the use of mobile phones.

Most people see mobiles as something very positive in that they have taken communication to a whole new level.

However mobile phones also have negative impacts.  This may be financial, in their studies and as a cause of social problems for the students.

Mobile phones have become a distraction for students especially in their studies. Not long ago, mobile phones were limited to working people, but since the introduction of Digicel and other mobile companies, that has changed.

Today, not only the working class have mobile phones but even students.  It is now a common sight to see students walking around with mobile phones or fiddling around with their phones during class times, messaging and miscalling each other in class, some are even busy talking on the phone or texting when they are supposed to be doing their studies.

Most students end up sleeping in or are late attending classes the next day or handing in assignments. This may have an impact on academic performance in school. Thus I see that mobile phones do cause students to be distracted most times from doing their school work.

Another thing is the easy access to social media using mobile phones and the use of Facebook.

The number of Facebook users has skyrocketed because everyone wants to be on Facebook. And for students on Facebook they may spend more time on the website rather than on their school work, thus leading to possible lack of quality in research or assignments.

Facebook also causes social problems where comments and posts may cause inconveniences and the person whom the post is being addressed to may be verbally abused. People join Facebook for reasons such as they want to be like their friends, look for partners of the opposite sex, freedom of expression on any subject of interest.

Continue reading "Mobiles: the new communication drum of PNG" »


Sparkling roses: A tribute to mothers everywhere

DAVID GONOL

THE FOLLOWING POEM is very special to me. One fine day I was in my room doing my assignments while some 50 meters away from my room, mothers all throughout the city of Port Moresby were celebrating mothers’ day. Their guest speaker was the only woman parliamentarian – Lady Carol Kidu.

They celebrated their day with much energy and determination that those of us who were onlookers were forced to remember our mothers back in our respective villages. As I was pondering about my own lovely, precious, beautiful mother, descriptive words started forming in my mind.

So I started describing her as the hope for the family; someone who carries her family in her heart like a kangaroo carries her baby in her pouch. I then described how she wakes up very early each morning only to be seen in the garden.

Late in the afternoon she rushes back home after toiling in the garden to prepare dinner for the family and feed the animals. After having fed the family, she hangs around the fireplace waiting for her other family members to go to sleep so that she will be the last person to go to bed.

I further described how she keeps her house in order. She is satisfied when she sees that everyone is well fed and healthy. She is truly magnificent – a priceless jewel that can never be easily traded. However, the heart broken thing is: when she dies her chair will always be empty. No other woman – however beautiful she may be, she will never ever fit in well in a mother’s empty chair….

I read this poem to several friends of mine. Most of them shed warm tears. (Truly our mothers deserve our tears). I have one simple message I want to leave here for you: love your mother as she loves you.

Praise God for my beautiful, precious, wonderful, and lovely mother.

MOTHER

A mother is a crystal-clear spring,

Brings peace to her family.

A mother is a sparkling rose,

Brings hope to her family.

A mother is a pure white dove,

Brings joy to her family.

She always carries her family in her heart,

Like a kangaroo carrying her baby in her pouch.

She is the first person to wake up at crack of dawn,

And sees each day dawns.

She is the last person to go to bed,

So as only to wake up very early the next morning.

Each morning she makes sure that kaukau is

Always near the mantelpiece.

Each day in the scorching heat of the sun,

She always toils in the garden from sunrise to sunset.

Each afternoon she makes sure that

Food is always on the table

As ugly as she may appear to be or,

As aggressive as she may appear to be or,

As slow as she may appear to be or,

As unwise as she may appear to be;

She is still the best, for she always makes sure that food

Is on the table and house is in order.

Yet her importance is always condoned

Until when the mantelpiece is empty;

The chair is empty;

The house is in disorder.

Alas! But that is too late.

She has immersed into eternity – the land of never-return.

Warm tears may be shed and hearts may be broken,

But a mother cannot be replaced.

When she is around, she is the family’s

Crown of hope, peace and joy.

When she is gone for eternity – the land of never-return,

She leaves behind nothing but an empty chair and broken hearts

Mother, you are wonderful, loving, caring, peaceful and forgiving.

Mother, forgive me for inflicting on you an unbearable pain at birth.

Mother, forgive me for parasitizing utterly on your body as a baby.

Mother, forgive me for urinating and excreting on your laps as a baby.

Mother, forgive me for embarrassing you in public as a baby.

Mother, just forgive me for being a naughty boy.

Mother, you are a magnificent gift from God purposely for me.

Thanks mother for having a room for me always in your heart.

Thanks mother for mentioning my name each time you pray.

Thanks mother for your never-ending love for me.

Thanks mother for how wonderful you are to me.

Thanks Lord for my beautiful mother.

David Gonol is a lawyer in his third year of practice. He graduated from UPNG law school in 2009 and is now working with the court registry as an Assistant Registrar


Biggest Olympics team named for London 2012

RADIO AUSTRALIA

PAPUA NEW GUINEA will be sending its largest Olympic team ever to the London Games next month.

Eight athletes will compete in five sports including athletics, swimming, taekwondo, judo and weightlifting.

Most of those selected are currently training overseas in preparation for the games.

The team's head of mission, Syd Yates, told Radio Australia that winning a medal would be a huge achievement for the team.

"We're looking at continued improvement and personal bests," he said.

"Look if we can get a medal it would be fantastic but I think we'll just have to wait and see."


Riots in West Papua after independence activist killed

BY OLIVIA RONDONUWU
REUTERS

ANGRY RESIDENTS OF INDONESIA'S resource-rich Papua burned cars and shops on Thursday after an independence activist was shot and killed, police and human rights activists said.

A low-level insurgency for independence has simmered on Indonesia's easternmost island for decades.

Mako Tabuni, deputy of a group pushing for a referendum on Papuan self-determination, was shot dead while resisting arrest, human rights activist Markus Haluk told Reuters.

Tabuni had been campaigning for an investigation into a recent spate of shootings.

"This is not law enforcement, this is ridiculous," Haluk told Reuters by telephone from Jayapura.

"Security forces are using the excuse of law enforcement to shoot, using the classic excuse of the separatist group stigma," Haluk said of Tabuni's killing.

Police confirmed Tabuni's death saying he was shot in the hip and leg and died on his way to hospital.

News of the killing brought people out onto the streets of Jayapura and some of them torched shops and vehicles. Television footage showed police inspecting burned out buildings and smoldering cars.

Gold, gas and copper make Papua one of the richest areas in Indonesia and a hot destination for investment.

But Papua's development lags the rest of Indonesia, an ethnically diverse country with the world's fourth largest population.


Dame Carol urges constitutional reform for PNG

RADIO NEW ZEALAND INTERNATIONAL

ON THE EVE OF HER retirement from national politics, Dame Carol Kidu says she wants the new parliament to look at what she says is long overdue constitutional reform.

Dame Carol, the only woman in the past two parliaments and the outgoing opposition leader, says the need for change had long been apparent but the political controversies of the past ten months have helped focus the issues more.

She says the present constitutional arrangements are not necessarily serving the needs of the people.

Dame Carol says she hopes the new MPs will recognise there are some very challenging issues in the constitution that need to be looked at.

“About whether it is appropriate in our circumstances for the Speaker to be a member of Parliament or whether it is better to look at the Solomon Islands and Bougainville model where there is a process by which a neutral Speaker is brought in later and is not a member of Parliament,” Dame Carol said.

“We should look at things like should the Chief Justice be appointed by Cabinet. I personally have thought for a long time that should not be the case.”

She says there may also be a need for second (upper) House, to ensure greater oversight.


Foreign policy, strategic policy & electoral politics

FRANCIS HUALUPMOMI / China

FOREIGN POLICY AND STRATEGIC (SECURITY/MILITARY) policy usually play an important role in election campaigns.

