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177 posts from May 2011

Time to govern in the national interest


FRANCIS HUALUPMOMI recently raised an interesting question in several media publications: “Who should succeed Grand Chief Somare?” The succession is open to any MP, and every parliamentarian should aspire to the lofty office of the prime minister given the right conditions in the term of a parliament.

On the other hand, this is also a good question the National Alliance Party and the coalition partners in the government should be answering at this juncture.

Today, PNG lacks competent political leadership. Since 2002 the government has failed to realistically address what is wrong. So far, the government’s overall performance has been very mediocre. I doubt it will improve before the country goes to the polls next year.

The government must immediately address the PNG leadership issue. Prime Minister Somare has been ill for some time now. A general assessment now is that, even if he does recover, he will not be in any fit state to continue as the prime minister.

Opposition leader, Belden Namah, was right to raise the matter in Parliament last Thursday, asking acting PM Sam Abal to invoke section 142, sub-section 5 (c) of the constitution. But acting Speaker Francis Maru disallowed this.

This immediately raises the next question, “Is there any credible leadership within the government to take over as prime minister?” In my view, not really, but there are some good prospects within the Opposition.

Many Papua New Guineans have great reservations in the government’s ability to fix issues of national importance before next year’s election. The NA also seems to have many ongoing in-house issues to ‘iron out’ in trying to competently lead a government coalition comprising many competing interests.

Whichever way one looks at the picture, the coalition parties are ‘guilty by association’ with the Speaker to consistently make parliament dysfunctional.

Since 2002, the speaker’s unprofessional conduct during numerous sessions has systematically not fairly allowed the Opposition to fully bring forward the concerns of our people, nor addressed them satisfactorily.

It is too late for this Somare government to improve upon its performance in the remaining months before the polls next year. The people must not vote it back in 2012.

Let us now look at the question Francis asked about who should succeed Somare. In general terms the answer is simple: a competent politician who has the national interest at heart.

Continue reading "Time to govern in the national interest" »

Sorry, but it’s not my problem!


THE ABILITY OF PEOPLE to subvert, obscure, handball and otherwise ignore problems, no matter how monumental, is amazing.  No more so than in Papua New Guinea.

One of the reasons I bailed out of the South Australian public service in the 1990s was the interminable meetings I was forced to attend.  When I couldn’t unobtrusively nod off to sleep, I had to listen to and watch some incredibly boring drone sketching yet another organisational chart on a whiteboard or shuffle dot points in another meaningless mission statement up and down.

The only upside of these sessions was the free cakes and biscuits at morning tea and the sandwiches carted in by the local caterer for lunch.

Then we were sent off to address our “personal performance indicators” or some other mindless piece of paperwork dreamt up by our human resources “team”.

All this was going on while the real problems were out there festering away and getting worse by the minute.  I believe the correct technical term is “fiddling while Rome burns”, which is a reference to an ancient and corrupt Italian politician called Nero.

These days I happily tell people “sorry, I don’t do meetings” or “mission statement, sorry, don’t know what you’re talking about; how about you just point me at the job and I’ll give you a call when I’m done?”

Isn’t it curious that, in the modern world, when presented with a problem, people call meetings, set up committees, design flow charts and vision statements and then happily go home to watch television congratulating themselves on a job well done. 

Meanwhile the leak in the dam gets bigger and the world drowns in more reports, charts and motherhood statements.

It’s also very easy to bury a problem or a good idea in jargon: stick an “ism” or an “ology” on the end of every second word and you can turn people off and away by the thousands. 

Taking a simple concept and turning it into something totally incomprehensible is a fine and valued art in government.  It’s a bit like talking for two hours and saying absolutely nothing.

And it’s not just government who are at it. If you rifle through PNG Attitude you come across comments like “someone needs to do something about this”, “they shouldn’t be allowed to do this”, “the government must address this problem”, and so on.

No one ever specifies who the “someone” actually might be; “they” are a mysterious group, presumably hovering in the background ready to leap on their white chargers to do battle with whatever gripe the commentator has raised.  And what actually does “must” mean; call a meeting perhaps?

No one seems to be prepared to actually step up and claim ownership of a problem any more; just like no one is prepared to admit that they have made a mistake – that would be sudden death in modern politics.

“This is the problem; this is what needs to be done about it and I am now going out to fix it” or “this is a matter for the Minister of Procrastination; I’m going to bang on his door until he does something about it”.  When did you last hear someone say something like that?

Outrage is fine, but only if you are prepared to do something about it.

Instead, the problem gets generalised, categorised, conflated, stalled, debated to death, hung out to dry and then shelved in a cupboard that hopefully no one is ever likely to reopen again.

This is the stuff that politicians, consultants, career public servants and other parasites feed off.  Their mantra is to maintain the status quo at all costs.  Stall long enough for people to get bored and go away.

In modern politics policy is king; how many times do you hear the accusation “they’ve got no policy?  All they’ve got is rhetoric!”  Policies have become an end in themselves but what good are policies if you don’t act on them? 

What good is a policy if nobody takes any notice of it?  A policy is only an idea; it doesn’t, of itself, solve problems; the actions flowing from it are what counts.  The same goes for things like constitutions.

All governments world-wide do it; Papua New Guinea just seems particularly good at it.  It must have had some very good teachers.

But, of course, this is gratuitous advice from someone who doesn’t actually live there and you are probably best advised to ignore it.

TB threat: Torres clinics should remain open


AUSTRALIA is at risk of a mutated, virtually untreatable and extra-deadly strain of tuberculosis if it axes tuberculosis clinics in the Torres Strait.

Justin Waring, the Gillard government's chief adviser on the infectious lung disease, said proposed cuts to treatment services in the Torres Strait could expose the mainland population to a much more serious form of TB.

The clinics on the islands of Saibai and Boigu treat villagers from PNG's Western Province, who make the trip by dinghy to meet doctors every fortnight.

The villagers are allowed to enter the islands for traditional purposes, which do not theoretically include the treatments, understood to cost about $45,000 a patient.

Now the Queensland and federal governments are arguing over the money, with the state arguing it is Canberra's responsibility to provide healthcare to PNG nationals.

The federal government says the Torres Strait is clearly under Queensland's jurisdiction and it is trying to build PNG's medical capacity through AusAID.

Dr Waring applauded the drive for self-sufficiency but warned it could take decades, by which time the disease could mutate into the drug-resistant XDR-TB strain, which is resistant to most treatments.

"You're almost returning to 100 years ago when there were no drugs for TB and people were sent off to the mountains to live in sanatoriums," he said.

Coalition regional health spokesman, Dr Andrew Laming, said the consequences could be "disastrous".

"Ceasing these services can lead to multi-drug-resistant TB and the costs to Australia will be far in excess of the resources required to continue frontline treatment," he said.

Torres Strait Regional Authority chairman Toshi Kris warned closing the clinics would only drive sick PNG nationals on to mainland Australia in search of treatment.

Source: The Australian

Aid criteria to become less region-focused

THE PRINCIPLES that determine which countries receive aid funding from Australia are set to change, and there may be less focus on the Pacific region.

Australian aid is currently heavily directed to the Pacific, with PNG and the Solomon Islands the biggest recipients.

Australian MP Dr Andrew Leigh says, while the Pacific remains Australia's priority, there should be less focus on region as a criteria for funding.

He told Radio Australia he is also pushing for better deals for countries like PNG, which has had a mining resources boom, yet the standard of living remains relatively low.

"Financial flows should be transparent. Companies should publish what they pay to governments and publish what they recieve from companies," he said.

"That makes sure that voters get the best deal out of the natural resources that are their birth right."

The Australian government has increased the aid budget by $500 million with much of it to go to Pacific countries.

Source: Australia Network News


Pacific partnership team rebuilds school


Pacific Partnership AMPHIBIOUS CONSTRUCTION Battalion 1 has completed the final additions to the Bubia primary school as part of Pacific Partnership 2011.

ACB-1 worked with the PNG and Australian Defence Force personnel to provide engineering support to improve a local school, a water system, and strengthen relationships with local officials and citizens.

“We are working with host nation and Australian soldiers building a school and water tower to provide a place to learn and water for the facility,” said Lt Ajac Adams. “The water tower is complete, and now we’re just putting the finishing touches on the school.”

The team consisted of 40 people from ACB-1, a contingent of Australian army sappers, and a team of Papua New Guinean engineers. It took the multi-national team 23 days to complete construction of a new schoolhouse and a water tower, providing a new place for students to learn and fresh water for them to drink. The new building will support at least two seventh grade classes of roughly 30 students per class.

“We have a detachment that has been here in Lae for several weeks as well as a small detachment embarked aboard Cleveland. Together, we were able to get these projects done quickly and efficiently,” said Capt. Scott Lester, commanding officer of Amphibious Construction Battalion 1.

The Pacific Partnership team overcame several obstacles, including missing parts to a pre-engineered building, which provided some challenges to meeting their deadline.

Local Papua New Guineans lined up to help with the project, allowing the builders to learn about the community and teach local forces a little bit of what they know. The parents and children that will be using the school seemed especially grateful.

“You can see, driving around, that the people enjoy our presence. It is great to go somewhere where you are appreciated for what you are doing.” said Lester. “The team is exchanging construction skills and working together with the local people, and it’s nice to see all of us doing something positive, learning from each other, and working hard at it.”

Photo: US Navy Seabees take a break while building classrooms at the Bubia secondary school  [Petty Officer 1st Class Eli J Medellin]

Source: US Department of Defense

Porgera landholders appeal to UN for support

A RECENT LANDMARK decision of the PNG National Court that gives the Porgera Joint Venture Company exclusive rights of occupancy to its Special Mining Lease could affect thousands of landowners living in major resource development project areas.

Meanwhile, landowners from Porgera have travelled to the United Nations to advocate the humane resettlement of the people still living within the Lease.

The lawsuit, against the Wapini sub-clan living in the Lease area of Barrick Gold’s Porgera mine, sought permanent injunctions against the landowners who were continually tearing down a fence that the company was building.

Danny Gonol, the lawyer representing the Wapini landowners, submitted on behalf of the landowners that the company was constructing the fence through their village and this would result in their displacement, as well as destruction to homes, food gardens and trees.

The resettlement of people still living inside the Lease area of the Porgera Mine has been a key demand brought by the landowners association for many years.

