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159 posts from December 2011

Bikpela hamamas igo long olgeta long niu yia

FOR THE PEOPLE of Papua New Guinea, 2011 is concluding on a controversial – perhaps an unfinished – note.  Angst created by the O’Neill-Somare crisis is running deep within society.

But there are things the ending of an old year, and the birth of a new, force upon us – amongst them reflection on what we might do better, and anticipation that we will do better.

There is no doubt that PNG's government needs to do better, and that Australia's needs to do better in its relationship with PNG.  And there is no reason for us to believe these expectations can't be advanced in 2012.

Meanwhile, a happy new year to each of our readers.

O’Neill dismisses complaints over deportation

PAPUA NEW GUINEA PRIME MINISTER, Peter O’Neill, says he has no regrets about the deportation of New Zealand businessman, Graham Osborne.

Mr Osborne, who operates the Ela Beach Hotel restaurant in Port Moresby, is a close friend of Mr O’Neill’s rival for the prime ministership, Sir Michael Somare.

The Post Courier reports Mr O’Neill saying Mr Osborne had been deported because he tried to access hundreds of thousands of dollars intended for PNG’s bid to get a team into the Australian National Rugby League competition.

Mr O’Neill claims this money was being obtained under the guise of renovating the national stadium but was in fact to fund political operations.

But Mr Osborne, who is now in Cairns, denies the claims. He says the accusations are absolutely totally wrong.

He says as a long time sports administrator in PNG, he would never do such a thing.


Lapieh Landu at the Crocodile Prize awardsBY LAPIEH LANDU

Dedicated to Malcolm Gauthier.  Thank you, for the enlightenment to realise the importance of gender equity and justice.  You inspire me....

I am a man, strong, fierce and ardent
I stand with pride, dignity and poise
I chose to have her as my companion
A lifetime of laughter, colours and noise

Friends, bikes and books
Our life was flowers rainbows and bliss
We were happy, undeniably happy
Endless hugs, discourse and a kiss

The maker was all too kind
He blessed us with something so divine
My eyes he had so exact
Her skin as rich as wine

Years tracked by and so did our youth
Blisters and bruises I earned
To make ends meet I sacrificed
The comfort of my unit in return

I am a man, strong fierce and ardent
I stand with pride, dignity and poise
But when the going gets tough
I too weep for I have no choice

I chose to have her as my confidant
I’ve elected this path for me
I try, I hurt, and I hold affirm
Legal imprisonment it can be

One day I come home from work
Tired, bruised and glitches
It’s funny, I don’t remember the rest
I woke up in brutal pain and stitches

My eyes scurry the room for her
Whilst my thoughts rushed in plight
It was hatred and misconception
That robbed us both that night

I am a man, strong, fierce and ardent
I stand with pride, dignity and poise
How do I comfort my weeping child?
No words but a shower of toys

Yesterday I was a loving husband
Doting father and loyal friend
Today I am but far from it all
Names so cruel; My God! It just won’t end!

I told her I’d never hurt her
For God sake- not even a fly!
I fell in love with her from the start
And I’d love her till I die

For I am a man, strong, fierce and ardent
I stand with pride, dignity and poise
I’d give everything to make her understand
That she’d always been my choice

Elites & education: John Kadiba on Ulli Beier


This is an extract from a new book by JOHN KADIBA, Night Dreams of Passing Memories.  In view of Martyn Namarong’s recent article criticising elites and education in PNG, it casts an interesting light over how things used to be and how they could be in the future given the right will - PF

I TOOK SOME OF ULLI BEIER’S COURSES in my studies at the University of Papua New Guinea. Ulli had taught English Literature in the developing countries which were colonised by the British, in particular Africa.

While holidaying in London, Ulli responded to an advertisement for a founding teacher to develop and lecture in New English Writing from Developing Countries at the newly established University of Papua New Guinea.

The idea of teaching such an innovative English course greatly appealed to him. He thought that it was a fantastic opportunity to design a literature course for a new university without regard for the academic traditions of England or, for that matter, the traditions of Australia. He thought such academic traditions taught in developing countries, were helping to perpetuate colonialism.

In his courses on literature and creative writing at the University of Papua New Guinea, Ulli taught with great passion. And in turn, his students discovered their passion for experimenting with creative writing connected to their immediate world, and for reading the writings of authors from other developing countries and the black writings from the United States.

Two textbooks that stand out in my mind were the seminal African novel in English, Things Fall Apart by the Nigerian novelist Chunua Acebe, and Another Country by James Baldwin, the black writer from the United States.  At the time, the latter novel was banned in Australia, I presume because of its explosive racial and sexual overtones.

With the exception of one student who became a writer, I and other students went on to pursue different career paths.  Nevertheless, as students, under Ulli’s eager supervision, we wrote plays, poems and short stories. 

And in these writings, some voiced their thoughts and experiences about their traditional cultures, others about politics, yet others about their anti-colonial feelings and race relationships.  And we were all writing in English as a second language.  Some students were more adventurous in the use of English while others were not so daring.

Most of the students’ plays, poems and short stories were published.  Some writers were forceful and explosive in the style of their writing, while others were tame. 

And with Ulli’s help also, the autobiography, Ten Thousand Years in a Lifetime by Albert Maori Kiki and the first novel in Papua New Guinea, The Crocodile by Vincent Eri, were produced. 

My interest was in writing short stories.  My most popular story, entitled Growing up in Mailu, appeared in different literary publications in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific and was for a time adapted for radio programs in Papua New Guinea.

Night Dreams of Passing Memories, by John Kadiba, July 2011, ISBN: 9781462849123, available from for $29.99 or contact the publishers on

Shouldn't Sister Rosina’s be PNG’s first saint?


Connie Gladman (also known as Sr Mary Rosina), who was beheaded in New Britain while working as a teaching nunI REALLY DON'T KNOW whether to laugh or cry about this.

MOVES are afoot to have a former Koroit district woman murdered in Papua New Guinea 47 years ago declared Australia’s second Catholic saint. Connie Gladman, known as Sister Rosina, was beheaded in her classroom in New Britain while working as a teaching nun among impoverished communities. Now her family has instigated an official request for canonisation as a martyr for her faith [The Warrnambool Standard]

It seems that Connie Gladman’s sisters have written to the Catholic bishop of New Britain to set the official wheels in motion.

My question is why should Sister Mary Rosina be an Australian saint, as she was murdered (martyred?) in PNG?

Anyway I thought you needed two proven miracles.  Or maybe the family is merely angling for a 'Blessed'.

What next - St Michael of Somare?

Speaking as a backsliding Protestant, I'm rather amused.

New Guinea Gold stops work at Mt Sinivit

WORK AT NEW GUINEA GOLD CORP'S Mt Sinivit project in Papua New Guinea has been halted because of an occupation by members of the Wild Dog Mining Area Landowner Association and Lulai Nakama Association.

New Guinea Gold says the mine site was occupied after it received a letter demanding outstanding royalties be paid.

The company said it has paid the money, but the occupiers remain at the mine site.

New Guinea Gold has also received a demand for the payment of compensation for alleged environmental damage.

The company said the current estimate for the rehabilitation of the mine site is less than one per cent of the sum demanded.

It's seeking court orders for the removal of the occupiers before pursuing a negotiated settlement of the grievances.

Source: The Canadian Press

Bill Bergen, teacher & businessman, dies at 71


Bergen_Bill & JoanI'VE JUST RECEIVED NEWS from Helen Bergen that her father Bill died this morning. Her text reads: “Dad just died at 11.20. It was truly peaceful. He did it so well.”

Bill and I were great mates and this is confusing to some of our 1962-63 ASOPA colleagues. We were different in many ways but this made our friendship all the more interesting.

I was the athlete and  Bill loved his music. He had a strong Roman Catholic faith and I was Anglican.  Bill met his wife Joan when they sang in the church choir, prior to ASOPA. My late wife Pam and his wife Joan became firm friends after we married while at college. My wedding was in December 1962 and his was September 1963.

At college we often dined together, played Canasta and sometimes saw a movie. We convinced our wives to enroll for the 6 month E Course for teachers to commence in Rabaul in February 1964. Our wives actually arrived in Rabaul a day ahead of Bill and me in November 1963.

They were met by Father Franke and the were temporarily accommodated in Wanlis flats. We were then posted... Nodup T School for me and I think Rabarua for Bill. The following February our wives started the E Course but they could not cope as they were both pregnant.

Bill and I had to confront Frank Boisen, the District Education Officer, to tell him the news. Frank mumbled as strode off hitching up his pants, “'That's the trouble with Wanlis...There's  not enough room to bend over or swing a cat.!'”

In May my son Tony was born and around the same as Joan gave birth to Helen. 

We often dined together in Rabaul. At home one evening in 1966 we were enjoying a fondue and listening to some grand music on Bill's huge state-of-the-art tape deck. The newly constructed terrace houses were built close together and were known as the European Compound.  Some were rented privately.

A German group was carousing noisily and even played their national anthem. Bill was fed up with this and taped it and played it back at twice the volume. There was some muttering, then silence followed. Later on Bill was posted to Bougainville and I went over to the Lands Department in Port Moresby. But we always kept in touch. 

We left PNG after after Independence in 1975. Bill and Joan decided to live at Bathurst even though parents lived in Sydney. They wanted to settle in an area with four seasons and one that had good cultural and education facilities.

Bill taught in the convent schools for a while and then became a businessman. He had a electrical shop selling lights and he ran a laundromat. He sold these after he built his rental units in Durham Street, Bathurst.

I would visit them and we would have eggs Florentine for breakfast  at their son Chris's reaturant in central Bathurst. Bill and Joan were practicing musicians and, right up to his death, Bill was in charge of the Bathurst Orchestral Group.

Continue reading "Bill Bergen, teacher & businessman, dies at 71" »

Does Ozzy’s exit mean PNG is now a police state?