However, these policies feature much less in Papua New Guinea’s political parities and candidates’ political manifestoes.

Foreign policy and strategic policy of states are two of the most important elements that define or determine a state’s coexistence and sustainability in the international system. Both feature predominantly in almost all political parties or candidates’ campaigns around the world.

Foreign policy is an explicit policy defining how a state should interact with others (state and non-state actors) in the international system to pursue its national interest. This interaction could be undertaken at bilateral or multilateral level where economic and security assume dominant roles.

The strategic policy explicitly defines the national security of the state. Security and survival of state are fundamental. A state without a defensive system expressed in terms of military power is more vulnerable to external and internal threats.

The defence/military power projection of state ensures protection of sovereignty and people from foreign invasion or other threats securitized as potential or real.

Both foreign policy and strategic policy are not the same but are closely interrelated. Foreign policy defines how a state should strategically interact to ensure peace and stability regionally or globally.

For instance, PNG’s recent UN peacekeeping contribution to Sudan demonstrates the strategic dimension of foreign policy - how our foreign policy is achieved through defence force.

The question one should be asking now is how effective is PNG’s foreign policy and strategic policy in addressing national development? What is PNG’s role in an increasingly complex web of interdependent and globalized world? How can PNG rationally position itself in the region and globally given its growing economic power consistent with Vision 2050?

These are some of the basic but fundamental questions political parties and candidates should be highly considering or addressing during campaigns.

Since independence less or if not almost all parties and candidates calculate foreign policy and strategic policy as low key issues.

Interestingly, one would find that political manifestos are mostly centred on economic, political and social dimensions, especially on leadership, good governance, corruption, law and order, economic governance and management, and social welfare; however less is featured on how they should manage foreign relations and national security.

This behaviour strongly suggests that their political advisors or strategists may have lacked understanding on these areas or are simply too ignorant.

Continue reading "Foreign policy, strategic policy & electoral politics" »


Larry Andagali’s adventures in the oil wonderland

ROWAN CALLICK
THE AUSTRALIAN

Larry Andagali.  Photo - Rocky RoeLARRY ANDAGALI IS AN OIL MAN, Papua New Guinea-style - confident, burly, articulate, big-thinking. He would feel right at home in Texas.

Just as the ranks of Australia's top business people are filling with mining and gas magnates, so it is in PNG, where a similar resources boom is under way.

Andagali is the managing director of Trans Wonderland Limited (TWL) - one of a growing number of companies founded by resources-site landowners who have translated the royalties and basic business deals awarded by the mining and oil corporations into ventures that are succeeding far beyond their usually remote home areas.

For example, Niolam Catering Services (now known as NCS) was developed out of contracts given in 1993 to landowners by Lihir, the goldmine on a small island in New Ireland province. It delivers camp management and catering services across PNG and is starting to bid for operations in remote Australian locations.

The IPI Group from Enga province, site of the huge Porgera goldmine, is involved in diverse activities through 14 subsidiary companies, which operate in Australia as well as PNG.

The name of Andagali's firm comes from the book Papuan Wonderland by Jack Hides, a patrol officer and magistrate, who wrote about his often bloody exploration of the Great Papuan Plateau between the Strickland and Purari rivers in 1935.

The title came to Andagali's mind when flying across his home province of Southern Highlands, over mountains, waterfalls and gorges down to river deltas. He thought: "This is so wonderful, and one day it will be even more so when this region is connected - and then I remembered Hides' old title and lodged the name in 2004."

Andagali was a high-school teacher first and he then worked for 20 years for Oil Search - PNG's biggest company and one of the biggest 50 on the Australian Securities Exchange. His final job at the company was as a business development manager, helping set up TWL as a landowner company with enough clout to make a difference.

He doesn't do things by halves. Last year he paid US company Western Star about $12.7 million for 40 enormous trucks to haul goods up and down the 800-kilometre Highlands Highway, which runs between the country's biggest port, Lae, and the burgeoning resources projects located in the highlands, and especially the $16.5 billion liquefied natural gas venture being built by ExxonMobil.

In mid-2009, he gathered landowner groups from across the region to establish TWL.

"We now have a very structured company. In the past, we were restricted by our own cultural differences - our many languages and our ethnic disagreements. Some of our businesses were providing good, sustainable incomes, but others were going nowhere. So we developed an umbrella structure, through which everyone could benefit from the successes and we could limit our failures."

 

Continue reading "Larry Andagali’s adventures in the oil wonderland" »


The daring Daru doings of the Mormon mission

DESERET NEWS, SALT LAKE CITY

Two LDS missionaries wait for a rescue boat on Upa Ula IslandWE WERE TOLD TO JUMP OFF THE BOAT and swim to shore because the boat might flip over, so Mormon elder Seu and I did.

We made it to shore and sat on a log near shore. We had lifejackets on which helped to keep us warm.

We both sat and looked down and wondered, ‘Why is this happening to us?’ But we remembered that all things happen for a reason.

Realising that the tide was coming in fast, we later moved further up onto land and found a spot to sleep on some broken branches and twigs.

We had no fire, no food, no water, no coverage and all throughout the night it was cold and windy and being wet from the sea didn't help.

The crew told us that we would look for help in the morning. That was the most uncomfortable sleep we had ever had.

The fact that we were wet didn’t help keep us warm throughout the night and our backs were hurting from the pieces of twigs and branches.

We woke up at 5:30 and walked three hours to the village down the coast. We managed to get some water and food then made our way back to the spot where boat was.

At around 10:30, president Meliula Fata arrived and came and hugged us. They were worried why we didn't make it.

Then we saw the boat and it had a massive hole in it from being smashed by a log and the inside was all smashed as well. We made it back to Daru safely at 2 pm.

Check out an additional post for some photos of the whole faith-promoting adventure.


PNG – The hidden army of Australians who care

MURRAY BLADWELL

Martyn Namorong loads boxes in BrisbaneWHILE THERE IS MUCH AWARENESS of aid contributions to Papua New Guinea through formal institutions such as AusAID, United Nations and NGO’s like Red Cross, CARE, Save the Children and others, there is little public exposure or recognition of the hidden millions of dollars in aid provided by charitable and non-profit organisations and individuals.

These organisations and individual donors in most cases quietly work away at providing a wide range of goods and services to PNG with little fanfare or formal recognition.

The PNG government generously assists by allowing registered donating charities to formally clear educational and medical goods through customs, duty free.

There is no known formal register of contributing charities and individuals, but a calculated guess suggests that these number in the high hundreds.

They range from service clubs like Rotary, Lions and Apex to various sporting clubs, women’s groups, numerous church bodies and a wide range of ‘friends of PNG’ groups.

One example is Rotary International, which through its Donations-in-Kind program (northern region) operating out of Brisbane, over the past 20 years, has donated goods to the value of $42.4 million dollars to PNG, Solomons, Samoa, Fiji and Vanuatu.

These were forwarded in 693 shipping containers at a cost of $1.6 million. Of these, 537 containers were sent to PNG.

Henry Bodman (ex Rabaul chalkie) clowns with MartynIn the current 2011-2012 financial year, PNG has received from Rotary 41 shipping containers of donated goods valued at over $1.5m, with shipping container costs of $95,000. 

All goods are distributed within PNG by local Rotary Clubs. There are no administration costs, all work is carried out by volunteers. The cost of container shipping comes from cash donations from Rotary clubs and business houses.

The goods are donated by a wide range of organisations such as schools, hospitals, pharmacies, other charities, business houses, State government departments and individual Australian citizens.

And these are just contributions from a relatively small number of Rotary Clubs in south-east Queensland and northern NSW - not to mention the collective efforts of hundreds of Rotary clubs throughout Australia.