“We are forced to live like squatters in our own land. The company’s mining activity, through the mine waste and now this giant fence, has overtaken all of the land that we once used to live in and grow food,” said Mark Ekepa, chairman of the Porgera Landowners Association.

“With this legal decision, the national government is legitimising Barrick’s use of force in evicting indigenous landowners from their own land. We have no where to go, so we are taking our struggle to international bodies”

In 2008, the Porgera Landowners Association joined forces with other Porgera-based groups to form the Porgera Alliance.

Since that time, the Alliance has made annual trips to Barrick’s annual shareholders meeting, the Canadian Parliament, and the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples to advocate for resettlement of landowners who live inside the Lease.

“Our government is weak and depends on companies like Barrick to provide revenues from resource extraction,” said Jethro Tulin of the Porgera Alliance.

“While we try to work with our government in PNG, we have found that the government speaks like the company and the company speaks like the government. Meanwhile, there is a human rights crisis on the ground that neither body wants to acknowledge.”

Mr Gonol said that his lawfirm is contemplating lodging a Supreme Court appeal against the National Court decision.


Squatter settlements – let’s blame the victim


SQUATTER SETTLEMENTS are a world-wide phenomenon with an historical pedigree all their own.

In developed countries they are evident in overcrowded low socio-economic suburbs and in tenement buildings and slums.  In Australia, Aboriginal squatters live in fringe camps around country towns.

In developing countries they appear as raggedy collections of shacks and lean-tos made out of scavenged materials like scrap timber, sheets of rusty iron roofing, cardboard and bits of discarded carpet.  City dumps are a great resource for squatters.

It is generally believed that squatters gravitate to the cities and towns in the hope of a better life and to escape the stultifying ennui and boredom of the village.  The truth is much more complex.

Migration into settlements has increased dramatically since the 1970s.  In African settlements around towns like Nairobi in Kenya the populations are numbered in their millions.

Demographers tell us that the dramatic increase in rural-urban drift coincides with the rise of materialism and the perceived need to fulfil life’s expectations by accumulating wealth, “stuff” and a concomitant status.

This need to accumulate material wealth has been aided and abetted by the development of sophisticated communications and media which constantly bombard us with messages about buying things.  This is the age of conspicuous consumption and the cult of celebrity.  PNG hasn’t got the monopoly on cargo cults any more.

In rich western countries people are building bigger and bigger houses to hold all their “stuff”.  They cut their lawns with ride-on mowers; soon we will be seeing ride-on vacuum cleaners.  Self storage for the “stuff” that overflows from these McMansions is a booming new industry.

In contrast, the people who live in the settlements often revert to petty crime to get by and to get enough to eat.  At the same time they become victims of crime themselves.  They are preyed upon by organised criminals and slum landlords.  They are also increasingly used as recruiting grounds by political warlords. 

More often than not they steal from each other.  Violence and fear is a constant presence.  They are convenient targets for police harassment.

Where it will all end nobody knows; it is out of control and there seem to be no solutions.

Long time generational squatters are now so detached from their village origins that they cannot return even if they wanted.  They have become outsiders in their own tribe.

Their rights to land and a place to cultivate a garden have been revoked by absence.  The great mythical Melanesian community network has ostracised them.

So how did it all start?

Kaugere in Port Moresby is an interesting case study, although similar developments occurred in most major PNG towns.  I was in Mount Hagen in 1967 and the squatter settlements there had reached the “problem” stage.  Some of the squatters in Hagen were people who had had their land sold from under them by greedy bigmen so the town could expand.

Kaugere started life as an administration-built, low cost housing suburb for local government officers.  There was a primary T school, a welfare and medical centre, several stores and, in the very middle, an old village cemetery.

In addition to the government employees there was a floating population of workers and labourers - both government and private.  These people usually had casual employment with no provision for accommodation.  They were “living with wantoks” as the expression went, and tended to aggregate into ethnic enclaves. 

Many of them were domestic servants, shopgirls from Steamies and Beeps, that sort of thing.  Others were just people looking for work.

Their descendants now make up a large proportion of the Kaugere population.  They are permanently disenfranchised.

In 1974 the Australian administration, in a belated exercise, introduced a self-help urban housing scheme using the National Housing Commission.  The scheme recognised existing urban squatter settlements like Kaugere as a legitimate urban activity that needed upgrading and improvement.

It also recognised the need to develop new settlements in conjunction with employment opportunities.  The scheme went well until about two years after independence when it was deemed too costly; another case of too little too late.

Today the people there are labelled as lazy and told to go back to their villages, which they can’t do of course.  Some of them don’t even know the name of their home village. They are victims in the meanest sense that they are blamed for their own predicament.

When you see a little kid rummaging around in the bins at the back of the swanky new Ela Beach Hotel for something to eat make sure you stop and remind him that his hunger is his own fault.

If you are a dimdim on a sentimental revisit to PNG consider the possibility that the little kid might conceivably be the grandson of the mankimasta who you bid a tearful farewell to all those years ago.

Somare era ending in a very messy way


AT FIRST the news was hopeful. Prime minister Somare was out of intensive care, he was due home within days, he would soon make an appearance in parliament.

All wrong. Or false. After all, it had also been claimed he’d gone to Singapore merely for a 'health check'.

It was about a month ago that Sir Michael had a heart valve replaced in Singapore. Open heart surgery is always serious. In a 75-year old it is very serious. The surgeon was reputedly the best in the city-state. He treats 87-year old Lee Kuan Yew and other top Singaporean politicians.

But Sir Michael’s initial operation did not go entirely according to plan. A second procedure was required to correct post-operative problems. And then a third. The prime minister remains in bed in  hospital – where he is said to be recovering gradually and even chatting with people.

But last Thursday acting Prime Minister Sam Abal refused to disclose his condition or say when a recovery might be expected.

In the best of circumstances, Sir Michael is unlikely to return to office in less than six months. In reality, he seems unlikely to resume the job again.

Now PNG’s opposition leader Belden Namah has proposd that constitutional provisions be invoked to enable parliament to elect a new prime minister.

This reasonable proposition drew the expected interjections and points of order from government members that Sir Michael is the father of the nation and should be respected.

Mr Namah had carefully prefaced his words by wishing the PM a speedy recovery. He also acknowledged that Parliament granted leave of absence to Sir Michael on 17 May. But he argued that the Constitution requires a specific time frame for such leave, that it must not be open-ended.

Amid heated exchanges by MPs from both sides, Mr Namah asked why Section 142 (5) (c) of the Constitution could not be evoked because it was likely to take much longer for the PM to recover.

Mr Namah’s points and questions were derailed by disruptive points of orders from the government ranks and the line of enquiry was eventually overruled by acting Speaker Francis Marus.

Mr Namah says cabinet must advise the Medical Society of PNG to appoint two medical practitioners to examine Sir Michael and provide a report to parliament whether in their opinion he is fit to perform his duties.

“Instead this government has attempted to buy time to extend their grasp on power,” he said. “There is a proper process according to law that should be followed.

“The Members of the Opposition demand that the people must loudly demand that the NEC commence the proper legislation processes to obtain and provide medical reports to Parliament of the PM’s fitness,” he said.

It seems the Somare era is ending messily and with great uncertainty about the future leadership of PNG.

That’s a shame for Sir Michael; and it’s hard to see that it’s in the national interest of PNG.

Sources: PNG Post-Courier and Pacnews

Academic ‘not confident’ after finance fiasco

A LEADING ACADEMIC has said he is “not confident there will be any immediate policy changes’ in response to a PNG public accounts committee report that described the state of public finances as a "profound national embarrassment" that has robbed people of basic services.

PNG expert and emeritus fellow of the Australian National University, Dr Ron May, told Radio Australia that, although treasurer Peter O’Neil promised to act on the findings, he was not confident there would be any immediate policy changes.

"We do have a lot of mechanisms in the PNG system, designed to enforce compliance and to check on people who aren't behaving properly, but the record of following up on prosecutions has been rather weak," Dr May said.

He supported the committee's claim there is poor training in government departments, saying training had been declining for a number of years.

"The University of PNG and what used to be the Administrative College, are both now, I think shadows of their former selves," Dr May said.

"There are a lot of good, younger people and good middle level people in a number of departments, who try hard to operate effectively under difficult conditions.

"But nonetheless, there is a rather poor level of enforcement of the regulations that exist."

Dr May said there was demand for reform but usually it pertained of people demanding other people be brought to account.

"I think there's the will in a lot of circles to do this, but we exist in a situation at the moment, where a number of members of parliament, including ministers have been appearing before leadership tribunals themselves," he said.

"These aren't the people who are likely to champion measures to get rid of people who've been offending against the laws."

Source: Australia Network News

Govt defends cost of PNG’s Brisbane office

THE PNG GOVERNMENT is defending its Independent Public Business Corporation having an office in Brisbane.

It says it saves the PNG taxpayer money and is a convenient location for important government meetings.

Public Enterprises Minister, Arthur Somare, took exception to opposition criticism of the cost of the office.

He says the cost of maintaining an office in Brisbane is about the third of the equivalent space in Port Moresby.

And he says the Brisbane office has helped the government to make significant savings as a convenient location for meetings with the Australian and Queensland governments about the liquefied natural gas project.

Source: Radio New Zealand International

First national mental health policy

PNG HAS ADOPTED its first-ever mental national health policy, following five years of planning.

The policy aims to eliminate discrimination faced by people suffering from mental health problems through effective community-based education.

The mental health principle adviser at the Health Department, Uma Ambi, was responsible for developing the policy.

Ms Ambi said the new initiative is a big step in addressing mental health concerns.

"Education. We took that as one of the important things because, for most people, the lack of knowledge has become a problem," she said.

"So when we started to educate them, via the radio and television and newspaper and having many activities, it has actually improved their knowledge to understand that the mind is very important."

Source: Australia Network News

Prote-J taking ‘em by storm in the USA


THE FLORIDA-BASED Prote-J (real name maybe Jabre' Trawick) is an up-and-coming hip hop composer, producer and musician born in Los Angeles to a Papuan mum and a US dad.

As a child in Milne Bay, he was raised by his mother and grandmother in a small village, where he immersed himself in music. His grandmother taught him to speak Suau by teaching him hymns. At age seven he started playing the guitar and entertained the entire village.

