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91 posts from November 2010

Cholera restricts PNG-Torres Strait travel


TRAVEL BETWEEN the Torres Strait and the PNG island of Daru has been restricted because of an outbreak of cholera.

Latest reports say 16 people, including four children, have died from cholera on Daru in the past three weeks and more than 300 have been treated for cholera-like symptoms.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs says all cross border travel under the free movement provisions of the Torres Strait Treaty has been restricted until further notice.

To date, the cholera outbreak has been restricted to Daru but there are concerns about the disease spreading to the PNG mainland.

Staff at clinics and aid posts in the Australian Torres Strait islands are looking out for people with symptoms.

Dr Steven Donohue, of Queensland Health, says there is no real risk of cholera spreading into the Australian Islands.

“Conditions for the spread of the disease are just not there. Very little of the disease is spread person to person.  Most of it is through dirty food and water and the environment,” he said.

Ominous politics in PNG as PM turns screw

IT MAY BE SIMPLY the pent up weight of events or it may be a looming no-confidence vote in Parliament, but events surrounding prime minister Somare have taken a bizarre and even ominous bizarre turn.

The extracts that follow are all taken from yesterday’s Post-Courier newspaper….

Baki rues his removal

By Oseah Philemon

SUSPENDED Police Commissioner Gari Baki yesterday described the manner in which he was suspended as "improper, morally and ethically wrong."

Mr Baki described his suspension as politically instigated, accusing the Government of using politics to destroy the police force. "The police force is now all over the place," he said.

He said what has happened to him was the end result of the long - running power struggle in the police force instigated by political interests.

Namah claims 'tribalism'

By Simon Eroro

LEADER of PNG Party Belden Namah has expressed grave concern over the timing of Gari Baki's suspension as police commissioner and the appointment of Tony Wagambie to the top post.

Mr Namah said more serious concerns were that the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare had now placed the country's national security and sovereignty under serious threat by tribalising the nation's forces.

PM ordered my 'kidnap' – Anjo

By Simon Eroro

NON-GOVERNMENT Organisation activist Noel Anjo yesterday dropped a bombshell, claiming he was "kidnapped" allegedly on orders from the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare in 2009….

Mr Anjo alleged that on February 16, 2009, he was taken to Mirigini House, the official residence of the PM where he alleged Sir Michael and wife Lady Veronica had turns in punching him.

MP: 'godfather' PM step down

By Simon Eroro

LEADER of the PNG Party, Belden Namah, described Sir Michael Somare as a "Pagan God" and "God-Father" urging him to resign immediately as his actions in ordering the kidnap of NGO activist Noel Anjo was unbecoming of a Prime Minister.

"Sir Michael's actions now warrant his resignation and challenged the new Police Commissioner Tony Wagambie and his deputy Fred Yakasa to arrest the PM for his part in ordering the kidnap of activist Noel Anjo which the new deputy commissioner was aware of since day one," Mr Namah said.

Spotter: Paul Oates

Parlt must reverse environment law changes


THE PNG CITIZENS’ action group ACT NOW! is calling on the PNG Parliament to reverse its controversial amendments to the Environment Act when it resumes next week,.

The amendments, passed by Parliament in May, removed landowners’ rights to be consulted about activities on their land.

They also denied people the right to challenge decisions through the courts and gave foreign companies immunity from liability for environmental damage.

The amendments are clearly not in the best interests of the people and were passed in very suspicious circumstances, with no prior disclosure, consultation or debate.

ACT NOW! has collected more than 15,000 signatures on a petition calling for the amendments to be reversed.

Parliament needs to listen to the people of PNG and must remember that it is the people that it represents.

Parliament must not allow itself to be manipulated and used by outside interests as has happened with these amendments.

For further information contact Effrey Dademo ACT NOW! Program Manager at [email protected]

Short story: The Blackbirders


An entry in The Crocodile Prize

There was hardly any cloud in the sky. From the vast blue above, the tropical morning sun shone brightly on Banio Bay, revealing a deep blue horseshoe-shaped expanse ringed by a narrow brown strip separating the sea from the green forest, which ran gently towards the mountain ranges in the distance.

Just beyond the southern corner of the bay, the kunai-covered Re’an Hills seemed out of place in the lush green Bougainville vegetation. The hills were the remains of a huge volcanic eruption of a long time ago – of which no-one knew.

It was low tide. Almost everybody was out on the reef. The men lined the edge of the water, casting strings attached to bamboo rods into the gently breaking waves. The women walked slowly along the dry reef, baskets in hand, collecting shells, crabs and anything else they came across. Black figures darted here and there, chasing the unfortunate fish caught in pools left behind by the receding water.

On the beach children played in the sand, as one or two dogs roamed the village looking for something to eat. White smoke rose lazily from the village to be dispersed by the breeze.

Then around the southern point, an object slowly turned into the bay. All movement stopped as eyes turned towards the object now travelling slowly along the coast. After a while people started moving again, coming together in groups to discuss what they saw. Was it some kind of a big canoe? What was that big post standing on top? Wouldn’t the weight of that post cause a capsize? And what was that noise and smoke?

As the thing got closer, white figures could be seen moving around. It was obvious this was a ship of some sort, towing a much smaller vessel. When the cutter came level with the crowd, it stopped and the small dinghy was pulled from behind.

Three white men carrying sticks got into the dinghy and pushed off. As the dinghy nosed in to the reef, the crowd sensed something. A few people slowly moved away; others hovered uncertainly. Some wanted to turn and run, but their curiosity was too strong. They wanted to stay and see what these white men would do.

The white men jumped off the dinghy and ran towards the crowd. Some of the crowd broke and ran and one of the white men pointed his stick up to the sky. There was a sharp cracking sound and smoke appeared at the end of the stick. The running men stopped and hesitated. This was enough to let the white men catch up. They grabbed three men and proceeded to tie their hands with rope.

The rest of the villagers ran as the three captured men were half dragged to the dinghy and taken aboard the cutter.

While all this was going on, a lone fisherman moved around the reef towards the Tsunpets river mouth, showing no interest in the unfolding drama. He had stopped to look at the vessel as it rounded the point into the bay and then gone back to his business, as if nothing unusual was happening.

Having got the three captives aboard, the cutter moved off towards the river mouth. It stopped, and the dinghy pushed off with the three hunters aboard. As it came to the reef the white men jumped off and hurried, half running, towards the lone figure.

With the rest of the villagers gone, the hunters’ intention was to grab anyone they could find. In that state of mind they did not realise how small was their present prey. Two men grabbed him, one on each arm, and propelled him, half carrying him, back to the dinghy then to the cutter.

He did not show much fight as they bundled him on to the ship, which started moving again past the mouth of the Tsunpets River. Further on, it stopped once more and two more captives were taken before the vessel moved on towards the entrance of the Bay.

It was just after midday as the cutter headed out of Banio Bay. Back on shore women and children wept and people wondered whether they would see their men again. They had no idea where the boat had taken them. On the ship the captives sat huddled inside the hold, eyes darting here and there as if looking for ways to escape.

The smallest one did not show much anxiety. He was calm and sat there quietly. None of them spoke. They did not know it, but they were on their way to the cane farms of Queensland. Whether they liked it or not did not really matter.

Extract from ‘Tokis: In search of the hidden population’ – an unpublished manuscript

The Crocodile Prize is PNG's national literary contest - offering awards of K2,500 each for short stories like this one, poetry and journalism.  You can read full details under Attitude Extra at left.

'Discourses': A one-act play in seven scenes

THE STORY SO FAR: PNG’s national parliament begins its last session for 2010 on Tuesday. A vote of no confidence in the Somare Government has been mooted. Meanwhile, Speaker Jeffrey Nape has been holed up for the parliamentary break getting some well-earned R&R and taking the waters in Cairns, Queensland.

DRAMATIS PERSONAE: Speaker Nape, Prime Minister Somare, many other prominent PNG political figures who are well-known travellers by air

SCENE 1: Prime Minister Somare pays the Cairns-based Speaker Nape a visit and the two men enjoy a healthy lunch

SCENE 2: Not so long after, Mr Nape is pleased to receive the Treasurer and People's National Congress Party leader, Peter O'Neill, for mutually beneficial talks

SCENE 3: Next, Enga Governor and People's Party leader, Peter Ipatas, and Southern Highlands Governor and United Resources Party founder, Anderson Agiru, having travelled to Cairns by air, spend some quality time with the Speaker

SCENE 4: Rural Development Party leader Moses Maladina and United Resources Party leader, William Duma, who are also in town with an agenda of their own, take the waters with Mr Nape

SCENE 5: Deputy Prime Minister, Don Polye, having flown to Cairns especially for a meeting with Mr Nape, does so before returning to Port Moresby

SCENE 6: PNG Party leader, Belden Namah, and Bulolo MP, Sam Basil, after a private meeting with the Speaker, check in at Cairns International to catch the Air Niugini flight back to Port Moresby just as….

SCENE 7: Public Enterprises Minister, Arthur Somare, arrives in Cairns by Qantas jet having arranged a meeting with Mr Nape, whose diary is bursting at the seams. Mr Somare Jr seeks the Speaker’s views on how members should vote on important bills like a vote of no-confidence. “I have my legal advice on this, and I believe the Speaker's would not be much different. That is why I am meeting him.”  Consensus view: Very much worth the trip

PNG Lands Department corrupt: top lawyer


AAP – PNG’s TOP legal bureaucrat has blasted the country’s Lands Department as “entirely corrupt” for allocating millions of hectares of land for special agricultural leases.

Secretary of the Department of Justice and Attorney General, Dr Lawrence Kalinoe, was responding to reports that the Lands Department recently gave away more than one million hectares of pristine forest in the Western Province for agricultural leases.

“The department is entirely corrupt,” Dr Kalinoe said.

“Officers and certain rogue landowners are colluding and conniving with each other to sell off customary land for their own benefit and interest while the majority of landowners are left out.

“I am disappointed and angry that things are not the way they should be there,” he said.

Western Province has half of PNG’s allocated 4.3 million hectares of “Special Purpose Agricultural and Business Leases”.

The Lands Department usually grants the leases to foreign companies to develop plantations and other agricultural projects, but in the past unscrupulous players have used the leases to bypass laws to cut down forests, export the logs and then vanish overnight.

The special leases have prompted green groups, NGOs and government officials to raise concerns that forests were under threat from “logging by stealth”.

Lands Secretary Pepi Kimas welcomed an investigation into his department.

“I cannot deny that there are corrupt officers in the Lands Department and for that matter in any department.

“The dilemma is identifying them and removing them,” he said.

ASOPA – the Class of '62-'63 reunites....

This weekend, just shy of 49 years on, the Class of 1962-63, Cadet Education Officers, Australian School of Pacific Administration, regroups in Sydney to mark its coming together and to reflect on the circumstances that motivated these young men and women to train to teach in what was then the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.  KEITH JACKSON reprises the history of ASOPA

SO THIS IS MIDDLE HEAD. A succession of winding plateaus and spurs culminates in a jutting headland pointing to the open sea between Sydney Heads. The stratified sandstone slopes are steep, having been cracked, warped and uplifted over millions of years.

The headland overlooks the flooded river valleys of Sydney and Middle Harbours and offers sweeping views of bush and water. The shoreline is a rich aquatic habitat. The bushland mostly confined to the steep slopes.

The area provides a rich record of Australia’s heritage, including Aboriginal culture. Middens and stone engravings provide evidence of Aboriginal life prior to 1788.

Bungaree’s Farm, Governor Macquarie’s experiment in introducing Aborigines to the settled ways of European agriculture, was sited on the peninsula.

