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195 posts from March 2012

The National bans two prominent PNG writers


Soaba_RussellTHE NATIONAL NEWSPAPER has acted contemptibly by excluding from its columns for the most trivial reasons two of Papua New Guinea’s most interesting writers – one of them, Russell Soaba [right], the doyen of PNG literature.

First to go was law student, activist and inveterate twitterer Nou Vada – a vastly entertaining and provocative writer whose crime, it seems, was to mention the name of prominent blogger Martyn Namorong in an article Nou wrote for The National.

In the article, which was about the use of social media in PNG, Nou was imprudent enough to write:

"Help @Mangiwantok take the truth about #PNG to #Australia #Deakin University". That was the tweet I posted on twitter a few days ago along with a link to a story on veteran journalist Keith Jackson's blog PNG Attitude.

The reference was to Deakin University's invitation to outspoken PNG blogger Martyn Namorong for Martyn to present a paper on PNG and to sit on a panel of experts in a two-day PNG seminar in Australia.

“After I sent this,” Nou said later, “the editor informed me that management had given instructions for the newspaper not to publish anything from me. The stated reason was that I own Edebamona blog.

“It is also because the Rimbunan Hijau dislikes Martyn Namorong greatly. The writer's lot is not an easy one….No hard feelings from me.”

But now the hard hand of the hard-liners at this hard-faced newspaper has descended on no less a figure than Russell Soaba, the esteemed PNG novelist and poet and grand old man of PNG literature.

Last week, The National got rid of Russell’s long-running Storyboard writing feature from its pages apparently because he made a comment that, at the University of PNG’s Waigani campus, The National's Friday edition sells less copies that the rival Post-Courier.

That slender observation was too much for the flinty-souled, glass-jawed control freaks at The National – and Soaba was banned and his popular writing feature dropped.

The good news is that the folks at the Post-Courier, ever looking for an opportunity, snapped up Russell Soaba like a hungry crocodile – and his Storyboard feature will now appear there.

The Post-Courier, of course, is also co-founder of the Crocodile Prize national literary awards and editor Blaise Nangoi is on the record as being a great supporter of home-grown PNG literature.

Those guys at The National should feel thoroughly ashamed of themselves.  They have behaved disgracefully.

PNG media official is 'arrogant and ignorant'


PAULIUS KORINI, A SENIOR Papua New Guinea government official, has been called arrogant and ignorant after claiming at the Pacific media summit that it's not the media's role to challenge governments.

Mr Korini, deputy secretary of PNG's department of information and communications, told Radio Australia this week that rather than challenge governments the media should work in partnership with them.

Mr Korini called for more responsible reporting by journalists.

But Tongan delegate at the Fiji summit, Kalafi Moala, says he's spoken to other delegates who have seen the transcript of the interview, and they are as angry about it as he is.

“I think if this is the message that he was bringing to PINA it's a wrong message,” Mr Moala said.

“For him to spit it out and to tell media what to do in terms of their job and their objectives, whether they are to challenge government or not to challenge government, whether they should partner with government or not, that is really to me a streak of real arrogance.

“And not only arrogance and ignorance, [it] confirms the whispers that come out of Papua New Guinea concerning that particular government's attitude toward media.”

Mr Moala said Mr Korini’s statement was “more like an edict”.

“The people that have known about it, the statement, have kind of reacted toward it, they're saying my gosh, what do you mean? Do you mean that we're just to be a lap dog that crawls up to the laps of government and basically partners with government and be controlled by government?

“The objective and the reason for media existence, not only in the Pacific but anywhere, and one of our roles is to be able to be a tool or medium to speak truth to power, and that doesn't change.”

Why the Judicial Conduct Act 2012 is dangerous


WHEN THE O’NEILL/NAMAH GOVERNMENT passed the Judicial Conduct Bill 2012 on March 20, it immediately triggered a national outcry against the introduction of the Bill.

It started with the Leader of the Opposition, Dame Carol Kidu, one of only a few number of voices allowed to argue against the Bill in Parliament.

Since March 20, the Community Coalition Against Corruption, the PNG Trade Union Congress, the PNG Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Transparency International PNG, have all issued statements calling for the Judicial Conduct Act 2012 to be reconsidered or repealed.

In addition, students from the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) marched peacefully in protest against the Bill on Friday, 23 March to Morauta Haus, where they presented a petition to the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff.

They are again organising another protest march, and the boycotting of classes today, in tandem with Unitech in Lae and other students enrolled in tertiary institutions around the country.

Even convicted criminals in PNG’s maximum security jail Bomana in Port Moresby, have threatened to break out en masse if the Act is not repealed.

Public pressure against the passing of the Judicial Conduct Act 2012 has been significant and is growing – so much so that Peter O’Neill addressed the nation over radio, his first such address to the country since gaining power in August 2011, explaining to the people why his government introduced the Bill.

O’Neill has now delayed the introduction of the Act and has instead referred it on to the Constitution and Law Reform Commission for it to be appropriately scrutinized, something he should have done long before even considering entertaining the bill in parliament.

There have been some solid analysis done regarding the Judicial Conduct Act 2012, notably that of the Student Representative Council of UPNG, who are manifesting the physical opposition to the Bill through their demonstrations.

In addition to the points made by these groups listed above, I would like to add my own thoughts to the public discourse as to why the Judicial Conduct Act 2012 is dangerous. I identify three key reasons why:

Firstly, let me make the point that the basic ideas contained within the proposed Judicial Conduct Act 2012 do, to a very restricted degree, have merit for democratic nations around the world which employ or utilize the idea of separation of powers as the balancing mechanism for effective government, to at least consider and to review.

The definition and function of separation of powers within practicing democracies the world over varies, and over time, do change ever so subtly in order to accommodate the relevant evolving society – culturally, socially, politically and even spiritually.

What Peter O’Neill is attempting to do, and what he has alluded to in his address to the nation, is that the Bill is an attempt to introduce reform into the judicial system of PNG. In this case, it is inaccurate to say that it is an attempt to reform the judicial sector, like for example, a government policy to increase the number of prison cells to deal with overcrowding.

Continue reading "Why the Judicial Conduct Act 2012 is dangerous" »

The 2012 national elections in Papua New Guinea


This paper draws on fieldwork undertaken by the authors between January 2011 and January 2012 among local communities in Port Moresby and three of the more unstable highlands provinces of PNG (Southern Highlands, Western Highlands and Enga).

AS IT APPROACHES NATIONAL ELECTIONS in June, Papua New Guinea is at a turning point in its history.

Despite ten unbroken years of economic growth, rates of poverty, disease, illiteracy and crime are increasing. The bounty on offer from the current resources boom has the potential to increase the stakes of political and electoral competition. The government also stands at a point of generational change.

Public expectations of improved government performance and effectiveness in delivering essential services are rising. The government that assumes power after the elections will be under more pressure to deliver on the ‘social contract’ with the people.

The 2012 elections are also overshadowed by the unresolved political dispute between Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and former Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare. This was triggered by a decision of the Supreme Court on 12 December that Somare was the legitimate Prime Minister of PNG because there was no vacancy in the office of Prime Minister when Peter O’Neill was elected to the position in parliament on 2 August 2011.

The political dispute between O’Neill and Somare and the predictions of instability and violence in parts of the Highlands provinces harm PNG’s democracy and international reputation. It is important, therefore, that public trust in PNG’s democracy is maintained and in some respects restored.

Peaceful elections that deliver a strong effective coalition government capable of converting resources wealth into better services would assist in rebuilding that trust. The lack of resolution to the political impasse and the 26 January 2012 attempted mutiny within the PNG Defence Force supported by the Somare camp further reflects the immense value of holding political office in PNG.

An Australian journalist monitoring the approaching national elections recently described PNG as ‘teetering on a wide political fault line’, whilst some PNG academics argue that their country is ‘facing a political cyclone in the 2012 elections.’

Such analogies fatalistically accept and imply that the 2012 election will be violent and corrupt as if such an outcome were an axiomatic law of nature.

A more rational approach is to properly understand the likely contributors to electoral irregularities and violence in PNG, and to design responses to mitigating these factors on this analysis.

Read the full article at

The nightwatchman


Freezing ferocious wind
Blowing with deadly sting
Comprehensive in power
All along the watch tower
It will come as it can
After the nightwatchman
Puts on the siren call
As this breezy words fall

Philemon Tiaga (27) was born in Port Moresby.  He is a second year civil engineering student at Unitech in Lae.  He enjoys writing poetry as a relief from his academic studies.  He likes satirical novels and uses them for ideas for his poetry.  He is also interested in writing song lyrics

Where men can scald women with impunity

The recent visit to Papua New Guinea of Rashida Manjoo, UN Special Rapporteur on the causes and consequences of violence against women, has resulted in a timely focus on this blight.  It’s an issue we’ve featured prominently in PNG Attitude this week.  Overnight, the Russian newspaper Pravda has published this story…..

WELCOME TO PAPUA NEW GUINEA, Gold Medal Chauvinist Pigs Award for the men, where women's rights have been relegated to the dustbin, where women are relegated to the dregs of society.

However, the world is aware and war has been declared against Patriarchal society of Papua New Guinea as the United Nations Organisation calls for more to be done.

For thousands of years, society in PNG has been patriarchal and men have been able to beat, punch, punish or kick, scald and insult women with virtual impunity.

Women appear at the few support centres that exist having been hacked with machetes, with open skull fractures after being bludgeoned with stones... after being kicked in the belly with a heavy boot while heavily pregnant.

Gang rapes, knife attacks and beatings of women are commonplace. However, new laws are in place and the UNO is watching as war is declared on violence against women in this forgotten bastion of humankind.

So endemic is the violence that an aid worker working with MSF said "Because it's so widespread, women think this violence is normal.

They have developed a mentality where they say, 'It's OK to beat me up with a stick but don't chop me up' and this mentality is really stuck in their head". She added "Making them understand that beating with a stick is not OK, they don't deserve it - even that is quite hard. Deep down, it boils down to where society places women here."

