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Jekyll and Hyde – the World Bank PNG economic update

Paul Flanagan
Paul Flanagan - World Bank mixes Mr Nice Guy with Mr Not-so-nice Guy

PAUL FLANAGAN | PNG Economics

CANBERRA - The World Bank’s economic update on Papua New Guinea was released in early February and offers a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde picture for the government.

The front end is undoubtedly very kind to the government, resembling the friendly support of Dr Jekyll in the famous Robert Louis Stevenson story.

There is much praise for the government and any criticism is buried in the middle of paragraphs or implicit in graphs and numbers in tables.

It’s hard work to read between the lines to find out what is really going on.

One example of the friendly treatment is the conciliatory discussion of the K3.4 billion breach (called a “policy deviation”) of the medium-term fiscal deficit targets agreed in the 2018 budget and made the first condition of the World Bank’s budget support loan in September last year.

Even allowing for expenditure arrears of nearly a billion kina, K2.5 billion (or 72%) of this massive deficit blow-out from 2018 to 2022 is left unexplained.

Continue reading "Jekyll and Hyde – the World Bank PNG economic update" »


Former PM: Australia must come clean on Paladin contract

Mekere Morauta (2)
Sir Mekere Morauta

SIR MEKERE MORAUTA MP

PORT MORESBY - The Australian government should come clean on the intentions underlying its $423-million contract with the Paladin group on Manus Island.

It looks to me and other Papua New Guineans that it is being used as a way to peddle influence through prominent Papua New Guineans and the ruling PNC party of prime minister Peter O’Neill.

I find that very disturbing at a time when there is likely to be a vote of no confidence in the notorious O’Neill regime, when Australia is engaged in a battle of diplomacy with China, when it wants to rebuild and expand PNG’s Lombrum naval base, and when it wants to keep Manus open for its own purposes.”

The revelations about the Paladin contract fit a pattern of dubious Australian behaviour in PNG in recent years, including the rigged 2017 election in which Mr O’Neill was re-elected.

Continue reading "Former PM: Australia must come clean on Paladin contract" »


The strange case of the Paladin on Kangaroo Island

Paladin headquarters on Kangaroo Island
Paladin headquarters on Kangaroo Island (AFR)

CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - When my children were young, my wife and I decided to take them and ourselves on a holiday.

Despite having lived in South Australia for most of my life, I had never visited Kangaroo Island and so we decided that it would be our holiday destination.

Fortuitously, a friend owned a beach shack on the island and kindly allowed us to rent it for a couple of weeks at a very nominal charge.

The latter was important because we were relatively impecunious at the time and the cost of the ferry to access the island was (and remains) perhaps the most costly ferry journey in Australia

Continue reading "The strange case of the Paladin on Kangaroo Island" »


Bougainville independence: If it happens, are there plans?

Independence referendum posterPHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - If Bougainville does achieve independence from Papua New Guinea, lawyer Sam Koim has suggested the province might be abandoned without first being properly prepared to become a sovereign state, “just as Australia did to PNG”.

Sam is obviously playing devil’s advocate but it’s food for thought. Just what is Papua New Guinea’s contingency plan if Bougainville’s June referendum shows a strong vote for independence and the PNG parliament decides to go along?

It can be argued that Australia was forced by political pressure to grant independence to PNG before it was ready but it did so after a transition phase between self-government and full independence.

It also has continued to fund PNG and continues to do so right up until the present time by more than half a billion dollars a year.

Does PNG have a similar plan should it grant Bougainville independence?

Will there be an orderly transition and will PNG continue to fund the new nation for a while at least?

So far I haven’t been able to determine whether such a plan exists and my cynical side tells me not to be surprised if it doesn’t exist.

Continue reading "Bougainville independence: If it happens, are there plans?" »


What has PNG become and how to describe it?

Phil Fitzpatrick recent
Phil Fitzpatrick

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Finding words to describe how I feel about the current state of Papua New Guinea is proving particularly difficult.

I guess the first word that comes to mind is frustration. How can a country with so much promise and so many natural assets end up the way it has?

Writing as someone involved in launching the new nation to independence, albeit in a tiny way, this turn of events somehow needs a much stronger word.

Perhaps an adjective or two needs to be added. How about ‘extremely frustrated’ or ‘totally frustrated’?

Nope, that doesn’t cut it by a long shot.

Continue reading "What has PNG become and how to describe it?" »


Whatever happened to the Crocodile Prize?

Crocodile Prize memorabilia (Michael Dom)MICHAEL DOM

LAE - Why did I write for the Crocodile Prize? I didn’t. I wrote for me. We all do.

All writers, poets, essayists, bloggers, tweeters, Facebook champions and slanderers, regardless of nationality, proclivity, intended objective, altruistic notion, educational or inspirational motive…. we write for ourselves first.

We want to make our thoughts known. We want to have our say. We want other people to know what we think, how we feel, who we blame, why we agree, disagree, why we want to live and for what cause or status we’d happily die.

Continue reading "Whatever happened to the Crocodile Prize?" »


Bougainville red flags ignored back then - and again now

Bill Brown  Canberra  1969
Bill Brown in Canberra in 1969 - wise words on Bougainville not listened to

CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - Reading Bill Brown's account of the development of Bougainville’s copper and gold mine at Panguna, you can only marvel at the number of red flags fluttering in the breeze.