The main theme of the colonial heritage, defence, reflects the concerns of an isolated colony. There has been a defence association with this land since a fort was constructed near Obelisk Beach in 1801.

There is a profusion of heritage buildings on Middle Head. The 1870s fortifications of gun batteries and buildings, particularly James Barnet’s barracks, are places of great significance.

Other important groups of buildings include the Submarine Miners Depot at Chowder Bay (1890–1), the World War I Military Hospital buildings (1916–22), the World War 2 Barracks converted to the School of Pacific Administration in 1949 and the Army School of Intelligence (late 1950s).

In 1945, General Sir Thomas Blamey had given approval for the Australian Army to established a School of Civil Affairs in the grounds of Duntroon Military College to train officers for the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit.

In March 1946, the School became a civil institution and was renamed The Australian School of Pacific Administration. It was transferred first to Mosman and later to Middle Head.

ASOPA was given statutory recognition under the Papua New Guinea Act in 1949 and continued to function as a responsibility of the Minister for External Territories until 1 December 1973.

At this time the Australian Government decided to integrate ASOPA into the structure of the Australian Development Assistance Agency (later AIDAB, then AusAID) under the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the International Training Institute came into existence.

Another functional shift – and change in name to Centre for Pacific Development and Training - saw the former ASOPA used as a base for consultants operating in the South Pacific region until this role was disestablished in 2001

The old ASOPA is now heritage listed, the old buildings have been refurbished and this historically rich enclave awaits another, this time perhaps a commercial, life.

Baki ousted as Moresby police go on full alert


POLICE in the nation’s capital were on full alert today after the PNG Cabinet suspended Police Commissioner Gari Baki, The National reports.

The government moved quickly to replace him, naming veteran cop Tony Wagambie acting police commissioner and Fred Yakasa as deputy.

The Cabinet, in making the move, ordered investigations into Mr Baki’s conduct as police chief in the past four years. He is under suspension with full pay until the investigations are completed.

Mr Baki’s job was on the line after Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare removed Police Minister Sani Rambi recently and replaced him with Mark Maipakai.

In documents leaked to the media, the prime minister accused Baki and Rambi of misleading senior members of Cabinet into getting K10 million approved for LNG operations.

After transferring Mr Rambi from the Police to the Labour portfolio, the prime minister wrote to Public Service Minister Peter O’Neill to prepare papers to replace Mr Baki.

The letter to Mr O’Neill stated reasons that the commissioner had allowed the police force to run down and there was a general breakdown in law and order.

Mr Baki responded last Friday, categorically denying the allegations that he had misled the prime minister and senior Cabinet ministers.

He said in his briefing to Cabinet that the withdrawal of police personnel did not affect the whole of the LNG project areas but only Kopi, Kikori and Gobe.

The main reason was logistics difficulties that police were experiencing for the whole LNG project and it was necessary to secure additional funding from the government in addition to what Esso Highlands was providing for operational work, which was outside the agreed arrangements covered in a memorandum of understanding.

Mr Baki’s brief also explained that by solely relying on the funding provided by the LNG developer would create a notion, or allow people to form opinions, that the deployment of the police mobile squads to the LNG project sites was merely a private security arrangement for the project.

He stated it also questioned the constitutional independence of the police force.

Factions within the police force received news of the suspension of Mr Baki with mixed reactions.

One group mobilised last night on Burns Peak, ready to move into a deserted police headquarters at Konedobu.

Security was also stepped up for senior cabinet ministers and the prime minister amid the reported build-up of tension last night.

Spotter: Paul Oates

So what is the story that I should tell?


Class's Out! 

TUCKED AWAY behind the Nobnob mountains on Madang’s north coast is a small school – Nobnob Primary School.

Its students are the liveliest bunch of youngsters. Keen to learn and well behaved. Even when the teacher’s not there.

But like many schools in PNG, the fibro classrooms show the wear and tear of the generations of kids who have passed through.

Kids & Dictionary I was visiting the school to find a good vantage point where I could take some still photographs with Madang town in the far distance. Walking into a classroom, I met a teacher and asked if it was all right if I took a few pictures of the school and the children.

Nobnob Primary doesn’t have the luxury of brand new classrooms but it does have a well maintained playing field and a tiny library. I guess, that’s what’s really important to kids – being able to play and enjoy growing up and being able to learn.

Then you think to yourself: How many of our political leaders would choose to send their children to schools like Nobnob? I can’t answer that for you.

Some of the children, wide-eyed and curious, clutching worn copies of Oxford dictionaries, stared as I shot off a few stills. I wanted to tell a story. But what story?

I’ve seen the ‘run-down school’ story repeated a hundred times. So what new story was I going to tell?

A story about children not achieving their dreams because government subsidies aren’t paid on time? A story about demoralised teachers struggling with pay and living conditions as the cost of goods continues to rise? A story about teachers trying to decide whether they should have salaries deposited into a bank account, only to have ridiculous fees charged?

My university lecturers would have said, ‘Give the story a human face, Scott’.

Make people see that it’s not just about statistics on flashy Powerpoint presentations. The kind that aid donors and government officials love to play with in air conditioned conference rooms in Port Moresby.

Classroom Yes, but what story? Two other teachers I spoke to said Nobnob Primary is supposed to get 20,000 kina every quarter in school subsidies. But it’s not news anymore that the money doesn’t arrive on time or that, frequently, it doesn’t arrive at all.

It’s not shocking anymore that the kids don’t get the support they need to achieve their dreams.

It doesn’t bother people that maybe the kid in the picture won’t become a doctor because next year he’ll have to stay home because dad’s busy raising money to send his older brother to high school.

What story should I tell? This has become a repetition of stories with human faces. Faces we live with every day and ignore. But then, Nobnob may be fortunate to have teachers and classrooms and a road leading to Madang town.

What about the school in Fiak? I bet you never heard of this tiny school in a corner of Sandaun Province. It is an insignificant statistic in the air conditioned conference rooms of Port Moresby.

It’s a school that’s had chronic teacher shortages for a decade. Teachers don’t want to go there anymore, because the planes don’t fly there anymore.

So what story should I tell?

Understanding disability in PNG society

Disabilities IT IS SAID that the civilisation of a society can be measured by the way it treats its less fortunate.

It is the hope of the Melanesian Institute that, by publishing Making Sense of Disabilities in PNG, it might help to raise awareness, understanding and empathy towards disabled Papua New Guineans in general, and amongst political leaders in particular.

In conducting the research projects into disabilities, the Melanesian Institute first focussed its attention on the socio-cultural aspects of disability - traditional explanations, community attitudes towards people with disabilities, their participation in social life, their contribution to families and clans, the tasks entrusted to them, and traditional healing methods.

This information is important for every modern institution which wants to address the disability phenomenon in a more effective way on medical, social and economic levels.

The other focus of the research was to either find ways of preventing disabilities in the first place or alleviating the damage caused by disabilities to individuals and communities.

That’s why the research is accompanied by practical suggestions to health, church and civil authorities on how to better the lot of disabled persons in PNG.

Unfortunately the PNG government, political leaders and even the media have so far given little attention to disability.

Disabled people are simply ignored and left to the care of their families and clans, which often simply hide them inside their houses.

This book brings together studies on disability conducted by research staff of the Melanesian Institute in collaboration with Callan Service, the British Voluntary Service Overseas, and the Divine Word University.

‘Making Sense of Disabilities in Papua New Guinea: Perceptions and Treatment of Disabilities in Papua New Guinea’, Martin Tnines editor, Point Series, 2010

Copies from the Melanesian Institute at a special introductory price of $20 (Australian). Direct deposit to Westpac Banking Corporation (Chermside Branch); BSB 034-036; Account 620 194; Account Name: The Melanesian Institute. Email Mary Tankulu at [email protected]

‘Buk Bilong Pikinini’ opens library at Koki

Buk BP THE SEVENTH Buk Bilong Pikinini library will be opened by Dame Carol Kidu at the Koki Markets in Port Moresby today.

Buk Bilong Pikinini, an independent charity based in Port Moresby, was set up in 2007 by Anne-Sophie Hermann and Anna Mukerjee when they realised there was an urgent need for children to have access to books and libraries.

The new building is situated between the two markets and is open free of charge to children in the 0-12 age group. The ground floor features an adult reading centre, scheduled to be open to the public soon.

The Koki Markets library is the seventh to be opened since the first Buk Bilong Pikinini was set up in April 2008 in the tuberculosis, malnutrition and HIV ward of Port Moresby General Hospital.

Other libraries are at Hohola, Konedobu, Six Mile, Lae and Goroka, which opened in May. Buk Bilong Pikinini will continue to open libraries throughout the country and early next year one is scheduled to be established at Gerehu Stage 2 settlement. A library at the Nine Mile settlement has been commissioned and will also open early next year. The tenth library will open in Alotau late 2011.

“Illiteracy is very high in this country and there are few opportunities for children to access books to read”, said co-founder Ms Hermann.

“Research has shown that the earlier books can be introduced into a child’s life, the more chance there is of that child becoming literate. It is up to everyone in PNG to encourage their children to read and advocate for opening of public libraries in this country”, she said.

When PNG attained independence from Australia in 1975 there were 32 libraries in Port Moresby alone, but these have largely disappeared and the state of public and school libraries is in steep decline.

Buk Bilong Pikinini believes it can create awareness of literacy issues by setting up children’s libraries, talking to the media about the importance of a “reading culture” and targeting parents with educational messages about reading to their children before and during school years.

Ms Hermann estimates that between 600 and 900 children a day use the seven libraries.

Truthful PNG police commissioner faces sack


CAN IT BE that telling the truth gets you sacked? In today's PNG that seems very likely.

Two weeks ago PNG Police Commissioner Gari Baki told a transnational crime conference in Kokopo that “corruption within the government system makes transnational crime worse”. Now he’s facing dismissal from one of the toughest policing jobs anywhere.

“In Papua New Guinea, numerous investigations have uncovered the existence of fraud and corruption in some of the line agencies involved in the law enforcement sector,'' Commissioner Baki told the conference.

"Criminals from abroad have and will continue to exploit and weaken our legitimate systems if we do not expose and eliminate corrupt people and activities both within the public and private sector.

"Measures were taken to stamp out such illegal practices but it is absolutely critical for law enforcement agencies to explore new ways and opportunities to tackle corruption because corrupt activities within the government system only proliferate the existence of transnational crimes in our region.''

Unexceptional statements, one might think, especially in a country where lawlessness is getting to be a way of life.

Mr Baki said PNG had limited ability to combat such crime across borders because it did not have enough money and surveillance capabilities to effectively monitor the movement of foreign ships and other crimes such as the drugs for arms trade, wildlife trafficking, human smuggling and all forms of transnational crime.

Crimes committed by criminals across international borders remained the biggest threat to the sovereignty of nations and the Pacific region was "no exception".

In PNG, the spirit of cooperation between the agencies involved in border protection, immigration and law enforcement, had never been greater but there were impediments that affected the ability to enforce the law.

As I have detailed previously in PNG Attitude, the PNG police force is easily the worst off in the Pacific in terms of manpower and funding.

Now it seems that Commissioner Baki faces the sack.

Prime Minister Somare issued instructions to replace him soon after he removed Police Minister, Sani Rambi.

According to documents made available to The National newspaper, Mr Baki faces the sack for apparently "misleading cabinet”.

Commenting on the moves to remove Mr Baki, Police Association general secretary, Clemence Kanau, described them as "politically motivated" and said they had "the potential to reignite instability in the rank and file of the force".

Cholera kills 10; and unanswered questions


ON MONDAY, shortly before noon, the business community and missions of Kiunga were advised by Sister Joseph, CEO of Kiunga Hospital, that she had just been told that ten people had died in Daru from a suspected outbreak of cholera.

