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169 posts from July 2012

Little known Delilah Gore takes PNG by storm

TAVURVUR | The Garamut Blog

MOST OF US KNOW LITTLE about Papua New Guinea's fifth ever female MP, Delilah Gore, the first woman to be elected in the 2012 elections.

I can share that she is the former Ijivitari District Treasurer (the other electorate in Northern Province), who resigned about six months ago to contest the 2012 national election - her first attempt.

Delilah is well-respected in Sohe, is a woman of faith and is relatively well-known throughout the electorate.

I predicted that Delilah Gore would win Sohe Open on 12 July after paying close attention to the numbers, and how votes were being cast in the electorate.

What makes this win even more special is that Delilah's key voters were women. She spent those six months talking with women, and asking for their support.

This reflects the cultural context which is characteristic of Northern Province. You can link here to more background on women MPs in PNG's parliament.

Election 2012: money politics, inefficiency & intimidation


Making a mark for the nationTHE COMMONWEALTH OBSERVER GROUP in Papua New Guinea for the elections has issued an interim report that contains a number of serious problems that PNG must address to ensure free and fair elections in the future.

The Report comments that there has been “some progress and some setbacks in the country’s efforts to strengthen its democracy” but notes that “several serious concerns need to be addressed” including what it says is “the widespread, deeply-rooted discrimination against women”.

Among the major negative issues highlighted in the Report are:

-- “the rise of money politics … including widespread reported attempts by candidates to bribe voters directly, on a scale far greater than ever before”

-- “an unfortunate level of disorganisation and inconsistency in aspects of election management” by the PNGEC

-- “the widespread disenfranchisement of citizens … who wished to vote”

-- “reports of intimidation of voters by candidates and their supporters at certain polling locations”

-- “some serious incidents of election-related violence, some of which resulted in the tragic loss of life and destruction of property”

-- “members of the security forces … acting in support of particular candidates”

The Report noted significant problems in Highlands provinces where it observed “a great many anomalies”. These included most polling stations not providing for secret ballots which resulted in voting taking place in public, “often being done by polling officials or even by candidates or scrutineers on behalf of voters”.

The teams also witnessed multiple voting by individuals, “bloc” voting, and apparently underage voters in a number of locations.

On the positive side, the Commonwealth Observer Group said it welcomed “the patience and restraint of the vast majority of people involved with the election which have resulted to date in a largely peaceful poll”.

The full report follows….

Continue reading "Election 2012: money politics, inefficiency & intimidation" »

Indonesia-PNG draft agreement to bring back Djoko

RIZKY AMELIA | Jakarta Globe

TjandraTHE INDONESIAN GOVERNMENT is drafting an agreement with Papua New Guinea to bring back graft convict Djoko Soegiarto Tjandra [pictured].

“We can’t intervene with other countries’ legal systems. But with the intention to maintain a good relationship, we hope to see the [agreement] materialize,” said Justice and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin.

Amir said the two governments have been corresponding through letters.

Indonesia requested that Djoko’s PNG citizenship be revoked, saying he falsified immigration documents when escaping to PNG.

Deputy Attorney General Darmono said on Monday that Peter Ilau, PNG’s ambassador in Jakarta, told him during their meeting on Sunday that his government would evaluate Djoko’s status.

“To become a citizen of a country, people should be free from legal problems. We believe that Djoko has falsified his data to hide his status as a graft convict. He should be deported because of that,” Darmono said.

PNG authorities granted citizenship to Djoko last month. They reportedly announced that he was cleared of the graft charges.

“We have given all of the evidence we have to prove he is a graft convict in Indonesia. I think there should be no more reason for Papua New Guinea to keep his citizenship,” Darmono said.

Keepin' the fire alive: Loujaya Toni has just won Lae



IN ONE OF THE REAL SHOCK RESULTS of the current Papua New Guinea elections, activist, poet and singer Loujaya Toni has just won the seat of Lae.