According to CARE International and Save the Children.22% of women aged 15 to 30 had experienced forced sex in 2009 in Bougainville, while in Eastern Highlands, the figure was 15% for the same age group.

In the Southern Highlands, the local centre receives 65 new cases of domestic violence and between ten and twenty cases of sexual violence each and every month.

Ume Wainetti, national program director of PNG’s Family Sexual Violence Action Committee says: "We also make excuses for why men should behave the way they behave, trying to say things like, 'he's a man and he can do these things'."

"I think our biggest problem is as women we still have not taken a stance and said 'No, I'm not going to accept this. I'm going to make sure that my son is not going to be like that.' But no, we're teaching our sons to be like that," she said.

The country's age-old patriarchal system may explain in part the attitude of men towards women, leading some of them to believe they can prove themselves through violence and go without punishment.

Tribal violence is also part of the problem - this small country is home to around 800 languages. Coupled with this, frustration engendered through endemic poverty - over a third of the population of 7 million people live below the poverty line - and this, fuelled by alcohol, lends a hand.

Polygamy is another issue involved, for neglect of the first wife and her children can often spiral into rejection and violence as a new wife is favoured.

Gender inequality is rife in terms of school enrolment, access to healthcare and to employment. Secondary school enrolment rates for girls are 50% those of boys.

There is one woman in the Parliament of 109 members. A proposal last November to increase the number of female seats to 22 did not get enough votes to pass as law.

On the UN Gender Inequality Index, Papua New Guinea is near the foot of the table, just above Afghanistan, Yemen, Chad, Mali, DR Congo and Niger.

Buai sellers are my enemy, says Powes Parkop


THE GOVERNOR OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA’S National Capital District, Powes Parkop, says his primary concern is stopping the sale of buai (betel nut).

Mr Parkop’s comment follows research by the World Health Organisation (reported in PNG Attitude earlier this week) showing the growing prevalence of betel nut chewing in Melanesia and Micronesia is leading to a rise in oral cancer.

Mr Parkop says the product was banned from being sold in public places in Port Moresby from 2009 but people have been evading the law.

“The betel nut vendors are very mobile. It’s hard to contain them because they just carry the betel nut in their bags and they walk around in the street so the enforcers have to be mobile to catch them.

“It’s not been a hundred percent successful but it’s much better now than it was some years ago.”

Powes Parkop he is working on encouraging people to give up chewing betel nut altogether.

Women in Mt Hagen creating a dream of hope


Artisans group members pose outside their offices in Mt HagenIN MT HAGEN, A TOWN HIGH UP in the valleys of the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea, a group of local women, many of whom are HIV positive, have begun a self-help initiative to achieve dignity and a better standard of living.

Many live in informal settlements on the town’s periphery and confront daily struggles with poverty, drugs, family violence and inter-clan conflict.

Established in 2007, the Mt Hagen Handicraft Group consists of 50 women, of whom 25 have AIDS, all facing social and economic hardship. Handicraft coordinator Barbara Pagasa spoke evocatively of the women’s lives.

“Life is a dream of hope and many think and wish if only an angel from above could rescue them from this life of struggle that is hidden deep inside their hearts,” she said.

“A fear of hunger, sickness and death awaits and creeps quietly into their minds, thinking if I don’t wake up as early as 5am during the first breaking of the day, looking for twigs, empty cartons to cook breakfast, God knows what.

“If I don’t do it, then who else is going to do it?” she asked. “This has been their day to day struggle to meet their basic needs and to have a decent plate of food on the table each day.”

In a nation where women are significantly underrepresented in decision-making roles and suffer from a high maternal mortality rate, AIDS is another cruel burden. According to the United Nations Development Program, “gender-based violence affecting women and girls has reached unprecedented levels making them vulnerable to contracting HIV/AIDS.”

In 2009, the National Aids Council of Papua New Guinea reported that 34,100 people were living with the disease, approximately 0.9% of the population, with 60% of reported cases located in the highlands.  Women comprise 56% of known cases.

The group’s aim is to empower women through self-generated incomes and a physically and psychologically supportive environment and, thus, to “make a difference to women by improving their ways of living and ability to escape the traps of these crises.”

The first aim is achieved by developing the skills of women in sewing and the designing and making of bilums, versatile and unique string bags that have become cultural icons of PNG.

Every week Julie makes her way to the handicraft group’s offices situated behind a busy bakery in the centre of Mt Hagen. In this sanctuary, away from the grinding noise of trucks on the main road and endless hustle of roadside market stalls, she finds peace in the women’s quiet industry and gentle friendship.
Julie has been living with HIV for nine years, ever since she contracted the virus from her husband who had had multiple sexual partners. “My husband died nine years ago and I have two children I am responsible for,” she said.

Continue reading "Women in Mt Hagen creating a dream of hope" »

Women ensure that peace returns to Kup


Brave, peace loving Kup womenTHE WOMEN STARTED THEIR WORK in the 1990s. Having watched decades of local, tribal conflict destroy homes, lives and livelihoods, women from three rival tribal groups put aside their fears and walked out onto the battlefields to call for peace.

“We had already lost so much, lost our loved ones. We had to do something. Someone had to start somewhere,” said Agnes Sil, one of the groups founding members.

The restoration of peace in Kup also saw the return of some basic services to the region and enabled people to start rebuilding their lives.

But just over two years ago, that hard-won peace was ruptured and the region faced dark days as conflict escalated.

Hundreds of people fled their homes and gardens. People were once again left without access to basic services, schools and health.

But KWP, having seen that change is possible, maintained their determination to see peace restored. The group worked to raise awareness within the community and facilitated meetings with key leaders from the warring tribes.

For the communities involved, the signing of the treaty marks a pledge to embrace peaceful development and end the conflict and bloodshed that has been part of their lives for too long.

The treaty was witnessed by key government representatives, churches and community of Kup. People who have been displaced by the conflicts will gradually move back into Kup to gather back their lives.

Dennis Uba, Oxfam’s Country Director in Papua New Guinea, said: “People who were displaced by the violence are gradually moving back to Kup to rebuild their lives. This peace agreement has given people much to hope for.

“News of this achievement has already prompted other tribal groups nearby to talk of a broader peace pact in Simbu Province.”

An immediate concern for many people in Kup is the upcoming national parliamentary elections in June this year.

KWP are working hard to ensure peace endures during this highly-charged time. They have organised and facilitated several community meetings, linking in representatives from government, church, law and justice.

There is community consensus from both tribes of the warring clans that peace must be maintained.

The fable of the python and the rat


Python and ratONCE UPON A TIME there lived a python and a rat.  They were very best friends.  They lived in a tree.

Every day the rat went around finding seeds to eat and the python went around finding meat.

One day the rat got angry with the python and decided to do something.  So the rat got python’s meat while the python was sleeping.

Then the rat found a place behind a bush and started digging.

When the python woke up, he decided to eat his meat so went to the place where he had left his meat.  It was gone.

So the python said, ‘I will find a new one.’  He started hunting and, as he was hunting, he heard noises in the bush and he decided to find who it was.

When he searched, he saw his friend trying to hide his meat.

The python got angry and chased the rat, which ran into a small hole. 

The python shouted into the hole and said, ‘We are going to be enemies forever and when I see you I am going to eat you.’

That’s why pythons eat rats.

Otto Paige Lebeshiivah (9) was born in Goroka in the Eastern Highland Province.  He is in Grade Four at the North Goroka Demonstration Primary School

Jackson Wells – whose expertise in communications drives PNG Attitude - is a leading independent Australian public relations firm offering services in media and government relations and marketing communications. Contact Keith Jackson here for further information

Human rights campaigner praises UN visit


A HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGNER in the Papua New Guinea highlands says the visit by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women was really appreciated by women in PNG.

The Special Rapporteur, Rashida Manjoo, says violence against women is a pervasive phenomenon in PNG affecting two thirds of women.

She has called for immediate law changes, including the repeal of the Sorcery Act, which she says is used as a cover for horrific acts of violence.

Kup Women for Peace’s Mary Kini, who spoke with the Special Rapporteur, says Ms Manjoo has helped to put an international spotlight on the issue of violence in PNG.

“We always talked about our issues but we were hitting the brick wall kind of.,” Ms Kini said.

“There weren’t any voices being heard in the country, so we felt that that was the time when she was written [invited to PNG] so we could really tell the deeper feelings of what we were going through and really expressed what we felt we could speak out.”

Bob Brown advises PNG to ‘throw out crook politicians’

AUSTRALIAN GREENS LEADER BOB BROWN believes Australia should be offering Papua New Guinea greater assistance in having a fair election, rather than threatening it with isolation.

And he has said the Papua New Guinean people should “throw out” politicians who are “doing the wrong thing”.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s recent threat that failure by PNG to hold its planned mid-year elections would be a "shocking model" for the Pacific is still reverberating.

Senator Carr warned of a sharp Australian response if prime minister Peter O'Neill heeded internal calls to put off mid-year elections.

"We'd have no alternative but to organise the world to condemn and isolate Papua New Guinea," he told Sky News. "We'd be in a position of having to consider sanctions."

Senator Carr later issued a statement saying his comments had been "misunderstood and used out of context".

Senator Brown said Australia should support PNG.

"Instead of making the statement Bob Carr made, we should be offering PNG even greater assistance to make sure the election ... is fair, above board and not corrupted," Senator Brown told reporters in Canberra on Friday.

He said there were a lot of concerns about PNG's election process, although 30 observers will go to the country.

He said Australia's nearest neighbour has big problems - the world's second-worst maternal death rate and huge HIV aids problems.

While it has a large resource base, it does mean "there is potential for money to flow to outside interests, including Australian corporations, at the expense of local people".

There is also the problem of the takeover of land by foreign companies.

"This election is an opportunity for the people of Papua New Guinea to assert their own control over their own land," Senator Brown said.