Returning to the US, he taught himself to play drums, bass and piano, completed high school and earned a bachelor’s degree from an aeronautical university.

“I came across your blog and it has a lot of good info on PNG,” wrote Prote-J’s manager Ben Witherspoon ( in an email. “We just released his new music video with some footage from his home in PNG.” That’s the song you can see at the head of this piece.

Who is Prote-J? I’m a rapper, producer, and songwriter who was born in the States but raised in PNG. I released my first mixtape last year and it’s been downloaded over 20,000 times!

How did you get started? I moved back to the US when I was 12 and that’s when I really got into hip hop. I wasn’t exposed to much hip hop in PNG, and I pretty much fell in love with it when my cousin put me on to a few Jay-Z songs. I always loved writing songs as a kid but as soon as I hit puberty I realised I didn’t have much of a singing voice. That’s when I really started to write rap songs.

How would you describe your music? Simply put, it’s hip hop with lyrical content, wordplay and dope beats. The beats are good enough to blast in your car, and there should be enough quotable lines to fill up your Facebook status for quite some time.

How was your experience growing up in PNG? Life was extremely different. My family didn't have much so we pretty much lived day to day, but that was fine 'cuz we were happy. I went to school in the city, but I'd always go back to the islands to visit my family. Instead of playing video games or going to the movies, me and my friends went fishing or spear diving in the ocean. That's what we did for fun. I also played a lot of soccer, drank a ton of coconut milk, and I spent most nights playing my guitar on my grandmother's veranda.

How much of an influence has it been on your music? It completely shaped me as a person and a musician. I wouldn't be the artist I am today if I didn't grow up over there. My mother raised me in church, and that's where I really started playing instruments and developing my talent. I was taught to have a very positive outlook on life, so I always try to directly reflect that in my music.

Sources: Ajust Entertainment, Chicago Now and Dream Write Now



An entry in The Crocodile Prize

This is a poem about those who steal from the public purse, go away and squander the money, then return to steal again; not even considering the impacts of their actions. There are many out there.  JMF

Leeches! O leeches!
How they appear so placid;
Such smooth and idle things.

How they lay in wait, then
Spring upon them that wantonly walk,
Then coldly embrace.

Then suck! O they suck!
How they suck the life - the life!
And suck! And suck!

Full! they fade into seeming oblivion,
Then again how they appear innocent.
Such smooth and idle things.

They hear not cries, nor see tears,
But suck! O suck is all they know.

And when cries reach the sky above,
Would they hear and retreat?
These smooth and idles things!

Again they suck! such smooth
And idle things. How they
Appear so placid!

The deadline for Crocodile Prize 2011 entries is 30 June. Full details of how to enter are in Attitude Extra at left

How can PNG fight the resource curse?


PAPUA NEW GUINEA is on the brink of it’s biggest resources boom. Will it be a curse or a blessing?

A new generation of mining projects and a massive LNG project are expected to double the size of the economy over the next decade. Yet there is skepticism about whether benefits will be shared widely among the nation’s seven million people.

This is the third resource boom in as many decades, and despite the promises of the past, incomes today are barely higher than they were at independence in 1975 and PNG is unlikely to meet any of the MDGs.

Some argue that PNG has a classic case of the resource curse: Dutch Disease, weak accountability and corruption, which all conspire to undermine economic, social and political development. A key question is how to break with this past experience and chart a new development path?

The economic debate on managing PNG’s next resource boom has focused on three areas:

The design of a savings mechanism, such as a sovereign wealth fund, to manage the macroeconomic effects, such as Dutch Disease and revenue volatility. (If you want to read more on this, the 2011 Budget has a good update on the LNG project and the proposed sovereign wealth fund.)

The formulation of medium and long term development (and expenditure) plans on how to translate resource revenues into infrastructure and basic services. The PNG Department of National Planning and Monitoring provided a detailed overview of these plans for the Development Policy blog.

A debate about governance: the accountability, capability and effectiveness of government to deliver on its promises. This is reflected in some of the comments from Paul Barker at the Institute of National Affairs, and also featured here and here on the Development Policy blog.

My view is that Dutch Disease and absorptive capacity aren’t the main problem. A great deal is already known about how to manage these, both in the context of scaling-up aid inflows and managing resources booms. (For more of this read Owen Barder’s paper on scaling up aid and Menachem Katz’s book on managing the 'oil curse' in Africa.)

Nor do I think a lack of planning is a big problem for PNG. The government has both long term and medium term development plans and a raft of sector and thematic plans, including one for the informal economy. We can debate whether or not these focus on the right policies, but most commentators would agree that the main problem is a lack of implementation.

There needs to be debate about and fine-tuning of macroeconomic policies and development plans, but the challenge is how to implement them and that brings us to the issue of governance, and the potentially corrosive impact of resource revenues on accountability, transparency and government capability in the delivery of services.


During the latest resources boom, indicators of the quality of governance declined. PNG is now in the bottom 5% of countries in terms of control of corruption. We need a lot more ideas on how to improve the accountability, transparency and government capability if we are to reverse this trend.

This includes evaluating existing approaches, such as aid, to improving governance. For example, a recent review of Australian aid to PNG found that ‘several sources of evidence, from the decline in national governance indicators to a wealth of evaluation materials, and international analysis as well, suggest that the “capacity building through advisers” model is not working.’ If aid is not the panacea, then what?

Continue reading "How can PNG fight the resource curse?" »

Australian composer is a friend of Melanesia


 DAVID BRIDIE is a long time friend of PNG and West Papua who has promoted many Melanesian musical artists over the year - most notably the incomparable George Telek.

He is himself a renowned musician and performer, with such bands as My Friend the Chocolate Cake and Not Drowning, Waving.

He has also produced many memorable musical scores including the music for the TV series Remote Area Nurse. He has also written several soundtracks for Aussie films, notably The Man Who Sued God in 2001 and The Circuit in 2007-10.

David has visited PNG many times and recorded much traditional music before it is lost - particularly noteworthy are his field recordings of traditional flute playing and singing by Simbu women.

He is currently touring the northern province of New Caledonia to coincide with the South Pacific Games and is performing with artists Telek, Richard Mogu, Airi Ingram and Lea Rumwaropen.

One of his recent projects is Strange Birds in Paradise - a tribute to the many and varied cultures of West Papua. It will be released on 10 June on the Wantok label. See here for details: I'll be getting a copy for sure!

If you are not familiar with his wonderful music, I recommend the album Succumb from 2008 as an introduction. It has much PNG influence - including some Simbu traditional singing.



HE WAS SHORT and squat and hairy: rather like a 40 litre drum in a black Angora sweater. An Einstein mane of grey-threaded black hair tumbled riotously over a woven yellow and red neck-band into his waist-length beard.

He carried a black palm walking staff, heavily carved, and his bare feet were as hard and agile as any Highlands villager’s. In the creased photograph a slash of smiling teeth split his face. A calloused hand, knotted with arthritis, was hooked in the rope cinching his mud-stained soutane.

‘Who’s this?’ I asked the Cathedral archivist.

‘Father Franz-Paul Schnee, yes’ – he saw the look on my face. ‘I’m told he’s a distant relative of a prominent German family rich in artistic and musical talent. Known as Pata (Pidgin English for Father) to his mates – black, white and yellow – he arrived in what became known as the Western High-lands of mainland New Guinea in the late 1920s. By himself. God alone knows how he passed unscathed through the warring tribes on the way.

‘Look’ – The archivist opened a box. ‘These are our holdings on him. The man was an unrecognised saint.’

I settled into a chair, pulled the box towards me and lost myself. Pata had attended Göttingen University, breezed through philosophy and law degrees, read ethnography and anthropology for pleasure before deciding to enter the priesthood. The Society of the Divine Word (SVD) fathers accepted him and said he would be sent to former German New Guinea after he was ordained.

He reached Lae on the mainland coast by Norddeutsche Lloyd steamer via Singapore, asked an incredulous policeman to point him in the direction of the largely unpacified Highlands, and started walking.

Through his diaries I read how he threaded his way through showers of bone-tipped arrows and nipa-palm spears which fell dangerously close during inter-village fighting, and the threats of plumed and painted warriors on arrival at his chosen village. He smiled and blessed them.

They turned away, puzzled, but soon accepted him. Some built him a house and sent women with pointed digging sticks to break clods of hard clay for a food garden. He smiled his thanks, but shook his head at their offer of a woman or boy to keep him warm at night. The warriors were again puzzled.

Pata moved among the villagers, his quick ear picking up words and phrases. He was soon able to guide their inter-village trading and made sure each side received fair value. He eagerly accepted the government offer of bush materials for a hospital and supervised its construction so carefully there was sufficient left over for a small school.

No longer puzzled, the warriors gave him an old woman to maintain his garden and ensure there were always tubers of kaukau (sweet potato) slowly cooking in his fire coals. Pata had seen bloody carcases prepared for roasting on his way into the Highlands and never quite sure if they were human or animal, became a vegetarian for the rest of his life. He thought it wise not to mention the concept of the Body of Christ in his sermons.

Continue reading "Pata" »

Academic wants resource benefits shared

A LEADING PNG academic has said one of the biggest challenges facing the PNG government is finding ways to ensure everyone benefits from the major resource projects.

Dr Thomas Webster of the PNG National Research Institute made the comments at a PNG-Australia symposium taking in place in Melbourne on Friday.

His comments come a few days after acting prime minister Sam Abal revealed that $250 million earmarked for community projects around PNG had “gone missing”.

Dr Webster also said communities affected by major resource projects have to become involved in discussions which affect them.

Source: Radio Australia

Mr Miner: Treat us like you treat your home

TO MARK the 100,000th visit to its website (and PNG Attitude’s heartiest congratulations for a job very well done), the PNG Mine Watch blog has provided a nice analysis of the resources development situation in PNG.

Mine Watch comments that the level of interest in mining issues in PNG reflects two contrasting themes.

One is the continuing high level of resource prices on international markets. This is fuelling a high level of interest in PNG’s metals which manifests itself in the exploration of potential new deposits and development of new mines like Frieda River, Yandera, Wafi-Golupu and Solwara 1.

The other theme is the continuing failure of transnational mining companies operating in PNG to observe and implement the same they must toe the line on in their home countries.

