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169 posts from July 2012

Political comebacks a phenomenon of this election


AS OF YESTERDAY, 13 former members of the Papua New Guinea parliament had re-emerged from the political wilderness to once again find themselves eligible to sit on the padded leather seats of the Haus Tambaran in Port Moresby.

Most of the re-emergent members (missing from action for between 5 and 15 years) previously lost their seats in the time honoured way of getting insufficient votes; although a few had a run in with the law and been disqualified.

And, apart from the lucky 13, there were even more former MP's who came close to pulling off a renaissance, finishing in the first top three.

Meanwhile, there are several more who may yet win seats where the counting continues.

Those who'd made it back as of yesterday were Charlie Bemjamin, Ben Micah, Mao Zeming, Ludwig Shulze, Tommy Tomscholl, Titus Philemon, Jim Kas, Dr Fabian Pok, Ron Ganarafo, Bire Kimisop, Jimmy Simatab and of course the Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare.

It just goes to show that you should never say never in politics.

‘Markham Tom’, big-hearted PNG pioneer, dies at 83


Tom LeahyTHE REMARKABLE TOM LEAHY – Papua New Guinea pioneer, planter and politician – passed away in Toowoomba at the weekend aged 83.

Leahy was known universally as “Markham Tom” – for his bonds to the soil and people of the Markham Valley in the Morobe district. He was the first European farmer to settle those vast savannah plains soon after arriving from Queensland as a 17-year-old in 1947.

He planted cocoa, copra, rice, sorghum and peanuts and grew cattle on his Maralumie farm and soon became inextricably linked to the people of his new land and home.

He was elected to the first local government council in his area – Huon Gulf – and his 15 years of service gave him a broad understanding and connection that would shape his life and affect many.

Tom Leahy represented Markham in the House of Assembly (of the newly-united PNG) from 1968-72 and his contemporaries included two young men who would play a huge part in the history of their country, Michael Somare and John Guise.

Leahy became leader of government business ensuring passage of bills through parliament and a member of the Constitutional Planning Committee.

In 2000, the 25th anniversary of independence the PNG government honoured him with a citation commending him for his contribution to the country and its people.

Tom Leahy was part of a family ‘dynasty’ whose surname became synonymous with PNG history since the 1930s after four uncles migrated from Queensland to New Guinea in the interwar years. (His uncle, Mick Leahy, was immortalized in the documentary First Contact). He was intensely proud of his clan.

But Tom Leahy’s achievements were distinct and unique – he was the ultimate individual.

The big-hearted Irish-Australian who would passionately add PNG to his DNA – was a beloved character who loved characters. He was both plain speaking and well-spoken, a widely-read raconteur who could turn a riotously funny yarn into a lesson in philosophy. He was fierce in spirit and gentle in nature.

Perhaps that nature was best demonstrated by the mutual respect between him the people with whom he spent so much of his life: the Markhams, the folk of Erap, Chivasing and Gabsonki, the tribesmen of the Wains and Wantoats who also worked Maralumie and the broader communities of PNG he represented.

His immaculate Tok Pisin gave him even more currency, as did his curiosity and respect for their customs, traditions and lore.

He was intrigued with the spirit world and the politics of PNG and these would dominate two fascinating books he later penned, including, of course, Markham Tom.

Many words will be written and tales exchanged about Tom Leahy long after family and friends gather to farewell him on the Darling Downs later this week

But for the moment these lines from his friend Kitty Ginter in her foreword to his second book Tamburan, Others and Me gives a flavour:

One of the first things that impressed us about Tom was the way he moved seamlessly between races and tribes, between town life and village life and also among the bureaucrats, bankers and administrators in PNG; a rare skill in those days of inflexible social barriers.

Tom is survived by his children Peter, Ann and Neil and grandchildren. Family and friends will gather for a graveside ceremony at the Myall Lawn Cemetery at Dalby (near Toowoomba) at 11am this Saturday 4 August.

The 8-year old Junior who did something amazing


Junior OmbiJONATHAN OMBI (CALLED JUNIOR IN THE FAMILY) is a cousin-nephew of mine. I remember him as a naughty youngster playing rowdy games in the house and running around the neighbourhood causing trouble, in league with Rose's daughter Margaret.

They stole ice-cream from my fridge. Once I tricked them. I made some chicken soup, stored it in an ice-cream container and put it in the freezer. Later they said, "Daddy Peter, this ice cream traim nogat!"

All-in-all, a lovely and perfectly ordinary kid.

But Jonathan did something extraordinary. He walked close to 1,000 kms to find his parents.

After a family breakdown (sadly all too common) stories reached him at Morata - where he was being looked after by Aunties - that his dad was in Simbu, accompanying "Uncle Member" on the political trail.

After three weeks his mum left him in charge of Grandma to travel to Simbu to be with her husband.

This upset Junior – who wondered why should he be left alone. So he joined a group of seven Don Bosco students to walk from Moresby to Simbu to be with his parents.

After a brief stop at 9 Mile and a last hug from Grandma, Jonathan set off up the Kokoda track.

He lived on noodles and biscuits and suffered greatly from blisters and mosquitoes. But he kept up the spirits of his friends by singing his favourite songs from the Kuakumba Rats - Banz Nale Se Wanda Yo and Dema Saul's Wiggy Wiggy Girls.

He trudged on, meeting a group of American trekkers, who could not believe this young guy had walked all that way.

He eventually arrived at the coast and the next day managed to talk his way onto a boat bound for Lae. From there, and with a few friends still with him, they caught a PMV up the Highlands Highway and arrived at Kundiawa that night.

He said, "Mum and Dad were very surprised to see me, asking thousands of questions and hugging me and crying."

Sources: Post Courier, personal memories, Freida, and Jonathan himself

All the members: MPs of the East Sepik province


PosterWE CONTINUE TO PROFILE each of the newly-elected politicians in Papua New Guinea’s parliament. Every day we’re examining one or two provinces to take a close look at the people who will run PNG for the next five years.

The information in this series is derived from public sources and, in some cases, may not be accurate. We invite readers to offer corrections and additional material by contacting the editor here.

And so to the East Sepik, where all seats have been declared….


Michael SomareMichael Somare (East Sepik, National Alliance) is one of the elder statesman of the Commonwealth whose life and career needs no repetition here. After being thrown out of the prime ministership (and his seat) last year he successfully recontested it at the recent election, apparently made peace with his political nemesis O’Neill and, having returned his National Alliance to the governing coalition, stood down from its leadership. It’s fair to assume, though, that the controversies that continue to resonate from his running of PNG will not readily disappear.

Ezekiel Sigii Anisi (Ambunti-Dreikikir, People’s Progress Party) is a young (26) politician from a seat that some years ago elected PNG’s youngest-ever MP, Gabriel Ramoi, when he was aged just 22. Anisi attributed his victory to God and said he “would have been nobody without God”. He defeated the sitting member, prominent National Alliance figure, Tony Aimo. Anisi’s late father was Alex Anisi, secretary general of the PPP.

Ludwig SchulzeLudwig Schulze (Angoram Open, Pangu Pati) defeated Arthur Somare bringing to a halt any dynastic hopes the Somare family might have held. Schulze, originally from New Ireland, has been a businessman in Angoram for many years, dealing mostly in crocodile skins. At one time he had close links to Sir Julius Chan. Schulze was an inveterate candidate, first standing for election in 1982. He had lost the seat to Arthur Somare in 1997.

John Simon (at the wheel)John Simon (Maprik, National Alliance),a local businessman, defeated sitting member and ex-minister Gabriel Kapris, immediately set about reviewing the finances of the electorate and lost no time in saying he wanted a ministry, preferably Planning and Development, in the new government. The ousted Kapris called Simon “bossy” and claimed the MP-elect was already using Parliament letterhead to issue instructions to the district public servants without even being sworn into office. Kapris, who said he will appeal the result, claimed “the people are scared; the public servants are scared; I believe he wants to rule as a dictator.”

Jim Simatab (Wewak, National Alliance) is the sitting member and a former chairman of the Cocoa Board of PNG. Under Somare he was vice-minister for agriculture and livestock. Simitab once told the provincial police commander that he would assist police work even if it meant buying guns and bullets himself.

Joseph Yopyyopy (Wosera-Gaui, Social Democratic Party) was formerly the education services manager of the National Capital Development Corporation. He defeated sitting MP Ronald Asik.

Richard MaruRichard Maru OBE (Yangoru-Saussia, Independent), who holds an MBA degree from the University of Bath, was managing director of the National Development Bank since 2004. He previously held senior positions within private sector and state owned enterprises including the PNG Water Board and Shell PNG. He joined the then Rural Development Bank in 2004 when it was insolvent for the third time since its inception. During his term Maru turned the bank around. It returned an after tax profit of K9.3 million in 2011.

‘Dullest culture on earth’ frowns upon sex, bans play


WHAT DOES A CULTURE LOOK LIKE when recreation is forbidden? The Baining of East New Britain value work as the highest human ideal, and view play as the domain of animals.

This has led some anthropologists to deem them "unstudiable" because of their failure to do anything interesting. British anthropologist Gregory Bateson spent 14 months attempting to study the Baining in the 1920s before giving up entirely.

But a successful study of the Baining reveals some fascinating details about this unusual culture.

An article in Psychology Today notes that studying the Baining has proved challenging because their daily life is so mundane. They are small-scale farmers with no institutions outside of the family — no political or spiritual leaders.

They have little in the way of traditional stories, mythology, or even gossip. They do not engage in recreational play. Their daily talk is mostly about the gathering and preparation of food.

The exception, as the picture suggests, is that they do have costumed dances, which are elaborately choreographed and which only adult men may participate in and observe.

Jane Fajans, now an associate professor of anthropology at Cornell University, studied the Baining in the 1970s and 1990s, and discovered that they have a fascinating belief system.

The Baining eschew the natural, believing that work and productivity are unique to humans. In order to separate themselves from the animals, the Baining focus their lives on work. Play, being the natural state of children, is punished (sometimes going so far as to stick a child's hand in a fire) until children learn to overcome their natural urges and accept work.

Similarly, sex, being natural, is frowned upon (though they do have children), and adoption is highly encouraged, to the extent that Fajans found that 36% of children were adopted.

Even cooked food is preferable to raw food because it is the product of human labour. What is valued in Baining society is not the natural, not your own desires, not biological ties, but what you can turn raw materials into, including how well you can turn yourself into a productive person.

From the outside, Baining society looks quite colourless, but Fajans found these strict beliefs result in a radically egalitarian, anarchistic society. She published her findings in her book They Make Themselves: Work and Play among the Baining of Papua New Guinea.

All the members: A PNG Attitude Special Feature


PosterTODAY WE BEGIN to profile all the newly-elected politicians in the Papua New Guinea parliament. Each day we’ll examine one or two provinces to take a close look at the people who will run PNG for the next five years.