Clearly, the great and the good in the Moresby and Canberra bureaucracies had decided the mine would proceed come what may, leaving Bill and his colleagues on the ground in Bougainville in a hopeless position.

Fast forward to today and it is abundantly clear that many of those same red flags are again flying, yet the same old script appears to be playing out.

More than 50 years later there are another lot of players, most of whom are even less equipped to know what is going on than their predecessors.

The Canberra based politicians and bureaucrats do not, as Paul Oates has observed, understand the truth about what is going on at grassroots level in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere in the Pacific.

Australia’s gross under investment in developing a genuinely deep and profound relationship with these countries for the last several decades is going to cost us dearly.

Continue reading "Bougainville red flags ignored back then - and again now" »


Does Bougainville's Mining Act promise a new legal dawn?

Bougainville's abandoned mine
Bougainville's abandoned Panguna mine (AIIA)

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - There has long been an argument that western-style laws are not fit for purpose in a Melanesian country like Papua New Guinea.

This is epitomised in the laws governing minerals and mining, including oil and gas.

The multiple landowner issues plaguing the giant PNG LNG project typify everything that is wrong with these laws.

They also highlight what can happen when a corporation and a government tie themselves in knots trying to interpret laws in a context that is neither user-friendly nor amenable.

Continue reading "Does Bougainville's Mining Act promise a new legal dawn?" »


PNG legislators must – must – act against corruption

Francis Nii
Francis Nii

FRANCIS NII

KUNDIAWA – Unsurprisingly, Papua New Guinea was rated as one of the most corrupt countries in the Pacific region and the world by international corruption watchdog Transparency International’s 2018 corruption index.

Instead of brushing aside this annual report as it has done in the past, the PNG government should take it seriously and do something to combat the pernicious disease of corruption.

PNG was ranked 138 out of 180 countries in the just published Corruption Perception Index.

In a ranking of 0 to 100 with 100 perceived as very clean and 0 as highly corrupt, PNG scored 28, making it to be one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

This rating is not a surprise because it is a common knowledge that corruption has dug its roots into this country from the office of the prime minister down to lower level public servants and civil society at large.

Continue reading "PNG legislators must – must – act against corruption" »


Denuding democracy – election 2017 did not measure up

Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln - "Government of the people, by the people and for the people"

SIMON DAVIDSON

PORT MORESBY - Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg speech captured the essence of democracy. Democracy, he said, is a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

In democratic societies, the people have the right to vote and elect their leaders. The democratic form of government was conceived as a revolt against the monarchical governments that controlled much of Europe and suppressed the people to servitude.

So democracy was established as an alternative to oligarchy.

According to British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill, real democratic process comes to play when “the little man, walking into the little booth, with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little bit of paper, without intimidation.”

In a democratic society, the people choose their representatives without fear or favour. When an electoral process is transparent, an election is deemed authentic.

Continue reading "Denuding democracy – election 2017 did not measure up" »


Wimping it out in Waigani – and the rest of PNG

Anti-corruption activists  2015
Anti-corruption activists, 2015 - despite the excesses against the people of PNG, there is no mass push for change that has any significant impact

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - I attended my first political protest in late 1969 while home on leave from Papua New Guinea. It was an anti-Vietnam war rally.

Somehow I managed to get caught up in a group that was carted off to the city watch house by the police.

Most of my co-arrestees were either long haired, bearded types or women who made a point of not wearing a bra. They were all colourfully dressed in the hippy fashions of the time. By contrast I was short-haired, beardless and conventionally dressed.

Thus disguised I simply took advantage of the confusion and walked out the door. Luckily no one stopped me. I had no desire to answer any awkward questions when I got back to work in Papua New Guinea.

The experience nevertheless jarred something in my consciousness and it led to a lifelong interest in politics and prompted me to add a politics major to my already erratic and eclectic curriculum vitae.

Continue reading "Wimping it out in Waigani – and the rest of PNG" »


Heartless publicity stunt by PNG’s deputy prime minister

Abel torched vehicle
Charles Abel poses alongside torched vehicle where mother and son were killed

BRYAN KRAMER MP

MADANG - Last week Charles Abel, deputy prime minister and member for Alotau, was publicly criticised for deciding to attend parliament while his electorate was under siege and locked down following a shoot-out between police and a gang of armed criminals.

Three people were reportedly killed following the incident. The provincial legal officer was gunned down while driving home and a young mother and her four year old son were burned to death after their home was set on fire.

In response Abel said he planned to visit the province on Sunday - four days after the incident. In other words when he felt it was safe for him to do so. He later posted pictures of his visit on the Alotau District Facebook page.

It all went wrong. 

First he posted a picture of himself striking a pose at the scene where the young mother and her son were tragically killed. Then he posted a selfie of him standing beside the legal officer's widow.

Continue reading "Heartless publicity stunt by PNG’s deputy prime minister" »


Burying (or ignoring) the wisdom that comes with age

New kiaps early 1960s
Cadet patrol officers new to Papua New Guinea watch police parade at Sogeri in March 1950

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - The last batch of Australian kiaps in Papua New Guinea was appointed in the early 1970s. They were the tail-enders of a fraternity that shared a working experience that was decidedly uncommon in modern times.

