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191 posts from January 2012

Somare seeks contempt charges against O'Neill

Australia Network News

SIR MICHAEL SOMARE HAS FILED contempt proceedings against prime minister Peter O'Neill and his deputy Belden Namah.

Sir Michael's lawyers are accusing Peter O'Neill and Belden Namah of not recognising a Supreme Court ruling last year which ordered that Sir Michael be reinstated as prime minister.

They are asking the court to order Mr O'Neill and Mr Namah to be arrested and charged with contempt.

Sir Michael's son, Arthur Somare, claims the prime minister’s office is occupied by Peter O'Neill illegally.

''The contempt proceedings that are before the court will hopefully and finally assist us and the court determine who the legitimate government is for Papua New Guinea," he said.

He said he fears that even if the courts find Mr O'Neill and Mr Namah guilty of contempt, it's most likely police will not arrest them and will not enforce the orders as the police are under the control of the O'Neill-Namah Government.

Prime Minister O'Neill said his government will fight the contempt charges vigorously.

The Prize is offered in seven categories and was first awarded in 2011.  It provides opportunities for Papua New Guinean writers to publish their work and gives PNG readers access to their own literature.
You can ensure the sustainability of this important initiative by making a donation.
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Donors at end January 2012: AustAsia Pacific Health Services; British American Tobacco (PNG); Ex PNG Chalkies; Cleland Family; PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum; Ok Tedi Mining; Steamships Trading Co; MRSM Group;; Paul A Povey; Star Mountains Institute of Technology; Corney K Alone & Tanya Zeriga-Alone; Australian High Commission; Bob Ellis; Ed Brumby; Keith Jackson; Dr Lance Hill; Sue & Kev Ellison; Stuart Hoare; Sean Dorney; Paul Dennett; Murray & Joan Bladwell; Don Hook; Graham King; Henry Bodman; Norma McCall; Paul Oates; John Groenewegen; David Wall

Attitude Quote of the Day
“Ms Toni is a poet's poet .... and thank goodness for the Crocodile Prize which enables such talent to be promulgated” (Ed Brumby on Loujaya Toni's scintillating poetry, at present gracing these columns

I was just carrying out orders, says hapless Col Sasa


Betha SomareTHE ODDS AGAINST A COMEBACK are prohibitive but Sir Michael Somare, through the strident voice of his daughter and spokeswoman, Betha [pictured], is continuing the fight to be reinstated as Papua New Guinea’s prime minister.

The 75-year-old Grand Chief is relentlessly repeating his cry that the Supreme Court order of last year reinstating him to office be respected.  He is also calling upon the police and the military to join him.

"If this is to be my last and biggest battle I will fight for the constitution, the underlying law that holds the very fabric of our democracy and democratic institutions together," he says.

"I appeal to the leaders of our disciplinary forces to look beyond the current circumstances and come to terms with why you (are) a member of a law-enforcing agency. You are here first and foremost to uphold and enforce the law of the land and the orders of the Supreme Court."

His son and former minister, Arthur Somare, has also challenged prime minister Peter O'Neill to an early election.

"Let's go to an early election and see how many people you pick up, Peter" he goaded. "Let's go right now."

And Somare supporters claim that last week’s failed military mutiny has not stopped their push to have the former leader reinstated.

"We are in charge of Taurama barracks. Taurama barracks is more than 200 soldiers who are there, and we have firepower," claims Andrew Kumbakor, who says he is the legitimate defence minister in Sir Michael's legitimate government.

"Sasa [leader of the mutineers], you have done no wrong. For a public defence force, we have done no wrong," Kumbakor said. "I stand with you and I will defend you all the way and in a very short while, I will have you out and you will be the defence force commander of Papua New Guinea."

Colonel SasaSasa [pictured], the retired colonel who led the hapless attempt to restore Somare, for his part says he has no regrets. "I was carrying out the government's orders. Yes sir," he said.

And now Arthur Somare says it was not the Somare group’s intention to use military force to return his father to office. He claims Sasa's appointment as commander was just normal government business.

Meanwhile, Peter O'Neill has said he is contemplating bringing forward the national elections due in the middle of the year so Papua New Guineans can resolve the leadership conflict at the ballot box.

On that point at least, both sides would seem to agree

Crisis should serve as a wake-up call for Canberra

Adelaide Now

JUST TO THE NORTH OF AUSTRALIA, something serious has been going on. For the last few months, Papua New Guinea has been engulfed by a political and constitutional crisis.

The country has, in effect, had two prime ministers and two governors general. As you can imagine, that's a very untidy situation.

All this goes back to March last year when Papua New Guinea's long-serving prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, had heart surgery in Singapore. In June, his family announced that Somare had retired. However, there was legal uncertainty about how to replace him, uncertainty the parliament tried to resolve by electing the Finance Minister, Peter O'Neill, as Prime Minister in August.

In the meantime, Somare recovered and returned to PNG claiming he was legally still PM. He went to court and in early December the Supreme Court ruled he indeed was. So the Parliament immediately passed retrospective legislation to overturn the Supreme Court decision. But despite the Parliament overwhelmingly supporting O'Neill, the Governor General swore Somare in as Prime Minister.

The Parliament then sacked the Governor General and appointed the Speaker in his place, and he then rescinded Somare's commission and swore in O'Neill as PM.

This seemed to be pretty much the end of it all until last week when a colonel walked into the office of the chief of the defence force and announced he was taking over the army and would restore Somare as prime minister. This horrifying action was quickly overcome as most of the army supported O'Neill.

I think I've got all that right. And it's a test of you to remember all that detail. You don't need to, of course; you just need to get a sense of what's been going on in the nearest country to Australia. When John Howard was Prime Minister of Australia he used to say that his greatest foreign policy worry was that PNG would descend into political chaos. After all, its neighbour the Solomon Islands did, Vanuatu has come perilously close at times and Fiji is run by a dictator who came to power through a coup.

Although I have known Sir Michael Somare for years, my more intense dealings with him started after he was re-elected prime minister in 2002.

In the wake of our intervention in the Solomon Islands in 2003, Howard and I decided we needed to make sure PNG didn't go down the same path as the Solomons. I told Sir Michael we wanted to help improve his police force and public service. There was too much corruption and the police were becoming dysfunctional.

Our proposed new assistance scheme was called the Enhanced Co-operation Program. Let it be recorded Somare resisted this new intervention. He thought it neo-colonial. I told him we were spending $300 million of taxpayers' money a year in PNG and we weren't getting good value for money.

We were worried about where the country was heading. If we couldn't get better value for money by implementing the EPG we would have to wind back our aid substantially.

He caved in. But he never forgave me and was overjoyed when the Howard government was defeated in 2007. Kevin Rudd, he figured, would have to be better for him than Howard and Downer.

Continue reading "Crisis should serve as a wake-up call for Canberra" »

Call for repeal of sorcery act by end of this year

Radio Australia

PAPUA NEW GUINEA'S Constitutional and Law Reform Commission says it wants the Sorcery Act repealed by the end of this year.

Last year, the Commission released a review of the Act after human rights groups criticised the increase in the number of false accusations of sorcery.

This broadcast discussion was hosted by presenter Melanie Arnost.

ARNOST: Sorcery, or sanguma, is a part of every day life in Papua New Guinea. Radio Australia journalist Caroline Tiriman says it's difficult to denounce.

TIRIMAN: There are whispers around in the villages saying "oh, so and so does this and that". So you grow up looking at these people who you are told are sorcerers and then you tend to believe that yeah of course there is this sorcery in the villages.

ARNOST: Reverend Jack Urame, a member of the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission says the fear of sorcery is widespread.

URAME: According to Papua New Guineans any death is not natural. You know, all deaths are related to sorcery or witchcraft, even if there is an accident, even if someone is dying from malaria or typhoid or whatever disease of sickness. So I think it is more than 90 per cent of the total population still believe in the existence of sorcery and also in the power of sorcery and witchcraft.

ARNOST: Because of this belief, the government introduced the Sorcery Act of 1971 to "prevent and punish evil practices of sorcery" In its preamble, it recognises that laws dealing with sorcery may "encourage" ill-intentioned people "to make baseless or merely spiteful or malicious accusations that their enemies are sorcerers, solely to get them into trouble with other people". While the Sorcery Act says it seeks to outlaw these false accusations, a researcher from Papua New Guinea's Melanesian Institute, Fr Franco Zuma, says it's having the opposite effect.

ZUMA: We found out that that sorcery act is not actually helping to overcome the problem but is making the problem worse. By criminalising sorcery people think "you see, even the government believes that, so we can take the law into our own hands".

ARNOST: Fr Zuma says the current anti-sorcery legislation encourages people to violently attack, and sometimes kill, those they believe practise sorcery. But in his research, he found the vast majority of sorcery accusations were false.

Continue reading "Call for repeal of sorcery act by end of this year" »

What’s buai got to do with it?


Just picked betel nutIT IS UNFORTUNATELY TRUE that betel nut trade does not make any direct contribution to foreign exchange earnings for PNG. Well, neither does brus or pinats or kumu or kaukau or tapoika or: wait a minute, neither do most of the fresh fruit and vegetables we grow and sell in our local market places all over the country!

The question is posed; are there similarities between the buai bisnis agenda and any of the ‘traditional PNG’ crop and livestock produce?

How about this one: some wise guy (supposedly a research scientist) wrote that at last count there were at least 1.8 million native pigs being kept by village farmers across PNG. One of his colleagues then estimated that this pork meat production was 27 times more than the total output of commercial production in the country.

But that situation may change now that we’ve got the LNG blowing everything out of proportion. The commercial farms as well as the many rural farmers and farming organizations in PNG are now trying to capitalize on the market created by the LNG boom to start up livestock businesses and my guess is that there’ll be a lot of interested potbellied politicians involved too; pigs of all kinds!