The information in this series is derived from public sources and, in some cases, may not be accurate. We invite readers to offer corrections and additional material by contacting the editor here.

To begin this series, it is possible to already make some general remarks about the group of 111 men and women who will chart and steer PNG’s course during a critical time in its history.

First, they are remarkably well-educated and professionally accomplished.

Secondly, the vast majority of them have a political party attachment (despite the inevitable shuffles that will occur), which shows how the party system is now becoming entrenched in PNG – due both to better organisation and more astute selection of candidates.

Thirdly, there is reasonable stability between the composition of the last parliament and the one to be shortly convened. To be an incumbent these days is of great benefit, probably reinforced by the ability to hand out sweeteners to the local electorate using public funds.

Fourthly, there are some new idealists represented in these profiles, and also some old rogues. We’ll leave it to you to determine who’s who in that particular zoo.

And so to the first province, where all seats have been declared….


Leo DionLeo Dion (East New Britain, Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party), the sitting member, has been provincial governor since 2000. He is a committed supporter of tourism in the region. “East New Britain is a very safe place and my people are very proud of our culture and we are very friendly,” he said recently. In 2006 he was the only parliamentarian to oppose increased allowances for MPs and judges. “I’m totally against these increases and strongly call on the people to rise up and reject the move,” he said. The people didn’t.

Malakai Tabar (Gazelle, Melanesian Liberal Party), the sitting member, retained the seat after a close contest. He is president of the parliamentary group on population and development.

Ereman ToBaining JrEreman Tobaining Jnr (Kokopo, People’s National Congress) is the son of a former two-term East New Britain Premier. Tobaining, 42, from Balanataman in the Raluana area, is a successful engineer and owner of MJovie Limited. He was urged to stand by local churches and community groups. He said that he would fight for quality health care, fair distribution of wealth, and improved law and order services and infrastructure. He also said he would fight against corruption.

Paul TienstenPaul Tiensten (Pomio, People's United Assembly), one of PNG’s most controversial politicians, holds a masters degree in resources law from the Centre for Energy, Petroleum, Mineral Law and Policy at the University of Dundee. Before his political career began in 2002 he was director of petroleum in the PNG Department of Petroleum and Energy. Under Michael Somare he was respectively trade and industry minister, foreign affairs minister and national planning and district development minister, losing his portfolio when Somare was toppled last year. In 2008, a Singaporean businessman alleged Tiensten had personally profited from a payment of $19 million from Taiwan in a bid to strengthen diplomatic relations with PNG. Tiensten admitted to meeting Taiwanese officials, but denied the allegations of corruption. In 2010 labour and industrial relations minister Mark Maipakai alleged that the Office of the Minister for National Planning and District Development had been involved in a $81.4 million fraud, together with four landowner associations in Kikori. Tiensten denied the allegations. In November 2011, Tiensten was arrested by Task Force Sweep, a corruption investigation body established by Peter O’Neill. The charges against Tiensten related to the misappropriation of funds, conspiracy to defraud the state and abuse of office for his part in approving a K10 million payment of subsidies to airline company Travel Air. Tiensten fled to Australia last September when summoned for questioning, and then was arrested upon his return in November. The matter is ongoing. Tiensten is also facing charges of diverting K3.4 million of government funding to Tolpot Services Ltd, of which he was both a shareholder and a director. The case has yet to be tried.

Allan MaratAllan Marat CBE (Rabaul, Melanesian Liberal Party) was the first Papua New Guinean to obtain a law doctorate at Oxford University. His thesis was on the Official recognition of customary responses to homicide in Papua New Guinea. Marat served as Somare’s Minister for Justice and Attorney General. In 2010, he caused a stir when he stated that major mining projects in PNG brought little benefit to local communities, workers or businesses. Somare consequently asked him to resign immediately, which he did. When O’Neill became PM he reappointed Marat to his former position.

Last journey: Rare photograph of Amelia Earhart in Lae


Amelia Earhart, at Lae, on her last day - 2 July 1937

THIS IS MY LATE DAD’S previously unpublished photograph of pilot Amelia Earhart, at her pre-flight briefing in Lae, on her last day alive - 2 July 1937 - before disappearing over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island.

The photo, which shows Amelia discussing her flight plans and fuel needs, was taken in the final hours of daylight before she departed at midnight. On the back of the photo my dad has written ‘last photo of Emilia Earhart (but who can tell?)’.

Also pictured is her navigator Fred Noonan [partly obscured] and to her left is my father Frank Howard, who was manager of Vacuum Oil Company PNG [later Mobil].

Amelia Mary Earhart [24 July 1897 – July 1937?] was a noted American aviation pioneer and author. She was the first aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean during an attempt to make a circumnavigation of the globe in 1937 in a Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10 Electra.

Amelia had married George P Putnam, in 1931. They had no children.

On 2 July, Earhart and Noonan took off from Lae in the heavily loaded Electra. Their intended destination was Howland Island, 4,113 km away. After contact was lost with Howland Island, attempts were made to reach the flyers with both voice and Morse code transmissions. Two-way radio contact was never established. The aviators and their aircraft had disappeared.

Frank Nelson Howard (1911 – 63) later became an Australian army artillery sergeant in Papua New Guinea during World War II. In 1944 he married Meredith Neil Iredale.

For further information about the photo, email Cliff Howard here.

Additional information:

Mr O’Neill – it’s high time to kick out the old dogs


THIS SOVEREIGN NATION will go down on its knees once again if so called ‘old dogs’ and their political parties intermarry with the People’s National Congress to form the next government.

The people of Papua New Guinea don’t want the National Alliance, People’s Progress Party and People’s Democratic Movement to align with caretaker prime minister Peter O’Neill’s PNC to form the next government.

Instead we want Don Polye’s THE Party, Namah’s PNG Party, Duma’s United Resources Party and O’Neill’s PNC with other smaller parties and Independents to form the next government to take this struggling nation forward.

You know why these “old dogs”, including the fathers of PNG politics, came to join PNC right after the declarations of polls? They know. They know exactly what’s going to happen to them later.

They know if they are in opposition, the next government will uncover all their corrupt practices during their terms as CEOs of this country.

Incumbent prime minister O’Neill has failed so badly when he accepted these old and recycled leaders who have done nothing to take the country forward in the last 38 years since independence.

O’Neill should invite only THE, PNG, URP, other smaller parties and independents to form a government that will unveil the wrongs made by those corrupt leaders.

Here are list of few: the Indonesia saga, Julian Moti affair, $300 million Cayman Island deal, privatizations, Sandline Crisis, selling off 50% of B-mobile telecommunication, establishment of Petromin PNG… There are many more examples of this kind.

Anyway, PNG is the land of unexpected so let’s wait and see.

Anything may happen in the last minute before the Governor General advises the political party with the biggest number to form the next government.

If these old dogs remain in the next government, it’s going to represent a very dark moment for this nation.

Why some educated PNGeans back Belden Namah

OTTO Q MORAMA | Balcony Perspectives

Belden Namah on the hustingsI STATED MY POSITION CLEARLY from the outset when political horse trading began. I stated that neither Peter O’Neill nor Belden Namah should be prime minister.

Why? For the simple fact O’Neill has wheeling and dealing at the National Provident Fund and the K40 million Public Service Housing Scheme hanging over his head. The most noble and honourable thing for him to do is to initiate a Commission of Inquiry and clear his name.

On the other hand, I still feel that Namah lacks the character of a mature leader. His outbursts and backlashes in the media lately and his approach to addressing the legislature – judiciary stand-off were acts of a person without restraint.

He needs more time and must be groomed and nurtured by some elder statesman for the top post.

That said, I have now come to understand and appreciate views of some Papua New Guineans as to why they would like to see Namah as prime minister.

Their argument is simple, short and to the point – corruption - the misuse and abuse of office and institutional property for personal gain, through bribery, extortion, cronyism and other means.

If you look at the big fish in the small pond in Alotau, you see that certain wheeling and dealing being undertaken by some of these big fish seems unscrupulous and demands that these leaders must tell the nation the truth behind things.

Look at Cayman Island deals, mysterious K40 million in a Singapore bank account, K40 million public service housing deal, Moti saga, Finance inquiry, Taiwan diplomacy scandal, fugitive Tjoko Tjandra affair and National Provident saga.

You look at all these cases and Namah has a clean slate without any wheeling and dealing or touching public monies.

That is the rationale behind Namah taking a solo stand. Unlike the Japanese invaders of WW2 who launched an unsuccessful assault to capture Port Moresby, will Namah succeed? Even if he does not, will he inflict heavy loss and casualties?

Whether he succeeds or not, the question is beyond the formation of government, going to morals, credibility, character and, most of all, the right motive to be in government.

Even if the whole world abandons me for standing up for righteousness, truth and transparency, I’ll stand knowing my conscience does not tell me otherwise and at the end the world will remember me for being an advocate for what was right.

In victory, Gary Juffa commits to the hard yards


Gary JuffaIT PROVED TO BE a long struggle but former top public servant Gary Juffa (People’s Movement for Change) finally prevailed in the Northern provincial seat and seems set to become an influential force in the new parliament.

Juffa, who was Controller of Customs before resigning to contest the seat, is credited with separating PNG Customs from the Internal Revenue Commission and turning it into a vibrant organization.

In his victory speech he said the province had suffered from lack of good governance and management over the years.

“In 2007 there was a cyclone, a natural disaster that devastated Oro province,” he said. “The disaster that followed thereafter was worse and that was the lack of response, the lack of response to bring adequate service to our people in the remote lands of this beautiful province.

“Our bridges and roads remain devastated, not repaired. Our hospital and schools are in dire need of maintenance and our people continue to suffer without these services. There are adequate resources, there is money, there is funding available but there is improper management and there has been poor management and leadership over the last five years."

Juffa said the rehabilitation process will take time.

"I don't have a magic wand, I will not come and suddenly improve things overnight. It takes time, it takes hard work, it takes effort and this effort must be made by all of us, not just by myself but each and everyone of us here, all the citizens of this province.

“They have to cast away some of their bad habits. They have to take up grass knives and bush knives and forks, spades, axes and start cleaning this province up. They have to stop begging and sitting down and expecting something to come to them for nothing.

“Getting into parliament, getting into the provincial government office, is only one step. We have much more steps to take, a longer journey awaits us. The next five years will be difficult, they will be trying, we will need to find ways and means we will have to plan, we will have to find resources so we can build this province and it takes the effort of all of us."

Marketing Peter O'Neill: social media take a bow


Goroka political posterWE ALL UNDERSTAND THE BASICS: the internet is a communication protocol used by people to do business and communicate with other people on a 24/7 schedule.

