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92 posts from September 2017

The West Papua dilemma: Rockefeller and the demise of Ibu Pertiwi

Rockefeller And The Demise Of Ibu PertiwiKERRY B COLLISON

Kerry Collison is an author and Asia desk foreign correspondent for Washington’s Defence and Strategic Affairs. You can find out more about his books here. Kerry's latest book ‘Rockefeller and the Demise of Ibu Pertiwi’ will soon be available in hard copy and as an ebook

IT was towards the end of my tour at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta when, in 1969, West Papua became the twenty-sixth province of Indonesia after the so-called ‘Act of Free Choice’ sponsored by the UN saw the transfer of official administration from the Netherlands to Indonesia.

I have found in my travels that few understand the history of West Papua, and concerned with the growing number of nations voicing their support for the United Nations to revisit the flawed plebiscite, I decided to write this story, part-fact, mostly fiction, in an attempt to offer an insight into a scenario that could bring Australia and Indonesia into conflict.

Continue reading "The West Papua dilemma: Rockefeller and the demise of Ibu Pertiwi" »

And the winner is…. strong response to Blues Brothers contest

Blues Brothers - Turnbull & O'NeillKEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – Our first caption competition saw more than 50 enthusiastic readers produce some hilarious entries to represent what Malcolm Turnbull and Peter O’Neill might have been saying when this photo was taken at the recent Pacific island leaders’ meeting.

So let me take you through what I considered to be some of the cleverer and more humorous entries before coming to the grand champion (and a note about the next contest).

Lisa Kune was right up to date with this imagined exchange:

Turnbull: “How's your government stability these days?”
O’Neill: “At least my opposition can be bought.”

Continue reading "And the winner is…. strong response to Blues Brothers contest" »

Ex-kiap & former Queensland MP Bruce Laming dies at 79

Bruce Laming & wife Estelle after a successful early political campaignBILL HOFFMAN | Sunshine Coast Daily | Edited extracts

MAROOCHYDORE - Bruce Laming launched his career in public life at 42 off the back of a kaleidoscope of life experiences, including service as a kiap in Bougainville and the Papua New Guinea highlands.

Mr Laming would eventually play a role in the shaping of some key players in conservative politics in Queensland.

By the time he passed away on Monday after a long battle with dementia, former MP for Mooloolah and Landsborough Shire councillor, Bruce Laming, had not only established his own legacy but had helped nurture those of his son Andrew, the Federal Member for Bowman, and many prominent Queensland politicians.

"It's a very sad day," said Liberal Senator Mr Wallace. "The LNP has lost a great trooper. He was one of life's gentlemen."

Continue reading "Ex-kiap & former Queensland MP Bruce Laming dies at 79" »

I’m concerned about Sam Basil, who called O’Neill “spineless”


Sam Basil
Sam Basil - what happened to the honour, the principle?

KUNDIAWA - The speculation surrounding Sam Basil and his Pangu Party convening a secret meeting to join the Peter O’Neill’s government finally became a reality on Monday when nine Pangu members and four independents from the opposition moved to the government side.

The Pangu MPs who joined the government are Sam Basil (Wau Bulolo), Kobby Bamarea (Tewai-Siasi), Kennedy Wenge (Nawaeb), Thomas Pelika (Menyamya), Konnie Iguan (Markham), Chris Nangoi (Sumkar) and William Samb (Goilala).

The four independents are Robert Agarobe (Central), Lekwa Gure (Rigo), John Rosso (Lae), Moriape Kavori (Lufa) and Henri Amuli (Sohe).

Politics in Papua New Guinea is always fluid and unpredictable. Something occurs now and later the exact opposite can happen.

No one had ever imagined Sam Basil would marry Peter O’Neill who seemed to contradict all that Basil stood and fought for – including good, prudent, honest and transparent governance.

Continue reading "I’m concerned about Sam Basil, who called O’Neill “spineless”" »

Basil has moved to the government that has wrecked PNG

Mekere Morauta (2)SIR MEKERE MORAUTA

PORT MORESBY - Sam Basil’s decision to move to Peter O’Neill’s government, along with other MPs from the Alliance, is extremely disappointing.

This was the last thing I thought would happen when I asked my colleague independent MPs to join Pangu Pati.