Loujaya Toni on the election trailLae Open had offered a fascinating contest since ballot boxes were opened. After trailing through the early rounds, Loujaya Toni (Indigenous Peoples Party) surged to the lead in late counting.

She managed to stay just ahead on preferences as male candidate after male candidate dropped out. Eventually she defeated independent Fred Wak by 1,500 votes after the elimination of sitting member Bart Philemon (New Generation).

Loujaya joins Delilah Gore, who yesterday won Sohe Open, as one of two women so far elected to parliament in this election.

Another woman candidate who is taking the result down to the wire is Mary Kamang (People’s National Congress) in Madang Provincial. She’s up against the formidable sitting member Arnold Amet (National Alliance) who leads by nearly 2,000 votes, but this remains a very close race.

Here's progress in some other undecided seats:

The well regarded sitting member, Puka Temu (Our Development), is well ahead in Abau Open and does not require many preferences to win.

The controversial Speaker in the last parliament, Jeffrey Nape (Rural Development) in the aptly named Sinasina-Yongomugl Open, is 2,000 votes behind in second place to an independent. He’s doing better as the count proceeds and there are many preferences in this seat. An open race at this stage, but Nape faces charges of “undue influence and bribery” in relation to the election, so there could be another challenge confronting him even when the seat is declared.

In East New Britain Provincial, veteran politician and diplomat John Kaputin (Melanesian Alliance) is now 5,000 votes adrift of Leo Dion (Triumph Heritage Empowerment). But there are lots of preferences to count and the gap can still be bridged.

Former acting prime minister Sam Abal, who’s running as an independent in this election, has a good lead in Wabag open but there are plenty of candidates who have polled well and the allocation of preferences will be very important.

Sitting member Jamie Maxton Graham (PNG Party, Jiwaka Open) has a fight on his hands but is still ahead in a race where many candidates are polling well.

Former Brig Gen Jerry Singirok (Pangu) seems to be sunk in Sumkar Open where sitting member Ken Fairweather (People’s National Congress) looks to have the seat won. At last count he was 2,500 ahead with only 4,900 preference votes to be counted. Fairweather has now been declared elected in this seat.

In Morobe Provincial, Governor Luther Wenge (People’s First) is being closely pursued by independent Kasiga Nara. This one will go down to the wire.

Governor Powes Parkop (Social Democrat) continues to lead in National Capital District Provincial having secured one-third of the primary vote, more than double that of the second runner. Looks to be set to return to parliament..

In Northern Provincial, another seat that has offered a close contest throughout, Garry Juffa (People’s Movement for Change) now leads by 1,400 votes in a big field where the allocation of preferences will be vital.

Former prime minister Paias Wingti (People’s Democratic Movement) who returned from Queensland to contest Western Highland Provincial is 3,500 votes ahead in a tight race with Tom Olga (Triumph Heritage Empowerment) and some big scoring followers including independent and constitutional lawyer John Nonggorr, who in fourth place has polled well but seems too far behind to win.

Footnote: Deputy prime minister Belden Namah (PNG Party, Vanimo-Green River) was declared victorious at 3.30 this morning after an exciting contest in the West Sepik seat.

Afterthought: And reader Bob Cleland offers an interesting anagram: juggle the letters in "election results" and you get (wait for it) "lies - let's recount". Neat, eh!

And now to the state of the parties this Sunday afternoon….


Elected candidates…

Elected & leading candidates...

People’s National Congress (Peter O’Neill)






Triumph Heritage Empowerment (Don Polye)



PNG Party (Belden Namah)



National Alliance (Michael Somare)



United Resources Party (William Duma)



People’s Progress Party (Julius Chan)



People’s Party (Peter Ipatas)



People’s United Assembly (Paul Tientsten)



Other parties




Development: The view of an ex-colonial masta


ONE HAS TO AGREE WITH MARTYN NAMORONG. Of course, yaws and other disfiguring skin disease are not life-threatening, although endemic until the invention of penicillin and the increasing frequency of Administration patrols to even the most isolated areas of Papua New Guinea’s population.

