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169 posts from September 2011

Government jet still gadding about: Hawaii report

Capt Smith on the Falcom flight deck PRIME MINISTER Peter O’Neill and his delegation spent a night on Kaua‘i in Hawaii en route home from the United Nations General Assembly.

The island is the home of Captain Christopher Smith, head of the crew that flies the PNG government’s Dassault Falcon 900 EX that Mr O’Neill has promised to sell.

Captain Smith said the group spent the night on island because the plane needed refuelling and his flight crew needed refreshing.

Smith is a part-time pilot for the PNG government, said his mother, Rosemary Smith, standing near the prime minister’s plane parked at Lihu‘e Airport.

“He lives in Colorado with his wife, who is a captain with Frontier Airlines, and their three daughters,” she said.

“But he commutes to New Guinea as the pilot for the prime minister four months of the year.”

Dessie Benson, one of the three flight crew members on the the prime minister’s trip, said the Falcon get is owned by the Papua New Guinea government.

Joining Smith on the flight crew were Kris Randall, a former United Airlines pilot, and Vincent Kipma of New Guinea.

Joi Bonaparte, the Kaua‘i district manager for Air Service Hawaii, said they get corporate jets frequently, but it’s not every day they have the privilege of servicing foreign government dignitaries.

Photo: Capt Christopher Smith displays the flight deck of the Falcon he pilots for the prime minister of Papua New Guinea

Source: The Garden Island, Hawaii, 25 September

Circumcision - men keen, but not women: researcher

RESEARCH INTO the viability of circumcision as a means of reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS in Papua New Guinea has found that men are keen to have it done.

Professor John McBride, an Australian infectious disease specialist, interviewed nearly 900 men in Port Moresby, Madang, Popondetta and at the Porgera gold mine.

He says infant circumcision is quite uncommon but almost 60% of men have had either full or partial circumcision, which is known in PNG as the ‘straight cut’.

Professor McBride says full circumcision has been shown to protect against HIV infection in about 60% of cases.

“Up to 80% of men who were either uncircumcised or had the straight cut would have a circumcision if it was available safely and conveniently and certainly if we’re able to show that it reduced the rate of HIV,” he said.

However, Professor McBride said PNG women expressed concern that getting circumcised would encourage men to become more sexually active.

Source: Radio New Zealand International, 28 September

InterOil: is this the beginning of the end?


THE NEWS news that the Papua New Guinea government is calling for InterOil to complete the project as approved may be the death knell for the company. The government is questioning the company's ability to complete the project.

[Petroleum and Energy Minister] Duma said the developers of the Gulf LNG project are promoting a "fragmented" project and said none of the companies currently involved has the experience necessary to operate a "world class" LNG project.

The implication for potential partners is that there is significant execution and counterparty risk in addition to the normal project risk. As it stood, Mitsui agreed to pay $400 million contingent upon completion and to advance $400 million of behalf of InterOil.

That is a vastly different risk profile than committing to finance the entire $6 billion project. The terms of this agreement portend the difficulty InterOil will have in finding a partner to commit to finance the whole project.

Without the project, InterOil lacks the ability to transport the gas to market. Therefore, InterOil will not be able to reclassify the gas resources as reserves which in and of itself is reduces the value of the company.

The market had been pricing the company as if it was a mere formality to have those resources reclassified. Furthermore without the project, InterOil will no doubt delay the FID on Elk and Antelope further impacting the stock price.

At a minimum, any delay in issuing a positive FID pushes production off into the future. Having a contentious relationship with the government that grants your licenses is generally not a good strategy.

Source: Seeking Alpha, 28 September

Dance to the beautiful sea

Blue Bougainville sea BY LEONARD FONG ROKA

There are days where I sit and wonder
why the sun raises o’er Pokpok isle
and fade to sleep behind Pava’ire mountain village
without sparing a moment in Araba for a dance.

Time and seasons come and go
and still, she passes above me without heed.
Should she be my mama denying me
a hectic dance chit-chat?

No! No! My Kongara love bird, Dong’kiring-kiring,
the sun is the goddess, Barama-birama
from Boi’ra, they say swims to Tausi’na isle
and shoots to the fountains of Kavarong River
for inspiration.

She’d says: I’d given you the Bovong,
the Kaperia, the Tumpu’kasi
and the Taraka brawling waters
for your wisdom dance; dance to the estuary.
There is dance of joy…
Dance of joy!

The sun dances in the blue sky.
You dance from the peaks to the sea.
Dance! Dance!
Dance to the beautiful sea.

Lost in the non-linearity of PNG time


I’VE BEEN giving the Capitalists a hard time recently and perhaps rightfully so. And yes, around the world Capitalism seems to be having a hard time that’s unless you are a banker receiving government bailouts. These are indeed tough times.

The Western concept of time is that it is linear. The West borrowed this concept from its Judeo-Christian roots.

But most societies elsewhere around the world have always had a circular view of time. Thus the Mayan prophecy that the cycle of time ends in 2102 has been fuelling speculation amongst those with a linear view of time that the world will end.

If you have a circular view of time – every ending is a new beginning. Then one cannot waste time or have limited time because time is always available. Every ending also creates new time. But of course these aren’t the views of the modern Western-centric world.

Because of its concept of time as being linear, the Western world does not have patience for Papua New Guinea Time. PNG time is as Papua New Guinean as tribal fights and betel nut. PNG Time can described as regularly regular ‘lateness’ and ‘delays’ or ‘cancellations.’

A friend of mine recently described typical examples of the application of PNG Time. Scot described a typical village meeting where people (mostly men) are given the opportunity to express their opinion. The meeting would start later than initially intended too.

Men would debate and discuss the same point, repeating the same point, and describe the same matter until everyone was satisfied that the single point had been analysed thoroughly before they move to the next item on the agenda.

Some impatient people call this “beating around the bush” but it’s the Melanesian Way, based on the idea that time is not linear.

Of course, foreigners don’t have patience for PNG Time and understandably so. It is one of the most frustrating experiences for many. Time is money, as the Westerners say.


Continue reading "Lost in the non-linearity of PNG time" »

Time to re-align the Australia-PNG relationship

Last week, former PNG prime minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu gave a public lecture at the Australian National University on The future of PNG and the role of Australia. JONATHAN PRYKE summarises the key points

Sir Rabbie Namaliu aT ANU SIR RABBIE NAMALIU began by highlighting that from 2002 PNG has been going through a period of unprecedented and rapid economic growth.

One of the key challenges of this period is that the government has failed to redistribute the windfall revenues associated with this growth to where they are most needed.

In PNG, particularly in the rural areas, questions are being asked about where, if PNG has been experiencing a boom, the money is going. With a supplementary budget being passed every year from 2006, the population has the right to ask why hospitals, roads, schools and ports aren’t being fixed.

This in turn then led to major questions on governance, oversight and the misappropriation of funds within the Somare government. Sir Rabbie argued that these questions were one of the main drivers of the political changes that have recently taken place culminating in the forming of a new government under the leadership of Peter O’Neill.

With the new government in place, the PM has moved very quickly to outline his priorities between now and the election, with governance taking a major role.

Education has become another priority, with the government looking to address the lack of trained manpower to service the high levels of economic growth, by making a firm commitment to free education up until 12th grade from 2012.

Sir Rabbie stressed that there would be significant challenges in implementing free education throughout PNG. Health is another sector that has been made mention of in the new government’s priorities.

Sir Rabbie argued that performance in these sectors must be improved significantly in the coming months to demonstrate to the people that the government allocating funds to specific areas, such as health and education, can lead to results.

With the LNG and other major resource projects coming online soon, providing even more revenues to government, Sir Rabbie was confident that the PNG government should be able to tackle at least some of these challenges.

Sir Rabbie acknowledged that a lot of the help that PNG has received from Australia in the past has been through development assistance programs, but, as the economy continues to grow, this relationship is quickly changing.

Trade, investment and economic cooperation will be the key to PNG’s future. Australia can do much more the help PNG diversify its export markets beyond commodities by helping PNG agricultural, marine and forestry sectors reach Australia’s import standards.

This would allow a significantly larger base of the population, beyond the commodities sector, to share in the benefits of economic growth.

Overall, Sir Rabbie argued, there should be a gradual re-focusing of the Australia-PNG relationship away from development assistance towards economic cooperation.

Jonathan Pryke is a Researcher at the Development Policy Centre.

Source: Development Policy Blog, 27 September

People stand to lose from airline monopoly


THE PNG GOVERNMENT recently announced its approval in principle for the merger of state owned airline Air Niugini with the privately owned Airlines PNG. A merger between the two airline sets to create the largest airline in Papua New Guinea.

Airlines PNG is Air Niugini’s only real competitor on certain national and international routes.

Nationally they both compete on the Mount Hagen, Lae, Tabubil and Bulolo routes. Internationally they compete on the lucrative Australian market. In fact, the increased competition as a result of Airlines PNG expanding its routes has seen a decline in prices.

Many pundits are therefore wary of the proposed merger. The matter has been subject to much discussion on blogs and social networking sites. On Facebook, for instance, a post by ‘Essential Meri PNG’on Sharp Talk racked up over 120 responses. ‘Cuma PNG’ summarised the general sentiment saying, “Lack of competition will never benefit the people.”

Perhaps the most well reasoned arguments against the merger come from former Minister Arthur Somare. In 2010 when Airlines PNG wanted to merge with Air Niugini, Mr. Somare immediately ruled out talks. Here are his reasons as reported by the Post Courier on the 23 August 2010:

1. Airlines PNG suffered big losses in its two years as a company listed on the Port Moresby Stock Exchange and, if it is now enjoying robust growth, that is good for future competition;

2. Publicly available information suggests APNG’s improved performance is due to charters with the PNG LNG Project and others, but this has little benefit to the wider travelling public;

3. The then Transport and Works Minister Don Polye said the Government’s “open sky” policy could lead to more competition and he cited the case of Virgin Air. This argument does not hold now since an Air Niugini merger with APNG would kill off Virgin’s code share arrangement with APNG,”

4. Air Niugini has enjoyed an accident-free history since its formation in 1974; a merger with APNG would ruin this reputation and result in payment of much higher insurance premiums;

5. The higher insurance premiums would result in higher costs and higher airfares;

6. The APNG air crash in Kokoda in August last year could result in expensive litigation once official reports are concluded. There is no reason for this burden to be passed on to Air Niugini.