Of course, I respect the decision by the individual members to move as they see fit. But I do not agree with the move.

The O’Neill government had wrecked Papua New Guinea during the last five years – wrecked important oversight institutions, interfered with law enforcement agencies, allowed corruption to flourish, grossly mismanaged public finances and forced the economy into recession.

Why join a prime minister with such a reputation?

Continue reading "Basil has moved to the government that has wrecked PNG" »

B'ville bureaucracy: Where the Peace directorate fights over chairs


PANGUNA - I was rather shaken by Gorethy Kenneth’s article, ‘Do away with PNG habits at workplace’, that appeared in the Post-Courier not so long ago.

Behaviour and performance in the workplace is an issue affecting Bougainville as well as Papua New Guinea and I believe some words about the Autonomous Bougainville Government bureaucracy may be usefully written.

When people are recruited by the ABG, they have a mission to dedicate much of their life to keep the government functioning and delivering for the people.

I’m one of these people. And I say ‘give away much of their life’ because, in Bougainville, we leave behind our families and travel north to Buka, deserting them in the villages and entering urban Bougainville. Some people have proper accommodation for their families but not most.

Continue reading "B'ville bureaucracy: Where the Peace directorate fights over chairs" »

Sam Basil rats on his voters - & on representative democracy


Sam Basil yesterday - apprehensive
An apprehensive Sam Basil fronts a media conference yesterday afternoon

NOOSA – The defection of Pangu Party leader Sam Basil and eight members of his parliamentary team (plus four independents) to the O’Neill governing coalition has sent shockwaves through Papua New Guinea.

It was yet another example of how money does more than talk in PNG politics  – it first shrieks, then poisonously embraces and finally squeezes even the best principles out of weak and venal leaders.

In this case, Basil misled his own people in Bulolo and Morobe who voted for Pangu in huge numbers in an explicit rejection of the O’Neill government.

He has deceived them in an act which leaves people in his own electorate and throughout Papua New Guinea justifiably feeling they have been betrayed.

The move, foreshadowed two weeks ago by Basil’s now former colleague Bryan Kramer MP and denied at the time by Basil, strengthens the government benches and leaves the opposition – which after the election looked strong and viable – in tatters.

Continue reading "Sam Basil rats on his voters - & on representative democracy" »

A Kiap’s Chronicle: 15 – Around the Sepik


The Sepik District  1958 (Bill Brown)

THE first three days of October 1957 were momentous for me but much more so for Patrol Officer John (JW) MacGregor, two years my junior and who had been deeply involved in the Anderson Affair.

While I was flying out of Wewak to go on leave, MacGregor was in Port Moresby trying to salvage what he could of his career.

In August, magistrate Fred (FJ) Winkle RM had dismissed two charges of assault brought in the lower court against MacGregor, concluding that they were trivial, but MacGregor had also pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court to two other charges, one of ‘deprivation of liberty’ and one of ‘setting fire to a native house’.

On the first charge, deprivation of liberty, MacGregor was convicted - and then discharged.

Continue reading "A Kiap’s Chronicle: 15 – Around the Sepik" »

Discord marked the first struggle for a Bougainville referendum


Leonard Fong Roka  October 2014 H&SPANGUNA - The 1974 book, ‘Bougainville Nationalism: Aspects of Unity and Discord’, by Alexander Mamak and Richard Bedford, with support from the late Leo Hannet and the late Moses Havini, shows similar political trends 43 years later as we march into the window of next year’s referendum.

The book tells how Bougainville had its first taste of a referendum in 1969, the direct result of a 1968 meeting in Port Moresby of 23 Bougainvillean students attending tertiary institutions in Papua New Guinea.

After this meeting there were significant outcomes in Kieta. A meeting of some 2,000 people, chaired by the late Sir Paul Lapun, discussed the acquisition of land by Bougainville Copper Limited in the coastal areas around Kieta.

The meeting resulted in the threat of secession unless the PNG colonial administration revised its rules for obtaining traditional land for mining interests.

Continue reading "Discord marked the first struggle for a Bougainville referendum" »

Complex issues flow from Bougainville referendum says academic


WELLINGTON – Bougainville’s political future is not just dependent on what the people of the autonomous province want but what the Papua New Guinea government might be prepared to agree to, Australian academic Ted Wolfers has told Don Wiseman of Radio New Zealand International.