The mind boggles at the potential scale of aid and assistance coming into PNG from the hundreds of other donor organisations and individuals in Australia, which must have amounted to billions of dollars over the years.

Australians do care about PNG and they contribute on a large scale. They just don’t shout about it.

Table: 20 years of PNG aid from Rotary Donations-in-Kind (Northern Region)

Pharmaceuticals (boxes)

37,658

Other medical supplies (boxes)

33,338

Hospital linen (bags)

10,293

Hospital beds

5,680

Mattresses

3,622

Wheelchairs

2,859

School desks

18,661

Books (boxes)

71,594 (over 2 million books)

Motor vehicles (ambulances, fire trucks)

16

Kit homes

4

Total value

$42.4 million

Photos: During his recent visit to Brisbane, Martyn Namorong joined members of the Rotary Clubs of Kippa-ring and Aspley at Donations-in-Kind where he helped pack two shipping containers of goods bound for Kokopo and Madang


Open letter to Uncle Murray: a city of rich darkness

MARTYN NAMORONG

Martyn Namorong and Murray BladwellDEAR UNCLE MURRAY - My Brisbane experience was a deeply personal one and in many ways, I found myself in its rich darkness. Although the last city of my Australian tour, Brisbane was the first overseas city I had ever visited when my plane transited through on my way from Moresby to Sydney.

Being the first point of contact, it shocked me. I mean, it impressed me so much I was shocked.

I can only imagine what the first contact experience of some native tribes must have been like. What I experienced during the hour I spent at Brisbane airport sums up in many ways what’s right about Australia and wrong with Papua New Guinea.

What’s right with Australia is that it has a high Lowest Acceptable Standard of conduct in society.

At first, I thought, the Qantas staff at the airport waiting to greet me were a bit overdressed.

But what I thought was a state of being overdressed was actually standard dress for the type of service being provided at the international terminal.

In many ways, the Lowest Acceptable Standard of dress by staff at the international terminal was higher than the staff at Jacksons airport in Port Moresby.

I also had my ‘Somare sandal moment’ at the Brisbane airport security check. A rather stern voice from an overzealous security woman told me to remove my cap. I wasn’t asked to remove my cap here at Jacksons. The Lowest Acceptable Standard for security checks was obviously higher in Brisbane.

These two moments, as well as the vastness of the terminal and its higher standards of service obviously indicated a general trend of a higher Lowest Acceptable Standard.

There is no reason why Papua New Guineans cannot have a higher standard of health, education, commerce and trade as well as a higher social condition.

I do not necessarily think that the regular blame factors like corruption and mismanagement are to be blamed.

PNG society in general is too passive and not making the demands that are necessary for the change so many people wish for. It is not good enough to talk about change but to demand change through whatever means necessary including where necessary, through the use of violence to make a political point.

Of course violence should be of last resort, but our people need to seriously consider it as an option as well.

Now, Uncle Murray, you did tell me that you were living in a rather well off part of the city and that I shouldn’t consider my experience with you and Joan as typically Australian.

However, even during the trip with Drug-Arm I got a sense that those in urban centres who fall through the net are kept above water by various social mechanisms.

And of course, the meeting with the Toowong Rotary Club gave an insight into what members of civil society do for each other.

Of course, PNG already has, to a certain extent, advanced social mechanisms for dealing with social relations. However, what works at the village level may not necessarily be relevant in the urban context although many have adapted into the much despised wantok system.

The multicultural nature of PNG has produced diverse responses with varying degrees of success amongst PNG’s different ethnic groups.

We Papua New Guineans don’t have a choice between choosing the past or the present. Our current reality dictates the necessity to choose the best of both worlds and to move forward into the future.

Thanks Murray and Joan for putting up with me those few days in Brisbane. As much as anything, I also found out a lot about myself and have had a renewed sense of optimism about my country’s future.

No doubt, like the students at Queensland University of Technology, the are many other Papua New Guineans who wanna change the status quo.

Best wishes, Martyn


Prime ministers! Please do more to protect precious lives

Patrick LindsayFollowing the senseless murder of Rex John, a young scholarship student of the Kokoda Track Foundation, its chairman PATRICK LINDSAY has written this galvanising open letter to prime ministers Peter O’Neill and Julia Gillard

LAST WEEK’S MURDER of student Rex John at Laloki on the outskirts of Port Moresby is a wake-up call for PNG and Australian leaders.

It highlights the urgent need for the reinstatement of the PNG-Australia policing initiative (under which Australian police helped their PNG counterparts with training, mentoring and the creation of structures for governance).

Rex was travelling to Moresby last Monday to collect his academic gown for his graduation the following weekend as a Community Health Worker. A gang of cowardly thugs attacked his bus, bashing and stabbing the passengers with bush knives and machetes. Rex died of his wounds that evening.

Rex John’s needless death robbed his father and nine brothers and sisters of a loving son and brother. It deprived his village of Naduri of Rex’s hard-won skills as their first-ever Community Health Worker. And it denied PNG the benefits of a fine young man who hoped to serve his nation in the same timeless, selfless tradition of the revered Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels.

Rex had showed the way to a better future for his nation. He was one of those quiet achievers who are the essential foundations of a healthy and sustainable society. Rex was one of the 1 out of 100 kids who start school in PNG and who make it through to Year 10.

He was one of the even smaller group who make it through to tertiary studies. Rather than being motivated by making money or becoming a Big Man in politics, Rex was determined to help his family, his community and his country by serving them as a qualified Community Health Worker.

Rex had done all the hard work. He had won a scholarship with the Kokoda Track Foundation, studied diligently and had passed his exams. He was looking forward to his graduation last weekend and to being posted back to his village of Naduri, bringing, for the first time, desperately-need medical skills to the community he loved.

PNG’s ‘Vision 2050’ Plan targets seven ‘key outcomes’. One of them is improved law and order: “Improving the law and order situation is essential to laying the foundations for socioeconomic growth and establishing investor confidence.

Adequate budgetary allocations to the RPNGC [Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary] and the broader law and justice sector is necessary to combat law and order problems.”

Last year’s Australia-PNG Ministerial Forum recognised that … “Deterioration of law and order hinders development and disrupts delivery of government services and business. It inhibits the effectiveness of development assistance; it has a serious negative impact on investor confidence and on the quality of life of individuals.”

Prime Ministers, it is time for decisive leadership. It is time for a positive response to the growing levels of violence.

PNG’s leaders must act immediately to bring Rex John’s killers to justice and they must redouble their efforts to fight against the violence that dishonours their capital city. For, until Papuan New Guineans can walk the streets of their capital without fear, PNG’s leaders cannot hold their heads high.

Australia’s leaders must also act to help our nearest neighbour to combat the deleterious effects of the violence plaguing Moresby and other PNG cities.

For it is to our lasting shame that no two neighbouring nations in the world have a greater disparity in poverty and wealth (as measured by the UN Human Development Index) than Australia and PNG.

Please join together to reinstate the PNG-Australia Police Initiative as a matter of urgency to prevent the loss of any more precious lives like Rex John.

patrick@patricklindsay.com.au

www.kokodatrackfoundation.org


Assaults on media a trend of growing concern

PACIFIC FREEDOM FOUNDATION

THERE HAS BEEN ANOTHER threat of assault against journalists in Papua New Guinea, the latest in a string of incidents that is causing concern about the freedom of journalists to operate.

Last Sunday, EMTV journalist Mick Kavera and camera operator Gesoko Adrian were on assignment at the Jacksons airport terminal to film the arrival of illegal immigrants being accompanied by members of an investigation task force.

According to Kavera, task force members spotted the media crew filming and approached them, berating them in Pidgin for "misreporting" their activities and telling them to await a formal statement.