And right now the mega-benefiters are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Tagged, Google , DevianArt, LiveJournal and many other social networks that continue to revolutionize very effective and fast communication channels.

And when we examine how some of winners in the current Papua New Guinea national election strategized their election campaigns, we see the internet, print and social media networks loom large.

Two individuals, although there may be others, who stand out in this category are Peter O’Neill and Michael Malabag and their People’s National Congress Party.

O’Neill’s method of marketing himself and his party was his excellent graphically designed campaign images with a small growing tree placed in his palms.

His black jacket with a beaming face must have also played a significant role in maneuvering voters. Further, O’Neill had his advertisement run for couple of weeks leading up to voting.

On the other hand, Michael Malabag was conversing with many people through Facebook, much to the joy of his friends and groups. Even during campaigning and after voting he was the active user of Facebook.

The average person in PNG is now using newspapers every day to find out what is going on in this country. The number of readers is increasing and it is certainly impacting like never before.

Young people in particular are curious and excited about trying out new things and Facebook presents the ultimate satisfaction partner. Already, young Papuan Guineans through Digicel mobile phones download, upload and access stories, news, photos and other online services at their fingertips.

I am led to believe that politics in PNG is changing as more and more people are using the internet and social media networks to communicate. It is also fair to state that the two leaders mentioned should continue to inform their supporters and voters of what they are doing.

Their social media friends can become a rock for them to lean on through advice and criticism.

For those who are planning to run in the 2017 elections, kindly jump on to the social media wagon.

It will carry you where you want to go because it is now proving very successful in countries where their governments prioritize ICT education, training and usage.

Peter O’Neill on the verge of forming government


Looking RightCARETAKER PRIME MINISTER Peter O'Neill said today there are “well over 68 members in the Alotau camp”, where he has set up his headquarters while trying to form a coalition government for Papua New Guinea.

Mr O’Neill says they are ready to form government and will not let the people of Papua New Guinea down.

On Friday, the arrival of 26 members in Alotau included Sir Julius Chan, Sir Puka Temu and Patrick Pruaitch. Others who arrived on that same day include two URP members from South Bougainville and Menyamya, Benjamin Philip and other smaller party leaders.

Mr O’Neill assured all present that the People’s National Congress will work closely with them to ensure the government that is formed is stable, united and that there will be a reconciliation of past differences.

Mr O’Neill also thanked senior party leaders and the three former Prime Ministers (Sir Julius Chan, Paias Wingti and Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare) for showing confidence in him and for giving him their support.

He said the Alotau camp is ready and they are looking forward to the invitation from the Governor General to form the next government.

Meanwhile, PNG Party leader Belden Namah is not allowing the numbers game to deter his resolve to pull the government from under O'Neill's feet.

Yet again he's boldly predicted his chances are huge - whether he gets there or places someone on top instead.

He cautioned O'Neill about the people he's surrounded himself with, saying they were not there during the past 10 turbulent months.

"Prime Ministers are elected on the eleventh-hour as members of parliament enter the floor,” Namah said.

“And with my faith and trust in God, I will have the numbers to form the next government. If I don't, I will still form government and make somebody else prime minister. I can do it and I will do it, I've done it."

PNG farming: dependence has led to incompetence


HUMANITY IS ON A GENERAL COURSE to betterment. It could be likened to travelling on a river a long way from the Sea of Contentment.

Papua New Guinea has some people who can compete with the best, their eyes are firmly fixed on joining the fastest. They can do it, but there is room only for the favoured few.

The villagers’ and settlers’ canoes are left far behind with hardly a tow line extended by the leaders. There is scarcely a competent farmer in all of PNG after nearly 37 years of dependence on external aid.

Competent farmers are defined by the ability to farm the same area for a generation at least.

Now, without imported rice, flour and meat, PNG would be beginning to face food security issues.

Today the farmers exploit the land and move on.

I write here today about a subject in which I have expertise and which is dear to my heart: the development of small farms in PNG.

Hunter farmers are humans who practice shifting agriculture and hunt when at all possible. Each family will slash and burn a new plot every year.

In the early civilisations (BC and AD) much settlement was on land renewed by annual flooding. Small farms were of a permanent nature and had some form of secure tenancy to enable improvements to be made; major improvements are in the hands of the rulers.

As later civilisations emerged, Asian and European nations had permanent farms and the progressive farmers knew how to put back the animal manures to renew the soil. They also knew how to make rotations of various crops to maintain fertility. These farms had tenure that allowed improvements to be made between wars.

The South American Mayan corn based civilisations apparently understood green manures.

Quite large populations supported a big government and cities on soils similar to the Trobriand Islands today; no surface water and limestone based soil, sometimes the water was many meters below the surface.

It seems that they, unlike the Trobriands, the Mayans maintained fertility by heavy use of leguminous green manures.

With this background established, I want to make some recommendations for PNG:

Encourage PNG villagers to stop slash and burn gardening, this should not be termed farming.

Villagers should be encouraged to use agricultural techniques suitable for a permanent farm.

These would include draining across the slope and crop rotation with green manures to retain fertility.

Where the land is level enough to use mechanized plowing by animal or tractor, Vetiver grass should be used to control sheet erosion.

In some areas, deep drains are needed; priority should be given to covered sub soil drains opposed to deep open drains. Deep open drains ensure that large quantities of topsoil will be eroded. The UK is still subsidizing subsoil drains to improve farmland.

Because Papua New Guineans own their own land, the village elders should give a provisional title to any land that is cleared for a permanent farm. This title should be approved and registered by the relevant PNG authority as a customary title. This title is to be transferable only other customary landowners of the area. These transfers are to allow for land consolidation within the community.

Do you think it reasonable for every PNG villager to pass a viable registered farm to his son and not a bit of forest clearing?

Consider that after a lifetime of clearing, fencing and draining there is nothing of permanent value left.

No wonder most youths consider the village to be a place of last resort, a place for the failures who cannot find a place in the “real” economy.

This attitude has to change!

Continue reading "PNG farming: dependence has led to incompetence" »

Namah: I will sacrifice my life to fight corruption

BELDEN NAMAH | PNG Party Press Release

Belden Namah is greeted by supportersPAPUA NEW GUINEA WENT INTO the 2012 national election looking for change; looking at fixing the wrongs of the past and bringing much needed reforms into our country.

More importantly Papua New Guinea went into the 2012 national election to bring change in the leadership of our country. Leadership that can advocate and champion change.

My party, the PNG Party, stands for change.

What PNG must see is that same old players are coming back into our political playing field. Many of these politicians are responsible for destroying young leaders in the past. They will only suppress and marginalize the emergence of young and vibrant leaders of our country.

The same politicians are also responsible in the downturn of our economy.
The same politicians are also responsible for the deteriorating conditions of basic services to our people. This is all due to bad leadership.

This battle is not mine. This is the battle for the simple people of this country. In other words, this is Papua New Guinea’s battle.

I stand to fight against corruption if it means sacrificing my own life.

The elected leaders who love our country must now rise up and realize the characteristics and deeds of the various political party leaders and various other leaders.

For far too long since our independence we have seen leaders in our country who have taken our people for a ride. Greed and selfishness has taken over their responsibilities to deliver basic services to our people.

I want to appeal to my brothers and sister members, who are newly elected or re-elected into parliament, to stand up for your people, to stand up for PNG. Now is the opportunity to join our camp of parliamentarians who do not have tainted or questionable reputations.

Leaders who do not have allegation of corruption such as the NPF Enquiry, the Public Service Housing Scheme or the illegal payments made to a certain law firm amounting to millions of kina.

I appeal to those leaders to come out of Babylon.

Change does not come from the Haus Tambaran, Change must come to the Haus Tambaran.

My fellow elected brothers and sisters, let’s stand together and form a government comprising of young, vibrant, selfless and God-fearing leaders. Let us serve our people without fear or favour.

Inspector general grabs back $3.1M of aid money


IN EARLY JULY, the Australian Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released the final report of an audit on six grants in Papua New Guinea from Rounds 3, 6 and 8, administered by three principal recipients.

They are the PNG National Department of Health (NDOH), Rotary Against Malaria (RAM), and Population Services International (PSI).

The audit was conducted in October 2010. The time period covered by the audit was 2004-2010. The value of all six grants was $107 million, of which $66 million (52%) had been disbursed at the time of the audit.

The OIG said that although the programs supported by the Global Fund had achieved some notable successes, and some best practices were observed, there were significant weaknesses in the internal control environment….

The OIG did not detect any grant funds that had been misappropriated. However, the OIG identified $3.1 million in what it deemed ineligible and unsupported expenditures that should be reimbursed.

The OIG defines "ineligible expenditures" as costs not in line with the budget and work plan approved by the Global Fund. It defines "unsupported expenditures" as those lacking adequate supporting documents to provide evidence that the activity took place and that the expenditure was in line with program activities.

The $3.1 million in ineligible and unsupported expenditures represented about 4.7% of the funds that had been disbursed to the principal recipients as of the start of the audit.

The OIG identified what it called significant financial management weaknesses among all three principal recipients, including non-compliance with grant agreements, inadequate policies and procedures, weak controls and poor budget monitoring. It also said that, overall, the principal recipients had failed to comply with standard procurement practices.

National Department of Health

Of the $3.1 million in ineligible and unsupported expenditures that the OIG said should be repaid, $2.8 million involved NDOH.

Of the $669,098 in ineligible expenditures at NDOH, more than half ($384,000) were for 80,000 bed nets that were stolen from a provincial storage depot. The OIG said that under the grant agreement, the PR is solely liable for any theft of items purchased with Global Fund money.

Of the $218,525 in ineligible expenditures at the National Catholic AIDS Office (NCAO), an SR, $177,837 was for a budget overrun in salaries.

Of the $1,729,405 in unsupported expenditures at NDOH, $480,052 involved advance payments made to vendors for which no proof of delivery of goods or services was provided. An additional $448,124 was for advances to vendors for which documentation was "not available for audit inspection." Another $166,642 involved expenditures where payment to vendors was made after the goods or services were alleged to have been delivered, but for which documentation was inadequate.

Rotary Against Malaria

Of the $3.1 million in ineligible and unsupported expenditures that the OIG said should be repaid, $0.3 million involved RAM. Most of this amount ($270,947) was for overhead fees for which the OIG said there was inadequate justification.

The audit report advanced 40 recommendations to address the weaknesses noted in the audit. Many of these recommendations had been made earlier, at the debriefings held in-country at the conclusion of the field visits, and when the draft audit report was prepared.

Djoko has empire in PNG, including own aircraft

FRANSISCO ROSARIANS | Tempo Interactive / Jakarta

THE BANK BALI CASE SUSPECT, Djoko Tjandra, is believed to have huge assets and large businesses in Papua New Guinea, which may explain that the Mulia Group’s boss did not merely flee Indonesia to seek mere refuge in PNG.

