PNG’s Chinese emerge as influencers


The Chinese in PNG Cover

The Chinese in Papua New Guinea: Past, Present and Future, Edited by Anna Hayes, Rosita Henry and Michael Wood. Published 2024 by ANU Press, Australian National University, Canberra.  Free PDF can be downloaded here. Paperback version also available for $60 plus postage

TUMBY BAY - My first extended encounter with the Chinese in Papua New Guinea was in Mount Hagen in 1967.

There were several Chinese stores in the town, and a great restaurant. I think the Chinese community also had something to do with the picture theatre that was built around 1968-69.

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The impending, testy vote on B'ville

| Academia Nomad

PORT MORESBY – On Monday, not for the first time, the contentious matter of Bougainville’s future was debated on the floor of Papua New Guinea’s parliament.

The most controversial issue of all is that the result of the 2019 referendum, in which 97.7% of Bougainvilleans voted for independence, was intended to be non-binding.

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Put Enga first, Speaker Pomat tells MPs

| Academia Nomad

UNDPEngans desperately try to dig for victims of the landslide (UNDP)

PORT MORESBY - I’ve never been a fan of Job Pomat (and for good reason), but what he said today in parliament is that what every national leader should say and do in times of disaster.

After the prime minister and opposition leader had belatedly spoken about the Enga landslide and offered condolences, Pomat, speaking in Pidgin, said something along the lines of the following:

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B'villeans sue miners over land damage

| Bougainville News


(Radio New Zealand)          Bougainvilleans want compensation for environmental damage caused by the Panguna mine (Radio New Zealand)

BUKA - A class action involving thousands of people is being brought against Rio Tinto and Bougainville Copper Ltd over the environmental and social destruction wrought by the Panguna mine in the autonomous region of Bougainville.

The action is headed by Martin Miriori, the brother of Bougainville’s first president, Joseph Kabui, and former secretary of the separatist Bougainville Interim Government during the civil war.

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Shock Pangu Pati split. What happens now?

| Academia Nomad

Allan Bird and James Marape (Radio New Zealand)
Likely challenger Allan Bird and troubled prime minister James Marape. Bird is the highly respected Governor of East Sepik Province (Radio New Zealand)

PORT MORESBY - Pangu Pati, the leading coalition partner in the current Papua New Guinea government, has split.

My test for a successful change in government in PNG is when there is a significant split within the biggest coalition party.

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Cautious notes for social media activists

| Academia Nomad

Publicly criticising the judiciary is usually a bad idea.
(Bing image inspiration created by by AI)

PORT MORESBY – The recent arrest and refusal of bail for social activist and political commentator Samson Komati arrest is reminiscent of Bryan Kramer’s arrest before he became an MP. Bryan was an activist and a prolific social media commentator on politics and related matters.

Under two prime ministers, Papua New Guinea has become a place where social media activists are arrested and jailed.

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Why the best MPs will never lead PNG

| Academia Nomad

Rainbow Paita MP  -  one of the backroom operatives always in with a chance of running the country (Facebook)

PORT MORESBY - Rainbow Paita is the MP for Finschhafen Open and a senior minister in the Marape coalition government.

Paita’s name often floats around when attempts of a vote of no confidence occur aimed at securing the prime minister’s position.  Either he’s a candidate or a behind the scenes operative.

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PNG’s Chinese changing of the guard

| An extract from Chapter 4 of The Chinese in Papua New Guinea: Past, Present and Future, edited by Anna Hayes, Rosita Henry & Michael Wood, Australian National University, 2024

Link here to the entirety of Chapter 4: The rise and rise of China: Contemporary Chinese community in PNG (2010–2020) by James Chin

Port Moresby cafe scene (Generated by Copilot AI  18 May 2024)
Port Moresby cafe scene (Generated by Copilot AI 18 May 2024)



CANBERRA - In a period of one decade (2010–2020), the power balance among the Chinese community in Papua New Guinea has shifted significantly from the PNG born Chinese and the Southeast Asian Chinese to mainland Chinese.

The speed of this transition has been remarkable. However, the trend in PNG is consistent with global trends where the rapid rise of China has totally changed the environment that is familiar to the West.

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No Mr Bird, PNG is not ‘printing money’

| Academia Nomad

PORT MORESBY - Once again, the opposition is trying to mislead the people of Papua New Guinea in recent statements that PNG is printing money to fund the budget deficit.

This is just wrong. The International Monetary Fund verifies this is wrong. It is a condition of the IMF program that PNG does not print money to finance the deficit.

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IMF & World Bank get it wrong for PNG

| Academia Nomad

WEWAK - I disagree with the position of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in relation to the devaluation of the kina now underway.

The IMF believes that depreciating the kina will encourage exports and assist PNG production. In fact the opposite is true.

In the last 49 years, the PNG economy has not diversified much and therefore a significant depreciation is not going to automatically result in increased production and exports.

We had a significant depreciation 24 years ago which did not result in any significant benefits. It just led to more hardship for ordinary people.

This is because PNG has not invested in the productive capacity of the economy.  It is not possible to quickly increase production.

Only the extractive sector is able to do that, but almost all of these companies are operating at peak or declining capacity.

I just saw a 10kg bag of rice increase from K50 to K56, the second price increase this year.

Depreciation is already hurting ordinary people. While some low income earners are getting a tax break, the vast majority of people in the informal sector cannot access similar assistance.

The Marape government in chasing cheap loans and having resorted to printing money may have unknowingly placed a rope around the necks of ordinary citizens.

I believe a reasonable kina trading band of around 30 US cents and 40 Australian cents is what we should be aiming for.

We must restrain government borrowings and improve fiscal discipline. We must live within our means.

We must also redirect spending not just on economic enablers but also on the productive capacity of the various sectors.

We must also look at tax incentives to encourage private sector investment to help diversify our economy.

We must decentralise our government structure as a means of encouraging spread of private sector investments. The engine room for growth is in the provinces, not in Waigani.

We must have a smaller central government that oversees provinces and doesn't compete with them.

We need to expand private sector investment and support private sector to grow both the economy and jobs. It is not government that grows the economy, private sector does that.

Too much government control, coupled with corruption is killing our economy.

The Marape government has borrowed K32 billion over the last five years but has only proven that it is incapable of growing the economy. Economic growth has lagged behind this government borrowing.

I hope all current and future leaders learn something from this grave mistake and not repeat it in the future.

We have a situation in our country where the government thinks it should be running businesses - and it fails miserably. We should focus on governing and leave business to the private sector.

It's time for a reset. Marape has taken PNG backwards by 20 years. It's time to take PNG forward.

* Allan Bird is Governor of East Sepik Province in Papua New Guinea and is seen as a likely candidate for prime minister after the next national election

Needed: ASOPA people from back then


ASOPA students circa 1960
ASOPA students circa 1960 (National Archives of Australia)

SYDNEY - Alexandra Frost is a higher degree research student at the University of Sydney, investigating the student experience, education and training at the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA).

As part of her research, Alexandra is conducting a survey of people who attended, taught or worked at ASOPA during its 27-year lifetime from 1946 to 1973.

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