Therefore eradication was popular even though it was not realised in those days that this was an element of the cultural genocide. The same cannot be said about Malaria and TB, which responded to drugs like camoquine and streptomycin, but it may be that the resurgence in these two killers among others is the inchoate expression of an underlying desire for separation from foreign-origin dominance within traditional culture.

An unconscious aversion to the cultural genocide Martyn writes of, rather than the result of cynical political disregard of need, and dishonesty and laziness within the massive and demonstrably dysfunctional PNG public service.

And a stone axe, as studies have shown, takes about five times as long to fell a tree than a steel axe. This devious, perhaps even demonic insertion of startling practical utility into the traditional culture has released men from a major and almost constant preoccupation with felling, splitting and shaping big trees which in pre-invasion times was a main task only slightly more time-consuming than, as once put by the late invader of the Highlands, Jim Taylor, “soldiers in a constant state of readiness for war”.

Once these imperatives eased after the gradual spread of steel and the brutally-imposed Pax Britannica, men found that their days spread pleasantly before them with only occasional need to exercise their old trades.

As custom dictated, almost all the planting, weeding, harvesting, collecting and carrying of firewood and water, and the bearing and care of children as well as the feeding and care of family pigs, remained the role of women. It remains the exclusive domain of women today.

Now men were possessed by the introduced and devilish seduction of gambling, of ready-made tobacco and later of alcohol. All of which they adopted as keenly as they had once maintained their wood-chopping and man-killing skills.

This has resulted in the sight, as one drives from Lae to Porgera or Tari through lands supporting the largest mass of people in the country, of many crowds, each of hundreds of idlers, loafing at the roadside, seven days of the week.

All appear aimless and relaxed except those who are drunk or involved in betting on darts or cards. What is striking is the small number of women present in these crowds.

Women are still to be seen walking away from home every day when it isn’t raining, bearing spades and empty bilums, herding small children and pigs, on their way to commence work at producing the large volumes of life-giving products with which to fill the bilums and the bundles borne upon their heads on the homeward journey.

Again accompanied by their retinue of pigs and children, they will commence upon return late in the day to light the fires and begin cooking the evening meal. Later, before sleep claims them, they will work quietly at making a new bilum or in knitting a stylish possum-fur-wool cap for the man of the house to parade in down at the roadside market where the dart-boards go up early every morning. A can of beer for a bulls-eye.

Continue reading "Development: The view of an ex-colonial masta" »

Sovereignty & self reliance versus colonial development

Martyn Namarong in BrisbaneMARTYN NAMORONG

NAME A COUNTRY that does not depend on foreigners? Answer: probably none

The so called developed world is very dependent on the third world, as they like to refer to the rest of us, for natural resources.

A country like Ivory Coast produces about 50% of the world's cocoa but it would be much more expensive for the Ivorians to export chocolate to the developed world because the developed world would prefer that the Ivorians remain inferior.

That is what development really looks like folks.

Thirty-seven years on since so called independence, I empathize with the frustrations of many Papua New Guineans who see what's wrong with the current model of 'development'. What it is very good at doing is perpetuating dependence.

Ask yourself when your country will be free of aid dependency not just from other countries, but also from Churches and NGOs. Wanem taim bai yumi sanap long tupela leg blong mipela? [When will we stand on our own two legs?]

What most Papua New Guineans aspire for is national sovereignty and self reliance. The reason we're not achieving this is that we're using what I refer to as the dependency model of development.

What it does is to create the perception that Papua New Guineans are an inferior people who need outsiders to come and solve our problems. Which is why a lot of our Big Men with Big Egos speak like weaklings with major inferiority complexes.

Religion created the perception that a foreign god was superior to the local masalai.

Christianity told people that the sacred lands of Jews were superior to the sacred lands of Melanesians. People were told to accept the all powerful Jewish masalai over the Melanesian masalai.