Adrian was also told to delete all the footage shot or the camera would be broken and he would be bashed. Some time after he had deleted the footage, the task force members did an about turn, apologised and the EMTV crew was invited to resume filming and complete their assignment.

 "We commend the EMTV media crew for stepping forward and breaking the silence and urge their management to support filing of a police complaint on this and future threats to crew safety on the field," said Pacific Freedom Foundation co-chair Titi Gabi of Papua New Guinea.

She said the apology should not prevent or undermine the rule of law. "An apology is welcome and should help as a mitigating factor in a police investigation, but more than anyone the task force members will understand that this alone should not rule any investigation out."

 "What's important is that the general community and many other media workers get the point that it is criminal and illegal to walk up to journalists and any other law abiding citizen and tell them you will bash them up and break their cameras," she said.


Australian Defence Force support for national elections

DEFENCE NEWS

Unloading ballot boxes from a RAAF Hercules aircraftPERSONNEL FROM THE AUSTRALIAN and New Zealand Defence Forces are supporting Papua New Guinea to conduct a safe, free and fair national election process, expected to commence in late June.

The support mission was established following a request for assistance from PNG authorities.

About 250 Australian and New Zealand personnel will support the PNG authorities during the election period.

The Australian Defence Force is working with the PNG Government and Defence Force to provide aviation support for the elections, including transporting personnel, ballot boxes and election materials to remote locations throughout PNG.

The Royal Australian Air Force, Australian Army and Royal New Zealand Air Force will airlift personnel and equipment with fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft.

A Royal Australian Navy Landing Craft Heavy will also support the operation by delivering bulk materiel and personnel to coastal areas.

The support will conclude shortly after the election.

Assistance is also being provided by other Australian Government agencies, including AusAID, the Australian Electoral Commission, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Civilian Corps.


The last frontier of the great tuna chase

OLIVIER POLLET

 

DECADES OF OVERFISHING by the global tuna industry have now led to the final frontier - the waters of Papua New Guinea.

In the 1950s, the world was fishing out 400,000 tonnes of tuna a year. That figure is now close to 4 million tonnes. Overfishing has come at a high cost, and it is a cost paid by ordinary people whose lives are changed forever.

This human cost is now affecting PNG, one of the last places on earth experiencing the full impact of globalisation.

My 90-minute documentary film, Canning Paradise, is set in the north-eastern part of PNG, "the land of the unexpected".

It follows the struggle of indigenous tribes to protect their way of life, guarding traditions dating back thousands of years.

Many of the people have lost hope, others are fighting for survival from their own corrupt government.

They see their ancestral land taken away to make way for multinational corporations, in a quest to create the new tuna capital of the world.

But the question remains: is this type of development bringing prosperity or poverty?


Challenges facing our universities: an insider perspective

Dr Ludmilla SalondaLUDMILLA L SALONDA

THE CHALLENGES FACING the University of Papua New Guinea, highlighted in the article by Scott MacWilliam [PNG Attitude, 6 June 2012] are certainly not unique to that university.

All PNG universities confront these issues, imposed on them by factors including social, policy, economic, institutional cultural and ideological.

Some, if not all, of these factors create an extremely difficult context for universities to engage in the provision of quality higher education.  University administrators have found that administration is not sufficient. They must also be astute CEOs and managers.

I agree with the people who have pointed out that the picture painted is not sufficiently balanced by successes, as even if small, these are successes despite the many constraints. Nevertheless, the challenges are real.

All PNG universities face the challenge of attracting and retaining enough well qualified staff. A tutor with a first degree facing a teaching workload of 200 students and four units a semester is a symptom of this institutional challenge.

Academics with a PhD find they cannot devote sufficient time to research because they have to teach three units a semester from diploma to MA levels, supervise two PhD students - often on top of administrative duties.

The staffing challenge is exacerbated by policies such as localisation, well-meant but, when applied to universities, one which works against the metropolitan nature of the university organisation.

As a barrier to securing qualified staff, it denies PNG the opportunity to leverage a broad range of expertise to help develop and sustain its development.

All universities are required by regulation to provide sufficient, well-equipped and well-maintained learning and teaching resources including laboratories, lecture rooms, text books, well-resourced libraries, ICT etc.

Funding aside, here also there are policy barriers which curtail universities’ ability to explore cost efficient provision strategies leveraging ICT.

Furthermore, a number of universities are defined as businesses and made to pay corporate fees and charges.

The overall policy context is challenging but the biggest problem is funding. There is just not enough of it to sustain current operations as well as have something left over for expansion.

Continue reading "Challenges facing our universities: an insider perspective" »


Pukpuk tears

STEVEN ILAVE SNR

I went to a haus krai gathering towards the end of 2011 and was disgusted to see and hear a politician use the occasion of mourning for early campaigning. Pukpuk tears is an angry reaction against current sitting politicians who abuse our social, economic and political institutions for their own selfish ends at election time.

Election nears
At the haus krai, he suddenly appears
Preying on a mothers moment of sorrow and fears
Unable to cover his real motives with his pukpuk tears
I don’t mean to be rude;
But I see right thru you, pollie dude
You’re pathetic and crude;
Crying to me at this time all in the nude

Election nears
At the haus lotu, God he suddenly reveres
Hoping that the Almighty his resurrection prayer hears
Gloriously attired he stands next to the clergy amidst his wantok’s cheers
I don’t mean to be rude;
But I see right thru you pollie dude
You’re pathetic and crude;
Standing before Him at this time all in the nude

Election nears
At the haus moni, the public purse he continues to plunder – him and his peers
Their prized possession - the tenth land cruiser that he smartly steers
The dark tinted windows unable to conceal the “full glory” of their exposed rears
I don’t mean to be rude;
But I see right thru you pollie dude
You’re pathetic and crude;
Cruising by at this time, all in the nude

Election nears
And at the haus tambaran, the dust settles & the air clears
To show that greed rules supreme as nobody to the rule of law adheres
Same ole, same ole power-hungry faces on either side of the haus - seen it all for years
Hey, I don’t mean to be rude;
But I see right thru you pollie dude
You’re freak’n pathetic and crude;
Crawling by at this time, all in the nude!


The tradition of the pig killing ceremony

CHRIS PETER

The pig killDURING THE TIME OF OUR ANCESTORS, pig killing ceremonies were well known throughout Papua New Guinea, especially in the Highlands. 

The pig killing ceremony is usually held during bride price ceremonies, election periods and on special occasions related to traditional beliefs, but the pigs killed on these occasions are not as many as the true pig killing ceremonies of before.

In the Highlands there were two signs of a forthcoming pig killing ceremony.  The first is the cutting of trees and the assembling of firewood on hilltops. The other is the blowing of bamboo flutes. 

Cutting trees and assembling firewood was a signal to inform the leaders of every tribe to prepare for the ceremony.  The bamboo flutes were a signal for the women to dress in traditional bilas and come with bilums of food, and with pigs.  Men normally carried bundles of sugarcane and bananas into the central part of the village.

On their way, the men blew their bamboo flutes in different styles and the women sang and danced. 

The melodies from the bamboo flutes and the songs which were sung in the tribal dialect brought the different tribes together to exchange their food.

After two days or so, all the men from each tribe went to the nearby forest to cut trees and pitpit.  Women went to the grasslands and collected kunai.

With this material they built three houses: a hausman for all the tribal leaders and their followers, a hausmeri for the women and children; and finally a house used for all the pigs brought by the different tribes.

When the houses were complete, the pigs were killed. Some were given to the masalai or spirits so there would be no disturbance from them. 

When the people wanted to begin the main pig killing ceremony, they waited for fine weather.  Then they started to slaughter the pigs. 