Anyway, back to our scientists, another one recently commented that a very conservative estimate of the gross value of traditional pig production (i.e. not charging typical PNG prices for pigs) was PGK 162 million or AUD 69 million. Not a bad bit of business, eh laka? But, if we were to stick to our economic explanation, this ‘village production’ doesn’t bring in any foreign exchange either because it has not been tied into a ‘formal production’ system that has output into an overseas market. Simply put, we need to sell to someone not living in PNG to get some Aussie dollar.

So we can count this as another wasted opportunity because we haven’t learned enough about the workings and potential of that existing traditional PNG pig production system in order to harness and control it for our collective economic betterment. Instead PNG is a net importer of meat and we can buy pig jowls from Australia for around PGK12 per kilo at a local butchery in Mt. Hagen. Go figure!

And that’s only about pig production, if we were to talk about kaukau the same sorry tale would be repeated, even though those rural sweet potato farmers move container loads of bagged tubers from the highlands to Lae and on to Port Moresby, without government assistance! (Ask Consort and Bismark Shipping.) By the way, sweet potato is a delicacy in Australia and McDonalds sells a sweet potato chip specialty with its traditional Big Mac’s.

So what does betel nut have to do with it?

The arguments for better facilitating the betel nut trade are similar; learning and control (and both together too!). That’s one of the jobs of government (and that means us too!), to find out how things are working, if they can be improved for the betterment of one and all and, in a more philosophical sense as one friend on PNG Attitude has recently expounded, to balance the agenda of individualism and pluralism – persons and people.

If we wish to maintain our urban environments in a healthy, hygienic and aesthetically pleasing fashion while still enjoying our betel nut chewing habits then it’s about time we learned and took better control of at least two things; (1) how buai bisnis works and (2) how the actors and their customers impact on the public areas, especially since it’s the customers who create the buai stains.


Continue reading "What’s buai got to do with it?" »

A ‘c’ change


If you should search for knowledge
To answer the riddle of your self

All the books found on every library shelf
Might not relieve your puzzle a smidge

Because ‘h’ is the difference of self from shelf
Search within and you’ll see without eyes.

Things happen in a test tube
That we can easily observe and explain

But anywhere outside of it
It’s not quite the same

That’s because it’s out in the open
Where there’s less control and closure.

Some advise taking only two steps
Once into and once out of water

Supposedly while you’re watching
Perpendicular to a flowing stream

So firstly you get your feet wet
And then you get them dry.

Or you take the opposite length
Over the adjacent length

Then every measured distance
Makes each tangent different

But if trigonometry was used at Pizza
That’s not why the place is famous.

So if a princess was in a tower
And let’s assume she was a prisoner

At least she should have a window
Because horizons offer a fine view

Then the next time the witch calls her
Rupunzel throws down her chair.

Mutinous troops surrender weapons to Belden Namah

ABC CORRESPONDENT LIAM FOX reports on Twitter that the remaining soldiers holed up at Taurama Barracks have surrendered their weapons after discussions with deputy prime minister and defence minister Belden Namah.

Mr Namah says that he will seek Cabinet's approval to grant an amnesty to the mutinous troops, but only this once.

He has told them that there is only one government in Papua New Guinea and that is the government of Peter O'Neill.

She lied



After several years of marriage
She could tell
When the body came home sometimes
The mind chose to dwell where the body had been;

That’s when the motions were
The spirit was not in it
She knew
He knew
They faked it
No one spake it
Not until …


She lied
She laced her lies
It was convenient for her to do so
It was easy
He believed her
Was good enough for now
If he asked her tomorrow
She was forced
To remember what she had said today
So her story could stick
She was quick about her business
There were no attachments
No love lost
Just a cash in enterprise
The bread began to rise
Forcing its presence thru the under-clothes
Layer of lying layer couldn’t hide the protrusion
The confusion
The result of fusion
She lied down
Covered in lace
It was convenient for her to do so
It came easy
She died so her story could stick;


She was the conscience that troubled his guilt
She rocked his boat
She wouldn’t let sleeping dogs lie
She got under his skin
His patience wore thin
He discarded it
Left it hanging at half mast
After a few drinks
He was having a blast
Now that he got his thoughts together
He was ready to tell her
The sooner the better;

A grand entry with a boot thru the door
And a fist to the jaw
She had long been dead
Only now it looked as if he killed her
She lied
Even in death
Only now he got what he deserved.

Mother’s Day


It’s Mother’s Day
Turn on the FM and I hear him say
“This is a special moment in time
Think of your mom”.

Mom, I am thinking of hugging you first
To my cravings from hunger and thirst
You were always there with the best
I then kiss you on your cheeks
Embrace you some more,
Believe me, I won’t let you go
I shall whisper into ears
‘I have always loved you, for all these
I appreciate everything you have done
To make my life joyful and fun
Although you are too strong at length
I surely admire your strength
Out of all girls born
On whose virgin soil my seed was sown
You were specially meant to be
The first one I opened my eyes to see.

Alas, this great day
Full of sunshine and hearsay
Boys wrapping gifts, looking calm
Girls, more than ready to meet mom
Cube-mate can’t wait for weekend
Praying that the break will extend.
On his return from visit to mother,
He’ll be ready to tackle challenges further.
I shed silent tears
And hide my worst fears
This time of the year
I terribly miss you
I really do
I know I sound insane
Still expecting hugs and kisses again
Thinking of those times
So comforting wouldn’t go off them
You are gone for five years now
Still wanting you back, somehow
But if it has to be this way
That you are not going to be back someday
Then, I give my heart to you
Just as it is, untouched and brand new
Wrapped with love
Crystal ribbons of tears tied above
Placed in basket of hugs and kisses
Doesn’t matter if there is no response
This gift of mine
Of true and pure design
Shall always be presented

Keith Knight Epawe (26) was born in Balimo.  He is the first born in a family of five from Erave in the Southern Highlands.  He was selected for university but dropped out and is currently unemployed and living with a cousin in Erima Settlement in Port Moresby.  He has applied and been successful in finding other training positions, including aviation, but because of the high fees had been unable to continue.  Despite all this he enjoys life, particularly writing and reading.  He says, “I believe now that I don’t have to wait for something good to happen to me. I have to cultivate and nurture what I already have with me”

Monsoonal rain destruction


O herald of creation!
Hark the ominous rumbling
Of thy chariots thundering
Behold the heavens tremble
Spewing fantastic lightening!

O blessed spawn of heaven!
Earth rejoices at thou fury
Bring on thy destructive force
For it is thy right to vanquish
Humanity’s violent rush!

O primordial elixir of life!
Restore Earth with thy tenderness
What rare beauty and wonder
Thou hast delivered unto Mankind
What utter waste Man has rendered!

The night shift


IT WAS A FRIDAY NIGHT, a dark and silent Friday night. The air outside the house was cold, and the cold, as I felt, was reaching down into my bones. A shower had proven its existence before it peacefully left, leaving the night to an eerie silence.

A slow breeze began to creep in, cheering the three coconut palms at the back of the house to do a late night dance to farewell the shower that had just left. The branches of the guava tree swayed as if they were bound to worship the wind instead, giving no reverence to the shower.

But yet, there was also a telling presence of the shower itself; as that was evident by the coldness in the air, the reflective wetness and the dark, black clouds. The clouds covered the sky and hung like giant predators stalking their prey, waiting for the right moment to strike in an intercepting manner.

At the same time the dark and black clouds promised rain, as they faithfully hung. I, a lone figure in the dim candle light, sat on a stool, leaning over the table listening to the late night beat on the radio.

Continue reading "The night shift" »

The hunter and his dogs


This is a true story of a hunter who was saved by his hunting dogs during a hunting trip.

IN EARLY 1972 THERE WAS A HUNTER called Thomas at Sulka in the Pomio District of East New Britain. Instead of attending mass one Sunday he decided to take his hunting tools and dogs to wander into the forest to hunt pigs.  While he was there something terrible happened to him.

Before he left his wife called to him, “Thomas!  Are you coming with us to church?”

He replied angrily. “Bullshit!  You know what I always do on a Sunday like this; I go hunting stupid!  We have enough meat for next week, do we?  Besides, this is the right time to hunt because there will not be many other hunters hunting in the same spot.’

Saddened by her husband’s angry words his wife turned away and marched off to church.

After his wife and children had gone he called all his hunting dogs and checked his hunting tools, especially his bow and arrows.  None of his arrows were blunt - he had been doing this all his life.  They strode off into the thick forest.

Continue reading "The hunter and his dogs" »

Failed mutiny could have major repercussions

New York Times

A MUTINY IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA by a group of soldiers loyal to the country’s ousted leader failed less than a day after the uprising began.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s announcement late Thursday came amid escalating tensions between himself and his dismissed predecessor, Sir Michael Somare, with each of them claiming legitimacy.

Some 20 soldiers stormed the barracks of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force in Port Moresby early Thursday, detained the military chief and demanded that Mr O’Neill bow to a Supreme Court ruling ordering the reinstatement of Sir Michael, the country’s first post-independence prime minister.

The apparent head of the failed putsch, a former defence attaché to Indonesia, Col Yaura Sasa, said that Sir Michael had chosen him to head the country’s military and charged him with restoring order — and his benefactor’s position as head of government.

But after a tense day that saw military checkpoints erected in the capital and accusations of treason levelled against the mutineers and even Sir Michael, Mr O’Neill said that his military chief had been freed and that the barracks were back in his government’s control.

“The government has now taken control,” the prime minister told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He added that “the commander is now released; he’s not under house arrest. And, as a result, the government has taken full control of the defence headquarters.”

The current crisis has its roots in August, when, several months after Sir Michael had gone to Singapore to receive medical treatment for a heart problem, Parliament voted overwhelmingly to replace him with Mr O’Neill.

When Sir Michael, whose reputation has been tarnished by accusations of corruption and heavy-handedness, then returned to the country in September, he fought for reinstatement, while Mr O’Neill’s government drafted legislation to retroactively authorise the ouster.