7. Rising inflation is one of the biggest concerns of Bank of Papua New Guinea and the National Government. Do we want to take a backward step and allow airfares and airfreight charges to rise again?

8. Air Niugini was able to reduce international airfares by 20 per cent to 50 per cent to different international destinations in recent years and domestic fares had fallen by an average of 20 per cent.

9. The practical implication of the merger is that a single individual, John Ralston Wild, will become the biggest private shareholder in Air Niugini with a stake five times bigger than Nasfund, APNG’s second largest shareholder.


Continue reading "People stand to lose from airline monopoly" »

Four unions want to nix proposed airline merger

Air Niugini F28 The four unions in Papua New Guinea's national airline are reported to be against the government's proposal to merge state-owned carrier Air Niugini with the publicly-listed Airlines PNG.

The government is justifying the move by saying that both airlines are struggling.

The National Broadcasting Commission reports that Air Niugini's National Airlines Employees Association, National Air Pilots Union, Flights Attendants Association and Aircraft Engineers Association all strongly oppose the idea.

The National Airlines Employees Association says it believes the merger will displace local employees and not do any good.

Australia Network News, 26 September

InterOil shares crushed as PNG govt wields stick


SHARES OF InterOil fell as much as 24% today on concerns that Papua New Guinea may require the company to make major changes to its LNG project.

Comments made by the country’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy required a response from InterOil, who basically said its project plan meets a previous agreement.

The disagreement appears to be over the project’s size, which will be two million tons per annum and can be expanded to 8 mtpa. The government wants a project with production of 7.6-10.6 mtpa.

No one wants to pick a fight with a government that is an important partner, so the company must tread carefully.

A larger project would obviously require much more capital expenditure than the smaller project and be more risky for InterOil.

Right now, InterOil doesn’t appear to be making plans to change the project, but keep an eye on this going forward because it will have a big impact on the company’s cash flow.

Source: The Motley Fool, 27 September

National museum controversy reaching denouement

Julius Violaris - after meeting with Assistant Police Commissioner Giosi Labi MOMASE POLICE commander Giosi Labi has cautioned police not to rush into charging trustees of the National Museum and Art Gallery while a court order is in place for a judicial review of their alleged June sacking by former Culture and Tourism Minister, Guma Wau.

President of the NMAG Board of Trustees, Julius Violaris [pictured], met Mr Labi in Lae yesterday after learning police were going to arrest him over allegations of conspiring with others to defraud the museum and art gallery.

This followed last Thursday's arrest by Boroko police of the respected bank executive Aho Baliki on fraud allegations.

Police alleged Mr Baliki conspired with three other trustees to defraud the museum.  His arrest had come after police acted on a complaint lodged by museum director and chief executive officer, Meck Kuk.

Mr Baliki’s arrest angered Mr Violaris, who had been working with him to protect NMAG's funds and assets from theft and maladministration.

Last Friday Mr Violaris wrote to Finance Minister Don Polye advising him that the charges against Mr Baliki were “trumped up and malicious”.

He said they were “vindictively applied by the current director of the museum Meck Kuk because we have denied him unaccountable access to the NMAG’s funds”.

During the meeting with the Momase police commander, Mr Violaris gave him copies of documents relating to the matter, including National Court orders that the minister’s decision to sack the Board be stayed and that the Board be granted leave to apply for judicial review of the minister’s action.

After studying the documents, Mr Labi took to the telephone advising his superiors and colleagues in Port Moresby to take care with the case while the court orders are in place.

Bradshaw Lawyers, acting for the Board of Trustees, explained that the Court decision means that Mr Violaris and his Board continue to remain in office.

After leaving Mr Lab, Mr Violaris instructed his lawyers to serve a letter on Joseph Tondop, the National Capital District Metropolitan Police commander, reminding him of the court orders.

The letter advised Mr Tondop that Julius Violaris, Peter Loko, Andrew Abel, Maria Kopkop, Nora Vagi Brash and Dr Michael Mel are current trustees of the NMAG.  A copy of the court orders staying proceedings was also enclosed in the letter to Mr Tondop.

“The effect of the stay order is that our clients continue in office as Trustees and can exercise and perform functions as Trustees,” the letter stated.

Prior to Mr Wau being replaced as Minister he had received a letter from Bradshaw Lawyers telling him he did not have power to suspend any of the Trustees.

Bradshaw Lawyers also advised that the Trustees have the power to determine how the bank accounts of the museum should be operated in compliance with the law.

Mr Violaris is expected back in Port Moresby today and will meet with Public Service Minister Bart Philemon to discuss this matter and the position of the NMAG chief executive officer.

Source: Post-Courier, 28 September, and other sources

When it comes to fellow citizens: We’re hypocrites!


Tiffany_Exterior I WISH TO share an item from Facebook that has really got me fired-up.  It was posted by prominent lawyer Tiffany Nonggorr [pictured].

Tiffany was writing in response to comments made by ‘out of touch’ Papua New Guineans who claim to be in touch.

These ‘out of touch’ Papua New Guineans wouldn’t want to see the National Capital District Governor spend money on providing drinking water to people who live in squatter settlements.

It is these people in squatter settlements to do the manual labour jobs that pay crap wages. They clean offices, homes and streets, or work as security guards, shop assistants and construction labourers.

Yet many ‘out of touch’ Papua New Guineans still believe that they are a liability to society.

They don’t steal millions from trust accounts. They don’t take out court injunctions to suppress investigative processes. They don’t fly out of the country when wanted by police. Instead they are beaten, tortured and killed by the police force.

While we are more than willing to accept tax holidays for major multinationals which already have too much money, we bitch about helping our fellow citizens.

I’ll leave the rest to Tiffany:

A society should be judged by the way it treats the most disadvantaged in its society. As a government, it has to look after all the people not just those who are capable of earning and paying taxes.

Mineral resources boom and yet hundreds of thousands of people have no access to water in Moresby. I went to a settlement at the bottom of 2 Mile Hill, but on the top side.

There was one water tap for 100 families - and the young adults I met were third generation settlement dwellers - no language, no village - just the settlement.

People, particularly women, were trying to make a better life but it was all just so hopeless, just so tragic. I couldn't believe that this was PNG.

We went there to provide outreach - free medicals from susu mamas for mums and bubs - and I could not believe the entrenched poverty and hardship with no end in sight.

The only way forward is access to water, free quality education and free medical service - we give Ramu Nickel a 10 year tax holiday - but we can't give these people access to water!

A Christian country? You gotta be kidding me! 

Father John Glynn on corruption and youth 2


H&S IN THIS, THE second part of his talk, Father John Glynn focuses on the Youth Against Corruption Association. YACA is an association that aims to give to be a forum for youth voices on corruption and to enhance leadership potential and personal integrity.

It was founded in 2003 by Father John, and remains the only group run by students for students, with Father John as its patron. There are challenges that the group faces in terms of organisational leadership but its survival down the years is testament to the desire of young people to have a forum to debate and discuss issues that matter to them.

I was a member of YACA during secondary school and led the association in my first year at university. The three core values that underpin YACA, are honesty, integrity and good citizenship.

Perhaps the most striking statement in the discourse below is what Father John sees as mere tokenism when current leaders refer to young people as “future leaders”.  He states:

When leaders speak to groups of young people such as YACA members they love to call them ‘leaders of the future’, knowing full well that they are not the leaders of the future - they are the sheep of the future. As sheep they will continue in ignorance and complacency to tolerate and ignore the serious illnesses in our society that give our leaders the freedom to be corrupt, and to exploit the resources of our country for their own benefit.

And so, with this in mind, I present the rest of what Father John had to say:

YACA - the Youth Against Corruption Association - has a basic aim. It is to empower young people - to fill the vacuum created by a corrupt system that has nothing to say to young people, and that has nothing to offer them or to teach them. Members of YACA have a starting point for principles and a philosophy that can lead to the empowerment of Youth. It is the YACA Pledge. By turning your back on all the attitudes that empower our corrupt leaders, and by refusing to join in their corruption, you are undermining the basis for their freedom to practice corruption.

YACA provides an opportunity for young people to educate and inform themselves on the issues that affect us all so much; education, health, law and order, poverty and unemployment, the principles of democracy, good governance, civic responsibility, and all those similar topics that are not spoken about by leaders, and are not taught in schools.

YACA has always been seen as something for school kids - not to be taken seriously by tertiary students or young adults. When Leaders speak to groups of young people such as YACA members they love to call them ʻleaders of the futureʼ, knowing full well that they are not the leaders of the future - they are the sheep of the future. As sheep they will continue in ignorance and complacency to tolerate and ignore the serious illnesses in our society that give our leaders the freedom to be corrupt, and to exploit the resources of our country for their own benefit.

It is my prayer and my hope that one day soon some young persons will come along who have a clear vision of our country and its ills, and who will take ownership of YACA and use the organisation as a means to inspire, motivate and empower our youth and set them on a pathway to change.

I strongly urge all of you young people to take hold of YACA - to take ownership of YACA - to be inspired by the principles enshrined in the Pledge and to get organised. Your organisation and leadership is the only hope that this nation has for a continuing free and democratic society.

Your country needs you!

New Oz visa centre is opened in Port Moresby

Ian Kemish opens the new centre THE FIRST of two new Australian Visa and Application Centres was officially opened in Port Moresby on Monday by High Commissioner Ian Kemish.

The centre provides more convenient access to immigration and citizenship services for Papua New Guinea.

Mr Kemish said the most notable of improvements to the services are the extended operating hours of 8:30am-4:30pm, Monday to Friday, with phone lines operating until 7pm.

The Port Moresby centre is located in the Steamship head office building. A second centre will be opened in Lae at the end of October.

Applications will continue to be assessed and decided by the immigration section of the Australian High Commission. Centre staff will have no involvement in decision-making or have any knowledge of the outcome of applications.

Photo: Mr Kemish cuts a ribbon to officially open the new centre. Beside him is Raj Kiran, project manager for the centres in PNG

Source: Australian High Commission

Not enough teachers to satisfy govt initiative

THE GENERAL SECRETARY of the Papua New Guinea Teachers Association says there won’t be enough teachers to fulfill the government’s wish to provide free education for students up to Year 10.

Ugwalubu Mowana says the government initiative is a bold one but currently the number of teachers being trained is exceeded by those leaving the profession.

In its first budget the O’Neill government has allocated $165 million to education for next year, but Mr Mowana says this won’t go far.