The pollution of the Watut River with acid-forming rocks would not have occurred if Newcrest Mining and Harmony Gold were following the standards demanded in Australia.

The dumping of mine tailings containing heavy metals from the Ramu and Lihir mines into the sea would not be allowed in either China or Australia, where the companies that own these mines, MCC, Newcrest and Highlands Pacific, are domiciled.

The human rights abuses and pollution at the Porgera mine would not be tolerated in Canada, home to Barrick Gold.

The world it seems is very keen to take PNG’s metals but the mining executives and their investors seem not prepared to respect PNG’s laws, its people or environment in their rush for profits.

In addition, Papua New Guinea’s politicians and bureaucrats seem too weak or greedy to put up any form of resistance.

The failings that led to two of the biggest mining disasters on a global scale at Ok Tedi and Panguna are not only still apparent in PNG, they are seemingly more prevalent.

Combined with an exponentially greater amount of mining this infers more disasters, more misery and more lost opportunities unless local people are prepared to be much more assertive and vocal in defending their land, their families and their communities.

Source: Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

Landowners threaten to close LNG project

HIGHLANDS LANDOWNERS are threatening to shut down the ExxonMobil Liquefied Natural Gas project if the PNG government does not take action on a long list of grievances.

Tensions, rising for some time over government delays, have come to a head with the death of Tuguba Chief Himuni Homoko, whose clan members say died too young fighting for justice for his people.

The landowners have put a petition to government and they say they want action immediately.

The LNG project is of critical importance to Papua New Guinea - at 15 billion dollars it is by far the biggest investment ever and if all goes according to plan it is expected to double the country's GDP.

The main landowner agreement - the Kokopo agreement signed in May 2009 - coordinated by the PNG government took thousands of participants six weeks to negotiate.

But it is rejected by 26 Tuguba clans from the Hela region in the PNG highlands, whose chief was Himuni Homoko.

“This agreement that they say was signed in Kokopo was cooked up in Port Moresby like a ready made kit house,” says their spokesman, former MP Sir Alfred Kaiabe. “[It was] then forced down the reluctant throats of people to sign. We never read the contents, there was no consensus and that is a fundamental principle of contract law.

But it is not just the Tuguba who say their legitimate claims are being ignored - Chief Tara Liyabe from Angore is the head of 26 clans. He says his people are angry about the social mapping of the LNG project, delays by the government in the payment of seed capital and the make up of the Kokopo agreement.

“If the government doesn't come into my booth and stay with me and listen to my grievance, then, there will be another Bougainvill,” he says. “Why I say this is because gas is in my land, it is on the customary land and if the government still persisting on againsting me, and interfering in the project all the time, then the project will come to a halt. We will stop the project.”

Source: Radio Australia

Critical funding shortfall for 2012 election

THE MINISTER FOR STATE, Francis Potape, has warned the PNG government that more money is needed to ensure next year's national elections run smoothly.

Mr Potape said, of the $95 million the election will cost, the government has indicated that $30 million has been set aside but so far only $10 million has been released.

He said the Electoral Commission has not been able to work on an electronic counting system or electronic voter identification.

"Communications, security and safety did not receive any appropriations this year despite being critical activities," he said.

Polling for the 109 seats in PNG's parliament is due to start on 30 June next year.

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Workers arrive for almond harvest

THE FIRST PNG workers under Australia's Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme have arrived in Robinvale in north-west Victoria.

The nine men from Papua New Guinea will spend up to four months in the region pruning almond trees.

The scheme has previously brought in workers from Kiribati and Tonga to ease labour shortages in the region.

Source: ABC Rural

Elvin recovers from serious heart problem


Kumul A YOUNG PNG woman will return home free of a debilitating heart problem after receiving free surgery in Richmond, Victoria.

Elvin Kumuli was diagnosed with Fallot’s Tetralogy, a condition that left her gasping for breath after even the shortest exercise.

She could not walk more than 20 metres without discomfort because not enough blood could reach her lungs to get oxygen.

After open-heart surgery at Epworth Richmond earlier this month, she is now recovering.

“I’m eating and getting better,” she said. “I’m walking around the ward.”

Ms Kumuli and her mother, Linty, who has been sleeping on the floor by her bed, thanked cardiac surgeon Associate Professor Andrew Cochrane for his contribution.

Prof Cochrane said the surgery would make a “huge difference” to Ms Kumuli’s day-to-day life, as well as extending her life expectancy. Ms Kumuli and her mother were brought to Australia from their town of Goroka for four weeks by Children First Foundation, with backing from an anonymous donor.

Foundation executive director Moira Kelly said a life had been saved because of people’s generosity. Ms Kumuli’s surgery was the first of four free operations to be performed this year at Epworth, with other patients to arrive from Albania and the Philippines.

Photo: Elvin Kumuli with her mother, Linty, and associate Prof Andrew Cochrane [Emily Black]

Source: Melbourne Leader

Official: Money is a national embarrassment

A REPORT HAS described PNG’s public finances as a "profound national embarrassment" which has robbed people of basic services.

Public finances are so shambolic that only now has the Public Accounts Committee been able to hand down a report into the 2007 financial year.

Committee chairman Martin Aini told parliament the record keeping was so bad they could not confirm the balance of public accounts.

He said money had been spent in breach of the constitution and other laws, bureaucrats had given themselves huge and illegal cash advances, and many departmental heads were untrained and ignorant of their duties.

"Those failures have resulted in a failed system of delivering development to our citizens," he said.

Treasurer Peter O'Neil agreed the committee's findings were embarrassing.

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Engaging Oz pollies in the Attitude network


THERE ARE exactly 226 Federal politicians in Australia. One hundred and fifty in the House of Representatives and 76 Senators. And PNG Attitude has just written to all of them.

It was Peter Kranz’s idea, let me hasten to add. He had suggested in a comment on this website that our e-magazine be speared into the very heart of Australian politics.

So, always putty in Peter’s hands (as he is putty in Rose’s hands), I did just this.

With more than a little help, I might add, from James (Jimbo) Crocker of Jackson Wells.

Here’s what I wrote to those who govern us:

Dear Parliamentarian –

Attached is the 160th issue of PNG Attitude, a free monthly magazine distributed by email to more than 1,100 readers in Papua New Guinea and Australia.

It is published as a contribution to improving people-to-people relationships between PNG and Australia, and it is associated with a non-profit website of the same name.

The magazine covers current issues in the PNG-Australia relationship and its 40 or so regular contributors are based in both countries.  Likewise, its circulation is evenly split between both countries.

For the first time, it is being made available to all Australian federal parliamentarians. Please let me know by return email if you do not wish to receive it in future.

And, if you read it and have the time to drop me a line, let me know what you think.

Best wishes

Keith Jackson

It’s early days (only one day, in fact) in this venture into direct intervention in Australian politics, but the first results are already in (as we say on election night).

A number of parliamentarians have already said “yes, we’re interested”. One stated, rather truculently, “Don’t bother, I’m leaving the Senate at the end of June”.

We shall report progress to readers as we go. We shall see how many Australian parliamentarians are really interested in PNG.

Look, it may end up being not a helluva lot.  But even if there are only a dozen or so, five percent of the total, that’s a bit of a base for what we're doing here.

Tally ho.


Businesses urged to save staff from HIV

PNG’S BUSINESS COALITION against HIV and AIDS (BAHA) says it can cost employers as little as 250 dollars a year to save the life of an employee with HIV.

The Business Coalition says HIV is taking a much bigger toll in PNG than official figures suggest. It says the latest evidence shows some villages in the Highlands have a 50% infection rate.

The Coalition's CEO, Rod Mitchell, says the private sector has a big role to play in limiting the damage from HIV/AIDS.

Mr Mitchell says an anti-retroviral drug costs $250 a year to save an employee’s life.

The drug works effectively on women who have been raped if taken within the 72 hours. The drug is being provided by various hospitals free of cost. It is a 30-day course and once the course in completed, the raped women will be free from the grasp of HIV.

It has come to light that among pregnant mothers, the HIV infection rate is 5 to 7%. Mr Mitchell has urged his employees to give the anti-retroviral drug to their staff in order to control the wide spread of HIV.

He further said that the private sector has a big role to play in limiting the damage from HIV/AIDS. He said that employers should discuss the issue with their employees.

Source: Radio Australia and Top News Network, New Zealand



The complex rituals of death in Kieta society


THE KIETA PEOPLE, who occupy most of central Bougainville and speak Nasioi, maintain their identity and beliefs.

To the Kietas, death brings a weight of responsibily to be executed in accordance with traditional ritual. From the moment of death (bo), it takes around three years to declare the death to be over; and is not to be further thought of.

Death brings transformation and new responsibilities to certain people within the immediate extended family. The fundamental basis is to maintain a good relationship with the spirit world. And that communion is always symbolised by feasting.

Once, a person is pronounced dead, the way the body was positioned at the last breath is not disturbed. All persons present withdraw because the death is not yet declared to the spirit world by the immediate family. Mourners may come, but they have to keep to the village edge.

The declaration involves the immediate women relatives who are called together; they encircle the position where the body is lying, eyes fixed to the body, and give out a loud hysterical scream, a process we call wii.

This declaration signals that they have been surprised, and have just lost a family member. As the womenfolk weep, a number of trees, especially, coconut and areca nut palms in the vicinity of the village, are felled as part of this declaration.

Declaration over, the death bed is prepared. This involves two tasks: uprooting of taro (aapi) and bathing of the body (duu). The women break into two groups. One leaves for the taro gardens to unroot the taro and pile the taro in an oval arrangement to accommodate the corpse as a bed does. The group that has remained bathes the body with one taboo to follow: if the deceased is a male, the relatives he can relate to as a sister are not allowed there and vice versa.

The body is placed on the taro bed and mourners are permitted to view and touch to show their grief.

From the moment of death, the family is banned from gardening. They are permitted only to harvest. Nearby villages, as a gesture of respect, stop all burning of garden rubbish.

Taro (ba’u) is significant in Kieta society. It is a source of power and prestige. All mythology, legends and folklore can miss out other food crops, but not taro. The placing of the death on a taro-bed shows a request for blessing from the spirit world (mourners bring in their taro) and pays homage to the spirit world for all the good things it has given; hoping in return that the spirits take good care of the community.

