The great unwashed take charge


TUMBY BAY - I was very interested in art when I was at high school and in my final year visited an advertising agency as part of a school careers program.

It wasn’t a work experience program, just visits to places where people worked in careers that interested us. I was intent on talking to the commercial artists in the company.

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The 2019 Asia Pacific Corruption Index

| Transparency International

BERLIN - A regional average of 45, after many consecutive years of an average score of 44, illustrates general corruption performance stagnation across the Asia Pacific.

Despite the presence of high performers like New Zealand (87), Singapore (85), Australia (77), Hong Kong (76) and Japan (73), the Asia Pacific region hasn’t witnessed substantial progress in anti-corruption efforts or results.

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Me & corruption – a true story

Leonard Roka holding coconut
Author Leonard Fong Roka - "Why should I vote for the political leaders under which this rot is happening"


PANGUNA - I re-entered the service of the Autonomous Bougainville Government in May 2017 after a short stint in late 2014-15.

My desire was a permanent career in the Bougainville Peace Agreement and Implementation Department’s referendum directorate. But, as the bosses said, I was kicked out for non-performance.

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Sam Koim’s new appointment

Sam koim
Sam Koim - former corruption buster, now the new Commissioner-General of PNG's Internal Revenue Commission

| New Head of the Internal Revenue Commission | Edited extract

PORT MORESBY - My vision for the Internal Revenue Commission [IRC] is: “building the foundations of a robust, modern and efficient tax administration”.

Albert Einstein once said “intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them”. It is logical, not necessarily genius, to find lasting preventative measures instead of costly and repetitive firefighting solutions.

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PNG defends human rights effort

Davis Steven
Deputy prime minister Davis Steven says NGO has been premature in its judgement of PNG's human rights and change is now very close (PNG PM Media Unit)

| Radio New Zealand

AUCKLAND - Papua New Guinea's government has defended its efforts to protect human rights.

This follows a damning international NGO report into the state of human rights in PNG.

Human Rights Watch's annual summary on PNG says little was done in the past year to tackle corruption, police abuses and domestic violence.

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The world is teeming with cyber crooks


TUMBY BAY - My next door neighbour and his wife are in their eighties. He’s a tough old cereal farmer and she’s a retired hospital matron. They are trying to live out their twilight years as happily as possible.

Not a week goes by, however, that they don’t come over to ask me about a concerning telephone call they’ve had or a strange email they’ve received.

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Deputy takes over health hot seat

Dr Paison Dakulala
Dr Paison Dakulala

| Radio New Zealand

AUCKLAND – A new appointment has been made to Papua New Guinea's embattled health department, after the former health secretary's contract expired this week.

Dr Paison Dakulala will take over on a three month contract after Pascoe Kase's contract expired on Monday and was not renewed.

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Warlords enter 2020 striving for peace

A faction arrives for the peace ceremony
A faction of warlords and fighter arrives for the peace ceremony


PORT MORESBY – People using the Okuk highway that ploughs through the New Guinea highlands know only too well the frequent tribal skirmishes that have caused fear to the travelling public this past 20 years.

The fighting has erupted violently and unpredictably at Ganigle in the Kerowagi district of the Simbu Province.

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Bougainville govt to change name

| Papua New Guinea Today

BUKA - The Autonomous Bougainville Government is set to change its name to the Bougainville Constitutional Transitional Government to reflect the people’s vote for independence.

Bougainville’s post referendum minister Albert Punghau told The National newspaper that because 98% of Bougainvilleans had voted in favour of independence in last year’s referendum, the Bougainville government felt the need to change its name to reflect the overwhelming result.

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ContemplationMARIE-ROSE SAU

There are moments in time when I wonder
if I am ever really true to myself
That’s when I look at the skies, the clouds,
the touch of the wind, the sun kissed rays
The feel of the leaves, the sound of the birds,
tasting feelings that swirl all around
Nature is the lover’s muse, if I may say so
Offering feelings so raw and explicit
Yes, wonderful and frightening
Testing, making me falter in awe
Craving and yearning with burning desire
to see more and feel more and want more
Yet, when rain falls and thunder claps and lightning strikes,
we quiver and shy away

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Emotion at Simbu bushfire appeal

Cheque handover
(L-R) Greenland managing director Andy Siure, provincial administrator and patron Michael Temai, appeal fundraising chairman Mathias Kin, Greenland co-owner Josephine Siure and fundraising committee member Augustina Gary


KUNDIAWA - In an emotional presentation on Saturday, a Kundiawa company operated by brother and sister Andy and Josephine Siure, Greenland Limited, has presented a cheque for K5,000 to the ‘Simbu for Australia Bushfire Appeal’.

Appeal patron and Simbu provincial administrator Michael Bal Temai received the cheque on behalf of the fundraising committee.