Indonesian Deputy Attorney-General Darmono claims he still does not know for certain the assets and businesses that Djoko has there:, but they are “quite significant, he has his own private plane".

Darmono is reluctant to disclose more. "We can’t just make estimates," he said, "the important thing he can now be brought to Indonesia to face the law."

Earlier the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the PNG government allegedly granted Djoko citizenship because of his big role in that country.

In connection with the petition to bring Djoko to Indonesia, the Attorney General’s Office is awaiting the return of PNG's Ambassador to Indonesia, Peter Ilau, from Port Moresby.

"The Ambassador won’t be back until next week, let’s see what happens," said Darmono.

Djoko Tjandra was to have gone to prison for two years but he fled Indonesia on a chartered plane from Jakarta to Port Moresby on 10 June 2009.

New Britain’s rare & beautiful blue-eyed cockatoo

JOSEPH FORSHAW | Bird Talk Magazine

RESTRICTED TO NEW BRITAIN, the blue-eyed cockatoo (Cacatua ophthalmica) is one of the least-known cockatoos, both in the wild and in captivity.

Reported occurrences on neighboring New Ireland apparently refer to birds taken there from New Britain, where they are commonly kept or traded as pets and regularly offered for sale at markets in Rabaul.

Taking its name from the bright blue skin surrounding its eye, this species measures approximately 50 centimeters in length and superficially resembles the familiar sulphur-crested cockatoo (C. galerita), to which it is closely related.

The most prominent difference is in the crest. C. ophthalmica has a backward-curving crest of broad yellow feathers bordered by elongated white crown feathers. For further description of the distinguishing features, please refer to my Parrots of the World: An Identification Guide (Princeton University Press, 2006).

Our lack of information about the habits of these splendid cockatoos is due primarily to infrequent visits to New Britain by trained observers rather than to any scarcity of birds. In the 1960s, they were commonly found in rain forest throughout the lowlands and foothills up to about 1,000 meters, becoming rare and locally dispersed at higher altitudes.

Field surveys undertaken between December 1998 and April 1999 at two study sites along the east coast provided more precise estimates of abundance and a better understanding of habitat preferences.

At these study sites, observers encountered cockatoos only in forested areas, with counts of up to 73 birds per square kilometer in primary forest and selectively logged forest. The birds’ seemed to prefer those habitats over forest gardens or secondary forest, where counts were less than 28 birds per square kilometer.

Similar habitat preferences and levels of abundance were noted elsewhere on the island. A cautious extrapolation of population figures from the study sites was applied to New Britain as a whole, and this produced an estimate of 115,000 total birds.

Land clearance resulted in some habitat loss, so presumably those numbers have declined. Nevertheless, the absence of large-scale trapping and the preservation of extensive tracts of undisturbed forest keeps the species’ numbers high.

Continue reading "New Britain’s rare & beautiful blue-eyed cockatoo" »

Top Australian author to speak at Crocodile Prize


Modjeska_Drusilla [Antonia Hayessmall]AWARD-WINNING AUSTRALIAN AUTHOR Drusilla Modjeska is to lead a session on the development of fictional writing at this year’s writers workshop associated with the Crocodile Prize national literary awards.

The AustAsia Pacific Health Services Writers Forum was initiated last year to enable emergent and established writers in Papua New Guinea to come together to discuss and improve their craft.

This year’s event will be held at the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby on Tuesday 11 September.

Another leading writer to feature at the Forum is prominent blogger and social critic, Martyn Namorong, who will speak on turning personal experience into the written word.

Drusilla Modjeska, who is acknowledged as one of Australia’s best contemporary authors, spent some time in PNG in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a student at the University of PNG.

She recently published a novel, The Mountain, which draws from those experiences.

Book signingFrom those years she retains a strong friendship with PNG author and poet Russell Soaba [pictured], who will also present at the Forum on the subject of ‘poetry, trolls, toads & the curse of anonymity’.

Other PNG presenters include poet Jimmy Drekore (‘Connecting with the community’) and writers Emma Wakpi and Francis Nii and poet Michael Dom who will discuss the challenges writers face in reaching the nation from the regions.

Australian author, ex-kiap and Crocodile Prize organiser, Phil Fitzpatrick, will also lead a session on the future development of the Prize. Another Australian author and ex-kiap, Bob Cleland, will also be present at the workshop.

The Forum will be followed by the annual Crocodile Prize awards where national winners will be announced in Student Writing, Women's Literature, Heritage Literature, Essays & Journalism, Poetry, Short Stories and for Lifetime Contribution to Literature in PNG.

Anthology Concept 3 - PencilThe subsequent reception at the Australian High Commission will feature the launches of The Crocodile Prize Anthology 2012, The Mountain and the Crocodile Prize website.

The evening before the Forum will see the inaugural annual general meeting of the PNG Society of Writers, Editors & Publishers.

The meeting will elect a wholly-Papua New Guinean board and also approve a constitution for the new organisation.

The Society already has over 70 members, including many of PNG’s most eminent writers.

It is still not too late to register for any of these events.  Email Keith Jackson here

Dame Carol pushes to decriminalise homosexuality in PNG

ELISE KINSELLA | ABC Radio Australia

AN OUTGOING MEMBER of Papua New Guinea's parliament, Dame Carol Kidu, is calling on the country's next government to decriminalise homosexuality.

Dame Carol says she believes homosexuality should be treated as a health and human rights issue and not as a criminal offence.

She says doing this can help reduce the HIV rate and benefit the entire country.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference for Solomon Islands and PNG, which runs HIV support services, has offered qualified support for Dame Carol's stance.

But the General Secretary, Father Victor Roach, has told Radio Australia they cannot support it outright.

"If [a homosexuality allegation] is brought to the court and it has to be tried, I think the Church is against it," he said.

Last year, PNG, Samoa and Solomon Islands told the United Nations they would not decriminalise homosexuality despite pledges by Palau and Nauru to do so.

Dame Carol told Pacific Beat, the British colonial laws and Christian influence have erased homosexuality from the country's history.

"There's a lot of denial going on in all our countries when they're saying that homosexuality was brought in by the western world," she said.

"To be quite frank, that's not true. Anthropological writings make it very clear that homosexuality did exist traditionally, and often it was ritualised in initiation ceremonies in certain areas of Papua New Guinea."

Indon president weighs in on Djoko extradition saga


Djoko Tjandra stands trial for his involvement in the Bank Bali graft caseAWARE OF THE FACT that Indonesia has no extradition treaty with Papua New Guinea, the Indonesian government says it will capitalize on its good diplomatic relations with PNG to lobby for the return of fraud convict Djoko Tjandra.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the government meant business when it said it wanted to bring Djoko [shown right at his trial] home and he applauded the efforts of law enforcement agencies to achieve that goal.

“Find him, arrest him and bring him back to the country,” President Yudhoyono exclaimed on Wednesday.

He said all fugitives in graft cases should be repatriated and forced to return all the money they had stolen from the state.

Deputy Attorney-General Darmono said the government expected to hear soon from the PNG government concerning Djoko’s status.

Darmono said the PNG government was now relying on the Indonesian Ambassador to obtain information about the convict.

Djoko was convicted of misusing Bank Indonesia Liquidity Support funds. He fled to PNG one day before the Supreme Court sentenced him to prison for fraud in 2009.

The court sentenced both Djoko and former Bank Indonesia governor Syahril Sabirin to two years’ imprisonment and ordered Djoko to pay $57.7 million in restitution.

Djoko reportedly secured PNG citizenship last month.

Shell in talks with InterOil on Papua New Guinea LNG

ALEXIS FLYNN | Dow Jones Newswires

ROYAL DUTCH SHELL is in talks with liquefied natural gas producer InterOil Corp that could lead to the Anglo-Dutch energy giant buying into Papua New Guinea exploration license areas.

"We have been in talks with InterOil and other interested parties, but we can't say where [they are] going," said chief financial officer Simon Henry.

InterOil holds three prospecting licenses in PNG, where early appraisal drilling has revealed vast natural gas reservoirs are located.

InterOil also plans to build a 9 million metric ton a year LNG terminal but will need partners to help cover some of the estimated $6 billion required.

It is currently soliciting interest in the sale of a 25% stake in the LNG project.

Shell Chief Executive Peter Voser skirted a question on whether Shell was preparing a takeover bid for InterOil.

"It's an interesting play there," said Mr. Voser. "We have talked to the government, we are looking at it.”

"At the end, it will be profitability driven. It will be: Can we do a project in a safe and reliable way, and will it deliver the performance? I think to answer that question, it is too early for that," said Mr. Voser.

National affairs: When the sheeple elect sheep

MARTYN NAMORONG | The Namorong Report

2nd National GoalFOR THE PAST 37 YEARS, the sheeple of PNG have been apathetic towards the formation of governments following the general elections. The consequence of this is that the wolves that rise to power have for too long been allowed to get away scot-free with damaging the nation.

The facade of democratic government appears during the elections and once the political opportunists get into power, they become mini-dictators.

The sheeple get a raw deal not necessarily because they vote in wolves but because they fail to exert pressure on the sheep that enter Parliament to do the right thing. The consequence of this is that the Parliamentary sheep get corralled by a few wolves into forming terrible government.

Some MPs think that once they've got their 'mandate' they can act as they wish. The fact of the matter is that many of those who get into Parliament act like sheep, following the herd around in search of greener pastures.

The manifestation of this is that PNG has always had governments with very large majorities and a minute opposition. Politicians in Papua New Guinea use primitive instincts, relating to herd behavior and finding resources for survival, instead of their intellectual capacity.

As a result, coalitions made up of misfits have ruled by mobocracy. The implications of this have been the undermining of the national interest. Enormous wealth has been squandered, and opportunities missed for the improvement of social indicators.

The sheeple want to have a say as to who is running their country and they must have a say. Politicians may be lobbying each other for pole position but the sheeple aren't lobbying politicians to form better governments.

Is it always inevitable that the elected MPs chose whom they want or do the people extert pressure for the type of PM they want.

If western democracy is about the political elite making deals amongst themselves without considering the interests of the people, then I wish to congratulate all those who still believe in the currently flawed model of development.

Prognostications of a complex treachery to come


They can't all be winners....I DID NOT WANT AND EXPECT Peter O'Neill to throw in with Somare and his baggage (Patrick Pruaitch et al) at all. This is betraying the people's trust.

There is no need for reconciliation - it's just mending pride and egos, and financial rewards using state funds.

It doesn't solve the roads and major hospital problems.

If O’Neill really is serious about solving these ills, he’ll be well advised not to stay in the shadows of these guys. Now that he did this, including Paias Wingti and Julius Chan, it is the beginning of his downfall.