The crisis reached a boiling point last month, when the O’Neill government ignored a Supreme Court decision to reinstate Sir Michael, leading to the bizarre spectacle of two rival prime ministers, cabinets and police chiefs claiming legitimacy over the country.

A decision backing Mr O’Neill in December by the country’s governor general, who represents the head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, seemed to have extinguished the crisis.

But Sir Michael never accepted his ouster, and tensions flared anew on 18 January, when he crashed a session of Parliament wielding a copy of the court decision ordering his reinstatement.

A note released on Friday by Neil Ashdown, an Asia-Pacific analyst with the forecasting and market intelligence firm IHS Global Insight, said that the “inept” mutiny would ultimately harm the image of the country’s armed forces and could significantly ratchet up political tensions ahead of elections scheduled for later this year.

“The failed military mutiny in Papua New Guinea risks significantly escalating the political standoff in the country,” he wrote.

“The situation ended peacefully with the mutineers arrested. However, their ties to the Somare faction risk escalating the political standoff with the de facto government of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.”

“In the short term there is the possibility of recriminations against military and political figures seen as linked to the failed mutiny,” he added.

Our forebears’ practices deserve our accolades


PAPUA NEW GUINEANS TODAY SHOULD BE PROUD of our ancestors for their sapience in containing the deadly diseases tuberculosis and leprosy from spreading and killing the people in the period prior to the western influence.

Before western medicine was introduced into Papua New Guinea our ancestors already had their own traditional medicines and preventive methods for controlling curable and none curable diseases, chiefly TB and leprosy.

Tuberculosis and leprosy were recognised throughout PNG as communicable and deadly diseases well before western influence. The people had no traditional cures for the diseases, particularly leprosy, but they developed other methods to prevent the diseases from spreading and killing them off.

Confinement of the victims was one way of isolating the diseases from spreading. If a person contracted any of the diseases and it became known through the onset of the symptoms, the information would filter quickly throughout the community. Everyone would know about it and stay away from the victim.

The victim, like every other member of the tribe, being  knowledgeable of the rules governing the prevention of the spread of TB and leprosy, would  confine him or herself to his or her home. He or she would be restricted from going out and interacting with the rest of the people; bathing and fishing in the waters; and hunting and collecting firewood in the bushes etc.

Only the close relatives would bring food, water and firewood and leave them at the door of the victim's home. The victim would collect the items after the relatives had left. 

Whenever the relatives would like to talk to the sick person, they would stay some distance away and talk.

The village chiefs would constantly monitor the condition of the victim by asking the relatives or sending spies to observe and report back. If by any chance the sick person, particularly a TB victim, got healed, the person was free to live a normal life.

On the contrary, if the chiefs learned that the victim's condition had gotten worse, they would meet in secret and issue a decree for elimination of the victim from the community.

A squad of strong young men would be appointed to carry out the decree.

There were several methods that the people practised . One popular way was arson. The squad of young men would set fire to the victim's house at night while the victim was fast asleep. The squad would make sure that the victim was burnt to death and did not escape.

The other popular method was drowning the victim in a big river or sea. The squad would tie a rope around the neck of the victim and drag him or her to the river or sea and drown them. Then they would cut the rope and leave the corpse behind to be washed away or eaten by crocodiles and fishes.

Spearing and poisoning the victim were the other methods.  Spearing a victim was  carried out mainly when the victim misbehaved by going into the no-go zones and/or engaged in restricted activities, for example, bathing in the streams.

The most lenient method was confining the victim in a deep inescapable cave until he or she died. The victim was dragged to the cave by tying a rope around the neck and left there. The relatives would from time to time bring food and water and let it down into the cave by rope. The rope was pulled back after the food was taken. This continued until the food was not taken from the rope. Then the relatives knew the victim was dead. They would stop bringing foods to the cave.

Continue reading "Our forebears’ practices deserve our accolades" »

The face of AIDS


The face of AIDS bore a resemblance
To my brother
To my sister
To my friend
To my neighbour;

It stole their life
Crippled their support
Drained their efforts
Sapped their strength;

They became
Shadows in bright sunlight
Until they faded into
The death of night
Remember their plight
Determine to fight

The one that is free willed
Stubborn and ignorant
Because the next face AIDS puts on
May well be

Cricket match lends a hand to those in need

Melbourne Weekly

Dan van den HoekPAPUA NEW GUINEA CRICKET WILL GET A BOOST when the national team goes head-to-head with the Hawthorn Cricket Club for a charity match today.

Watch the game from 10am, January 29, Rathmines Road Reserve, Rathmines Road, East Hawthorn. Entry is free.

The idea came to Hawthorn coach Dan van den Hoek [pictured] when he was volunteering for an exhibition game between the under-16 Papua New Guinea and West Indies teams.

“I thought it would be a great chance to expose players to an international standard and generate more exposure for the Papua New Guinea team,” he says.

Van den Hoek approached the team manager of Papua New Guinea, Pat Khan, who happened to be a family friend. In just a few weeks, they put together a full day of cricket and fund-raising at the Ainslie Park club in Croydon, where van den Hoek was a player.

Three hundred people turned out to see the PNG side win both games. Nine cricket bags full of second-hand equipment were donated to the club.

“It also doubled as a fund-raiser for the club and we donated the money to the bushfire appeal,” says van den Hoek. “It was a great result considering we didn’t have much publicity or time before the day.”

When van den Hoek moved from Ainslie Park to Hawthorn, he decided to bring the idea with him.

He approached PNG’s team again, this time through chief executive officer Bill Leane.

“Bill was more than happy to oblige and give us the chance to raise some money again,” says van den Hoek.

The aim of the match is to promote grassroots cricket in Victoria and develop the game in Papua New Guinea. While the country’s fledgling cricketers are attracting international attention, they struggle to sustain themselves at a local level.

Papua New Guinea is currently ranked 19th in the world in One Day International matches by the International Cricket Council.

The team is rated the best ODI cricket-playing nation in the east Asia-Pacific region, while the under-19s side has qualified for the World Cup.

Van den Hoek says the team takes every opportunity to practise in attempts to improve their ranking on the ICC ODI table.

“It should be a good game,” he says. “This year I think the game will be much closer, with more players available due to the weekend fixture – rather than midweek like last year – and a great depth of talent at Hawthorn Cricket Club.”

Unknown love (just another love poem)


What is it that flow through our eyes,
It makes me so guilty, I look away,
Cry now, my heart shall do,
Because I want to love you,
Even though I don’t know you,

What is it that runs in our nerves?
The feeling rushes my blood when I pass you,
I know that you feel it too,
Because when you want to look at me,
You feel afraid and turn away quickly.

What is it that we are guilty of?
So guilty; we are ashamed of each other,
Yet I am guilty of no crime against you,

And you also know me not,
Not even my name.

What is it that makes us feel we are in love?
Yet our minds think we are not,
And we try to ignore each other,
But our body language says it all,
I’ve seen pretty girls like you,
But you’re different.

What is it that tells us we belong for each other?
I was a childish boy, unwilling to go to school,
One day I got caught in your eyes,
They matured me and I grew,
What is it that I must do to know your name?

Attitude Quote of the Day
“Whether the acts of Thursday were seditious or traitorous, it is clear that Michael Somare has gone too far” (Paul Oates in ‘Reflections on an attempted seizure of State’)

O’Neill wants early poll to end power struggle


PETER O'NEILL SAYS HE WILL MOVE TO dissolve parliament next month and go to early polls to end the current political impasse.

Mr O'Neill came to power after Sir Michael Somare was ruled to have missed too many sessions of parliament while he was out of the country receiving medical treatment.

Mr O'Neill says he said he would seek his government's blessing to bring forward the scheduled June general election.

However, a Radio New Zealand International correspondent in Port Moresby said that, while Mr O'Neill has the backing of a majority of MPs, it is unlikely they would vote to dissolve parliament.

Meanwhile, Sir Michael's supporters insist that Colonel Yaura Sasa – holed up with 20 rebel soldiers in Taurama Barracks- is still the legitimate commander of the Defence Force.

But the O'Neill government says police and defence personnel are in the process of apprehending those who conducted the mutiny.

It’s time to clean up the mess


When we were still floating, “In the
currents /  That swept this land”1, things
were a lot messier than they are now.
But, there were less of us to see that.
In fact, we didn’t know it was messy.

Much later it was different “For white man,
he came / And our place changed forever”.2
Well, mostly. Maybe we gave in too

easily and didn’t learn how to clean up
our own mess, or to not make one at all.

The question is “What happened back then!” 3
(?) Everything got white-washed in our pre-

Falcongate days. We hid the scandal
of ourselves and now for the life of
us (or our kids) we can’t figure it out!

So every five years we choose who is to
be in charge of ‘cleaning up the mess’4
left by those others before them. Funny
that, because there are familiar faces in
this crowd from the last clean-up crew.

And it’s always one mess or another.
But one learned friend says that that is
what we should expect from a vibrant
democracy: Individualism vs. Pluralism5.
Now we live in a mess created by that schism.

Do you get that sneaking doubt that
somehow you’re partly responsible
for the disorder too? I do. Maybe it’s just
me and I should check in at Laloki6.
I know for sure I didn’t check that box!

It’s spring-cleaning season again PNG, so if
we all get together we can clear out The Mob7
we put in charge. That may be a faint hope

but it’s only as weak as our smallest finger
that gets stained with the ink of our guilt.

We’ve been here on this Treasure Island8
for a long while. Not discounting the chaos

it’s time we made more than a scratch
on the pages of history. Time is ticking on,
so today, let’s make a mark not a mess.


1 Lines from A Rower’s Song a poem by Steven Edmund Winduo, from his book A Rower’s Song, Manui Publishers 2009, Port Moresby PNG.

2 Lines from White man’s war a poem by P. Naringi, published in The National newspaper Writer’s forum on 23 September 2011.