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Rotarian's generous donation

Bound for Oro - the former Australian Defence Force Mercedes Benz four-wheel-drive truck

| The Standard (Warrnambool)

WARRNAMBOOL - A Warrnambool man has purchased a four-wheel-drive to help volunteers in Papua New Guinea give residents access to fresh water.

Ian Watson, a team of the Rotary Papua New Guinea Project Group, has taken part in four volunteer missions and discovered the team's biggest challenge was moving the team and its equipment.

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The view from down here

Philip Kai Morre
Philip Kai Morre - "Culture is meant for change and we are in a global village adapting to new ways of doing things"


KUNDIAWA - As a son of a Stone Age man, and having experienced the beauty of cultural heritage, I tried to hold back in my naturalistic fallacy of retaining good cultural values, norms and a belief system in the traditional mode. But conditions did not, and do not, allow.

So I go with the current cultural, economic, political and ideological changes and embrace modern science and technology.

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PNG must change its spending systems

Allan Bird
Governor Allan Bird - "Right now the only real check and balance is the individual"

| Governor, East Sepik Province

WEWAK - Our country is overrun with corruption because we do not have effective checks on power.

There is a complete lack of checks and balances in the system. In fact I would say that there aren’t any checks and balances at all.

We negotiate for an opportunity to spend money. Everyone spends public money, from the prime minister all the way to the local level government presidents, ward members and public servants.

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The 2019 kiap reunion

'The Remnants of Reunion'. Photo taken late afternoon by Harry Redmond. Kiaps still happily chatting when everyone else has gone home. (L to R) Bob Hoad, Chips Mackellar, Ian Thompson, Peter Salmon, Dave Young, Dave Agg, John Blythe and Graham Watts


In honour of those kiaps who went on their Last Patrol between the 2017 and the 2019 Reunions. May their beers be cold, and may their camaraderie continue up there in that big Patrol Post in the Sky

WARWICK, QLD - It was a joyous gathering at the Kawana Waters Hotel that day, but the years have taken their toll, for the fact is that many of us who attended our last reunion did not make it for this one.

And we have to face it, some of us won’t get there for the next one either.

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A nation without literature

Literature 2
Daniel Kumbon's open letter to prime minister James Marape was published in the PNG Post-Courier yesterday. Will this finally open official doors to the glory of Melanesian literature?


WABAG - “A country without literature and without history is not a country, it’s a collection of disparate people who happen to inhabit the same space,” says Anna Porter about her passion for Canadian literature and her prolific career as one of the country’s most influential publishers.

Imagine Christianity without the Bible, Judaism without the Torah, Muslims without the Quran, Hindu without Bhagavad-Gita, Ramayana and Veda.

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Barrick Gold forges ahead

| Reuters | Extract

MELBOURNE - Barrick Gold is set to elevate its troubled Papua New Guinea mine to its top-tier assets, despite landowner and government demands to cede a larger stake and deteriorating security at the joint venture with China's Zijin Mining.

With a 20-year lease renewal application in the balance, Barrick has faced backlash from PNG landowners and residents.

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The enigma of James Marape

An elderly aunt in Indiana (not Phil Fitzpatrick's)


TUMBY BAY - I’ve got an elderly aunt in Indiana, USA, who thinks Donald Trump is wonderful. She was a volunteer in his 2016 election campaign and is thinking about doing it again this year.

My aunt thinks Barack Obama was the worst president that America ever had and that the Democrats are socialists who will destroy America.

Continue reading "The enigma of James Marape" »

The iconic patrol box

Patrol boxes (Graham Forster)
"Their endurance was awesome. Since the moment they could walk they had been trained to overcome every discomfort" (Graham Forster)


NORTHUMBRIA, UK - Patrol boxes are embedded within the memory of every kiap and, indeed, anyone who went “on patrol” in pre-independence Papua New Guinea.

In difficult country they could be awkward, even brutish, burdens but nevertheless were toted, uphill and down dale for mile after endless mile by village carriers without whose help patrolling, a keystone kiap activity, could not have taken place.

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Regulating private security in PNG

| Devpolicy Blog

CANBERRA - As anyone who has visited Papua New Guinea in the past 20 years can attest, the private security industry is booming.

Office buildings are often only accessible by passing by rolls of sharp barbed wire, pointed fences and uniformed guards with large caps.

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Under Marape, rights getting worse - report

James marape glum
"PNG has not really worked to dig itself out of the hole it was in, and it is only getting worse"

| Radio New Zealand

AUCKLAND - A human rights organisation has released a damning report into the state of Papua New Guinea, where a change of prime minister has done little to tackle rampant violence and corruption.