A police state is one in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic and political life of the population. A police state typically exhibits elements of totalitarianism and social control, and there is usually little or no distinction between the law and the exercise of political power by the executive. The inhabitants of a police state experience restrictions on their mobility, and on their freedom to express or communicate political or other views, which are subject to police monitoring or enforcement. Political control may be exerted by means of a secret police force which operates outside the boundaries normally imposed by a constitutional state [Source: Wikipedia]

From ABC radio:

Papua New Guinea's government has deported New Zealand born Australian businessman Graham Osborne over his alleged involvement in local politics and disrespect for PNG laws. Mr Osborne who runs a pizza and restaurant business at the Ela Beach Hotel in Port Moresby is in Australia's Northern city of Cairns after he was deported on Wednesday. PNG's acting Foreign Affairs Minister, Jamie Graham says the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has given the orders to deport any foreigner who was involved in or meddled in local politics. Graham Osborne says he is upset and does not know why he was deported.

The Constitution of Papua New Guinea at Section 47 guarantees freedom of assembly and association. It states that every person has the right peacefully to assemble and associate and to form or belong to, or not to belong to, political parties, industrial organizations or other associations, except to the extent that the exercise of that right is regulated or restricted by a law –

that makes reasonable provision in respect of the registration of all or any associations; or

that imposes reasonable restrictions on public office-holders; or

that imposes restrictions on non-citizens; or

that complies with Section 38 (general qualifications on qualified rights).

Is there a case against Ozzy?

Osborne_Graham (Ozzy)Graham Osborne on Radio Australia:

I'm not involved in any political parties, I am not a member of any political party. But I am very good friend of the Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, so maybe that is the reason.

As one Facebook commentator learned in the law put it:

By law Mr Osborne is entitled to a fair hearing before deportation (first rule of natural justice or audi alteram partem). That did not happen. Second, the bias rule - Mr Osborne must be judged by a neutral arbitrator. His accusors acted as arbitrators judging him guilty before proof. Mr. Osborne even admitted that they have no evidence of the allegations they levelled against him. That brings us to the third rule, the evidence rule - Clearly there was no evidence at this stage to support the deportation (third rule of natural justice, evidence must be provided). I can confidently state that Mr Osborne was not accorded the principles of natural justice which are guaranteed to all persons by the Constitution of Papua New Guinea.

Oddly enough, in the case Premdas v The State [1979] PGSC 20, the Supreme Court ruled that the principles of natural justice do not apply in proceedings under the Migration Act 1963 regarding the revocation of the entry permit of a non-citizen and an order for deportation.

Law aside, was this a smart thing for the O'Neill Government to do? Graham Osborne is a well respected businessman and is respected by the business community in the country. He is also deeply involved in helping civil society organisations in their work. His most notable recent contribution to nation-building was leading the PNG NRL Bid Team.

It's a stupid short-sided move. The O'Neill Government is much more popular, especially with the business community, than the Somare Regime could ever have been in its nine-year hold on PNG.

The deportation of Graham Osborn will shake the PNG business community for sure. Loyalties will be subtly reviewed. The O'Neill government must think very carefully now.

Papua New Guinea is fast on the road to becoming a Police State.

Source: PNGEXPOSED Blog.  You can follow Nou Vada’s writing and ideas on his Edebamona Blog

O'Neill regime ruins democracy and the rule of law


THE O’NEILL-NAMAH REGIME has destroyed Papua New Guinea’s young constitutional democracy and the rule of law. The last three weeks have been a sad number of weeks for this country which has been built on the backs of many hardworking Papua New Guineans, past and present. No regime in the past 36 years has done this. PNG now faces uncertainty only because of the actions of the O’Neill-Namah regime.

To many of us, the previous Somare regime was bad. But, the actions by the O’Neill-Namah government are the worst. There will be confusion as to who is PNG’s government today. The Supreme Court’s decision made yesterday must be respected. Late yesterday afternoon, it decided that the election of Peter O’Neill as prime minister on Aug 2 was a nullity after deciding that there was no vacancy in the office of the prime minister.

Sir Michael Somare remains prime minister. He is the legitimate prime minister. For thinking Papua New Guineans, and in respect for the rule of law and for PNG’s young democracy, Papua New Guineans must accept and support the Supreme Court decision. Parliament’s decision made after the Supreme Court decision to elect O’Neill as prime minister again must be rejected by all Papua New Guineans. This election was done after a breach, again, of important provisions of the Constitution.

The O’Neill-Namah regime acted illegitimately in many respects. It has broken some of the most fundamental principles of constitutional democracy. It cannot be allowed to continue. The O’Neill-Namah regime used parliament to pass an amendment to the Prime Minister & National Executive Council Act to circumvent the Supreme Court decision. This amendment was passed to defeat the effect of a Supreme Court decision even before the decision was made. It is clearly contemptuous.

That Act is unconstitutional and it was passed deliberately to confuse everyone. Late yesterday, the O’Neill-Namah regime purported to have itself re-elected shortly after the Supreme Court decision. It swept important issues under the carpet. For instance, after the Supreme Court declared that Sir Michael was still prime minister, how could there then be a vacancy 20 minutes later for parliament to elect O’Neill as prime minister? During the week, the O’Neill-Namah regime used parliament to rescind leave granted to Sir Michael due to illness. This was done when the issue was clearly before the court.

It was a contemptuous action. It was a blatant disregard for the Supreme Court. The O’Neill-Namah regime passed the amendment to the Prime Minister & NEC Act to validate the actions of parliament on Aug 2 even before the Supreme Court had made its decision. This type of action only happens in dictatorships where there is no rule of law – it is improper and it is contemptuous and in breach of basic constitutional principles. The amendment is a nullity. It has no effect – because it is clearly unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court’s decision must be respected, not the unconstitutional actions of parliament in enacting the amendment and, subsequently, conducting an election. The contemptuous actions of the O’Neill-Namah regime to pass legislation to save what the Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional cannot be allowed to remain. The MPs who voted in support of the passage of the Prime Minister & NEC Act have deliberately broken the Constitution, and have acted to circumvent the rule of law and hold onto power by unconstitutional and unlawful means. This is dangerous.

Continue reading "O'Neill regime ruins democracy and the rule of law" »

An essay: Is there more to us than meets the eyes?


THE FUNDAMENTAL VALUES IN LIFE are not complicated; rather the complexity of how we choose to live our lives makes it difficult to keep to those simple principles.

When faced with adversity we need to hold on to those values and search within ourselves for the courage to be more than meets the eyes.

I recently watched reruns of the successful Transformers series and enjoyed them very much for the umpteenth time. I grew up during the 1980s when Transformers, GI Joe and a whole lot of other animated cartoons were the highlight of a suburban kid’s Saturday morning.

And we didn’t find it the slightest bit odd to want to be like Optimus Prime, a ten-ton semi-trailer cab, or Sergeant Slaughter, a marine sergeant with a neck a thick as a log. Those were the days!

Now that Hollywood has made movies out of both weekend morning television programs, it feels like some kind of justification for all those lost hours of playtime.

But with so many fans, older and younger around the world (so I wasn’t alone!), you can probably understand why Hollywood was prepared to put in such enormous budgets to produce the movies.

Also, since digital technology is now able to do the fantastic things it does with graphics, we get to see all the transforming actions and fight scenes in slow motion, sound effects and all! Way cool!

But technology alone will not sell a movie, as other Hollywood flops have shown. So why has the Transformers series been such a box office hit?

Well, I’m no movie critic, and this is not an article for The Weekend Magazine, so I’m not going to deliver any behind-the-scenes systematic description of what makes a blockbuster movie work. You can get that enlightenment from a good documentary or Discovery Channel.

What I want to do is get to the heart of the matter – what did they teach us?

Art instructs. And movies, although created for entertainment, are an extension of drama, prose, acting, filming and other arts and techniques that I’m not familiar with. The aim is to relate to the needs of the audience, their fantasies, and their aspirations – to liberate our best dreams for tomorrow and to educate our hearts and minds on the path to their realization.

This is also true in comic action stories, which deal directly with the idea of good versus evil, for example Bat Man and Spiderman. The same may be true of animated cartoons, which originate from comic sketches or graphics depicting various characters, by artists, using their uninhibited creative imagination to fashion those characters out of almost every single object, plant and animal under the sun.

I think the successful progress of these animated cartoons into modern day movies was because the characters and the stories presented have captured the imagination and inspired hope in a generation of people. And many more good people, who would like these positive messages to live and to be passed on, found the means and have now done so.

Okay, call that perspective naïve, and no doubt the money to be made was a major driver, but I reckon that’s a pleasant way to look at how things worked out so well.

Continue reading "An essay: Is there more to us than meets the eyes?" »

Analysis: Are the PNG police in a state of crisis?


IS IT A CASE OF BEING ‘out of sight out of mind’ for a Papua New Guinea arm of government or are these signs of a police constabulary in crisis?  

In September over 5,000 Papua New Guineans and sympathisers abroad signed up to a Facebook group to condemn the wanton abuse that ex-policeman Simon Bernard continued to subject his wife Joy Wartovo to, and to pressure the Royal PNG Constabulary (RPNGC) to bring their former colleague to justice.

Bernard’s ability to evade arrest reached Robin Hood-like proportions, only it was the bad guy on the run from a 5,250-strong police force.  The failure by police to progress the case was farcical and raised questions about whether the government was serious about addressing gender violence.

During the year, PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill rubbed shoulders with two powerful women, Australian colleague Julia Gillard and Queen Elizabeth II, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Western Australia.

It is a pity Gillard and Her Majesty are not among the Facebook group’s esteemed membership as they would have been moved by the anger and frustration expressed in the social media’s discussion threads.

The case of the missing PNG Institute of Medical Research scientists in the waters of West New Britain province is another symptom of a constabulary in crisis. One would have expected all provincial police operations to have immediate access to resources to enable them to respond effectively to crime and emergencies.

The appeal by West New Britain policefor funding to hunt down wanted criminal Don Aka, whom they suspect is holding the IMR scientists for ransom, confirms the sorry state-of-affairs in a disciplinary force choked by the lack of government support and direction.