“This amount of money is small. It proably might cater for teacher and learning materials but it won’t assist infrastructure development in schools,” he said.

“Likewise it will not help in training of teachers with that allocation.”

Mr Mowana says the government initiative is likely to lead to larger classes and affect the quality of education provided.

Source: Radio New Zealand International, 26 September

InterOil runs into big problems over LNG project

INTEROIL’s PROPOSED Gulf LNG project has been shelved by the PNG government on the grounds it deviated from it's original proposal, media reports say.

Papua New Guinea's national executive council reportedly killed the project after a vote last Wednesday.

It said it had found InterOil had ignored government concerns and had publicly promoted one project while building another in the nation's Gulf Province.

The PNG's Petroleum Minister, William Duma, attacked InterOil for proposing a “small scale, fragmented” project to be constructed by companies not recognised as LNG operators.

“Instead of delivering a project that fits this project description, LNG/InterOil has been announcing, presenting and promoting a different project without seeking prior state approval,” The National newspaper quoted Mr Duma as saying.

“The PNG government supports, and will continue to support, LNGL/InterOil in delivering the project contemplated in the agreement, but not a project which deviates from the agreement.”

He said the original agreement, dating back to December 2009, was for a “world-class LNG plant of international scale and quality using internationally-recognised technology,” with a plant size of 7.6 million to 10.6 million tonnes of LNG per annum.

The agreement also called for it to be operated by an internationally-recognised LNG operator.

Source: Bigpond News, 27 September    Spotter: Barbara Short

Father John Glynn on corruption and youth


Glynn_John IF YOU EVER bump into a tall handsome young Irishman at Jubilee Catholic Secondary School in Port Moresby, that could be Father John Glynn OL. Now in his seventies, Father John has been a mentor, chaplain, counsellor and fortress for many Papua New Guineans.

I came across Father John during my Secondary School Years. Well every one of us at Jubilee Catholic Secondary School, did and still do. Everyone has their take on Father John, and I’m sure the majority loved him but were mostly asleep during his classes.

For me personally, his influence still defines my life and world view. He is to me a mentor and a friend. His ideas on youth empowerment and leadership and his example on addressing issues of social justice have shaped my thinking. While we may have difference of opinion on how to deal with certain controversial social issues, we both believe in a fair and just society.

Currently, Father John is the school chaplain at Jubilee Catholic Secondary School and regularly celebrates mass at various parishes in Port Moresby. He is also a board member of the Digicel Foundation and the Patron of WeCARE and Youth Against Corruption Association.

He recently made a presentation to students from various schools around the nation’s capital on the topic Corruption and Youth. Here is what he said:

Corruption is rottenness

-- it is when something goes bad - food, an infected sore, anything! Corruption is when people go bad - lying, stealing, cheating

-- especially in areas of Government and Administration. Corruption extends from top to bottom in PNG society.

When someone buys a stolen phone on the street they are just as corrupt as the businessman who falsely gets money from a Government Department, or as a politician who diverts public money into his personal account or as a School Principal who accepts money to give a Grade 11 place to an undeserving student.

Corruption affects youth when it denies young people their rights to education, care, a safe and supportive life. Corruption affects youth when their elders give their children the example of dishonest behaviour and encourage them to behave in the same way.

When parents are corrupt - when teachers are corrupt - when education personnel in the Department are corrupt - then what chance have the young people of avoiding becoming corrupt themselves?

Continue reading "Father John Glynn on corruption and youth" »

“Em inap nau…” (that’s enough now)

It was the end of an era for Papua New Guinea when Sir Michael Somare retired at the end of June.  Or did he?  HANK NELSON looks at more months of tumult in PNG politics.  We reproduce below a short extract of a longer article on recent political events, which you can read here

Peter O'Neill addresses the UN, September 2011 THE RUMOURS about Sir Michael’s ill-health and the disputes about his replacement may not have excited the many unemployed on the streets or in the squatter settlements on the edges of the towns, or disturbed the rhythm of the women carrying home in the evening their heavy bilums (string bags) full of sweet potatoes and wood scrounged for a cooking fire, a little heat and a lot of smoke to ward off the highlands’ chilly nights.

But the political impasse also meant the neglect of national issues that needed attention. Nearly all the indicators of welfare (health and literacy, for example) were stable or in decline.

One characteristic of the many claims and counter claims about the failure of past governments to combat corruption and ensure government services reached distant communities was, initially at least, the absence of criticism of Sir Michael’s many years in office.

Coup leaders need to justify their actions, and when Peter O’Neill has done this he has condemned the interim government of Abal. O’Neill has found a convenient target; but given the brief regime of Abal and the fact that the system he took over was long in place, the criticisms have been unfair.

The tribunal of eminent judges may have blemished Sir Michael’s record, but the public, his colleagues and rivals have been reluctant to exploit that exposure of weakness in the Grand Chief.

Given the inescapable problems to confront any new government of Papua New Guinea, perhaps we should be trying to explain why there is such competition for the prime ministership rather than accepting that intense rivalry is to be expected.

Papua New Guinea has survived nearly nine months without it being clear who holds the prime ministership and without the benefit of a disciplined cabinet.

Given the lack of violence, the possibility of long delays of cases enmeshed in the courts and the need for time for new political alliances to stabilise, it might be desirable for the process of gradually acknowledging the end of the Somare era to continue for a little while yet.

The last thing that the peoples of Papua New Guinea and those of neighbouring nations (Australia, Indonesia and the Solomons) want is a Papua New Guinea descending into violence.

But the wild, enthusiastic reception given to O’Neill on his first return to Mendi after his election as prime minister was not an indicator of a gentle acceptance of change. O’Neill and his fellow ministers were honoured with a combined police and correctional services guard and greeted with a massed audience on Mendi oval.

The enthusiasm for O’Neill and his 70–24 vote in the parliament may make the courts reluctant to stand up to the two other dominant formal and informal political forces in the country, the parliament and the crowd.

The potency of sentiment (but not the violence of crowds) has already been demonstrated when O’Neill went to his home electorate and the crowd claimed that he should be elected unopposed in 2012, at the University of Papua New Guinea where he was strewn with flowers, and at the National and Supreme courts where two sides gathered in support of either O’Neill-Namah or Abal-Somare.

With the unexpected twists in the story so far and the speed with which unpredictable crowds can gather, it is uncertain that Papua New Guinea will have the luxury of time to establish a government that has a chance to be stable and efficient.

• Read the complete article here

Hank Nelson is Emeritus Professor and Visiting Fellow in the School of Culture, History & Language at the Australian National University

Photo: PNG prime minister, Peter O’Neill addresses the general debate of the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly on 24 September [UN Photo/Lou Rouse]

Source: Inside Story, 26 September

Daru collapse due to misspending of funds

PUBLIC SERVICE Minister Bart Philemon says Daru isn’t on the verge of collapse – it has already collapsed.

Mr Philemon was reacting to a recent article in the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier which said the town had a hospital with no doctors, no jail, no court and all the schools had closed.

He said since the provincial government moved its headquarters to Kiunga in the north of the province about 10 years ago, Daru has fallen into a sorry state.

Mr Philemon said the Western Province makes enough money from investment in the Ok Tedi mine to sort out its issues, however the money is being misspent.

“It’s all about provincial government and national government not doing the right thing in terms of not using the huge inflow of income to address the basic issue of maintaining the hospital, maintaining the prisons, maintaining schools, and maintaining health centres and so forth,” he said

Mr Philemon said he is currently in dialogue with the governor of Western Province, Bob Danaya, who he says isn’t running the province according to due process.

Source: Radio New Zealand International, 26 September

Free school education goal seen as ‘ambitious’

A CANADIAN volunteer organisation working in Papua New Guinea has described the government’s aim to provide free education up to year ten as “ambitious”.

The O’Neill government’s first budget has given its biggest single allocation to education, offering K305 million to the sector.

The education program manager for Canadian University Service Overseas in PNG, Richard Jones, says it’s great news that the spend on education has increased over recent years, but he believes the scope of the government’s aim is to broad.

“We would like the government to focus on the lower primary grades first, as per their universal basic education plan,” he said.

“Mostly to ensure there is enough teachers and classrooms for the children that are coming into school”.

Richard Jones who says the level the government has agreed to spend needs to be sustained for a number of years.

Source: Radio New Zealand International, 25 September

Getting down to earth about expat life in PNG

Author - Tom Henry The Papua New Guinea & Port Moresby Expat Survival Guide is billed by author TOM HENRY as “a must read if you plan on working in PNG”.  Here’s an executive summary….

The Papua New Guinea & Port Moresby Expat Survival Guide, $27, ISBN 978-971-94601-7-6).  Available for electronic download from

Part 1: The Papua New Guinea & Port Moresby Expat Survival Guide starts out by covering the information you need on PNG itself; the people, food, history and culture - all important knowledge for those visiting or working in png.

Knowing these facts about this fascinating country will help you to understand how the country runs -- and help you to avoid some common expat blunders and help you to fit into the life here a little easier. Think of part 1 as a quick ‘PNG Culture 101’ lesson – forming the first part of your PNG Expat Survival course.

Part 2: For those in expat jobs, moving to another country often involves having to check through reams of bureaucratic legalese - written in such a way that it is often only understandable to those with a law degree.

So, in Part 2 the guide cuts through the reams of official government and company ‘legalese.’ It starts by explaining in plan English what different types of expat work contracts are common for the expat jobs in PNG, and what these contracts involve.

Too many expatriates come to Papua New Guinea not understanding that the work contract they accept sets the parameters of the lifestyle they can realistically have – both in PNG and from the money they send back to their home countries.

The guide gives you what may be eye-opening insights into what is realistically available for expatriates, both those who are working in Papua New Guinea full-time on resident contracts, and for those who only spend part of their time in country, working rotational shift contracts.

The guide then goes on to explain, (in English understandable even to us mortals without law degrees), the different types of visas and documentation you need for entering and working in Papua New Guinea, both for the various expat jobs, and for non-working spouses and children. It then goes on to explain what you should bring, (and why you should bring it), and what you shouldn’t bring (and why you shouldn’t bring it).

Part 3 of the Papua New Guinea & Port Moresby Expat Survival Guide covers what you, as an expat really need to know and understand both before and immediately after arrival. Whatever your expat job, this includes what you need to know and check before signing a work contract…  what you need to do and considered prior to arriving in PNG… when moving you family or belongings to and from PNG… and what you need to understand during your settling in period.