At 5 pm, representatives of the Montfort Catholic Mission, Ok Tedi Mining, Horizon Oil, Western Province Constructions and others met to be briefed by Sr Joseph on the precautions required to protect the citizens of Kiunga town, and all the villages nearby.

As a result of this advice, one of the guest houses now requires all its staff, guests and visitors to disinfect their shoes and hands before they enter.

There has been no notification from any government authority responsible for the health and safety of the people of the Western Province of the imminent danger of cholera being introduced to Kiunga and Tabubil by way of the direct aircraft flights from Daru.

It is understood that Ok Tedi Mining Health Services in Tabubil have long since developed a cholera contingency plan.

The Western Province Cholera Plan, if it was ever completed, has not been implemented, despite Dr Amos Lano saying on the front page of yesterday’s National newspaper, that "the outbreak was first reported on the island on 5 October."

Surely he should have at least immediately advised his Governor, himself a medical practitioner of many years experience, of the fact there was a cholera outbreak in the capital of the Western Province.

Surely the National Department of Health should have long since have been asked to come to the assistance of the threatened people of the Western Province.

Hon Warren Dutton, OBE, is Acting President of PNG’s Western Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry

The wreck of the SS Pruth


PruthMORISSET, NSW - I once lived in Pruth Street at Two Mile in Port Moresby.

Our flat overlooked the wreck of SS Pruth on the coral reefs to the south east of Fairfax Harbour. From our front window we used to enjoy watching the ships line up to enter the channel.

There is very little left of Pruth now, its remains lie at the entrance to the channel leading into Moresby, where the main shipping lane narrows between the reefs.

It’s a final hurdle before the safety of Fairfax harbour, discovered by Captain John Moresby in 1873 and named in honour of his father, Admiral Sir Fairfax Moresby

Pruth was wrecked on the reefs at the entrance to the Basilisk Channel during a cyclone in 1924. It was stranded high and dry.

Even then Pruth had its uses. It featured in the filming of Red Morning in 1935. And, in World War II, it was used for bombing practice. Aircraft flying as low as 50 feet above sea level practised bombing runs on the wreck.

Unfortunately some of them, mostly Havocs and Beaufighters, crashed into the sea just beyond the wreck site. You can dive on their remains to this day.

Also a Qantas Short Empire flying boat crashed nearby during a cyclone in 1943 resulting in 13 deaths.

China needs to be “responsible”, says Hillary

Idubada 030 AUSTRALIA’S FOREIGN Minister Kevin Rudd has refused to discount China as a military threat.

And US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said "China has a long way to go" to show it could be a "responsible stakeholder" in the Asia-Pacific region.

During Australia-US Ministerial talks yesterday, the US and Australia agreed to work together to increase the American military presence in Australia and in the Asia-Pacific region.

While Mr Rudd wouldn't be drawn on whether Australia and the US were preparing for China to become a future military threat, Ms Clinton said that Australia and the US shared core values but China was not yet a responsible power and faced an unstable future.

She strongly affirmed the Australia-US alliance as "the core partnership", relegating China to a lower status despite its extraordinary growth.

Mr Rudd said Australia was “not in the business of naming threats.

“What we've done over many decades is to make sure that the alliance is relevant to contemporary circumstances,” he said speaking polished Diplomatese.

One of the early outcomes of the so-called AusMin talks seems likely to be a more vigorous effort on the part of Australia to re-engage with Fiji.

It can also be expected that the relationship with PNG will come under new scrutiny.

Photo: Peter writes – “I am rather proud of this photo as my sister-in-law, a Policy Analyst with the PNG Department of Environment and Conservation, gets to shake hands with Hillary Clinton at the US funded mangrove project at Idubada Village outside Port Moresby”

PNG snubs concept of responsible forestry

In a research paper for The Australia Institute, CAROLINE HOISINGTON reveals illegal logging in PNG is more extensive than generally understood and a serious impediment to achieving the goals of Australian aid.

THE AUSTRALIAN Government is not doing enough to ensure that Australian imports of forestry products are consistent with the goals of Australian aid programs and stated commitments to reduce greenhouse gases.

Illegal logging is a major cause of deforestation and environmental destruction; it undermines nations’ efforts to manage forest resources for a sustainable industry, destroys the livelihood of forest-dwellers and costs governments large sums in lost revenue.

It fosters corruption and is associated with organised crime and violence. It undercuts the international and Australian domestic markets for wood products from legally managed forestry by being cheaper.

Ultimately, illegal logging is market-driven and a significant part of the demand is international. Australia inadvertently contributes to these problems by importing timber and wood products without adequate controls in place to ensure that the wood is legally sourced.

Papua New Guinea, during the 1980s, experienced such catastrophic forest loss that it commissioned independent auditors to assess why it was happening; they determined that logging companies were ‘roaming the countryside with the self-assurance of robber barons; bribing politicians and leaders, creating social disharmony and ignoring laws in order to gain access to, rip out, and export the last remnants of the province’s valuable timber’. [Khatchadourian, ‘The Stolen Forests’]

PNG contains the largest intact tropical rainforest wilderness in the Asia-Pacific Region and the third largest in the world and it has developed extensive laws to protect its forest resources.

PNG, however, is large and remote and its government agencies are no match for the financial pressure of illegal logging. Much of the logging is illegal, and PNG is experiencing the same kind of corruption problems as Indonesia.

Even logging interests admit that “corruption remains a major problem, at both the National and Provincial Government levels. Up to 40 percent of the National budget may be stolen. Efforts by donors to improve governance have yet to lead to better socio-economic outcomes”. [ITS Global, 2008]

Nevertheless, the same logging interests also make a case for the amount of income and employment brought to PNG from logging activities:

The commercial forestry industry generates between 5 and 8 percent of GDP and around 5 percent of merchandise exports. Taxes on log exports amounted to around 6 percent of all tax receipts and around 5 percent of all revenue collected by the PNG Government between 1998 and 2004. Those taxes fund around 30 percent of development expenditure.

The industry generates around 10,000 jobs, primarily in remote areas where there is little or no other paid employment. It provides and maintains health and education services and transport infrastructure in remote areas where National and Provincial Governments are either unable or unwilling to do so…. [ITS Global, 2008]

ITS Global works on behalf of the PNG Forest Industries Association, the largest member of which is the Malaysian logging company Rimbunan Hijau [which] was fined by the PNG Supreme Court for illegal logging in 2008. The logging industry is widely criticised by environmental and socially-concerned NGOs, which claim that logging practices in PNG are destructive and exploitative.

It is an industry that is synonymous with political corruption, police racketeering and the brutal repression of workers, women and those who question its ways. Its operations routinely destroy the food sources, water supplies and cultural property of those same communities. They provide a breeding ground for arms smuggling, corruption and violence across the country.

In return, the industry generates no lasting economic benefit to forest communities, considerable long-term cost and a modest 5 percent contribution to the national budget. These claims are contested by PNGFIA….

The PNG government has sanctioned numerous reviews in the past, including those of the World Bank and the UK Overseas Development Institute. These reviews have been conducted using internal and external experts in forestry and law including government agencies….

The recent finding of the ITTC mission only confirms what has already been found in these past reviews, the recommendations of which remain unimplemented.

The PNG Eco-Forestry Forum, a PNG non-governmental organisation, which has actively engaged in the campaign against illegal logging and the promotion of sustainable forest management practices, has welcomed the report by reinforcing its call for the government to immediately place a moratorium on new timber permits or permit extensions; establish a Commission of Inquiry into current logging operations and move to establish and Independent Commission against Corruption.

The ITTC findings also acknowledged “PNG civil society, particularly NGOs, provide an important contribution in the forest sector” and the “PNG government should seek more effective involvement of landowners and NGOs on the National Forest Board”.

PNGEFF was the only NGO representative on the National Forest Board and was removed by recent amendments to the Forestry Act.

Source: The Australia Institute, Rough trade: How Australia's trade policies contribute to illegal logging in the Pacific Region by Caroline Hoisington, Institute Paper No 5, October 2010. Read the full paper here: Download Rough Trade

ESBC spins a comeback for B'ville Copper


THE EUROPEAN Shareholders of Bougainville Copper (ESBC), founded in 2005, are celebrating. For the first time they hold more than 10 million shares in the company.

"We are happy about this but there is absolutely no reason to become arrogant," says ESBC President, Axel G. Sturm. "We only own a 2.5 percent of the whole company!

“But we will continue to offer our experience and influence for a better future on the island of Bougainville."

Over the last two days, a Panguna landowners’ meeting was held in Buka to speed-up the re-opening of the Panguna mine to improve Bougainville’s economy.

PNG’s Minister for Bougainville Affairs, Fidelis Semoso, himself a Bougainvillean, invited the landowners and senior PNG national government ministers including Arthur Somare, Paul Tiensten and Peter O’Neill to the meeting.

While ESBC saw the meeting as an opportunity for itself (“the ESBC appreciate very much Mr Semoso’s move towards a brighter future for all Bougainvilleans,” said Axel G Sturm), Bougainville President John Momis did not attend.

He was on business travel to China with a delegation of members of the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

In a statement from Beijing, Mr Momis said Bougainvilleans should “start thinking of animal husbandry and other agricultural projects” so “fruits and vegetables and potatoes sold to the company can be grown in Bougainville and not imported from outside.”

Meanwhile Axel G Sturm praised Mr Semoso’s initiative. “The first step is always the most difficult one.

“A round-table, as we already claimed a couple of years ago, represents the best instrument to bring the actual situation forward - to a solution from which everybody will benefit in future.”

But whether this benefit will attend to the avid ESBC backing Bougainville Cooper to make a return to the island, or whether the Chinese government will emerge on top, is very much an open question

Spotter: Kevin Johnson

Nuns epic PNG war story soon for ABC-TV

Sisters of War SISTERS OF WAR (to be screened later this year on ABC TV) is a uniquely Australian tale of extraordinary courage.

Historian (and occasional PNG Attitude contributor) Rod Miller stumbled across the lost diary of civilian nurse Grace Kruger in 1991 while he was clearing out an estate in his day job as an auctioneer.

Eventually he found seven other diaries and started to piece together the story of the Roman Catholic nuns captured by the Japanese near Rabaul in 1942.

The wartime diaries formed the basis of the material for Mr Miller’s subsequent book, Sisters Of War, on which the film is based.

The crux of the film story is the friendship that developed between Sister Bernice Twohill and army nurse Lorna Whyte during their time in captivity.

Fresh from her role in the big-budget mini-series The Pacific, Claire van der Boom stars as Sister Bernice, with NIDA graduate Sarah Snook as Lorna and Scottish-born actor Gerald Lepkowski as Bishop Leo Scharmach.

The TV movie's $4 million budget is bigger than that of most Australian films. It is being shot in the Mt Tamborine area of south-east Queensland.

Source: Movie Mazzupial Blog

Spotter: Vince Gratzer

Two poems by Jeffrey Mane Febi

An entry in The Crocodile Prize

Kundiawa born Jeffrey is a mud logging geologist in PNG's oil and gas industry. “I am married to one wife only and have a child from this marriage,” he says. “We live in Port Moresby and poetry writing and reading are my favourite hobbies.”


How they've increased who troubled her!
And gaily laughed and danced on despair!
Over mountains, vales & seas how they sing
Of menaces more together they will bring.
Many are her sons who’ve taken up arms
To fight & protect her worthy charms
In open & in secret. With willing blood!
Her worthy son in embrace will ever flood
Every portal of they who court doom.
O how they strategise from a prickly gloom!
For respite her worthy sons will ever seek.
Yes! No help may come; they're not meek.