As a loose cohort they continue to share camaraderie through continued interaction at reunions and other social events and through social media, where they interact on their own website and through other social media sites like PNG Attitude.

A significant majority of them maintain an abiding interest in Papua New Guinea.

There’s nothing unusual about that, people with common experiences tend to be drawn to this kind of sentimentality and nostalgia and often gather together to remember and celebrate their past and discuss what has happened since then.

Continue reading "Burying (or ignoring) the wisdom that comes with age" »


Who stuffed up PNG, Australians or Papua New Guineans?

Phil Fitzpatrick recent
Phil Fitzpatrick

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - As a colonial power Australia was in the unique position of being able to set the agenda for Papua New Guinea’s future.

Systems and institutions that Australia established prior to independence were, whether consciously or not, designed for the long haul and were expected to persist well into the future.

One of these systems was the parliamentary process that prevails today.

If you look back at these developments two things become plain. The first is the heavy hand of Canberra and the second is the outside manipulation or absence of Papua New Guinean input.

In the first case, the decision makers in Canberra, and to a lesser extent in Port Moresby, consistently ignored the advice of those administrators on the ground in PNG.

This is no more apparent than in the wilful ignoring of input from the kiaps and other country-based personnel. Elsewhere I have described one instance where issues of law and order were arbitrarily taken from the kiaps and handed over to a poorly prepared police force.

Continue reading "Who stuffed up PNG, Australians or Papua New Guineans?" »


Sir Mek says O’Neill & Temu must fix health crisis, not deny it

Peter O'Neill and Sir Puka Temu (EMTV)
Peter O'Neill and Sir Puka Temu - 'thousands of deaths on their consciences'

SIR MEKERE MORAUTA | PNG Observer

PORT MORESBY - Prime minister Peter O’Neill and health minister Sir Puka Temu should start listening to doctors and patients throughout the country and admit that the health system is in crisis.

Recent statements by Dr James Naipao, president of the PNG Doctors’ Association, and professor Glen Mola from the Medical School, highlight urgent and serious issues that the government is refusing to acknowledge or do anything about.

The health system is in crisis – everyone knows that – but Peter O’Neill and Puka Temu are just letting people die or suffer.

They have thousands of deaths from preventable disease, from common illnesses, from injury, on their consciences. When are they going to acknowledge the duty they have to manage the health system and fund health priorities properly?

Continue reading "Sir Mek says O’Neill & Temu must fix health crisis, not deny it" »


Vote of no confidence in O'Neill government looms

AbelBRYAN KRAMER MP

MADANG – Papua New Guinea’s deputy prime minister Charles Abel has gone on record in an interview with the Post Courier newspaper claiming he is not at all fazed by the looming vote of no confidence in Peter O’Neill.

“We [the government] are fully intact as far as I am concerned, the prime minister has our support,” Abel has said.

Really? If the government was really intact then why did it adjourn parliament until this month to avoid sitting during the first week of February, which has been the practice in the past.

The government is anything but intact. The real question is what are O'Neill, Abel and their foreign cronies, who have become millionaires on our people's tax money, doing to ensure they have the numbers to defeat a motion of vote of no confidence?

Continue reading "Vote of no confidence in O'Neill government looms" »


The time for Sir Peter Ipatas to be prime minister is now

Sir Peter Ipatas
Sir Peter Ipatas

DANIEL KUMBON

WABAG – Over the next few days, the Enga Governor, Grand Chief Sir Peter Ipatas, must give serious thought to consider putting up his hand to become the next prime minister of Papua New Guinea.

This could be his time. He has been a politician all his adult life. His achievements for the Enga people speak for themselves.

The post of prime minister would be his final crowning accomplishment for Enga and Papua New Guinea.

A person lives only once and golden opportunities do not come very often.

The Opposition's impending vote of no confidence in prime minister Peter O’Neill is that golden chance.

If there is an opportunity, the governor should take it.

Continue reading "The time for Sir Peter Ipatas to be prime minister is now" »


Is the West Papuan freedom movement doomed to fail?

Chris Overland
Chris Overland

CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - West Papua and its future has recently been a hot topic of debate on PNG Attitude.

At least one correspondent has trenchantly defended the record of Indonesia in West Papua, maintaining that its occupation of part of the island of New Guinea is legitimate in terms of international law and recognised as such by the international community.

There also have been claims and counter claims about allegations that huge numbers of Papuans have been killed or displaced as the Indonesian government has sought to gain secure control over the entire province. The veracity or otherwise of these claims is clearly a hotly contested and very partisan debate.

The history of how Indonesia ended up taking over the governance of West Papua does not provide much solid evidence for claimed legitimacy.

There is the indisputable fact that the outgoing Dutch colonial power reluctantly handed control to Indonesia after its allies (notably the USA, Britain and Australia) proved unwilling to back belated efforts to prepare the province for independence.

Continue reading "Is the West Papuan freedom movement doomed to fail?" »


West Papua - When is a close observer too close for comfort?

WestpapuaKEITH JACKSON

“…half a million? Most close observers of the conflict can see through that one” (Martin Auld)

NOOSA – I do not know Martin Auld except as a commentator on PNG Attitude where his expertise seems to be largely in Indonesian affairs.