When the pigs had been slaughtered the internal body parts - like the stomach, liver and heart - were taken by the women to a nearby creek to be washed and prepared for the mumu

The main pig carcasses were prepared by men from different tribes.  Then the raw pork was gathered with vegetables and greens, like ferns, and put into the mumu pit for cooking.

When the pork was cooked and ready, the big men of each tribe gathered and started the occasion with speeches.

They praised some of their neighbouring tribes and shamed or discouraged other tribes for not meeting expectations.  In the end they called for their friends and families to come together and share the meal. 

The pork was shared among individuals or groups according to status or by how special each person was to the owner of the meat.

Continue reading "The tradition of the pig killing ceremony" »


Unprecedented Australian help for national election

RADIO AUSTRALIA

At the ballot boxAUSTRALIAN OFFICIALS SAY they are providing an unprecedented level of help to Papua New Guinea as it prepares for this month's general election.

PNG election officials face a huge logistical challenge as they manage the difficult terrain and remote areas for the upcoming elections. 

PNG is now gearing up for its general election after a tumultuous year in politics, stemming from the long-running leadership dispute between Peter O'Neill and Sir Michael Somare over who is the legitimate prime minister.

But preparing for the election is not a task the country can handle on its own.

The country's rugged geography and poor infrastructure makes preparing for the elections a huge logistical task.

Australian Defence Force planes and helicopters are being used to fly election material and personnel around the country, while the Australian Federal Police have funded and installed a $2.5 million national communication network for local police.

AusAID and the Australian Civilian Corps are also providing training for local electoral officials.

Australia's high commissioner to PNG Ian Kemish says it is an unprecedented amount of help.

"Papua New Guinea has requested this assistance. It's important we respond to our close friend and neighbour," he said.

"It's a time when the economy is going through great transformation and great change. It's also, let's face it, been a pretty turbulent political period over the course of the last year and it's very important to Papua New Guineans that Papua New Guinea move on into new political territory where there's more clarity and more stability."

PNG's electoral commissioner Andrew Trawen says Australia's help is valuable and timely.

"This election is more crucial for us in terms of getting support from the Australian Government and also from the New Zealand government and it makes life easier. It makes our job easier," he said.

"People have gone through trying times with this political impasse and I think they're trying to get this out of the way and see new government in place by August-September this year."


The down to earth truth about Motu-Koitabu

NOU VADA
THE EDEBAMONA BLOG

Elevala - the view from Nou Vada's homeI READ WITH INTEREST Motu Koitabu people staring down barrel of a gun by my very good friend Oala Moi. Excellently written but I had some certain reservations about how the story left me feeling.

In 2007 my clan campaigned for Powes Parkop for NCD Regional in the general elections. In 2008 my clan campaigned for Miria Ikupu for the Motu-Koitabu Assembly Elections. Both Powes and Miria have failed us.

As I write this, I risk being quarrelled with in the village by Miria supporters. Well, quarrel all they want but let me say, as an educated Motu-Koitabuan living in the heart of the village of Elevala-Hanuabada (not the classy high covenant houses in the mountains but in the environmental disaster zone), that both Powes Parkop and Miria Ikupu made many promises to the Motu-Koitabu constituents, and by and large both Miria and Parkop have failed us.

When talking about politics in Motu-Koitabu we must be weary of creating heroes out of people who have failed the Motu-Koitabu people. I’ll save this rationale for the last part of this piece.

But there is a danger that the truth about Motu-Koitabu, in this age of information, will be forgotten by grand delusions, and grander still generalisations. You have to be in the village, be in the heat of the buai stall nohobou, to understand where I’m coming from.

Miria Ikupu promised change for Motu-Koitabu in 2008 in his successful effort to be elected chairman of the newly legislated Motu-Koitabu Assembly. I remember that powerful rally, where at the end we all sang Eda Tano, and my heart grew heavy with pride; that this was the time Motu-Koitabu would rise.

We sang the opening line “Papua oi natumu a haodia…” and I could feel tears in my eyes. It was a plea for the people of Papua to awake and arise. Miria Ikupu, we thought, surely Miria Ikupu was the man who would lead the emancipation of Motu-Koitabu.

By 2011 ordinary Motu-Koitabuans had grown sick of what they saw as the arrogance of a Motuan elite, calling the shots as they pleased, to the disdain of Motu-Koitabuans everywhere.

I accept Miria Ikupu’s reasons for running for Moresby North-West. There have been legal arguments made for and against. I did some research and concluded that it was a case of uncertainty against uncertainty, and at the end, it was the grey areas, much to the delight of the legal professionals that were paid handsome sums with the people’s money for their opinions, that skewers the legal arguments in favour of Miria Ikupu.

Right now the man is on leave of absence from a statutorily enacted sub-legislative and executive body; a quasi local-level government. He is on leave from an office he was elected to represent for five years, and he is trying to run for another elected office.

We understand from chatter with members of the Motu-Koitabu Assembly that he will resign the chairmanship as soon as he wins the Moresby North-West seat. If he loses it will be business as usual at MKA for the chairman.

Continue reading "The down to earth truth about Motu-Koitabu" »


David Martin: entrepreneur, newsman or jumping jack?

AXEL G STURM
EUROPEAN SHAREHOLDERS OF BOUGAINVILLE COPPER

 

THIS VIDEO WAS POSTED on YouTube by a Dr David Martin, the CEO of a minor financial service provider called M-CAM, based in Charlottesville, Virginia in the United States of America.

Over the last a couple of months, Martin has been in Bougainville organising so-called landowner awareness meetings.

Everywhere Martin appears he refers to his academic “Dr” degree to impress locals. Usually Americans don’t usually do this unless they suffer from inferiority complexes.

Martin has neither a stake in Panguna nor is he, as far as we know, a Bougainville Copper (BCL) shareholder. Without any insider knowledge he presents himself as the landowners’ saviour.

His experience is influenced and supported by jobless former Me’ekamui rebels who pose with guns, and some few other people.

His latest “coup” has been to publish the video on YouTube. Like a jumping jack he runs around on the road to the Panguna mine site and accuses BCL and its shareholders “of being ignorant and not respectful to the people’s voice”.

It is obvious that Martin has never heard of BCL’s and the ESBC’s hard work to reconcile with all parties concerned.

He also is not aware of the widespread jealousy in Bougainville and has not read about money that has been embezzled by PNG officials in the past.

On the ground, Martin is accompanied by Lawrence Daveona, who was on ESBC’s payroll for many years.

Just recently, Daveona was ousted as landowner secretary and spokesperson, allegedly because of disrespectful behaviour. Daveona is also known for pursuing his own agenda, which has had the effect of undermining the work of his fellow landowners. Sad, but true.

Nobody really knows Dr Martin’s real intentions. There is some feeling he might be connected with interested American investors.

Just before the Bougainville crisis started, the US Pritzker Group had shown interest in taking over BCL.

It can be assumed that Martin does not work just for nothing. So who is behind all this? Who funds all his travel to PNG? Who pays for his activities on the ground?

Is Dr Martin a lucky charm or is he one those folks on Bougainville who appear and disappear from time to time?

One thing is unlikely, that David Martin is the Panguna landowners' Mother Theresa.


Call for action against conservatism in sex education

RADIO NEW ZEALAND INTERNATIONAL

PAPUA NEW GUINEA’S ONLY WOMAN MP is calling on Pacific Island countries to rally against religious conservatism to ensure young people can make informed decisions about sex and pregnancy.

(See also Werner Cohill’s recent article in PNG Attitude.)

Dame Carol Kidu was among several Pacific politicians attending the New Zealand Parliamentarians’ Group on Population and Development’s annual meeting, this year focusing on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of Pacific adolescents.