3 What happened back then is a poem by Lapieh Landu, published in The Crocodile Prize Literature 12 January 2012 on the website Keith Jackson & Co: PNG Attitude.

4 The most recently recycled political rhetoric regurgitated for public consumption.

5 See the essay Theoretical Underpinnings of Development in PNG by Samil Yapi Yanam, published in The Crocodile Prize Literature 12 January 2012 on the website Keith Jackson & Co: PNG Attitude.

6 Laloki is a popular destination for idealists and others who might hear voices inside their heads (Is that my rebellious conscience I hear?).

7Also known as Parliament.

8Treasure Island is a novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. Some wise guy said that PNG was “an island of gold floating on a sea of oil”.

Written at Bubia Station between 25 and 27 January 2012

Wake up PNG! Radical response needed for HIV/AIDS


WHY SHOULD PAPUA NEW GUINEA continue to push an HIV and AIDS policy that has been tested over a decade and has proven to be fruitless?

Despite millions of kina in aid money pouring into the war against the deadly HIV virus each year for more than a decade, HIV infections are still on the rise.

The official HIV prevalence rate of 1.6% reported by the National AIDS Council is based on registered cases and does not reflect the true picture of the endemic.

Experts believed that there are many healthy HIV carriers roaming around undetected. They believed that the true HIV prevalence rate should be within the range of 2-2.5%.

Papua New Guinea has a relatively small population and already a significant number of its people have succumbed to AIDS.

We cannot continue to be complacent and wishy washy in our war against HIV/AIDS and lose even more people.

Apart from the bandaid of massive public awareness and education programs on HIV/AIDS, the authorities should address the root of the problem. This is glaringly obvious and the health authorities are well aware of it.

As long as healthy HIV carriers are free to have indiscriminate sexual practises, HIV/AIDS is here to stay. And more innocent lives will be destroyed.

Drastic mechanisms like compulsory HIV screening and isolation of HIV positives in care centres and even the tattooing of carriers will eliminate HIVAIDS in Papua New Guinea.

It is murder when a healthy HIV carrier intentionally goes around unleashing the deadly venom on vulnerable and unsuspecting victims under the influence of money, entertainment and cargo.

The fear is that, as time passes, all the madness, fear and hurly-burly surrounding HIV/AIDS are bound to wane. And Papua New Guinea will soon be heading down the same road that African nations have been through; accepting HIV/AIDS and living with it just like any other common viral infection such as flu or influenza while their populations are still being decimated by the millions.

We don't have the kind of population that the African nations have to play around with. Our seven million people are nothing compared to the populations of many African nations.

No matter what Australia or the rest of the world may think, culturally we are unique. As a sovereign nation, Papua New Guinea should decide what is best for her people in the war against HIV/AIDS in the context of her own traditions, norms and social behaviour.

Australia and other international donor agencies should refrain from shoving down our throats their ideologies and policy frameworks under the might of their aid money.

These ideologies and policies are not working in PNG because they are irrelevant and not conducive to Papua New Guinean society. Why continue to spend millions of dollars pushing for a policy that has been tested over ten years and has proven to be fruitless?

Wake up PNG and get back to the drawing board. The sooner the better.

Reflections on an attempted seizure of the State


A coup d'état….is the sudden, illegal deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either civil or military [Wikipedia]

THE IMPLICATIONS OF Thursday’s actions by rogue defence personnel may be just as significant as if there had been a successful coup.

Discipline is a key factor with the PNGDF. Without discipline and loyalty to the nation, a military force is subject to whoever decides to lead. Yet does the PNGDF evidence a history of loyalty and discipline?

There have been recent cases of lack of PNGDF discipline and effective civilian control over the force.

In May 2011 the PNG media reported an armed riot by members of the PNGDF in Moresby. Armed soldiers from Taurama Barracks travelled in convoy from the barracks to a service station and, after discharging their weapons, ransacked the premises and tried to set fire to 80,000 litres of fuel. The damage and loss of property was estimated at more than K5 million.

This came on top of a demonstration of soldiers in Lae after a reportedly drunken officer was refused service and ejected from a store by security personnel. Armed PNGDF personnel left their barracks and patrolled the town in full view of the public. The local police commander was eventually able to get the soldiers to return to barracks. There were no reports of any disciplinary action being taken.

Given the events in Moresby on Thursday, nothing less than immediate action by the PNGDF Commander and investigation by an independent authority can stop further escalation of such mutinous events. It is a worrisome that the Defence Force shows such contempt for civilian rule.

The soldiers responsible must be immediately stood down and all weapons and ammunition throughout the country impounded and placed under proper control. Failure to act decisively could result in a similar situation to that in Wewak some years ago where it was reported soldiers raided the armoury and stole weapons and ammunition, some of which were never recovered.

Either the PNG government, through the PNGDF Commander, has control of the country's defence force or the next step could well be a military coup. It's happened in Fiji and it can happen in PNG.

The people in the Somare camp who reportedly gave an illegal order to a retrenched officer to stage the most recent action must now be confronted with their crime.

Surely such a dishonourable and dangerous action cannot be swept under the carpet. To seek to usurp the wishes of an elected Parliament is seditious (stirring up of rebellion against the government in power).

Deputy PM Belden Namah claimed that Michael Somare had committed treason (the violation of allegiance to one's sovereign or state).

Whether the acts of Thursday were seditious or traitorous, it is clear that Michael Somare has gone too far.

Perhaps his honorific of Grand Chief and his knighthood should be revoked - cancellation is considered in cases where retention of the appointment or award would bring the honours system into disrepute.

Call for independent probe into landslide


LNG WATCH, a Papua New Guinea NGO, has called for an independent investigation into the cause of Tuesday’s huge landslide in Southern Highlands Province.

Reports from the affected area, between Nogoli and Hides, say the number of people buried could be as high as 60.

The landslide occurred within the parameters of Exxon Mobil’s liquefied natural gas project site.

Many locals are blaming the multi-billion dollar project for the landslide, saying a nearby quarry used for the project involved explosives which unsettled the earth.

Stanley Mamu of LNG Watch says it needs to be independently established whether the project increased the risk of the landslide.

“Mount Gigira, it’s a kind of a range; people are sleeping along that place all the way to Hides 1, 2 3 and 4 and then down to Komo,” he said.

“So that thing (the landslide) might happen again. So to stop that incident happening in the future, I want these people to come in and do the investigation.”

I beg your pardon, we want a pardon, say rebels


RETIRED COLONEL YAUWA SASA and some 20 mutineers remain holed up in Port Moresby’s Taurama Barracks and say they will not surrender until guaranteed a pardon.

This is the latest quirky development in a poorly planned and incompetently executed attempt to force the O’Neill government out of office and reinstate Sir Michael Somare as prime minister.

Meanwhile all air services in Papua New Guinea have resumed except flights to Wewak, a Somare stronghold and an important military base.

This was the second time in six weeks the Somare group had attempted to get the army to intervene in its dispute with the O’Neill government.

On the first occasion, in early December, the army refused to engage.  This time minor elements did under the leadership of a retired colonel and with no great effect.

If the Somare group was hoping this action would trigger a more widespread uprising in the military, it seems to have badly miscalculated.

The critical questions now concern when the mutinous troops will be forced out of Taurama Barracks, under what circumstances and with what outcome in terms of their fate and the future of Somare and his supporters, who apparently motivated an attempted coup.

Meanwhile Somare’s daughter and chief spokesperson, Betha Somare, will not admit defeat.

She told The Australian newspaper: "There will still be a stand-off. They're not going to move against my folks. He's got a lot of people who support him," she said.

Ms Somare accused the O'Neill government of "illegally holding onto power".

"Our Constitution is at stake here. They've abrogated the Constitution and dismissed what the Supreme Court decided," she said.

The coup through the eyes of a buai seller

The Namorong Report

A POLICE VEHICLE DRIVES PAST Murray Barracks late in the afternoon. The situation is eerily calm like the atmosphere at a graveyard.

As I walk along the Murray Barracks fence I come across a street vendor. Jenny, from Wabag, sells buai outside Murray Barracks near the main gate and bus stop.

Business is good today…. yep mutineers are good customers. She’s looking forward to staying tonight if the mutiny continues.

On the other side of the road soldiers eye the mutineers.  Jenny watches the eyeing-off contest as it progresses all day.

As I chat with Jenny, one of the mutineers comes over to buy buai. He warns us not to venture from our homes tomorrow.

Even if the coup is over, recent history has shown how soldiers from Taurama can go on a rampage. The owners of a service station at Manu have memories of that experience.

As I walk home I see a convey of the mutineers driving back in civilian vehicles, all Toyota Hilux 5th elements with guns mounted on top.

He only saw the end …


He only saw the end
And now
To justify the means;
He drove through the red light
No one was hurt
He was wrong
He was in a hurry:

If he didn’t make it
On time
He wouldn’t be here
To deliver
This life giving speech;

He only saw the end
It was the people
They had to be reached;
Are people more important than laws?
What if
Someone got killed
Or hurt
Aren’t they people too?

Only someone on a late start would be
In a hurry to catch up with
If he didn’t make it
Would the people wait?
He saw his end
Did he see theirs?

Would breaking laws to get to them
Exonerate him?
In their eyes
Make him their hero
The absolute caring kind
Against all odds;

They’ve always broken laws
To meet
Their own ends
But now
He’s breaking laws to meet their needs.

A dinghy ride by starlight


There is an echo even now. Awakening
From haunted dreams, late in the night
A memory of a dinghy ride by starlight:

The noise of the motor reverberating
Off the coast, above the rushing waves,
Cold and damp from sea spray and rain:

Phosphorescent glittering streams in
Our passing wake arise from unknown
Depths as we skim their salty matrix:

Dark ragged hills like a rip in the fabric
Of a jet black sky and the ghostly white
Foam of the relentless Solomon Sea:

A shoreline strewn with the debris of
That unending war: A warning to steer
Clear off, but to keep a parallel course:

Speak not of crows for I have seen them
In a mist shrouded morning at Rabaraba

Where they held their nodding congress.