Most recently, he has mounted a vigorous defence of Indonesia in the context of its brutal colonisation of West Papua.

This included the quoted skepticism (above), rather cavalierly expressed, of the figure of up to 500,000 West Papuan Melanesians killed since Indonesia took over the territory

The internet yields a number of Martin Aulds but none who would seem to be our man, so I know nothing of his background or credentials.

Continue reading "West Papua - When is a close observer too close for comfort?" »


The greatest threat to democracy & world order is the internet

Phil Fitzpatrick recent
Phil Fitzpatrick

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - There is at least one commentator on PNG Attitude who thinks I’m a conspiracy theorist so I thought I’d throw this idea into the mix to see what sort of reaction I get.

The idea became apparent while I was reading Michiko Kakutani’s excellent little book, ‘The Death of Truth’ (William Collins, 2018).

And it’s all down to an otherwise innocent little tool called an algorithm.

An algorithm, as you are probably aware, is a kind of recipe or ordered set of steps that if followed will result in an answer to a problem.

Computer programmers design algorithms for all sorts of reasons, including selling us stuff or influencing the way we think.

You are probably familiar with the advertisements that pop up on your computer or digital device screen while searching the web.

Continue reading "The greatest threat to democracy & world order is the internet" »


Simbu ‘Facebook leaders’ should park their egos & listen up

FBKELA KAPKORA SIL BOLKIN

PORT MORESBY - Facebook is the most dominant social media and networking site in Papua New Guinea as it is around the world.

You can use Facebook to build your profile or destroy your reputation as a person, professional or leader.

Fifteen years ago when there was no Facebook (it was launched on 4 February 2004), we wrote letters or occasionally encountered men and women along paths, at meeting places or on PMVs and exchanged phone numbers before parting ways.

With no Facebook, we respected one another because our weaknesses were not on the radar, as it were, so no one was able to know our full character.

Continue reading "Simbu ‘Facebook leaders’ should park their egos & listen up" »


Despite problems at the top, we value the people of PNG

Keith  Leilani & UPNG mural
Keith Jackson & grand-daughter Leilani at the University of Papua New Guinea, from where Keith graduated in 1975

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA - That first Independence Day in Papua New Guinea was organised in a heck of a hurry.

Less than three months before 16 September 1975, Chief Minister Michael Somare gave long-serving district commissioner David Marsh the task of organising events on the day itself and in the six days of celebration surrounding it - from 14-19 September.

Marsh, who died in 2015, did a fine job – VIPs, security, transport, accommodation and the proceedings themselves all had to be planned and brought to fruition. And not just in Port Moresby, of course, but throughout the country.

There were a number of high profile events, like the final lowering of the Australian flag at sunset on 15 September (“we are lowering this flag, not tearing it down,” said Sir John Guise, memorably).

Continue reading "Despite problems at the top, we value the people of PNG" »


Australians in glass houses are throwing stones at PNG

Phil Fitzpatrick
Phil Fitzpatrick

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - The critical analysis of the Papua New Guinea government and the nation as a whole is a regular feature of PNG Attitude.

The analysis has tended to become more negative over the years, particularly since Peter O’Neill’s Peoples National Congress came to power.

A lot of the negativity associated with his government has unfortunately rubbed off on the wider nation. The Papua New Guinean people have, in effect, been tarred with the same brush as that applied to its government.

Much of the negative criticism on PNG Attitude understandably comes from Papua New Guinean writers and commentators but there is also a significant contribution from Australians with experience in the country.

Continue reading "Australians in glass houses are throwing stones at PNG" »


As June referendum nears, Bougainville's people are confused

Momis and O'Neill
John Momis and Peter O'Neill negotiate the Bougainville independence referendum - but the people remain divided and confused

LEONARD FONG ROKA

ARAWA - Between March and May this year, the referendum directorate of the Department of Bougainville Peace Agreement and Implementation left the autonomous province to consult with Bougainvilleans outside Bougainville.

Meanwhile, back at their island home, the people were confused even though June 2019, the time of the referendum to decide their political future, was only about a year away.

Thousands of kina were spent for this team to visit Bougainvilleans in Port Moresby, Madang, Mt Hagen, Lae, Goroka, Rabaul and Kimbe to ask what the diaspora thought about the many aspects of the dawning referendum.

But here in Bougainville, where the majority of the people reside, little was progressed.

I live amongst the ordinary people of central and south Bougainville and I am appalled by what I come across in the villages.

Continue reading "As June referendum nears, Bougainville's people are confused" »


Police storming of parliament a sign of things to come?

Bryan Kramer at parliament houseBRYAN KRAMER MP

MADANG - On Tuesday 23 November, just two days after APEC summit concluded, more than 300 police and correctional services personnel stormed parliament house, smashing windows, furniture and assaulting parliament security guards.

They were protesting unpaid allowances for providing security during APEC.

The incident occurred around midday, two hours before parliament was to convene at 2pm for the opposition to respond to the government's 2019 budget that had been presented a week earlier.

The storming of parliament was broadcast around the globe and also sent shock waves through PNG's political establishment. Not since the Sandline Crisis in 1996 had security forces personnel converged with hostility on parliament house.

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Left, right, centre – where does PNG’s government sit?

PNG parliamentPHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - In Australia and in other parts of the world there seems to be a monumental power struggle going on between the political forces of the right and the political forces of the left.