After the mourning period is over, the coffin is removed from the house and placed on the lawn. Immediate family members assemble near the casket and a village elder bathes them with water and magical herbs (papa’ranang) to remove all negativity so they remain free from conflict with the deceased.

As the casket is carried to the tomb, an elder equipped with a kind of magical herb called sirivi which he has purposely removed from the papa’ranang, walks around the village calling on all the spirits (aabo) to follow him to the burial site. As the casket is placed in the tomb (daako), the elder places the sirivi in the tomb with all the spirits attached to it.

Early the next morning, the day after the daako, all the rubbish created during the funeral is collected and burned (kat’te) by the family. Cleaning up the village shows that the family is free to move on with other requirements of the death process.

The traditional timing for ending of sorrow (kep’pu-nuu) is always two weeks after the kat’te. The men leave the village for hunting or fishing. The women gather garden food. All these activities are done within two weeks. On an appointed date all those who came for mourning are called together to eat the food.

The sorrow period is partially over with this small one-day feast. Gardening resumes; burning in the gardens is allowed.

Continue reading "The complex rituals of death in Kieta society" »

Border re-opened after aircraft incursion

THE PNG GOVERNMENT says it will not accept a pilot error apology from Indonesia after one of its military helicopters violated PNG's airspace near the Wutung border post.

Foreign affairs minister Don Polye says the action by the Indonesia military helicopter is a violation of the border treaties. He says the incursion is a clear breach of the bilateral agreements between PNG and Indonesia.

"It is a very serious concern to the PNG government and I have summoned the Indonesian ambassador expressing the PNG government views," Mr Polye said.

He says the Indonesian Ambassador in Port Moresby said it was a pilot error, but the government will not accept that.

"I am not satisfied and I have ordered PNG authorities that there will be no diplomatic discussion or to accept an apology from the Indonesian military until the issue is resolved at the government to government level," Mr Polye said.

The West Sepik border with Indonesia has now been re-opened after being closed following the unexplained flight by an unidentified Indonesian military helicopter over the military checkpoint at Wutung and five kilometres inland, causing locals to panic.

Father Tomy Tomas of the Catholic diocese in Vanimo says the incident caused confusion.

“The helicopter flew over the PNG border without permission. Now that created some commotion for the people, not knowing what or why they’re making such a helicopter flying over the PNG boundary without due permission. It created confusion among the officers so they just closed it.”

Sources: Radio New Zealand International and Australia Network News



Mincor heralds $30m gold & copper deal


NICKEL MINER Mincor has sought to expand its reach and diversify its operations with a $30 million deal targeting gold and copper in PNG.

Under the terms of the deal with explorer Niuminco, Mincor will spend $15 million in exploration at the Edie Creek gold project to secure a 51% interest and a further $15 million to secure a 72% interest in three exploration licences.

Mincor may also subscribe for $5 million worth of shares as part of a $15 million capital raising by DSF International Holdings, which is buying out Niuminco.

DSF, which is in a trading suspension, will emerge as a new listed entity to be named Niuminco Group, following its recapitalisation and backdoor listing of Niuminco's assets.

Mincor managing director David Moore said the venture would offer the company some of the best prospects in PNG for world-class deposits.

He said Mincor had established a strong rapport with Niuminco/DSF and believed that their extensive experience in PNG would be of great value to the joint venture in the years to come.

Source: The West Australian


Manus centre to cost $130M, maybe more

THE AUSTRALIAN government has allocated $130 million for an asylum seeker processing centre in PNG.

The government is in talks with PNG about reopening the mothballed Manus Island detention centre.

Immigration Department head, Andrew Metcalfe, told a Senate hearing the PNG centre would not deal with regional claims and would initially only deal with Australian caseloads.

“The question of its long-term future and whether it took case loads from elsewhere is not a matter currently under consideration,” he said.

Mr Metcalfe said the centre will need to be upgraded before it can be used again. The cost of upgrading could be higher than the amount of money set aside.

"I think it's fair to assume there probably would be some capital requirement, but that would require a detailed assessment as to the state of the facility and the associated infrastructure," he said.

"For all Julia Gillard's talk about a regional processing centre, in PNG, what was confirmed in estimates is it's just a straight repeat of John Howard's Pacific Solution on Manus Island," said Opposition spokesman Scott Morrison.

"The only difference is that they don't seem to be able to get it to the finish line."

Source: ABC News


Better to be town mouse or village mouse?


Wilhelm lodge painting DURING THE LAST few years I’ve had some good discussions online with a number of PNG friends including David Kitchnoge, Gelab Piak and many others.

Reading Martyn Namorong’s article yesterday (The Melanesian way in a modern society) finally crystallised my thoughts about how societies change. But do they change for the better?

In a classic utterance from a PNG parliament of yesteryear, an MP rose to his feet during a debate about PNG’s progress. “But Mr Speaker,” said the MP, “you can have progress forwards and you can have progress backwards.”

Isaac Newton’s third law of motion states: “To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction: or the forces of two bodies on each other are always equal and are directed in opposite directions.”

I well remember being told by people in rural villages about how they aspired to acquire the material goods of western society. I’d respond that not all things western were good and not all things about their own village life were bad. To this day, I can recall the dubious looks my explanation received.

During our training in Anthropology at the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA), we Kiaps were referred to as ‘agents of change’. Irrespective of our role as administrators, we effected change by our very presence.

Could Newton’s third law also apply to human societies? I think it could.

An initial mistake is to imagine that rural village life is backward and undesirable. Living in towns may seem better in terms of the obvious material benefits. Yet the progression from life in the village to life in a town creates many pressures and challenges.

What happens when the benefits of the town are compared with the benefits of village life? Many anthropologists and social commentators present a ‘march towards civilisation’ that is progressive and inevitable.

Sociologist Gerhard Lenski differentiates societies based on their level of technology, communication and economy: 1) hunters and gatherers, 2) simple agricultural, 3) advanced agricultural, 4) industrial, and 5) special (e.g. fishing societies or maritime societies) - Wikipedia

But what is a society [quotes from Wikipedia]?

A human society is: (1) a group of people related to each other through persistent relations; (2) a large social grouping that shares the same geographical territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations

Human societies are most often organised according to their primary means of subsistence. Social scientists have identified hunter-gatherer societies, nomadic pastoral societies, horticulturalist or simple farming societies, and intensive agricultural societies, also called civilisations. Some consider industrial and post-industrial societies to be qualitatively different from traditional agricultural societies

So as PNG people started to ‘progress’ from village life to a more metropolitan existence, the benefits of two living (electricity, running water, on demand food supply, more robust shelter) were there but the benefits of village life (family support, less stress, embracing culture) may have decreased in direct proportion.

In other words, gains in material wealth were often offset by losses of social capital.

So is there a way of preserving social capital while taking on the metropolitan life? Many people who live in cities and yearn for a more simple life like to think so.

In Australia, the expressions ‘Grey Nomad’, ‘Sea Change’ and ‘Tree Change’ refer to people who, when they retire, can’t wait to exit the city and enjoy what appears on the surface to be a better lifestyle.

Perhaps the answer lies in a greater appreciation of our expectations and opportunities. The advantages of village life are often given away when migration to the city takes place.

In summary, perhaps both village and town life have their advantages and their disadvantages. You can’t have one without the other.

Photo: The traditional and the modern at Wilhelm Lodge [Peter Kranz]

Privatising police services is a bad idea


THE PNG POLICE - the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) - is made up of three different sectoral groups: the constabulary, task forces, and mobile squads (MS as they are known).

The constabulary implements the usual law and order activities while the task forces, formed in each town, comprise the best trained officers in the district.

The task forces respond to robberies and other major crimes as well as organised crime. They can be ruthless and brutal. They come under the command of the Provincial Police Commander.

Now to the MS: These police are very well trained to contain any situation: robbery, tribal fight, riot, public violence (especially seen at rugby matches), anything.

The MS carry out covert missions on suspected drug dealers, peddlers and smuggling routes. They conduct regular regional patrols, maintaining peace and normalcy. They have a countrywide jurisdiction.

Their trucks are marked only as MS08, MS14, MS16 and come from different areas, demonstrating their own 'little cultures' - like red-striped MS vehicles from Mendi, white striped from Lae, etc, so that when people see they fear.

They may say: “The MS from Mendi have come”. People know mobiles from Mendi are brutal and ruthless, so they fear.

The MS also conduct operations in collaboration with the PNGDF, like Sunset Merona in Vanimo.

They are the elite of PNG national security forces, yet now pose the greatest threat to PNG's security which the government and Security Minister have failed to foresee.

Memoranda of Understanding for the supply of MS services have been signed between Esso Highlands and RPNGC, Ok Tedi Mining Ltd and RPNGC, and Barrack Gold and RPNGC.

These must be revoked and declared null and void.

The 'hiring' by companies of the MS has created law and order problems for the rest of PNG, because the MS are based at strategic locations (like Moresby, Rabaul, Lae, Hagen, Piango, Mendi, just to name some) where they are to monitor the law and order situation.

Their so called 'hiring' by mining companies has created law and order loopholes, which criminals are taking advantage of.

So where does PNG stand when our elite forces are hired by corporations? Well I can tell you its gone to the dogs already. You can imagine what follows when people try to demand their rights, especially land owners in mining, logging, and project areas.

The people's cries are not heard. And when their own government turns against them – whether by not providing police services or using these services against ordinary people - it leads to many forms of oppression and suppression.

Papua New Guineans in the streets and villages are suffering as I sit here and write.

A version of this article was first published as a comment in PNG Attitude on Tuesday

PNG’s Heather ends 17 years of UK shame


Heather-watson-at-french-open-12841 HEATHER WATSON [pictured] was only two when a British player last won a French Open first-round women's singles match. Now, the youngster has matched Clare Wood's 1994 effort with an impressive win over Stephanie Florent Garcon of France.

Heather was born in Guernsey to a father from Manchester and mother from Papua New Guinea She is a former US Open girls' champion and, while she doesn't have a range of earth-shattering weapons in her armoury, the right hander has great footwork, speed around the court and a very useful backhand.

Her mental strength also appears to be sound. She survived five set points in the opening set and then put to one side the three double faults delivered as she served for the match in the sixth game of the second set.