But these are not new problems. Most of them were highlighted by the 2004 Report of the RPNGC Administrative Review Committee commissioned by then Internal Security Minister Bire Kimisopa.

Seven years after the publishing of the report and it appears to be business-as-usual for the government. It might be a good idea to bring the current Internal Security Minister up to speed on the report’s recommendations relating to ‘effective police operations’:

“Urgent action is required to establish an effective foundation for effective police operations. In particular, action is required to rehabilitate the current Intelligence processes and systems and to develop an effective, fully staffed NCD Operations Centre that can respond effectively and quickly to community needs and expectations, and be established as a model for regional operations centres.”

There is also a sub-section titled ‘police on hire’ in the report detailing how the constabulary only respond to incidents after they “receive resources” from the public including the private sector. Current PNG acting police commissioner Tom Kulunga might want to dig out the report as they investigate allegations that Malaysian logging giant Rimbunan Hijau recently financed a police crackdown on protesting villagers in East New Britain province’s Pomio district.

Read more:

Source: Papua New Guinea Issues in Perspective.     Spotter: Paul Oates

Music great Anthony Soru Subam dies



ANTHONY SORU SUBAM, the head of University of Papua New Guinea creative arts music section, a pioneer advocate of local contemporary music and a founding member of the famous Sanguma band, has died.

Subam, in his mid-50s, died at the Paradise Private Hospital on Sunday after a short illness. He had been rushed to hospital by his colleagues.

Subam, of Kairuru Island, in East Sepik and Yabob, in Madang, was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital  around 7.45am. A post-mortem examination is yet to be conducted.

Barleyde Katit, a colleague of Subam, said he was ill for a week but had not taken proper medication although he showed symptoms of malaria.

“He was sick on and off for a week but did not take proper medication until Sunday morning when we rushed him to the hospital between 7.45 and 8am only to have doctors pronounce him dead on arrival,” Katit said.

Subam was a pioneer student of the creative arts and a member of the eight-man Sanguma band formed in 1978. Other band members included Sebastian Miyoni, Thomas Komboi, Raymond Hakena, Buruka Tau, Aaron Murry, Apa Saun, Paul Yabo and Leonard Taligatus.

Subam had been engaged with the university’s creative arts strand from 2000 and was the head of the music section until his death. He is survived by his two wives and five children.

Source: The National.     Spotter: Peter Kranz

The orphaned islands of Bougainville and Buka

AS COUNTRIES THROUGHOUT HISTORY battled over territory, the mad rush to gain colonial territory left the world with numerous island groups split down the middle or as archipelagoes where one or two islands were isolated from the rest of the group.

This created initially artificial divisions in otherwise homogenous places that eventually became quite real over time.

In the 1880s and 1890s, the colonial aspirations of both Germany and the United Kingdom ramped up in the South Pacific.

The Solomon Islands was one of the places where the interest of the two empires collided. Under Otto von Bismarck, Germany was making its first real run at international colonisation, encouraging private companies to stake out new lands for the country to claim.

One such company was the German New Guinea Company, which sought to create a system in New Guinea similar to that of the Dutch to the west in what is now Indonesia.

Establishing a colony in 1884, the German influence soon spread from New Guinea into the islands to the east – what we know today as the Bismarck Archipelago.  As well, the northern Solomons further to the east also fell under this new protectorate.

Meanwhile, British and Australian missionaries had been entering the Solomons from the south only to receive hostile, often violent, receptions from the indigenous population; a population that had grown distrustful of outsiders due to their experiences with plantation labour recruiters. 

These ‘recruiters’ resorted to trickery and/or kidnapping to obtain labour for sugar plantations in Queensland and Fiji, as well as guano mines across the Pacific.  In order to ensure peaceful conditions in the region, and to crack down on such illegal labour practices, the UK established its own protectorate over the south Solomons in 1893.

Eventually, the claims of the Germans moving in from the north met up with those of the British in the south.  At the same time, Germany was looking to solidify it claims to the western half of Samoa, also claimed by Britain. 

In 1899, a tripartite convention granted Germany’s request to claim Western Samoa in exchange for granting the Solomons to the UK – all except for the two northernmost Solomons, Bougainville (the largest of the group) and Buka, which remained with German New Guinea.  After World War I, rule over the territory was transferred to Australia.

Under Australian rule, large copper deposits were first exploited on Bougainville, and starting in the 1960s the Panguna mine became one of the largest on the planet.  Almost all of the profits from this operation went into the coffer of its Australian owners or to the Papua New Guinea government rather than back into Bougainville. 

Disgruntled, a movement amongst Bougainvilleans for independence arose in the mid-1960s.  While this did lead to some autonomy in 1972, as a non-integral possession of Australia, the islands was ruled to not be entitled to the same level of compensation as other Australian territory. 

This, combined with the murder of two public servants in the highlands, stoked the fire of secession, and by the time PNG achieved full independence in late 1975, Bougainville had already seceded as the Republic of the North Solomons

While this secession didn’t take, disputes over mining compensation continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s, eventually resulting in full-blown civil war for much of the 1990s. 

A ceasefire took hold in 1997, followed by the establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government in 2000, but a promised referendum on independence has yet to be held.

Source: The Geographer

I’m not an elite – and I’m proud of it!

Here's to the bucket brigadeBY MARTYN NAMORONG

BEFORE DROPPING OUT OF MEDICAL SCHOOL, I always thought that getting a first degree was everything.

Having dropped out and finding out that the education system is just a failure trap, I’ve realised that Sir Mekere Morauta was right when he described corruption of the system as being “systemic and systematic”.

Many commentators have gone further to call the corruption of this system of government as being like cancer.

The use of the term corruption or corrupt can be applied in terms of the bribery, theft and deceit being commonly implied or more broadly it can refer to a system of governance that is morally bankrupt and broken almost beyond redemption.

This corrupt government system is like a corrupted computer system that consistently spews out garbage to the people.

So what do we do when the computer spews out garbage? First we take it to the techies or PC geeks to sort it out and if they’re unable to sort it out we buy a new one.

Why do we attempt to fix the computer? Some say to improve productivity, others say because we just don’t like the headache. And essentially, it is because we as humans don’t like the inconvenience and trouble caused by a broken system.

A computer is made up of software and hardware. The government is made up of ideas (software) by which the politicians and civil servants (hardware) run the country. The ideas that drive our country are foreign. The people that run our country are local.

In medicine a foreign intruder into humans is called a pathogen. Most often, these foreign bodies enter into humans and cause diseases – they corrupt the body.

What we see in our country is that while the people suffer, foreign interests prosper. Why? Is it because the ideas upon which the justice system is based are foreign. Is it because policies and laws are foreign and being foreign, they facilitate the prosperity of foreigners at the expense of indigenous people.

How many of you readers have read the Constitution of Papua New Guinea and understand it? That document purports to have its legitimacy by consent of a people who have probably never read it or understand it.

The reality of government in PNG may that be the judiciary, executive or legislature is defined by the Constitution and enabling legislation and conventions. Have the people given their informed consent to that document.

Now, it isn’t necessarily the fault of foreigners that this is the reality. They come into the country and play by the rules so to speak. Unfortunately, the education system has been pretty much producing garbage which can’t make the system work in our interest.

Like a corrupt computer operating system, you send ignorant kids to school and the corrupted education system spews out ignorant elites who screw up the country.

Continue reading "I’m not an elite – and I’m proud of it!" »

We want your opinion on PNG’s security challenges


PETER AIMOS, WHO’S LIVING IN CHINA, has written to me saying he recently came across PNG Attitude and thoroughly enjoys reading the thoughts and discussion herein.

“I have a short but perhaps complex question for you,” Peter wrote. “What are the main security challenges facing PNG at present?”

Well I wrote back to Peter identifying three broad security challenges that I think face PNG, and these are reproduced below.

But I thought readers might like to have their say and give Peter a hand with his project.

Here is my response.  You can add yours by making a Comment.

(1) Regional strategic issues - mainly the big power rivalry between China and the US in which PNG is an important chess piece together with the threat posed by guerilla warfare across the border in Indonesian Papua.

(2) Internal governance - the failure of PNG’s national government over a long period of time to ensure that the benefits of resource exploitation get down to the grassroots population in terms of appropriate economic and social development.  If this is not addressed there is the potential for civil unrest in PNG.

(3) Internal political stability - with an election due in six months and recent political and constitutional conflict, PNG faces the prospect of political uncertainty at a time it needs to be engaged in more substantive decision-making and development action.

OK, over to our readers.

Campaign continues for Somare restoration

DESPITE PETER O’NEILL’S SOLID GRIP on government in Papua New Guinea, the rival Somare group still maintains it is the legitimate administration.

PNG was plunged into political turmoil early this month when the Supreme Court ruled the O’Neill government was illegal.  The Court restored Sir Michael Somare as prime minister.

In a flurry of controversial law changes, the O’Neill group re-asserted control and won the backing of key institutions.

However rival attorney-general Sir Arnold Amet says eventually the O’Neill group must realise its law changes were subordinate to the Supreme Court ruling.

He says the Somare camp is seeking declaratory judgements on the purported legitimacy of the O’Neill government.

“So it is not over by a long shot in my opinion,” Sir Arnold said.

“And, in our view, Sir Michael is still the legitimately restored prime minister by the Supreme Court - the impartial adjudicator of constitutional issues in this nation.”

Source: Radio New Zealand International

Mining boom helps Cairns-PNG flights take off


THE RESOURCES BOOM in Papua New Guinea has resulted in a big jump in flights out of Cairns from 23 to 37 each week.

A Tourism Queensland report shows Airlines PNG has boosted its flights from one a week to Port Moresby to 15 throughout PNG, including Port Moresby (6), Lihir Island (6) and Mt Hagen (3).

Seat capacity to PNG has also increased from 1,852 to 2,400 including 10 flights by Air Niugini and 12 by QantasLink.