By learning these topics - and taking note of the tips learned from other expats hard experience, you will save yourself many unpleasant surprises, suffer less frustration, and avoid many of the mistakes and problems common to those who chose life as an expat in PNG.

You will also learn the truth about available expat housing and the general housing packages available for the different types of expat jobs in PNG -- resident and rotational, as well as what you must check to avoid the pitfalls - especially before signing your work contract or bringing your family to live in Papua New Guinea.

You will also learn about important local security and personal safety issues… why these are so important when working in Papua New Guinea… and actions to take to reduce the chances of having to be too worried about your safety. Health and medical information chapters are also in part 3.

These forewarn and hopefully forearm you, so you can take the actions required to prevent any needless mishaps - simply through heeding some suggestions from other expats experiences. In the hot and steamy climate, this is all crucial advice in keeping yourself and your family happy and healthy while you’re living and working in Papua New Guinea.

Everyone has to eat, and knowing what to expect – the good, the bad, (and in PNG, frankly the sometimes downright ugly), may well prevent you upset and frustration when dinning or shopping while in Port Moresby and elsewhere in Papua New Guinea.

Part 3 ends with some basic but important business information, including office and shop hours, banks, using local ATMs and currency exchanges, local mobile phones, the types of driving licenses available in PNG - and how to obtain them, traveling around the country, (an important topic itself for many expat jobs). Knowing this information is essential for your life as an expat working in PNG.

Part 4 delves deeper into life as an expat working in PNG. A host of helpful knowledge and experience to aid you and your family fit into the local expat lifestyle – without too many bumps in the road.

Coverage begins by explaining with light humour how you should dress and treat local people in various social and work situations. This is followed by some plain talking words of wisdom on matters of the heart, (or more truthfully, a somewhat smaller organ lower on the body that has caused problems for so many expats not used to local ways).

Finance, the cost of living in PNG -- and how much you need to budget for monthly outgoings follows next, along with some practical and effective ideas on how you can reduce your overall monthly cash needs - without downgrading your life as an expat.

More truths are revealed with some down-to-earth local knowledge on dealing with PNG domestic staff - after all, life as an expat wouldn’t be the same if domestic help were not around to make life easier (at least sometimes). an re

Tom Henry spent four years as the HRD Manager for a drilling company in PNG.  Here he developed and performed PNG country orientation programs for hundreds of expats

ceived national and international acclaim for his work

Sir Michael can intervene in constitutional challenge

THE CONSTITUTIONAL challenge to the 2 August parliamentary ‘coup’ that led to the election of prime minister Peter O'Neill is not over.

In Port Moresby this afternoon the Supreme Court determined that Sir Michael Somare can intervene in a case brought by the East Sepik provincial government seeking to overturn his exclusion from parliament.

Last week Sir Michael lost a separate court challenge to keep his seat in parliament but it seems the string of litigation has much unravelling to do yet.

Source: Radio Australia, 26 September

Shots & rocks as Australia beats PNG in league


THE AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister's XIII took down a wily Papua New Guinea 36-22 on Sunday, in a rugby league encounter dominated by big hits on field and gunfire outside the Lae stadium.

The tone was set early when the home side responded to an early try to Canterbury NRL flyer Josh Morris by zeroing in with a series of huge hits in defence.

The Kumuls maintained the intensity in front of an estimated crowd of 15,000 packed into Lae's 2000-seat oval.

Canberra's Blake Ferguson also scored for Australia but, with a halftime lead of just 12-0, the Kumuls weren't without hope. However, Australia kicked away shortly after the break.

Ferguson bagged a double and, undeterred by sounds of gunfire outside the stadium as police battled to control some 7,000 people who had missed out on a ticket, Parramatta's Luke Burt scored and converted his own try.

A runaway effort by South Sydney flyer Nathan Merritt and a token conversion by fan favourite and captain Nathan Hindmarsh put Australia comfortably ahead 30-0, before the locals started to rally.

Australian players are idolised in PNG, the only country in the world with rugby league as the national sport.

But sensing the growing disapproval and agitation in the bleachers at the lopsided scoreline, the Kumuls' attack hit back with three quick-fire tries, the first scored after 50 minutes by Dion Aiye.

With each roar of approval from the stands, rocks were thrown over the fence and onto the field by the angry fans outside.  This was answered by a rapid series of gunshots.

Morris kept his cool, completing a double and scoring Australia's final try, which was converted by another unlikely candidate in Souths' captain Michael Crocker.

PNG finished on a high however, when Joshaia Abavu made a last-second dash from halfway to score the Kumuls' fourth try and send the crowd into a frenzy.

Hindmarsh said the game went as expected.  "Always big hits when we're in PNG playing against the Kumuls, but we knew that coming into the game.

"They're known as big hitters. Our front row and our forwards handled that very well.  The gunshots weren't too bad, it was the rocks on the field that worried us more."

Kumuls captain and Cronulla hooker Paul Aiton was very happy with the result.

"This is a stepping stone," he said. "We're building to the World Cup. I'm pretty proud of the boys."

Source: AAP, 25 September

LNG to double economy, now for good governance


THE FIRST 50 days of the O’Neill-Namah government have seen reforms take off: decisive action taken to tackle corruption, public enterprises being cleaned up, and a K800m supplementary budget passed focusing on free education and infrastructure.

The next nine months provide an opportunity to put the economic foundations in place for better management of the mineral boom.

According to the latest numbers from Treasury, the economy is growing fast, including non-mineral sectors. Treasury has revised its GDP growth forecast for 2011 from 8% to a very strong 9.3%. Non-mineral sectors are doing well (estimated to grow by 10.2%), but this masks considerable variation.

Construction is set to grow by 21% and there is rapid growth of 16% in the transport, storage and communication sectors. On the other hand, growth in agriculture is much more modest (4.1%) and this should be something for the government to focus on, especially with respect to rural infrastructure, crop yields and making markets work more efficiently.

These recent growth numbers are part of a broader trend. The LNG project promises to double the size of the PNG economy:the project is a $15 billion investment. Treasury estimates it will generate $31 billion in revenues over the next few decades, thus creating an opportunity to significantly improve living standards in PNG.

However, we also know that similar opportunities have been squandered in the past — Kutubu oil in the 1990s and mineral windfalls in recent years are just two examples.

Whether the current boom is a blessing or a curse depends on whether the right foundations are established now. Specifically, there are important opportunities to restore accountability, fix policies and put in place better legislation.

There is a significant opportunity for the O’Neill-Namah government to restore integrity, openness and accountability to government.

This new government has returned some experienced and familiar faces to Cabinet: Sir Puka Temu as Minister for Agriculture, Bart Philemon an Minister for the Public Service, and Sir Mekere Morauta as Minister for Public Enterprises. There are also some rising stars: Sam Basil as Minister for Planning and Jamie Maxton-Graham as Minister for Health.

Changes have been made in the civil service. There is a new Secretary for Prime Minister and NEC and a new Secretary for Finance.

An investigation has been announced into the Department of National Planning and the K125 million Kokopo loan, with a task force that is starting to make arrests. A former Minister has fled to Australia.

There have also been changes at the Independent Public Business Corporation with the appointment of a new board and managing director to get the house in order.


Continue reading "LNG to double economy, now for good governance" »

PNG Isa Wantoks win north-west Rugby 7s


Nuama Wan 7's team THE ISA WANTOKS recovered from a slow start to scorch the opposition and make it back to back 2011 Xstrata PICAM Rugby 7s titles at the weekend.

With temperatures pushing towards 40 degrees, the Papua New Guinea side, backed by a passionate and vocal fan base, proved too fast and too skilful to defeat a gallant Overlander Panthers team 39-14 to lift the PK Cup for the second year running.

Two blistering tries to player of the tournament Alex Ambia and young speedster Alex Ryan paved the way for the deserved victory.

After losing their opening two games on Friday evening the Wantoks' chances of defending their title looked to be on shaky ground.

"I think we underestimated how much the other teams wanted to knock us over," Wantoks captain/coach Neville Rainey said after his team's triumph.

"Those early games gave us a bit of a shock but I sat the boys down and we regrouped to beat Matariki in our final game on Friday night."

Rainey said the win against a tough and talented Matariki team buoyed the players spirits and they kicked on from there.

The cup final between the Isa Wantoks and the Overlander Panthers was a match-up that promised to showcase the best of sevens rugby with speed and ability on both sides.

It was Ambia who fired early for the Wantoks when he found open space and his electric pace did the rest to put the Wantoks ahead.

It was soon 12-nil when Matty Toby broke through the Panthers line and put the foot down.

When Ambia swooped on a loose ball inside his own 22-metres and set sail downfield to touchdown despite some desperate cover defence, the Panthers were in trouble.

After two seasons and with the tournament looking to get bigger and better, the Wantoks showed why they were still the only side to have held aloft the PK Cup.

Meanwhile, in the second annual Asia-Pacific Women's Sevens in Borneo, PNG defeated China 24-10 thanks to a hat-trick from Joanna Lagona. The win for PNG saw them claim their first APWS title after losing to Kazakhstan in last year's final.

Samoa, whose only defeat in the tournament was at the hands of PNG in yesterday's Cup semi final, beat Hong Kong 17-5 to take the bronze medal. Singapore edged Cook Islands 7-5 to claim the Plate.

The APWS is an innovative tournament that combines eight women's teams from the Asian Rugby Football Union and the Federation of Oceania Rugby Unions.

Photo: The Isa Wantoks' Johnny Ellis, Neville Rainey, Alex Ryan and Alex Ambia show who's number one. The four all starred as their side defended their Xstrata PICAM Rugby 7s title (Neil Ratley)

Source: The North-West Star, 26 September

O’Neill committed to UN development goals

PRIME MINISTER Peter O'Neill pledged in New York on Saturday that PNG would continue to work hard in order to achieve all of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the United Nations.

"Our government remains committed to achieving the MDGs, and we are now scaling-up progress in all relevant sectors," O'Neill said while addressing the UN General Assembly.

The MDGs are a set of eight international development targets that UN member states have resolved to meet globally by 2015.

"We call on all our development partners to complement our efforts to achieve the MDG targets in line with national development plans and policies," Mr O’Neill said. "I believe other developing countries will support our call."

According to him, PNG has made strides in three of the eight MDGs - promotion of universal primary education, reduction of diseases, as well as gender equality and women's empowerment.