I really don't know what these guys can offer PNG that they haven't done in the last 40 years.

Now that O'Neill has played his hand, my predictions are as follows:

1. The Electoral Commission will recommend to the Governor-General, who will invite O'Neill to form the government as he has the majority of elected members.

2. When he turns up in Parliament he will find that he won't have an absolute majority.

3. The majority will be with Don Polye, William Duma, Belden Namah and the other independents and minor parties if Namah can flash his cash now. They will be waiting for O’Neill at the Parliament.

4. During the calling of nomination for the Speaker, Duma or Alan Marat will be nominated by Polye/Namah/Duma camp. I don’t know who O’Neill’s nominee will be – maybe Jeffrey Nape if he is back.

5. During calling of nomination for Prime Minister, O'Neill will be nominated and on the other side either Polye or Duma will be nominated by Namah. I don't think Namah at this stage might take the prime ministership but will show O'Neill who propped him up previously.

5. O'Neill, Somare, Chan and Wingti will find themselves in the Opposition for the next five years. This will be O'Neill's price for betraying the people.

Remember that Namah, Polye and Duma made it clear before the election that they wanted to be PM.

They will discuss amongst themselves and put one of themselves up against O'Neill now that he has teamed up with the clowns who have been there for 40 years. Somebody needs to warn O'Neill now.

And Martyn Namorong is correct: Somare et al are wolves in sheep’s skin and they need to be isolated from the cash box.

Profiling Peter O’Neill: how the world sees him

THE LEADERBOARD: Centre for Strategic & International Studies

Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O'Neill (Commonwealth Secretariat)PETER CHARLES PAIRE O’NEILL is the caretaker prime minister of Papua New Guinea and is also leader of the People’s National Congress party. Before serving as caretaker prime minister, he held several ministerial positions including minister for labor and industrial relations, and minister for public service.

O’Neill is the member of parliament for the Ialibu-Pangia electorate in the Southern Highlands. He received his education in accountancy and commerce from the University of Papua New Guinea.

Peter O’Neill assumed power in December 2011 following a constitutional crisis that pitted the judiciary and legislature against each other in a conflict over whether O’Neill or former prime minister Sir Michael Somare was the rightful head of government.

Most recently, O’Neill has been in the headlines as the first candidate to be declared a winner in the 2012 national elections, an announcement made before polling had even started in three provinces.

He has overseen an election of mixed merits; although largely open, free, and peaceful, the electoral commission has been accused of using inaccurate and fraudulent electoral rolls.

The People’s National Congress has already garnered significant support from non-affiliated members of parliament to form a government, including backing from Sir Michael Somare.

If Peter O’Neill can woo enough independent members of parliament and form a government, we should expect him to prioritize domestic development, making foreign donors that improve infrastructure and create employment a significant part of his foreign policy.

In light of this, existing US private investment and aid programs focusing on environmental conservation and defence training should lay a positive foundation for bilateral relations.

Although Papua New Guinea and the United States suffered from a disagreement in 2011 over the terms of the South Pacific Tuna Treaty, a compromise was reached during the 22 June negotiations. One can therefore expect that the treaty will be successfully renegotiated if O’Neill returns to office.

This is my place

MICHAEL DOM | The Crocodile Prize

This prose poem is a story about creativity and unity from the perspective of a young child

I want to stay in this place.

It’s beautiful here and it’s so …peaceful, and … free!

But even though I can come and go as I please, I know I can’t stay for as long as I’d like to.

(Not yet anyway.)

I have to go back out into The Real World and be with everyone else, together – Suffering.

I wish I could bring my friends with me, when I come here

But it’s hard to fit them all into my head, and maybe they have their own places to go to.

That makes me sad about being there, in The Real World.

My friends and I, and everyone else as well, we all go into our own-little-worlds.

So we live together separately.

And going into our own-little-worlds is nothing at all like coming to this place.

All of The Real World is crowded with billions of different own-little-worlds

With only one thing the same: Isolation.

And coming here is like an escape from my own-little-world to a better place.

So I wish my friends had a place like this to go to.

But I don’t know if those places would be quite the same as here.

Although I don’t think they could ever be too different.

I heard that Different and Same once lived together in one-big-room, called The Unreal World.

Then Somebody decided to build a great-big-wall called Isolation.

And make two-small-rooms and give them the name The Real World.

One of the two-small-rooms was called The Different Real World.

The other one of the two-small-rooms was called The Same Real World.

Nobody knows how everyone got split up into those two-small-rooms or why it happened.

Then Everybody kept dividing up the two-small-rooms into smaller and smaller rooms

So that Somebody could see that Everybody was in total control.

Somebody said the great-big-wall of Isolation made The Unreal World become The Real World

Because the great-big-wall could be seen and touched and there was no escape from it.

Not like in The Unreal World where there were wide-open-spaces stretching until Forever.

Now everyone could be kept under control and not wander around everywhere

Or cause trouble or get lost or be hiding away so that Somebody didn’t know where they were.

Continue reading "This is my place" »

Pacific economies resilient despite euro crisis: ADB


PACIFIC ECONOMIES WILL REMAIN RESILIENT despite economic woes in Europe thanks mostly to increased government spending on public infrastructure, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The Manila-based lender also expects growth in the Pacific region to expand 6% in 2012, Xinhua news agency reports.

"Economic troubles in the eurozone continue to have only modest and indirect effects on Pacific economies, owing to the relatively greater importance of economic developments in Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States in driving Pacific growth," ADB said in its report.

Agricultural, petroleum and metal exports from Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste, the two biggest economies in the region, were hit by lower international commodity prices.

But growth projections for these two resource-based economies are unchanged because their near-term growth is more dependent on ongoing infrastructure projects.

The ADB, however, has mixed views on the economic performance of smaller Pacific islands.

Want to attend the Crocodile Prize? Tell us now!


Croc TrophiesTHERE ARE A NUMBER OF EVENTS being held in conjunction with the Crocodile Prize awards in September.

And if you want to attend, you must email us now [see below] to secure your place. All Prize activity will be at the Australian High Commission in Waigani, Port Moresby.

 The three main events are:

Monday 10 September, 4.30 pm - 6 pm.  First annual general meeting of the PNG Society of Writers, Editors & Publishers. Members are urged to attend. If you wish to attend the meeting, or join the Society, email us here. Membership is free to Papua New Guinean citizens; $50 to others.

Tuesday 11 September, 9.30 am – 4 pm.  AustAsia Pacific Health Services Writers Forum. This workshop features leading authors and poets talking about the writing craft and discussing issues facing writers in PNG. If you wish to attend email us here.

Tuesday, 11 September, 4.30 pm – 8 pm.  Crocodile Prize Awards Ceremony & Reception.  This is the big literary event of the year where prize winners will be announced for the seven awards that are offered under the Crocodile Prize.  If you wish to attend email us here.

We urge you to get in touch with us immediately if you wish to go to any or all of these events as numbers will need to be limited.

Members of the media who want to attend should email Keith Jackson here.

And you can also Download the Draft Crocodile Prize Program.

Wolves, sheeple & the illusion of two choices

Martyn_Awayang_Namorong [The Age]MARTYN NAMORONG | The Namorong Report

ARE PETER O'NEILL AND BELDEN NAMAH the best Papua New Guinea can produce to be prime minister? What about the rest? Did they get elected to be national leaders or to be followers of O'Neill and Namah?

The sheeple are currently been brainwashed into thinking that the coalition being put forward by O'Neill is a government of national unity to produce stability. This sounds pretty much like the creation of the original Somare regime.

During the Somare years, PNG had an unprecedented two terms (10 years) of relative political stability. Political stability coupled with years of commodity price booms that saw record budget surpluses.

What did the people of PNG gain from political stability and increased revenue? Over 10 years K60 billion was squandered with no improvement in social indicators. Democracy was undermined as debates in parliament were gagged.

The last decade was pretty bad for the people of PNG and many wanted Somare out of office.

When O'Neill and Namah triumphed in getting rid of him, the nation rejoiced. Whilst the two men may not have had legal mandate for their actions, they certainly had the mandate of the people.

The people of PNG had gotten fed up with selfish leaders. They have now been betrayed by O'Neill and his marriage of convenience with an old guard of former prime ministers [Somare, Chan, Wingti], who are considered by many people as being either corrupt or incompetent.

The shameful reality is that the sheeple of PNG, have thrown out rational thinking and are beginning to believe the words of the wolves dressed up in the sheep skin of national unity and political stability.

The sheeple have taken comfort in the words “stability” and “unity” from a bunch of wolves who know nothing about the definition of those worlds.

Are Papua New Guineans so cheap so as to be fooled by assurances from wolves? Some naively think that the coalition have ‘learned their lesson’ and will move forward in the best interests of the country, even though many of the major players are known power hungry psychopaths.

Somare had been equated to Mugabe by various commentators and for good reason too.

At the time when amendments to the Environment Act were being protested, his Attorney General Arnold Amet filed a Supreme Court reference to suspend freedom of speech.

The sheeple of PNG were paying a huge price for so called political stability and how easily have they been led into the same trap by the same wolves.

Now let me clarify here I'm not criticizing the O'Neill coalition in favour of Namah. That is the false perception (giaman piksa), being put forward by those hungry for power.

It’s not as black and white as they would want the sheeple to think. We have over a hundred potential candidates to choose from to be Prime Minister of PNG - not just two.

Times like this call for a sense of national duty and surely amongst the other crop of elected politicians are men and two women who can bring this nation forward.

The other elected members of Parliament must exercise their duty to the Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, in serving the best interest of the nation and its people. It's time to act in the national interest!

It is for this reason that the electors from the length and breadth of this beautifully rugged nation entrusted their elected members of parliament with their dreams and aspirations.

These elected representatives must display leadership now or prove themselves to be nothing but mindless sheep being corralled into forming a terrible government.

'Port Moresby is a seething mass of frustration'


Gabe villageMONEY SPEAKS IN POLITICS. That is certainly true in Papua New Guinea’s remarkably resilient democracy.

As this year’s elections shift to the laborious counting phase, more than 4,000 candidates wait with bated breath. Will they be one of the 111 chosen to represent their area? Will they — instantly — become one of the modern era’s bigmen, respected, powerful and rich?

The surge in candidates has been widely seen as an effort to get elected before the $15 billion ExxonMobil LNG pipeline comes on line in 2014, when serious royalties start to flow into government coffers — or siphoned off into private accounts or apartments in Cairns.

The party system is weak, while local loyalties based on blood and lineages remain strong. Around half of PNG’s parliamentarians are turfed out after each five-year cycle. With limited preferential voting, candidates have won with as little as 7% of the vote.

The effective village system — where bigmen would throw huge feasts with dozens of pigs slaughtered and beer flowing freely in return for support — has been scaled up to level for the national elections. Many voters expect to be bought beforehand, for they will see little afterwards.