"These flights are servicing the burgeoning mining sector and reflecting Cairns Airport's growing capacity as an aviation hub for this type of activity, which opens up new business and tourism opportunities for our region," Cairns Airport chief executive officer Kevin Brown said.

Source: The Cairns Post

'Court decision means O’Neill government is illegal'

PNG Attitude contributor SEAN KRAMER rejects views, expressed by Peter Donigi and me, that the Supreme Court and Michael Somare got it wrong in Papua New Guinea’s recent constitutional crisis

THE REASON SIR MICHAEL AND COMPANY did not "have the guts" to go to parliament was the fundamental issue of legitimacy which was determined by the Supreme Court.

If the Supreme Court basically nullified the election of Peter O’Neill as prime minister and reinstated the Grand Chief then (by law) Sir Michael and compny should have been allowed to occupy the government benches.

Were they allowed to do so? No. Therefore, on principle, if they were restored as the legitimate government, why would they turn up to parliament and occupy the opposition benches?

We could go into a Donigiesque narrative about the separation of powers and the courts acting ultra vires, but the simple fact remains- both the Somare and O’Neill camps submitted to the jurisdiction of the court.

They did this knowing full well that the issues of the vacancy in the PM's office and subsequent actions by the Speaker could potentially nullify their election as a legitimate government and/or potentially fully restore the Somare camp (as was the case).

In terms of respecting the rule of law, which side has done that?

Parliamentary supremacy is one thing, but not everything. As Keith Jackson quite eloquently put it, PM's owe their positions to the will of parliament, yes, but then parliament owes its position to the constitution, does it not?

The Supreme Court has spoken and the purported government is running scared.  It knows it is an illegal regime. In time the rule of law will prevail.

Conflict flares over Chinese nickel mine pollution

The refinery is set to produce huge quantities of nickel and cobalt, and generate jobs. But CHRISTIANE OELRICH writes that the villagers of Mindere want to shut it down for fear of devastating environmental damage caused by the toxic slurry the miners leave behind

THE RAMU NICKEL REFINERY near Madang aims to produce 32,000 tons of nickel and 3,300 tons of cobalt a year. Extraction of those minerals, vital for a modern economy, leaves behind waste containing traces of metallic elements and the solvents used to extract them.

Neville, Bustin, Joe, Mina, Awan (the names have been changed) live within sight of the refinery operated by China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC).

“Australians, Americans, Europeans were all welcome, but the Chinese are unscrupulous,” one of them says.

Sea disposal of tailings is hazardous, as studies have shown, but other methods are more expensive. “They are coming here with their 1960s technology. They are raping our country. The government profits, but we're left with nothing,” Bustin says.

The men are holding a village meeting under a large mango tree. “Our stream has gone since the people up there built a hostel and allowed their effluent to flow into it,” Mina says. “They promised us electricity, and what did we get? A miserable little solar panel,” adds Joe.

“The main drinking water source is on the site of the refinery,” one says. “They installed a pipe for us, but it soon broke. And then they said it was our problem. Now we have to walk 4 kilometres to fetch water.”

MCC declined to respond to written questions.

The villagers are angry for several reasons: fear of environmental harm, worries about whether the village will survive, frustration with their own government and mistrust of the Chinese, who show little desire to integrate.

They accuse politicians of selling out the country by issuing mining licences and lining their pockets. “Development has both good and bad sides to it, but we see only the bad side,” Neville says.

Six years ago there was optimism, with locals hoping for jobs and income, but the Chinese preferred to fly in their own workers - who now number 2,000 - leaving only a few menial jobs for the locals.

That policy has divided Mindere's community of 700, where some families live on the income of a member who works for MCC, while others are trying to stop the project.

Tempers are near the breaking point in Madang, with a population of around 35,000, where the Chinese have taken over most small businesses.

“Apart from one shop and a fuel station, everything here belongs to the Chinese,” says a young environmental activist who declines to be named. “They live over their shops and scarcely dare to go out, because everyone is against them.”

Daniel Wong, a Lutheran priest of Chinese origin sent to mediate, says Chinese businessmen see the environmental arguments as a Western conspiracy aimed at keeping China down.

According to Wong, the MCC management says the government asked it to take over the operation, and Beijing did so partly for political reasons to increase its presence in the region. And they mistrust the motives of the protesters.

“It's not about the environment at all. If you give them money, they're happy,” is how many Chinese businessmen feel, according to Wong.

New York-based Human Rights Watch points to corruption as another serious problem. “Papua New Guinea's extractive resources have proved to be as much a curse as they have a blessing,” it says.

“Extractive projects and the economic resources they represent have fueled violent conflict, abuse, and environmental devastation in Papua New Guinea.

“Government revenues from extractive industries are often dissipated through official corruption and mismanagement, without having any positive impact on ordinary citizens' lives”

Source: Deutsche Presse Agentur

Corruption task force gets additional funding

THE O’NEILL GOVERNMENT has allocated an additional $1.4 million dollars to Task Force Sweep which is investigating allegedly corrupt public spending.

The team was set up soon after the O’Neill government took power in August and given initial funding of $2.8 million.

The task force has targetted members of the former Somare administration, senior government officials and prominent business people.

Chairman Sam Koim says the task force is about to look into the Taiwan diplomatic scandal which has recently been the subject of legal action in the US by the Taiwanese government.

Source: Radio New Zealand International

Ten memorable things PNG Attitude did in 2011


IT IS COMMON, as Father Time moves hesitantly towards the end of another year, that we humans set our ideals and aspirations for the year ahead and also reflect on the past 12 months.

In accordance with the latter, I thought I might try to recapitulate what, for me, have been some of the highlights for PNG Attitude over the course of 2011.

So here goes, in rough order of priority:

Crocodile Prize Awards1. The Crocodile Prize

It always gives you a big buzz when an idea is transformed into a reality – and so it was with the Crocodile Prize national literary contest in 2011.  Indeed, we did more than mount a successful competition (400 entries, 80 writers, four categories), we also produced an anthology of the best PNG writing in 2011 and a writers’ workshop to boot.  A wonderful achievement in which we were assisted hugely by the Post-Courier newspaper and the Australian High Commission. And, as we move into 2012, with a newly formed group of sponsors and its own website, the Prize looks like being bigger and better.

Certificate of Incorporation2. Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers

Amanda Donigi and I had the same idea at the same time.  If the creative writing resurgence in PNG was to be sustained, it needed a strong governance platform within the country to administer its activities. Hence, towards the end of 2011, the Society was incorporated, a steering committee (largely PNG domiciled) formed, and a constitution drafted.

Croc Trophy3. The emergence of Martyn Namorong

When still a medical student, Martyn began The Namorong Report blog in 2009 with a point by point summary of one of his lectures.  There was not much action on the blog until early 2011, when one of two posts, The land of the disenfranchised (28 February), was picked up by PNG Attitude.  A wonderfully talented writer had emerged into public view.  Martyn went on to win an inaugural Crocodile Prize award for the best essay and is now PNG’s most prolific blogger and one who has gained international recognition.

4. The great diversity of PNG Attitude contributors

The centrepiece of PNG Attitude was never intended to be its publisher and editor but its contributors.  And to succeed, the blog had to maintain a steady input of reportage and creative writing from both PNG and Australia, and this writing had to focus in some way on the relationship between the two countries.  This was an idea that managed to succeed and its continuing success depends on this unusual collaboration continuing.

5. Great commentary from knowledgeable commentators

We get our fair share of lunatics in the Recent Comments column, of course, but the feature remains a fantastic place for debate and revelation offered by our readers.  The commentary is just as well read as the main articles provided each day and provides a wonderful interactive forum that adds great value to PNG Attitude.

6. The project to build a Montevideo Maru memorial

Image of proposed memorialThe Japanese prison ship Montevideo Maru left Rabaul in June 1942 with over 1,000 military and civilian prisoners in its hold. It was torpedoed on 1 July with the loss of all prisoners, most of whom were Australian.  PNG Attitude and its publisher played a crucial role in establishing and fund raising for the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Society.  The memorial will be dedicated in Canberra on 1 July 2012, 70 years after the tragic sinking of the ship.

7. The constitutional crisis live blog

An important first for PNG Attitude in 2011 was a ‘live blog’ – a continuing coverage of PNG’s tupela wantaim constitutional and political crisis drawn from published news sources and reader input.  Page views soared from the usual 1,000 a day to 4,000 and many new readers were introduced to the blog for the first time.

Abel_Charles8. Charles Abel writes; Richard Marles gives up

Politicians generally have a hard time accommodating the social media in their communications, probably because the black arts of spin and propaganda don’t wash too well on media like blogs and Twitter.  It was good to see, therefore, PNG’s trade minister Charles Abel appearing occasionally on PNG Attitude with some well nuanced observations.  Not so Australia’s Pacific Affairs secretary Richard Marles whose failure to address issues full on led to mockery from readers whereupon Richard retired to the dressing room.

9. PNG Attitude establishes a presence on Twitter and Facebook

We were hardly in the first rush of early adopters but we got there eventually and now have a presence right across the main social media platforms.

10. Keith Jackson visits POM for first time in 35 years

I’d been to other parts of Papua New Guinea in the years since I’d gon pinis after independence but never Port Moresby.  A small event I know, but I made good the deficiency for the Crocodile Prize events of September.

Women's soccer reach highest ever ranking

Papua New Guinea won the women's football tournament at the 2011 Pacific Games (photo OFC)Papua New Guinea’s women’s soccer team has reached its highest ever position on the FIFA Women's World Rankings.

Several teams reached their best-ever position including Papua New Guinea (52nd, up one), Spain, Mexico, Scotland and Wales.

USA remain at the top of the table but are under pressure from second-placed Germany. World champions Japan are in third place, also the highest rank they have ever achieved.

The current women’s world ranking includes 135 countries, the highest number since December 2007 when a new record was set with 150 teams.

The next FIFA world ranking will be published in March 2012.

Mine tailings a Christmas present for Raikos people


CHRISTMAS IS A TIME OF GIVING AND RECEIVING. And this Christmas the people of Madang’s Raikos received their gift from the supreme court of Papua New Guinea that will last their and their children’s lifetime.