"If their politicians are doing the wrong thing, then throw them out."

Barramundis out to play big-name opponents


AFTER A CHALLENGING FORTNIGHT IN DUBAI, Cricket Papua New Guinea is on the lookout for more regular top-level matches to try and take the team to the next level.

The Barramundi’s finished a very creditable eighth in the 16 team Twenty20 qualifying tournament, from which Afghanistan and Ireland earned a spot at the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka later this year.

Cricket PNG’s General Manager Greg Campbell says the Barramundi’s players had high expectations in Dubai and returned home somewhat disappointed.

“Every game we were in went down to either the last ball,” Mr Campbell said. “The Netherlands game might have got away from us a little bit but even the Afghanistan the first up they got them in the 19th over and chasing Canada, 167, we fell about five or six runs short.

“Every game the boys were right up to their necks in it and it just goes to show that cricket awareness is what Cricket PNG need - we’ve got the ability we just need more games around the world.”

Greg Campbell says they’ve already had some positive feedback with Bangladesh indicating they’re keen to play against PNG when they’re in Australia later this year.

Govt to consult on bill – but will it be fair dinkum?


OPPONENTS OF THE NEW Judicial Bill which has caused mass protests in Papua New Guinea seem to have secured a significant win. But have they?

The PNG government has deferred implementing the law, which gives parliament the power to oust judges and thus wield huge influence over the justice system.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has now asked the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission to undertake public consultation on the issue.

But Commission chairman, Gabriel Kapris, has already tainted this process by saying he is confident the public will support the bill.

"Once the Commission goes out and gives the public the opportunity to see the importance of this amendment, they will appreciate why the government has seen it proper to pass the bill," he said.

The Commission will report to parliament in nine months, after the national election.

What it is to be a Papua New Guinean?


I am Papua New GuineaI WANT TO GIVE TO YOU a poem I wrote concerning my identity and what defines me as a Papua New Guinean.

In trying to establish who I was, and where I fitted into the overall scheme of things in this country, I couldn't get past my parents and grandparents.

In them I recognised a bit of myself, in them I saw the influences that moulded me and gave me the foundation upon which I stand.

My father came from a very traditional highlands setting, and ensured that we never forgot our roots - the language, the list of our ancestors, the stories of old - and he instilled pride for our clan and tribe no matter how modern the world with which we interacted.

His parents were renowned for their hard work and fighting spirit which never broke, despite many setbacks - the most painful being that they were attacked ceaselessly by neighbouring tribes for their land because they were a small family.

They passed this spirit of resilience to my father. He was the first in his family and clan to receive a formal education and pursued it because he was so full of curiosity and could never back out of a challenge.

Everything new had to be explored, even when my grandfather warned him not to attend the mission school that had just been set up in the nearby village; saying that "missionaries had little kids like him for breakfast".

My father is now a civil engineer, managing a small construction company in partnership with other shareholders. His motto as I was growing up was ‘education, education, education’ and he didn't shirk on shelling out money to ensure his children would get the best education available - even to the extent that he and mum had to do without on several occasions.

My mother was left to die upon her birth.

She was a "thing of shame" as she had been conceived out of wedlock and her mother hung her on a branch in the nearby woods to be "taken" by whatever was out there.

A small mission station had been established near the village and a young man who had started going there stumbled upon my mother when exploring the source of pitiful mewing sounds he heard.

He had learned that life is precious and no one deserves to die, and so ran to find the missionary and his wife who came and took mum home with them.

The mission tried on several occasions to give mum back to her biological family and clan, but they refused her because of the shame she would bring them.

She grew up speaking a foreign language, with no attachment to her parents’ cultures, for she was never comfortable in either and so aligned herself to the belief system that the mission espoused and found her peace and identity in her faith.

She trained as a typesetter and worked for the mission's publication department until she married my father. She was quiet and uncertain, still trying to understand a culture that should have been hers but which she had been denied.

Her peace was in her family and faith and through her I learned compassion, love and forgiveness. I am grateful to the people who saved her, loved her, raised her and made a statement through her that all life mattered and that every individual had meaning and purpose. She died of breast cancer in 1999.

I am who I am because of my history. It grafts me into a living, pulsating being that is ever growing ever changing and continually moulding me.

My history is entwined into that of my country and it courses through me, embracing me unto itself, claiming me as its own. I am Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "What it is to be a Papua New Guinean?" »

Then and now: a tale of a legacy that was lost


The story of the Bangalum–Middle Watut Road, Mumeng Sub-District, Morobe Province

Bangalum Middle Watut Road 1971

IN 1971 I WAS THE KIAP ADVISER to the Mumeng Local Government Council and, effectively, its works supervisor.

Registered on the works program for 1970-71 and 1971-72 was the construction of the Bangalum-Middle Watut Road [pictured above] that extended beyond Sambio into the Watut Gorge where the Watut River intersected with the Mumeng River. 

This project was just one of many in the Morobe Province initiated under the prompting of the then District Commissioner Herbert Percy “Bill” Seale who was awarded an OBE for his contribution to the Territory’s communications through the construction of roads like this and airstrips.  Of course all the kiaps under Bill thought his award was for “Other Bastards’ Efforts”!

I had obtained a permit to use explosives and, on behalf of the Mumeng Council, a licence to store explosives.  I designed and constructed a secure concrete magazine for this out of Mumeng along the Wau Road with a high earth barrier between the building and the road.  The explosives were necessary because much of the early road bench was through quite steep rock face.

I hired a compressor and jackhammer to drill the shot holes.  I had police stationed on the Wau Road to stop traffic whilst I charged and fired the shot holes in series to bring down the rock face and create road bench space.  After each set of explosions, I had to check the rock face for evidence of any charges that had not fired before continuing.

The Council had also hired a private bulldozer contractor to do the clearing of rubble and form the bench.  Occasionally, as happens with fractured rock, rocks would lock into each other and not fall which would create potentially dangerous situations for the dozer operator working underneath the rock face. 

This meant that I had to occasionally climb the face with a stick of gelignite, fuse and detonator to set a charge to break the tangle and bring the face down.  This meant working closely with the dozer operator including standing on the blade for him to lift me up to the rock face.

Occasionally, to break the tedium, the dozer operator would do the drilling and blasting and I would drive the dozer.  That was until the day I had a brain fade and nearly put the dozer over the edge of the bench into the river below.  I haven’t driven a bulldozer since!

One day, the Council President, Mambuyong Tukop, who came from the Watut, complained to the Assistant District Commissioner, Tony Cooke, that we were proceeding too slowly.  He was invited to spend a day with us to understand the daily work requirements and patterns. 

Because of the ever present danger of falling rocks, he was invited by the dozer operator to stand on the running board and keep a lookout above for such rocks and warn the operator.

I had just fired a set of charges which resulted in a hang-up of rocks in the fractured rock face.  Commencing our usual procedure, I placed a stick of gelignite in my belt, clipped a detonator onto a length of safety fuse and put the crimping pliers in my pocket. I climbed onto the dozer blade as the operator manoeuvred me into position. 

Continue reading "Then and now: a tale of a legacy that was lost" »

Pressure on O’Neill to repeal judiciary law


PRESSURE IS GROWING ON Papua New Guinea’s O’Neill government to repeal the Judicial Conduct Act with the business community joining civil society and students to condemn its enactment.

The Papua New Guinea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PNGCCI) said the separation of powers was a key component of democratic institutions and the law passed by the O’Neill government last week would see parliament interfering in the conduct of judicial proceedings.

“The constitution provides for the separation of powers such that the judiciary is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the politicians and public servants obey the constitution,” PNGCCI president John Leahy said in a statement.

“Actions such as the Judicial Conduct bill attempt to undermine these sacrosanct constitutional arrangements.

“The law should be repealed and additional resources provided to the Ombudsman Commission to help them do their job using laws that are already in place,” he said.

The O’Neill government appears to be relenting to the pressure with a report yesterday quoting the chair of the Constitutional Law Reform Commission, MP Gabriel Kapris, as saying the government will not implement the act until the conclusion of a full public consultation program.

However opponents of the act are determined to force parliament to repeal it despite Mr Kapris’ assurance that the government will embark on a consultation process with all stakeholders.

Options being considered by students, civil society, trade unions and PNG social media networks are nationwide strikes and sit-in protests in main urban centers.

While parliament-elected prime minister Peter O’Neill refused to give in to demands by hundreds of student protesters for the act to be repealed, he is beginning to find himself increasingly isolated by growing public opinion against a law, which he claims in a nationwide television address would “strengthen the conduct” of PNG’s national and supreme court judges.

Assertions by his attorney general Dr Allan Marat during an interview with Radio New Zealand that last Friday’s protest march in Port Moresby was led by Engan students, who were purportedly angered by the O’Neill government’s personal crusade to remove Engan and Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia, also backfired.

Continue reading "Pressure on O’Neill to repeal judiciary law" »

Violence against women is 'pervasive' in PNG


A SPECIAL UNITED NATIONS INVESTIGATOR has painted a grim picture of life for women in Papua New Guinea.

After an official visit, UN special rapporteur Rashida Manjoo said violence against women in PNG was a "pervasive phenomenon", one that begins at home, often at the hands of male relatives.

She said cultural practices like bride prices and polygamy exacerbated the problem.

She found women lacked access to the justice system as police and prosecutors did not have the resources or skills to deal with the issue.

"The responsibility to prevent violence, provide remedies for victims and to punish perpetrators is primarily an obligation of the state," she said.

Ms Manjoo will present her final report to the UN's Human Rights Council next year.

People power has to start at the kunai roots


BEFORE WE CAN EVEN BEGIN to tackle the bigger issues we must understand the cultural background of our people and there is no one size that fits all in this multi ethnic society called Papua New Guinea.

One tribe may view a situation very differently to the next tribe several hours away, what's important is that we listen and empower.