If you believe the pundits it’s an urgent existential struggle that will determine the very survival of our planet.

The terminology has been subtly changing too. We are now openly calling the political right ‘conservatives’ and the political left ‘progressives’.

In simple terms the battle that is raging is between people who not only want to preserve the status quo but take us back to what they see as the halcyon days of the past and people who are saying those ideals don’t cut it anymore and the world needs a new political and social model if it is going to survive.

Continue reading "Left, right, centre – where does PNG’s government sit?" »


Bougainville consultation never really got off the ground

Leonard Fong RokaLEONARD FONG ROKA

ARAWA - The entire Bougainville Peace Agreement signed in 2001 has plenty of loopholes, but these weak points are catered for by one word that repeatedly appears. It is the word ‘consultation’.

When complications occur or conflict erupts, the peace agreement suggests it is consultation that can be initiated to address such hurdles.

The issue today is that many problems brought about the Bougainville crisis (1988-97) were not covered by the peace agreement and have since been ignored by both the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the PNG national government.

In June next year, Bougainville will hold a referendum on its political future and, as the months roll by, both governments are rushing everything often in the absence of care, consideration and even good faith.

Continue reading "Bougainville consultation never really got off the ground" »


PNG's foreign relations in an era of Sino-American rivalry

Patrick-kaikuPATRICK KAIKU

PORT MORESBY - Observers outside Papua New Guinea may find it a somewhat puzzling experience to pinpoint PNG's exact position in the current geopolitical manoeuvrings between the United States and its allies and China.

On the one hand there are difficulties in determining the basis for PNG's relations with China, and on the other hand in defining its relations with the United States and Australia.

On the whole, PNG's foreign relations are not informed by any rigorous process of foreign policy engagement and what is touted as being in PNG's interest is not necessarily a product of a serious refining of priorities. Rather, more than any structured decision-making, official foreign relations are determined by personalities, circumstances or perceived material benefits.

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Did APEC deliver on the dream? Not to rural PNG it didn’t

Pauline Mago-KingPAULINE MAGO-KING | Pacific Media Centre | Asia Pacific Report

AUCKLAND - It has only been two weeks since the conclusion of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, yet much has transpired – to the dismay of host country Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea’s trajectory to this monumental event has been one involving great strides from the moment it secured the bid to host APEC in 2013.

In preparation for the summit, the PNG government stretched its expenditure to clean up the nation’s capital of Port Moresby – a move to improve international perceptions that will eventually translate into investment opportunities.

One can see this “clean-up” in Port Moresby via newly sealed roads, the K145 million upgrade of Jackson’s International Airport, and the extravagant APEC Haus and Convention Centre.

Not to mention the controversial boulevard consisting of a six-lane road, outside the National Parliament.

Continue reading "Did APEC deliver on the dream? Not to rural PNG it didn’t" »


Public tender decision on APEC assets welcome, but not enough

MorautaSIR MEKERE MORAUTA

PORT MORESBY - I welcome finance secretary Ken Ngangan’s announcement of a public tender for APEC Authority assets, which is a step in the right direction after years of O’Neill government deception and deceit about APEC, but is not enough.

Full accountability and transparency are required.

The problem is not confined to the sale of assets. It encompasses almost all aspects of the APEC Authority and government involvement in it. Indeed, the decision to hold a public auction of assets is only a small first step of many that need to be taken to lift the clouds of suspicion.

When the public tender goes ahead, it should be on the basis of a list and other vital details confirmed by an audit by the auditor-general.

The public has a right to know certain information such as the purchase price paid for each item, details of the supplier, invoices, proof of payment and the documents authorising procurement.

Continue reading "Public tender decision on APEC assets welcome, but not enough" »


Why working hard is a prayer of thanksgiving

Dominic - facilitatorSCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

LAE - I am not religious. But I do believe in the existence of a higher power and the importance of a higher purpose.

Last weekend, I was invited to speak to a group of youngsters from all over the country.  This is one of many engagements I have found myself attending for over six years.

Sometimes, I don’t understand why I end up in meetings like the one on Saturday. In fact I was struggling to understand why I was there.  I had a presentation ready but my thoughts were in a jumble.

Before me, retired Major General Jerry Singirok, spoke about leadership and how young people had to stand up to the challenge and believe in what is right.  It rang true to me in my confused state.

Continue reading "Why working hard is a prayer of thanksgiving" »


PM should step down over conduct: vast evidence of wrongdoing

 

Mekere Morauta (2)
Sir Mekere Morauta - "Mr O’Neill’s activities bring the office of prime minister into disrepute. Evidence of wrongdoing is overwhelming"

SIR MEKERE MORAUTA MP | Papua New Guinea Observer

PORT MORESBY - Prime minister Peter O’Neill should stand down and submit himself to an independent external inquiry into very serious allegations of personal and corporate impropriety.

The allegations concern his then wholly-owned construction company Wild Cat Developments Ltd and a bridge-building contract with the Asian Development Bank.

The bank investigated the contract and found it to be improperly and incompletely implemented by Mr O’Neill’s company.

The bank found proper tender processes had not been followed, rigging of the tender process, misrepresentation, financial management deficiencies, potential integrity violations, serious procurement irregularities, contravention of contract terms, and lack of qualification to tender.