After four years of battle this supreme court decision of 22 December ruled in favour of Chinese Mining company MCC dumping toxic mine tailings into the sea.

“This ruling makes a very sad Christmas story for us,” says Terry Kunning, one of the plaintiffs in this historic DSTP [deep sea tailings placement] case.

“We fought to save some of the last remaining pristine waters in PNG and this is what they give us.”

Friday’s decision was not about faith, Christianity, morality, people, environment or science.

In Raikos’ Basamuk Bay, a heavenly paradise is set to be reduced to a dumping ground of mine wastes because Justices Sawong and Harthson found the people had not been able to prove public or private nuisance.

The irony is that China among other industrialised countries has banned marine dumping of toxic tailings but pushes PNG to bow so low and allow such practices in its pristine waters.

This decision not only favours MCC but also Australia’s Marengo mine which has been keenly watching this battle behind the scenes.

In this court ruling, female Justice Cathy Davani stood with the people of PNG in her 33 page decision supporting the appeal. However, her two male colleagues in five and half pages between them decided otherwise.

This case attracted more than a thousand plaintiffs and witnesses, and some of the world’s top scientists.

Tomorrow night in Raikos, followers of the Lutheran Church will light candles to mark the birth of Jesus. The Jesus message to them is hope.

And as Mr Kunning puts it, “with heavy hearts and teary eyes it is our hope that some leaders will someday see the full quality of life that their environments offer and not be blinded by the dollar signs. It is our hope that our leaders will stand up for their people one day.”

Sorcerers' lunatic accusations not acceptable

MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT are being called on to repeal the Sorcery Act 1971 and produce tougher legislation aimed at curbing killings attributed to sorcery.

The Constitutional and Law Reform Commission last week made public a draft report on sorcery and sorcery related killings, including a recommendation for new laws.

The Commission reported that 75 people accused of practising sorcery were tortured and killed between 2000 and 2006.

The director of the church research body, The Melanesian Institute, Reverend Jack Urame, said the Commission recognises a need for stronger legislation to prevent unnecessary accusations and killings.

“Beside that, addressing the issue from the legal perspective there is also a need to make people aware,” he said.

“This is definitely lack of knowledge that people try to address issues at their own level, trying to use sorcery and witchcraft as an excuse.”

Source: Radio New Zealand International

View looking north from MontroseSydney - Christmas Day has dawned bright and sparkling in the harbour city.  There is little traffic on the roads; Sydney and Middle harbours are placid with not a sail in view; and an unusual quality of tranquillity has descended on the metropolis.

A Merry Christmas to all our readers - wherever you are on the planet.  We are grateful you are with us; for your contributions and comments; for your donations to our charitable causes; and for your continuing support in the true spirit of friendship and neighbourliness that underpins this website.

We hope and trust that 2012 will be a year of achievement and stability in Papua New Guinea.  Best wishes, good luck to us all - and thank you.

Photo: Today's view from the northern window of my study

Going cap in hand to the government – forget it!


ONE OF THE THINGS I’VE LEARNED since becoming involved in seeking sponsors for the Crocodile Prize literary awards is that the bigger the organisation, the meaner it is.

This attitude, with a couple of notable exceptions, is true across both private enterprise and government.

I can understand why hard-nosed managers of multinational companies might be inclined to ignore anything that does not advantage the company or them personally, but you would think government might be more approachable.  Governments, after all, are supposed to be supportive of their citizens’ interests.

Without casting aspersions one way or the other, the bigger companies which have provided financial support for the Prize come from industries which require and thrive on good publicity. Supporting the awards is a smart move on their part.

Why doesn’t the same logic work for government?

It is arguable whether the Australian government is in need of good publicity in PNG; it tends to ignore the place most of the time anyway. The PNG government, on the other hand, needs all the positive publicity it can get.

Out of all of them it is only the Australian High Commission that has come to the party in any meaningful way.  This is despite the fact that it is not its job to support things like the awards. 

It ahs little discretionary funds yet managed to grant $2,500 to fund part of the printing of the Crocodile Prize Anthology 2011 and also to provide a wonderful venue for the other activities related to the awards.  And it’s promised the same in 2012!

In its case I think it is down to personalities.  They are a caring and innovative bunch out on Godwit Road – both the Australians and Papua New Guineans who work there.

As for the rest of government, both in Australia and PNG, their lack of interest might be a product of the environment in which they operate.

When you approach them the excuses are manifold, not least being that the awards do not fit into any of their quixotic funding or operational categories.  Their best advice seems to be to hold a commission of enquiry to change the rules – by 2050 perhaps?

In another life I used to work in the Aboriginal Heritage Branch in South Australia.  We operated out of an old warehouse in the suburbs. 

On any given day there were people sitting around on the floors eating and yarning and kids running everywhere.  Open a filing cabinet and you were more likely to find a week-old pizza rather than any documents.  We achieved great things in those days.

All that changed when the new government moved us into a high rise office block in the city.  The first thing our bosses did was set up a security system.  They then began shedding functions as quickly as possible. 

Aboriginal clients stayed away in their droves and after a while it was possible to trim staff numbers and apply for higher reclassifications on the basis of efficiency.

That’s the attitude we’ve struck while approaching government now.  ‘We haven’t got any forms that cover what you want.  It’s all too hard, why don’t you just go away.’

The world of governments is a strange and frustrating place.


The Australian Foreign Affairs Department in Canberra has been very helpful in steering us in the right direction to secure a major grant for the Prize.  But it’s a competitive process and we won’t know whether we’ve succeeded until next August.  So far our efforts to get the PNG government on board have not born fruit - KJ

Editorial: Parliament trumps grand chief


MICHAEL SOMARE'S ATTEMPTS TO ASSERT he is Papua New Guinea's lawful prime minister are understandable, but after 43 years in the political rough and tumble he's being disingenuous in seeking to ignore the way the cards have fallen in his confrontation with Peter O'Neill.

With parliament solidly behind Mr O'Neill, and Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio reversing his position and formally declaring Mr O'Neill the rightful prime minister, Sir Michael's campaign for reinstatement has clearly run out of steam. The sooner he accepts this, the sooner political stability will return to PNG.

Correctly, Mr O’Neill has observed parliament is the place where politicians win the right to form governments. Sir Michael argues, however, that he has the force of constitutional law on his side following the Supreme Court's 3-2 decision that he was wrongly removed.

But in addition to parliament and the Governor-General, all top public servants as well as the police chief have declared their support for Mr O'Neill, while the defence force chief has declined to take sides.

As well, there is the no less important reality that Mr O'Neill's government appears to have significant popular backing, with no sign of a groundswell of support for a return to office by Sir Michael.

That the man known as PNG's founding father, who has dominated its politics and is known as "Grand Chief", should feel short-changed is hardly surprising. The Supreme Court's majority decision raises serious issues about his removal from office.

Those have, however, now been largely superseded by events since Sir Michael mounted his challenge, most importantly the parliamentary backing for Mr O'Neill and the Governor-General's acknowledgment of the parliament's primacy on the matter.

Several options remain open to Sir Michael. One would be to accept that, at 75 and after major heart surgery and a protracted hospital stay in Singapore, the time has come to retire. Another would be to throw himself back into the political maelstrom and seek reinstatement by winning the general election in June.

What he should avoid is doing anything more to undermine the stability PNG desperately needs, or appearing like a troublesome curmudgeon who cannot accept that on this occasion he has been out-manoeuvred.

The last thing he should do is tarnish his own significant legacy by ending up like some washed-up Middle Eastern potentate trying to cling to power when nobody wants him.

O’Neill prime ministership is legal & constitutional


BOTH THE O’NEILL CAMP and the Somare camp claim that the Constitution must be upheld. There is no question about the desire of both parties to uphold the Constitution. Many other community leaders also expressed similar sentiments.

The problem however, is the nature of the constitutional law. No one has yet expressed what the constitutional law says about this conflict. People use phrases like “uphold constitutional law” or “respect the rule of law” or “respect the ruling of the court” to justify their positions.

What is the constitutional law that must be upheld and respected? I will try to be brief in my explanation.

First, the constitution provides for separation of powers between the three arms of government. This is provided for in Section 99 of the Constitution.

Second, separation of powers means simply that no arm of government must interfere with the workings of the other arm of government.

Third, I have read the orders of the Supreme Court. I have a fundamental problem with the nature of the orders. The Supreme Court’s power under a Section 19 reference is a limited reserve power only. Here the court’s power can be invoked only for an opinion as to the state of the law.

The court has no power under Section 19 to make permanent orders in the nature of those made on 12 December 2011 and especially order No 6 which states emphatically that Sir Michael Somare is restored to the office as Prime Minister.

These orders are not opinions for the purposes of Section 19 of the Constitution. The effect of order no. 6 is to assume the powers of the National Parliament and to infringe the principles of the separation of powers. In doing so the court has acted beyond its powers under section 19 of the constitution and infringed the principle of separation of powers.

Fourth, is it possible to come up with a reading of the ruling of the Supreme Court to avoid that conclusion? My answer would be that yes, it is possible to do so. The court orders numbered 1 through to 5 were opinions of the court. Court order No. 6 that directed restoration of Sir Michael Somare to the office of the Prime Minister is a nullity and is ineffectual for the reasons to be outlined below.

Fifth, leaving aside the issue of court acting beyond its powers under Section 19 of the Constitution, my reading is that the court has clearly interpreted the law as it stands on 2 August and 6th of September 2011.

It should be stressed that the Court has not considered and dealt with the factual situation of what happened after 2 August or 6 September. Clearly much has taken place after that date. The world goes around twenty four hours a day. The clock cannot be turned back. It cannot come to a standstill. We cannot live in the past.

We must now interpret the ruling of the Court based on events that took place after 2 August 2011. It is also important to note that the Court did not make invalid anything that happened between those dates and 12 December 2011.