Papua New Guinea’s challenges are well known. Since independence from Australian rule in 1975, the world’s most diverse nation has struggled to maintain a viable state. Many of the colonial-era aid posts, roads and schools have disintegrated.

The country is enormously wealthy in gold and gas and copper, but little has trickled down. The population is growing fast, recently tipping seven million. But 97 per cent of the land is traditionally owned.

Where do the fourth sons or daughters go, if there is not enough land for them? There is only one option — the cities, where they arrive in their thousands, hoping for a job and a better life. But life in Port Moresby and Lae is expensive and hard.

The internal migrants end up in squatter camps — living on someone else’s land — and working in the informal economy, driving PMV mini buses or selling betel nut. Many turn to crime, making the two largest cities among the most dangerous in the world.

The nation’s issues are at their most acute in Port Moresby, the home of money politics. Inequality is worsening, leading to crime rates that keep expatriates inside compounds.

So who to elect as the National Capital District’s governor? How do Papua New Guineans choose, when a parliamentary seat is widely seen as a ticket to riches? One solution may be to vote for someone already rich.

Continue reading "'Port Moresby is a seething mass of frustration'" »

The fascinating history of Tok Pisin & Hiri Motu


WHEN PEOPLE WHO DON’T SHARE A COMMON LANGUAGE begin interacting with one another, often a pidgin language develops between them: an impromptu, simplified language using basic words derived from their respective native languages.

As European colonial empires spread throughout the world over the past 500-plus years, the number of pidgin languages around the world exploded.

In cases where use of these pidgins became widespread, many of these pidgins eventually developed into full fledged creoles, fusing traits of their parent languages into new stable, regularised languages that became adopted as mother tongues by large groups of people.

In a select few countries, creoles have evolved to the point where they have become a primary means of communication not just for private citizens but have achieved the status of being official languages of government.

Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu: Papua New Guinea is unique in that not only does a creole language share full official language status, but a pidgin language shares that status as well. In this case, Tok Pisin is the creole; Hiri Motu is the pidgin.

As you may have guessed, the name ‘Tok Pisin’ literally derives from the English words talk and pidgin, although it has long graduated from pidgin status to that of a full creole; nevertheless, most speakers of Tok Pisin will simply refer to the language as ‘Pidgin’ when speaking in English.

80 percent of the lexicon is derived from English, but the syntax used is Austronesian. Tok Pisin’s most notable trait is it use of only two prepositions: blong (sometimes shown as bilong), meaning of or for, and long, used for all other prepositions.

With its English base, Tok Pisin has served as a unifier for the people of Papua New Guinea, a country home to more indigenous languages than any other place on Earth.

Continue reading "The fascinating history of Tok Pisin & Hiri Motu" »

Not forgetting that PNG had its own complex history too


I TEACH COLONIAL HISTORY at the moment and this brief article defines the direction I want my students to take in considering the history of their country.

We have looked at the events in Europe like the Renaissance, Reformation, Industrial Revolution and others. These events played a major part in the evolution of Europe.

Then we have also, just on Tuesday, talked about pre-colonial society in Papua New Guinea using as a basis on John Waiko's book, A short history of PNG.

This produces the realisation that we Papua New Guineans had our own social, economic, and political systems that long pre-dated colonialism.

Our ancestors were interdependent on the physical environment, people, spiritual and non-physical beings for their survival.

Socially, our ancestors had a communal society where land and everything was shared based on our kinship system.

Economically, our ancestors had a very complex trading system; in Waiko's words, like a spider’s web.

They traded their surplus for what was scarce. For the Hiri trade the Gulf people traded sago for Motuan clay pots.

Politically, we had the Big Men in the highlands and the Chiefs down on the coast.

These systems were working perfectly for our ancestors up until the age of exploration and discovery.

Bernard Yegiora’s grandfather was one of the early colonial policemen from the coast who helped the Australian Administration build the highway to the highlands. After gaining university degrees in PNG and China, Bernard now teaches at Divine Word University in Madang. You can read more from him at his blog, The Yegiora Files

Dramatic increase in cancer among PNG women

ABC | Radio Australia

Dr Mathias SapuriA LEADING PACIFIC GYNAECOLOGIST says there's been a dramatic increase in cases of cancer among women in Papua New Guinea.

At the launch a new vaccine in Port Moresby, Dr Mathias Sapuri [pictured] said a health department report had shown a "dramatic" increase in cases of cancer among women.

Dr Mathias told Radio Australia the sudden increase was due to more people reporting symptoms and a rise in sexually transmitted infections.

"In 20 to 30 years gone past, a lot of women who have cervical cancer in remote areas of PNG would not present to a health facility ... it's all to do with cultural reasons," said Dr Mathias, who is the United Nation's appointed physician in PNG.

He is calling on the government to help fund more vaccines under the public health system.

The Gardasil vaccine, which was launched last week, costs about K350 and is currently only being rolled out across the private sector.

"Unfortunately many women in PNG die because many of them have cancer in the later stages - stage two, stage three - and very few were lucky and able to seek medical attention ... unfortunately we've lost a lot of women who could've survived cancer in PNG."

He is optimistic PNG's next government will invest in major health initiatives.

"It can be done, it's just a matter of the government prioritising the cost of the different health issues that are affecting Papua New Guinea and I personally feel that it is a major issue that PNG should take on board."

Dr Mathias Sapuri is head of obstetrics and gynaecology at Pacific International Hospital and has 22 years of experience in women’s health. He is president of the PNG Medical society and chairman of the PNG Medical Board. He was awarded the Order of Logohu in recognition of his excellent services in the field of medicine and medical research

Fugitive Djoko creating a business empire in PNG


INDONESIAN JUSTICE MINISTER Amir Syamsuddin has requested the Papua New Guinea government to immediately return fugitive Djoko Tjandra to Indonesia.

So far there has been no response. "The decision to approve the request or the extradition is entirely the right of the petitioned country," Amir said.

But the Indonesian government is pessimistic the request for Joko’s extradition will be approved anytime soon.

Deputy Attorney-General Darmono says he is certain that Djoko has successfully developed a property business and plantation in PNG. He said he is concerned this may cause PNG to be half-hearted in its assistance to Indonesia.

Mr Darmono said Djoko has invested $2 million in a business under the umbrella of Naima Agro Industries Limited, located at Bereina, about 160 kilometers from Port Moresby.

Joko became a fugitive in the plus $1 billion Bank Bali case. He was detained from September 1999 to August 2000, but the South Jakarta District Court ruled he was free from prosecution because the case was not criminal but civil.

In October 2008, the Supreme Court approved a judicial review. But, before he was thrown into prison, Djoko fled Indonesia to Port Moresby in June 2009.

If still in Indonesia, Joko would have been imprisoned for two years and would have had to pay a fine of about $1.5 million.

O'Neill and Somare plan to form joint PNG government

ABC | Radio Australia

IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS, PNG has been consumed by the conflict between Peter O'Neill and the man he replaced as prime minister, Sir Michael Somare.

But on Tuesday night, as the counting continues in the general election, the two men came together and pledged to work to form the next government.

At a press conference the two men reportedly hugged and held hands.

In a joint statement, they said it was clear Mr O'Neill's People's National Congress will win the most seats and be invited to form government.

Alongside them were elected MPs from several other parties, including former PM Sir Julius Chan who pledged the support of his People's Progress Party.

The deadline for the return of writs in PNG's elections has been extended, with counting still progressing, but Mr O'Neill's PNC party has already won nearly 20 seats.

Parliament is due to resume within two weeks.

PNG's long-running political deadlock began when Sir Michael, who was the country's first leader after independence, suffered ill health in 2011.

His family announced last June that he had resigned as leader while hospitalised in Singapore.

But he recovered and returned to challenge Mr O'Neill, who had been elected by lawmakers to the top job in August, and won the support of judges who said he should be reinstated.

Are O’Neill and Somare trying to isolate Namah?


Peter O'Neill and Michael SomareWITH THE NEWS THAT prime minister Peter O’Neill is in talks with his rival Sir Michael Somare over a possible coalition deal, is the new game in town ‘let’s isolate Belden?’ And will it work?

Not one of the 42 registered political parties in Papua New Guinea will go anywhere near commanding a majority in its own right.

O’Neill’s People’s National Congress is easily doing the best and can probably look forward to winning between one-quarter and one-third of the seats in the new parliament.

With volatile PNG Party leader Belden Namah announcing during the campaign that he’d take on O’Neill for the prime ministership, it seems unlikely he’d want his party to join any coalition put together by O’Neill.

Although stranger things have happened in PNG politics.

Instead, Namah will be working hard on persuading minor parties and independents to join cause with him. The rewards he’ll be offering will be munificent.

It seems O’Neill is also talking seriously to Don Polye, whose Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party is running second, former PM Sir Julius Chan (People’s Progress Party) as well as Somare (National Alliance) and other smaller parties.

The O’Neill-Somare alliance is especially intriguing as it’s only a few week ago that the Grand Chief said the Young Turk should face gaol for what the old man (and, it might be added, the Supreme Court) saw as O’Neill’s unconstitutional prime ministership.

On present indications, a coalition between O’Neill, Somare, Chan and Polye would go very close to gaining a parliamentary majority.

On seeing that this might be the likely outcome, a host of other minor parties and independents could be expected to join the O’Neill bandwagon.

This would leave Namah out in the cold as a rather frustrated and one would imagine embittered opposition leader.

But that’s just one permutation in a dynamic calculus that has many twists and turns left in it yet.

It’s become a cliché to refer to PNG as the “land of the unexpected”.

But time and again it manages to live up to this reputation.

Voting in the settlements: a 2012 election experience

Philip MitnaPHILIP MITNA | Development Policy Blog

I TOOK A SHORT TWO WEEKS BREAK from academia and went back to Port Moresby on the 18 June to sort out some administrative matters with my employer – the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary.

A week was committed to policing Port Moresby or the National Capital District during the polls. I would like to share my experiences and observations during the polls in NCD.

I was compelled to sacrifice several days of my break to police work because I realize that most of the police personnel at Police Headquarters, Bomana Police College and NCD, especially the support units, were deployed for operations in the Highlands.

The bulk of the manpower who were engaged in police operations in NCD were drawn from the reserves. The extra manpower was still inadequate. This was evident in some polling stations where between two and three officers were posted.

This meant that security officials in some areas were outnumbered and were unable to effectively control some of the electoral offences noted in their area of operation.

Polling booths in most of the suburban areas were peaceful and orderly. The outskirts and settlements were a problem. For example, eligible voters whose names did not appear on the common roll at the Jack Pidik Park accepted refusal to cast their votes and moved on peacefully.