And Champion’s surprise at finding me
There, upon his arrival, was worth a
Hundred voyages into Anuki Country.

Russell Soaba writes: “A good poem indeed. Deeply intriguing as the Anuki Country itself, mysterious, yet ever close to the safety and comfort of the shoreline! Qualities that good poems are always made of are to be found here, in this poem.”

A call to seed with probity *


This poem was written at the height of the 2011 political impasse between Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and Peter O'Neill over the prime minister's post and the Task Force Sweep's stunning unveiling of misappropriation of millions of public funds by politicians and public servants

Fountain of love
Pillar of peace
Crown of justice
Rock of salvation
Tower of liberty
Sea of prosperity

Heaven's legacy
Messiah's advocacy
Yoke of supremacy
Dream of the meek and afflicted
National cry of the masses
Manna for a nation in crisis

Seed Papua New Guinea seed
Big men seed
Small men seed
Mothers seed
Children seed
Clergymen seed
Everybody seed
with probity

Seed in all walks of life
Probity in the homes
Probity in the learning places
Probity in the work places
Probity in the churches
Probity in the bureaucracy
Probity in the political arena

Let probity be implanted in our blood

Let probity be rooted in our systems of governance Let probity takes reign in our dealings A probity-cherished Papua New Guinea shall her citizens triumph over a new sunrise A dawn of opulent paradise where the euphoria of triumph never dies

* When probity is in control the nation shall know no greed, either for power or for wealth - Francis Nii, 12 December 2011

For they're my kind


I hate wars
I love warriors
I hate rebellion
I love rebels
I hate coup d'état
I love the perpetrators
I hate homicides
I love murderers
I hate corruption
I love corruptors
I hate fornication
I love fornicators
I hate lies
I love liars
I hate thievery
I love thieves
I hate robbery
I love robbers
I hate sorcery
I love sorcerers
I hate idolatry
I love idolaters
I hate betrayals
I love betrayers
I hate human's vile behaviour
I love humans
For they're my kind

Charlene Dinipami Nii (16) comes from Yobai Village, Karimui Nomane, Simbu. She is in Grade 10 at the Kundiawa Lutheran Day High School

Overseas aid: there are rewards in giving

The Advertiser (Adelaide)

Malcolm Rawlings, Nina Luscombe, Lachlan Mann & John Squire of Henley Fulham congregationCONGREGATIONS ARE REAPING REWARDS from giving to overseas aid projects, Australian church leaders say.

Adelaide Uniting Church minister Reverend Malcolm Rawlings said getting involved united congregations and made international issues more real to them.

Inspired to help after watching news coverage of Papua New Guinea, his congregation raised $25,000 to have a health clinic built on the island of Numfor.

"This was something making a practical difference in the lives of people overseas and we found that all people, both in the congregation and outside it, were excited about supporting it," Mr Rawlings said.

"People who normally wouldn't work together were working together and supporting each other. It gave us an opportunity to talk about faith in practice and people were pleased to see the church was involved in more than just looking at their own buildings.

“It's that sense of giving without getting anything back."

He said the project became an integral focus in worship and gave parishioners a greater knowledge of overseas issues through meeting a practical need.

Australian Lutheran World Service community action manager Jonathan Krause said congregational support for overseas aid work was increasing. "People see a need and want to respond but it also comes out of their values."

Photo: Clockwise from top - Malcolm Rawlings, Nina Luscombe, Lachlan Mann and John Squire of Henley Fulham congregation [Brooke Whatnall]

Live blog: Agwi freed; Sasa being 'dealt with', says O'Neill



1900 The updates will continue later if there are further developments

1815 The ABC’s Liam Fox [Liam (Old Irish, noun)= he who is first with the news] reports Peter O'Neill saying that Brig Gen Agwi has been freed, soldiers involved have withdrawn to Taurama Barracks and Col Sasa is being "dealt with". The prime minister “wouldn't clarify”, says Fox. The ABC is also reporting that all domestic airports in PNG are closed (thanks Peter Kranz).

1810 Y'know it's eerily quiet.  If this was a western, I'd be expecting the hail of arrows.  It's all tenter and no hook. And we've got 2,000 readers needing a fix.

You can now read a transcript of retired Papua New Guinea General Jerry Singirok’s interview with Radio Australia here

And watch Damien Kingsbury, professor of international relations at Deakin University, speaking to Al Jazeera on the PNG political situation


1805 “Is a military coup in PNG just around the corner?” contributor Paul Oates asked last year. “Given the 'solidarity' being expressed by PM Somare for [the] Fiji coup leader, it wouldn't take much for some PNG soldiers see a parallel 'window of opportunity'.I’d take a lottery ticket on the back of that prescience, Paul

Col Yara Sasa

1740 The man claiming to be the new commander of Papua New Guinea’s Defence Force, retired Col Yauara Sasa [pictured] denies he conducted a mutiny this morning. “It looks as though it’s a military coup but it is not a military coup. I’m restoring, I’m intervening to restore the constitution and that means all - that is also the public servants, heads of the departments, statutory bodies and institutions - comply with what (the court has decided). The court has made its decision but nobody seems to be adhering to the court decisions. So what does that mean: the court has no powers now?”

1640 Still no news, but plenty of entertainment. “All indications are that Namah and O’Neill will still be in power and the Somare regime may face High Treason charges for trying to overthrow the state. But hey this is the fucking land of the unexpected and I'm just a drunk blogger writing this nonsense for you with loud music in the background. OMG, just ran out of alcohol. Maybe PNG also has ran out of sanity” – Martyn Namorong at his intemperate best.  Read more here

1620 The deadline for the surrender of the army mutineers has come and gone.  So far no reports of action. Peter O’Neill is believed to have been in the Southern Highlands at the scene of the tragic Tari landslide. Sir Michael Somare is maintaining a sullen silence.

1610 Liam Fox (ABC) tweets that he has heard that Jacksons (international) airport has been closed. Could this be to stop incoming support for the mutineers or to prevent pro-Somare people from getting out of town?

1515 More from Peter Kranz about the Belden Namah media conference. Quotes from Namah - "Somare has now lost the total respect of the country he fought for independence (for). He was the chief minister, the first prime minister. He is the grand chief. I want to say this to Somare: You have lost your mind. You have lost total control of yourself. You have lost your mind. You have lost sanity."

Mr Namah said 15 of the 30 men loyal to Sasa and Somare had been arrested but those numbers cannot be verified. He said the army officers had until 4.06pm to surrender or face the full force of the law.

1500 So let’s try to recap the critical elements in the latest crisis to envelope Papua New Guinea; a crisis triggered by a mutineer colonel who paradoxically says he is trying to alleviate a crisis.

Just before 3 pm there’s a little over an hour left before deputy prime minister Belden Namah’s deadline expires for the rebel soldiers to surrender – 4.06 pm, the official public service knock-off time.

Brigadier General Francis Agwi has been placed under house arrestThere seems to be less than 100 of them under the command of retired colonel Yaura Sasa, apparently commissioned by the ‘Somare cabinet’ to take control of the Army from its rightful commander, Brig Gen Francis Agwi [pictured], who is variously said to be under house arrest or, according to Sasa, not under house arrest.

Commander Sasa appears to have taken control of the Murray and Taurama barracks in an attempt to restore the Somare government and claims the authority of the Supreme Court and the PNG Constitution to justify his extreme actions.

So far prime minister Peter O’Neill has not made any public statement but was said to be wanting to visit the barracks with loyal troops, although this could not be confirmed.

Air Niugini flights to Lae, Wewak, Vanimo and Kiunga - all close to Army bases– have been suspended to deter soldiers likely to be sympathetic to the Somare faction from travelling to Port Moresby.

Meanwhile Port Moresby is reported to be quiet.

Live blog: Mutiny leader gives MPs 7 days to resolve 'crisis'



1425 Sir Michael's Somare’s daughter and spokeswoman, Betha, has told journalists that Sir Michael ordered Colonel Yaura Sasa to take control of Papua New Guinea's Army.

Ms Somare said a decision was taken by Sir Michael's cabinet to install the retired soldier as head of the defence force, replacing Francis Agwi. "A decision was taken by Somare's cabinet for Col Yaurra Sasa to take charge of the PNGDF," Betha Somare said.

AAP reports that Commander Sasa appears to have taken control of the Murray and Taurama barracks.  He has also held two press conferences in the office of arrested Army Commander Agwi.

An army officer at Murray Barracks, who asked not to be named, told AAP the gates had been locked in anticipation of the arrival of Prime Minister Peter O'Neill and troops loyal to him.

Police say they are monitoring the situation.  Spokesman Dominic Kakas told AAP Commander Sasa may be in control of 20 to 100 troops.

Col Sasa denied reports in the PNG media that Commander Agwi was under "lock and key", telling journalists the veteran soldier who denied Sir Michael's request for a military intervention in December was not under house arrest

1400 We, where were we? Peter Kranz reports:

Colonel Sasa gave a news conference at around 1:00.  He claims he is just trying to enforce the Constitution and decision of the Supreme Court and was appointed by Somare yesterday to take control of the PNGDF. Some astute journos asked what he would do if Parliament met and merely confirmed O'Neill as PM (as it already has done). He refused to be drawn, other than saying if it wasn't sorted out he would take 'necessary actions.'

Later deputy prime minister Belden Namah gave a press conference and stated that some of the soldiers involved in the action have been arrested (by the police presumably).  He has given Sasa till 4:00 to step down.  Meanwhile he has ordered the suspension of Air Niugini flights to Lae, Wewak, Vanimo and Kiunga - all close to Army bases likely to be sympathetic to the Somare faction.  This was against the background of reports that some Army units were mobilising and travelling to Port Moresby.