Continue reading "O’Neill prime ministership is legal & constitutional" »

Christmas story: The beautiful one & the box people


Peter, Rose and lapun mothers


My birth mother died in 1995.

Since then I have gained three new mothers - thanks to living and loving in Papau New Guinea.

There is Mana Dau, Mana Drei, and Mana Kuman (mana is ‘mother’ in Kuman).

They are my wife's mothers - but also now my own.

Mana Dau was the first wife of Rose's father. But she couldn't have kids, so she agreed that Papa could take a second wife. That was Mana Drei (this means 'beautiful one' in Kuman).

She gave birth to three girls and two boys - including my wife Rose.

But the family adopted her out to relatives in Kundiawa - that's Mana Kuman and her family.

The two wives (Manas Dau and Drei) had not spoken to each other, or seen each other since that decision 20 years ago - until we came to Kundiawa in 2006.

Then Mana Dau walked down from her village near Gembogl to Kundiawa - which took 12 hours - just to meet us.

Rose and lapun motherThen she met her rival Mana Drei. They had a reconciliation and took part in our betrothal ceremony.

It was beautiful.

Mana Drei had never been in an aeroplane.

We brought her down to Mosbi to spend Christmas with us. She didn't really know what Christmas was all about and spent hours staring at the Christmas tree I had bought. Then I gave her a present on Christmas morning - a radio.

She cried and cried - as no one had ever done this for her - and then spent the morning talking back to the radio - as she thought they were talking to her.

I love my PNG mums.


Peter shares the $100 award for the best Christmas story with Paul Oates - KJ

Christmas story: The worm catchers of Sialum


SIALUM PATROL POST WAS SITUATED on the north-eastern tip of the Huon Peninsular about 60 miles north of Finschhafen, the sub district headquarters. I say ‘about 60 miles’ because the Lutheran Missionary at Kalasa (Rudi) and the Lutheran Agricultural Extension Officer (Hans) always argued about how far it was.

Hans reckoned it was 58 miles and Rudi reckoned it was 60. “Definitely 58 miles,” Hans maintained. “Yes,” said Rudi, “but you don’t go in and out of the ruts in the road, you just skim over the top of them!”

Hans’ penchant for being a ‘leadfoot’ in his old blue Land Rover was well known and a little too fast for sedate Rudi and his wife Martha. Sadly, I heard recently that when Hans retired to Germany in 1974, he took a job as a security officer and was murdered on the job not long afterwards.

One day, during a police investigation in the Sialum station office, I asked the village ‘Komiti’ for his Village Book. When first contacted, all villages were presented with a grey-blue covered Village Book. By the end of World War 2, most villages in ‘Controlled Territories’ had been issued one of these books.

A Village Book contained a running commentary of each government visit and notes by government officers on any important points to be noted or followed up by subsequent patrols. Whenever some government activity occurred, an entry was supposed to be made in that particular Village Book.

The Village Book for Gitua (a coastal village north of Sialum) contained comments going back to 1944, when the Japanese had been withdrawing towards Madang. An Assistant District Officer had written about his conduct of the first village census after the Japanese had been forced out and had signed his entry ‘Captain/Assistant District Officer’.

Kiaps in those days had a military rank equivalent (either Army or, in the case of some Coastwatchers, Naval), and it was thought this might help if they were captured, that they might be treated as a Prisoner of War rather than shot as a spy for operating behind enemy lines.

The Captain/ADO’s report noted an increase in the population and recorded various misdemeanors that he had investigated. The entry also reported that the village was actively preparing for a special feast, celebrating the village collecting its share of the annual appearance of sea worms.

Noting the date of the ADO’s entry was near the current date (November), I asked the old village Komiti if the feast was still celebrated (in 1974) and he assured me it was.

Later that day, I buttonholed the village Komiti from Kwamkwam, just to the south of Sialum. Would I be able to witness this feast when it was due in roughly a week’s time. After some discussion, it was decided it was possible for me to attend, given that, as a white man, any taboos associated with the celebration would not apply.

The villagers all along the coast were keeping a close watch on the rising of the moon, the timing of which apparently triggered the appearance of the worms. When the moon rose late over the sea, not until about half past seven, the worms would be caught from the time the sun went down to the time the moon appeared.

Continue reading "Christmas story: The worm catchers of Sialum" »

Landowners slow down operations at LNG site

THE OPERATOR OF THE MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR liquefied natural gas project in Papua New Guinea says it is hoping for a quick resolution after a group of landowners stormed one of its key project sites in the Hela province.

The chairperson of the Gobe landowners group, Jerome Kairi, estimates about 1,200 people now occupy the field engineers’ camp site.

Mr Kairi says they have given the government and the LNG project operator, Esso Highlands Ltd, 48 hours to meet commitments made to landowners, such as infrastructure improvements and development grants.

But Esso spokesperson Rebecca Arnold says the grievances do not relate to the natural gas project.

“The primary issues really relate to government commitments around oil project memorandum’s of agreement,” she said.

“The PNG LNG project is obviously very hopeful of a quick resolution to the issue.”

Ms Arnold said operations have slowed down at the site as a result of the occupation.

Source: Radio New Zealand International

50 years since PNGns were given right to drink


A satisfied customerLET ME TAKE YOU BACK TO Christmas 1961 in what was then the Territory of Papua-New Guinea (it was quite a few more years before the hyphen was dropped).

I’ve blown the dust off a slightly cockroach-chewed and grubby Pacific Islands Monthly to see what the pages say about the issues commanding public attention in PNG half a century ago.

There were three big stories being discussed in the clubs and pubs at the time: the new laws permitting indigenous PNGns to drink alcohol; anger over ‘negative’ Australian press reporting; and the scourge of malaria as a terrible health problem.

Let’s take a closer look at the reaction to those new laws which lifted the total ban on Papua New Guineans being able to enjoy a beer:

Papua-New Guinea’s new liquor laws have brought about a big change in the Territory’s social habits – but no murders or mayhem. The first month of the new laws has ended without and major incidents but with a general quickening of drinking activity among the natives, who took the first week very quietly indeed….

Hardened topers line up the bar and cling tooth and nail to their preferred  positions while those in the back clamour for attention. The scene is little different from Sydney’s legendary ‘swill’ except that these drinkers are mostly barefoot…and think it is no social error to upthrow before company….

One manager put it, “Our takings have gone up 200% - and we’ll never ever be short of silver again.”

Not so happy are other town businesses who have noticed a falling off in native trade.  Most affected are those who previously catered for the sly grog trade and for whom few have sympathy….

Few Europeans have not got an opinion on the vital subject of native drinking, but most confine their feelings in one sentence: ‘They’re the same as us now’- their tone belying any such relationship….

Source: Pacific Islands Monthly vol 33 no 5, December 1961

Bluff Inn’s nailed shoes are awaiting collection


Extracted from the full story in the Sydney Morning Herald.  Link to the full story here:

Shoes nailed to a post at the Bluff InnABOUT 30 MINUTES DRIVE outside Port Moresby you can find the remnants of an unusual political statement. It was a balmy August night in 2009 and the Bluff Inn was in an uproar.

About 20 opposition MPs had gathered, intent on finding a way to topple the Somare government. It is highly likely that plenty of the award-winning south Pacific lager had been consumed.

The MPs were so frustrated by the Somare government that they each took off a shoe and nailed it to a wooden pole in the hotel bar.

Two years on, they have their wish. This week Peter O'Neill, 46, asserted himself as Prime Minister, toppling Sir Michael, 75, who can rely on a only Supreme Court ruling for legitimacy in the top job.

The shoes at Bluff Inn remain nailed to the pole as the nails in Sir Michael's political coffin increase. But Sam Basil, one of the 75 MPs supporting Mr O'Neill, is ready to prise his shoe back, having accomplished the declaration's goal.

''It is a dream come true,'' he said. ''One Sunday soon, I will drive up, pay the guard 100 kina [$40], show him the other shoe, he will go and identify it and bring it back,'' he said.

Mr Basil was particularly fond of the black loafer as he bought it in Washington when attending the inauguration of Barack Obama as US President in 2009.

''It was really a nice one but I don't regret nailing it,'' he said. ''A few people were upset because they were wearing RM Williams boots and they were trying to hide that night so they didn't nail their expensive shoe. Those wearing thongs or sandals were lucky people.''

PNG concerned about new logging investment

LOGGING COMPANIES ARE CONTINUING to invest in controversial land leases in Papua New Guinea despite a moratorium on development while a Commission of Inquiry takes place.

In the latest investment, a Hong Kong-based company, Pacific Plywood, has joined forces with China's largest state-owned industrial forest company with a plan to develop a 628 square kilometre lease in East Sepik Province.

The companies say more than two and a half million cubic metres of timber are available, including a wide range of species used in construction and furniture-making.

Source: Radio Australia

Mother – it is now my turn to show my gratitude


Old woman - New IrelandAS I GREW UP TO BE A WOMAN, little did I know what lay ahead for me.

I relied on mum and took things for granted. I complained when tasked to do chores at home and never understood what mum put up with every day.

She started at 5 in the morning and finished late in the night but not even once did it cross my mind that this woman needed a break.

Beauty of ageI am now an adult, married with children and still depend on her. It breaks my heart to know and realise that all mothers are taken for granted.

Now she’s old, yet I forget it’s my responsibility to care for her. I whine when mum asks for help but go out of my way to help a friend.

It is now my turn to show my gratitude to the most important person in my life but yet I fail; I seem to forget who is most dear. I waste my time on people who do not matter until the day I lose this wonderful woman.

Old Melanesian womanNo support from the friends I value so much. Too late to say goodbye, what more can I say. I break down and cry but words can’t express how I feel. It is now too late to tell her I love her and thank her for the support, love & care.

I live with regret because I did not show my appreciation for the one so dear. The woman who made me be where I am, is now gone like the wind.

Michaelyne Semio (32) was born at Modilon Hospital in Madang but has a Manus background. She works as a Human Resources Officer for PNG Power Ltd in Port Moresby and is married with four children. She loves writing and dreams of publishing a book one day.