Dame Carol said the churches are a greater force than politics in many ways but politicians must be prepared to take them on.

“The religious conservatism, we’ve got to work at it subtly and gently, I know,” Dame Carol said.

“But we have to move fairly fast because there are people dying, there are people dying of HIV who should not be dying because they’re too ashamed to go and get treatment - it shouldn’t be happening, young people, good young people.”

Dame Carol Kidu said indigenous leaders need to find religious champions and give them the courage to stand up for their beliefs.


Many MPs in PNG have wasted the people's money

JOE WASIA

IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA political candidates, especially in national elections, come up with constructive and attractive policies to be elected to parliament. However, from experience, people PNG have seen they are goats in sheep’s coating.

They have never done anything to develop the country. The lifestyles of the people have never changed. About 75% of all Papua New Guineans are still living in rural areas where there are no basic infrastructure services like health, education and roads.

I was sad to see the attitude of people living near Lake Kutubu in the Southern Highland’s – in the Nipa-Kutubu electorate. When I asked around the villages about the 2012 general elections, they said they have nothing to do with it.

They attached no importance to voting as none of the successive MPs had done anything for them. I think similar stories would be told by people in other parts of PNG.

So how much have MP’s done for their people? They should have done a lot. After all, many millions of kina were given to each MP under the district services improvement program over the last three years.

This is a big shame for the elected MPs. They have been feeding on people’s money by investing overseas and diverting funds into their personal accounts.

A few corrupt practices have been identified by the Ombudsman Commission, Task Force Sweep team and police investigation teams, but most money is still unaccounted for – probably never to be seen again.

We pray that such greedy and self-centered leaders will not be returned in this election. This nation is for God and not for devils.

Joe Wasia is a former president of the Enga Students Association at Divine Word University


Museum botanist finds undiscovered plants in PNG

SHEILA SARHANGI
HONOLULU MAGAZINE

James with some of the Bishop Museum's Herbarium collectionWHEN SHELLEY JAMES BROKE HER ARM in the bush of Papua New Guinea, a dreadlocked, tattooed medicine woman carefully wrapped stinging nettle leaves around her skin to create a poultice.

James, originally from Australia,  was a two-day hike from the pick up point and her plane wasn’t scheduled to arrive for three days after that.

“The plant has stinging hairs that release an irritating poison,” says James, rubbing her left arm, which is still pink from the cast.

“The leaves increased the circulation of blood flow so I didn’t get as much swelling as I would’ve if it was left untreated.”

James didn’t need convincing of the woman’s know-how or the plant’s coaxing powers. She’s an associate botanist in Hawaii’s Bishop Museum and for the past two years has led scientists on expeditions to remote forests across the country.

The project aims to discover new plant and animal species in one of the most species-rich countries in the world.

James’ focus is on vascular plants, which have only begun to be cataloged in PNG. Experts speculate there are between 11,000 and 25,000 species in the region, but that’s a wild guess.

The reason: PNG is not an easy place to do research. It’s expensive, extremely humid (which affects samples), and its diverse geography can make regions hard to access.

But documenting species can help identify priority areas for conservation and lead to medical breakthroughs. “There could be medical chemistry associated with some of these plants that could help fight cancer or AIDS,” James says.

The team hires local community members who help collect samples, share knowledge of where species are located, and cook and set up camp.

“In the villages everyone stares a lot; they’re just curious about what we’re doing and why we’re so interested in their plants,” she says.

Stinging nettle reduced swelling of Shelley James' broken armWhen James broke her arm, several women gathered around her while she was being treated with the nettles [left]. “They were all bawling their eyes out with sympathy for me,” she says. “It was sweet.”

Why does she do it? “I’ve been in some hairy situations, but I love the field work. It’s just one big adventure.”


Motu Koitabu people staring down barrel of a gun

OALA MOI

Port Moresby - first settled by the Motu-Koitabu people

CONSTITUENTS OF THE MOTU KOITA ASSEMBLY in Papua New Guinea’s National Capital District are staring down the barrel of an executive and legislative gun.

For most, if not all the people, this may be their last chance because the PNG government is now set on uprooting them from their homeland to make way for Port Moresby’s expansion.

In May, the O’Neill-Namah government approved for the port to be relocated from Port Moresby Harbour to the Tatana village and Napanapa oil refinery precincts.

National Capital District governor Powes Parkop had also previously ordered his Physical Planning Office to develop local development plans covering both government and Motu Koitabu land, an area covering Kaevaga/Poreporena, Huhunama/Tovabada, Napanapa/Daugo Island, Taurama South, Taurama/Dogura South, and Dogura North

Successive Motu Koitabu generations have inherited problems created by bad land alienation policies. And the actions of the national and the metropolitan governments are the latest in a long line.

If this had occurred in the Highlands region, the outcome would be obvious. But here in the nation’s capital, our peace-loving nature has got the better of us and our eregabes (youth) are becoming restless. Most of them are disoriented, unemployable and destitute. And they are landless, hungry and angry.

For most of the Motu Koitabu people, Governor Parkop is a chameleon. He says one thing to us; but behind us he says another. In fact, behind us he is detrimental.

In May he attended a gathering of Motu Koitabu people at the University of Papua New Guinea and admitted he had failed them. This is honourable but it is too little too late.

Not many people know that, when he visited Motu Koitabu voters in 2007, he promised justice for Motu Koitabu people. At the time it was a significant statement coming from a human rights lawyer. The people bought it hook line and sinker.

Motu Koitabu constituents represent some 10% of NCD’s total voter population. Therefore, these people alone cannot vote in their own candidate unless that person can canvass both Motu Koitabu and non-Motu Koitabu voters.

The Motu Koitabu people may have the Motu Koita Assembly. But as the years go by, it has become obvious that it has become a political compromise that gives mere lip service. Unlike the National Capital District and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, the Motu Koita Assembly is toothless.

Why has the National Government co-operated with NCD and Bougainville governments over the years and not Assembly chairman Miria Ikupu? Motu Koitabu people have been left to guess the answer.

One possibility is that the Assembly is not a creature of the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Government. Therefore, it cannot attract the type of funding and respect that is enjoyed by other provincial governments and local level governments.

Continue reading "Motu Koitabu people staring down barrel of a gun" »


Bringing the power to Faseu (until the next flood)

FERGUS WOODWARD
SCOOP INDEPENDENT NEWS

SP billboard near Port Moresby airportTHE FIRST TIME OUR CHARITY FLEW into Papua New Guinea, amateur bandits ambushed the car on the pot-holed road between Port Moresby International Airport and the centre of town.

This trip in was smoother; there were no wild west stick ups. Just a landscape of curiously abandoned fences, pointlessly marking out a patchwork of scrub and ash.

My final destination was Faseu, a small village buried in jungle, on the edge of the highlands. I had come with two other members of my Auckland based charity - an emeritus professor of engineering from Auckland University and a civil engineer from Watercare.

Our previous trips had involved taking medical supplies and surveying sites; now we had come to complete a small hydro-electric dam which would power lights and electric tools for the villagers.

But before any engineering work, before any travel to remoter regions untainted by functioning road networks, I had to pass through PNG's international artery of Port Moresby.

Several weeks earlier I had seen a news program which rated it the world's most dangerous city. It certainly seemed that way when I arrived. I was staying in one of the more up-market areas of town at an Australian expat's place, who was helping our hydro-electric work.

Four metre high walls topped with razor wire, barred windows, sentries at night, and guard dogs so vicious they couldn't be let off their chains at day all spoke volumes about the security situation in Port Moresby.

That first evening, as I watched scrub fires race along the parched hills across the valley, my host's beautiful indigenous wife Yusigao, explained it too me. You know, those fires are lit for no reason, she told me. Same as the violence outside, it is just raskols with nothing to do.