“There has to be a dialogue,” Prof Wolfers said. “And I don't believe that dialogue has taken place.”

Prof Wolfers said people assume that independence means breaking away totally but there may be “substantial interests working through what the options really are”.

Continue reading "Complex issues flow from Bougainville referendum says academic" »

The Panguna cycle & the 'must have money' syndrome

Panguna-trucks  now relics
These abandoned dump trucks are Panguna relics


PANGUNA - There is no other group in Bougainville that can compare with my Panguna people when it comes to loving and dealing with money.

We in Panguna have eagle sharp eyes and razor sharp claws to attract and catch money. We make peace with it and we destroy harmony with it. Money is us.

Sometimes it is said we are like the Siwai people in south Bougainville then; but I say no, because the Siwai people sweat to get their money and have businesses all over Bougainville.

When you drive through Siwai, nearly every village has a number of retail outlets competing against each other.

But in Panguna it is a different story.

Continue reading "The Panguna cycle & the 'must have money' syndrome" »

Has public prosecutor handled O'Neill-UBS case properly?


Further reading: 'Promises, promises' - a paper from the Dev Policy Blog

KUNDIAWA – I have serious concerns about the actions of public prosecutor Kalwin Pondros in the misconduct charges against prime minister Peter O’Neill over the UBS K3 million loan.

I believe this affair warrants action for two constitutional offices - the Ombudsman Commission and the Public Prosecution Office - to be brought under one umbrella.

The Ombudsman Commission of Papua New Guinea can only conduct investigations into corruption cases and make referrals to appropriate authorities for remedial action. It does not have prosecutorial power to take forward cases that it investigates.

Continue reading "Has public prosecutor handled O'Neill-UBS case properly?" »

Battle to stop unique & beautiful wildlife from being sold

Barn owl caught for sale (Eric Tlozek)
A barn owl caught for sale (Eric Tlozek)

ERIC TLOZEK | Australian Broadcasting Corporation

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea has the world's third-largest rainforest, but increasing numbers of its unique and beautiful species of wildlife are being caught and sold.

The animals are often sold for traditional reasons, for personal consumption or for use in ceremonial costumes.

Most Papua New Guineans do not see any problems with this, but conservation groups said it was starting to put many of the country's iconic species at risk.

The highlands city of Goroka is buzzing with people from all over the region who have come to show off their traditional dances and costumes at the annual Goroka Show.

The famous event attracts so-called "sing-sing" groups who compete to have the best performances and best traditional dress.

Continue reading "Battle to stop unique & beautiful wildlife from being sold" »

Punches pulled: The report of the Commonwealth Observer Group

A happy Peter O'Neill receives the report
A happy Peter O'Neill receives the Observer Group report from Commonwealth secretary-general Patricia Scotland


You can read the complete report of the Commonwealth Observer Group here

BRISBANE - The Commonwealth Observer Group that covered Papua New Guinea’s recent general election has just released its report.

The group was in PNG from 19 June to 10 July with a small team remaining four more day to observe part of the counting, but only in Port Moresby.

Unlike Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop’s walk back from her earlier statement that the poll was “successful”, this document largely builds on the observers’ interim report.

The impression conveyed is that observers conducted their mission largely unaware of, or were unwilling to comment in detail on, egregious violations of ethical, legal and proper practice. (For a summary of such malfeasance refer to this earlier article in PNG Attitude.)

Continue reading "Punches pulled: The report of the Commonwealth Observer Group" »

Let us prepare the common roll for our Bougainville referendum

Election on Bougainville  2015LEONARD FONG ROKA

ARAWA - In 2012 while I was in Madang I read a newspaper report saying that the names of President John Momis and his wife were missing from the election common roll.

These two a prominent figures thus could not cast their votes in Buka in Papua New Guinea’s general election.

Real bad! So who was responsible for this shit and why?

Reading through ‘Bougainville Democratic Governance: Desktop Analysis’ (2014) by Nicole Haley and Anthony Regan, I was sickened to see that the Bougainville election common rolls had long been problematic.

The Papua New Guinean common rolls have long had no integrity and the voter registration and verification process has long been blemished.