Dignity has to be given to a person (or people), and until we approach them at their level (walk to their location, sleep in their huts, eat what they eat), and help them discover that they hold the key to transforming their lives, we can try all we want but will never change a belief system that has been deeply embedded into the core of every Papua New Guinean.

If educated Papua New Guineans rather then just going home and sliding back into the way of the village would take it upon themselves to educate, educate, educate, on various current affairs and health issues etc, it would go a long way to help the rural majority and urban poor understand themselves and their micro and macro environments better.

We need a fearless people to stand up and sensitively confront cultural belief systems that might ostracise them from families and clans. 

PNG as a nation did not sacrifice lives for it's independence, but now it desperately needs strong men and women willing to sacrifice their family and tribal "honour" , by coming out and allowing themselves to be vulnerable in order to impact attitude change.

For example: A good friend of mine has come up with the idea of a young professionals cell group for every major town and has had it written up.

She envisions that there are many young people who want to do something and need to have a formal umbrella which will allow them to gather and be encouraged to pursue whatever it is that they would want done in their village to help their people.

Should technologies and ideas be sought we can meet with young professionals from other countries and share ideas etc via certain networks that can be established.

Illegal logging: is it really here to stay?


ILLEGAL LOGGING IS BIG BUSINESS. According to a study by Seneca Creek Associates, each year 130m cubic metres of roundwood—worth $12 billion—comes from sources which aren't kosher. This amounts to roughly 8% total global production.

Elsewhere the proportion is even higher. Almost a third of hardwood lumber and plywood traded in the global markets may be of suspicious provenance.

Greenpeace has mounted an aggressive campaign against illegal logging in Papua New Guinea since 2004 when the conservation group published a report indicating that 90% of logging there is illegal.

Indonesia, another perennial offender, seems to have improved since being fingered in the same report: illegal logging has gone down from up to 80% in 2004 to around 50% in 2009, according to Chatham House. Nevertheless, this still means that every two seconds an area the size of a football field is lost to illegal logging.

An upcoming study by the World Bank is considering how to combat such flagrant breaches of the law. They identify the ineffectiveness of the criminal justice system as a weak link. Bribery and corruption is rife.

Few illegal loggers face prosecution; fewer still are convicted. In 2003 not a single one of a reported 971 cases of illegal logging in Indonesia was prosecuted. Things have improved only slightly since then. In 2008 two dozen of 404 cases resulted in prosecution, though just 14 ended with convictions.

A report from the Centre for International Policy, an American think-tank, recounts how documents under review by prosecutors in Honduras disappeared overnight after a delay imposed by the assistant attorney general.

Besides the usual call for more sophisticated law-enforcement techniques (which may curb many other forest crimes such as poaching), the World Bank argues for targeting criminals higher in the chain of criminal actions. This, it argues, could yield better results than going after low-level local miscreants.

Continue reading "Illegal logging: is it really here to stay?" »

Pacific plan means new regionalism in the making


THE PACIFIC PLAN MARKS A NEW BEGINNING in the concept of regionalism in the Pacific.  Now in its seventh year of implementation, there have been progressive reports outlining the achievements tabled annually by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

This plan was developed out of a review of the Forum organisation in 2003 by the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) and was later tabled in 2004 during a special Leaders Retreat in Auckland (New Zealand).  It was aimed at strengthening regional cooperation and integration in the Pacific. 

From this narrow goal of strengthening regional cooperation and integration, there were four areas that this plan aimed to achieve.  They include stimulating economic growth and encouraging sustainable development, promoting and encouraging good governance, and security for the Pacific Island Countries.

During the 36th Forum meeting in Madang in 2005, the Pacific Plan was officially endorsed by the Pacific Leaders for a period of ten years.

In endorsing the plan, the Forum Members agreed to note in particular the need to firstly, increase trade in the region under the already established economic arrangements like South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreements (SPARTECA), Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreements (PICTA) and Pacific Agreements on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) with other non-forum trading partners and to also increase the regional technical and vocational education training. 

Secondly to improve regional immigration policies so as to address the issue of labour mobility and at the same time seek international funding for sustainable development, biodiversity and environmental protection and climate change in the region. 

Thirdly, to provide assistance to the Smaller Island States for the implementation of the Pacific Plan and noting with appreciation additional resources contributed by Australia and New Zealand as regional leaders.

All these measures espoused the making of a new regionalism in the Pacific.  This new regionalism is different from the way regional cooperation was developed and understood in the past.  The old regionalism was a child of colonialism. 

Later, as the Pacific Island Countries began to gain political independence, this old regionalism was assimilated into the post-colonial setting of the Pacific Island Countries.  In this way, regional cooperation was always compromised by the individual national interests of the island countries with little or no effort towards strengthening it.  That is to say, the island countries continue to maintain their bilateral relations over regional interests. 

The old idea of regional cooperation was a cover-up for the island countries to work in isolation and pursue their individual national interests.  That meant that regional cooperation was operating flexibly and there was no overriding need for improving cooperation among the island countries towards addressing the issues of economic growth, sustainable development, good governance and security for the region.

Continue reading "Pacific plan means new regionalism in the making" »



Helen Rovi (26) was born in Port Moresby. She describes herself as sociable and quiet but outspoken when she has to be. She likes being among family and friends and has a penchant for horror movies

We give they take
Our lives at stake
From dangers unknown
From lies untold
Conceited yet bemused
A fool fooled by tools
They always get away
But sins remain unforgiven each time they pray
What do they think?
How do they feel?
Every time they look in the mirror
A picture of a demon clad beast
In shining clothes
Eyes rejoicing in the death of a soul?

Seconds, minutes, hours will pass
As we wish and regret our bloody past
Promises of lies, lies of promises
Secrets which everyone knows
The list goes and goes and goes
Will it ever stop?
Where? When?
Up there? Down there?
Questions with no answers
Answers with no resolutions

A spark, a flicker
Breath of success
Lit a brilliant flame
Ignited in radiance for only a moment
Then consumed in a second of pain
Cinders then ashes then gone with the wind
Now only a spectre
Remains in this realm
Stabbed, spat out
Forlorn, forgotten
Can they see?
Do they hear?

Major epiphany!!!
Befriended and used
By brother by sister
By love’s lover’s lover
Whose story is different?
Whose story is fake?
Whose story is true and will surrender to fate?
Why does this happen?
Perhaps we are fools
Fooled by tools
In demon clad robes
They roam with eyes agleam and rejoicing

For in death we can no longer speak
Only dream of a wish and wish of a dream
That will never become a reality

The story for which the world is not prepared


Penis gourdPENIS ENVY IS A FREUDIAN CONCEPT, decidedly suspect as a theory and the butt of endless jokes.

The koteka, horim or penis gourd is a phallocrypt or phallocarp traditionally worn by native male inhabitants of some ethnic groups in Papua New Guinea to cover their genitals.

Quite right too - can't have those things waving around in public and frightening the pigs.

Which brings me to the disturbing tale of my Dad's cousin and the two peeping Tomasinas – my aunts.

Dad grew up near Quorn in South Australia.

Every month, two of his cousins took the horse and dray to travel into town to collect supplies - a trip of around 20 kms.

On their journey they had to pass by the house of two old spinster aunts who were reclusive and known as eccentrics.

And every time they passed they would see the curtains drawn aside and two wrinkled faces peering at them as they plodded the old horse past the house.

This happened time and time again. Always when they went past the house, the curtains were drawn and two wizened faces peered out at them - watching beady eyed until they passed out of view.

Well after a few months of this, my cousin Dave got sick of it.

"We'll teach 'em a lesson!" he said with a burst of inspiration.

So the next month they stopped before reaching the house. Dave stripped off completely naked and stood up in the cart facing the house, proudly exposing his wedding vegetables to all and sundry.

The curtains were drawn back as usual and the peering faces peeped out at the horse and cart.

Then they saw cousin Dave standing upright and proud!

Never were curtains closed so quickly.

(A true story from the memories from my dad.)

The PNG Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers is offering a K500 prize to the Papua New Guinean who can design the winning cover for the anthology of the best PNG writing of 2012, to be published by Moore Printing in September this year. The new cover design must be submitted by the end of May. More details from Amanda Donigi here

Judges have biases and prejudices, says O’Neill


PRIME MINISTER PETER O’NEILL last night invoked the concept of a “people’s government” to defend the introduction of new laws that he says “define and impose clarity on judicial behavior that the wider community [may] perceive as biased.”

In a nationwide address following demonstrations against the laws in the streets of Port Moresby on Friday, Mr O’Neill admitted that some of the laws made by his government “may seem harsh and vindictive at first impression in the eyes of critics and opponents.”

But he said that “judges – like any public servants - are employees of the people and the nation. They can be disciplined if there is reasonable evidence of ethical and professional lapse...

“In a nutshell, our people’s parliament has made a new law to define the judicial behavior in relation to the conduct of judges.

“This law is definitely not a political tool for usurping the impartiality of judges or for eroding the letter, intent and spirit of judicial and justice administration,” he said.

Mr O’Neill began his address by restating his view that “governments and prime ministers cannot be installed in office by the courts – especially not by the judiciary.

“Judges of our national and supreme courts have no jurisdiction to decide, appoint and install a government or a prime minister to office.”

He said the new law “is not draconian and does not erode the impartiality of the judges as voiced by critics, including the usual two or three publicity-seeking members of the PNG Law Society.”

He claimed that Australia, India, Canada and other Commonwealth nations had similar laws. “We are not alone here.”

Mr O’Neill said the government “appreciated intervention in the public interest” by students of the University of Papua New Guinea in relation to the judicial conduct law.

“However, let me say that our people’s government does not have a fight with the nation’s judiciary.

“The people’s parliament has put into written law what was - until last Wednesday – a mere understanding and belief which we all took for granted that every judge on the national and supreme court is free of bias and prejudice.”

But he went on to say: “Judges are human beings with emotions. They have feelings, biases and prejudices. They have families, relatives, tribesmen, and school and college friends too.