I'd heard the raskols of PNG described as a gang. But describing them as a gang credits far too much coordination. There are gangs, sure, but raskols refers to the impoverished, alienated individuals behind the opportunistic, relentless and shockingly violent crime in PNG.

Cooperation between large groups of criminals for the perpetration of some of the world's highest incidences of rape and murder is made difficult by the hundreds of tribal divisions that exist on the island.

Tribal differences run deep, and each tribe has its own distinct language that is totally unrelated to the language spoken by the tribe in the neighbouring valley. Combined with insular cultural traditions and scarce resources, the outcome today is that mass cooperation of any sort can difficult in PNG.

Political corruption along tribal divisions is endemic. Seeking support from the PNG government for our charity’s projects was pointless - most government funds received by a bureaucrat would be siphoned off to their wantoks.

Continue reading "Bringing the power to Faseu (until the next flood)" »


The fifty kina house

Ian HetriIAN DABASORI HETRI

AFTERNOONS IN THE HIGHLANDS of Papua New Guinea are characterised by a special kind of light.

In the mid-afternoon, the light softens, dimmed by a golden then mauve haze. The tree–lined streets littered with betel nut spit, cans and bottles. Shopping plastics scattered, some swept up in mounds against fences and gutters, others swirling in eddies. I lived in the heart of Kainantu town with my Dad, who works with PNG Power.

Like any other highlander who had never been to the coast, I dreamt of seeing the sea and sailing ships. I had worked very hard to save enough money for my trip. I had decided to spend my holiday with my uncle, Peter Angra, a renowned business man in Lae.

One afternoon I went as usual trip to sell my cabbages. The weather was chilly. I walked past the gate and headed to the nearest village on the outskirts of town. My family and clan were well known so I feared noting.  It was almost dark and I wanted to be indoors but had to sell the remaining cabbages.

I decided to visit the house of an old man and woman. I didn’t know this couple well but, who knows, they might have children in town who had sent them money. They were too old to garden so they might buy my cabbages. I gave a knock on the door.

A small, spritely woman with startled eyes answered. I could tell immediately she was the sort of person who was happy to talk to anyone. If she knew them, then good for her; if she didn’t she would prattle on all the same. But I didn’t mind.

She invited me in. When people open their doors to me, I always feel privileged that I am allowed a glimpse of their lives. It was an aspect of my selling activity I enjoyed most.

The passageway was dim. Unlike the common highlands round house, this was more rectangular. I could smell kerosene from a burning lantern. The house had two partitions connected with a walkway in between.

As my eyes adjusted to the light I became aware of K50 notes, hundreds of them, all over the walls. The woman ushered me into a room where the smell of kerosene was much stronger.

An elderly man huddled in a cane chair near the orange glow of the lantern. He offered me a creaky old chair. His voice sounded weary and his eyes, unlike of his wife, were dull.

This room was also filled with K50 notes - all over the walls and on his table. ‘Do you save all your K50 notes?’ I asked, thinking this was certainly one of the oddest houses I had ever been inside.

‘Oh no!’ said the old man.  ‘I couldn’t do that; it would make me and my wife very poor’. ‘Life would be cruel if we did, wouldn’t it?’

I looked closely. The K50 notes were artistically painted. Some were cut out from advertisements in newspapers and magazines.

Continue reading "The fifty kina house" »


Seasonal seducers

Drekore_JimmyJIMMY DREKORE

The season has come
They will come

They are seasonal seducers
Coming in flashy cruisers

Escorted by disciples
With deceiving principles

They smile
That royal smile

They wave
That majestic wave

They take the stand
The grand stand

They tell you
They’ll fight for you

They tell you
They’ll bring service for you

They tell you
They’ll build this for you

Build this...
Build that...

Bla bla blaaa

How can they fight?
When flying like a kite

How can they bring service?
When buying votes is their service

Look at the sole of your feet
It is all written in it

Don’t listen to these seducers
Coming in tinted cruisers

They don’t walk
They only talk

So don’t be fooled


My beautiful country Papua New Guinea

NOAH WAKAI

Wahgi sunriseDAWN RISES OVER THE HORIZON of my sleeping country, the land of beauty. In the tree tops, birds of different colours and voices chant out their melodies to the vibrant sky.

As the rivers flow from the mountains, fish splash and dive in the sea; praising the lord for the new day.

The first rays of the sun spill over the highlands mountains and into the villages comes the sound of the beating kundu drums from the haus man.  On the coast there is the beat of the garamut from the haus tambaran.

There is going to be a feast, come everyone, come all of you around the world, come and witness one of the greatest feasts your eyes have seen, come witness the people of my beloved country show their pride, their strength, their wealth and their cultures. 

It will be one of the most beautiful scenes your eyes have ever held; we will win your heart and your soul will be lost forever in the country of no return.

O my country your beauty will forever remain in my heart, the land of many languages, different cultures and one people united under heaven.  My beautiful country Papua New Guinea the good lord has richly blessed you; there is no other place on earth that I would rather be than to call you my home.

O my country the land of the unexpected, the land of thanksgiving, the land of honey and milk, the land of freedom, the land of peace, the land where I was born and the land I will die in.

My beautiful country the land of sunshine and rain, my beloved home Papua New Guinea, the land where I lost my heart …

Noah Wakai (17) was born in Lae and comes from Kerowagi in Simbu Province. He is in Year 10 at Kundiawa Lutheran High School. He enjoys reading and writing poetry, where he can express his feelings about Papua New Guinea


Mummy

RAMIA ZILLAH TAKIN

There is no word or adjective in this whole universe that can describe how elegant my mum is.  She is like the atmosphere that protects me from danger.

She is worth over a million diamonds and I can’t replace her with a million rings.

She is like a torch, if I don’t follow the light I will get lost in darkness.

Mummy you will always be treasured in my heart and I will never let you go.

Ramia Zillah Takin (11) was born in Port Moresby.  he is in Grade 6 at Gordon International School and enjoys reading, swimming, air guitar, cooking, shopping, singing, dancing and science


Ocean floor is prime target of mining industry

PHIL MERCER
VOICE OF AMERICA

Nautilus systemTHERE HAS BEEN A NEW CALL for the incoming government in Papua New Guinea to stop the Canadian mining company Nautilus from going ahead with a deep sea mining project.

The first commercial deep-sea mine is expected to begin in PNG next year.

Conservationists say most mining projects in the country have been an environmental disaster. In recent years, there has been a rush by companies to explore the sea floor for concentrated deposits of valuable minerals found around hydrothermal vents.

The next great frontier for the mining industry could be hydrothermal vents that lie deep on the ocean floor. The super-hot flues create deposits of sulfide, which contain precious metals such as gold, silver, copper and zinc.

Chris Yeats, an ore deposit geologist at Australia's state-sponsored scientific and research organisation, CSIRO, believes that plans by Nautilus Minerals, which has a license to mine sulfide on the floor of the Bismarck Sea off PNG, will be safe and productive.

"The activities that Nautilus are proposing are something like plowing a field or raking your garden, that you're, you're, you're stirring up the environment, but you're not fundamentally changing it," said Yeats.

Nautilus has not commented on its plans, nor on calls for authorities in PNG to abandon the deep sea project, which would involve sophisticated marine technology.

Stefan Williams from the University of Sydney's Australian Center for Field Robotics is helping exploration companies peer into the dark depths of the ocean.

His work on vehicles capable of high-resolution surveys of the sea floor is casting light on a mysterious world.

"There's not a lot down there. It's kind of a big, muddy flat plain for the most part but then you come across some weird and wonderful sea life, things [you] just don't know what to make of - pretty astounding," explained Williams.