A tambu [close friend] in Moresby in an email to me states "the O’Neill side condemns the action saying that it’s an act out of desperation by the Somare faction. Nothing has eventuated around the Waigani government offices towards the parliament as yet.

“There is now a heavy policy presence around the various MPs houses and offices. The streets are quiet and businesses are normal as usual around Waigani. I think the commotion is around Konedobu and around the Murray Barracks towards 3 Mile and 2 Mile…

“The general election for PNG is just months away and I don’t know when this political impasse will ever stop and the MPs prepare for the election. What a Land of the Unexpected…"

1200 Trouble with one man bands is that the band needs to take a break sometimes.  We'll resume here in about two hours.  Meanwhile keep the feedback flowing.

1155 Blogger Martyn Namorong reports that Col Yaura Sasa is from Morobe Patrol Post in the Huon Gulf area and is an elder brother of Hon Zibe Sasa, PNG’s Health Minister

1150 The man who has staged a raid on a military barracks in Papua New Guinea has given MPs a seven day deadline to resolve the country's political crisis, or he will resort to force, but claims he is not staging a mutiny or a military takeover. Retired Colonel Yaura Sasa declared himself commander after his soldiers placed Brig Gen Francis Agwi under house arrest.

1130 The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade called on the O'Neill government to quickly resolve the crisis. ''We are concerned about these developments overnight in Port Moresby,'' it said. ''We urge that the situation be resolved as soon as possible, and that the PNGDF chain of command is restored.''

Australia's High Commissioner in Port Moresby, Ian Kemish, spoke earlier today with Mr O'Neill, DFAT said. ''Mr O'Neill told the High Commissioner authorities were taking steps to manage the situation,'' a statement said. ''The Head of the Australian Defence Staff at the High Commission has also talked with Brigadier Agwi. 'We understand that discussions underway within the PNGDF to resolve the matter.”

1125 The leader of the overnight army mutiny has demanded the return of Sir Michael Somare to the prime ministership, reports The Australian newspaper. Colonel Yaura Sasa, a former defence attaché to Indonesia, who arrested the country's military commander Brigadier Francis Agwi and placed him under house arrest, has given the nation's politicians seven days to decide who is in charge of the country.

He says he has taken control of PNG's military following discussions with Brigadier Agwi. ''My task is restoring the integrity and respect of the constitution and the judiciary,'' Colonel Sasa told reporters from the commander's office in Murray Barracks.

''I am now calling on the head of state (Governor General Sir Michael Ogio) to immediately implement Sir Michael's post as prime minister.''

He said Mr O'Neill must recall parliament and gave PNG's 109 MPs a seven-day deadline to ''sort out'' the constitutional mess.

The gates of Murray Barracks have been locked and Mr O'Neill is expected to go to the barracks with troops loyal to him.

There have been no reports of any injuries or gunfire so far, nor any sign of police involvement.

1115 The leader of the mutiny has been identified by commentator Nou Vada as Colonel Yaura Sasa, commanding officer Charlie Company , 1 PIR

1105 Email from Bruce Hill at Radio Australia with a note on an interview worth catching up with: “I spoke to General Singirok about the mutiny about an hour ago. We played the full seven minute interview with him of Phil Kafkaloudes morning program just before 11am, and a 20 second clip from it is currently being played in our news bulletins.

“Gen Singirok says essentially that this is a problem caused by the Somare-O’Neill political standoff, and he’s called on the Speaker to reconvene parliament so the impasse can be dealt with once and for all. He admitted that ethnic loyalties are still clearly a factor within the PNGDF, suggested that more resources are needed to ensure the professionalism and neutrality of the military, and offered his own services as a mediator if required.

“We will be playing the interview again in Pacific Beat at 4pm Melbourne time today.”

1020 Reporter Ruth Rungula from EMTV says US Embassy representatives are at Murray Barracks PNGDF HQ

1015 "The streets of Port Moresby are calm. National TV is broadcasting the Adelaide [India v Australia] test," reports Martyn Namorong. "Eyewitnesses report that Taurama Barracks is swarming with fully armed soldiers."

1010 "At this stage it is not clear if the incident is related to the conflict between Peter O'Neill and Sir Michael Somare over the country's prime ministership, or if it is the work of disgruntled soldiers," the ABC says on its website.

0955 "We in PNG don't want Somare and the Chinese back in power," tweets award-winning blogger Martyn Namorong 

0945  The Melbourne Herald Sun reports: “Armed soldiers - some with camouflage paint on their faces - were preventing reporters from entering the Murray Military Barracks this morning, but they are expected to be taken to a commander soon. AAP's reporter at the scene says the soldiers say the barracks are under their ‘operational command’ and there are rumours of a change in command.”

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has advised Australians to limit travel around Port Moresby today "due to disturbances at Murray and Taurama Barracks".

0915 Peter Kranz reports from Twitter sources (unverified) that soldiers are being organised to enforce the orders of the Supreme Court to reinstate Sir Michael.

Martyn Namorong says that the former defence attaché to Indonesia, a Colonel Safa, has now declared himself PNGDF commander.

0845  A possible attempted military coup is underway in Papua New Guinea with top military officers reported to be under house arrest.
The mutinous troops are operating under the name Operasin Strongim Konstituson [Operation Support the Constitution].

Among other officers, Francis Agwi the Defence Force commander, and Kyrie Eleison, the Commanding Officer of Taurama Barracks, are said to have been placed under house arrest by around 40 soldiers this morning.

Trade union leader Michael Malabag has commented: “Just what is going on now is the evil hand of politicians infiltrating the Defence Force of PNG. I am very concerned about this latest development.”

Radio Australia says supporters of former prime minister Sir Michael Somare are believed to have staged the raid on Murray Barracks early in the day.

A report just in from the ABC's PNG correspondent Liam Fox says: “At about 3:00am today a group of between 12 and 20 soldiers are believed to have raided the defence force headquarters at Murray Military Barracks and placed the head of the army, Brigadier General Francis Agwi, under house arrest.

“The ABC understands that a new commander has been sworn in. The raid on the barracks is believed to have been peaceful.”

Eyewitness accounts from readers can be sent here.  Comments from readers are also welcome [below]

Weapons have been released and orders given for the O'Neill/Namah cabinet and police commissioner Kulunga to be arrested.

An unnamed sources is quoted as saying: “We are now under military edict. Anyone resisting arrest will be shot. Orders have been issued to that effect.”

Only a woman can


He looked
But didn’t see
Because he used his eyes
And not
His heart;

He heard but didn’t listen
He had been carried as a load
But had never carried a load;

The trouble with his leadership was
He’s too busy looking for gain
She carried his pain
His people
He heard their petition
But he failed to hear their cry
Only a woman can do both;

She mastered it
whilst giving birth she nurtured life
she looked and saw
with her eyes and her heart
she heard and listened to
the unborn
the birthed one
to tell the difference between a sigh and a cry
Only a woman can;

She’s the radar in a man’s seeing, being and doing
Without her
He can drift till kingdom come
She’s the anchor
Come to terms with it
Some … things … only

How to break free from the vicious cycle of dinau


LIVING EVERYDAY LIFE ON BORROWED MONEY is a big problem for thousands of workers in Papua New Guinea today.

Approximately three quarters of the working population in this country are so enslaved by dinau that they find it extremely difficult to break free from its grip. Dinau kilim mi ya (debts are killing me) is a national sentiment among the workforce.

People who earn less than a thousand kina a fortnight and are single breadwinners with large families are the most affected. Gamblers, alcohol users and cigarette and betel nut consumers are doomed without borrowed money.

The vicious circle of debts evolves from the squandering of take-home fortnightly income (after income tax, bank loans etc have been deducted) on unbudgeted non-essentials like alcohol, cigarettes, betel nut, customary and extended family obligations and gambling on the pokies, horse races, cards and the lottery.

Papua New Guineans know how to budget their income either mentally or in written form. However the problem they have is a high tendency of not adhering to their budgets. They spend indiscriminately. As a result they run out of money for necessities like food, fuel and bus fares well before the next pay packet arrives.

To provide for these basic needs, they have to find money somehow. The easiest and fastest way is to borrow cash from the fast- growing money lending business known as maket moni at exorbitant fortnightly interest rates of 30, 40 and even 50 or 100 percent.

The usurers readily lend as long as the loan seekers agree to the interest charged and at the same time surrender their EFTPOS cards (along with pin codes) enabling the money lenders to collect their dues directly from ATMs.

The prevailing trend is that when the previous loan is repaid, new financial pressures bite into the family budget forcing the breadwinner to borrow again. Each time, consciously or unconsciously, the loan increases until the total debt comprising the principal plus interest reaches an unmanageable proportion. Often the debt equals or exceeds the total take-home income of the breadwinner-cum-debtor.

The vicious circle of debt comes into effect. The money lender has the upper hand, taking the entire take-home income of the borrower. The poor person then borrows again from the usurer to sustain his or her family's life and they go round and round like that payday after payday.

The consequences on the social and economic welfare of workers and their families are diverse. Non-payment of children's school fees, disconnection of electricity and water supplies, sale of household items like TV sets and prostitution by female family members are some common consequences.

The extremes are court proceedings and loss of jobs when the borrowers try to evade their loans by getting new EFTPOS cards with new pin codes or running away to new locations and new jobs.

How can people who have been enslaved by debt for many years break free from its grip? Before embracing any plan, it is of paramount importance that one must have the willpower to break free. Having your heart and mind fully committed to breaking free is the foundation for any plan to be fruitful because most plans will involve self-discipline and personal sacrifices.

Once your mind and heart are fixed then you should list down all the possible means and ways and assess them one by one. Eventually you should come up with one best option to follow.

Continue reading "How to break free from the vicious cycle of dinau" »

Informal economy ensures equitable development

Inter Press Service News Agency

ALTHOUGH PAPUA NEW GUINEA is known as a resource-rich country, 85% of the population depends on the informal economy for a living.