“Why would they not be biased and prejudiced one way or another when any of their family or friends has a court case that comes before them?”

See transcript of the full address below

Design the cover of the 2012 Crocodile Anthology


Anthology Cover 2011WHEN VINCENT ERI PUBLISHED The Crocodile in 1970 he helped establish a style of writing which is distinctly Papua New Guinean.

This style has persisted and evolved to the present time.  It is very much apparent in the work that many writers are submitting to the Crocodile Prize.

It is also a recognisable and established style that sits comfortably beside its African, South American and Pacific Island brothers and sisters.  It is a legacy that Vincent Eri and his fellow writers have left to the nation.

The Vincent Eri Crocodile Prize for Literature demonstrates that Papua New Guinean literature is alive and well and has been so since those early days.  The only thing that has been missing is outlets for its writers.

Publishing opportunities to make that necessary connection between writers and readers.

Recognition of those early pioneering writers, some of whom, like Russell Soaba, are still going strong, is what prompted the organisers of the competition to name it The Crocodile Prize after that first novel.

It is also the reason why we used a modified version of the cover of the novel for the first anthology published in 2011.  That cover was a way of paying homage to those pioneering writers of the 1970s.

Unfortunately it has also left us with a dilemma for the 2012 and subsequent anthologies.  Should we stick with the same cover design or look for something else that is more representative of the modern era?

As the 2012 competition moves into its final two months (the deadline for entries is at the end of May), I have been asking people I meet in Australia and Papua New Guinea what they think about how the anthology will look.  The consensus seems to be that we need a change.

To this end we are going to award a small prize of K500 for a new cover design.

We have had a very good offer from Papua New Guinea’s Moore Printing who tendered for the printing of the 2012 anthology.  Their offer also includes a K10,000 sponsorship of the Poetry Prize which will be deducted their already competitive quote.

We will need the new cover design to Moore Printing by the end of May.  If you have a design or artwork for a new cover you can submit it directly to Amanda Donigi, the interim Executive Officer of the PNG Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers.

You can email Amanda here for submissions or more details.

Sonnet 1: Parallel lanes to nowhere


Okay, I said that other poem was my last for the year, but, Phil suggested that I should try writing sonnets. And I have been trying. Also, I like the unity that happened with Regina Dorum’s story and my poem i’ve got  sex on my mind – in the club! Now Leonards article Migration and mythology got to my muse. It may not be very good iambic pentameter, because I’m still trying to get the hang of that. But it will do as Sonnet 1 - md

Travelling roads that wind over mountains
Where trees and high Imperata are blinds
Traffic passing by on parallel lanes:
Converse directions with dividing lines

On prehistoric treks of time and chance
Each step chosen for a safe arrival
Hand-made stories, legends in chants and dance:
Ancestral maps were means of survival

But now we drive along broad thoroughfares
Disregarding those places where we step
Doing whatever we want, unawares:
Destinations aren’t just names on a map

Nomads and seafarers found their somewhere
Their kin cruise parallel lanes to nowhere.

Buai habit is "highly dangerous" says WHO


The buai chewerA NEW REPORT by the World Health Organisation reveals a shockingly high prevalence of areca (betel) nut (known as buai in Papua New Guinea) and tobacco chewing in the Western Pacific Region and urges governments and other stakeholders to make people aware of the health dangers.

“Although people understand the harms of smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke, they don’t generally appreciate the dangers of tobacco and betel nut chewing,” says Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific.

People need to know that chewing tobacco and betel nut are highly dangerous, too, whether taken together or separately.”

The report, Review of Areca (Betel) Nut and Tobacco Use in the Pacific,” says as many as half of the adults in Papua New Guinea, Palau and the Solomon Islands chew betel nut either alone or with tobacco.

It details the origin, history and current trends of betel nut and tobacco use in 10 Western Pacific countries and provides a platform of action for the control of the substances.

The International Agency for Cancer Research classifies betel nut as a Group 1 carcinogen. Smokeless tobacco use is associated with cancers of the oral cavity, pancreas and oesophagus. The nicotine in tobacco also leads to addiction, making it more difficult to give up the betel nut chewing when mixed with tobacco.

“The increasingly common practice of chewing betel nut quid mixed with tobacco greatly increases a person’s risk for bleeding gums, periodontal disease and oral lesions and cancer,” says Dr Shin.

“Indeed, countries of the Western Pacific where this practice is common have high rates of oral cancer. I’m greatly concerned that this problem may worsen due to the increasing prevalence of betel and tobacco chewing among young people,” he adds.

News Flash! Terra Incognita is rediscovered


Terra IcognitaTerra incognita or terra ignota (Latin, "unknown land,"). Similarly, uncharted or unknown seas are mare incognitum, (Latin, "unknown sea")

YEP! IT’S OFFICIAL. The Queensland Education Department has effectively dismissed historical evidence and effectively expunged from school maps our near Pacific neighbours.

In a recent response to a proposed initiative to recognise the lingua franca of our nearest and friendliest neighbour , Papua New Guinea, Queensland Education has declared that French, German and Italian are more important for our children than any reference to a Melanesian language.

The proposal for Melanesian to be included in the Queensland school curriculum would have recognised the lingua franca of choice of a nation just a few hundred metres from the Queensland border. Citizens from PNG frequently travel across that border.

Melanesian or Tok Pisin is a phonetically written language that encourages children to learn phonetics, something English is renowned for providing untold confusion with. Phonetics is a useful skill where other languages in our region are concerned.

That said, language training encompasses far more than just learning to speak a language. An appreciation of culture and geography is carried along with it.

There are many Australian cities and towns that have ‘sister city’ status with their PNG counterparts and the same cultural understanding and personal friendships can be encouraged through learning language skills.

Trade between PNG and Australia reportedly runs at $7 billion each year and will no doubt increase.

PNG is about to enter significant resource development with a large expansion of hydrocarbon and mineral exploitation.

International service clubs like Rotary include PNG in their Queensland and Pacific region. Interchange programs would benefit immensely from an existing language base that assisting the exchange of information.

PNG exchange students and seasonal workers might feel far more welcome if there was a chance that they might feel welcome and appreciated and relax in a language of their own choice while staying in Australia with Australians.

There is a significant number of Australians who have worked in PNG and learnt Melanesian and who might be available to assist as ancillary staff at their local school.

All these benefits are apparently of little or no concern to Queensland Education.

In answer to those who perhaps unintentionally denigrate Tok Pisin as fairly useless in discussing important and possibly intricate matters I would offer the following.

Once I became fluent, I have never been unable to translate and discuss that which I understood into Tok Pisin so that the audience understood what I was talking about.

Many PNG people who speak English still prefer to relax in Tok Pisin. Are we to turn our back on this fact simply because of a possible prejudice?

The unexpected birthday present


IT WAS FRIDAY 28 JULY 2006, and the sun was shining in its magnificent glory over the savannah grasslands of the Markham Valley.

There was a cool breeze blowing to complement the beautiful morning sunshine, the mulberry tree branches were swaying as the steady Wawin breeze blew and the perrywinkle flowers bloomed beautifully.

This place, somewhere in the middle of the Markham valley, was home away from home for many students.  Here strangers became friends for a lifetime after two memorable years.

So it was a beautiful day as usual in Wawin National High School (Wanaths) with everyone up at 6 am because Friday was the ‘Golden Day’ - with the weekend commencing right after period six at 1:50 pm.

Joseph, a Grade 12 student, had been up since 5:30 because this day was a special day - his 20th birthday. But an unusual birthday - away from home, away from family and in boarding school.

Joseph had a quick shower at 6 and was getting ready for breakfast when his friends rushed into Room 232 and gave him bear hug after bear hug to wish him a happy birthday.

The atmosphere was exciting as the bond of brotherhood among the male students was firm and everyone was now planning to gear up in their gentleman dress to prepare for class - a tradition in Wanaths as a way of celebrating a special day for any student.

At 7 Joseph was dressed up in his finest suit with a Sepik neck tie. With his school books in his folder, he went down for morning registration and class. After the brief roll check and words from the patron in Room 5, Period 1 commenced with the English class.

It was during Period 2 during Economics that Joseph noticed a white LandCruiser driving into the school gate and towards the administration block. He excitedly recognised that the vehicle was his elder brother’s company car. He’d promised to take him out for the weekend to celebrate his birthday. Joseph could hardly wait for class to be over before he quickly packed his books and walked towards the car park.

Continue reading "The unexpected birthday present" »

Address to the nation by the PNG prime minister

An unusually casual Peter O'NeillBY HON PETER O’NEILL CMG MP

Tonight prime minister Peter O’Neill has used Papua New Guinea’s mass media to address the nation following protests and demonstrations against changes to the laws affecting the judiciary in PNG (Judicial Conduct Bill 2012)

MY FELLOW CITIZENS AND RESIDENTS of our great nation. It is indeed my pleasant duty to talk to you about our national affairs.

Nearly 8 months ago on the 2nd of August 2011, our Government was created. Our Government is the product of dissent and dissatisfaction with the nine year-old National Alliance Party-led government.

Seventy-two Members of Parliament -- who are elected representatives of their people – responded to a motion to change the government of the day and thereby voted accordingly in Parliament to deliver a new Government for Papua New Guinea.

Parliament is where all governments of Papua New Guinea were created and changed since Independence in 1975. Parliament is also where all Prime Ministers of Papua New Guinea are elected and deposed.

Governments and Prime Ministers cannot be installed in office by the Courts – especially not by the Judiciary.

Judges of our National and Supreme Courts have no jurisdiction to decide, appoint and install a government or a Prime Minister to office.

The Judiciary can make their ruling on a constitutional reference of the type filed by the East Sepik Provincial Government and several other parties that disputed Parliament’s creation of our Government and of my election as Prime Minister.

But the Judiciary can only inform and advise their ruling as a recommendation to Parliament through the Speaker.