It was different in the settlements of North East and North West electorates. Voters, both eligible and ineligible, who queued up to cast their votes were allowed to do so by the polling officials. Names on the common roll, it became obvious, did not matter in these areas.

In the settlements, multiple voting was common. Both the polling and security officials were oblivious because they were simply outnumbered and overpowered to do anything.  The primary task, they said, was to safeguard the ballot boxes.

We managed to apprehend and arrest some of the multiple voters but others made off when the security personnel were alerted. The ink from the Electoral Commission that was supposed to leave an indelible mark on the finger of the voter is no match for the lemon juice and bleach used by the offenders.

We saw a pattern emerging in almost all places where multiple voting was suspected. Voters, especially women, easily rubbed off the ink with either bleach or lemon juice soon after casting their votes. They either moved to the next polling booth in the area or simply walked back to join the queue.

Continue reading "Voting in the settlements: a 2012 election experience" »

Road to hell is paved with religion & westernisation

Back selling buaiMARTYN NAMORONG | The Namorong Report

WHEN THE GREEDY WHITE RULING CLASS decided to loot the rest of the world's nations of their wealth they carried with them, their laws, their customs, their government, their technology, their diseases and their religion.

The greatest lessons about how the west and by extension the western model of development work can be found in the way they shamelessly conducted themselves in other peoples land.

Their religion Christianity was about a Middle-Eastern zombie. (FYI a zombie is something that rises from the dead). They told everyone that their religion was the only way to spiritual heaven.

The historical context of colonization is that it was coming out of a people who had for millennia since the Greek empire of Alexander, being a subversive race. First the Greeks, followed by the Romans, then the Roman Catholic Church and the European nations. They had thousands of years of experience in subverting people.

At the time Europeans decided to subvert nations elsewhere, their Religion was is turmoil thanks to a German Priest (my namesake a German Priest called Martin) who noted that the religious center of the Western model of Development, was rotten to the core.

The Catholic priests had, after centuries of wanking in monasteries, figured how to subvert people in order to exploit them off their wealth.

I'm deliberately using the word ‘subversion’ or ‘subvert’ because to subvert a population is to make the population think that it is acting in its best Interest while at the same time undermining its interest. In simple English: they make you think you're helping yourself when in fact you're harming yourself.

In order to build St Peter’s Basilica in Rome they made the Europeans think that it was in their interest to give money to the Catholic Church for the remission of sins - some con job the poppies called indulgence. The premise of this was that Jesus is the only way to Spiritual heaven and the Western Church is the only way to a Middle-Eastern zombie.

So the Church thrived at the expense of the poor Europeans and the Europeans genuinely thought they were serving their best interest, until my namesake (Martin) figured the con job. Having being challenged by Martin Luther, the Church launched the Counter-Reformation. The word propaganda was first used when Pope Gregory XIII (1572-85) set up the Societas de Propaganda Fide (Society for the Propagation of Faith).

This narrative continues today not just in the one way to spiritual heaven version, but also the one way to physical heaven version. The contest for the monopoly of religious and secular ways to heaven have continued down the centuries including during the Cold War. Indeed the Cold War is a classic contest of ideas, both religious and secular.

Continue reading "Road to hell is paved with religion & westernisation" »

MPs cannot switch parties until government formed


Compilation by Trevor FreestonePAPUA NEW GUINEA’s registrar of political parties and candidates, Dr Alphonse Gelu, now says MPs will breach the law if they switch to a new party until after a new government is formed.

Dr Gelu’s comment follows a move by Amkat Mai, a regional candidate in West Sepik Province, to shift alliance from the Triumph Heritage Empowerment party to Belden Namah’s PNG Party.

Although leading the count to become the new West Sepik Governor, Amkat Mai has announced his decision to move while counting continues and before the seat is declared.

Dr Gelu says he will issue a ruling on Mr Mai’s intended switch this week because such moves undermine the system.

“We will still maintain him under the THE Party because he was officially endorsed by that party and that is part of the process according to the Organic Law on national elections,” he said.

“The law is still very much in operation here so that person cannot switch now.”

Dr Gelu says that Mr Mai is free to join the PNG Party after the formation of a government.

Dame Carol says women MPs face a tough time


Dame Carol Kidu, relaxing in Pari villageDAME CAROL KIDU, Papua New Guinea's only female MP for 15 years, has given a vote of confidence to the two women who won seats in this year's elections.

Delilah Gore became the first female to be elected - for the Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party - after winning the Sohe Open seat in Oro province.

Singer and activist Loujaya Toni, from the Indigenous People's Party, toppled incumbent Bart Philemon in the seat of Lae Open.

Dame Carol Kidu retired as an MP before these elections, and told Radio Australia she thinks the women will cope with the challenges.

"I think they will face a hard time," she said.

"But it must always be remembered that even many of the men get marginalised on the floor in PNG because they go into politics and they don't really comprehend what it's about at national level.

"These women are well-educated - I think they'll soon find their feet, especially if we give them a little bit of back-up."

Of stone axes and saksak bowls full of memories


Lumi Axe (Michael Lorenz)YEARS AGO I HAPPENED to find myself in Lumi in the West Sepik district. In those days it was an isolated spot that served as a hub for even more isolated places such as Nuku and Karaitem.

Anyway, one day the local kalabus line (most of them would have been doing time for cargo cult related activities) and their attendants were going off to prepare a new spot for a garden.

I suspected that where they would be breaking ground was an old settlement site so I asked them to keep an eye out for stone implements and so on. After some discussion about why anybody would be interested in such things they assured me they would assess any stones or other artefacts they came across.

A day or so later they stopped by my place on their way home and with big smiles handed me a large polished dolerite axe with no sign of wear and tear. They were just as surprised as I was as it was not something that they were familiar with.

The Malone (Ireland) axe hoardYears later I discovered that it bears an uncanny resemblance to the axes in a hoard discovered in Ireland of all places, Malone Road in Belfast to be more precise. So perhaps we are more connected than we presently realize.

I can't leave the subject of Lumi without relating another incident. As I was about to take my leave of the place, the folk of Lumi village itself told me that I could have whatever I wanted from them as a parting gift.

Needless to say I was bowled over by this gesture and as they waited expectedly I looked around and spied a slightly worse for wear wooden saksak bowl that was in everyday use to prepare hatwara (sago powder mixed with hot water, a glutinous paste that was the staple, and favoured, food of the region).

They protested that they had much better items than that, and were somewhat disappointed with my choice - but I insisted.

I explained it was something that had been used by them every day and so contained something of the spirit of their lives. They handed it over. I still have that bowl...

Peter O’Neill is confident of forming government


PRIME MINISTER PETER O’NEILL says he is confident he will be able to form the next government even as his relationship with his erstwhile deputy Belden Namah disintegrates.

Counting after the election is continuing and 66 of the 111 parliamentary seats have so far been declared.

Mr O’Neill says he expects his People’s National Congress party will have the first shot at forming a government in the coming weeks, after so far winning 17 seats.

The PNC is leading in another 14 seats.

Mr O’Neill has indicated a working relationship with his former deputy, with whom he formed an unstable alliance last August, was not high on his agenda.

Mr Namah’s PNG Party has so far won six seats.

Counting is expected to finish this week.

The seat of Moresby North West Open has just been declared with Michael Malabag, president of the PNG Trade Union Congress, defeating locakl leader Miria Ikupu by just 17 votes.

Development - or what do our people really want?


WE SAY THAT WHAT OUR PEOPLE WANT is development. But are we providing a convenient title to argue a process and an end which is a natural desire of all human societies, traditional and modern; to move towards a better state of existence within the bounds of their own cultural identity?

By Martyn Namorong's analogy it made common sense that we should obtain a steel axe when our fathers saw the use of it.

This may not in itself have created an inferiority complex because, in their context, a better axe was a necessity for survival.

What may have created the inferiority complex, and perpetuate it today, was an inability to understand and appreciate the changes - and therefore be prepared for the impact to human society and our cultural lifestyles.

The point of conflict is not technology per se and what we assume to be ‘development’, but how we have made use of technology in the natural progress that all society’s experience, and which we in our modern intellect may wrongly call development.

In the axe-trading fiasco, the resulting unacknowledged changes that the use of such a technology created were not anticipated, although it seemed only logical that a better tool was needed to make chopping up trees a little easier.

The steel axe was an advance in our technology, a development which was very relevant in the traditional intellect to how we lived our lives.

But eventually village men found themselves with more time on their hands and quite likely no idea what to do with it.

Perhaps at the time no one appreciated what might happen to our cultural ways when this simple but very useful tool, the steel axe, came into the hands of village men and thus freed up time which was now spent in idleness that we were, culturally at least, unprepared for.

Questioning if such changes or associated interferences into traditional society are perpetuated by the white folk who first traded us steel axes will essentially lead us backwards.

And I think that if given a choice today, our ancestors would still go for the steel axe, so let’s not regress.

The best use we can make of history is to see how and where the mistakes were made in the past so that we can plan to minimise our own mistakes in the future. Now is the right time to decide.

Today we are still trading for ‘better’ technologies that improve our lives but we should now be able to understand and appreciate what those simple changes in technology of any kind (or development as we like to call the process) can do to our culture and the way we want to live our lives.

The challenge we face is having, for the most part, dishonourable leaders who take the power of decision making away from the people for their own greedy benefit.

The problem with many of PNG’s political leaders is that they assumed that they should dictate how we live our lives, how we develop and progress as a society.

We allowed them to do this, by the Western forms of government that we had been taught and indeed that our forefathers had accepted by default.

The self aggrandizement of the position of leader at the sacrifice of the community did not happen to such an extreme in our traditional societies, where the leaders were also bound by customary laws. Not so today.

Political leaders should be a reflection of the values of society which gives them mandate and right to rule and not vice versa.

The characteristics of democracy also existed in our traditional egalitarian tribal systems and perhaps it was not too farfetched to believe that those ideals could be sustained and transmogrified into a new political model.

So what our people want, and what we would term development, is that which allows our culture to continue to take its natural course of history, albeit with external influences/technologies/ideas that our society also finds acceptable and/or beneficial for all: Utopia?

Reform & good management is the middle class role


IN HIS RECENT WRITINGS for PNG Attitude, Martyn Namorong displays views which are penetrating and noteworthy, and which he expresses to great effect.

Martyn has many friends and supporters but seems to have reached the end of the road of reading the entrails of Papua New Guinea’s past and pronouncing upon the failures of the present.

The malign influence of a vast raft of introduced practices, modes of belief, western materialism and reliance upon western-style charity as reasons for modern-day failures is an argument that can be readily made.

But this is a pointless argument. Pointless because recrimination, even where justified, brings little to forward-looking discussion; it offers nothing to the purposeful consideration and design of changes needed for the amelioration and ultimate elimination of the weaknesses we agree exist.