How grandfather's bilum, which
Across my father's bare chest,
In a loving embrace sling.
Like the Leleki baskets' blest
How while so pregnant swing.

How dwelleth he my father in its rich
Splendour till handing-over of its rest,
Then over my clothed chest sways.
O this old bilum! like all other blest
No longer is laden with in my days.

For its treasures I search in earnest,
That I may grandfather's mind know.
O this bilum is no longer pregnant!
Along the way, maybe some time ago,
How many treasures fade; this instant

Till my sleep, I'll summon eagerness
To my modern soul strengthened to seek.
Grandfather's treasures may be hidden;
Yet thru a new eye must I ever peek
For glimpses my days have forbidden.

Now here’s a practical idea: PNG Pty Ltd


I’VE HAD a little bit to do with business people in PNG over the years and I’ve noticed that many companies, especially in the Highlands, employ expatriate managers and senior staff.

People tell me it avoids problems with greedy wantoks, and makes things run infinitely more smoothly.

It seems that it is much easier for an expatriate manager to sack a poorly performing expat worker, they are less likely to be siphoning funds to help their wife’s brother to buy a new car and the company is not in danger of filling up with relatives.

So to a radical new idea: With the massive income expected from the LNG project and other mining ventures, perhaps PNG should consider outsourcing all of government.

Don’t get me wrong, it is my experience that private enterprise is often equal to or better than the Public Service at obfuscation and creating unnecessary red tape.

Take Australia’s Telstra. Prior to privatisation it charged outrageous fees and was impossible to deal with. Now privatised, its fees are impossible and customer service outrageously bad. The bottom line hasn’t changed and the phones still work most of the time.

With the public service outsourced, including the management of parliament, the pollies, apart from the occasional policy tweak, could concentrate on getting fat, chasing women and maintaining overseas properties. It may not be necessary for the public to even know who they are or where they come from.

I’m sure Sandline would be willing to come in and run the defence force and, now the US is out of Iraq, there are bound to be overseas companies looking for opportunities to run a small country’s police force.

Coffey International could no doubt competently take charge of foreign affairs and health could go to one of the big drug companies like Pfizer. Education could be handed over to McDonalds or Coca Cola: they’re TV ads are great kids stuff..

And just think of the opportunities for the average Papua New Guinean. You could buy shares in the army or the police. Then, if the directors didn’t come up to scratch, you could have them sacked.

If there were a couple of small island wars or insurrections, or a record number of arrests, the shareholders would reap extra dividends. The possibilities are endless. It’s a win/win situation.

I wonder if Michael Somare has ever considered the idea. Wait a minute; what’s that he’s talking about with the Chinese?

Great movie challenge: the PNG filmography


Walk into Hell IN MY BORED moments I’ve been collecting information about films made in PNG, made about PNG or in which PNG is featured in some way.

Welcome to the list so far; and it may be a good Sunday project to add to it. Or to provide your personal (brief) synopsis of the film. Send suggestions to the editor here.

Over time we’ll add synopses to each title and try to  provide some information on price and how you might get hold of some of these precious relics.

I think you’ll be surprised at the length and depth of PNG’s filmography.


  1. About Beauty (2008)
  2. Along the Sepik (documentary) 1963
  3. Angels of War (documentary) (?)
  4. Arc of a Diver  (2008)
  5. Assault on Salamaua (documentary) (1943)
  6. Attack! Battle of New Britain (?) (1944)
  7. Betelnut Bisnis (?) (2004)
  8. Black Harvest (documentary) (1992)
  9. Bridewealth for a Goddess (documentary) (2000)
  10. Carnauba: A Son's Memoir (?) (2001)
  11. Colonists for a Day (documentary) (1994)
  12. Cowboy and Maria in Town (documentary) (1991)
  13. Dani Houses (documentary) (1974)
  14. Dani Sweet Potatoes (documentary) (1974)
  15. Das Traumschiff (1981)
  16. Dead Birds (documentary) (2004)
  17. Destination Truth  (2007)
  18. First Contact (documentary) (1983)
  19. Fourth Child (documentary) (1980)
  20. Gogodala: A Cultural Revival? (documentary) (1983)
  21. Gow the Killer (1931)
  22. Her Name Came on Arrows (documentary) (1982)
  23. Ileksen (1979)
  24. In a Savage Land (1999)
  25. In the South Seas (documentary) (1948)
  26. In the Year of the Dragon (documentary) (1977)
  27. Injury Slight... Please Advise (2008)
  28. Isolated (2009)
  29. Joe Leahy's Neighbors (documentary) (1989)
  30. Jungle Woman (1926)
  31. Kama Wosi: Music in the Trobriand Islands (documentary) (1979)
  32. Kokoda (2006)
  33. Kokoda Front Line (documentary) 1942
  34. Krippendorf's Tribe (1998)
  35. Kuru (2009)
  36. La vallée (1972)
  37. Le ciel dans un jardin (2004)
  38. Lifesense: Our Lives Through Animal Eyes (1991)
  39. Liliputi mimikri (2007)
  40. L'ombre blanche au pays des papous (1996)
  41. Madventure (2002)
  42. Magicians of the Earth: A Young Man's Dream and a Woman's Secret (1990)
  43. Malagan Labadama (documentary) (1982)
  44. Man Without Pigs (documentary) (1990)
  45. Marabe (documentary) (?)
  46. Mondo cane (1962)
  47. Moresby Under the Blitz (documentary) (1942)
  48. My Father, My Country (documentary) (1989)
  49. Namekas: Music in Lake Chambri (documentary) (1979)
  50. Navigators: Pathfinders of the Pacific (documentary) (1983)
  51. New Guina Patrol (documentary) 1958
  52. Oh, What A Blow That Phantom Gave Me (documentary) (2003)
  53. Paikeda: Man in Stone (2005)
  54. Papa Bilong Chimbu (2008)
  55. Papua New Guinea: Winged Ghosts of the Pacific (1993)
  56. Pearls and Savages (1926)
  57. Primitive Paradise (1961)
  58. Quest for the Paradise Birds (documentary) (1957)
  59. Red Morning (1935)
  60. Robinson Crusoe (1997)
  61. She nu yu chao (1978)
  62. Skullduggery (1970)
  63. Sleep When You're Dead (1990)
  64. Songs of the Volcano (documentary) (2004)
  65. Sisters at War (2010)
  66. Stap Isi (?) (?)
  67. Surviving Extremes (2003)
  68. The Bismarck Convoy Smashed (documentary) (1943)
  69. The Coconut Revolution (2000)
  70. The Red Bowmen (documentary) (1983)
  71. The Wackiest Ship in the Army (1960)
  72. Tighten the Drums (documentary) (1983)
  73. Tin Pis Ran (1991)
  74. To Find the Baruya Story (documentary) (1982)
  75. Tukana - Husat i Asua (?)  (1983)
  76. Urban Drift (?) (?)
  77. Walk Into Paradise (US title Walk Into Hell) (1956)
  78. Warriors in Transit (?) 1992
  79.           Wokabaut Bilong Tonten (1974)
  80. World Safari II: The Final Adventure (1984)
  81. Yumi Yet (documentary) (1976)
  82. ZDF Expedition - Tropenfieber (2003)

'Ghosts' weaves great tapestry from old yarn

BEFORE THE WAR in the Pacific, the town of Rabaul represented a tranquil tropical world of colonial order.

But, with its magnificent natural harbour and weak defences, the port was a very desirable target.

Japan struck the town decisively in 1942 bringing that sedate era of security to an abrupt end. Many Australians perished and until this year – when the Australian Parliament made amends - their sacrifice had never been fully acknowledged.

A newly released book, White Ghosts Black Shadows by Ray Johnston, tells the story of the lost men and women of Rabaul in a new and powerful way. It too offers recognition of a monumental tragedy that occurred as an unprepared nation abandoned the residents of Rabaul to their fate.

This book is an exciting 'faction' (fact and fiction) story based on extensive research and a solid understanding of the events and people involved in the invasion. Ray Johnston spent 13 years in New Britain and learnt the Nakanai language.

In the 1970s local people told him they had rescued Australian soldiers. Ray made a pact with himself to find out what happened. The project had to wait 30 years, but now his efforts have resulted in this remarkable book.

The book covers events well known to many readers: escape bids, both successful and unsuccessful; colourful planters; desperate administration officials, police and soldiers; worried missionaries and local people; loyalists and traitors; and Japanese officers ranging from a deranged bully to an idealistic peacemaker. All parade through this remarkable story.

A ripping yarn it surely is, but it is an absorbing read that profiles the national, cultural and racial collisions that took place in this short, violent encounter.

It reveals the characters' hearts as they deal with feelings of abandonment. It demands answers as to who was to blame for the sequence of tragedies that unfolded.

White Ghosts Black Shadows poses profound questions about who is fit to lead. It describes the miracle of deliverance. And it draws readers into an exploration of the human psyche in the very shadow of destruction.

White Ghosts Black Shadows by Ray Johnston, Sid Harta Press, 2010

Check it out on Sid Harta Australia website under new releases. Available soon in bookstores but already available online now for $24.95 plus P/P from Dennis Jones & Associates Distributors or from the author direct [email protected]. The author will donate some of the proceeds to the Rabaul and Montevdieo Maru Society

Clinton avoids Indon Papuan torture issue


AAP - US SECRETARY of State Hilary Clinton has declined to comment on Indonesian military filmed torturing West Papuans.

In late October Indonesia admitted that its soldiers had tortured Papuan men seen in an online video being beaten and humiliated, and promised a thorough investigation.

Ms Clinton told reporters, during a brief visit to PNG on Wednesday, the US was "a friend and ally" of both Indonesia and PNG, and refused to comment on the matter.

"The government of Indonesia and the Indonesia military have made significant changes in the last years, in the ten years of democracy. If there are continuing violations of human rights, then they should be investigated by the appropriate authorities and those responsible should be held accountable," she said.

PNG shares a 750 km border with Indonesia and allows Papuans to cross and has given many Papuans refugee status due to prolonged persecution by Indonesian authorities

PNG prime minister Michael Somare said PNG Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Abal contacted his counterpart in Indonesia on the issue but has not had a response.

"The particular incident you are talking about, we are aware of it," Sir Michael said. "It does happen.

"There are groups who are anti-Indonesia, they're our citizens, Papuans, West Papuans….

"People want to go against the system and these things happen," he said.

Sir Michael said PNG has "excellent relations" with Indonesia and commended current president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

"The Yudhoyono administration has really moved far, far ahead (on the Papuan

issue)," he said.

Time to register for PNG mining conference

THE RESPONSIBLE MINING in PNG conference, hosted by the Minerals Policy Institute, will be held in Sydney on Friday 26 November.

The conference will explore the impacts of mining in PNG, examine pathways to responsible mining and discuss whether responsible mining and profits can co-exist.

It will appeal to people with an interest in PNG, the mining industry, investment institutions, researchers, small investors and civil society organisations.

While the focus of the day will be on practical examples of mining in PNG, discussions will be applicable to mining activity everywhere.

Speakers from finance institutions, civil society organisations, the mining industry and academia will present on a variety of issues relating to PNG and responsible mining.