Continue reading "Let us prepare the common roll for our Bougainville referendum" »

Engagement or Disenchantment

Settlement for Manus detainees 'not an admission of liability' - Peter Dutton


Now is the winter, of our discontent,
Should you not be happy, over those you sent,
To the welcoming shores, of our Manus Isle,
Where we have detained them, for a while,

You can rest assured, we'll honour the agreement,
Just as long as you continue, your policy of appeasement,
That let's us continue, to rule unabated,
Without any censure, or comment related,

So put on a smile, at our 'close' relations,
And we'll receive, your warm congratulations,
And continue the charade, and the billions in aid,
Rest assured I won't rain, on your domestic parade.

Women writers in Brisbane: expansive, informed & entertaining

The book signing (Stefan Armbruster)
Tania, Vanessa, Rasmmii & Elvina at the book signing - a marvellous group of women (photo Stefan Armbruster)


BRISBANE – The presentation by Papua New Guinean women writers’ to a packed auditorium at the Brisbane Writers Festival yesterday was a great success on the back of a great achievement.

Even after the session had begun, a queue of 20 people – including well known PNG Attitude personalities Murray Bladwell, Ed Brumby and Lindsay Bond – were being shunted back and forth by bemused attendants until finally the doors were flung open again.

As the event got into full stride, with Rashmii Bell expertly chairing the session, her three colleagues illustrator and photographer Tania Basiou, lawyer Elvina Ogil and poet and film-maker Vanessa Gordon provided an engaged audience with a brisk and candid walk through some of the big issues facing PNG women today.

A large part of this audience was new to PNG affairs and an audible gasp ran around the room when people learned that, at the recent national poll, the people of PNG had managed not to elect even one woman to sit in the 111-member parliament.

Continue reading "Women writers in Brisbane: expansive, informed & entertaining" »

They gave us a champagne bureaucracy on a beer income


PANGUNA - The Bougainville population is around 300 000 people. So when I look at the economies of other small Pacific island states’ and run the ruler over their standards of living, I conclude that we do not need a Panguna Mine operating at the scale we knew before the Bougainville conflict.

All of us here know that the Papua New Guinea government does not clothe us; it does not feed us; and it does not protect us.

As a people of the Solomon archipelago, we were an independent as a socio-economic and political entity since time immemorial; the same as all New Guinean people and their relatives, the Papuans.

In these parts, the only beggar we know is the government.

I must partially exclude from that comment the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

Continue reading "They gave us a champagne bureaucracy on a beer income" »

Volunteering in PNG enriching experience for Perth couple

Sarah Hardy with local children
Sarah Hardy with local kids


PERTH - For Perth couple Sarah Hardy and Damien Beale, a volunteering program in Papua New Guinea provided them with many happy memories and the opportunity to put their medical and educational training to good use.

The married couple – a nurse and speech pathologist - spent 18 months in 2007-08 working for Palms Australia supporting villagers in Banz to provide services to people with disabilities.

Ms Hardy said she had done volunteering in her teens and twenties with St Vincent de Paul, but was looking for a placement overseas with her husband when she heard about the role in PNG.

She said that the more she looked into it, the more the things they did began to resonate with what she wanted to do.

Continue reading "Volunteering in PNG enriching experience for Perth couple" »

The story of a 10,000 year old PNG civilisation - & it’s free

10 000 years of cultivationFR GARRY ROCHE & ANU SOURCES

Ten Thousand Years of Cultivation at Kuk Swamp in the Highlands of PNG by Jack Golson et al, Terra Australis Series No 46, ANU Press, July 2017, ISBN: 9781760461157. Free download from ANU Press here

DUBLIN – It costs $75 for a print copy but ANU Press in Australia has generously made this important book on Papua New Guinea’s Kuk world heritage site available for free download.

While the book concentrates on the Kuk swamp area in the Western Highlands, there are frequent reference to pertinent research findings in other parts of PNG.

Kuk is a settlement 1600 metres up in the Western Highlands – specifically near Baisu in the upper Wahgi Valley, near Mount Hagen.

Continue reading "The story of a 10,000 year old PNG civilisation - & it’s free" »

What's the matter with elections in PNG?

Terence WoodTERENCE WOOD | Dev Policy Blog

CANBERRA - There are still reports to be written, official verdicts to be made, and electoral petitions to be heard. But media reporting alone is enough for the most important point to be clear….