Reports by The Guardian newspaper and the PNGi network state that the 2015-2016 project in West New Britain Province “was fraught with problems, requiring the ADB to temporarily stop payments and send in inspectors…. Eventually, the contract (was) terminated and re-tendered to a Chinese company”.

The information in these reports is deeply disturbing. It raises the question – yet again - of whether Mr O’Neill is a fit and proper person to be prime minister.

Continue reading "PM should step down over conduct: vast evidence of wrongdoing" »


Our media freedom is under threat; but we have a voice

Awagl_Jimmy
Jimmy Awagl - "Scott Waide, the people are with you. You can’t lose your voice because we are your voice"

JIMMY AWAGL

KUNDIAWA - Papua New Guinea is a democratic society bound by its constitution which includes freedom of expression.

Neither leaders nor lawmakers are meant to suppress the voices of liberation or deprive citizens themselves of having a voice.

Yet the suppression of public voices is obviously being practiced in PNG - with further restrictions being considered.

The recent suspension of courageous EMTV journalist Scott Waide is a mockery of media freedom in a democratically constituted country.

The political leaders, cronies and managers implicated have been high-handed in dictating their own wishes and imposing them on media and journalism - and on the people - of this country.

These would-be autocrats seem to believe that reporting on what they see as sensitive issues (to them) is morally unjustifiable or unethical and does not warrant reporting for public consumption by anyone, especially an eminent journalist.

This attitude, they seem to think, elevates them above the constitution and people of this country - and they seem to believe this elevated role is available to them but not to any of the rest of us.

Continue reading "Our media freedom is under threat; but we have a voice" »


Who was culprit behind the govt's revenge on Waide?

Revenge-on-WaideBRYAN KRAMER MP | Pacific Media Watch

MADANG - Papua New Guinea’s O’Neill government has taken revenge against senior EMTV reporter Scott Waide, who was suspended over his broadcasting of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s comments about the Maserati scandal.

I was informed soon after APEC that O’Neill planned on sacking Waide. However, there was pushback from EMTV management and staff so they decided to instead suspend him and order that he go on leave.

I suspect given the recent unrest in Port Moresby involving security forces they had to be careful not to trigger another incident.

So the real question is, who was behind the decision calling for Waide’s sacking/suspension, prime minister Peter O’Neill himself or the usual suspects such as O’Neill’s chief media officer Chris Hawkins or APEC minister Justin Tkatchenko?

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Waide dumping condemned as vindictive & dictatorial

Scott Waide talking to students
Scott Waide speaks at a Transparency International youth program. The overhead slide is headlined 'A Guardian of Democracy', which Waide's many admirers consider him to be

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – Readers of PNG Attitude have joined thousands of Papua New Guineans and people internationally in voicing strong support for journalist and blogger Scott Waide.

Waide has been suspended from his senior job with EMTV after the television station management received instructions from the Papua New Guinea government to do so.

The prominent journalist was linked to a story broadcast on Saturday 17 November which originated in New Zealand and mentioned that prime minister Jacinta Ardern would not be travelling one of the 40 Maseratis imported by the PNG government for use at APEC.

The purchase had generated great controversy and much criticism in PNG and in the overseas media.

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Uproar over Maserati TV item leads to suspension of top journalist

Reinstate Scott WaideKEITH JACKSON

NOOSA - In the weeks before the recent APEC meeting in Port Moresby, the eminent Papua New Guinean journalist, Scott Waide – assisted by his listeners and viewers throughout PNG, gathered first-hand evidence that the health ministry had been lying about the availability of drugs and medical equipment across the country.

It wasn’t the first time that EMTV’s senior reporter had identified and related factual stories that the PNG government found embarrassing, but this one – implicating powerful and controversial health minister Dr Puka Temu - apparently seriously stung the government. You can read the story here.

But on Saturday 17 November, in an EMTV news bulletin, another story about the PNG Maserati scandal  was broadcast slap bang in the middle of the APEC leaders' summit, triggering the suspension of Scott Waide, a senior figure at the broadcaster.

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The triumph of the idiocracy will see us pay a very high price

Idiocracy_movie_posterCHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE – ‘Idiocracy’ is the title of a satirical film made in 2006, the premise of which was that the entire world had become stupid and was governed by idiots. Subsequently, the term idiocracy has come to mean government by fools.

It is a splendidly evocative word and neatly fits the premise of the film. It appears to have originally been conceived as an amalgam of the words ‘idiot’ and ‘democracy’.

However, I think that the word ‘ideology’ should be in the mix too, because it is now quite clear that the democratic world has collectively allowed itself to be governed, or at least greatly influenced by, a much more sinister idiocracy than the film makers had in mind.

Consider the abundance of evidence in support of my thesis.

The first and most obvious example is the climate change deniers.

These are people whose stupidity manifests itself in their outright rejection of a huge body of scientific evidence that we humans are actively despoiling the one and only planet upon which we can actually live.

Even as the evidence continues to accumulate, they still clutch their pieces of coal while extolling the virtues of perhaps the most pernicious source of the climate change they so adamantly deny.

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Fairer & more accountable: Should PNG become a federation?

Brexit___dr_meddyCHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - One of the many challenges confronted when attempting to understand the flow of history is securing a broad consensus on what the agreed facts are and then, usually only after a good deal of argument, how the facts should be interpreted.