Speakers include:

Alex Harris, Reputation Report

Amanda McClusky, Head of Sustainability & Responsible Investment, Colonial First State Global Asset Management

Peter Elliot, Senior Principle Sustainability, URS Australia, engineering and environmental consultants

Charles Roche, Executive Director, Mineral Policy Institute

Christina Hill, Mining Advocacy Officer, Oxfam Australia

Senator Scott Ludlam, Mining Spokesperson, Greens

Adele Webb, National Coordinator, Jubilee Australia

Dr Gavin Mudd, Lecturer Civil Engineering, Monash University

The costs of the forum are: $75 for students and non-profits and $175 for government and industry. To register please complete the email registration form here

Venue: National Maritime Museum, 2 Murray Street, Darling Harbour, Sydney. Time: Friday 26 November, 8.30 am – 5 pm

Four nations good experience for Kumuls


THE FOUR NATIONS rugby league tournament is all but over for PNG. But it has been a good learning experience for PNG’s pride: the Kumuls.

From here, the Kumuls must drastically lift their game standards if PNG expects to do better in future international league competition.

With a 42 – 0 beating by the Aussie Kangaroos in their first match of the tournament, and last weekend’s record breaking 76 – 12caning by the Kiwis, the Kumuls have no other choice but to beat the Poms this weekend.

After the Kumuls’ loss to the Kiwis, PNG captain Paul Aiton said: "We're very disappointed. We just missed something that make us PNG."

Whatever it is, that elusive something must be found quickly if PNG don’t want to end up as wooden-spooners against a spirited English side.

Like PNG, the Poms lost their last two tough encounters with the Aussies and Kiwis and are expecting a very physical battle in ‘a do or die’ match, with their respective country’s pride riding on their shoulders.

However, coach and former Hull Kingston Rovers star, Stanley Gene, is more upbeat about the Kumuls’ chances in today’s match.

Stanley should know the English side’s tactics are, so there is some chance if our Kumuls can come up with a good game plan.

Fingers crossed, we all are quietly confident for PNG to beat England in a tight finish. But even if we did lose this game, let’s hope the Kumuls try to keep the score low and close to our opponents after the savage mauling by two of the strongest teams in.

PNG fans harbour a secret fear of losing again. This will be too painful even for this writer to admit.

Many upset fans in recent days are calling for the sacking of the entire management team, including coach Gene.

I don’t blame them. Die-hard fans in league-crazy PNG are understandably upset over the two straight losses.

This is still early days. But after the tournament we must do a good post-mortem and no doubt critics here and abroad will have their say. This will be good for the code.

PNG league management must find out what we did wrong, and what we can do now to either avoid; or minimise similar mistakes in future.

The four nations rugby league competition provides many good lessons for the PNG Kumuls, its management and those who administer the code back home.

The two-year tournament will be a regular international meet. It’s an important opportunity where PNG’s rugby league reputation and credibility will always be tested for the world to see.

Here is what we must do from here on: Firstly, regardless of our loss this time, PNG must now plan better and work out both the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents.

Secondly, the Kumuls management must treat all future international matches as an occasion not to be missed.

Thirdly, PNG will not only be pitted against some of the best teams from strong rugby league playing nations, but learn valuable lessons required to improve future Kumuls performance standards.

Fourthly, the Kumul management team must also closely observe and cleverly use new game tricks against countries like Australia, New Zealand and England.

The Kumuls management has no real excuses. Rugby league has been played in PNG for over half a century.

As for today’s game, the Admiral’s money is on the Kumuls. Go Kumuls!

Motu-Koitabu's struggle for their community


THE LAND of my people, the Motu-Koitabus, has become Port Moresby. The church and government of PNG do not see the disadvantage this has bestowed on the Motu-Koitabus. We are like passengers in our own land.

Perhaps, in some ways we ourselves are to blame. We seem to be paying a bigger price for development compared to the other provinces. Over half our young people return home because they cannot continue on to higher education. The church is very conservative and the government appears to be blind.

Many of our young people engage in law and order problems, including alcohol and drug abuse, unsafe sexual practices and other irresponsible behaviour. My dream is that the church and the government will wake up and support community programs and behaviour modification processes, which will help the young people to radically change their outlook about themselves.

The Scouts and Girl Guide movements are alive and kicking in the community and the church has the usual forms of outreach with Youth Fellowship and Sunday School, often run by people with little training. But these resources are not enough.  

One good thing in Porebada is that we have a Village Health Volunteer group of young men and women who assist at the local clinic, including dressing sores and midwifery for which they have been trained. But, in a village of about 8,000 people, the law and order situation is an issue still to be addressed.

There are economic opportunities now arising from the LNG project, and many people are finding employment as unskilled labourers. But we now have the problem of people not spending their money wisely.

The Local Level Government (Ward Committee) and a church body, called the Social Concern Committee have to deal with social issues such as the illegal brewing and consumption of cheap high-alcohol homebrew. Also the values and interests of young people are changing rapidly from the influences of the mass media, the education system and the modern lifestyles and this too can cause problems.

Another problem is that our water supply cannot cope with the population growth and the women of the village are constantly stressed, worrying about what their family will drink in times of water-shortages.

I have a large congregation of over 2,000 members and we are in the process of forming them into four local churches with their own pastor, in the hope that these smaller congregations will become loving communities where the young people and needy families can be appropriately supported and led to truly know God and love and support their neighbours.

I am suggesting that our empty church buildings, halls and unused land be converted into vocational training venues or economic avenues so that our young people can be occupied. Otherwise they will continue to indulge in mischief until it is too late. We also need to coach our young married couples and encourage good parenting and good citizenship.

Over many years Christianity in PNG has been superficial. That is why calling PNG a Christian country in our Constitution is not enough. Churches, various levels of government and specific communities, need to develop a deeper sense of God’s presence in our daily walk so that what we preach can be meaningfully put into workable plans and actions.


Right now, my people are poor people living in a rich country. Australian taxpayers have a right to ask where their aid money is going to, how it is spent and what benefits are being enjoyed by Papua New Guineans.

I hope I have given you some insight into the concerns I have as a pastor of my congregation.

Rev Barua Arua is the United Church Minister at Porebada village, 12 km along the coast from Port Moresby. He was interviewed for this article by Barbara Short. These and related issues are discussed in Rev Arua's book,’Whispers of the Voiceless: Forget Us Not", soon to be published. If you are interested contact Barbara Short at [email protected] or Rev Oala B Arua, c/- Porebada


How to deal with China - by Kevin Rudd


AUSTRALIA'S globe trotting Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, is currently in Beijing and has commented on the need for a new approach to dealing with China.

“For many years the debate in western countries centred on being in emerging conflict with China or having to kowtow and agree with everything it said to move forward,” he told ABC Television.

“I don't think either of those paths are productive.”

“I think there is a rational third way to proceed and I believe that can be done through a comprehensive, political and economic relationship where we agree on our common interests both in the region and on the world stage and bilaterally as well.

So has Mr Rudd found a 'new approach' in dealing with 21st Century China?

A simple check on the Internet suggests there is nothing new in the concept. In fact, the idea has been around for a very long time.

Clearly this is an old strategy to be trotted out when no one can think of any reasonable proposition that might work.

No more than a convenient technique to obfuscate and sound as if you’re doing something when troubled voters need to be given a nostrum to pour oil on troubled waters.


“Pathetically, the Third Way has succeeded in attracting a crowd of fanatical followers both in Europe and in the United States, who really think they are on to a fresh Jeffersonian formula.

"It's utopian Woodrow Wilson's holy 'Lets make the world safe for Democracy all over again' minus sensible opposition from the US Senate.

"Today the dream is of a 21st Century Democracy that will compassionately and progressively lead the world”

‘21st Century democracy and the Third Way’ by Steve Farrell and Diane Alden (web posted 18 October 1999)

Trevor v Bureaucracy: AusAID on parade


OCTAVIA BORTHWICK is the Assistant Director General of the PNG Branch of AusAID.

PNG Attitude reader Trevor Freestone didn’t know he was writing to Ms Borthwick. He’d sent his letter to Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kevin Rudd. But it did the rounds, and Octavia Borthwick drew the short straw.

Trevor duly received her reply, which he duly sent to PNG Attitude for analysis. We decided to do two things.

First, we decided to offer the AusAID comments to readers as a primer on how Australian bureaucrats (and by inference politicians) deal publicly with hard questions about the Australia-PNG relationship.

And, secondly, we decided to do a post mortem with Trevor about how he felt when he was subjected to the ‘official line’ after he had sought a productive and honest response to his concerns.


“Australia recognises that the PNG government faces significant challenges in ensuring its significant natural resource wealth is translated into service delivery and development outcomes for its citizens. Addressing these issues is the responsibility of the PNG government…”


“I appreciate your concerns regarding corruption in PNG and would like to assure you that Australia gives high priority to accountability and transparency in the use of Australia’s aid.

“AusAID devotes significant time and resources to the protection of Australian aid funds in PNG, including careful selection of implementing partners, strict accounting and reporting requirements and regular reviews, spot checks and audits…

“The responsibility for addressing corruption and improving governance in PNG resides with the Government of PNG, and change will require long-term commitment from PNG, backed up by targeted and sustained development support from…Australia.”


“While PNG is a sovereign state and Australia cannot interfere in its legislative processes, the Australian government is working to support environmental protection in PNG in a number of ways….

“Australia also contributes to the World Bank’s ‘Pacific Facility’, a multi-donor fund used to support its activities in the Pacific. This includes the development of a Sustainable Mining Development Policy in PNG.”


Keith - What was your immediate reaction when you read the AusAID response to your letter?

Trevor - AusAID in PNG is ineffective. It seems to have all the right explanations but very few tangible results of its programs as far as the local villagers are concerned.

Do you think your questions and concerns were dealt with properly in any respect?

I think their response made excuses and tried to make me believe they were working hard to overcome the problems I asked about. I was not convinced.

What did you think of your letter being referred from DFAT to AusAID for response?

I was very disappointed. It’s true that PNG is a sovereign state, however I believe the Australian Government must put pressure on Somare and his government to act according to their Constitution. The Australian government seems to be ignoring the mismanagement of PNG and the rights of the ordinary people.

Do you agree with AusAID's view that there is a limited role for Australia in matters of governance, corruption and the environment?

I believe the situation is delicate. However it has now reached a stage that Australia must act especially in regard to the environment and corruption. The dissatisfaction of the rural population is enormous and conflict with the Chinese is inevitable.

How far do you think Australia should go in involving itself in what might be considered the internal affairs of another nation?

Australia should get heavily involved if the Somare government ignores his people and starts making secret deals with mining companies, logging companies and China which do not benefit the people.

As a start Australia needs to talk to people like Sam Basil and Effrey Dademo, who are doing their best to right the wrongs of the Somare government.

When I visited the Highlands in 2008, the villagers and local leaders were puzzled why the Australian government had abandoned them and begged me to be their voice in Australia to get the Australian government to at least acknowledge their plight. Sadly I am a humble nobody with no influence.


And the last word also goes to Trevor…

I have always found that whenever I write to the Australian government complaining or suggesting some action they should take, they always pass it on to AusAID. It is as though they can't be bothered to look into the matter.

I suggested that AusAID should develop a program to supply computers to schools. The request was sent to PNG and their answer was they had other projects to work on and that they were not going to be involved in supplying computers. The same thing happened with the Watabung police station.

The thing that really concerns me is the deep sea tailings. This is eventually going to affect Australian waters and yet the government is saying it’s a New Guinea problem for them to solve.

Read the AusAID letter in full here

PNG Attitude thanks Trevor Freestone both for his initiative in taking up these issues with the Australian Government and for sharing the outcomes, limp as they may be, with readers.


New Rabaul book highlights villagers’ role


White ghosts IN THE AFTERMATH of the Japanese invasion of Rabaul in January 1942, hundreds of Australian soldiers and civilians took to the jungle in an attempt to escape to mainland New Guinea.

Some succeeded, some surrendered, while many died from illness in the unforgiving environment.  The Imperial Japanese Army executed others.