Source: Shanghai Daily, 25 September

Trans-Gogol people establish conservation area


THE KULUMU, Koromala, Galogein, Beu and Boding clans of Derin village in the Trans-Gogol local level government area of Madang Province signed a conservation deed on Friday that will see the creation of a 2,500 ha conservation area.

People gathered at Warakalap hamlet to witness the signing ceremony. Villagers created the conservation area in response to the threats to their environment posed by nearby Forestry activity by JANT Ltd.

JANT is a woodchip company that has been operating in the Trans-Gogol area since the early 1970s. In 1975, the tropical rainforest of the Derin people was clear felled by JANT under a Timber Agreement with the government of Papua New Guinea.

Many villagers feel betrayed by the State and said the ignorance of their fathers was used to acquire the forests leading to an environmental disaster.

“Before JANT came, everything was good. Today the soil and waterways have been destroyed,” Golu Kuyerir, a local villager said.

He also stated that the community fears that the regenerated forests will be targeted by forestry companies. He said by giving legal protection to certain areas, the community hopes to conserve land and resources for the future generations.

The path to conservation was established after the bitter experience of losing their entire native forests. The people of Derin approached local NGO, the Bismarck Ramu Group, to facilitate the process of creating a conservation area.

In 2009, the NGO sent in community facilitators to begin the formal process of setting the conservation zone.

After years of meetings, identification of landowners and demarcation of land boundaries, the area was surveyed and the deed formalised.

Chairman of the Bismarck Ramu Group, Poin Caspar, challenged the villagers to adhere to the rules of the deed.

He said that the real work has just begun and that the success of conservation activities will depend on entirely on the goodwill of the community. The same sentiments were expressed by Trans-Gogol LLG President, Morris Bann who signed the deed on behalf of the local government.

Martyn Namorong was the winner of the 2011 Crocodile Prize for the Best Essay

The trials of Dr Nadile: PM O’Neill, please intervene


Nadile_Rona ITEM

Private communication

Yesterday at the 25th Papua New Guinea - Australia Business Forum held here in Madang, the very last session of the day included a presentation by Dr Rona Nadile, the First Assistant Secretary of the Department of Labour and Industrial Relations.  I asked her how it is we have a major resource extraction project in Madang where most foreign workers speak no English.

To her credit, Dr Nadile was incredibly candid. Before the entire forum, she explained that when these work permits came across her desk she was told that the Prime Minister's Department wanted her to 'make it happen' and issue all work permits for MCC employees. A collective gasp and giggle could be heard across the room.


Rules ‘bent’ for mining project

By Barnabas Orere Pondros

Chinese nationals employed by the Ramu nickel mine were issued work permits despite not meeting Papua New Guinea’s labour laws which stipulate that all non-citizens must be proficient in English.

Department of Labour and Industrial Relations acting executive manager for employment promotion Dr Rhonda Nadile revealed this yesterday at the 25th Australia-PNG Business Council forum in Madang.

She said despite strong opposition from the Department of Labour and Industrial Relations over the legality of the issue, the National Government directed the department to issue the permits “because the agreement has been signed to develop the Ramu nickel project”.

According to Dr Nadile, the National Government overlooked the labour laws because the Ramu nickel project was far more important….

Dr Nadile said if the department tried to question or oppose the issuance of work permits, the applicants only go higher up, “even to the Prime Minister’s office”.


Blog post

From The Namorong Report

Prime Minister O’Neill’s vow to tackle corruption and the misuse of public monies is not going to bear any fruit unless the government moves to protect whistleblowers like Dr Rhona Nadile. Nadile has been sacked from the Department of Labour, where she was a senior officer, for exposing gross misappropriation and inappropriate use of trust funds….

One case involved the drawdown of K241,000 to cover the travel costs for Secretary George Vaso and his staff to travel to Fiji for an extended stay of 18 days to attend two conferences which were only for 8 days. Another case involved the use of K500,000 from the Work Permit Trust Account so a delegation could attend an ILO conference in Geneva.

“Enough is enough”, wrote Nadile in a memo to Vaso, “I have witnessed numerous occasions of gross misappropriation and inappropriate use of WPTA funds”.

As a result of her questioning of the payments, Nadile was suspended from duty and charged with gross insubordination and has now been dismissed

Meanwhile a report outlining specific cases of abuse of funds have been given to new Minister for Labour, Martin Aini, but he has failed to make any public statement on the matter.


Whistleblower Nadile has car seized in late night police raid

By A Special Correspondent

Whistleblower Dr Rona Nadile, suspended and then sacked from the Department of Labour for revealing misappropriation and misuse of Trust Funds, has had her official vehicle seized by police in a heavy-handed and humiliating late-night raid.

Dr Nadile was at home with church fellowship when, at about 10 o’clock at night, a police vehicle (ZGC 978) with at least five policemen from Waigani Police Station arrived at her house. And if that wasn’t enough, the police vehicle was accompanied by a private registered van (CAX 179).

There were about 14 people in all, cowards and bullies, ever so big and strong and ever so brave to commandeer Dr Nadile’s vehicle, which was her right to hold.

Dr Nadile was allowed no representation and was forced to hand over the keys to the vehicle. Not one of the police would disclose his name. The perpetrators who organised this outrage should be brought to account immediately.

How demeaning is this and what intimidation for any citizen of Papua New Guinea let alone a professional like Dr Nadile. The person(s) responsible for this must be so nasty and mean that he/she is not fit to hold any responsible position.


Private communication

From The Waima Kid

Dr Rona is a shining star that should set the pace and the standard for all. She is bigger than the Iron Lady of England.  We should hang our heads in shame. We are all nothing but cowards.

I said the last time that [NAME WITHHELD FOR LEGAL REASONS] was only Mr 10% and the Big Fish was out there. I hope he is get punished because he deceived because he contributed to Keravat’s own short comings and the many other projects in PNG. You can run but you cannot hide BIG FISH. You will be caught, scaled and locked up.

Now let’s get support Dr and report more abusers and culprits.


Group communication

From Barbara Short

I hear that Dr Rona Nadile, one of our ex-Keravats, has stood up against some corruption in her department and is now in need of support.  I would love to help her in any way I can.

If anybody has any suggestions please let me know.  I thought maybe I could write an article for PNG Attitude.  Lets all get behind her!  Tuum Est again!

Singirok urges action to remove illegal guns

Singirok_Jerry THE CHAIR of the Papua New Guinea Gun Control Committee, Major-General Jerry Singirok, says the government must act urgently on recommendations to remove illegal guns from the community.

The committee issued a report six years ago but to date leaders haven’t acted on it.

The former army chief’s comments come as the UN resident representative, David McLachlan-Karr, says gun control is a matter of urgency and acting police commissioner, Fred Yakasa, speaking after a spate of retaliatory killings in Enga, also expressed concern at the lack of action.

Major-General Singirok says the proliferation of guns poses a growing threat to residents and investors, and government must act as a matter of priority.

“The Government need to strengthen state institutions who’ve already constitutional or responsibility like the police force and customs,” he said.

He also said various government agencies should be empowered resourced so they can continue to apprehend, prosecute people caught using illegal guns.

Source: Radio New Zealand International, 22 September

West Papua: a long history of grim exploitation


Grasberg CONTROL OF West Papua has proved a lucrative business deal for the Indonesians.

Two years prior to the Act of Free Choice - coincidentally on the same day the plight of Papua was raised in the House of Lords - Freeport signed a contract of work with the Suharto government entitling a jointly owned company, PT Freeport Indonesia, full rights to the Ertsberg mine.

In return, Indonesia would derive significant tax revenues and fees as well as a minority 9.36% shareholding. Without the authority to do so, Indonesia nevertheless cut itself into a deal that sold large tracts of West Papua to the US company, intent on sifting it for copper and gold.

Although Ertsberg fulfilled its promise, as production slowed in the mid-1980s Freeport-Indonesia began to explore surrounding mountains and ridges for other reserves.

As is often the case, the best place to establish a new mine is next to another. Sure enough, significant copper and gold reserves were located at Grasberg only a couple of miles southwest of Ertsberg.

Grasberg has the largest recoverable reserves of copper and gold in the world. It's also Indonesia's economic beachhead.

Observing the Grasberg mine via Google Earth, one sees a scar like no other: Located about 4,000 meters above sea level, open-pit mining has bored a hole through the top of the mountain more than 1 km wide.

What they're digging for is more than $40 billion worth of copper and gold. Every day the operation discharges 230,000 tons of tailings into the Aghawagon River. This process is expected to continue for up to six more years, at which point exploration will go underground until there's no value left. Freeport estimates that will occur by 2041.

The operation is so large that it has shifted the borders of the adjacent Lorenz National Park. Listed as a World Heritage site by the UNESCO in 1999, the park is "the only protected area in the world to incorporate a continuous, intact transect from snowcap to tropical marine environment, including extensive lowland wetlands".

For the Amungme and Kamoro indigenes, corporate imperialism had replaced European colonialism.

The social and economic condition of the indigenous Amungme and Kamoro poses fundamental human rights concerns.

Although Freeport-Indonesia directly or indirectly employs a large number of West Papuans and is regularly Indonesia's biggest taxpayer, in 2005, the World Bank found that Papua remained the poorest province in Indonesia.

With a marked rise in military personnel and foreign staff has come a number of social issues, including alcohol abuse and prostitution such that Papua now has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in Indonesia.

Indonesian control of West Papua has been characterised by the ongoing and disproportionate repression of largely peaceful opposition.


Continue reading "West Papua: a long history of grim exploitation" »

MCC turns to logging spin doctor for better image

Alan Oxley MCC, THE CHINESE State owned mining company behind the troubled Ramu nickel mine in Papua New Guinea, has recruited Alan Oxley [pictured] and his consultancy company ITS Global to try and improve its public image.

Oxley and ITS are already well known in Papua New Guinea for their work for the notorious Malaysian logging company Rimbunan Hijau for whom they regularly produce supposedly independent reports and opinion pieces defending RH’s illegal and unsustainable logging operations and human rights abuses.

Oxley and ITS also operate under the guise of the World Growth Institute.  A group of eminent scientists recently published an open letter accusing Oxley of “significant distortions and misrepresentations or misinterpretation of facts” on the impacts of logging in PNG.

The Ramu nickel mine, in which Australian based Highlands Pacific is a junior partner, is facing an ever growing mountain of problems, hence MCC is hoping Oxley can raise its flagging fortunes and improve a terrible public image.