Human Rights Watch's annual report reveals rates of violence, domestic abuse, corruption and foreign debt haven't improved over the past year, where weak enforcement and a lack of accountability fostered a culture of impunity and lawlessness.

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Bougainville ‘dictatorship and suppression’?

John Momis
President John Momis - a Bougainville hero, but is he pushing too hard to assert control or do the difficult times need him?

| Pacific Beat | Australian Broadcasting Corporation

MELBOURNE - Three proposed amendments to the Bougainville constitution are set to be tabled in the provincial parliament, and one in particular is causing consternation in many quarters.

That change would allow the current president, John Momis, to run for an unprecedented third term at the election later this year.

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Australia deceives Pacific – again

The deceit began with 19th century 'blackbirding'  of slave labour to work in Australia - and it continues to this day in the form of denying climate change impacts on the Pacific

| Guardian Australia | Extract

CANBERRA - The Australian government is fighting to keep secret draft versions of its strategy for helping the Pacific deal with climate change, prompting concerns it may be hiding changes that weakened the final report.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade released its climate change action strategy in November, detailing how the foreign aid program would be used to help developing nations – particularly those in the Pacific – deal with global heating.

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Missionary sisters expect miracles

Villagers near the town of Bereina in Central Province
Villagers near the town of Bereina in Central Province

| Catholic Leader

BEREINA - When the villagers of impoverished Bereina need to quell their famine, they reach for the noxious betel nut.

In the town of Bereina, in the Central Province of Papua New Guinea, the addictive seed, which is prohibited in Australia, is often the only food source for the local villagers.

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Young Tess’s Pacific predictions 2020

Tess Newton Cain (2)
Tess Newton Cain

| Devpolicy Blog

BRISBANE - As we enter not only a new year but a new decade, there is much to anticipate in the Pacific islands region.

Elections and domestic politics

A number of countries in the region will have elections during 2020: Kiribati, Niue, Palau and Vanuatu.

The lingering discontent in Kiribati surrounding last year’s switch in diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China may have an adverse impact on the incumbent government.

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Cash crunch as debt repayment soars

James marape
James Marape and Australian high commissioner Bruce Davis - PNG's problems are bound to be Australia's problems too

| Reuters

SYDNEY & WELLINGTON - Papua New Guinea’s annual debt repayments to China are forecast to increase 25% by 2023, new budget figures show, at the same time as the Pacific nation falls to its largest ever deficit.

The resource-rich country, which is at the centre of a diplomatic tussle between China and the United States, has blamed extravagant spending by the previous administration for its souring finances, which will require the government to borrow even more to pay the bills.

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Pacific needs more than Morrison's thanks

Kundiawa bushfire rally
'Simbu for Australia' bushfire appeal rally in Kundiawa last week led by author Francis Nii in his wheelchair

| Guardian Australia | Extracts

SYDNEY - When Scott Morrison thanked governments of the world for their assistance with Australia’s bushfire crisis, he particularly singled out “the loving response from our Pacific family”.

Across the Pacific region – a collection of developing and least developed nations that are themselves almost uniquely at risk from climate-induced catastrophes – the response to the Australian bushfires has been immediate and generous, but it also reveals something of the problematic fraternity that Australia has with the rest of the region.

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Sarawak loggers deforest PNG

Extreme loggingAZRIL ANNUAR
| Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysian companies from Sarawak are allegedly trespassing while carrying out logging activities in Papua New Guinea and contributing towards deforestation in the island nation, says Sarawak Report.

The online investigative portal accused Sibu-based Rimbunan Hijau Group (RHG) and WTK Group as well as Amanab 56 Timber Investments Limited as among those stripping the resources of PNG.

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On managing cross culturally

Albert Schram VC
Dr Albert Schram when vice chancellor of the PNG University of Technology

| Extract

VERONA, ITALY - Despite having lived in four different developing countries outside Europe for more than 12 years, when I became president (vice-chancellor) of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology I realised I faced many challenges in trying to understand how and why people there were behaving in specific manners.

It turned out to be almost impossible to eradicate traditional concepts of leadership which revolve around status, rather than working together towards concrete objectives and a vision.

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China tests Pacific’s fragile democracies

China-South-Pacific-InfluencePHILIP CITOWICKI
| Foreign Policy | Extracts

Link here to read the complete article

WASHINGTON DC - A decade ago, then-US president Barack Obama billed himself as the “first Pacific president” and announced, several years later, a foreign-policy “pivot to Asia.”

But the pivot proved largely illusory, and the region only grows more complex. The growing challenges faced by Pacific island countries requires significant reassessment as the region becomes one of the tensest political battlegrounds in the world.

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Measles in POM 'deeply concerning'

| Radio New Zealand

PORT MORESBY - A senior Papua New Guinea health official says the confirmation of measles in the capital, Port Moresby, is deeply concerning, but he's hopeful any outbreak can be contained.