The 2017 elections in Papua New Guinea were not good enough. There were major roll issues, there were likely cases of fraud, and electoral violence is ongoing. Voters deserve better.

The first step in making sure improvements occur is diagnosing the issues. That's what I'm going to do in this post.

I'm going to look at the structural drivers of PNG's electoral problems. I'm not here to level accusations at individuals. If people have committed crimes they should be tried.

Continue reading "What's the matter with elections in PNG?" »

Ensuring women’s voices are heard to address PNG’s problems

Rashmii at the book launch
The launch of the anthology in Brisbane earlier this year


Tomorrow, at the Brisbane Writers Festival, before a sell-out audience, a panel of Papua New Guinean women writers will discuss the landmark anthology, My Walk to Equality, its impacts and repercussions. To mark this occasion, we reproduce here extracts from a presentation Rashmii Bell made to the recent Sunshine Coast Writers Festival.

COOLUM – My Walk to Equality is a collaboration of 45 women writers from Papua New Guinea, the first all-women’s anthology to be produced from our country.

Since being published its 7,000 print run has been distributed widely throughout PNG, Australia, the Pacific Islands and other parts of the world including the US and UK.

One of PNG’s foremost journalists Scott Waide recently wrote about the excess of stories highlighting violence against Papua New Guinean women and the millions in foreign aid being poured into the country to address this pandemic: the emphasis always on the problem rather than solutions.

Continue reading "Ensuring women’s voices are heard to address PNG’s problems" »

PNG investment conference: dealing with the tough questions?

Australian-investment-in-PNG-since-1990 (ABS)PAUL FLANAGAN | PNG Economics | Edited extract

CANBERRA - Let me start with this graph, a 25 year history of Australian investment in Papua New Guinea.

Its striking features are how flat the investment pattern was from 1991 to 2008; the extraordinary increase around the PNG LNG project; and how flat it has been since.

Indeed, it was hoped the transformative PNG LNG project may encourage ongoing investment in PNG – but actually money has started flowing the other way. Australians are currently disinvesting in PNG. It’s an issue that goes to the heart of investor and business confidence.

It would be good for participants at the Papua New Guinea investment conference in Sydney today and tomorrow to talk to some of the long-term operators in PNG as to why funds are being withdrawn and the possibilities for turning it around.

Continue reading "PNG investment conference: dealing with the tough questions?" »

Profiting from sickness in PNG: The dark economy of public health

MedsSTAFF REPORTERS | PNGi Central | Extract

Read Part 1 of the complete and detailed PNGi investigation here

BORNEO Pacific Pharmaceuticals Ltd is yet again the subject of controversy, after the company was contracted this year, at a premium price, to supply medical kits to health centres and aid posts.

Media reports indicate that Borneo Pacific has been given a one year contract worth, K57,738,982.91, to provide medical supplies to health centres and aid posts throughout the country. The alleged value of the contract is substantially higher than the three-year, K71 million contract awarded to Borneo in 2013.

Oro Governor, Gary Juffa, has questioned the award, describing it as “controversial and suspicious”.

It ought to be kept in mind that in addition to being a member of the Public Accounts Committee, Juffa was deputy chair of the parliamentary committee which recently conducted a review of health sector management, which uncovered worrying evidence on Borneo Pacific’s merchandise.

Continue reading "Profiting from sickness in PNG: The dark economy of public health" »

Is PNG really one of the most corrupt countries in the world?


TUMBY BAY - Is PNG really one of the most corrupt countries in the world? Many people would think this a silly question, especially Papua New Guineans.

“Of course it is!” they would respond and point to the latest index of corrupt countries in the world compiled by the United Nations and other ratings agencies. “See, it’s the 29th most corrupt country.”

I’ve always been a bit wary of statistics. You really have to know the criteria on which they are based and the method by which they are collected.

I’d be inclined to think that statistics from any country as dysfunctional as Papua New Guinea are bound to be suspect. I’d prefer to trust what ordinary Papua New Guineans say.

Continue reading "Is PNG really one of the most corrupt countries in the world?" »

KTF's ‘teach for tomorrow’ project expands to New Ireland


PORT MORESBY - On Monday, the Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF), a non-government organisation that has been working in Papua New Guinea for over a decade, expanded its Teach for Tomorrow program to 400 trainee teachers from New Ireland Province.