Religion told people that they were in the dark and needed to come to the light.

And so the story of the subjugation of our Papua New Guinean ways began.

Many of those colonists, whether religious colonists or secular colonists, may have been decent people trying to do what they saw was the right thing.

But what they did was to create the cargo cult mindset that persists today in the form of expecting the government, foreign aid agencies, and foreign investment to sort out our problems.

All this does is undermine national sovereignty and self reliance by ensuring that the drivers of PNG's so called development agenda are foreigners. As soon as communities expect foreign companies and aid agencies to built infrastructure and provide basic goods and services, they hand over their future to foreigners and are no longer in control of their destiny.

The practical implication of this is that instead of communities working together to address their local issues, they wait helplessly for handouts. Over the past 37 years, many communities would have built themselves classrooms, aidposts, roads, airstrips and the rest but it seems they've been waiting for memba, gavman, kampani long kam wokim dispela samtin [MPs, government, companies to do these things].

Anyone with a rational, objective, scientific mind would look at the experience of outsiders failing to deliver and question the rationale for engaging with them or expecting solutions from them.

Everyone sees the problems around them but, when they think of solutions, they think of working with a system that, by it very nature of disempowering people, has failed to deliver so called developmental outcomes.

Continue reading "Sovereignty & self reliance versus colonial development" »

Why wasn't Markham fish death report released?


WHEN LARGE NUMBERS OF DEAD FISH littered the banks and mouth of the Markham River, the Labu people brought the issue to the media to demand answers from the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), Morobe Provincial Government (MPG), Morobe Mining Joint Venture (MMJV) and other appropriate authorities.

Sometimes later, the people of Gabansis found some dead fish in the Zansam tributary to the Markham River and also demanded for investigation by appropriate authorities.

DEC responded to the Labu people’s demand and carried out an aerial investigation to find answers to this mysterious dead of fishes in the Markham River. However, the answers given by DEC were unconvincing and did not go down well with many NGO groups and right thinking citizens.

Oseah Philemon reported in the Post-Courier on 21 January 2012 that DEC attributed the cause of the dead fish to large landslips near the Kumalu, Langimar and Banir rivers. The logic behind that assumption was that the landslips may have released large amounts of soil into the river systems which depleted dissolved oxygen levels, thus the fish died due to lack of oxygen.

Nevertheless, photographs posted in the newspapers showed that the dead fish in the Markham River were mostly carp, tilapia and eels. Carp, tilapia and eels are known to survive in stagnant water bodies, which usually contained low levels of dissolved oxygen. Moreover, eels are known to burrow into mud banks and live out of the water for some time, as they can breathe oxygen directly from the atmosphere.

Therefore, the reasoning that the dead fishes found in the Markham River died from lack of oxygen does not add up because these fish species tolerate low levels of dissolved oxygen under natural conditions. Something more than landslips caused fish in the Markham River to die.

DEC mentioned that the department relied on MMJV to supply them with mine water discharge data on a weekly basis. This information not only gave away the department as an ineffective regulator of the environment in PNG, but it also showed how easily DEC could have been fooled by mining companies through the manipulation of mine water discharge data. It does not require rocket science for any ordinary Papua New Guinean to understand this logic.

Two types of water permits are usually administered by the DEC, the Water Extraction Permit and the Water Discharge Permit. In the case of dead fish in the Markham River the most important permit is the mine Water Discharge Permit. This is the permit that allows for MMJV to discharge water and contaminants into the Watut and Markham rivers.

Section 82 of the Environment Act 2000 confers the right to any person or organization to release water or contaminants under prescribed conditions and standards into the environment. However, there is no indication in the Act as to what those prescribed conditions and standards are.

But the same section of the Act states that the permit confers the right to any person or organization to release water or contaminants into the environment subject to any prescribed conditions or conditions endorsed on it.