We are offering $100 to the person who can write the best PNG Christmas yarn for publication in PNG Attitude.   The story, article or poem must reach here by midday Saturday and have a distinct PNG flavour or theme.  The contest is open to all readers, no matter where in the world you are.  Go to it....

Martyn Namorong writes to 2050's Bismarck children

H&SHi kids,

I wonder how the Bismarck Sea looks in 2050.

The Somare Government said that by 2050 you kids are supposed to be living in a healthier, happier and wiser Papua New Guinea. That same Somare Government also changed the Environment Act and allowed Chinese miners to dump their toxic mine waste into the Bismarck Sea. No kidding, that was a gift to you kids from the father of PNG.

My name is Martyn Namorong. I’m a writer. Today (Thursday, 22 December 2011) I went to the Supreme Court at Waigani to witness its decision on the fate of the Bismarck Sea.

It took about 10 minutes for the Court to hand it down. In a 2 to 1 judgement, Justices Sawong and Hartshorne quashed the decision by the National Court in Madang which found that the conduct of dumping toxic mine waste into the Basamuk Bay would amount to both public and private nuisance. The decision by the Court basically allowed the miners to dump their toxic waste into the Bismarck Sea.

The dissenting judge was Justice Catherine Davani.

In September this year, I travelled from Madang to Basamuk. White palm fringed beaches met the waves been blown in from the north.  The Bismarck Sea was clear and schools of tuna could be seen right near the shoreline. Flocks of sea birds hovered over the schools of fish.

All along the coastline I could see villagers fishing. Some men in dugout canoes ventured into the swells in pursuit of tuna schools. The skipper of our dinghy stopped to fish where tuna could be seen splashing. . Unfortunately the fishing line was cut and we arrived an hour later at Mindere village without any tuna for dinner.

The water in Basamuk Bay was clear, and from the dinghy I could see fish and coral. There was no evidence of turbidity caused by sediments from the rivers that flow into the Astrolabe Bay. The environment was in a pristine state.

The miners have argued that the toxic wastes would settle in the undersea canyon off the refinery at Basamuk. They failed to comment on any soluble toxic substances that will be mixed in with the sea water. Today in 2011 we do not have widespread reports of deformities in marine fauna nor do we have any epidemiologic reports of high incidence of carcinomas amongst communities of the Rai Coast and the Bismarck Sea.

I hope that in the year 2050, when you’re reading this, the sea birds still fly above Astrolabe Bay, the sea is still clear and tuna still feed near the shoreline. Today Astrolabe Bay is the closest one could get to Heaven, indeed it is heaven on earth.

I saw the sun set across the Bay from Mindere and it was the most beautiful sight. I hope that when the sun rises on you, the children of 2050, you do not live in the darkness of neon lights.

I visited your beautiful ancestral land and sea and wrote about the trouble that was brewing. I told the world the stories of your ancestors whom I had met. They were a people in crisis.

Continue reading "Martyn Namorong writes to 2050's Bismarck children" »

Time to rethink PNG’s colonial education system


EDUCATION HAS BECOME a curious artefact in the modern market economy.  In many ways it has become a mechanism of social control.

On the one hand it is necessary to have a suitably indoctrinated and compliant population that can read the advertising and calculate the coinage necessary to buy the junk that you want to sell to them but on the other hand if they get too much education they can become uppity and bothersome.

In this sense, high school is probably the upper limit.  That’s the level that will not only produce a crop of happy consumers but also the dopey but necessary business people who can’t see beyond the big houses and flash cars as their goal in life.

After high school it is necessary to limit educational opportunities for the masses.  University is the most dangerous level because it is where people start to think for themselves. 

Not only do you need to carefully limit the opportunities to go to uni but you also need to introduce protections for the lucky few, such as demanding formal qualifications for high paying jobs and setting up exclusive professional organisations to keep the undesirables out. 

At the same time you need to actively cast dispersions on other forms of knowledge, particularly the traditional. 

At least that’s how it works in most westernised countries.  A high school education is relatively easy to acquire but beyond that, if you don’t come from the right background, it’s hard yakka.

Using formal education as a mantra and panacea for the woes of society is a well tried and trusty formula.  It has its limitations however. 

There is nothing worse than a working class girl or boy with a degree. When Gough Whitlam introduced free university education in Australia successive governments fell over themselves to shut it down.

The O’Neill government has promised to introduce free education up to Year 10.  For a government trying to develop and control a market economy it is a logical step.

But will it work in Papua New Guinea where the real economy is still largely agrarian? 

It might be a bridge too far to change a population growing its own food into one working for wages and spending its idle hours staring at wide screen televisions.

Perhaps it’s time to stand back and rethink the education equation.  Maybe the education system introduced in colonial times and since perpetuated, just like the system of government, isn’t the best one for Papua New Guinea.

Maybe the goal of a market economy is not right either.

PNG’s population growth fuels potential for conflict

EXPERTS SAY UNCHECKED POPULATION GROWTH is fast proving an additional source of conflict in Papua New Guinea, which has a history of clan violence and clashes over land.

“Without doubt, rapid population growth is adding to the risk of conflict,” Max Kep, director of the PNG’s national Office of Urbanisation said, noting that various types of conflict are fuelled by limited resources, including a shortage of land.

As PNG’s population nears seven million, comprised of nearly 700 ethnic groups speaking some 800 languages, communities are increasingly fighting over smaller plots of land, while city dwellers in swelling urban areas are clashing with nearby owners of traditional land.

Over the past 30 years, the country’s population has more than tripled while the average fertility rate of 4.4 births per woman remains one of the highest in the Pacific region.

According to a recent government task force report on maternal health, PNG’s population will probably double in the next 25 years.

Adding to this challenge is PNG’s increasing youth population, with more than half of the people now under the age of 20, according to World Bank figures.

“It’s like having wild grass lying around waiting to be struck by lightning for a brushfire,” Helen Ware, a professor at the University of New England who has studied and practised peace-building in PNG, explained, noting the risk of so many idle, underemployed men.

Migrants - drawn to towns and cities for jobs and services - are fuelling population growth in urban areas, Mr Kep said, adding that urban areas are now growing at an average of 4.5-5% a year.

Some 97% of the country’s land is under customary tenure, meaning it is reserved for traditional land owners and the state has no jurisdiction over it. Land owners often are unwilling to release land for urban growth, so PNG’s cities have nowhere to expand.

Significantly, land disputes between family members and communities are also now more common under the strain of population growth.

“Villages which once were separated are now bordering one another, and conflicts are definitely arising through competition for resources,” said Chris Turner, from Marie Stopes International, an NGO providing family planning and reproductive services in PNG.

In fact, in and around Goroka, disputes between families are turning violent.

“There are a lot of land disputes between families - some verbal abuse, and sometimes they fight with knives, sticks, stones or guns,” an observer said.

Jeffery Korowa’s story is typical of large families struggling to live off the land. Hailing from a family of five siblings, the 49-year-old says all his brothers and sisters have had several children, leading to more than 15 offspring arguing over smaller and smaller pieces of property.

“I’m already fighting with my brothers over land,” said Korowa, a nurse who owns land outside Mount Hagen. “I can take my brothers to court. But I’m pretty sure if it comes to push and shove, it will become violent.”

Source: IRIN / UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

The perfect outing for old (and young) sea dogs


Vampire and Onslow in Darling Harbour

I WAS IN SYDNEY ON WEDNESDAY to meet some good Vanuatu and PNG friends who had a young 12 year old boy.

"What would you like to see?"  "I'd like to see some old boats!"

A young man after my own heart, so we went to the National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour. A fantastic place.

You can climb all over and explore the HMAS Vampire [pictured] - a Daring class destroyer (sister ship the to HMAS Voyager - sadly sunk in a notorious collision with the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne in 1964); and also climb over the Oberon-class submarine Onslow [alongside Vampire], as well as a replica of the Dufyken and the restored sailing vessel, James Craig.

My idea of the best day out.  And my young cousin agreed.

The Vampire saw service in Papua New Guinea - sailing around the country in the 1960's - berthed at Rabaul, Mosbi and Manus many times - and she patrolled the Pacific over many thousand's of kilometres.

A Rose between two warshipsI impressed the youngster by saying that the guns on the Vampire in the middle of the city could score a direct on Warringah Mall in Manly if so inclined. (I think that's true).

It is an amazing experience - seeing how sailors lived, their privations and working conditions. I can't imagine what it would have been like. Sailors in the Vampire were lucky - as it was one of the first destroyers to have air conditioning.

If a superior rank was cross, he could order 'kit inspection!'; and no matter what you were doing you had to race to your locker and lay out all of your kit in perfect condition, or risk a penalty. 

This was however preferable to being subject to formal navy discipline.

Worth a visit if you're in Sydney.

Australia’s national year of reading 2012


AUSTRALIAN LIBRARIES AND LIBRARY ASSOCIATIONS are behind a campaign to turn 2012 into the National Year of Reading, linking together all the great things that are already happening around books, reading and literacy, and giving them an extra boost, with inspirational programs and events taking place across the country.

Libraries will be partnering with government, the media, writers, schools, publishers, booksellers, employers, child care providers, health professionals and a whole host of other organisations that share our passion for reading.

Our message will be that it doesn’t matter what you read – romance and adventure are just as relevant as a classic novel. Everyone can start their reading journey with content that they find interesting and engaging.

The story can be in any format – books, e-books, novellas, magazines, screen games. And it doesn’t have to be a story. Non-fiction is fine too, and then there’s poetry, graphic novels, newspapers, song lyrics.

The National Year of Reading 2012 is about children learning to read and keen readers finding new sources of inspiration. It’s about supporting reading initiatives while respecting the oral tradition of storytelling. It’s about helping people discover and rediscover the magic of books. And most of all, it’s about Australians becoming a nation of readers.

While much of the activity will happen through partners and at a local level, we will be running four national campaigns.