The need for a grassroots-led economic enterprise to aid equitable and sustainable development is nationally recognised, but awaits better governance, infrastructure and facilities.

Meanwhile, the majority of PNG’s population of seven million people practice subsistence agriculture in rural communities, many in locations remote from road and transport networks and public service delivery.

More than half of all income sources, including fresh food production, are part of the informal economy.

But informal agriculture is not confined to the rural provinces. In the capital, Port Moresby, fresh produce markets are growing, supplied by an expanding network of small farms and food gardens in the city’s outer suburbs and villages within commuting distance.

Bire Nikil moved to Port Moresby from Chimbu Province in the highlands to start a food garden several years ago. At Gordons Market, he is surrounded by five of his relatives who assist him with growing and selling kaukau (sweet potato), bananas, aibika (Pacific cabbage), pineapples, peanuts, watermelon, mangoes and coconuts, all transported in by public minibus.

Nikil’s weekly income of K300 ($140) supports 20-25 people, including relatives in Chimbu Province.

For many market vendors, who are also growers, this is their only source of income and open markets their main outlets.

Ruth Williepore supports herself and her four-month-old daughter by selling freshly grown food at the market every day. She lives on the city’s northern outskirts, where cultivation of fresh produce is collectively organised with families given specific crops to grow and produce taken to market by public transport.

"If we sell 100 bags (of food) per day," Williepore said, "we earn K2,000-3,000 ($950-1,400) which pays for food, water, household items, school fees, clothes and power bills."

"More people are buying and more people are selling," Williepore added, surrounded by several hundred fellow vendors and an abundance of fruit and vegetables piled on wooden benches, in plastic tubs and on every spare bit of ground.

The 2008 Feeding Port Moresby study, by PNG’s Fresh Produce Development Agency, revealed that the total supply of fresh food to the city each year is around 57,800 tonnes, with an overwhelming 50,300 tonnes sourced from local urban production and 7,400 tonnes from other provinces and international imports.

Continue reading "Informal economy ensures equitable development" »

Life-after-death sculptures fascinate Pacific academic

Otago Daily Times

Pacific art curator Dr Michael GunnTO UNDERSTAND PACIFIC ART it is necessary to discard Western assumptions, curator Dr Michael Gunn says.

Dr Gunn, senior curator of Pacific Art at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, has returned to his hometown of Dunedin to spend a fortnight at Otago Museum.

He is examining and helping improve documentation of the museum's collection of Malagan art from New Ireland. The museum has more than 300 pieces of Malagan art.

Malagan art is known for ritual sculptures which illustrate a person's life after their death. Dr Gunn said the death sculpture concept was hard for Westerners to understand.

On several trips to the islands between the early 1980s and 2001, he sought to immerse himself in the culture.

His experiences shook up his beliefs, including those relating to the concepts of magic and sorcery, which were part of local culture.

"There is a lot we do not know ..."

Important cultural practices were very much alive when he first arrived. However, in recent years, life on the islands had changed, partly because of mining.

After a lengthy commemoration of the person's life, the ritual sculptures were destroyed, although sometimes they were sold to foreigners, which for the islanders was akin to destroying them.

The sculptures depicted the person's life force, and various aspects of their life.

Dr Gunn is impressed with one of Otago museum's sculptures' which dates from 1860-70.

The museum's collection also includes Malagan masks, mainly worn by young men and used in dramatic rituals.

The masks depict emotions and character in ways unknown in Western art and have a visual vocabulary which is unique, Dr Gunn said.

The blue core


ANDY WAS ENTERING AN ENGLISH COMPREHENSION TEST in the most popular school in town. He was supposed to listen to an interview and answer all the questions. Andy was smart. He answered all the questions in three minutes. He gave the test paper to the teacher and waited outside for his limousine.

The Limo came and picked him up. Andy lied to the driver saying that his father had invited him to see the laboratory where he worked. The driver believed him and drove to The Research Centre. There Andy saw his father working on a project.

Dr. John, Andy’s father, was a brilliant student from the highlands of Papua New Guinea. He had completed a Mechanical Engineering degree from The University of Technology, Lae. Later he went to Australia for higher studies. After completing his PhD, he was working, as a scientist with the Department of Innovation, Industry Science, and Research at the  Ministry of Science, Australia.

 As soon as his father saw Andy, he rushed to him and whispered, “What are you doing here? I thought I told you not to come into this Department.”

 “Sorry dad! I just wanted to see the cores you are always talking about,” said Andy.

Continue reading "The blue core" »

Blogger receives UN award for exposing injustice

David MacLauchlan-Karr and Martyn Namorong

PROMINENT PAPUA NEW GUINEA BLOGGER Martyn Namorong has been commended by the United Nations for his work to expose injustices suffered by indigenous people affected by the Ramu Mine.

United Nations Resident Coordinator in PNG, David MacLauchlan-Karr, presented the certificate of commendation to Mr Namorong today.

Presenting the Award, Mr MacLauchlan-Karr expressed grave concern for the people of Madang whose lives will be affected by the dumping of toxic mine wastes into the Bismarck Sea.

He encouraged Mr Namorong to continue writing about the plight of the people of Papua New Guinea.

Mr MacLauchlan-Karr also stated that the UN will be sending a team to assess the landslide in Southern Highlands that has killed an estimated 60 people.

He said the landslide was triggered by construction activity related to the LNG Project.

Attitude Quote of the Day
"The enthusiasm over there [in Papua New Guinea] for the way they go about their cricket, gave me the joy to come back” [a resurgent Brad Hogg paying tribute to PNG cricket after his elevation to Australia’s T20 team]

Hogg's change of plans was prompted by PNG ‘joy’


Brad HoggAUSTRALIA'S LATEST TWENTY20 RECRUIT - and certainly its oldest - Brad Hogg was meant to be heading to the Twenty20 World Cup next September as coach of the Papua New Guinea national side.

Instead, he could be heading there as a player after his fairytale selection in the Australian side to play in two Twenty20 Internationals this summer against India was confirmed on Monday.

And he credits an enthusiastic PNG side for reinvigorating him with the “joy” that prompted his comeback.

Hogg will be turning 41 next month, with his call-up coming almost four years after he retired from all forms of the game for personal reasons in March 2008 after 15 years of playing.

But having spent time coaching the PNG national side - a group he hoped to take to the T20 World Cup - Hogg rediscovered his love of the game.

"Andy Bichel was doing the job and I was going to take over when Bichel decided to leave," Hogg explained.

"Those things have changed. But I'll stay involved in some capacity. I'll keep chatting with Greg Campbell, who's in charge."

"They're a pretty talented squad and an interesting group of people," he added.

"The enthusiasm over there for the way they go about their cricket, gave me the joy to come back and play for the Perth Scorchers."

The book that shaped my life


My Childhood in New GuineaIT WAS A HOT ENERVATING AFTERNOON and sitting inside the school library with celling fans not functioning well was not comfortable at all for me. In front of the classroom was Mr Hasimani, my grade seven library skills teacher busy with his professional duty of teaching.

“Keep on reading a book and you will see places, you will even come to know people, also you will know where they are living, how they are living, their cultures and their traditions. For a book is a bank of knowledge”. These were the exact phrases coming from his mouth during one of my library skills lessons in 1990 when I was doing my grade seven at Brandi High School (Now Brandi Secondary School) in East Sepik Province.

Despite the uncomfortable conditions, gradually my brain started making sense of what he was saying as my eyes kept rolling over to the books that were placed on the library shelves facing in my direction. After a ten minute tutorial with the teacher, we were allowed to select the reader of our choice.

Without delay, I went straight for the book entitled, My Childhood in New Guinea, written by Papua New Guinea’s former Governor General Grand Chief Sir Paulias Matane. I really had no idea what made me pick up that book so quickly but all I could remember was to get a reading book written by a person from my own country. Perhaps, that ideology automatically depicted the learning theory of “known to unknown” I guess.

I quickly read through the back of the book and realized that it was all about the Tolai Society of the East New Britain Province of Papua New Guinea. I was captivated at first glance when browsing through those paragraphs because finally I knew I would get to know more about the Tolai Society, their culture and traditions including their famous Kuanua language.

This was something I was dreaming of simply because many people usually called me a Tolaian thus forcing me to act like one. You might ask me, “why?” Well, even though I am from East Sepik Province, my physical features were similar to the Tolai people resulting in much confusion. Eventually, I borrowed the book and left.

The moment I started reading, I felt as if Sir Paulias was next to me telling me everything from the book. Even though it was just a book, at times as I sat quietly and read through with full concentration, imaginations usually developed into illustrations and kept running through my mind like a television screen.

Continue reading "The book that shaped my life" »

The PNG brand ambassador


He spoke well of us
For us;

He glowed with pride
Nurtured from a humble natural ability
To swim
A toasted boastfulness;

He wore our colours
Red, black and gold well
Against Caucasian skin
It was what was within that counted;

He raised our hopes
Captured our breath
Allowed us to live the PNG dream
Being the best;

He glowed
Graced his body with our flag,
Raised his hand and waved to the international arena
When they saw him
They heard about US
Papua New Guinea like any place they’d never been
What a swim?
Is that what PNG has done to him …? 

Throw away my picture


Take me away from your picture,
The one that you keep in your mind,
Subject me no more to your thoughts,
I often have migraines when you think of me.

Take me out and throw away my picture,
Yeah well, I’m brave to tell you this piece of mind,
But every night I catch myself with you in my thoughts,
- anyway throw my picture out if you hate me.

Now I am stoned and I fall to the ground,
I thought I would never miss you, but now I do,
I saw you last night, but that was only in a dream,
I often wander, if someday we might meet.

Now I am stoned and feel so cold,
You left me and took away my sunshine,
You were a piece of mine, a picture of my thoughts,
- anyway, you made my heart skip a beat,
And now it’s split.