The National Court recently declared that the Ramu mine’s plans to dump its toxic waste into the sea 150 metres offshore breached PNG’s Constitution and will cause both a private and public nuisance.

Local landholders are now appealing the court’s refusal to grant a permanent injunction stopping the dumping to the Supreme Court.

There is also another court case from inland landholders who live around the mine site but claim they have never been consulted or compensated for the use of their land. Some of this group have regularly been attacked and had their homes burnt down by police operating at the behest of MCC.

On top of this the mine is also facing a revolt from a previously loyal small sect of landowners who have been favoured with compensation and re-housing who have now declared they will stop the mine proceeding if their benefits are not increased.

Source: Papua New Guinea Mine Watch, 23 September

Seeking a greater voice for the people of Moresby

The people of Port Moresby have no participation in their own city says JAMES MacPHERSON, who proposes ways of improving representation

Port-moresby ‘Representative democracy for the National Capital District: an analysis of public issues’ by James Macpherson

IN PORT MORESBY, international businessmen inhabit apartments on hilltops open to sea breezes, hidden behind high fences bristling with razor wire and gates watched by security guards.

For many ordinary citizens, life may not seem tough for these expats, who speed in high set four-wheel drives between their apartments and the Yacht Club and down the freeway to the international airport.

The gap between elite lives and others’ lives is illustrated by a view from Hanuabada to Town.

In between is Konedobu, a largely commercial and office suburb, but home of the elite Yacht club, and new elite apartment blocks. It looks up to Touaguba Hill, home of more elite.

At 5 o’clock in the afternoon, NCD Commissioners, if they stopped their cars to enquire, would find a confusion of workers in Town trying to get home to Boroko, Hanuabada and Gerehu.

Workers trying to walk to where they reside, find inadequate footpaths - – but the prevalent threat from menacing ‘raskols’ including bag snatchers, after women’s bilums.

The old premises of the Yacht Club institutionalise supremacy of car over pedestrian and elite over worker by extending its car park across the footpath.

Workers find it difficult to travel by bus. A crowd – and pickpockets – rush many buses. It takes an hour or more of waiting – and rushing – before workers find a bus to take them home.

Bus services are limited and deteriorating. An example is links between Town and Gerehu. The old direct route between Gerehu and Town has closed, largely because of poor road maintenance. Buses are not permitted to use the freeway, but must take the long circuit, via Koki, Boroko and North Waigani

The NCD Governor recognises the problem. On election in 2007, he said: “we can see poverty creeping into the city and marginalization of the people in the economy. You can see big businesses, very rich people and very poor people”. He promised to “lessen that gap between the rich and the poor”.

Download 'MacPherson on NCD democracy' here

Spotter: Terry Shelley

Enga students a big hit at DWU cultural show


Enga Students 
THE DIVINE WORD University cultural show is an annual event in which students from all over Papua New Guinea participate.

All 21 provincial clubs at DWU come together to display their cultures. And on 27 August the show attracted 6,000 people from both PNG and abroad.

It provided an opportunity for Enga students from DWU and the Lutheran School of Nursing, to present themselves as proud Engans.

We are a group of 105 students, member of Enga Student’s Association: 87 from DWU and 18 from the Nursing College.

As a unique province in the country (we speak only one common language across the province) we were proud to showcase this to the crowd. Many tourists (especially Australian, Europeans, Asians and Americans) joined us in the famous Engan dances, waipa and silimuli.

Parents and relatives from the Enga Province came to DWU with traditional costumes and bilas to dress their sons and daughters for the occasion.

It’s an expensive exercise to take part in the show: the cost of hiring costumes, transport for each parent from Madang to Enga (K140), food and accommodations was all met by the Enga Students Association and individual students.

The DWU Cultural Show Committee gives K500 to each provincial club to take part. The rest of the cost is met by the club.

The Enga students participation in this year’s show was more successful than ever. This was made possible by financial assistance from reputable people like Namba Tumu (K500), Dr Jimmy Aipit (K500), Joe Tari Tipanja (K400), Fr Dr Robert Laka (K500), Max Kitao (K500), Peter Andoi K300 and Peter Lyakae (K400) and from other personal contributions. Big thanks to them.

We are proud of sponsors, parents, and ESA executives for making this event the most successful ever.

Joe Wasia is 2011 President of the DWU Enga Students’ Association

O'Neill: PNG's social indicators are deplorable

Looking Right PRIME MINISTER Peter O’Neill has described as deplorable Papua New Guinea’s poor social indicators.

Giving a post-mortem on the country’s progress as a nation in a speech to mark 36 years of independence, Mr O’Neill said Papua New Guineans continued to miss out on basic services and live in a country that lacked infrastructure.

“Regardless of where you are, if you look around you, our infrastructure like roads and bridges, airports and wharves are in a shamble. Our health and education facilities are in a deplorable state.

“Our poor social indicators reflect this, and it’s a shame that we continue to lag behind many of our small pacific neighbours,” Mr O’Neill said.

He added that Papua New Guineans continued to be observers in nation building despite the country’s “rosy economic growth”, warning that the marginalising of the people could be a recipe for disaster.

“These [growth figures] are meaningless unless the people contribute directly and become active participants. We have fallen short of our national goals and principles enshrined in our constitution.

“The sum of our budgets in the last three and a half decades shows that we are by no means poor. We have simply squandered wealth we have been blessed with.”

According to the Manila-based Asian Development Bank, PNG ranks last among its Pacific developing member countries on both the UN Human Development Index and Human Poverty Index.

The drop in PNG’s social indicators and the failure by the National Alliance Party-led government to address the deterioration was the major reason behind the change in government, according to Mr O’Neill.

“This has happened because control of the nation’s wealth was concentrated in the hands of a powerful and reckless few. A government lacking participation by all means the nation was going to suffer. Change therefore, had to happen, and Parliament voted overwhelmingly for change on August 2,” he said.

However, the O’Neill government is in a race against time to right the wrongs of the NA government before the 2012 general election, a challenge he is willing to embrace.

“My government recognises the tough challenges ahead. With seven months to go before the general elections, time is not on our side. But we will not deviate from our responsibilities. We came into government to do a job, and we intend to do it diligently.”

Source: PNG Perspective, 16 September

Misinformation leads to police conflict in Madang


Wounded illager after police attack JUST ONE DAY after Independence Day celebrations had excited the nation, villagers at Tokain in the Madang Province were allegedly attacked by a Police Mobile Squad team.

Men and women were rounded up and beaten, while food gardens and property were destroyed.

The reason: police retaliated after youths from the area attacked an officer who had fired on them.

The officer was responding to an earlier attack on a Toyota Hilux by the youths.

They had attacked the vehicle because they suspected its occupants to be kidnappers.

Last month villagers in Madang had been warned by police to be aware of kidnappers who were supposedly harvesting organs for transplants.

It seems one piece of misinformation about organ transplant has led to the destruction of an entire community.

Police have demanded twelve pigs and cash as compensation for the attack on their colleague.

Villagers are also contemplating a civil case against the State to demand compensation for the damage.

If only our police could beat the crap out of all the real thieves who are destroying our environment, stealing our land and resources, and bribing their way through.

If only, the police could protect villagers and whistleblowers like Dr Rona Nadile instead of harassing them. If only...

Source: The Namorong Report, 22 September

Crisis looms as schools turn out semi-literates

LITERACY IN SOME areas of Papua New Guinea stands at just 15% of the population, according to a new report.

The report is based on surveys conducted in five provinces by the PNG Education Advocacy Network.

It shows a large number of teenagers are only semi-literate by the end of Year 8 at school.

The chief executive of the Advocacy Network, Priscilla Kare, said, "PNG is facing a literacy crisis at the moment."

She said it was a surprise to find problems beyond the more expected adult illiteracy.

"Because most of the issues facing literacy is to do with adult literacy in communities. (But) we have found out that not only adult literacy is our problem, but those who are coming out of the formal education system are not really literate."

This was the case "even if they are in school and they have been in school for a number of years".

One of the biggest issues educators faced was the more than 900 languages used in the country, Ms Kare said.

Source: Radio Australia News, 20 September

The grief & joy of commitment to a noble task


The World at my Door The World At My Door by Marshall Lawrence, Guardian Books, 2010, 272 pages, $17.95, ISBN: 978-1-55452-510-2.  Order here.  Also available as an Apple ebook

MARSHALL LAWRENCE and Helen, his wife, came to Papua New Guinea in 1968 and lived in the remote Oksapmin area of the Enga Province until they left with their four Oksapmin groomed sons in February 1993.

They had come to PNG with the Summer Institute of Linguistics to study language, translate, administer and train.  Now Marshall Lawrence has written a fascinating book, The World At My Door.

When told of the book by Phil Fitzpatrick, I searched for and got in touch with Lawrence at his retirement home in Oche Bay, Canada. He mailed me a copy of The World At My Door.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. It is a great piece of writing. I had a good laugh at some scenes and was equally sad and sympathetic in other places.

The book reminds me of the film The Gods Must Be Crazy (1981) starring Nixau (Kalahari Bushman), Marius Weyers and Sandra Prinsloo. It diligently tells of how the Oksapmin people gradually experienced and accepted new ideas, just like Nixau encountered in the Gods.

On the other side, Marshall and his family were exposed to a different world with its own intrinsic and aesthetic elements that they courteously threaded into their own lives to be accepted in that society.

Marshall was called Maso in the Oksapmin language and Helen was treated as another Oksapmin woman who does the chores expected of the Oksapmians.

Soon they and their children learn to hunt, contribute to bride prices and mediate disputes about marriage, polygamy, burial of the dead and pig herding.

Another amusing part is the misinterpretation of the Bible and God on occasions by the newly-trained Oksapmin pastors, influenced by their own upbringing.

The Marshall family was soon Oksapmin by definition. The book is humorous and it is sad – carried along by the ignorance and curiosity that occur when two dynamic worlds meet.

In those early days, both Marshall and Helen lost close family members in Canada while they tried to adapt and survive on the top of that remote Oksapmin knoll surrounded by forests. 

They received mail from Canada informing them of events including loved ones departing to the next world.

Devoid of the internet, the news reached them two or three months after the events had happened. This was painful and at times they wondered what the hell they were doing in that dark corner of the world when family members are supposed to be together during tough times.

However, the Oksapmin people can smell grief and unhappiness and they helped as much as possible to lift the hearts of the Lawrence family,even though they couldn’t fathom mourning in a Canadian way.