It is then up to the Speaker of Parliament to accept or reject the judicial ruling because under the “separation of powers” of the three arms of Government – that is the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary – one cannot dictate to the other or interfere in the other’s duties, functions and responsibilities.

The exception to the status quo is where an enabling legislation gives authority for one arm of government to interact with the other in a specified manner.

That is the legal and political precedent, fact and reality which our Government has steadfastly and repeatedly voiced and explained in the face of uninformed criticism and blame-passing by our critics.

Our Government – and especially its leadership – is not afraid to take all the responsibility, credit and blame for all decisions and developments affecting our nation since August last year.

Our Government is happy to equally accept credit where we have done well and blame and criticism where we have - with the best intentions – deliberately moved to redirect and reshape national development.

We are a Government that pledged and committed ourselves as inclusive and all-accommodating, right at the beginning. The foundation of our Government are the citizens – every man, woman and child – of this nation.

Our Government is the “People’s Government” and I urge all citizens to embrace that ownership.

Our Government took office to create, assert and deliver positive and gainful economic, political and social changes in the lives of all our people.  Our Government is not afraid to admit that we are in office to deliver goods and services to support the lives of all our people.

Our Government came into office to change and redirect the way our national affairs has been governed and managed over the last 37 years.

It is no secret that we have moved decisively to re-align the Legislature, the Executive and now the Judiciary to be positively and gainfully proactive in the leadership role each plays. They are constitutionally bound to exercise their powers for the overall stability and good governance of our nation.

Our Government is convinced that the three important arms of Government must step out and step up to embrace their constitutional roles and be seen to be delivering their functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently.

Despite what our critics have said about us lately, our eight-month old government is “the government of the people, for the people and by the people” through their elected representatives – not through their appointed public officials.

At present there are 89 elected Members of Parliament making up the numerical majority of our people’s Government in Parliament.

Our Government has made use of this numerical majority to make laws that we believe are good for our nation in the long run.

Some laws we have made may seem harsh and vindictive at first impression in the eyes of critics and opponents of our Government.

Continue reading "Address to the nation by the PNG prime minister" »

Bill bad for judicial powers but may please landowners


RAI COAST LANDOWNERS in Madang Province may be silently grinning amidst the frenzy created by parliament’s passage of the Judicial Conduct Bill.

This Bill, and the judge who ruled against them in a previous Supreme Court appeal, may be the keys to them re-opening a case which was, until December 2011, as good as dead and buried.

The judge is Derek Hartshorn, a member of the Papua New Guinea judiciary. Justice Hartshorn had earlier presided over landowner court action to stop dumping of mine waste in Basamuk Bay in Madang and was a member of the Supreme Court in related appeals.

A decision by Justice Hartshorn in December 2011 had rejected the appeal against mine waste dumping at Basamuk Bay in the Madang Province and accepted a cross-appeal from the mining companies in the Ramu Nickel Project that their dumping would not cause a public or private nuisance. This court case is covered by the new Bill, which has retrospective effect to 1 November 2011.

At the time, lawyers acting for the landowners had unsuccessfully taken issue with Justice Hartshorn arguing that prior to his becoming a judge his previous job had been as managing partner of law firm Blake Dawson Waldron.

It was also argued that this law firm had acted for Highlands Pacific Limited, which is a partner in the Ramu Nickel Project.

Section 5(1)(d) of the Judicial Conduct Bill 2012 could bring Justice Hartshorn within grounds of disqualification. This section reads:

A judge shall disqualify himself in a proceeding or shall not influence a proceeding in which the Judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances where ... the judge has previously acted in the case in question as a Lawyer for a party, or participated in some other capacity...

If a judge refused to disqualify himself, Section 5(2) says that:

If it appears to Parliament that a Judge has failed to disqualify himself pursuant to Subsection (1) or has influenced a proceeding contrary to Subsection (1), Parliament by way of a motion may refer the Judge concerned to the Head of State to appoint a Tribunal to investigate the breach of Subsection (1) and provide a report to Parliament or may refer the matter to another authority for an appropriate course of action

The Head of State upon the advice of the Speaker would then appoint the Tribunal pursuant to Section 5(3).

When Parliament has referred the Judge concerned to a Tribunal for investigation subject to Sections 5(2) and 5(3), the next question is: What would be the likely outcome for His Honour and the case in question? Section 5(8) deals with this. It says:

Where Parliament has made a referral of a Judge to the Head of State pursuant to subsection (3) any Order or Judgment in that proceeding made by that Judge shall be stayed pending the provision of the report from the Tribunal to Parliament

If this is a correct reading and application of the Judicial Conduct Bill 2012, Tiffany Twivey, as lawyer for landowners from the Rai Coast area of Madang Province, would be pleased in a sense that it opens a legal window of opportunity for the landowners she represents. What a travesty of justice!

Oala Moi is from Boera village in the West Hiri area of Central Province. He is a landowner plaintiff in a judicial review case reviewing a 2009 decision by the Secretary for Lands and Physical Planning in declaring over 1,200 hectares of traditional sea and seabed area not to be customary land.

Apparently this declaration led to its portioning into Portions 2457C and 2458C, and which have been used to construct the PNG LNG causeway and jetty. Portions 2457C and 2458C are situated next to Portion 2456C where the gas plant is being built. Portion 2456C was portioned out of the former Portion 152 located in the West Hiri area of the Central Province. The balance of former Portion 152 became Portion 2459C. Portions 2456C, 2457C, and 2458C were granted as state leases to Esso Highlands Ltd in 2009.

Bad is not all bad


IN EVERYDAY LIFE, there is a good side to every situation. Life is not all that is good or bad. Life has two sides of the coin. You cannot have the success you seek in your lifetime without experiencing some failures and difficulties.

Life is all about the journey of pilgrimage through the green pastures enjoying the beauty of it and getting out of the track that would lead you to experience the dusty, highway full of potholes.

Any experience in your lifetime can be transformed into something of value and glory. Everything depends on the way you look at things. As Saint Paul says, “When you are weak then you know that you are strong.”

Coming to realise and knowing the weak side of your life would lead you to be strong and courageous.

Your obstacles and defeat in your life span are really stepping-stones to victory if you remain determined and focus your life. Leave the bad side behind and journey with cherished memories.

In all your adversaries lie the seeds of equivalent advantage and so as in every defeat there is a lesson showing you how to win the next time. To speak of mountains is to speak of valleys and plateaus.

Always foresee your problems as opportunities to endeavour. When it is dark enough you can see the stars shining in the sky so follow them, so they can lead you into the glorious land like the three kings who pay homage and tribute to the Saviour.

Sikin Thomas Tandak (42) was born on the Pina Catholic Mission at Wabag in the Enga Province. He currently lives on Santo Island in Vanuatu where he works for a World Health Organisation on an e-learning health network project implemented in partnership with the Vanuatu government

If there is nothing, who or what is nothing?


Is there only nothingness after death?
Suppose one does not prepare then, not the least chance.
No way!  Nothing at all on this vibrant earth;
Come thou nothing, go thou nothing with empty hands.

Joe’s sleepy mind and thoughts bogged him down dozing,
And makes him dream of a never-never land without budging;
He neither has a job, neither any money, nor a dime,
And is being disliked and forgotten for a time.

He’s a lazy grasshopper of a kind;
A kind of a flying being without sober mind,
And his mind is bogged and smogged hence a swine,
Suspended in the hollow of a dugout mine.

Is there only emptiness in a vacuum of nothingness?
Suppose his desperation and aspiration are visionary;
Emptiness thus surrenders his thoughts to uphold nothingness,
And sadly none of these is recorded in the Big Dictionary.

Joe once proclaimed, “Don’t panic over something that you gave,”
Such boasts and unruly toasts disgustedly painted him a knave,
And does harvest a flaming tongue of wonder;
His actions and transactions made him a swander.

He’s hazy-crazy and out of his element,
Braving and craving under the unseen pile of cement,
And is in the mist of approaching torment,
But, who or what is nothing is a travelling comet.

Dave Korahi Doriga (71) was born in Kira Kira near Port Moresby and is of Koitabuan descent. He is a retired public servant, having commenced work in 1960 and working for 28 continuous years until 1989. He has been a widower since 1992

O’Neill will explain new powers to PNG people


Students protest judicial changesAFTER SEVERAL THOUSAND DEMONSTRATORS, mainly students, took to the streets in Port Moresby yesterday, prime minister Peter O'neill will address the nation tomorrow night to explain his government's controversial new powers to suspend judges.

Demonstrators gathered at the University of Papua New Guinea before marching to the government offices to hand the prime minister a petition against the Judicial Conduct Act 2012, which passed parliament on Wednesday.

The protesters initially demanded to meet with Mr O'Neill or his deputy Belden Namah, but were instead met behind the government offices by chief secretary Manasupe Zurenuoc.

"Tune in to your radios and (TV) stations at 7 o'clock Sunday. The prime minister Peter O'Neill will address the country on the issues that you are raising, the issue of the judicial conduct bill," he told the crowd.

"My friends, the issues you are raising are no different from those throughout the country. Your government is appreciative of what you are raising, we understand where you are coming from.

"The government will look at your petition, we will look at all the petitions."

UPNG student president Dicky Lao told the crowd the government's decision to pass the law was wrong.

"The law is not in the best interest of the common good of our people," he said.

"We, the student body of PNG are of the view that the (purpose) of the controversial bill is to assert power of the executive arm, the legislature, at the expense of the judiciary."

Opposition to the bill - which is widely seen as an escalation in the government's battle to unseat Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia - has been mounting since it was rushed through parliament this week.

Opposition Leader Dame Carol Kidu has condemned the bill and the manner in which it has passed, while former Chief Justice and Attorney General Sir Arnold Amet has appealed for international intervention.

PNG’s constitution – how healthy is it really?


SINCE THE SOVEREIGN NATION of Papua New Guinea gained its Independence from Australia in 1975 there have been a number of amendments to the constitution.