Those that escaped were often helped by PNG villagers who provided food and shelter, and sometimes transport in the form of canoes.

The role of the villagers is highlighted in the book White Ghosts Black Shadows by Canberra author Ray Johnston, a visiting fellow in linguistics at the Australian National University. 

Dr Johnston was engaged in translation work in villages on the north west coast of New Britain from 1970 to 1983.

It was during this period that he first heard the story of “the big rescue” from village elders. 

More than 200 Australian troops were evacuated by a flotilla of small boats organised by district officer and Coastwatcher, the legendary J K “Keith” McCarthy.

Ray Johnston says his book is a story written around history.

“It is based on real events that even now, 68 years on, remain unexplained.  It is not fact, it is not fiction. It is ‘faction’.  And it’s not just a war story. It’s also about planters, missionaries and kiaps – the lost men and women of Rabaul.”

The launch of White Ghosts Black Shadows, published by Sid Harta Press @ $25, will take place in Canberra at Gorman House, Ainslie Avenue, Braddon, on Friday, 19 November at 5.00pm.

The following day – Saturday 20 November – the National Archives in Canberra will hold Tribute Day for Kiaps at which the service of the 2,000 Australians who served as patrol officers between 1949 and 1974 will be acknowledged. Further information is available at

Commit to good governance, says Clinton


HILARY CLINTON has said PNG must commit to “to good governance and accountability and transparency.” The US Secretary of State was on an official visit to PNG.

Ms Clinton said she had raised these issues with Prime Minister Somare, who had advised her PNG was “taking steps to plan to do just that.” She said the US stood ready to help translate PNG’s natural resources into widespread prosperity.

“There is a phrase ‘resource curse’. Countries with abundant natural resources, if they’re not handled right, can actually end up making a country poorer instead of richer,” she said.

“I will not name names, but there are countries that started with the same hopes as PNG, with all the excitement that I know is in this country because of the resources that were discovered, but they weren’t handled right.

“So 20, 30, 40 years later, people have actually gotten poorer. And I know that will not happen here because the people and the government of this country will do it in the right way.”

Ms Clinton went on to say that Sir Michael has “a well-deserved reputation as someone who has led your country in independence and beyond, and I know that your legacy of leaving such a strong base of support for the development of your country will be long, long remembered.”

At the same news conference, Sir Michael bluntly denied that PNG society suffered from excessive violence towards women.

“We sometimes get a painted picture of how cruel we are with our women, and this is not true,” Sir Michael said. “This is a perception from people like yourself and people who write about us. That’s what they like to paint about this country.

“I’m telling you that I have been around for a long time and I know that men and the women, sometimes fights, arguments do take place, but it’s nothing very brutal about violence against women.

“We are doing everything possible, and through the education system alone and allowing the women to play a very important role in a society. That’s the only way we can overcome this problem. But all in all, sometimes it’s exaggerated by people who write about us. "

You can read the transcript of the full media conference here.

Spotter: Peter

PNG Defence Force capacity is 'hollowed out'


THIS IS THE FOURTH and final instalment of a discussion that has so far revealed that PNG’s defence organisation, especially the PNGDF, is not a well balanced military force.

For many years, the PNGDF spent too much on personnel and not enough on operations, training, facilities and equipment. The need to rebalance and strengthen defence capabilities is long overdue.

Experience over the last nine years has demonstrated that overall PNGDF strength must now be increased and the reliability of its logistics greatly enhanced.

This can be achieved through more innovative outsourcing of non-core functions to ensure substantial savings.

The present command structure is inadequate to meet the demands of widespread operations that may occur at the same time.

While it has a basic framework for limited expansion, the PNGDF would still require substantial warning time and financial expenditure to mobilise for any defence emergency of a substantial nature, such as the Bougainville insurgency operations.

Defence needs a sound strategic plan to restructure the PNGDF and to improve overall force readiness and capability.

The accumulated problems in Defence are not wholly structural, however, but leadership and management related.

Ideally the reorganisation of Defence will start immediately and be programmed to roll out over the next ten years and beyond. The whole organisation must be redefined.

The first steps are to focus on ‘achieving more from less resources’ and being more community orientated.

This means a greater involvement in supporting government policy by addressing PNG’s internal security problems and by participating in nation-building tasks in cooperation with other state agencies.

Since the forced reduction in personnel of October 2001 - when Defence strength was cut by 62 percent following a disgraceful political decision - the PNGDF lost much of what it stood for and built up over 40 years.

Many capable fighting men left the service in a nightmarish administrative exercise that leaves many servicemen still shell-shocked to this day.

Today, most major operational units are under-manned and hollow, with no surge capacity in the event of any defence emergency.

On the whole, the defence community suffered greatly through a shameful social dislocation experience. The once proud military all but lost its professional ethos, pride and sense of belonging following the critical incident of the Sandline mercenary fiasco, which it has still not recovered from.

The last three governments have consistently failed, along with the defence leadership, to restore the PNGDF to its rightful place in the community. The Defence Ministry must now get the government’s full commitment in making the PNGDF its top priority.

The PNGDF needs a revolution in military affairs. The government must review where defence is today and make some tough decisions.

It is time the government put its money where its mouth is. It must make a choice to spend more on defence and national security, expect defence to do less, or scrap defence altogether.


Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels honoured at Kokoda

THE SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTION of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels during World War II was acknowledged at a medallion ceremony in Kokoda yesterday.

Australia’s High Commissioner to PNG, Ian Kemish, presented commemorative medallions to six recipients.

In a statement, Veterans’ Affairs Minister, Warren Snowdon, said Australians will be forever indebted to the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels.

“They provided invaluable assistance to Australians during the Second World War — carrying supplies, contributing to the building of bases, airfields and other wartime infrastructure and, most notably, evacuating the sick and wounded through some of the most hostile terrain ever encountered in modern warfare,” Mr Snowdon said.

Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels Day was established in 2009 and Mr Snowdon said this year’s inaugural ceremony provided an opportunity to mark the involvement of a special group of people who continue to be respected and honoured.

The medallion ceremony was held on 3 November, the day on which the Australian flag was raised above a reoccupied Kokoda village after months of fighting along the Kokoda Track.

The Kokoda campaign began when Australians of the 39th Militia Battalion and members of the Papuan Infantry Battalion encountered Japanese troops near Awala on 23 July 1942. For the next three months the Australians conducted a fighting withdrawal to their last line of defence on Imita Ridge near Port Moresby.

At this point the Australians, now bolstered with reinforcements, rallied and after a number of fierce engagements they were able to push the Japanese back along the track.

The commemorative medallion was announced in April last year and features the famous image of a blinded and barefoot Private George Whittington being helped by Raphael Oimbari. The photograph was taken on Christmas Day 1942 near Buna on the PNG north coast.

Medallions are available to surviving Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels and the widows of Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels, and the Australian Government is still seeking to ensure all surviving Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels are honoured.

Ex-Kiap and war historian Ross Wilkinson writes: “It is good that, whilst we tend to associate "the fuzzy wuzzies" with Kokoda, this appears to be recognising the help of the population in a broader sense.

“The PNG people provided far more wide-ranging assistance to allied troops in PNG during the war. Villagers recruited by ANGAU received remuneration for their assistance and a small number of the population received individual honours or recognition of a tangible kind. 

“But many assisted in a totally voluntary way, whether it was guiding lost soldiers and airmen back to their own lines or guiding Coastwatchers to new locations from which to carry out activities.

"Most of the people we readily identify as 'fuzzy wuzzies' were contracted workers through ANGAU.  The ones who deserve recognition were those like the villagers of New Britain who assisted the remnants of Lark Force escape along the coast to be rescued.  They didn't get paid for that.  I am presuming that the mention of Rabaul in the statement recognises this aspect of activities in the region.

"There were villagers in the Owen Stanleys who guided the downed airmen back to allied lines.  There were many executed by the Japanese when caught doing these things.  There were labourers in Port Moresby on the wharves subject to regular bombing  and there were the labourers carrying supplies and wounded  back and forward on the Bulldog Track, and so on."

Hargesheimer story may become a movie


Book VINCE GRATZER is a Los Angeles' film producer who is developing a movie based on the story of Fred Hargesheimer, the US photo-reconnaissance pilot whose plane was shot down over West New Britain in 1943.

The story is an epic. Hargesheimer parachuted to safety and, after a month in the mountains, was rescued and harboured by villagers at great personal risk, and some months later escaped by submarine.

Fred never forgot their bravery. In 1960, he returned to New Britain and for the next 40 years built schools, libraries and clinics for the people who had saved him.

Vince Gratzer is researching a script about Fred’s story, and he contacted PNG Attitude to obtain information about events at the time Fred was on the run from the Japanese and also about a good location to make the film.

As usual, PNG Attitude readers have been very helpful in offering assistance, and one, George Oakes, suggested we provide an abstract of Hargesheimer’s memoir, The School that Fell from the Sky…..


On 23 June 1943, Lt Fred Hargesheimer of the US Army’s 8th Photo Squadron was flying his Lightning P-38 near Lolobau Island when he came under attack from a Japanese fighter plane.

One engine burst into flames and the other stalled. As the burning aircraft plummeted earthwards, Fred parachuted to safety, landing high in the mountains.

The people of Nantabu Village on the coast saw the plane on fire but had not seen where it crashed. Some weeks later, when they made one of their occasional treks up the Pandi River into the mountains, they were surprised to walk around a bend and find a naked Fred fishing in the river.

He had been alone in the jungle since being shot down 31 days before and had survived by eating river shellfish, modo, after finding their shells in the ashes of a fire left by the Nantabuans.

The Nantabu people, with three Tolai Methodist missionaries - Apelis Tongogo, his wife Aida and Brown Timian - who had sailed their canoe nearly 200 km from Rabaul to Nantabu to escape the Japanese, knew if they handed Fred over he would almost certainly be executed.

Bravely, they decided to take the risk of being killed by keeping Fred with them until they could find a way of helping him escape the island. The Nantabuans looked after Fred for six months, teaching him to speak Tok Pisin, sharing their food and clothes with him, and taking him with them everywhere they went, always ready to hide him when they met Japanese patrols.

Eventually Fred teamed up with a group of Australian Coastwatchers. He stayed with them for another three months, assisting their radio operator, Corp Matt Foley, until an American submarine, USS Gato, came to get him along with two Australian fliers - one of whom was Bill Townsend, later to become Air Vice-Marshall.

Fred Hargesheimer returned to the USA to work in the US Army headquarters. In 1946, now a Major, he left the army to return to his prewar job in radio. But Fred never forgot Nantabu.

Sixteen years later, in 1960, Fred returned to Nantabu to repay his debt. What was needed, it was decided, was a school. The problem was that Nantabu was small and isolated with only 13 children in the village.

The elders and Fred eventually made a difficult decision – to locate the school at Ewasse, about 50 kn west, where there were many more children. They would build a dormitory so children from Nantabu could attend school and go home at weekends.

Fred returned to the USA and began telling his story and raising money. Many people gave generously to help build the school. Bill Townsend and other Australians also helped, and the Methodist Overseas Mission provided the land.

In 1963, Fred was ready, with the help of Matt Foley, now a businessman in Rabaul, and the Methodist Mission. Fred flew to Rabaul with his 17-year old son, Richard, who had just graduated from high school. They boarded a coastal ship loaded with cement, steel frames, corrugated iron and other materials and sailed to Ewasse.

There, Fred and Richard joined with a contractor and the people from local villages to build the school, which was completed and opened in 1964 with four classrooms and 40 students. Two American navy jets did a fly past for the official opening in June.

Fred continued to raise money to support the school and to find volunteer teachers. In 1969, with all their children now grown up and away from home, Fred and Dorothy went to Ewasse to join the school staff. They had planned for a year there, but stayed for four.