Generously funded by Newcrest Mining, the James Family Foundation and the New Ireland Provincial Department of Education, the training program enables partially-trained elementary teachers to complete their certificates of elementary teaching and become certified as fully-fledged elementary teachers.

Over the next six weeks, the trainee teachers will participate in lectures, practice teaching, workshops and assessments that will give them the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to deliver education of the highest quality to elementary-aged children in remote schools across the province.

Continue reading "KTF's ‘teach for tomorrow’ project expands to New Ireland" »

You say what you say, I see what I see

While seeking revenge....MICHAEL DOM

You say the law of the jungle is wrong
I see a girl whose vagina was torn
You say it's inhuman taking their balls.
I see five men fucked a girl like a doll
You say vigilantism is not right
I see how at first she had tried to fight
You say this is evil and terrible
I see her legs, semen and blood dribble
You say taking balls will not stop the rape
I see that two of the five have escaped
You say that good does not come from bad
I see that those men may one day be dads
You say we must be civil and Christian
I see men will not stop raping children.

Julie Bishop walks back from talk of “successful” PNG election

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Papua New Guinea prime minister Peter O'Neill (ABC)KEITH JACKSON

“The Australian government congratulates PNG, one of our closest friends and partners, on its successful election and we looking forward to continuing to work with prime minister O’Neill and PNG’s new government” – press statement by Australia’s foreign affairs minister, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, c 5 August 2017

NOOSA – Nothing astounded close observers of Papua New Guinea’s recent shambolic general election than a public statement by Australia’s foreign affairs minister calling it “successful”.

The reaction from the commentariat to this profoundly inaccurate remark – made all the worse because it was clearly deliberate, not a throwaway line – was savage.

Even the think tanks which receive Australian government funding, and in their supplication are mostly reluctant to be harsh, seemed somewhat taken aback.

But there are actors as well as commentators, walkers as well as talkers, and this is where Queensland-based ex-kiap Paul Oates and some of his colleagues entered the arena – communicating directly with the Hon Eric Abetz, Senator for Tasmania and erstwhile senior minister in a number of Australian governments, but not (to his chagrin) in Malcolm Turnbull’s.

Continue reading "Julie Bishop walks back from talk of “successful” PNG election" »

The slow death of integrity in Papua New Guinean politics

A Remarkable JourneyPHIL FITZPATRICK

A Remarkable Journey by Dame Carol Kidu, Longman, 2002, 161pp, ISBN-10: 0733932274, hard to get but available from Amazon Books Canada, $CAN11.01

TUMBY BAY - Notwithstanding the impotent hiatus in Australia's own federal parliament, I’ve been pondering the dysfunctional state of politics in Papua New Guinea.

In seeking explanations of how and why it has reached such abysmal levels I decided to re-read Carol Kidu’s 2002 book, A Remarkable Journey in the hope of gaining some insights and maybe seeing what the future might hold.

The reason I chose Carol’s book was because of her remarkable husband, Buri Kidu. If you want to know about integrity in Papua New Guinea he is the logical starting point.

If you read the publisher’s gushing blurb on the back of the book you could be led to believe it is about “an Australian teenager (in the days of the White Australia Policy) who dared to fall in love with a Papua New Guinean and join his struggle”.

Continue reading "The slow death of integrity in Papua New Guinean politics" »

Opinions about aid: public versus aid providers

Opinion of Australian aid volume
Volume of Australian aid

TERENCE WOOD & CAMILLA BURKOT | Dev Policy Blog | Edited extracts

Read the full article, together with all links, graphs and citations, here

CANBERRA - Have you ever wondered just how strange the Australian aid community is?

Do we development types think about development issues in the same way as the average Australian does, or are we outliers?

In recent years the Development Policy Centre has been studying the Australian public’s views about aid.

As part of this work, in collaboration with the Campaign for Australian Aid, we placed eight questions in the 2016 Australian Survey of Social Attitudes, a large, representative survey of Australian adults.

Continue reading "Opinions about aid: public versus aid providers" »

Criticism has good intentions but by gosh it hurts sometimes


PORT MORESBY - Any criticism coming from another person is hard to digest.  We all have blind spots about our own work and find it hard to accept challenges from other people.

Our argument tends to run along the lines of “what does this person know about my experiences and the recollections of these experiences in my writing”.