Her reward for erasing one of the many embarrassing records that hang over British tennis is a place in the world's top 100 women tennis players and a second round clash with 16th seed Kaia Kanepi of Estonia.

Having battled through qualifying, the first Briton to manage that feat since 1983 now has her debut win at a Grand Slam event.

Heather, 19 and ranked 117th in the world before the event, is Britain's No3 but her success here means there is going to be a change.

She said: "Breaking into the top 100 has been my goal and I have achieved it. I actually wanted to get into the top 100 by the end of the year and so I am going to have to set new goals for myself.”

Source: London Evening Standard.   Spotter: Peter Kranz

Security consultancy opens Moresby office

DRUM CUSSAC, the international business risk consultancy, is expanding its presence in Asia Pacific with the opening of an office in Port Moresby in addition to the company’s existing Asia Pacific base in Singapore.

Drum Cussac is recognised for its expertise in providing risk mitigation to international companies, government agencies and private clients.

The company says its new office “will help address the growing risks faced by the oil and extractive industries in the region”.

It will provide clients with “ground-based intelligence, risk management, secure transportation and meet and greet services”.

“PNG is a challenging work environment with numerous difficulties posed through a complex mix of tribal and societal factors,”said Tudor Ellis, Drum Cussac chief operating officer.

“[We] provide embedded security managers … to assist in the protection of personnel, assets and reputation."

Drum Cussac says its core business aim “is to deliver peace of mind by offering an innovative, expert, discreet and comprehensive service.”

Source Drum Cussac

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The Melanesian Way in a modern society


“A long time ago, our people discovered the secret of life — live well, love well, have something good for every person and die a happy death” - the late Bernard Narokobi in his book ‘Melanesian Way’

OUR PEOPLE have for thousands of years lived in relatively independent societies. They managed their resources efficiently to cater for their needs. They lived in harmony with their environment if not always with their neighbours.

The environment was the source of their physical, spiritual and intellectual nourishment. They fed on the food it provided, the lessons it taught and the mythical spirits it harboured. The environment defined them and confined them to a locality such that there is an enormous diversity of linguistic, cultural and phenotypical features of tribes, even within the same region.

Everyone was deeply rooted to the land of their forefathers and fought to defend the integrity of the tribe. While individuals had certain property rights, such as the ownership of personal artifacts of value, the land was owned communally.

Hence the fruits of the land were regarded as communally owned and, as such, everyone in society expected a fair share – not necessarily an equal portion. This balancing act between the interests of the individual against those of the tribe is what I refer to as the Melanesian Equilibrium.

The Melanesian Equilibrium was the genius of our forefathers who juggled with the Economic Problem – human wants are infinite while the means of satisfying those wants are scarce.

Many beliefs, laws, values, practices and systems of social, economic and political organisation were aimed at achieving that balance. Hunting, gardening, fishing, marriage, birth and death all had cultural norms aimed at satisfying everyone and maintaining social order.

This is indeed still the case in many traditional Melanesian communities despite contact with the outside world. Melanesians in remote, isolated communities depend on their traditions as a means of survival. The modern State has little or no influence in how they live their lives.

It is this perceived ‘normality’ in many rural communities that sometimes causes western educated Melanesians to dispute references to poverty in Melanesia. This is what Sir Michael Somare was referring to when he told the Australian Press Club the no one in Papua New Guinea was going hungry.

Is it poverty, if a rural Telefomin man only wears astanget and does not own a laplap? Is it poverty that a child in Balimo eats sago for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

How do you define poverty and wealth in this present time when Melanesians live in two realities? We live in the reality of our ancestral land and in the reality of the modern State that exists on that land. Our cultural practices are as relevant to us as modern medicine, science and political organisation.

The failures of our modern State is not a reflection of the failure of our Melanesian traditions. In fact, the modern State has been arrogant and ignorant of the wisdom of traditional Melanesia.

Unlike our feudal Polynesian and Asian neighbors, we traditionally recognised leadership based on merit. It was always the strength of traditional Melanesian societies. Warrior leaders defended tribal lands and wise elders decided on gardening, trading missions, marriages, etc.

In the modern State, anyone can buy leadership, buy resources, buy decisions and buy their way anywhere. Instead of protecting the national interest, the State is a tool for pursuing personal ambitions.

The modern State steals from its people under legal pretexts of Constitutions and Acts of Parliament. Instead of sharing the fruits of the land with the people, individual purses are enriched.

Traditional Melanesian governance worked because the people and their leadership were always accountable to one and other. More importantly, the people had direct contact with the leadership and could shape decisions in the interest of the majority. That is not the case with the political arrangements of the modern State.

Modern leaders live in foreign countries or the national capital and are rarely with their people. There is a disconnect between both parties, thus the people are never heard or the leadership simply ignores their cries. The electoral cycle allows leaders to be totally unaccountable for five years at a time. Democracy lasts only as long as polling.

The Melanesian Equilibrium has been tried and tested for millennia, and that Melanesians continue to survive within that reality is testament to its robustness.

It is about leaders chosen on merit and being held accountable. It is about wise planning and decision-making based on respect for the people’s wishes and environmental sustainability.

It is about warriors defending the national interest and sovereignty. It is about a population educated to be of use to society. Above all it is about the fear of God and respect for the rule of Law.

Many Melanesians have sadly forgotten what defines them and how they came to be. Caught up in materialism, cargo cult, and the lure of power they will do anything to get what they want; even at the expense of their fellow citizens.

The blowgun hunters of West New Britain


Blowgun THE KAULONG and Senseng people live in the Passismanua census division of southwest New Britain, inland from the coastal township of Kandrian.

These people have customs unique to PNG in that they hunt with blowguns and, more strangely, they bind their infants’ skulls to elongate them into a shape they regard as being attractive.

I made several patrols to this area in the late 1960’s and the following observations are based upon the circumstances existing at that time.

The area was extensively studied by anthropologists Dr Ann Chowning and Jane Goodale, who spent a year with this group of people in the early 1960s. Their findings were included in the National Geographic in the mid 1960’s in an article enitled “Blowgun Hunters of the South Pacific”.

The basic geology of this area is mainly massive coral algal limestone with well- developed karst topography with local areas of marly and cherty limestone. The area is below the altitude of the upper ridgelines of lower montane rainforest country along the adjoining northern Whiteman Ranges.

Traveling throughout this region is somewhat arduous due to the severe nature of the topography characterised by ankle twisting limestone ridges falling into boggy valleys and broken by small but fast flowing streams which have eroded into the limestone substrata, at times disappearing completely underground.

Traversing the rainforest country between the extended hamlets is no less daunting as one rarely sees the sky due to the heavy overhead canopy of rainforest trees whilst battling stubbed toes from the massive tree root structures or having ones boots ripped to shreds from the razor sharp coral outcrops whilst being drenched from frequent downpours.

The high annual rainfall, estimated at over 6 metres a year, and altitudes over 500 metres coupled with poor soil types severely limit horticultural productivity necessitating supplementary hunting and gathering.

Although the people nominally lived in established hamlets, such residency was only to comply with the requirements of the government of that time. 

The majority of the residents preferred to spend most of their time in the surrounding forest in small extended family groupings around their gardens with the menfolk traveling on long extended pig hunting expeditions or setting elaborate spring traps to snare wallabies and cassowaries.

At the time these groups of people were isolated from the outside world, their main contact with government being irregular visits by government officers which necessitated migration back to their nominated villages to tidy up and carry repairs to their “second” houses.

Amongst Melanesians, only the Kaulong, SenSeng and neighbouring tribes of southwest New Britain use blowguns for hunting.

These remarkable blowguns are fashioned of bamboo lengths, hollowed out and glued together to form tubes 4 to 6 metres long.

The projectiles fashioned from black palm spears up to one metre in length use the breast feathers of the guria pigeon as a baffle.

The hunter pokes the blowgun into the tree canopy getting as close to possible to his quarry then, with a sharp ejection of breath, speeds the arrow into his intended bird or flying fox prey.

The origins of this , custom are not known and the Chowning and Goodale article makes no further reference to this matter, although it does mention that stone artifacts found in the area suggest that there was habitation dating back some 30,000 years.

Later research by an anthropologist from La Trobe University in 1991, apart from dating these stone artifacts, shed no further light on whether the current inhabitants of the area were descendants of the original inhabitants.

Dr Jane Goodale noted in her National Geographic article in 1963 about these people:

The Kaulong regard premarital relations as a major offense and it is not usual for a man to marry as late as 30 years. Some men are so marriage shy that the approach of an eligible girl will send them away into the forest at a run.

Denied many advantages of a modern world in their remote fastness, the Kaulong will in all likelihood also be spared one of its thorniest problems- the population explosion- for a long time to come.

Little did that anthropologist realise at that the time any future threats to the population would not arise from overpopulation but from another unknown source. Timber logging.

I made a return journey to Kandrian in the early 1990’s. As I flew over the inland I noted that the once pristine rainforests in the Kaulong and SengSeng area had long disappeared to the rapacious hunger of loggers.

Kandrian c 1968 The inland people were no longer happy people. They were frustrated in their ambitions of a better future promised but never fulfilled. The birds, pigs and other wildlife had long deserted the area fleeing to the sanctuary of a more safer future in the Whiteman ranges.


Photo: Kandrian government station circa 1968

Time our police respected their mission


THE SLOGAN on all police vehicles “securing a safer community; to protect and to serve” is pure bullshit. The PNG police are trigger happy and do not have respect for citizens.

To fire a weapon and disturb the peace in a community is a crime but police units - even detaining a pickpocketing youth - will fire a warning shot just to arrest him. Even if the thug does not have a weapon and is running on foot, police personnel never chase on foot but fire weapons first and chase in their vehicles.

No wonder the police are such a potbellied and unhealthy looking bunch. There seems to be no physical exercise apart from the six months induction at Bomana College.

And such unethical conduct makes it no surprise that criminals have emerged from within the police force. There are police officers who have a double pay packet, one for serving the government and the other for serving big organisations.

The experience of travelling the Highlands Highway from Lae to Mount Hagen will enlighten you about police corruption. At every road block set up by police patrol units, the PMV crews can ‘get around’ the officers.

In about half of the PMV’s on the road, either the crew has no permit, the driver no license, the PMV is unregistered or some other offence is committed under the Traffic Rules. Yet the vehicle is allowed to travel seven days a week along the same 100 km route and no spot fine or impounding eventuates.