All you aspiring writers, especially highlanders, need to get a copy of this book. You will see the scenes in your mind’s eye and love every page because most of you were born and raised in those mountains.

John Nenou remembers the Kuveria massacre


AS THE MINING PIT of Panguna grew day-by-day, so the waste rock and gravel multiplied in tonnage and thus dump after dump of gravel sprouted, changing the familiar landscape that John Nenou (commonly known as Tampamai throughout Kieta district) grew up with.

To control the build-up of gravel in the village of Pirurari and the rest of the Kavarong valley, Bougainville Copper diverted the Kavarong River through a ‘V’-shaped concrete system towards Nenou’s Sinare hamlet causing the most enormous continuous landslips he had ever seen.

Like many of the young local landowners, he was a-nobody to Bougainville Copper, who only employed men in white-collars, polished office boots and a piece of useless degree paper.  Most of those, by far, were non-Bougainvilleans.

As a youth, Nenou, without an opportunity to gain a formal education, watched as the mining expanded towards his home. He was a bystander as his land was exploited by persons he didn’t know.

These people, for no good reason, scolded and terrorised him as he walked through Panguna township. He and other young men faced near-death from the Papua New Guineans from outside. In the Panguna cinemas and night clubs, a black man entered at his own risk.  The redskins ruled the streets.

Nenou, from the 1970s on, became the champion of break-and-enter in the residential camps like Kusito. The small camp canteens were intruded at will by him and his followers from Dapera village and the Onove villages, to the west of the mine and Nenou’s home.

At weekends he and his gang would drink beer and stone BCL vehicles.  Or they would drive around in the heavy trucks, front-end loaders and graders, hijacking them from where they were left to rest at night along the tailings areas.

Because of such, he became an icon in the police cells of Panguna, Arawa and Kuveria.

Prison did not help the youth, who saw this as just a redskin’s slap in the face for the poor Bougainvilleans.

Resentment grew further in Nenou’s heart when he was chased angrily out of the BCL employment office in the early 1980s by a non-Bougainvillean. Defeated, he walked home and, in broad day light, executed a non-Bougainvillean man who was sightseeing, and dumped him unnoticed into the ‘V’-shaped waterway. This was his first blood.

Continue reading "John Nenou remembers the Kuveria massacre" »

Will Genia to captain Australia against USA


Will Genia in Action PNG-BORN Will Genia will captain Australia in the Rugby World Cup game against the United States in Wellington tonight.

Genia, 23, became Australia’s 78th test captain when the selectors chose to rest skipper James Horwill who has shoulder soreness.

As the Wallabies recover from a 6-15 loss to Ireland, Genia is confident Australia can win the World Cup.

He told journalists: “I don’t see why not. We’ve lost one game. We’re not out of it yet.”

Air Niugini & Airlines PNG merger approved

APNG Dash 8 AIRLINES PNG has expressed delight at the Papua New Guinea government’s announcement approving its merger with Air Niugini, the state owned national carrier.

A memorandum of understanding between the three parties will see the establishment of a Merger Implementation Office led by Sir Mekere Morauta, Minister for Public Enterprises.

The Office will establish a transaction structure and implementation timeline.

Airlines PNG says the merger is expected to bring great opportunities and it has immediate plans to extend routes into a range of rural areas not presently well served.

The merger will enable the combined airline, which will operate one of the largest fleets in the South Pacific, to better cover an extensive range of international and domestic destinations.

A larger, stronger national carrier is also expected to provide increased employment opportunities for PNG staff.

The merger is subject to the approval of Airlines PNG shareholders and approval of the final transaction by the government, together with corporate, regulatory and third party approvals.

Spotter: Peter Kranz

BHP is getting ready for a return to PNG


A study in contrast BHP BILLITON, responsible for the catastrophic environmental damage and consequent human rights tragedy of the Ok Tedi mine, is keen to return to Papua New Guinea.

The giant company is advancing negotiations with landowner groups and the government over several exploration licence applications.

Quintessential Resources managing director, Paige McNeil, recently told the Australian Financial Review that BHP’s applications in PNG total 40,000 square kilometres.

She said BHP applied for 7,500 sq km of land surrounding the Mal porphyry copper prospect in the northwest of Quintessential’s flagship Bismarck project.

While it seems likely that BHP will pursue prospective copper deposits in PNG, the mining giant did not confirm this and downplayed expectations.

The mining industry in PNG was dismayed in June when then Mining Minister John Pundari revealed BHP was applying for tenements.

He also criticised BHP over the environmental damage caused by its operation of the Ok Tedi copper-gold mine.

Since then Mr Pundari has been replaced by Byron Chan.

BHP Billiton divested its 52% stake of Ok Tedi in 2002 and has not returned to PNG since.

Source: Papua New Guinea Mine Watch, 19 September

Spiritual breakdown: What happens on Fridays


This week, like other weeks before and the weeks to come; like months before and months to come; like years before and years to come; some kids get drunk on Friday.

Many will have to starve themselves by saving their lunch money in order to ‘koins koins na baim bia” [contribute to buy alcohol].

A couple of years back the Squatters Band of Morata squatter settlement sang Take Me to Paradise and it became a hit.

It didn’t make sense to me at the time - why a song with what I thought were meaningless lyrics seemed to strike a chord with the mere mortals.

I was at medical school and socially illiterate. Of course, being a medical student, I thought I knew the difference between what was cultured and what was plainly mediocre.

It wasn’t until I was out of medical school and selling betel nut on the street that I became socially literate.

And the punch line of that song, ‘Wik i kam pinis em wiken nau / Taim bilong kisim wara wantaim ol poroman’ [It’s the beginning of the weekend / So get drunk with your friends] says a lot about what happens on Friday.

Just in case you imagine this is just an urban phenomenon, think again.

Last month, as I travelled on Friday along the North Coast Road in Bogia District, I saw adolescent males; totally drunk and carrying generators, extension cords, speakers and light bulbs to set up somewhere in the coconut plantations. It was an eye-opener for me.

Indeed the mantra that is faithfully recited each weekend is ‘kisim wara, kisim laif na pati’ [get drunk, get sexed, get partying].

For many, em normal ya – it’s become routine.

I have had discussions with friends here in Madang and the obvious question was “Why?” It isn’t an easy question to answer but here’s a summary of the suggestions put forward.

One of the interesting connections my friend Gary made was that there may be a link between what is happening with the Australian Aboriginal people and what’s happening here.

With that in mind, I had an interesting discussion on religion with another friend. Barry said it was not wise to take away someone’s faith in Christianity without replacing it with something good or else the person would resort to alcohol.

Boom! It hit me! What experiences do Aborigines and Papua New Guineans share? Colonisation!

Colonisation wasn’t just a secular process but a religious one as well. Many churches destroyed cultural practices that were deemed unchristian; perhaps justifiably so in some cases, but not all. So animism was replaced by Christianity/Capitalism.

Christianity and Capitalism are two sides of the same coin. You worship God every Sabbath or worship Alcohol every Friday or both.

Spirituality is about relationships from self through the world to the Universal Being. Those who are spiritually void find comfort in alcohol, religiously observing Friday or Saturday as the day of worshipping alcohol. Many have left the Christian churches and have no traditional religion to fall back on, thus they fill the void with alcohol.

Instead of giving an offering to the Christian God, they sacrifice their lunch money to the gods who own the alcohol factories.

Yes, this is the modern nation of Papua New Guinea – a country that is spiritually void.

First we lost our gods to the Christian God, now we’re losing our World [our land and the resources/environment] to Capitalists, and in doing so we are losing our lives to alcohol.

Remember, spirituality is about the relationships between – self (individual person), world (land and environment) and the universal being (God or gods or powers).

The Aborigines of Australia have lost their land, their traditional religions and are now losing themselves to alcohol to fill that spiritual void. That is exactly what happens on Friday in PNG.

Martyn Namorong last week won the 2011 Crocodile Prize for Essays.  His blog, The Namorong Report, is at

Contemplating Moresby: itchy scab on the belly


View from the Veranda I’M SITTING on the veranda of a house on Touaguba Hill overlooking the wharves and the central business district of Port Moresby.

I’m an inveterate walker, too old to be athletic but I’d rather plod than sit in a car.  I’ve just struggled up windy Portlock Road and the cup of tea I’ve got tastes grand.

It’s September and the wet season is just beginning; the cooling south east trade wind, the laurabada, has made the skies murky so that the hills across Fairfax Harbour look ghostly.  The great scar next to the refinery at Napa Napa is a pale and barely discernible wound.

Just below the veranda, perhaps a hundred metres away, workmen are laying concrete where the old House of Assembly used to stand.  The men must be mostly highlanders because every so often they let out piercing whoops; perhaps the valley of the harbour reminds them of greener vales.  Otherwise, a generator on the site is making a noise like a helicopter.

The Sign The big bill board behind the high wire fence announces that the site will be occupied by a new historical museum celebrating Papua New Guinea’s march to nationhood. 

There is an uncomfortable Bjelke Peterson-like irony in putting up a new building in the same place to "protect" the heritage of something that has just been knocked down.  On the gate a much smaller sign is blunter and to the point; it says ‘nogat wok’.

The rain that the laurabada has brought overnight has washed all the rubbish down off the hills and the drains on Champion Parade are blocked, creating a gigantic puddle across the road and into some of the buildings. 

No one seems to be unblocking the drains but people are sweeping water out of their foyers and laying down flattened cardboard cartons to walk on so you don’t drag mud into the lifts.

I can see perhaps a dozen high rise buildings from where I sit with my cup of tea.  On the inside point of Paga Hill an old colonial house clings doggedly to its cutting.  The site must be worth millions.

My uphill trudge had begun at Ela Beach where I’d gone for a coffee at the Beachside Brasserie attached to the Ela Beach Hotel, a renovated and upmarket reincarnation of the old Davara Hotel. 

Across the road the sea was gently lapping the beach just below the blue-painted and graffitied Davara Ela Beach Sewerage Pumping Station.

Along the roadway a team of ladies with brand new plastic rakes and spiky hand switches were busily cleaning out the gutters in readiness for the Independence Day celebrations and the Hiri Moala Festival.  The men at Hanuabada and Gabi had built two lagatoi for the occasion in the record time of three weeks. 

Both were really just two big old dugout canoes temporarily strapped together with the requisite platforms, shelters and masts that looked like they’d snap at the first hint of a breeze.  The thought was there but they’d never make it out beyond the reef, let alone down the coast loaded with clay pots.