I have written on other occasions that sometimes I don’t like what Phil Fitzpatrick writes. He can deliver general aspersions about our Papua New Guinean attitudes - and it hurts.

I have felt offended by some of his comments. Even his review of my novel, ‘Man of Calibre’ and ‘Sweet Garaiina Apo’, struck deep within me. Phil can be very dispiriting.

But then, in retrospect, that is the very thing in the literary world that writers strive for and live off.

Continue reading "Criticism has good intentions but by gosh it hurts sometimes" »

Publishing is many things (& don’t forget the power of promotion)

Vanessa Gordon models Tania Basiou's MWTE t-shirtPHIL FITZPATRICK

Want to buy your own MWTE tee-shirt? You can do that here

TUMBY BAY - Pukpuk Publication’s highest circulating book by a longshot has been My Walk to Equality, edited by Rashmii Amoah Bell.

I emphasise ’circulating’ because the bulk of MWTE’s distribution has been not through over the counter sales but through free circulation.

This was made possible through the generosity of many sponsors, especially the Australian High Commission in Papua New Guinea which alone provided funding for 5,000 books to be distributed free of charge.

But lining up sponsors for this book – which now has distributed about 7,000 copies - was never going to be enough to make it successful.

My Walk to Equality also required solid, well edited content – and energetic promotion.

Continue reading "Publishing is many things (& don’t forget the power of promotion)" »

Marvellous line-up of performers for Melanesian music festival


BRISBANE - On Sunday 17 September, people from Brisbane's Melanesian communities together with many Australians will celebrate PNG’s anniversary of independence in a music festival at Redlands Performing Arts Centre, about 30 minutes from the centre of Brisbane.

Topping the bill is the brilliant PNG singer and poet George Telek who will perform with Ben Hakalitz (PNG), Charles Maimarosia (Solomons) and Tio (Vanuatu).

On the weekend of the 42nd anniversary of PNG independence, this showcase brings together the most outstanding contemporary and traditional Melanesian music.

George Telek, who has performed in the UK, the US and Germany as well as in our part of the world, headlines the concert, bringing his signature blend of modern and traditional Melanesian rhythms.

Continue reading "Marvellous line-up of performers for Melanesian music festival" »

The cost of our democracy

H&SJOHN M GLYNN OL | Transparency International PNG

PORT MORESBY - Sometimes in warfare innocent people are killed. This is called collateral damage.

When it happens everyone is very upset and sorry. Apologies are made by those who admit accountability, and hopefully compensation is paid to those who have lost their homes and family members.

Who is accountable for the collateral damage resulting from our national elections of 2017?

Who will give us an explanation and an apology for all that happened? Who will compensate those individuals, families and businesses who were so terribly hurt by the murder and mayhem that accompanied the election process?

Some 30 people have been murdered, including the police officers who were ambushed and assassinated; many mobile phone towers were destroyed, and the cost of their replacement will eventually be paid for by us, the users of mobile services; families dispersed by the fighting have fled to the cities and even now parents are trudging from school to school in Port Moresby looking for places where their children can continue their education; homes and businesses have been destroyed ... incomes lost ... bribery, lying and cheating ... hatred and envy stirred up ...

Continue reading "The cost of our democracy" »

16 years on: Looking back on Bougainville’s peace agreement

Bougainville civil war fighterFABIAN HAKALITS | Asia Pacific Report

ARAWA - It was 16 years ago last week since the signing of an important blueprint that put an end to Bougainville’s civil war in Papua New Guinea.

The Bougainville Peace Agreement paved the way for lasting peace on the war-torn island following the 10-year conflict which erupted as a result of disputes over the giant Panguna copper mine.

On 30 August 2001, the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed in Arawa, Central Bougainville.

The agreement between the government of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) was intended to further the objectives of the Burnham Truce, Lincoln and other agreements brokered with New Zealand help.

Continue reading "16 years on: Looking back on Bougainville’s peace agreement" »

Ex Nihilo

Abandoned-churchWARDLEY BARRY

Upon the epitaph a candle burns,
beneath the grave a centurion turns;

on the portals of immortality
he savours a fling with depravity.

Across the wooden fence a mongrel howls
as through the cemetery a ghoul prowls.