Therefore, since the Director of DEC is the ultimate authority on the issuance of environmental permits, this suggests that the Director of DEC sets the prescribed conditions and standards on environmental permits.

Continue reading "Why wasn't Markham fish death report released?" »

It’s Polye! The people of Kandep have spoken again


Don PolyeTHE MEMBER FOR KANDEP and parliamentary leader of the new Triumph Heritage Empowerment (THE) Party, Don Polye [pictured], has been re-elected to Parliament for a third term.

He was one of the first members to be declared in the current national elections.

Mr Polye has won three elections on primary votes alone in the new preferential voting system, which was introduced in 2007. His first win was in the 2007 general elections and, then, after a successful appeal by an opponent, his second was in a by-election the following year.

The people of Kandep love this man so much because he has rought many infrastructure services to the rural areas of the electorate since 2002, when he was first elected to parliament.

During his period in office he has also contributed much to the nation as a member of parliament and senior minister. Mr Polye is one of the most influential, efficient and successful leaders in the country.

He played major roles as a senior minister and as the highlands National Alliance bloc leader under the Somare regime. He has also served as acting and deputy prime ministers, playing major roles in the development of the country.

Many people around the country admire his vibrant and colorful leadership. He has never failed in maintaining his integrity all through the years.

It’s an achievement and a blessing to the people of Kandep, Enga and Papua New Guinea. We believe the nation will see a new chapter through this great man.

The people of Kandep have spoken again in electing this man to take this struggling nation forward.

Dirty politics by some rival candidates in the electorate to dispute his victory have to stop now because more than 75% populations of Kandep love this man.

Papua New Guinea sees that Mr Polye is the favourite son of Kandep. We are behind this man who is ready to drive this nation forward.

Circle of tears

AGNES ARE | The Crocodile Prize

I know you can never understand the way I feel for you
It’s harder for me to forget the times we shared
The way you find so easy to do.

Logically it’s wrong to lie without a doubt but this feeling
within my heart can never be denied even though you’ve
locked me out.
To you, I’m just a friend but that’s what I’ve led you to believe
and nothing more.

I know that if to love you were a crime, I’d have broken every
law.  Maybe I’m misguided or just unwise but I find
something special when I look into your eyes.
something that tells me that you too hide behind the curtain
of lies.

I’ve witnessed as you gave your heart away to a different person
It hurts so much to know that you care for someone else the
way I care for you but I know it’s just a symbol to prove
we’re through.

Sometimes, I’m certain you do like me no matter what you say
But your love is just an image
I cannot find the key, like a wild animal you were born to be free.

Even though I may be walking against the wind
the price so far from my reach, I’m not willing to give in
If you think your friendship brings less pain than for your
sake I’ll carry on the game though you make me hide from
the truth, I know the charade is not in van.

I know you have friends you wish to keep
I don’t want to take them away from you.
I only want to be a part of your life.
Is that too much to ask, am I prying too deep?
I don’t want to worry,
I’ve hurt so much trying to deny I care
I just want you to know that I still love you
If you ever need someone, I’ll always be there for you.

Maybe things could be better
Maybe as time goes by you’ll see
Maybe the circle of tears will end and you’ll understand how
Special we could be.

Agnes Are (23) was born in Mumeng in Morobe Province.  She is in her first year of teaching at Kundiawa Lutheran Day High School.  She enjoys writing poems, especially ‘love poems’.  She started writing poems as therapy after a broken relationship

Love when bought

ERIC GABRIEL | The Crocodile Prize

SHE STOOD THERE STARING AT ME, unsatisfied and sobbing as I offered my last words of comfort. Grieving tears rolled down her face. She no longer looked like the beautiful girl I knew from childhood. Her beauty had vanished; devoured by the ugly pain.

I cleared my throat, as if it was the only thing to do, and stared into the approaching darkness. I wanted to be strong because that was what she saw in me, and if there was anything I wanted her to remember me for before we parted for the last time, it was this attribution - the one she adored.