The Reading Hour (like Earth Hour, on 25 August 2012)

Public library membership drive

One Country Reading (favourite books for adults, teens, children)

Writers-in-residence in workplaces

Visit the website for more information.

Brenda Currie is project manager with Melbourne-based Library Agency

Martyn Namorong: Papua New Guinea is a tinderbox

Recent unrest in PNG was the eruption of long simmering tensions, says Martyn Namorong. DOUG HENDRIE talks to the political blogger who sells betel nut by day and tackles the ruling class by night.

Namorong_Martyn1MARTYN NAMORONG IS ANGRY.  And he’s got a right to be. From the poorest province in Papua New Guinea, Namorong was able to come to the capital, Port Moresby, to study medicine. His future seemed certain.

Instead, he dropped out of medical school and had to make his living on the street, selling betelnut.

As he sat at his small stall, he watched the urban poor fight to survive, and he began wondering why this was so.

Since independence from Australia in 1975, the state had slowly and steadily atrophied, forcing ordinary Papuans to rely on old methods to survive: intensive food gardens in their communally owned land (which accounts for around 97 per cent of the entire country).

Widespread corruption funnelling money from mining and logging companies to the Port Moresby political classes had entrenched a sense of abandonment among the urban poor, villagers who had moved to the big city hoping to find work or forced to leave as the rural population swells.

Namorong watched all this, and wondered, and his anger grew. 

He began penning missives on his blog, The Namorong Report, excoriating the political and economic system in PNG. His focus shifted from medical and public health issues to the wider picture.

In 2011, he won the PNG’s top award, the Crocodile Prize, for essay writing. He wrote:

Continue reading "Martyn Namorong: Papua New Guinea is a tinderbox" »

A message of farewell from The Review magazine


THE REVIEW was a simple e-magazine that began as Vintage in 2002, morphed into ASOPA People later that year, developed a separate website in 2004 and blog in 2006, became PNG Attitude in 2008, and The Review shortly before its demise in December 2011.

Maybe not so simple.

But, yes, demise.  The Review published what was its final issue earlier this month after nearly ten years of production that transformed it from telling the stories of the ASOPA Class of 1962-63 to telling the stories of ASOPA to telling the greater story of the Australia-Papua New Guinea relationship.

The magazine reached its endpoint for the simple and compelling reason that it had become too great a burden for me to produce in a context where this PNG Attitude blog continues to be a demanding proposition, as does the Crocodile Prize (and its new website due to be launched early in 2012).

Something had to give, and unfortunately it was the magazine, which republished in refined form the best of this website. But PNG Attitude remains here to stay.

In fact, the magazine nearly burned out in 2006 when this blog began.  At that time, I asked readers if they wanted it to continue.  Overwhelmingly they did, and thereafter its circulation grew steadily from 200 to more than 1,200, all but three subscribers receiving it by email.

So The Review says farewell, a necessary decision to ensure I have sufficient time to devote to PNG Attitude and to the Crocodile Prize literary awards and their many associated activities – which I think have been the crowning achievement of this internet-based project so far.

It only remains to thank you – the readers - for your participation in what we have done and what we will continue to do.

If you don't read this PNG Attitude blog regularly already, perhaps now is the time to start doing so.

And, when the Crocodile Prize website is launched in a couple of months, you might like to drop in on that occasionally to catch up with the best creative writing coming out of Papua New Guinea.

And that is very good writing indeed.

Thanks again to all of you who were readers of The Review, and please stick with us here.

Ramu mine forecast to be in full swing in 2013

THE $1.5 BILLION RAMU NICKEL PROJECT, China's single-largest mining investment in Papua New Guinea, should be operating close to maximum capacity by mid- to late-2013, Australian minority partner Highlands Pacific says.

The project, the first of its kind for PNG, is under development to yield nickel and cobalt a year for at least 20 years, but has faced a series of setbacks and environmental protests.

Highlands Pacific said commissioning activities were under way after a review of the project by PNG's chief inspector of mines.

The mine has been plagued by local protests over plans to dump 100 million tonnes of waste 400 metres offshore.

A court ruling in PNG has already approved the dumping, but an appeal against the decision is still pending.

Highlands said a ruling on the appeal was expected early next year and was not affecting commissioning work.

A PNG Attitude correspondent writes: “Highlands failed to mention that both sides have appealed the judgement.”

“MCC is appealing everything in the judgement except the decision to allow dumping. [The landowners] are just appealing the decision to allow dumping.”

Sources: Reuters / PNG Attitude

Catholic bishops want Sir Michael to resign

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH in Papua New Guinea is the latest group to call on Sir Michael Somare to resign.

Sir Michael continues to insist he is the legal leader of the country, with the backing of a ruling from the Supreme Court.

Prime minister Peter O'Neill says he is backed by a majority of MPs in parliament, the military, the police, the governor-general and the public service.

The Archbishop of Port Moresby, John Ribat, says the Catholic Bishops Conference has asked Sir Michael to stand down in his own interests and those of the country.

Source: Radio Australia

Paul Aiton seals deal with Wakefield Trinity

Paul Aiton in actionPAPUA NEW GUINEA INTERNATIONAL rugby league hooker, Paul Aiton, who led his side in Four Nations 2010, has signed a two-year deal with the UK Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.

This is a useful addition to the Wakefield, who are on a recruiting spree. Aiton is this year’s 17th uptake since Richard Agar slipped on the coaching hat.  Agar said, “Paul is a tough and committed player with a real strength of character who plays the game very quick and direct.

“He's a proven performer in the NRL and on the international stage with PNG where he has shown tremendous leadership qualities as their captain. As well as playing hooker, he'll fill a number of other roles for us too. He's a very experienced and high-quality performer.”

Aiton, who has reprsented PNG since 2004, kicked off his rugby league career with the Penrith in 2006, where he scored 39 points in his 70 games. After that, he joined Cronulla-Sutherland, where he has also played 39 games.


A wavering Michael Somare insists he's still PM

SIR MICHAEL SOMARE is still insisting that he is the rightful Supreme Court-appointed prime minister of what he admits is a minority government.

In a statement to the media in Port Moresby that Radio Australia termed “mainly incoherent”, Sir Michael said the call for him to resign was an insult to the voters who elected him.

As people in the background prompted him when he appeared to lose track of his argument, Sir Michael accused Peter O'Neill’s government of intimidating the Governor General, of having no respect for the constitution, and using their majority in parliament to justify their behaviour.

Source: Radio Australia

Will thinking PNG women now refuse to have sex?


I WONDER HOW LONG PARLIAMENT will keep our poor women in suspense in Papua New Guinea.

PNG women were full of anticipation and hope when there was initial majority support shown by the newly formed Peter O’Neill government after 2 August this year.

The first house reading of the Vote Women's Bill got majority support from all members of parliament.

But it seems that the last two weeks of political fiasco in parliament and government has given a few MPs some mixed feelings about this particular issue.

Many MPs still do not really understand this Bill. It is important that they be well-versed in all aspects of it before they can be expected to vote as a well-informed parliament.

What we need now is a really good debate in parliament on the Women's Bill considering the many different opinions from the PNG public.

As of yesterday afternoon, parliament had once again failed to muster the numbers to pass the Equal Participation Bill for Women.  The vote in parliament was 67-7.

The government will be bringing the bill back at a later date.

It is ironic that the Constitutional amendment to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Bill was passed with a majority of 73-0.

Obviously some 70 plus MPs see the financial issue as more important than our women.

What a sad ending to the year for the long suffering women of PNG to be treated this way in the people's house.

In some households in the country, this decision by our parliamentarians will have dire consequences.

It won’t be nice. I recollect an incident from last year while attending a public seminar to discuss this Bill organised by a women’s lobby group at a Port Moresby hotel.

One tough member of a women's lobby group expressed her frustration by telling all in attendance that if the MPs do not support this Bill in parliament then their wives will punish them all by refusing to have sex with them.

I wish they had threatened their MP husbands again before today's parliament session. We would then now have a different and possibly a favourable outcome.

How our readers graphed the O'Neill-Somare crisis

How PNG Attitude graphed the crisis

THIS IS HOW THE  PNG ATTITUDE reader counter tracked the tupela wantaim political crisis of the past week.  The mechanism graphs each day's page views by blog readers.

This extract shpws the period from 20 November until last Monday.

As you can see, our readership was happily tooling along at about 1,000 a day - it's normal level - until last Wednesday when, with the crisis gathering steam it shot up to the 2,000 mark.

By Friday - the height of the O'Neill-Somare crisis and with our live blog registering events as they occur - page views leapt to a peak of around 4,000.

Then we had interest gradually fading, but it does seem we've added a hundred or so regular new readers.  Welcome!

But back to the graph - which shows a perfect representation of perhaps the greatest political crisis in Papua New Guinea' short history as a nation.  Interesting, eh?

Seasonal worker program is made permanent

THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT HAS ANNOUNCED that the Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme in which Papua New Guinea participates will be made permanent following the pilot’s expiry in June 2012.

The $21.7 million program will begin on 1 July 2012 and will build on the success of the pilot.

“Australian employers in the horticulture sector unable to source enough local Australian workers will now be able to access a reliable, returning seasonal workforce,” Australian Employment Minister Bill Shorten said.

“This valuable program contributes to economic development in participating countries, while offering Australian employers seasonal staffing help when needed.

“Employers will now have certainty at harvest time and seasonal workers will be able to improve their skills and have a level of financial security.”

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said the decision to fund a permanent program provides a clear indication of Australia’s commitment to development and engagement with the Pacific region and East Timor. 

“This program will provide valuable economic opportunities for workers from the Pacific region and East Timor and will make a real difference for them and their communities,” said Mr Rudd.

The Australian government will also carry out a small-scale, three-year trial with accommodation providers in the tourism industry. Cotton and cane growers as well as fishing operators will also be included in the trial.

PNG has sent 41 workers to Australia under the pilot scheme with new recruitment expected in early 2012.  The workers have developed a reputation for being very hard working and have been excellent ambassadors for their country.

Source: Australian High Commission