We who have PNG's future as a settled and prosperous society at heart, and there are many of us, understand well the modern-day problems which have arisen in the clash between a pristine, long-settled, multi-tribal agricultural society suddenly forced into functioning to the rules and observances of an industrialised, colonising world.

Britain was once very similar in nature, culture and practices as PNG society was a century and more ago. PNG has leapfrogged the development of large tribes ruled by hierarchies of powerful and murderous despots who took control of land and caused a departure from existing small-tribe common-ownership-based egalitarianism.

Egalitarian principles have remained almost universal in PNG until the recent rise of the present-day selfish, privileged and self-enriched political class.

In Britain a class-riven society grew where there were many levels of privilege and wealth and a sizeable sub-class of small landowners who leased out their land. Below these was a huge class of landless but free, farming “villeins” and large numbers of powerless, dependant slaves.

The phenomenon of kingdoms arose and slowly waned; kings  being the most boisterous, manipulative and vicious raskol-gang leaders in a given region. With the growth in trade of wheat and wool, the taxed percentage taken by the king was used to maintain an effective and brutal Royal Army to keep the lower classes down and to ensure the physical integrity of the kingdom.

Continue reading "Reform & good management is the middle class role" »

Party switchers already on the move to Belden Namah


Amkat MaiA SHIFT IN POLITICAL PARTY ALLEGIANCE by a regional candidate for West Sepik could throw the formation of a new Papua  New Guinea government into chaos.

Leading contender, Amkat Mai [pictured], has announced his decision to move even before the completion of the primary vote count and before the elimination process begins, also declaring himself as the new Governor of West Sepik Province.

Mr Mai has said he wants to switch from the Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party led by Don Polye to Belden Namah’s PNG Party.

The most recent counting shops Mr Mai ahead of Simon Solo (National Alliance) by a healthy 6,000 votes in the 36 candidate field. Some 90,000 votes have been counted.

He has about 15% of the primary vote.

Registrar of political parties and candidates, Dr Alphonse Gelu, said there was no legal impediment stopping a candidate shifting party alliances.

"Despite being endorsed by a party but you want to shift alliances to another, em prerogative blo individual member nau,” said Dr Gelu.

“So that's the danger.... My office, we cannot do anything about this. We are powerless.

“Before that Supreme Court ruling, we can impose penalties but right now, we can't. Political candidate are not bound in any way to stick to a party."

The NBC says it is “reliably informed” that some winning candidates from other political parties will team up with Mr Namah and his PNG Party.

Source: National Broadcasting Corporation of PNG

Woman’s business: The political goals of Loujaya Toni


Loujaya Toni in actionFORMER JOURNALIST, TEACHER, POET CUM GOSPEL SINGER Loujaya Toni, running on the ticket of the Indigenous People’s Party, is the new member elect for Lae Open seat in a male dominated race.

Loujaya, a Masters in Communication Development Studies graduate from the PNG University of Technology, said she could use her knowledge and experiences to bring holistic development in her Lae electorate. 

In an exclusive interview with me before the election, speaking at her residence at Busurum Compound, Toni told me: “I understand human beings and basics of not only to look after people within Lae electorate, I also understand how we can develop together our human resources and how to communicate development.”

“I’m confident with the level of qualifications that I have and that confidence that I am delivering to the voters.

“I’m pressing people to take ownership of my policies and seeing them as theirs,” she said.

Toni had challenged 30 male candidates, including the sitting member, veteran Public Service Minister Bart Philemon, to represent the people of Lae.

“I am working with all the candidates in the Lae Open seat, I see all of them as my brothers and except Bart Philemon, who is my grandfather,” Toni said.

“I’m banking on the fact that I see all candidates as brothers and Philemon as grandfather, I’m very confident that I’m in everybody’s three-leaf combination,” she added.

Her win is the manifestation of her creative drive to tap into second and third preference choices of this male dominated race.

Toni has been running under the banner of: “Make a difference: Vote for a woman.”

“Male candidates can’t handle women’s issues; men deal with big issues and women’s issues are not on men’s agenda.

“A woman is qualified in home economics and in human resource development.

“Naturally, women are interested in talking of human resource development and want our children to have good education, good health and good life.

“We, the women are practicing real home economics and human resource development in the home governments, and we women are expanding our areas of governance into the next level,” she said.

Toni said that her policies are to touch the people and change their lives.

“I will empower and upskill the customary Ahi landowners, squatter settlers, women, old people, orphans, youth, people living with HIV/AIDS and people living with disability,” she said.

“I have  plans to organize pensions for old people, create sheltered workshops for people living with disability, improve alternative healthcare and homecare for people living with HIV/AIDS, employment and training programs for youth, programs for orphans, develop cottage industry for women, downstream processing of local products and establish a Council of Chief for the  Ahi people.”

She said her push is for PNG to meet the 2015 United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals.

“I will provide a report card of my electorate to the United Nations in 2015. That involves making myself accountable to the Lae voters and transparent to the international community.

“I have a 100 days in office plan and a five-year development plan for Lae Open electorate,” she said.

This is Loujaya’s second time to contest the Lae Open seat.

She came fifth of the 25 candidates in the 2007 national election and third in the 2008 Ahi Local Level Government presidential race.

Armstrong Saiyama is a journalism student at Divine Word University in Madang


PNG likely to protect fugitive Djoko says professor


ALTHOUGH CORRUPTION FUGITIVE Djoko Tjandra is on Interpol’s most-wanted list, Papua New Guinea is not likely to hand him over to Indonesia, a law professor said.

Hikmahanto Juwana, an expert in international law at the University of Indonesia, said the PNG government showed little political will in adhering to Indonesia’s request to bring the fugitive business tycoon back to the country, particularly after granting him citizenship.

“In Papua New Guinea, police [action] relies heavily on its bureaucracy,” the professor told the Jakarta Globe.

He suspected Djoko had invested heavily in PNG and that citizenship was granted to him as a reward.

“If the PNG government needs Djoko’s money and business connections, then the police will have to sideline [the warrant],” he said.

Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin said on Sunday that the government was still lobbying PNG to give up Djoko.

Amir said getting Djoko home would be a lengthy process because the countries do not have an extradition agreement.

Former deputy PM Sam Abal loses Wabag seat


Sam AbalANOTHER PROMINENT politician in Papua New Guinea has lost his seat.

Former deputy prime minister Sam Abal has been defeated in Wabag by fellow independent, Robert Ganim.

Mr Abal, a loyal supporter of Sir Michael Somare, was made acting prime minister in April last year after Sir Michael was forced to stand aside while he faced a leadership tribunal investigation.

He remained in the role for several months while Sir Michael sought medical treatment in Singapore.

Mr Abal later became the deputy opposition leader and was holding that position when the election began.

In June, he announced he was standing as an independent after declaring he was disenchanted with the political party system.

At the weekend, veteran cabinet minister Bart Philemon was voted out in his Lae Open seat.

He lost to Loujaya Toni, the second woman to take a seat in this poll and just the sixth woman ever voted into the PNG parliament.

59 of the 111 seats have now been declared.

Can I defeat a political giant in the Lae Open?

Loujaya Toni on the hustingsLOUJAYA TONI

Yesterday afternoon, after a tough struggle against a number of high profile male candidates including sitting member and former minister Bart Philemon, Loujaya won the seat of Lae on the final count. She thus became the second female member to be elected to the new parliament in this election. We reprint here extracts from an article Loujaya wrote for PNG Attitude back in May.


Loujaya Toni

Indigenous People's Party



Fred Wak




Bart Philemon

New Generation Party


I AM TAKING ON a formidable opponent in Bart Philemon, who has held the seat for the last 20 years. He is a consummate strategist and will be hard to beat.

Mr Philemon has kept the seat for so long because he has aligned himself with the Lae Chamber of Commerce and business houses in the city.

His base vote comes from public servants and private sector employees in the town.

Mr Philemon opposed the recent parliamentary bill for the 22 reserved seats for women, kept himself distant from the riots in Lae and seems uninterested in land issues involving the Ahi people, the traditional landowners of Lae City. Mr Philemon and I are members of Ahi clans.

My focus in the campaign is the increasing lawlessness and poverty caused by immigration into Lae. My strategy to deal with this involves the creation of ward registries so that those who have overstayed their welcome and need to return to their home provinces can be identified.

A bit drastic perhaps, but the registries will also record statistics which can be used to take stock of our human resource potential.

My campaign slogan is “Knowledge is power to change for a better quality of life”. Poverty alleviation can be achieved when we have the knowledge to make a change. I hope people will catch my vision for change: which begins in the mindset.

I’m well-educated (MA in Communication Studies) and have a long history of community-based work. I contested the 2007 elections in Lae and ended up fifth. This time I hope to win.

In preparation for my tilt at power I attended a four-day training workshop to assist intending women candidates and their campaign managers conducted in March by the Department of Community Development.

There is a tendency in Papua New Guinea for women to vote the same as their men, sometimes unwillingly.

This time women and people with disabilities will be allowed separate polling booths and I am hoping this will give me an edge.

Loujaya Toni – a life of music, politics & poetry….


Loujaya Toni on the election trailLOUJAYA TONI (46), who shocked a strong field of male contenders to become Papua New Guinea’s newest female parliamentarian, was born in the city she now represents.

Before yesterday’s win in Lae Open, Loujaya had been an aspiring politician for some years. She contested the national elections in 2007 and the Local Level Government Elections in 2008, giving her male opposition candidates a close run for their money.

While still at school in Port Moresby in 1978, she was nominated as PNG’s youngest poet by the University of Papua New Guinea. Her collection of poems, A Sense of Interest, was later published by the Education Department.

In 1985 she launched a string of solo gospel music albums under the name Loujaya Dunar and has since been recognised as a singer/songwriter. She wrote and performed the song, Keep the Fire Alive with the group Tambaran Culture as a tribute to the 9th South Pacific Games held in Port Moresby in 1991.

Loujaya is a qualified journalist and teacher and also a practicing naturopath. She is a part-time tutor at the University of Technology in Lae and has been a full-time student in the Department of Communication Development Studies, graduating in April, 2012.

This poem, with a powerful political theme, was written as an entry in this year’s Crocodile Prize.

Twenty-two women

By Loujaya Toni

Twenty two women
Sitting ducks
Shot at
By trigger happy mouths;

Nameless, faceless number
Threatening shadows
Women in waiting
Wanna-be politicians
Hopeful governors;

Unknown but significant
Twenty two women
All wanting
In on parliament;

They are daunting shadows
Reaching in
To the men’s haus
Haunting his wildest political dreams
Forcing a hand in his schemes
A very present number
At all
His deliberations
Seen and heard more
Than a mere apparition;
Twenty two women
Waiting their dues.