Copyright in PNG: cerebration before celebration


THIS YEAR MARKS THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY of the implementation of Papua New Guinea’s copyright law, known as the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act 2000.

It is a milestone indeed. But it also provokes reflection on what we have achieved over these first ten years.

The Act was ushered in with much vigour but seems to have run out of steam. Both legislative and policy initiatives, although important, have failed to go the full distance. It is all rather indicative of haphazard policymaking.

In the context of issues at present making headlines around world, an option exists for the Minister for Commerce and Industry to commission a consultant to study effects of domestic peer-to-peer file sharing, piracy, and counterfeiting activities, make findings and suggest policy recommendations.

There really is much to achieve before the twentieth anniversary, as the following paper reveals....

Continue reading "Copyright in PNG: cerebration before celebration" »

Geraint Jones ready to turn out for PNG cricket


Geraint JonesFORMER ENGLAND TEST CRICKET WICKETKEEPER, Geraint Jones MBE, just selected in the Papua New Guinea T20 team, was only six when his family left PNG in 1982.

His mother and father had arrived in PNG as teachers on New Year's Eve 1971, remaining until September 1982.

Geraint's dad, Emrys, who now lives on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, was deputy headmaster at Kerowagi High when Geraint (‘Jonesy’ to his mates) was born in Kundiawa Hospital in 1976.

Emrys served later as principal of Mt Hagen Park High School, finishing his 11-year stint in PNG as a senior curriculum adviser with the Education Department in Waigani.

“My own memories of PNG limited,” Geraint tell me, “but my main memory is of Port Moresby - looking out from the beach at the houses on stilts in the water, eating mangoes with my next door neighbour in the back garden, and playing soccer.”

Now Geraint, 35, is returning to play cricket for his country of birth as PNG seeks entry into the elite group of nations that will compete in the world T20 tournament in Sri Lanka later this year.

Sixteen second ranking cricketing countries will contest two available spots in the T20 in a qualifier to be held in Dubai.

Geraint has been back to PNG once since he left - with the MCC on a cricket tour in 2007.  “I suppose it has been since then that I have been in PNG's cricketing thoughts,” he says.

He first started playing cricket at Wilsonton Primary School in Toowoomba when the family went to Australia.  Geraint was aged six. “I tried to be a bowler to start with, but quickly realised that wicketkeeper was my position. I loved the involvement levels you get - and diving around!”

That “diving around” secured him 128 catches and five stumpings in Test cricket.

He’s also a hard hitting right hand bat whose 34 Test matches for England yielded a century and six fifties at an average of nearly 24.

In addition, and of particular interest to Cricket PNG right now, is his track record of 80 20/20 matches.  His debut in this form of the game was against Australia, where he opened and scored 17 at a strike rate of 136 an in a huge England win at Southampton.

“It has been a couple of year process to get to this point of me being able to play for PNG,” Geraint says.

“I was first contacted by Bill Leane (CEO of Cricket PNG) about playing and we met at Lords to talk it over. The sticking point was the amount of time I needed to spend in PNG to qualify.  But this was to play 50 over cricket. T20 has different qualification rules, which allows me to play in T20 competitions.

“As we had been in contact the option of playing in the world cup qualifier came up and I jumped at the chance.

Continue reading "Geraint Jones ready to turn out for PNG cricket" »

Huli wigmen and Asaro mudmen take New York

National Geographic Intelligent Travel

Huli wigman and Asaro mudman near Times Square

TO A HULI WIGMAN, the streets of Manhattan have got to seem pretty exotic. And vice versa. Even among the blasé denizens of New York, the warriors manage to turn a few heads.

Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse countries on earth and home to some 800-plus languages.

To the American eye, its peoples’ traditions appear exotic and intriguing, especially those of the Huli Wigmen, warriors who craft elaborate headdresses out of their hair, feathers, and plants, and the Asaro Mudmen who cover themselves in mud and don ghoulish masks to hearken back to a legendary defeated tribe who tried to recover stolen land by wearing such “earthy” disguises.

The Wigmen and Mudmen usually materialise during celebrations and rituals in PNG so it was surprising when they showed up last month in New York City of all places.

We touched base with Ally Stoltz of the PNG Tourism Promotions Authority, who hosted the special visitors, to learn more about them and their NYC sojourn.

Meg Weaver: How long did it take for the Wigman and Mudman to travel from PNG to NYC?

Ally Stoltz: They flew Port Moresby to Auckland to Los Angeles to New York – roughly 40 hours.

MW: Where did they go in Manhattan? What did they see?

AS: The first day we got to New York we went straight to the Flower District to buy plants for their costumes because they packed tons of plants and dirt that was obviously confiscated along their travels! They were like kids in the candy store with all the plants. They bought ones just for their hotel room, not for the costume!

They also had pizza for the first time. They went on the Staten Island Ferry by night so they could see the city from another angle (honestly, they wanted to get away from all the noise) and to see the Statue of Liberty.

MW: What did they think of what they saw/did?

AS: The most interesting part of their trip to U.S. was that they didn’t have much to say at all about it. Journalists and the people at the party kept asking them, “What do you think of NYC?!” and, as PNG is known for its quiet, modest culture (until you make them mad), they just would almost whisper, “Yes, it’s good, or very busy” and that’s about it.

They are really not extroverted people because in village life, extroverts stir up trouble and it’s all about maintaining balance in communities like theirs. And there’s respect issues and the language barrier as well – only the Mudman really spoke conversational English. But back home they speak two to three languages, Tok Pisin and then their town/village languages.

MW: What did New Yorkers have to say about them?

AS: They encountered a wide variety of responses. Some people couldn’t be bothered as they had places to go. An old man in Soho nearly lost his mind, couldn’t say he had seen anything like them ever before.

The Wigman and Mudman definitely turned heads in Times Square. The most common response people had was one of reverence and fascination – their costumes are very intricate and they managed to bring more teeth, bones, feathers, and hair into the country than I ever thought possible.

* Meg Weaver is a senior researcher for National Geographic Traveler

The land of a thousand tongues


Papua-new-guinea-nativeI come from the land of a thousand tongues, a land of the unexpected.
A nation of amazing paradox, of many diverse cultures and traditions, yet united as one, strong as ever.
I come from a land of raging waterfalls and pristine, unexplored virgin forests found nowhere else in the world.
A land of plant and animal species yet to be discovered and named by man.
A land of clear blue seas and immaculate, white sandy beaches second to no place else.
A land where men laugh into the face of death and strong, proud women join their husbands on the battlefield, in times of war and in times of peace.
A land where fierce warriors dance on burning stones, call sharks using coconut shells and wrestle crocodiles with their bare hands. 
A land that is home to the world’s largest butterfly, the world’s largest species of orchids and the tiniest amphibian known to man.

Though at times my nation is the topic of scorn, my ancestors were gardeners and sailors long before the white man ever ventured beyond his cave.

They say God is fair, but I am certain he was biased when he created my homeland.
A country of gold and other precious metals floating on a sea of so much oil and gas, it is the envy of the entire world.
A land of flora and fauna found nowhere else on the globe.
A country described by more than one renowned anthropologist as the Garden of Eden.
A land very rich and diverse in culture and tradition yet united as one, strong as ever and fiercely proud.
Yea if my country is ever the subject of some unproven, foreign list or ranking,
Let it be known that I come from the land of a thousand tongues.

Charles Malu Yakopa (31) comes from Kagua in the Southern Highlands and now lives in Port Moresby.  He’s an accountant with a degree from the University of Technology and will shortly begin work for Exxon Mobil as an accounting analyst. He likes to write in his spare time, especially commentaries, essays and poems and has contributed articles to the Post Courier, The National and the Sunday Chronicle

A day in the life of an expat in Bougainville

Matador Abroad

I can hear the sound of sweeping; I can always hear it at this time of morning. The women do it every day, sweeping clean the sandy ground that surrounds our houses in the village. I can feel a dampness on my pillow. It rained heavily during the night, and there’s a small gap in the sago-palm roofing, just above my head.

Rising, I step outside and walk across our yard to the well, to haul water for my shower. Then I hear someone calling out to me. “Wara i stap, Alice!” It’s Sandy, my host mum, letting me know that today she has beat me to it.

Sandy is from a village about an hour north, and married to a man from the clan here. The two of them became good friends with my mom when she worked here with the recently-formed government of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville–a region which was part of Papua New Guinea, and gained its autonomous status after a civil war which lasted around a decade and ended in 2001.

Through connections I made when I once went to visit my mom, I’ve ended up back here, working as an intern with a development agency in the regional capital, and living in the village with Sandy, her husband, and their teenage son. Sandy tells me they consider me their daughter. I believe her: I’m twenty-three years old and they won’t let me go out past nine on a Friday night.

The water in the buckets which Sandy has filled is brackish, since the well is only a short distance from the sea, so I take a small bottle to our rainwater tank and fill that too, for rinsing my hair. Only a little though–our tank once ran dry after a long period without rain, leaving us with no source of drinkable water except the jerry cans which Sandy had filled in advance.

I shower on a raised platform outside, gazing at the sky overhead, my privacy ensured by three walls of tarpaulin and a shower curtain.

After a quick breakfast of fresh fruits and coffee, I take my umbrella and leave the house. It doesn’t often rain at this time of morning, but the sun is now intense and I need the umbrella for shade.

I bump into Margaret, a middle-aged woman who lives on the other side of the hibiscus hedge from us. I think she’s the cousin of Sandy’s husband, Frank, but I’m not sure–relationships are complex here, and I don’t know exactly how they all fit together.

Margaret’s also on her way to work, so together we turn onto the main road, a short strip of tar-seal which leads into town in one direction, and abruptly turns into a pot-holed dirt highway in the other. As we walk, we stori — one of my favourite Pidgin words (both to say and to do), and which more or less means “chat.”

Continue reading "A day in the life of an expat in Bougainville" »