If there is a problem that needs mediation and you ask the police duty officer to intervene, the response is ka nogat fuel. After paying their wages as a taxpayer, we now have to meet the fuel cost of a police car.

It was on 10 February 2011 at 6am when the police set fire to all the buildings and shelters in Umbopul Village in the Southern Highlands Province. All food gardens, coffee trees and even pig and toilet houses were looted by the law enforcing organisation.

So much for a slogan” securing a safer community; to protect and to serve”.

That operation, termed a “raid” by the police, was not ethical in a civil society. The reason for the raid was the murder of a young police constable serving at the Highway Patrol Base 17 at Kaupena in the Southern Highlands.

Some youths of the community had committed the murder, yet many innocent people also became the victims.

On that fateful day, innocent women and children, elderly people, youths and senior community leaders were made homeless and displaced.

Why? Is it a police law enforcement role to loot in the arrest of the lawless criminals? We have a justice system that is there to decide guilt and punishment.

So much for the slogan about securing a safer community, to protect and to serve. What blasphemy.

Don Polye deserves to be PNG’s next leader


Speech THE TIME IS RIPE for highlands MPs to stand united to secure the highest post in the country. This is no time for division and petty politics. The ball is in the highlanders’ court.

In my observation, the highlands region has produced a great number of potential leaders who stand out on the many issues affecting the nation. However, they do not stand united when it comes to the formation of a national government.

In 1990 former Western Highlands Governor, Paias Wingti was the only MP from the region, under his Peoples Democratic Movement, to take the prime minister post. Apart from him, the highlands has provided many deputy and acting PMs without gainig the top job.

In the current National Alliance Party-led government, the region has two senior and respected MPs who are contenders for the PM’s post. They are Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister, Don Polye, and Minister for Transport and Civil Affairs, Sam Abal, currently acting prime minister.

Many Papua New Guineans have trust and confidence in both MPs as they are honest and reputable leaders. We know they have potential to lead this nation.

Don Polye [pictured] has a reputable and shining leadership which he has maintained since his election in 2002 as member for Kandep Open in Enga Province. He is a young, visionary and vibrant leader who has the potential to take this nation forward.

Polye is one of very few MPs who have a heart for the nation. As Minister for Works, Transport and Civil Aviation he initiated a lot of projects including new infrastructure. He is also doing well in his new portfolio as a minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration.

Acting PM Sam Abal is also a most respected and senior MP who has held several portfolios since entering politics. He has wide experiences in politics, economics and international relations. He is a God-fearing man whom I believe has a no nonsense approach to issues concerning the nation.

As acting PM he is doing much for the country: a long overdue pay rise for public servants, agreeing to pay outstanding compensation to LNG landowners, and allowing the inquiry into controversial Special Purpose Agriculture and Business Leases.

We see a potential in both MPs that will drive the nation forward from here.

But it would be better if Abal stood down to allow his fellow Engan, Don Polye, to take the post. Abal is good, but Polye is superb.

The highlands MPs must put aside their political differences and put their hands together to form the next government after Somare.

Give Polye a fair go. PNG needs this vibrant leader.

Murray Groves – anthropologist and scholar

Groves, Murray EVEN THOUGH HE was born in Melbourne, Murray Groves, who has died in Canberra at the age of 84, was always influenced by Papua New Guinea, where his parents met, where they lived for more than 20 years and where he lived for two years and visited frequently.

His father was Bill Groves, an educational administrator in the Pacific and a long-serving Director of Education in PNG, who was very influential in the post-war Administration and laid the foundations of the nation’s public education system.

Murray Groves entered Melbourne University in 1944 to study history and law, but moved to Port Moresby for two years (1947-48), where he completed his law subjects by correspondence.

He was greatly influenced by these two years in Moresby, where he worked as a judge’s associate in the Supreme Court and taught English in Hanuabada.

In 1952 he did a diploma of anthropology at Oxford and then studied social anthropology for his doctoral research. He made a comparative study of three Motu villages where traditional life had been affected by their varying distances from Port Moresby.

Groves was considered a scholar of well-disciplined, forceful and original mind, an imaginative teacher and an able administrator. Groves was to display these qualities as he served various institutions in his academic career.

When he retired in 1988, Groves re-engaged with his Motu fieldwork, which he regretted not having published earlier. This reconnection focussed on Manumanu, 50 km from Moresby and the most traditional of the three villages where he had worked.

These further studies took place in the context of what he saw as the pernicious influence of post-modernism on contemporary social anthropology. He wrote two articles on fishing and fishermen in Manumanu.

Having been appointed a visiting fellow at the Australian National University in 1994, he made the occasional visit to PNG, but suffered continuing health problems from the late 1990s.

Source: The Saturday Age.   Spotter: Ross Wilkinson

At last! Seasonal workers head to Australia

THE FIRST GROUP of Papua New Guineans flew to Australia today to participate in the Pacific Seasonal Workers Pilot Scheme. The ten workers will be based in Robinvale, Victoria, for four months where they will be pruning almonds.

Australian High Commissioner, Ian Kemish AM, who personally congratulated the workers during their pre-departure training, said he was extremely pleased that PNG was now actively participating in the pilot scheme.

“You will all be ambassadors for PNG,” he told the workers. “It will be important to be good citizens of Robinvale where you will be placed.  Fortunately, Papua New Guineans have a strong sense of community, and I expect that this will come naturally to you.”

Mr Kemish said the group of ten should be very proud to be the first participants selected from thousands of other applicants. He encouraged them to work hard and to maximise the economic benefits that the scheme provides.

He said, “Use what you learn, and what you earn in Australia, to create new opportunities for yourselves, your families and your communities. If your deployment is a success, a door may open for other Papua New Guineans to participate.”

The pilot scheme is intended to stimulate economic development by providing employment opportunities, remittances, and options for up-skilling to workers from participating countries PNG, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Tonga. It is due to expire in mid-2012. 

The Australian government is currently considering whether to make the scheme a permanent program. 

Source: Australian High Commission, Port Moresby

Management of LNG revenue key to future

Namaliu FORMER PRIME MINISTER, Sir Rabbie Namaliu [pictured], says good management of the huge revenue from the Exxon Mobil-led PNG LNG project is vital if the people of Papua New Guinea are to benefit.

The PNG government is planning on setting up 3 soveriegn wealth funds to save some of the revenue for future generations. Sir Rabbie says the funds could have an immediate positive economic impact, as well.

Sir Rabbie spoke with Radio Australia reporter Jemima Garrett:

NAMALIU: PNG is going through an unprecedented period of economic growth. Obviously that is being spurred by a number of significant projects namely the LNG project...

GARRETT: The government says that if it is managed well it could ultimately give PNG its economic independence - what is your assessment?

NAMALIU:I think so. That's the key. The key is management. How that is done by the government of the day is absolutely essential to ensuring that the country benefits. That the people of this country see some tangible benefits from this development, particularly in areas like health and education, infrastructure: all of those things require a significant degree of resources to make sure that we make up for lost time, basically.

GARRETT: How important are the proposed sovereign wealth funds for PNG’s future?

NAMALIU: Extremely important because, I think, with increased inflows that will have a huge bearing on economic and especially monetary policy so that has got to be managed properly in ways that increased inflows of revenues coming in don't have significant adverse impact on things like interest rates, inflation and on a whole range of economic indicators.

That is why setting up a sovereign wealth fund will help to cushion the impact of increased revenues coming in and I think the government is on the right track, not only to do that but to make sure that we avoid what is often referred to as the 'Dutch disease' which has been demonstrated in some countries where countries have gone through a similar period of growth and if you do not manage it well it could have enormous adverse economic consequences.

GARRETT: The government wants to make the sovereign wealth funds tamper-proof by enshrining them in an organic law. How would that work exactly?

NAMALIU: If it is to be an organic law it wouldn't be that easy to amend on the floor of parliament as opposed to an ordinary law which would require a simple majority of a quorum, for instance of 37 in our case. But if it is an organic law you would obviously have to ensure that you have at least an absolute majority, more likely to be more, usually around 72 or thereabouts, so you can't just fiddle with the law as you wish…

Source: Radio Australia

Symposium looks at PNG now & in future

EXPERTS FROM Australia and PNG are hoping to help broaden understanding of PNG at a symposium organised by Deakin University's Alfred Deakin Research Institute and Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs Richard Marles MP on Friday.

Institute Director, Prof David Lowe, said that after World War II Australians had had a high level of engagement and understanding of PNG, partly based on Australia's involvement in helping the country move toward nationhood.

But since then interest in the country had waned, politically, socially and academically.

“We feel that Australians' knowledge of PNG has really slipped,” he said. “We need to rediscover our closest neighbour and develop a much deeper understanding of what, in 20 years time, will be an even more important relationship to us.”

Professor Lowe said PNG's new generation of political leaders would confront many important challenges.

“PNG is blessed with an extraordinarily rich natural-resource endowment, including vast reserves of natural gas and other minerals, which could help it prosper in the future.

“But managing the growth in revenue from its mineral resources and distributing it across the rapidly growing population will be a major challenge for the PNG government.”

Prof Lowe said PNG also faced other challenges. It is still grappling with the social and environmental impacts of mining activities along the Ok Tedi and Fly Rivers, and has to develop ways to respond to growing interest from international investors, including China.

“The country's geography, while stunningly beautiful and environmentally significant, also poses other challenges,” he said. “At the most basic level, it's extremely difficult to get from A to B. Road links are undeveloped and transporting goods and people in PNG can be complicated.

“Bougainville, having endured a long conflict, is due to vote on its future status some time between 2015 and 2020. This will be of great significance to Australia, and to the region,” he added.

Presenters from business, government, academia and the wider community will offer perspectives on a range of topics, including the minerals sector, the economy, development, the law, and women in society.

By bringing together academics from across Australia and from PNG, the symposium also aims to generate in Australia renewed interest in PNG studies, and to strengthen academic collaborations within the South Pacific region, in fields as diverse as the natural sciences, language, history, the arts and conflict resolution.

“These are crucial times for PNG, for Melanesia and the wider South Pacific and I am pleased the Institute is able to play a key role bringing together experts from PNG and Australia,” Professor Lowe said.