A five-year-old from Boroko was confirmed to have the disease earlier this week, the third in the country since last month.

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The story of George Oakes, kiap

George and  Edna 60th wedding anniversary 2019
George and Edna Oakes at home in Woodford on their 60th wedding anniversary last year


Return to Papua New Guinea, by George D Oakes, self-published in A4 format, 2019, 97 pages with lots of photographs. My copy from the author cost AU$40 with postage

TUMBY BAY - I’m getting on in years so it always surprises me to learn that old kiaps are still around who were in Papua New Guinea before I was born.

George Oakes doesn’t quite meet that criteria because I was six years old when he first started work as a kiap. Nevertheless we can still claim him as one of the ‘golden oldies’ from that magic 1950s period in PNG.

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Disaster awaits if we don’t plan

Informal settlers in Port Moresby (Catherine Wilson IPS)KOMBA SAKUMB
| Take Back PNG | Edited

PORT MORESBY - Have you ever wondered why urban settlements are growing, mass rural urban migration happening, urban accommodation rates skyrocketing, evictions from settlements are occurring everywhere…..

Have you ever wondered why urban customary land is being bought by outsiders, urban law and order problems are rising, urban poverty is growing, rural district centres are run down, the incidence of street begging, prostitution and cities full of rubbish is increasing?

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Making a start on a PNG book catalogue

_Croc Prize logoBAKA BINA

PORT MORESBY - Writings about Papua New Guinea and books by Papua New Guinean authors are multiplying but scattered all across the country.

There has never been a central reservoir of information about them. And there should be.

Most of these books are self-published by the authors, sometimes assisted by experienced people like Francis Nii and Jordan Dean, and produced using the Amazon hard copy and Kindle Direct Publishing ebook platforms.

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Bougainville: Which way, big man?

Yamin Kogoya


“This land must become holy again, Me’ekamui. We prayed to God and he gave us strength. This directed us to engage in clean battle. We were fighting for our rights, to get rid of all these bad companies and their effects. All BRA and all Bougainvilleans practiced this holiness… Our spirits had to be holy, so God would get rid of Satan [the mining companies} …And God helped us…” (the late Francis Ona, Bougainville Revolutionary Army commander)*

CANBERRA - A staggering 98% of Bougainvilleans voted for independence from Papua New Guinea in the recent referendum held between 23 November and 7 December.

Despite the overwhelming desire for autonomy, Bougainvilleans require political support and good faith from the PNG national government in Port Moresby before a new sovereign state can be established.

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5G, PNG & big power politics

5G technology is another arena of big power rivalry, with PNG caught between US and Chinese interests


WEWAK - Big data mining and the new science of singularity and its application in nanotechnology, nanobiology, machine learning and manufacturing have crept up on us in Papua New Guinea.

The announcement by the PNG government’s telco provider, Kumul Telikom, that it had reached an agreement with Huawei of China to roll out 5G starting in urban centres in 2020 threw our small science and engineering community into disarray.

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Simbu launches bushfire appeal


KUNDIAWA - Calling all the kind hearted Simbus within Papua New Guinea and abroad.

This is the time to show our solidarity with Australia - our closest neighbour, friend and strong development partner.

When we face natural disasters like the Aitape tsunami, the Rabaul volcanic eruptions and so many more, Australians were the first to be on the ground with support.

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The arrest of Peter O’Neill

Peter O'Neill - 'Those who are guilty always run and hide'

| Kramer Report | Edited

PORT MORESBY - When will Peter O'Neill be arrested? The appropriate authority to answer the question of when the former prime minister will be arrested to face the many corruption allegations against him is the police force.

But if someone were to ask for my opinion, I would say the short answer is sometime this year.

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Cliodynamics & Bougainville

In Greek mythology, Clio is the muse of history


ADELAIDE - Many readers may be as surprised as I was to learn that there is a thing such as cliodynamics, much less that it may have any role in explaining what is happening right now in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere.

Cliodynamics is defined as a transdisciplinary area of research (stay with me) integrating cultural evolution (how societies change over time), cliometrics (a form of economic history), macrosociology (the study of social systems and populations on a large scale), the mathematical modeling of historical processes over the very long term, and the construction and analysis of historical databases.

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PNG writers: What do we try next?

Phil Fitzpatrick at micPHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - It seems as though the latest effort in the form of a writer’s petition to get the Papua New Guinean government interested in a home grown literature has foundered on the rocks of apathy and ignorance once again.

The planning was good and there was a wave of optimism in the form of a new prime minister to finally bring the government to its senses but it wasn’t to be.

Continue reading "PNG writers: What do we try next?" »