In July 2004, Fred made his thirteenth journey across the Pacific from his home in California, again accompanied by Richard, for the school’s 40th anniversary celebrations. Aged 88, a widower and rapidly losing his sight, Fred spent a joyous week receiving a hero’s welcome.

Fred was happy to accept the Nantabuans gift to him of the title, Suara (warrior), but he rejects the ‘hero’ tag.

“The real heroes are the people of Nantabu,” he said. “Every man, woman and child put their lives on the line to save me. They saved my life, shared their food and guarded me from the enemy. Who can ever repay such a debt?”

Temu confident of overturning Somare’s rule

Flag OPPOSITION LEADER Sir Puka Temu will lead another attempt at moving a no confidence motion in the Somare government when the PNG parliament meets the week after next.

Sir Puka has said the opposition is confident the vote of no-confidence will succeed and he has begun to outline some of the opposition's major policies.

He said he will focus on the needs of the 50 percent of school-age children who miss out on basic education every year.

“A government that invests in its human resource is a good government and, therefore, PNG must invest in its human resource to compete in the region and on the international arena,” he said.

Sir Puka also said he would be to “revive the public service machinery for the good of the nation.”

Public servants who had not performed will be dismissed to allow for competent and committed officers to serve the people, he said.

Transparency and accountability among public office holders will be a major focus of the alternate government.

“We will also make sure financial management procedures are resurrected to ensure all public funds are channelled in a transparent and accountable manner," Sir Puka said.

The functions of the Ombudsman Commission will be reviewed to give it greater power and autonomy in dealing with corrupt leadership.

The inevitable growth of global Sinophobia


ANTI-CHINESE SENTIMENT, or Sinophobia, is a deadly trend becoming more common as China continues to rise. It is defined as the dislike of or fear of China, its people or its culture.

Xenophobia, fear of foreigners, is widespread in all societies. In Iran, anti-American sentiment is strong. The Iranians see America as evil because of its arrogance. America, in its bid to create a peaceful world, has strongly gone against Iran’s nuclear ambitions, even though Iran has assured the world that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

In PNG’s case, we witnessed the ransacking of Asian businesses in 2009; mostly targeting people of ethnic Chinese origin in major towns because of the disparity of wealth.

This Sinophobia is growing day by day and could lead to a major social uprising of greater magnitude in the future.

Chinese entrepreneurs were in PNG a long time before independence and contributed immensely to PNG’s development as a sovereign nation. This fact cannot be denied if you know your history.

Over more recent years, a new wave of Chinese immigrants and business activities have moved in a different pattern. The Chinese have adapted to the changes in PNG society, backed by their popular ‘Guanxi system’ that is similar to our ‘wantok system’.

We, on the other hand, have failed to evolve the way we do business. As a result, the lack of opportunity experienced by middle and low class citizens of this nation have led them to take out their frustrations on foreign owned businesses.

The reasons for this fear or dislike of the Chinese diasporas is very complex. It is like a triangle with three points of influence: government, citizens and Chinese entrepreneurs.

It is difficult to accuse one factor as the root of the problem because all three have, in one way or another, played a significant part in feeding the growing anti-Chinese sentiment.

PNG is just a needle in the haystack in the world of Sinophobia.

At state-to-state level, China’s relationship with the different states in the international system reveals a sense of Sinophobia. Developed countries in Europe and Asia, including the world’s declining hegemon America, from a realist perspective are fearful of China’s rise because of the theory of balance of power.

After the Cold War, the bipolar world of the USSR and the US was disassembled and replaced with a unipolar system controlled by the USA.

But that order is changing, due to the remarkable rise of China affecting the balance of power as countries begin to join the Chinese bandwagon. The fear of China challenging America for the leadership position has led America to initiate containment and engagement plans to monitor China.

Furthermore, according to Robert Reich in New Perspective Quarterly, “China wants to become the world’s pre-eminent producer nation”. Reich draws a comparison between the US economy being oriented to consumption and the Chinese economy to production. This adds fuel to the fire because, with high production, China will continue to flood the world with ‘Made in China’ products affecting the balance of trade.

In a recent BBC/Globescan poll of 28 nations, China’s global image remains mixed. Only in Africa and Pakistan is it consistently positive, while in Asia, North America and Latin America it is neutral to poor. Across Europe it is strongly negative.

China’s increasing economic and military power is creating anxiety around the world.

Thus, in the 21st Century, not only are individual Chinese traders victims of Sinophobia, but the Chinese State is enduring its share of anti-Chinese sentiment.

This trend is unavoidable and will continue to intensify as China continues towards developed nation status.

Bernard Yegiora is a Papua New Guinean student studying for a Masters degree in International Relations at the Institute of International Studies in China's Jilin University in Changchun. Bernard graduated with an Honours degree in Political Science from the University of PNG in 2009. His research interest is in Chinese culture and soft power: how China can use culture as an element of soft power to improve its tarnished international image through increased public diplomacy.

Allied prisoners' list found in Kyoto temple


A NOMINAL ROLL of 48,000 Allied servicemen who died in camps and elsewhere after being captured by the Japanese forces in World War II has been found in Kyoto, Japan.

The roll recording the deaths of foreign POWs was prepared by the former War Ministry and was never made public except for names provided to bereaved families who requested them.

Members of an organisation said to be the POW Research Group, composed of scholars and others gathering source materials on POWs, found the records preserved in a war dead memorial in a corner of the Ryozen Kan-non temple's premises in the East Ward of Kyoto City.

“(The records) are important materials to shed light on the last of the POWs on whom there are many issues yet to be understood," Japanese researchers said.

The nominal roll is in six volumes of files bound by a black leather cover. Some 7,630 Australian servicemen are included.

The records are in English in respect of name, unit, date of death, cause of death, place of death and burial condition (interment or cremation).

The nominal roll is well-preserved. The section on the deaths of servicemen includes "shot to death", "malaria" and "dysentery". Servicemen who died when transport ships were sunk are described as "went missing during voyage". More than 1,000 Australian servicemen and civilians died in one of these incidents alone, when the Montevideo Maru carrying prisoners from Rabaul, was sunk in the South China Sea.

In the section for place of death, there are rows of place names within and outside Japan where camps existed. In addition to mining sites within Japan where POWs were used as forced labour, names such as Kanchanaburi and Chonkai in Thailand are noted for servicemen who were forcibly deployed for excessively hard labour on the Burma-Thai railway.

‘According to the Ryozenkan-non, how the nominal roll was obtained is not clear, with no record left at the temple,” the Asahi Shimbun reported.

“It is presumed that in 1958, when a memorial of the unknown soldiers was erected within the temple, in memory of he military servicemen of various countries who lost their lives in the Pacific War, the roll was dedicated to the temple.”

"I heard a story that at that time a woman office worker made the record by typing from the original register,” said one temple worker.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Social Welfare, the former War Ministry's PW Information Bureau, immediately after the war, prepared a record of deaths of foreign PWs as source material for submission to the Allies.

"While is not possible to elucidate the process, one is virtually certain that the roll is a product of reproduction from the original register carried over by the Ministry,” said an official

The original register remains in the Ministry's storage but the state of preservation is bad, and deterioration is advancing. For the reason of protection of private information, the record is treated as "out of access to the public" except for a small party such as bereaved families.

Source: Asahi Shimbun, 31 July 2010. Translation by Harumi Sakaguchi,18 August 2010

Hosea’s war: insight into an early PNG author


IN AN ARTICLE last weekend - a compelling guided tour through his own PNG book collection - Phil Fitzpatrick mentioned early Papua New Guinean author, Hosea Linge.

“The subject matter might not be so relevant now,” wrote Phil, “but its place in the annals of Papua New Guinea literature is very important. The book sits very comfortably in my collection.”

And in PNG Attitude yesterday, George Oakes offered a comment that gave greater context to the life and work of Hosea Linge.

George spent his pre-war childhood at Pinikidu in New Ireland, the son of the tulatula (Methodist missionary), Rev Daniel Oakes, who was later captured by the Japanese and lost his life on the Montevideo Maru.

Hosea Linge was one of Rev Oakes main helpers and, when Mr Oakes was transferred to the Methodist Mission station at Kavieng in late 1941, not long before the Japanese invasion, Hosea took over running Pinikidu, where he remained for most of the war.

After the war, Hosea wrote a fascinating account of these years. The book was published in 1978 by the United Church in Rabaul with the help of Rev Neville Threlfall, an occasional contributor to these columns.

George Oakes – who returned to Sydney with his mother and brother in 1941, and who later became a Kiap in PNG - was good enough to transcribe a chapter or two of Hosea’s book, An Offering fit for a King, for the Lost Lives website. We reproduce this here….


The Synod in November 1941 gave me the status of a Probationer and appointed me to my home circuit of Pinikidu; I therefore prepared to take up this appointment. In December I went to stay at Malakuna, with my wife and child and with some newly graduated pastor-teachers, to wait for a ship.

While we were at the District head station at Malakuna, we were told that Japan had entered the war on Germany's side, and the situation of everyone at Malakuna and in Rabaul was very uncertain. Japanese reconnaissance planes began flying over Rabaul.

The Rev LA McArthur was our Chairman, the leader of the work of the Church in the New Guinea District. He thought of sending the New Ireland girls, who were in the Girls' School at Vunairima, back to New Ireland, and he asked what I thought about it. I agreed with him, because we did not know what the war might bring.

So he sent a message to Vunairima and the single girls came to Malakuna to get on the ship with us. The ship took us to Kalili on the West Coast of New Ireland, where we landed on 17th December.

We climbed up to the Lelet Plateau, following the bush tracks, and down to the coast on the other side, arriving at Pinikidu on 21st December. The minister there, the Rev D Oakes, told me to stay at Pinikidu for the time being, and he went away to Kavieng; we never saw each other again, so there was no opportunity to discuss our work, and I could not ask him for the help that I needed.

The war came to Kavieng on 21st January 1942, but we who were in Central New Ireland did not know it. I was having a meeting that day with the pastor-teachers, local preachers, class leaders, church stewards, congregation representatives and the government appointed headmen of the six villages of a catechist's section; I used to have meetings like this in each catechist's section.

The people went back to their villages after the meeting, and the next day a message came that Kavieng had been attacked and partly destroyed, and that the minister's house at Liga, outside the town, had been burned down.


In the third week of January 1943 one hundred Japanese soldiers and their officer came to Pinikidu and stayed in the mission house. The day before their arrival, their officer and some soldiers came to inspect the house and the things in it. The officer demanded the key of the house from me, which I gave to him, and he then went inside the house.

He unlocked a cupboard and saw the things in it, including the small tins containing the money from the sale of various books; then he closed it again, and they went away, saying that the whole company would come the next day.

That afternoon the teacher of the primary school, a pastor and the schoolboys told me about the tins of money in the house; when the Japanese had first come to Pinikidu they had thrown away the books and money, and the teachers and schoolboys had picked them up again and put them back in the cupboard. I told them to bring the money to me, which they did.

The following day the whole company of a hundred soldiers arrived, and their officer looked for the money in the little tins, and he called for me and asked me about it. I told him that it was in my care. Man, how he stormed at me! He was furiously angry with me, saying that I was a thief.

I did not speak, I just stood quietly before him with my body, and in my spirit I leaned upon the God of Hosts in prayer. Later I spoke a little to him, and he showed me his sword and told me to bow respectfully to him in the Japanese way, which they call kere. Then he told me that that was all.

They stayed at Pinikidu for a week and then went away again. The Pinikidu people commented: 'They will not govern this country, because America and Australia will defeat them'.