I mention this because recently I made the mistake of inserting myself into a debate about the forthcoming (or maybe not) Brexit, whereby Britain exits the European Union.

My mistake was, as a disinterested observer, to offer the view that there were some pretty significant issues with the structure and ultimate objectives of the EU which the so-called Remainers seem to studiously ignore when prosecuting their case. I was rather promptly and forcefully told that this was not the case and that everything was just wonderful with the EU.

I suppose if I had offered a view that the so-called Brexiteers are ignoring a lot that is good and worthwhile about the EU I doubtless would have been promptly howled down in much the same manner.

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The short attention span of the PNG public

Martyn Namorong on ABC TV
Voices like Martyn Namorong, Bryan Kramer MP, Governor Gary Juffa, Bal Kama and PNG Attitude writers do exist on social media but they struggle to be heard and find it hard to get traction

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - One of the tactics that the politicians of Papua New Guinea rely upon is the fallibility and short life span of public memory.

The way it works is fairly simple. When an uncomfortable truth is revealed about their behaviour, PNG politicians resort to bluster and threats and, if that doesn’t work, stalling in the courts until everyone gets bored and forgets about it.

The stalling in the courts is relied upon as a regular source of income by a whole cadre of lawyers with questionable ethics. That income is usually supplied from the public coffers.

Prime minister Peter O’Neill is a master of this sort of tactical deception. It’s not his invention, there are many precedents for its efficacy, but he has refined it to a fine art.

There are a couple of ways by which it can come unstuck.

The first is the pursuit of the issue by statutory bodies set up to monitor such things. Task Force Sweep was one of those.

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PNG budget shifts massive funds from provinces to Waigani

Port Moresby 181110
Port Moresby this week. Constituency politician alert: You're losing your discretionary  funds and they're coming home to Uncle Pete

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – In an expansionary budget that Papua New Guinea may not be able to afford, the biggest winner was…. the people….

No, just kidding. The biggest winner was the centralised administrative sector says Paul Flanagan, an economist who includes amongst his specialisations a close familiarity with Papua New Guinea.

In what at first glance looks like a perverse budget outcome, there was a transfer of nearly K1.1 billion from provinces and districts, effectively removing the discretionary spending previously controlled by governors and constituency MPs.

Despite drug and medical equipment shortages and escalating disease problems, the health sector was cut by 2% after allowing for inflation. And education received only a 1% increase, at odds with the government’s planning commitment to massively hike the number of teachers.

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We need politicians wise before the event, not after

Phil Fitzpatrick at mic
Phil Fitzpatrick - "It is obvious 'cruelty and ignorance' play a big part in the O’Neill government and governments before it. We might even call APEC cruel"

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Cher Bono, perennial pop singer, actor, activist and part Cherokee Native American once wondered what it would be like if she could turn back time.

Quite a few politicians have had the same thought. John Howard in Australia tried very hard to turn back time and US president Donald Trump is engaged in a similar but decidedly more destructive exercise.

In a less grander style, we also have politicians who, having served their time, trying to return to it by pushing what they consider to be the wisdom they gleaned from their past political experiences.

Some of the ideas they now peddle can be enlightening but you can’t help but wonder why they didn’t plan and act on them when they were in power.

When asked, they excuse themselves by explaining they were constrained by their political party or by external pressures beyond their control.

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APEC official 'Silver Fox' believed to be operating illegally in PNG

David Johnson (aka Silver Fox)
David Johnson (aka Silver Fox)

BRYAN KRAMER MP

MADANG – Investigations show that Australian David (Silver Fox) Johnson, who claims to be an APEC official, may have been operating illegally in Papua New Guinea.

This is the same David Johnson who in October threatened entrepreneur Emmanuel Narokobi for sharing on Facebook an article about the controversial arrival in PNG of 40 Maserati luxury cars.

Following this incident, I made further inquiries into Johnson's dealings in PNG and established that his company, Karama Consultants Limited, is operating illegally for failing to obtain IPA Certification - a requirement by law where a company is majority foreign-owned or controlled.

In December 2015 Johnson acquired the company in partnership with Michael Ekri in Lae – the shareholding was 60% Ekri (a PNG citizen) and 40% Johnson.

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‘Damn fool’ Australians slow to understand Chinese incursion

Decorative Chinese lanterns
Decorative Chinese lanterns hung in Port Moresby for APEC (Ben Jackson)

CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - The first Europeans who had contact with the Imperial Chinese government regarded their bureaucrats and officials as deeply inscrutable.

The Chinese had been trained to not reveal any indication of their true feelings or intentions to those they dealt with and, so it is said, often replied to direct questions with ambiguous answers.

Chinese language and symbology was and is similarly ambiguous. Slight changes in tone of voice can alter the meaning of a word or sentence. Similarly, written Chinese figures are full of subtleties and nuances.

In short, Chinese bureaucrats have long been the masters of using subtlety and ambiguity in saying one thing while meaning another.

I am sure that the lanterns on display in Port Moresby are, at one level at least, merely decoration. However, as many astute Papua New Guineans have realised, they also send another message.

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Papua New Guinea, in the march of history where are you going?