On Tuesday of last week, three new commissioners were sworn in to the Constitutional and Law Reform Committee (CLRC).

There are six part time commissioners and a full time chairman of this committee whose goal is now to reform the PNG constitution and laws of the land.

The Commission comprises a number of eminent persons including Gerard Lange (a constitutional law expert), Rev William Longar (representing the PNG Council of Churches), Prof Betty Lovai (Dean of the UPNG School of Humanities and Social Sciences) and Prof Luluaki (Executive Dean of the UPNG School of Law).

Yet even as the new commissioners were being appointed, the government was planning to make prospective changes to the country’s constitution.

On Tuesday, in a vote of 63-7, the PNG parliament passed the Judicial Conduct Bill with what seemed to some the utmost alacrity.

This Bill has been claimed to directly challenge the independence of the PNG judiciary which is a central plank of the Westminster system of government.

Opposition Leader Dame Carol Kidu said: “We are taking a wrong way. We are breaking the fabric of the constitution and I am really worried for the future of PNG.”

By contrast, one of the most important aspects of the Australian constitution is that it takes referendum approval in the majority of Australian States to make changes to a document put together by the founding fathers oi the late 19th Century.

Over the years, 44 amendments have been proposed - only eight have been successful.

To succeed, a proposed amendment to the Australian constitution requires:

an absolute majority in both houses of the federal parliament; and

the approval in a referendum by a majority of electors nationwide, and a majority in a majority of states

One can but wonder whether many of the PNG Constitutional and Law Reform Committee’s responsibilities may well be superseded by the actions of Parliament by the time future changes might be presented.

Clearly the majority of the members of the PNG parliament consider their collective experience and qualifications enable them to determine what some see as dramatic changes to PNG law without any reported prior reference to CLRC for consideration.

Why they’re all going to vote Liberal today


Dear Mr Oates - We recommend that you explore the   option of establishing an AHES program for the teaching of Tok Pisin in your area. The Queensland LOTE Centre would be able to assist you with this endeavour. I trust this information is of assistance. Warm regards [Dr Suzanne Innes, Acting Assistant-Director General, Education Queensland]

WELL THERE YOU HAVE IT. The final response to my suggestion that Tok Pisin be taught in Australian schools.

The suggestion progressed like this.

An article in PNG Attitude; an interview on ABC radio; a letter to Mr Marles who supported the idea; then a letter to Mr Garrett's federal education department who thought it had merit; finally to the Queensland education department which suggested, as you have read above, that if I was interested I could take the matter up with my local school.

Apparently if I want Melanesian taught in the local school I have to do it myself.

Can someone tell me what language I am apparently using to pursue this initiative? Clearly it's not English.

So 'warm regards’ to you too, Dr Innes.

I'm slowly counting to ten. Wahnnnnnn, toooo.....

The first time


The first time I saw you
You were singing the blues
You looked so handsome
Yet so lonesome
A masterpiece indeed
The one I took to heed

The first time you smiled
It was just for a while
Sent me into a trance
It was love at first glance

The first time we met
I could never forget
Those dark brown eyes
Proved no disguise
So true and dear
So purely sincere

The first time we spoke
I thought I would choke
But I lasted through
And so did you

The first time we fought
I almost thought,
“It’s time to leave,”
Feeling bereaved
But you changed my mind
‘Cause you’re one of a kind

The first time we laughed
It wasn’t a bluff
We chuckled and smiled
And were happy all the while
The first time we kissed
It was pure bliss
Those pretty lips
Like chocolate chips
Those dark brown eyes
Still told no lies

The first time I called you mine
Oh, what a feeling so divine!
A gift from up above
An unconditional love

Emmanuella Memafu (20) was born in Port Moresby and is a first year journalism student at the University of Papua New Guinea. As well as being a writer she is an aspiring singer and songwriter

Cricket: Barramundis hold their nerve against Italy

PAPUA NEW GUINEA HELD ITS NERVE to beat Italy by 12 runs and thereby gained the seventh spot in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2012 – an excellent outcome to the series that should see the Barramundis leap up the league table of international cricketing nations.

At the Global Cricket Academy Oval 2 in Dubai, PNG batting first posted 118-9 in its 20 overs.

In reply, Italy appeared to be cruising but ended up losing by just 12 runs to end at 106-7 in its 20 overs.

Earlier Tony Ura (37) top-scored as PNG appeared to have made an under-par total. Damian Crowley (3-18) and Carl Sandri (2-18) were the key wicket-takers for Italy.

In its chase, Italy were motoring at 81-3 in the 15th over when tragedy struck. It lost a couple of wickets, and momentum, as PNG - led by man of the match Hitolo Areni (3-9) - turned the match around.

PNG 118-9, 20 overs (Tony Ura 37; Damian Crowley 4-18, Carl Sandri 2-18) defeated Italy 106-7, 20 overs (Peter Petricola 30, Damian Crowley 24; Hitolo Areni 3-9). Man of the Match: Hitolo Areni (PNG)

10 – 20 APRIL 2012
Papua New Guinea’s leading blogger and social & political commentator, Martyn Namorong, will be in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane mid-April for public meetings, media engagements and university visits. Final details of his program are still to be announced but if you’re interested in meeting Martyn, you should contact us hereA PNG Atttitude Project

Private funds mean Martyn can take the truth to Oz


Croc TrophyREADERS OF PNG ATTITUDE, a leading PNG law firm and Victoria University have combined to sponsor Martyn Namorong’s Take the Truth to Australia tour.

Namorong, one of Papua New Guinea’s new breed of young, feisty social commentators and activists, will visit Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane for ten days in April.

He will talk to the media and address gatherings of interested citizens as well as giving a speech at a conference on Papua New Guinea at Deakin University.

The tour is being funded by private donations after the federal government could not make up its mind whether Martyn would be able to vary an AusAID grant (still not confirmed) to allow him to extend a conference appearance in Melbourne to enable him to undertake other activities.

Crucial funding, without which the tour could not have proceeded, was provided by Tiffany (Nonggorr) Twivey of PNG's Twivey Lawyers, a law firm with a strong social conscience that does much fine work for the disempowered in Papua New Guinea.

Earlier this week, when Victoria University offered to co-sponsor Namorong’s tour, the organisers were able to relieve the government of its onerous decision-making responsibility by making Namorong's visit totally privately funded and ensuring the writer could meet many more Australians.

The Melbourne-based Victoria University is one of the largest and most culturally diverse education institutions in Australia with 51,000 students, including more than 13,800 international students, and 5,400 research, teaching and general staff.

Namorong will be in Melbourne from 10-15 April, including a visit to the campus of Victoria University to talk with students and staff; Sydney from 15-18 April; and Brisbane from 18-20 April.

Linda Koerner is coordinating his visit in Melbourne, Murray Bladwell in Brisbane and I’m looking after Sydney.

PNG Attitude readers, and other people interested in PNG affairs, who want to meet Martyn Namorong should register their interest here.

Further information will be made available on his public appearances as a clearer understanding is obtained of the number of people who would like to meet him.

Not for the people: the great Papua New Guinea rip-off


Feeding the corporationTHE JUSTICE SYSTEM is not for the people.

Ramu Nickel was taken to court by the Madang people but they lost because the Chinese had "statutory authorisation" to fuck the Bismark Sea.

Yep folks basically its legal to fuck up the PNG people...

All you have to do is pay politicians to make laws in your favour so that when the ‘kanakas’ take you to court they will always lose because you have been given "statutory authorisation".

The government is not for the people.

Read how the Department of Environment and Conservation bent over backwards so that MMJV could fuck the Watut and Markham Rivers with cyanide. The Labu people cannot claim for compensation because MMJV will argue in court that there was "statutory authorisation" by DEC for them [MMJV] to fuck the Labu people.

You don’t fix this system. It’s not broken. It was made to break you. You replace the whole system with a genuine Papua New Guinean model of development.

The working environment is not for the people.

Wage slavery: renting yourself to an owner. Wage slavery is the same as chattel slavery. There is no difference between renting yourself and selling yourself. Even your time doesn't belong to you anymore and you're wondering why you're "free" and still can’t make ends meet.

And while your pay is taxed and everything you buy is taxed the corporations get tax breaks not just on their profits but even on the things they buy.

The corporations promise jobs for Papua New Guineans and then, when they begin operations, they say we are unskilled. Therefore Papua New Guineans on jobs and other opportunities to equally participate in the formal economy.

The constitution is not for the people.

The Preamble of the constitution contains Papua New Guinea’s Declaration of Independence. In the Declaration of Independence are the national goals and directive principles – basically the Papua New Guinean model of development.

However, Section 25 of the constitution makes this declaration of Independence rather useless.


(1) Except to the extent provided in Subsections (3) and (4), the National Goals and Directive Principles are non-justiciable.

What does this mean? Well if you read the rest of the constitution it pretty much legalises the institutions of colonisation. So colonisation is legalised and Our PNG Ways are just words on a paper.

Laws to rein in the judges ‘dangerous and abusive’

AS STUDENTS FROM the University of Papua New Guinea prepare to occupy their university in protest at recent legislation designed to “tame” the judiciary, they issued a statement last night analysing the anti-democratic nature of the new laws.

We thank The Namorong Report for this transcript.

A Review of the Judicial Conduct Bill 2012

Compiled by the Bill Committee in front of the UPNG Student Body on this night – 9:10 pm 22.03.12 [edited version]

We, the students of the University of Papua New Guinea have met today in light of the actions of our National Parliament in regard to the passing of the Judicial Conduct Bill, which virtually gives Parliament the power to suspend Honourable Justices of the National and Supreme Courts.

While we honour the pledge we made to support the O’Neill/Namah Government back in the Prime Minister’s September 2011 visit to the Waigani Campus, we in the strongest of terms denounce the passing of the Judicial Conduct Bill 2012.