Read the full extract from An Offering Fit for a King here: War comes to our Islands 1942-43

Suspicious land leases go to mystery company

THE ACTING PRESIDENT of the Western Province Chamber of Commerce, Warren Dutton OBE, has said PNG’s Secretary for Lands may have been negligent when he issued leases over 1.25 million hectares of customary land in the North Fly District.

And in an exclusive statement to PNG Attitude Mr Dutton has said a company search by his lawyer has revealed no record of incorporation of Tosigiba Investment Limited, which says it represents the customary landowners of much of the land included within the lease boundaries.

“It appears that the Secretary for Lands has issued a lease for 99 years over 632,000 ha to a company that does not exist,” Mr Dutton said.

A landowners meeting in Kiunga last week was told there is prime facie evidence that the Lands Secretary or his officers had acted negligently and possibly corruptly when he issued three leases.

A lease over 632,538 hectares in the Nomad District was issued by the Secretary in the name of Tosigiba Investment Ltd. The Chairman of the separate Tosigiba Timber Group Ltd told the meeting he had no knowledge of or connection with Tosigiba Investment Ltd, in whose name the lease over his people’s land had been issued.

People from the Nomad area told the meeting they had negotiated with the proposed developer to give them timber rights over a corridor five kilometers either side of the road alignment, which the developer agreed to construct in consideration of those rights.

Instead the Secretary for Lands had issued a Special Purpose Agricultural and Business Lease for 99 years over all the land owned by the members of all 79 Incorporated Land Groups as well as over the land of all the other villages in the Nomad District.

“Not one village house, nor one sago tree is excluded from this lease. The lease is also issued over the top of long existing leases for Mission Purposes,” said a media statement from the Western Province Chamber of Commerce.

“How can the Secretary of Lands be so credulous as to believe that any Papua New Guinean villager would or could be prepared to cede absolutely all of his land to the State for 99 years,” the statement said.

“Surely he, or his responsible officers, should have referred back to the Kiunga and Nomad District Lands Officers for confirmation that all the villagers really did agree to give away absolutely all of their land.

“By not doing so, surely he has acted, at least, negligently in the performance of his statutory duties.”

At the landowner meeting in Kiunga last week, hundreds of disgruntled villagers said their land had been given away without consent. Western Province has half of PNG's allocated 4.3 million hectares of what are termed "Special Purpose Agricultural and Business Leases”.

"They are giving away the land but we don't know what the future use is or the implications," Western Province MP, Boka Kondra, said.

Western Province Land and Resource Owner Federation chairman, Paul Katut, said landowners had been duped. "Its unprecedented the government gives one million hectares," he said. "We have members of the companies here that all say they didn't agree to the deal."

A further word for those who sit and write


TO BE NOTICED by Keith is gratifying; to be patronised by him is sublime. I am grateful for the opportunity given to take up my blunt axe once more.

I am sad that my words seem to have inspired no immediate riposte, no cutting put-down from the class of contributors I addressed. Perhaps familiarity with Fowke breeds contempt rather than a righteous or contentious response.

No matter. In peril of being called a one-track-minded old fool, I should like to go further along a pathway which, as Keith says, is well-established; a pathway I have pursued at length through all four daily and weekly papers published in PNG as well as upon the pages of PNG Attitude over the past twelve months.

In a country such as PNG, we who have ideas and who like to put them out for consideration have only the press, augmented by the electronic media, within which to express our ideas. Radio of course provides another and very valuable medium but one doesn’t hear much in terms of real ideas here, more’s the pity.

TV is not a valuable tool for us as it is driven by commercial considerations and without any tradition of truth such as is maintained by PNG’s relatively free daily press and its senior practitioners.

As inferred by Keith, the pen is mightier than the sword, and it is hoped that in our case and in regard to our concerns it will be the pen and the minds and mouths of those who wield pens which shape the future, rather than a violent alternative.

My desire is to see mouths begin to spread the word, though, rather than offerings made to the various media where there is a limited audience. Preaching to the already-converte  may be enjoyable as an exercise, but it is a waste of good time and talent.

As acknowledged by men much wiser than I, PNG hovers daily on the brink of anarchy, a situation of precarious balance maintained only by the fact that apart from the nation’s criminals, those driven to violent acts are anchored by concerns linked to clan-owned land, in widely-dispersed trouble-spots.

Concerns over matters of principle and communal equity are necessarily tribal ones, and not nationalistic, nor especially idealistic in nature. Thus PNG’s innate tribalism, aided by something like 75% illiteracy, militates against any binding alliance based on a sense of nationhood and driven by the pen alone.

This is the bone which supports the body of my contention against “those who only write.”

Read John Fowke’s full article here: More for those who only sit and write

Croc Report 1: And so the contest begins


THE CROCODILE PRIZE literary competition is turning into a very interesting journey, considering that it began with a throwaway line in an article and a rather cavalier challenge from our esteemed editor.

The learning curve has been steep and winding with many stops for breathers.

At some fortuitous point along the way we picked up Big Pat Levo, the features editor at the PNG Post-Courier.

Big Pat tried to tell us that he was, at that particular moment in history, hanging upside down in the Boroko Police cells operating his Blackberry with the pinkie on his left foot.

Fortunately we have some dope on him following the mysterious appearance of a carton of tinpis on the back seat of his car. Big Pat is now marginally under control.

We’ve picked up some other less bizarre but equally interesting people along the way but I won’t embarrass them by mentioning their names – at least not yet.

To date we’ve had 23 entries in the competition. From those PNG Attitude has published two short stories and several poems.

To my mind the rate of entries has been a bit slow. Conversely, enquiries from possible entrants have been steady. I guess it takes time to knock up a good short story or poem; nothing from the journalists yet however.

I was particularly chuffed when the father of one of the poets that Keith published recorded his pride in a comment on the blog. Added to that have been the many interesting email exchanges I’ve had with other potential entrants.

Through it all I’ve gained a better handle on the state of literature in PNG. It’s not good. In fact, it’s a lot worse than I expected.

How successive governments in PNG have ignored and failed to nurture a national literature beggar’s belief.

Literature is one of the bed rocks of national identity yet PNG has never had anything remotely resembling a national literature board.

There is no society of authors in PNG. How on earth can you unite a country without the blood of its writers and thinkers flowing in its veins?

The current most profound forms of national literature in PNG are the tourist brochures you pick up at the reception desk in the hotels!

If the government isn’t interested, what about private enterprise? No luck there either.

It’s not because there isn’t a buck to be made in publishing, but rather a combination of apathy, selfishness and that peculiar insularity found behind the tinted windows of air conditioned Landcruisers.

I’ve been bombarding companies in PNG with begging emails seeking sponsorships for a couple of months now and running smack bang into the digital equivalent of razor wire and attack dogs.

Here is a challenge: see if you can crack a contact for a human being through the Oilsearch or ExxonMobil websites, to name just a couple.

Then, just as I’m giving up in despair, along comes Ok Tedi Mining Limited: “Yeah, we can do that, is $1,000 okay?” And it’s in the The Crocodile bank account, in full, a week later!

How they got it past the banks is anyone’s guess. PNG bank’s charge in the vicinity of K30-50 per transaction to transfer funds overseas. Furthermore, funds received in Australia are also subject to a bank fee of around $12-15, depending on your bank.

If funds are to go back to PNG, as they will, then there is the added loss in the exchange rate. For a simple donation of K100, you might end up with only K40 ... the rest is lost in bank charges! Needless to say, we are investigating alternatives.

However, thanks to OTML and the other generous contributors, The Crocodile account currently sits at $2,500, which translates to K6626.82, with many promises of more to come.

We’ve also got 200 books from John Fowke and 20 books from the University of Central Queensland to distribute. There is a clear and visible road ahead.

While looking at options for publishing the anthology I came across a number of interesting possibilities.

At first my mind was fixed on the high tech digital options, but I realised that wasn’t compatible with a country whose potential and eager readers were lucky to have electricity, let alone an internet connection.

Then I noticed a series of cowboy and romance novels in the local newsagent. These are about 100 pages long, printed on cheap newsprint and wrapped around with a coloured cover. They sell for about $4 each.

My local printer says he could knock out a few thousand at about $1.50 each. With a few pages of advertising, the price might come down further. It’s back to the 1950s but if it works, who cares?

I’m thinking of calling it Pukpuk Publishers with a logo featuring a rampant crocodile with a journalist in its mouth.

But don’t tell anyone; it’s just an idea at the moment.

See ATTITUDE EXTRA at left for details on how to enter THE CROCODILE PRIZE

In defence of those who only sit and write


I’M HAPPY TO CALL John Fowkes a friend of mine and he can be wonderfully witty and eloquent and,  as readers know, curmudgeonly.

Like all men of ideas, he has some brilliant ones and some that wouldn’t sparkle even if you polished them with Ajax and then sprayed them thrice with glister.

His potently argued case for a re-emphasis on, and expansion of, local level government is a splendid instance of the former. If PNG had a national government truly intent on doing the best for its people, LLG reform would be very high on its list. And you’d get someone like John – maybe the man himself – to give practical advice on how to structure it.

But John’s repeated assertion that the PNG “middle class”, something of an elusive concept, is somehow letting the country down, doesn’t sit readily with me.

John writes, in yesterday’s PNG Attitude:

"In every area of comment, controversy or expressed dissatisfaction, the weasel-words and lack of positivism and visible action by most of PNG's educated middle-class demonstrates daily that, for the most part, it has not the guts or the initiative to turn around the slow collapse of its glorious land and its manifest great latent human and material wealth."

But he repeats the error, if error it is, of those about whom he protests. What is this positive and visible action? What are the constituent parts of a “turn around”? What can these more educated people reasonably do beyond what they are now doing?

What they are now doing is of great importance. Elucidating problems, seeking solutions, arguing about pathways, proselytising dissatisfaction, and communicating elements of a better way.

They are using the media, and I presume word of mouth, to spread these ideas to what I suspect is a growing number of their compatriots ever more ready to listen.

They hope, and it is not an unrealistic hope, that a commonality of understanding will create productive change; the result of the more subtle power of ideas rather than the brute force of gun or arson. Although it looks like being a close run thing.

The 'compatriots' will include, increasingly over time, village people – the so-called ‘grassroots’ – who, thus far, have been a barrier to real social change because they live a life cut off from national politics and, when they vote, tend to do so along tribal and clan lines for immediate benefits, not on the more complex basis of who is offered for their country as well as themselves.

Inevitably PNG will change. Inevitably the murmurs of dissatisfaction will get louder. Nothing stays the same for long, particularly if people’s lives are going backwards and they see the lives of others being grotesquely enriched while there’s remain materially unfulfilled.

But a handful of people cannot manifest such wide-scale change. Nor arguably can 2,000. It requires social assent and, in a place like PNG, this is formidably difficult to achieve.

Even practical change like the Kailap’s enterprise at the Kaugere Settlement, may itself not trigger anything more significant. It is simply benevolent people stepping into a role that would be exercised by a good government, thereby making up for the neglect of government. The giving of aid often has the same wayward effect.

But communication, and the political awakening that is borne with it, are very compelling forces. Slow to build, impossible to stop when they have momentum, often effective in the end (but only after explorign some blind gullies).

We should never underestimate the power of the ideas that drive true change.

To paraphrase John Milton, my view of the ideasmiths is that “they also serve who only sit and write.”

So, keep at it Reg, Mari, Tom, John, Simon, Kaiam, George, Cilla, Peter & Lydia (practical people), Miok, and Channel; and the anonymous ones who go by names like The General, M, Chicco or Papua Tauna.

You are making a contribution – a valid and fundamental contribution - to the betterment of your country.