Seabed mining used to be far too expensive to be worthwhile, but there are concerns from conservationists that advances in technology, making mining more feasible, pose a threat to the world's oceans.

The success or failure of the Nautilus deep sea project is seen as crucial to the future of deep-sea mining, according to Charles Roche, executive director of the Australia-based Mineral Policy Institute.

"This is not going to be a bonanza," said Roche. "It is going to be a very small mine actually, especially compared to some of the larger terrestrial mines. It's really a trial mine.

“It's an experimental one that the locals in Papua New Guinea like to call it that they are guinea pigs. So really this is about proving the technology and the concept.”


As porn increases, so does the need for sex education

Werner CohillWERNER COHILL

SOME YEARS BACK there was an advertisement on EMTV about awareness of condoms.  A doctor appeared during commercial breaks and spoke explicitly about safe sex through their use.

While watching the popular CHM Making Music program each Thursday evening, or during the Friday night football, commercial breaks were switched off by many people to avoid viewing this advertisement.

Quite recently, it was reported in one of daily newspaper that a student from a named primary school in the nation’s capital was suspended from classes. He was caught by his teacher watching porn during class time on his mobile phone.

These two cases exemplify how important sex education is for our young people.  It is imperative that they receive such education. in the long run, its absence is not good for their health and physical well-being.

There was huge public resentment towards the condom ad.  Concerned people were in total disagreement as they thought it was morally and religiously wrong for it to be viewed by children.

The newspapers and the local radio stations became the venting forums for people to express their frustration, make known their views and opine on the effects this advertisement would have on the young people. 

Fortunately the doctor was not harmed but the gossiping world disliked him.

He later proved critics wrong by representing PNG in international engagements, notably in Timor Leste and becoming PNG’s top health administrator. I admire him to this day.

As for the latter ,there were no public commentaries on the general conduct of young people accessing pornography.

The debate on whether it is worth having sex education in primary schools has never been had at length.  Obviously the age factor has limited advocacy.

My argument is not to teach students about sex alone, but rather broaden their mindsets about the dangers, what they need to know, and how to deal with issues.

When the topic of sex education pops up in discussion on the streets, at school and among peers, the obvious topic is about sexual pleasures or encounters.

But there is more to the topic than this shallow and immature understanding.  The definition of sex education refers to teaching about the different sexes, the relationships between opposite sexes, the importance of sex, the reproductive system and related issues and challenges. 

According to Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, the executive director of the UN Population Fund, sex education is like teaching people how to drive by telling them in detail what is under the bonnet, how the bits work, how to maintain them safely to avoid accidents, what the controls do and when to go on the road.  It is all about the mechanics.

Continue reading "As porn increases, so does the need for sex education" »


PNG Attitude’s most commented upon articles in May

KEITH JACKSON

MAY WAS ANOTHER BIG MONTH for PNG Attitude’s army of commentators, who keep our contributors honest and our readers enthralled.

Political events in Papua New Guinea confused Bob Carr (not our commentators) but not even Belden Namah could stop the national elections, now just a couple of weeks away.

And Martyn Namorong embarked on his Take the Truth to Australia Tour, electrifying the hundreds of people who met him and the many more who heard him on radio and television and who read his revelatory Melbourne Age article on the Australia-PNG relationship. The tour was made possible by the generosity and foresight of PNG Attitude readers.

The Crocodile Prize national literary contest, which wound up at the end of May, continues to provide some first rate writing and unearthed a bunch of new literary talent in PNG. The prize is another PNG Attitude initiative that continues to bear fruit, and we also thank the PNG Post-Courier and the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby for their seminal roles in this great project.

And so to the stories that, in May, drew the most active interest from readers:

1st (20 comments) A salute – and a caveat - to the activists of PNG (Martyn Namorong). “Activists, we salute you for your courage. You are doing a great thing by showing the government the people have a voice – that O’Neill and the whole parliament have forgotten that they are accountable to us.” It was a big month for PNG’s best known blogger. Just before he left on his Australian tour, Namorong was part of a collective that organised a 10,000 person protest against the PNG government’s threat to defer national elections and a protracted attack on the judiciary.

2nd= (15) Australia not a good friend: Namorong in 'The Age' (Martyn Namorong). “I'm on my first visit to Australia right now - and what an introduction to your country. A two-week run of four major cities where I'm meeting politicians, journalists and ordinary Australians.” And serving it up to a dilatory Australia where he thought the criticism was deserved.

2nd= (15) What my fathers taught me: a tribute (Emma Wakpi). The scourge of male violence against women is one of the big issues facing PNG society. Here Emma reflects upon the male influences in her life and is able to offer a heartwarming story of love and dedication to family.

3rd (13) Diplomatic ruckus: envoy tells off Aussie journo (Douglas Marau). PNG’s high commissioner to Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, Brian Yombon-Copio, refutes claims by Australian freelance journalist Susan Merrell that his explanaton of events in PNG was anything other than correct and proper.

4th= (11) Catholic church attitude on condoms promotes misery (Peter Kranz). With PNG having one of the most serious HIV/AIDS epidemics in the Asia-Pacific, the Catholic church is urged to address issues of common humanity and get off its high horse.

4th= (11) - Namah: Feathers fly as the point man weighs in (Hamish McDonald). “PNG has seen plenty of political wild men – but has there been anything like Belden Namah, the present deputy prime minister?”

4th= (11) Namah says he'll nominate O’Neill to be PM (Eoin Blackwell). After the deputy speaker unexpectedly threw open prime minister’s position, Belden Naamah said he’d back incumbent Peter O’Neill. But will ti be the same story after the elections?

7th= (10) - PNG’s ‘phantom poets’ – is this Ern Malley revisited? (Russell Soaba). One of its top literary figures exposes the blight of pseudonyms that inflicts PNG writing, often used to cover up scurrilous attacks, especially on social media and in The National newspaper.

7th= (10) Plesman's postscript to the political impasse (Nou Vada). “We will go to elections. Not even Somare can stop the elections... and if he does, I will gladly take to the streets again to remind them that it is my right to vote.” One of the organisers of the 10,000-people protest reminds the politicians that the people can be boss if they organise.

Continue reading "PNG Attitude’s most commented upon articles in May" »


Ameliorating the current crisis in PNG

GEOFFREY ALACKY

THERE IS NO DOUBT that the party political system of the 21st century is constantly failing humanity in terms of effecting real human development on the ground.

The politics of black suits and red ties has become a deficient system that only operates on a level of analysing the problems of communities without bringing any real solution. To use Jude's words, party political systems have become like 'clouds without rain' (Jude 1:12).

PNG like Solomon Islands is, without doubt, a victim in this process, because although party political systems may have led and coordinated the struggle against colonisation, they have tended to lose vision when it comes to effecting development.

This necessitates our searching for a new political model that must produce more effective governance for 21st century humanity.

We have got to rise as philosophers and architects to lead that process of searching, defining and advocating this new political framework.

If our political process is driven by a few good leaders with the majority of passive citizens only begging for help; then we can be sure that our national development process will not be sustainable.

The complexities in the 21st century make the guru political model insufficient; this guru political model is partly responsible for the demise of the PNG and Solomon Islands.

Every citizen must be trained to roll up their sleeves and participate in the unfolding of national agenda.

The issue of defining our political destiny demands that we proactively and collectively rise up as the church to describe not only the future that we see, but also the correct pathway that shall help us realise such a future.

Defining a future is also defining a process; for we must allow the nation's vision to define and dictate our developmental process.

This issue of defining a process must be accompanied by a disciplined leadership and followership; a leadership that is able to keep the nation within the constraints of an identified process.

Pastor Geoffrey Alacky is chairman of the Solomon Islands Full Gospel Association in Honiara