Source: Campus Daily

Note – PNG Attitude publisher Keith Jackson was invited to contribute at the the symposium but an overseas trip prevented this

Annual report on coasters proves a winner


IT WAS ONE of those bright ideas that don’t seem to make much sense after the first rush of enthusiasm.

But this one actually got somewhere. A South Pacific Brewery annual report, printed entirely on beer coasters, has won a bunch of top awards.

There was a gold medal for design at the Clio Awards and a silver at Cannes in 2010 followed by a gold in the Annual Reports category at the New York Festival of Advertising earlier this year.

The PNG company had its annual financial report printed on to pages made of perforated coasters, each with a unique design.

The pages were hand-stitched and wrapped with a cover, tied together with chunky wire.

Stakeholders in the brewery were literally able to have a drink on their company’s success.

Source: The Inspiration Room

Orion increases number of voyages to PNG

Orion & Zodiac SARINA BRATTON, CEO of Orion Cruises, talks to CAROLINE ADAM of Travel Weekly

Adam: How is Orion's cruise program for PNG shaping up for 2012?

Bratton: For the first time both Orion ships will visit PNG in 2012. The two ships have been chartered by US organisations for the Solar Eclipse off Port Douglas. The Orion II will have her maiden call in Australia in November 2012, and then we will operate from Cairns to Rabaul on our established 11-night PNG Cultural Highlights itinerary.

Adam: How many voyages will Orion make to the destination in 2011 and 2012?

Bratton: We had seven voyages in 2010 and have four in 2011 and six planned for 2012. We usually operate in PNG every spring and autumn, however due to charter activity now and again, our plans get altered.

Adam: How has demand for the destination been in recent years and how important is PNG to Orion?

Bratton: For Orion, positioned in this part of the world, we consider PNG part of our shoulder season, with Antarctica and the Kimberley being our peak seasons. PNG is not considered a mainstream tourism destination. However, our well-travelled and inquisitive guests' feedback informs us that being able to visit and interact with diverse cultural communities means the destination provides rewarding experiences.

We work very closely with a number of communities, providing equipment, aid, medical assistance, building school houses and building community work centres. We contribute in a corporate sense and guests contribute personally.

Adam: What selling points can you suggest to agents, for clients considering an Orion trip to this destination?

Bratton: The few large ships that do visit are restricted on where they can operate, making access difficult in shallow waters or remote areas. No other operator in PNG has the strong community links that Orion has forged over the last six years.

Orion also operates a convenient charter flight between Cairns and Rabaul (and vice versa) to transfer guests to and from the ship at the beginning or end of each voyage. And Orion has the highest rated ecologically responsible cruise operation in PNG.

Source: Travel Weekly

Carterets: islands disappearing under the sea


THE CARTERET ISLANDS, east of Bougainville, are threatened by a rapidly rising ocean. Forced to relocate, the Carteret Islanders are trying to find ways to preserve their culture for future generations.

This has caused the population to become one of the first indigenous cultures forced to prepare for and implement measures for the permanent resettlement of their entire community.

Relocation of the islanders into communities that are geographically, culturally, politically and socially different will make the preservation and continuation of their culture and unique cultural identity difficult.

This documentary hopes to assist the Carteret Islanders with their relocation efforts and helps focus on the human face of climate change by providing a clearer understanding of the consequences of sea level rise on people living on low level islands and coastal communities.


Two great Jimmy Drekore poems

Entries in The Crocodile Prize

JIMMY DREKORE, 35, is from the Sinasina area of Simbu Province. He works on Lihir Island as an analytical chemist and, during field breaks at home, he spends time helping sick and disadvantaged children through the Simbu Children Foundation ( He says "during quiet moments I like to paint using words”. Here are some of those words....

Follow your heart

You see the rugged mountains
Your head down
You see the kunai roof
Your eyes drown
You see the bumpy roads
You look away
You see the sloppy gardens
You turn away

I climbed those rugged mountains
I grew up in that kunai roof
I walked those bumpy roads
I was fed from those sloppy gardens

Those mountains gave me strength
That roof gave me warmth
Those roads gave me hope
Those gardens gave me confidence

When you’re weak,
I’ll give you strength
When you’re cold,
I’ll give you warmth
When you’re lost,
I’ll come looking for you
When you fall,
I’ll reach my hands for you

Where there is love
There is no rugged mountain
Where there is love
There is no kunai roof
Where is love
There is no bumpy road
Where there is love
There is no sloppy garden

See with your heart
Paint with your heart
Talk with heart
Listen with heart

Follow your heart
You’ll find love

Cast the rain down in Africa

Sierra Leone’s precious diamonds
RUF and the war lords
Forced children to take guns
Free Town had no free sons
Spilling Blood on diamonds

White minority ruled Zimbabwe
Black majority boosted Mugabe
Western sanctions
Mugabe’s actions
Resilient, why?

Mohamed Farah Aidid and the skins
Mogadishu had no other kings
Somalia was crying
RPG’s were flying
Black Hawk went down

Dictatorship and brutality
Leads to anarchy & poverty
Once was Uganda
With Idi Amin Dada
Who had no respect for law

The law of separation
Divided a nation
Whites and Bantus
Oppressing Zulus
Pierced by apartheid
Freedom paid
With his life in prison
Accused of treason
But freed South Africa
Africa’s greatest man – Mandela

Cast the rain down in Africa
Quench the thirst of Sahara
A land of many species
Stacked with histories
God bless Africa


Media Niugini names Bhanu Sud as CEO

Bhanu Sud MEDIA NIUGINI Limited has announced the appointment of Bhanu Sud as CEO of EMTV, the PNG national television service.

MNL Chairman Kafora Muaror said it was important for the strategic direction and growth of the company to appoint someone familiar with the PNG market and business community.

Mr Sud was previously with Steamships Trading Ltd and holds a Bachelor of Technology and MBA degrees.

Source: Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union.  Spotter: Martin Hadlow

Joe Cannon recognised for mission service


JOSEPH L CANNON was an unlikely figure to become a global missionary. He spent his early years in a gang in Canada. Yet, God broke into Joe's life, changed his heart, and gave him a calling that would take him to four foreign mission fields over 60 years.

It was 1947, shortly after WWII, that Joe and his first wife, Rosabelle, began mission work in Japan. Then, in 1971, Joe and Rosabelle moved their family to PNG. Over a 13-year period they established several schools including the Melanesian Bible College in Lae.

After the death Rosabelle, Joe married Betty Dollar. Betty had left full-time work in Memphis to do mission work in the Ukraine in the 1990s. She laboured there for years and was joined by Joe in 2002. Few have given their lives to strangers like Joe and Betty.

They were recently honoured by the congregation at Highland Church of Christ in Cordova for their years of mission work in Japan, PNG and Ukraine.

Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal

Tuna industry must not strip PNG resources


MANAGING DIRECTOR of the National Fisheries Authority, Syvester Pokajam, has said there will be four new tuna canneries and processing plants opened soon in PNG. This will significantly increase local employment and production.

Mr Pokajam highlighted that PNG will soon overtake the Philippines in tuna production and become second only to Thailand.

In his presentation to a European conference in Brussels, Mr Pokajam indicated PNG was currently undertaking a number of projects to ensure it will be able to manage the sustainable harvesting of tuna stocks.

While this is good news, it does beg the question of what evidence was brought to the table before the decision was made to go ahead with the new processing plants.

While PNG will benefit from increased employment opportunities, there have been media reports that overseas workers are being employed in this industry.

In addition, while PNG will earn valuable foreign exchange from the export of canned tuna, if future studies indicate a decreasing resource, will a future government be able and prepared to restrict or halt production?

Hopefully, future PNG populations will continue to enjoy what is currently available.

The Philippines is well known for having effectively stripped many of its marine resources beyond the point of no return. We hope this will not be allowed to happen in PNG.

Fr Bill Liebert - drug fighting missionary


EVEN ON THE hottest days of summer, the Rev William “Bill” Liebert wore a coat. After spending 49 years as a missionary in PNG — where the coldest night might dip as low as 73 degrees — it was understandable he’d find August in Chicago relatively cool.

Father Liebert, whose drug-fighting work on the other side of the world got him slapped around by thugs from PNG’s raskol gangs — and earned him the enmity of Chinese mobsters — died of kidney failure on 6 May at the Divine Word Missionaries house in Techny, Illinois, where he had lived since 2006. He was 81.

Though he was director-general of PNG’s National Narcotics Bureau from 1992 to 2001, he considered his most important work to have been his effort to keep boys out of adult prisons, where they might be sexually exploited and graduate to more serious levels of criminality.

He not only represented them in court, but also helped create Boys Town, an institution in Wewak that fed, housed and educated juveniles accused of crimes. The children there called him Pata Bill.

Father Liebert grew up about as far from PNG as you can get, in Kansas. His family owned a farm that grew corn, wheat and soybeans. He always wanted to be a priest, and after he was ordained “he wanted to do something exciting,” said Rev Donald O’Connor, a fellow missionary who served 35 years with him in PNG.

In 1957, Father Liebert was sent to PNG and, as the country became more westernised, modern-day scourges took root, including AIDS, gun violence and drugs such as crystal meth and marijuana dubbed “New Guinea Gold.”

One of Father Liebert’s finest moments occurred around 2003. Smugglers were trying to route ephedrine through China, India and crime-ridden Port Moresby to make “ice” — crystal meth. Through his many sources, “Bill got wind of that,” Fr O’Connor said. “He made the authorities aware of it.”

He was “working against the Chinese mafia,” O’Connor said. “He was really what I would call a modern-day St Paul. He was chased and even beat up by people.” He also represented the prime minister of PNG at United Nations anti-drug conferences in Vienna and other major cities.

A pipe smoker, he developed throat cancer about 20 years ago. At first it silenced him, but he learned to speak again despite having to have surgery on his throat. His letters home were lyrical, his nieces said. He wrote about the island’s big snakes, including a python that became a pet.

The distance and expense were so great that he could come home only about every five years. When he visited Kansas, he couldn’t get enough fried chicken. When you asked for fried chicken in PNG, he’d say, you never were sure just what you were getting. He always brought his nieces beautiful seashells, or bags made of New Guinea vines.

Father Liebert will be buried in the grounds of the Sacred Heart Monastery in Wewak.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times