As educated Papua New Guineans we have discussed the Bill and its implications at length in forums sanctioned by the UPNG SRC 9students representative council]. We have had our law students, politics students, public policy students and students from all schools of thought read into the Bill and offer their learned views on what this law will effectively mean for the future of Governance in Papua New Guinea.

And we have, in One Voice concluded that the Judicial Conduct Bill is dangerous and abusive of established constitutional and legislative processes and offices already in operation and force.

In this brief paper we will discuss the Bill’s substantive provisions and our concerns regarding to each.

The Bill claims in its preamble as “Being an Act to implement Section 157 of the Constitution, to safeguard, protect or promote the integrity of our legal system based on the principle that an independent, fair, and competent judiciary…”

This statement, while it sounds noble, is very problematic. Here we have an Act of Parliament that is seeking to regulate the Judiciary. As we will discuss later, it is an Act that allows one arm of Government to interfere directly into the affairs of another arm of Government, and one that is traditionally kept outside of the whims of Parliamentary politics.

Continue reading "Laws to rein in the judges ‘dangerous and abusive’" »

UN's chequered record over West Papua


Police arrest West Papuans celebrating 50th anniversary of the end of Dutch rule [Al Jazeera]THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE have taken part in rallies across West Papua and in Australia to mark the UN Secretary-General’s visit to Indonesia.

They have called on Ban Ki-moon to revisit United Nations mistakes that led to the denial of West Papuans’ right to self-determination and to assist in resolving ongoing human rights abuses in Papua.

UN peacekeeping was at the top of the agenda of Ban’s visit to Indonesia on Tuesday. West Papua was not, but many argue that it should be.

After all, West Papuans are asking that the UN revisit its first – and flawed – administration of a post-conflict society. Observers hailed the success of the UN administration of East Timor and its successful transition to independence.

But few are aware of the UN’s failure in its first attempt at administration in West Papua more than 40 years earlier. East Timor got a democratic vote. West Papua got a sham vote.

East Timor got independence. West Papua became part of Indonesia – against its will and in breach of its right to self-determination under the UN Charter.

Had the UN properly discharged its mandate back then, West Papuans would have celebrated more than 40 years of independence instead of having endured nearly 50 years of oppression.

In that time, it is estimated that as many as 500,000 Papuans have been killed at the hands of Indonesian security forces. Yale and Sydney Universities report that the situation is approaching genocide.

Papuan activists campaigning for self-determination are routinely arrested and jailed for peacefully expressing their political opinions.

The recent conviction and jailing of the Jayapura Five – including Forkorus Yaboisembut, a Papuan tribal leader – drew international condemnation from lawyers and human rights groups.

Continue reading "UN's chequered record over West Papua" »

Using my disability for literary inspiration


I COME FROM A MIXED PARENTAGE of East Sepik and Oro Provinces but was born and raised up in Kainantu in the Eastern Highlands Province. I’m 25 and have been living with disabilities since 1995.

I’m currently doing my final year of study in the communications for development at the PNG University of Technology. I am a peace-loving person with a sense of humour.

I’m also an advocate of national unity and keen to be an honest and transparent person in all my actions and decisions as much as possible, and always be thankful to God in good times and bad times in everything in life.

My interest is in reading, writing, documenting my cultures, traditions and legends and also to involve myself in societal services. Most of my writings are from my own personal experiences and encounters in life. Thus I have recently documented legends from my home village.

Hopefully I will one day get the chance to write and publish my own books about my personal experiences and also about my people’s customs and traditions and legends of my home villages in East Sepik and Oro Provinces respectively in the near future.

As a person living with disabilities, life has been very challenging for me because I could not do everything that I wished. However, positive thinking, sheer determination and faith in God has always made me prosper in every aspect in my life over these 17 years.

It is my keen desire to see that, wherever I may be in future, I will have an impact and influence on everyone who knows me, especially with my distinct personality.

Moreover, I want to advocate and promote equal treatment, attention and participation for people living with disabilities in every aspect of life in this sovereign nation of mine, Papua New Guinea.


By Joe Bigiglen Yamog

Family Is A Family To Us
As We Are A Family To Our Family
Family Bloodline Is A Distinct Bond To Us
As Our Bloodline Is A Distinct Bond To Our Family

Family Is A Blessing To Us
As We Are A Blessing To Our Family
Family Is A Gift From God To Us
As We Are A Gift From God To Our Family

Family Love Is Of All Sentiments Unique To Us
As Our Love Is Of All Sentiments Unique To Our Family
Family Care Has No Vocabulary To Us
As Our Care Has No Vocabulary Towards Our Family

Family Time Is Of Significance Essence To Us
As Our Time Is Of Significance Essence To Our Family
Family Understanding Belongs To Us
As Our Understanding Belongs To Our Family

Family Sacrifices Have Been Constant To Us
As Our Sacrifices Should Be Constant To Our Family
Family Support Is A Good Deed To Us
As Our Support Is A Good Deed To Our Family

Family Expectations Are Beyond Comparable To Us
As Our Expectations Are Beyond Comparable To Our Family
Family Success In Life Is A Milestone Achievement To Us
As Our Success In Life Is A Milestone Achievement To Our Family

Family Faces Resembles The Past, Present And The Future To Us
As Our Faces Resembles The Past, Present And Future To Our Family
Family Memories Are Treasures Of Gold To Us
As Our Memories Are Treasures Of Gold To Our Family
Other Things May Change Us, But We Start And End With The Family.

Stranger in his own land


Once I met you
Sitting in front
Of an old
Chinese Shop

I asked
In the most
Polite language
I could master

You replied with
Just a nod of your head
Too shy
To see full in eye

Wondered which
Part of the country
You come from

My thoughts took
Me away
To a far far land

Forgot the evening mist
And darkness
Enveloping my route

Soon I must go home
Still wanted to know
Where you come from
Your blood lines

I cannot deny
Some call you idiot
Others call you beggar
And many call you homeless

But for me,
You were the leader of my singsing group
Who would sing,
With a beautiful voice like a parrot
Mastering the art,
Of true manhood

But today
All is gone finish,
And no more of your gay days
And when I think of you
Tears flow freely
Am I sorry or weak
What do I do for my bloodline.

Emmanuel Gumaba (26) comes from Oro Province.  He is a business development officer with the National Superannuation Fund of Papua New Guinea

Somare says PNG needs immediate election


SIR MICHAEL SOMARE, who maintains he is Papua New Guinea’s legitimate prime minister, says PNG should immediately hold elections to put an end to the barrage of unconstitutional acts from the rival Peter O’Neill administration.

Yesterday MPs rushed the Judicial Conduct Bill through parliament.  It gives the government sweeping powers over judges.

Sir Michael, in a statement, said it is obvious that Mr O’Neill and his followers are avoiding the judgment of the courts.

He said it is “offensive and absolutely inappropriate to put self interest ahead of the greater interest of PNG”.

Sir Michael says the MPs bring great shame to PNG’s democracy by their constant menace and meddling with the independence of the judiciary.

He says the MPs have shown how they will wield power and the judiciary is only the beginning.

He fears they will now turn their attention on the Electoral Commission with the aim of delaying the election.

Kemish demonstrates commonsense on PNG


AROUND 100 PEOPLE PACKED the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney yesterday to hear Ian Kemish, Australia’s High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, expound on the PNG-Australia relationship.

Keith Jackson being unable to attend, I went in his place and hope this report will give some impression to the readers of PNG Attitude . The speech transcript and other reports will also be available online through the website of the Lowy Institute.

It was a rare experience and a welcome opportunity to hear some up-to-date views on the many facets of the PNG-Australia special relationship.

As I arrived I was met by Alexander Rhooney, Lowy Institute intern and himself a blogger of some renown.

At the same time I met a Namatanai lady from UPNG who is on an AusAID postgraduate scholarship at Sydney University, her thesis being in the area of education quality. I sat next to a fellow from the investment sector. The room was full of a range of individuals, journalists, corporates – all kinds.

Lowy Institute executive director Michael Wesley opened the session with some background, referring to the shared history of Australia and PNG and pointing out some economic facts: including minerals rising as a percentage of GDP from 2% in 2006 to 8% in 2012 and 10 years of uninterrupted growth.

Mr Wesley alluded to the challenge to develop these economic returns into tangible growth, sentiments echoed by High Commissioner Kemish.

He also mentioned problems that challenge PNG and are at odds with economic prosperity: including high maternal and infant mortality and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Turning to politics, he referred to last August’s election – “what some commentators called generational change” – however the December mutiny and associated events had attracted international attention and did not augur well.

“The Australia-PNG relationship will continue to be complex.” With this, he introduced Ian Kemish.

I was impressed and encouraged by the content and substance evidenced in Mr Kemish’s remarks.

He demonstrates a good breadth of understanding, evenhandedness and common sense on PNG, and I think this is appreciated in both PNG and Australia.

He gave a balanced speech, covering a range of topics, and this was followed by a 20-minute Q&A session. More details soon...

Fears that PNG is moving to ‘executive dictatorship’

FORMER MINISTER DAME CAROL KIDU has spoken out strongly against new laws that give the Papua New Guinea government the power to suspend judges, claiming the country could be moving towards an “executive dictatorship”.

The new law was passed yesterday by a vote of 63-7 and gives parliament the power to refer judges to a tribunal which, after investigation, can suspend them.

Dame Carol says the laws focuses total power in the executive arm of government.

"If checks and balances are not working, we're in an executive dictatorship," she said. "It is not in the interests of PNG remaining a truly democratic country.

"We will have judges afraid to toe the line."

She also believes the government will move quickly to oust chief justice Sir Salamo Injia.

"I think that will happen very quickly," she told journalists on Wednesday.

The government has tried three times to have Sir Salamo removed from office since Peter O'Neill became prime minister last August.

Earlier this week deputy prime minister Belden Namah accused two judges other, Nicholas Kirriwom and George Manuhu of "judicial corruption" after an email disclosing their views on political attacks on the supreme court was revealed.