The tide was already coming in. The surrounding palm trees stood still as if saluting the approaching night. The wind had ceased and the shrieking call of crickets and the faint buzz of night insects suddenly seized the silence. 

Sea birds in thousands crowded the beach pecking at one or two unfortunate fishes. Suddenly, I envied this liberty nature had bestowed upon the wild – the birds had the ability to soar high above earth in limitless freedom unknown to mankind. The serenity of the atmosphere drew upon me, it was getting late, and we both knew we had to part.

Seeing she was adamant to leave, I reached out to her and gently stroked her shoulders. She did not move. “We are born, but into a society”. I spoke gently. “For us the society must labour. That is its essence, so we become one of them. Owned and attached to them in a web of invisible values.

“Our will must correspond with our traditions, which in turn control, determine and even attempt to establish love between partners. You and I are victims of our own ways of life, you see”, I explained.

“I wish I had the power to change the course of everything”. She whispered, almost to herself.

I looked at her sympathetically, “You should not despair; love rejuvenates. Like a tree felled, it will always grow back to regain its natural shape and beauty. I will be gone, but for him, you will still have the same kind of feelings you have for me…who knows you might come to love him even more…” I added, hoping to make it sound convincing”

“What if I hated him?” She cried out. “What if I ran away? What if I hang myself? What if I …”

Continue reading "Love when bought" »

At last ! First woman wins seat in 2012 PNG election


DELLILAH PUEKA GORE (Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party), the little known candidate outside her own area who led narrowly from the very beginning of counting in her seat, has become the first female member to be elected to parliament in the current national poll.

She defeated independent Henty Amuli in the Sohe Open (Northern Province) by 6,105 to 4,112 after preferences.

PNG Atttiude would like to bring you a profile of Ms Gore but even the PNG national daily, the Post-Courier, admits that little is known about her. Perhaps one of our readers can help.

Meanwhile women candidates are challenging strongly in two other seats.

In Madang Provincial, Mary Kamang (People’s National Congress) is trailing sitting member Arnold Amet (National Alliance) by nearly 2,000 votes, but there are lots of preferences to count and this remains a very close race.

And the gutsy Loujaya Toni (Indigenous People’s Party) is fighting strongly in Lae Open, where she is fourth but only 400 votes behind the leader, Fred Wak (Independent). Sitting member Bart Philemon (New Generation party) is running second.

Preferences are now being counted in this seat and there is a very close tussle between the leading contenders.

Supporters of representative politics worldwide will be hoping that these two women will be able to join Dellilah Gore in the 111-seat, almost male monopolised PNG parliament.

Voting - the behaviour of people without heads


IT WAS THE MORNING of Wednesday 27 June 2012. The plebs living in Morata chewed their betelnut, lit their cigars and discussed the polls.

It was not a secret ballot to them. Each individual spat out the name of the candidate they would vote for as they walked towards the polling booth.

My family and I also walked to the nearest polling booth at Morata II on that Wednesday morning joining the queue. After we fronted up at the polling booth, an official told us that surnames starting with letters A-F would have to move to another section of the settlement to vote. That included ‘Bolkin’.

The electoral commission had not informed the public that polling would be conducted according to alphabetical order, nor that polling venues would be allocated to specific sections of the alphabet.

It was a new arrangement and unfortunately was not communicated properly to the plebs. The result was simple - more chaos.

The polling booth nearest to our home was for surnames starting with P to Z. The polling booth starting with A-F was further away and, worse still, swarming with aliens from the Port Moresby North East electorate.

Then came the bombshell. A woman entered the polling booth with all her finger nails coloured cherry red, fingernails fresh and obviously polished a few minutes ago.

A policeman had a good look at the small man of her left finger and nodded his head to his colleague at the rear of the woman. Without the woman realizing her fate, the policeman at her rear swung a fan belt with might, jolting both her fat legs.

The woman growled, and pissed in front of the polling booth. He legs were too weak to prop her up from the impact. She collapsed like an old tree.