Samarai  about 1927
Samarai, about 1927

CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - At 11am on 11 November 1918, the Great War between Europe’s imperial powers, which had raged for over four years, came to a shuddering halt. The costs in human lives and suffering were incalculable and the geo-political impacts were profound.

On the losing side, the previously great German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires were utterly destroyed and their remnants dismembered.

On the winning side, the largest remaining imperial powers, Britain and France, survived mostly intact. However, they had sustained what would prove to be mortal social, economic and political wounds and one more cataclysmic war 21 years later would bring about their collapse.

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Manus, great power rivalry & PNG’s non-aligned status

Patrick-kaiku
Patrick Kaiku - "The agreement to build a joint naval base on PNG territory is seriously flawed"

PATRICK KAIKU

PORT MORESBY - Australian prime minister Scott Morrison and his Papua New Guinean counterpart, Peter O’Neill recently signed off on a bilateral arrangement committing both countries to building a joint naval base on PNG's northerly island province of Manus.

Australia's upgrade of its security cooperation with PNG advances Australia's interest in counteracting China's growing influence in the Pacific Islands.

Australia, a traditional ally of the United States, is frantically trying to deter the expanding influence of China in the South Pacific.

As a former colonial administrator of PNG, the focus of Australia’s bilateral relations has always been rationalised on the notion that a stable PNG is vital to Australian strategic interest. A delicate approach respecting PNG’s sovereignty has underpinned previous dealings.

In the current context, this latest move to build a naval facility on PNG territory is unprecedented.

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If we can’t change the government, let’s change the prime minister

Morauta O'Neill
Sir Mekere Morauta (left) calls for a joint effort in the PNG parliament to unite MPs in an effort to tip out controversial prime minister Peter O'Neill

SIR MEKERE MORAUTA MP

PORT MORESBY - The merger of PNG Party with the National Alliance is a very clear demonstration of the Opposition’s determination to do everything in its power to change the prime minister.

I am very happy to join National Alliance along with my PNG Party colleagues and together work with like-minded members on the other side to replace the prime minister.

The National Alliance is a well-established party with a record of stability and competent management. it has some outstanding members of parliament in its ranks.

PNG Party has a record of undertaking reform and restoring the country to good health following the havoc caused by a previous People’s National Congress government.

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Strike #2 coming up - but change is more than removing a PM

Namorong - If we really love our childrenMARTYN NAMORONG

PORT MORESBY - Gudpla sindaun na bel isi. Settle down and take it easy. Change is more than just changing faces.

Our people want change but change is more than just removing a prime minister.

Our people want change. However it’s not just the change of personalities but a holistic change that will improve their livelihood and wellbeing.

Such change does not just come from removing a prime minister but from redefining Papua New Guinea’s model of development. It’s about social, economic, political and cultural reform that will create an inclusive and just society.

It is about a development pathway that empowers the people of Papua New Guinea so the people and not politicians lead the country into a brighter future.

To replace some individuals with other individuals without redefining the underlying model of development is a band-aid solution.

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The making and unmaking of Papua New Guinea

Australian attitude (Cathy Wilcox  SMH  VDP)PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Here’s an inescapable truth. Papua New Guinea is Australia’s baby. We conceived it, modelled it and then launched it into the world with ‘Made in Australia’ firmly stamped on its bum.

Our creation was done in the tried and true Australian way known as ‘bush carpentry’. Our lackadaisical administrators pulled together over 800 disparate tribes using fencing wire and odd bits of wood and some rusty tin and called it a dinky-di nation.

We then tossed it the keys and said ‘go for it’.

We weren’t especially interested in who picked up those keys. We just turned our backs and went home. We didn’t even look over our shoulder to see how our cobbled together creation was faring.

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Your government is not your country; you are your country

Images1PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - It’s important to differentiate between your government and your country. Neither wholly represents the other and oft times the difference is quite stark.

Whereas your country is consistent and reliable, your government can be quite the opposite.

At the moment, for instance, the Australian government appears to be out of step with its country and its people on a plethora of issues.

Images2If someone suggested that our prime minister and his ministers somehow represent what Australia as a nation is, they would be laughed out of the room.

I have a great affection for Australia and its people but I’m coming to loath the Australian government.

I think the Australian government is, in so many ways, setting out to destroy our great country through a combination of deliberate ignorance and arrogance.

For some inexplicable reason they think what they are doing is what the people want and what the nation needs. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare – an appraisal

Michael Somare  1974
Michael Somare, as chief minister in 1974, a year before independence, hands out the new PNG flags to school children

CHRIS OVERLAND

Sir Michael Somare is on a protracted farewell tour of Papua New Guinea as the 82-year old inaugural prime minister who led PNG into independence moves into retirement. Chris Overland looks at his legacy....

ADELAIDE - I first met Michael Somare in 1969, when both he and I were much younger and slimmer than we are now.

As I recall, he was chairing a parliamentary select committee seeking the views of the people on Papua New Guinea becoming self-governing and, eventually, independent.

I was a mere Assistant Patrol Officer at the time and thus a person of no consequence at all, so I imagine that our fleeting conversation would have not even registered in his memory at the time, let alone later.

However, from that brief meeting I formed a strong impression of him as a very determined man, certain of PNG's destiny as an independent country and quite unwilling to accept anything less from an initially reluctant colonial power.

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