THE BAR WAS SET HIGH to get into our merit list of ‘most commented upon’ last month. It took 13 responses from readers to make the cut off. Never has the requirement been so great.
Why? Well, May was a month for big issues (our readers, commendably, always up for a discussion on such) – with capital punishment, the impact of Chinese businesses on PNG and Australian visas for Papua New Guineans leading the charge.
And, while neither contributor managed to hit the leader board with individual pieces, Bob Cleland’s five-part series on What did a kiap do on patrol?, with 14 comments, and my own 26-episode monster, Keith’s intimate travel diaries, with 130 responses, should also be noted.
1st= 31 comments - To execute or not to execute, now there’s a question (Peter Kranz). The robust debate throughout PNG about prime minister O'Neill's proposals to enforce the death penalty resonated in PNG Attitude. A poll we conducted amongst readers was 60:40 against the new law, but attitudes within PNG seemed to be a lot tougher than this as people are sick of the horrific crimes have rocked the country.
1st= 31 comments - Chinese businesses pose problems for PNG (Ishmael Palipal). With less than 10% of small to medium sized businesses in Papua New Guinea hands, Ishmael offered readers a strong polemic calling upon the government to enforce its own laws giving citizens preference in this sector. “These Chinese businesses should be removed from the country for they sell low quality goods, pay low wages to locals, operate filthy shops and send money out of the country,” wrote Ishmael.
3rd 26 - Julia Gillard can offer PNG one big thing – visas (Keith Jackson). Julia Gillard’s three-day visit to Papua New Guinea could have helped resolve one of the biggest thorns in the side of the relationship with Australia – to free up visa arrangements for Papua New Guineans who want to visit Australia. While the Australian PM offered some easing of business visas, and provided some weasel words around that, there was no good news for rank and file citizens. As I wrote: “This single issue is one that divides reality from Australia’s rhetoric that PNG is one of its most important international partners.”
4th 24 - Will the death penalty stop violent crime in PNG? (Albert Tobby). Albert provided a psycho-social analysis of the causes of violent crime in PNG, which many readers endorsed as a sensitive approach to a complex national issue.
5th 22 - PNG firm to recruit 800 Fijian workers for Lae-Madang (Mika Loga). This story from Fiji had our Papua New Guinean readers reacting with dis belief. As they pointed out, these are jobs that locals can do, and there are lots of unemployed locals available to do them.
6th= 14 - The young men, black and white, who saved Papua (John Fowke). John reprised an old issue, but one that deserves revisiting from time to time. “The original regiments of Australian soldiers to arrive in Port Moresby were not volunteers. They were conscripts forced into service by martial law then prevailing. As were the carriers and labourers - those many Papuan men who supported the Australian soldiers on the famous Kokoda Track, and in Port Moresby and at Milne Bay.”
6th= 14 - USA missionaries in PNG: 'I cried for a week' (Suzanne Nolan Wisler). Regular readers know that PNG Attitude occasionally republishes articles about missionaries, usually from the USA, who are about to embark on a PNG journey. Frequently these people have misconceived ideas about PNG and we publish perhaps in the forlorn hope that exposure of such misconceptions may assist remedy the deficiency. That said, we have many readers who quite like missionary stories, even if they are a bit exaggerated.
8th= 13 - Tei Abal knew that independence came too soon (David Wall). Here’s another debate that never really goes away: did Australia grant independence to PNG too early, and was this a culpable act? Amongst that generally mellow breed sometimes referred to as “old colonials” this remains a topic of lively, if highly irrelevant, debate.
8th= 13 - A Bougainvillean song to the Papuan (Leonard Fong Roka). “In a lecture here at Divine Word University, “ wrote Leonard, “we were talking about community development and people empowerment. Then the discussion turned to the marginalisation of peoples. I somehow thought of the marginalisation story in terms of the Papuan people who I see are becoming more and more powerless on their own land as Port Moresby expands and squatter settlements proliferate.” So Leonard proceeded to write some powerful poetry.
8th= 13 - Death penalty by suffocation passes PNG parliament (Danel Piotrowski). And so the debate raged on….