Stilt Houses on Ela Beach 2 In front of the concrete amphitheatre a team of people were putting the finishing touches to two houses in the water connected to each other and the land by high walkways.  They were working against the clock and there were still piles of bush timber, thatch and bush ropes in rolls stacked on the ground.

When I went over to say hello I noticed the grey bark mottled with light green moss on the bush timber.  As I chatted to one of the ladies it occurred to me that what they were building, temporary thought it would be, was much more like the real Papua New Guinea than the mess of concrete buildings over the road. 

That museum thing they were building up the hill on the other side of Hunter Street surrounded by its concrete mess of mismatched high rises with their rubbish strewn streets and blocked drains was not the real Papua New Guinea.

Despite what people might say about progress Port Moresby is just another dirty, overcrowded third world city which increasingly owes its burgeoning existence to the minerals and hydrocarbons of the hinterlands.

Port Moresby, when all is said and done, is just an itchy dry scab on the belly of an otherwise beautiful country I thought as I drained the last of my tea.  I hope it isn’t the future.

Peacekeeping should begin at home: UN boss

THE UNITED NATIONS resident coordinator to Papua New Guinea, David McLachlan-Karr, says gun control in the country is a matter of urgency.

Mr McLachlan-Karr says PNG is no stranger to conflict, with competition over land, resources and local political tensions often leading to violence.

He says the people most affected by fighting are very often the most vulnerable - the women, children and the elderly who are least able to defend themselves.

He says the increasing use of high-powered weaponry is of particular concern and gun control and weapons disposal need to be tackled as matters of priority.

PNG is about to send peacekeepers to the Sudan but Mr McLachlan-Karr says peace building must begin at home and the UN is prepared to help the government foster a culture of peace in the country.

Source: Radio New Zealand International, 21 September

Drug-resistant TB must be elevated as a priority


PAPUA NEW GUINEA is currently in a battle with potentially preventable and treatable tuberculosis, a disease that has increased by 42% over the past decade.

TB is an infectious disease that’s passed on when a person with tuberculosis of the lungs coughs and another person inhales the organism.

About a third of the world’s population is infected with the organism that causes TB. But only 10% of these people will go on to develop the disease. Once you’re infected, you can develop the disease at any time but it’s most likely to occur within two years.

The common forms of TB are treatable by antibiotics but this can be quite complicated. A standard course of treatment requires four different drugs (daily or three times a week) over a two month period, and then two of those drugs to continue for a total of six months.

Unless the treatment is closely supervised, people to tend take only a partial course of these drugs. This is because the symptoms of the disease usually disappear quite quickly but the drugs can be difficult to access and may cause side-effects.

Unfortunately, taking a partial course of treatment means that the disease is likely to relapse and, worse still, may relapse in a drug resistant form. The organism mutates to develop a resistance to one antibiotic; the multiple antibiotics are used to prevent those mutations from surviving.

Drug resistant TB can be transmitted to others, just like drug-susceptible TB. Drug resistant TB is much more difficult to treat than the usual, drug-susceptible disease and it can’t be treated with the standard drugs.

The drugs that can treat it are less effective, more toxic and more expensive. And because they’re less effective, treatment is required for much longer. So it’s much more difficult to treat.

I don’t think anybody really knows how serious the situation is in PNG because there’s very little data. In many countries, including PNG, the organisms are not routinely tested for drug resistance. In this situation the only way you know you’re dealing with multi-drug resistant TB is when the standard treatments fail.

We do have data from clinics in the Torres Strait Islands, which test for drug susceptibility. Visiting clinicians have found a very high proportion of patients have multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. So we can assume it’s also common in PNG.


Continue reading "Drug-resistant TB must be elevated as a priority" »

Davire, my Great Warrior


Bougainville Fighters New Guinea morons
they came to mine our land
and built they country;
as you were breast-feeding at Kavaronau.

Morose New Guineans, they were to our land,
our women and children.
Unjust they were to our culture and tradition;
as you were breast-feeding at Kavaronau.

Dastard New Guineans, they scolded
as ka-ka showed them his bows-and-arrows
at Panguna;
as you were breast-feeding at Kavaronau.

Coward New Guineans, they became
as you left your cocoon—calling them for a meet—
with they gun.
My freedom fighter.

Writers, pick up your pens: Crocodile 2012 is go


Pukpuk Logo Art AS KEITH has already reported, the inaugural Crocodile literary awards, workshop and book launch were a roaring success and we are now enthusiastically developing ideas for the next contest in 2011-12.

The bad news is that the first print run of the anthology has been snapped up.  Those people who have paid for copies in advance will be receiving theirs in the mail shortly but everyone else will have to wait until we can arrange a reprint.

If you desperately want a copy you could try Minister for Trade and Industry, Charles Abel, or Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Benjamin Philip, but I don’t rate the chances of them giving up their personal copies signed by all the writers too soon. 

Neither do I think Prime Minister, Peter O’Neil will give up his copy easily.  The University of Papua New Guinea might still have a few copies for sale and you could try there.

Blessed by the wave of success we have decided to open up the 2012 competition as of today.  The original plan was to have a break until January next year but with all those writers that we kept tripping over in Port Moresby who are chafing at the bit we’ve changed our minds.

The 2012 Crocodile literary competition is therefore now open and you can start sending in your entries. You can download the entry form here.

The writers at the workshop decided that it was best to run the next competition in the same three categories, short stories, poems and essays.

We are expecting an increased number of entries in 2012.  To make life easier we will accept entries in Times New Roman font size 12 at 1.5 spacing set on the left margin.  PDF entries with elaborate artwork are great but the work transferring them to a standard anthology document is too hard to be practical.

While we will look at expanding the categories in later competitions we also have an open mind.  If anyone has a short play (around 10 minutes long) or novella (about 20,000 words) we are happy to look at it and consider including it in the competition.  Unfortunately, we won’t be geared up to accept full length novels and non-fiction for a while yet.  Rest assured the plans are on the drawing board.

We had several published PNG writers at the workshop.  One, Jerry Henson, has been completely blind since birth.  Another was Patrick Nii, who came down from Kundiawa in a wheel chair.  If those inspirational guys can do it there’s no reason why the rest of you can’t too.

A few writers didn’t make it to the workshop where all the others each collected two free copies of the anthology.  I’ve asked Mari Ellingson, who is going to distribute the reprinted book, to supply copies to any writers who missed out.  Contact Mari at [email protected].

I also have a request.  During the workshop and presentation ceremony I was preoccupied and didn’t get the chance to take many photographs.  If anyone has any good shots they don’t mind sharing I’d be deeply appreciative.  They could also come in handy when we are seeking sponsors for the 2012 prize.  Send them to me at [email protected].

Finally, I’d like to thank Keith for facilitating the competition.  For me it has been a wonderful and exhilarating experience.  I would also like to thank all those wonderful PNG writers.  Without them the competition would never have been possible.  Special thanks must also go to the grand old dinosaur of PNG literature, Russell Soaba.

Winners are Grinners 
The 2011 winners: Martyn Namorong; Lapieh Landu; Jim Drekore; Jeff Febi [Phil Fitzpatrick]

A day in the life of Awi Magret


On a Wednesday in early November 2009, I hitched a ride on Uncle Ben’s Land Cruiser for Deri village, 50 kilometres south of Kundiawa Town in Sol Nomane. I had been invited to attend a marriage party.

It was raining as we hit the dirt road at Munuma so I was apprehensive of the newly graded South Simbu roads as we traversed the ever winding bends towards Gumine and further onto Sol Nomane. However Uncle Ben’s machine was truly trustworthy - the Japanese made these vehicles for the rural roads of Simbu!

Continue reading "A day in the life of Awi Magret" »

Fairness and unfairness in the health system


IT’S 36 YEARS after Independence and it is high time Papua New Guineans started asking themselves this question: Why do we continually foot the medical bills of Sir Michael Somare and other well-to-do pollies?

This question is especially relevant when our own rural poor - like the grieving father from Western Province in the story below – make futile appeals for help.

It's bloody unfair, and now we hear that the former prime minister went back again to Singapore for a medical check up when a stranded father needed the nation’s help at his hour of greatest need.

Why is this so? Is it because this poor rural villager is not a PM or politician or rich man?

Let’s help the small guy, the poor villager or anyone who cannot afford to do that even in our urban environment, but say no to continually pampering politicians.

Please help where you can by sending some money to the bank account below as it’s our 36th Independence Anniversary and charity should begin at home here in PNG.

Check this sad story by Maureen Gerawa in the Post-Courier and pray for this grieving father and her daughter Darusila.

May god richly bless both of them and her dear soul rest in eternal peace in heaven.

Continue reading "Fairness and unfairness in the health system" »

The safety men are poised to deliver the goods

Beyond Break Map AN AUSTRALIAN company Beyond the Break Ltd has announced it will be working with the ExxonMobil PNG drill team to design and deliver safety leadership training.

This will be followed by safety coaching and professional development. The PNG project remains one of the most challenging projects globally.

In pursuit of conducting a hurt and spill free operation, ExxonMobil has engaged Beyond the Break to deliver the safety program to national and expatriate workforces in the Southern Highlands Province.  BTB will also be working in the Gulf region [see map].

It is recognised that the more experienced expatriate workforce will need to take a leading and coaching role with the less experienced national crew.

The program will be a sincere and direct approach to ensure participants clearly understand the importance of safety.

PNG has been known as one of the last frontiers of exploration and there will be many safety considerations associated with drilling in the region.

“We are in the fortunate position of working with two close partners, ExxonMobil and Nabors Australia,” says Simon Phin, CEO of Beyond the Break.

“Our close alignment and ability to recognise each others’ needs will ensure we are able to do what we do as safely and securely as possible”.

Somare loses 1st challenge to regain his seat

FORMER PRIME MINISTER Sir Michael Somare has lost a legal challenge in his battle to regain his seat in parliament, the ABC reports.

Earlier this month, the speaker of parliament disqualified Sir Michael as an MP for missing three consecutive sittings.

He went to the national court seeking an injunction against his disqualification while he challenged its legality.

The ABC’s PNG correspondent has reported that Justice Allen David has dismissed the application.

Justice David said many of the issues raised in Sir Michael's challenge were similar to those in another case before the Supreme Court.

That case is challenging the constitutionality of Sir Michael's removal from the prime minister's office last month.

Sir Michael's lawyer, Kerenga Kua, said the former prime minister will appeal the decision.

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 20 September