A gush of wind laboured through the crosses,
a field of white, like abandoned churches,

each of which are placed to honour the dead;
the people we love, the past-times we dread,

Continue reading "Ex Nihilo" »

The commercial orientation of Australia’s aid programs

Phil Fitzpatrick at micPHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - In 2015 when the newly elected Abbott government announced it was abolishing AusAID and merging its functions with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, ostensibly to cut down on red tape and to achieve financial efficiencies, I wondered where our foreign aid program was headed.

A short while later they announced a shift in focus. The aid program was no longer to be about helping people in developing countries or people in distress but about “promoting Australia’s national interests by contributing to sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction” by “driving private sector and human development”.

This new focus was to concentrate on “the private sector, aid for trade, economic infrastructure, education, gender equality and women’s empowerment, humanitarian assistance and social protection”.

To my mind this was a reversal of the priorities of what I thought should the aims of Australia’s aid program.

But I wasn’t especially surprised at these developments, coming as they did from a conservative and decidedly right-wing government. Abbott had lots of other shocks for us in 2014.

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PNG government accused of lies & deceit over land grab

Sabl-billboard-cartoonEDDIE TANAGO | Act Now!

PORT MORESBY - The Papua New Guinean government has lied to the nation over the SABL land grab and people across the country will be angry and disappointed.

The land grab, affecting over 50,000 square kilometres of customary land, was one of the biggest national issues over the lifetime of the last parliament.

In the lead-up to the national election both the prime minister and lands minister made clear statements that gave the impression all the SABL leases were deemed illegal and had been cancelled. 

Those statements have now been contradicted by new lands minister Justin Tkatchenko, who has told the media he is setting up a special committee to look at the leases and decide which ones are illegal and which should be cancelled.

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Forum leaders urged to continue support of W Papua human rights


AUCKLAND - The Australia West Papua Association (AWPA) has urged leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum to continue their support of West Papua.

In an open letter, AWPA called on the Forum’s 18 members to keep raising the issue of human rights abuses with Indonesia’s government and continue applying pressure on Jakarta to allow a fact-finding mission to the Indonesian-ruled territory.

AWPA also urged that the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression be allowed to visit West Papua, with the Pacific Islands Forum driving this call.

“West Papua should also be given an official voice within the Forum itself, under the umbrella organisation of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua,” AWPA said.

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Solar lamp project lighting up Hanuabada & many other villages

Light the nightTESS GIZORIA | Kokoda Track Foundation

PORT MORESBY - Two weeks after fires destroyed the homes of over 200 families in Hanuabada, two Australian NGOs have distributed over 800 solar lights to children and their families.

The Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF) and Australian charity, SolarBuddy worked alongside Hanuabada relief coordinators Dadi Toka and Lohia Samual to deliver life-changing solar lights to the community.

SolarBuddy and KTF have been partnering for the past 12 months to light up the lives of children and families in remote areas across PNG.

Together they have distributed over 3,000 solar lights to communities in Oro, East Sepik and New Ireland provinces and in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

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Hard yards for writers in PNG – but some redeeming features


TUMBY BAY -  After some years working with Papua New Guinean writers I have come to the view that the only way forward is for them to become as individually independent as possible.

These years involved me and others trying to maintain a viable national literary competition by squeezing funds out of sponsors and banging our heads against the apathy of established publishers and governments.

It also involved attempts to help organise writers into sustainable collectives dedicated to literature.

It is not a career choice I would recommend to anyone.

I should have perhaps known from my days as a kiap that organising autonomous bodies in Papua New Guinea is like herding cats. It just doesn’t work.

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The great electoral commission gadget white elephant

PNG-EC-gadgetJON FRAENKEL | Dev Policy Blog

WELLINGTON - The Papua New Guinea electoral commission gadget (pictured) has all the hallmarks of a misconceived donor project gone wrong, and left abandoned.

Neatly laid out on an interactive colour-coded map of Papua New Guinea, the commission’s gadget depicts each province in orange, green, grey, beige or blue to designate progress in counting ballot papers at the June-August 2017 polls.

The website was updated so slowly during the critical late July vote-counting days that it was way behind what was being reported on national TV or radio or in the daily newspapers.

Since the prime ministerial election on 2 August, it has languished in a multi-coloured state of semi-completion, full of errors and omissions.

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