The policeman kept thrashing her with the fanbelt. She saw no end to the belting. She had no choice but to cope before staggering off with yells and tears. In a split second the queue was reduced by two-thirds.

So two-thirds of the people were there to double or triple vote, only to be scared off by the poor woman’s belting.

We voted in the last two elections in that polling place nearest our home. But this time we had to travel far to look for the polling place that has names starting with ‘A to F’.

Eventually we found ourselevs in the midst of a rowdy crowd - and armoured vehicles with fully armed disciplined forces like you might see in Baghdad or Cairo.

The plebs as well as the disciplined forces behaved as if they all had left their heads at home before coming to the polling booth. Fear and chaos reigned.

Anyway, my wife and I feared this tense situation and returned home without voting.

Many similar scenes have been reported throughout the country and many eligible voters did not vote due to fear as well as their names being missing from the  common roll.

The PNG Electoral Commission and the stakeholders involved in the 2012 national election should convene, evaluate and redesign the electoral system for 2017 as soon as possible.

The Electoral Commission must not wait until the eleventh hour. The flop of the 2012 national election boils down to eleventh hour planning and the constant verbal diarrhoea from the Commission office.

Let’s hope the Electoral Commission gets it right come 2017. 

Mathias Kauage – PNG’s greatest creative artist

ULLI BEIER | Introduction to catalogue: Mathias Kauage: a retrospective

Kauage meets the Queen, London 1996MATHIAS KAUGE WAS BORN in Chimbu country in the Highlands of New Guinea around 1945. During his childhood the Chimbu were still subsistence farmers and then still celebrated their big pig-exchange feasts. They were already governed by the Australian administration and the Catholic church was firmly established.

As a small child Kauge witnessed the penetration of his homeland by foreign invaders who were something unimaginable. They came in bizarre machines:

"A helicopter passed over me first. I went to get a bow and arrow. I sat down on top of the mountain and I wanted to shoot the bird..."

Kauage was sent to mission school, but he ran away because his teacher beat him. Like many young Highlanders he became a labourer on the Australian owned coffee plantations. In the mid-sixties he drifted into the capital Port Moresby, where he found employment as a cleaner in the Administrative College.

Life in Port Moresby fascinated him and frustrated him. He was fascinated by the mixture of people and cultures and by the cars, and motorbikes, the airplanes and helicopters. But he was deeply frustrated, because he had to do a boring job, for a minimum wage and suffer the insults and humiliation from a racist labour overseer. As an illiterate worker with no skills he had no hope of leading a more meaningful existence.

Kauage's life suddenly changed on 28 February 1969. On that day Akis of Tsembaga, a young man from Simbai Valley exhibited his drawings at the University of Papua New Guinea. Akis' artistic career had been meteoric.

After working with Georgina Beir for only six weeks, he exhibited thirty drawings depicting the birds, animals and plants of his native forest and established his reputation as the first truly contemporary artist of Papua New Guinea.

Georgina did not want Akis to feel lost and embarrassed amongst a crowd of university lecturers and public servants. She had therefore arranged for the highland labourers to be invited to the exhibition.

Kauage was among them and he was so impressed by this strange and puzzling event, that he decided to make drawings himself. But Kauage was totally lacking in confidence and so he began to make clumsy copies of illustrations he saw in school books. Through a friend he sent these drawings to Georgina. They were so uninteresting, they did not seem worth bothering about; but when Georgina finally met Kauage, she realised that these pitiful scribbles did not reflect the personality of the man.

Continue reading "Mathias Kauage – PNG’s greatest creative artist" »

Independence & development: development & cultural genocide

MARTYN NAMORONG | Part 2 of a two part series

DEVELOPMENT IS THE CREATION of the perception that an introduced culture is new, better, and superior to a prevailing culture or social order.

It is a perception that what exists in one society is inferior to another. It is the perception that a new product is better than an old product. It is the perception that progress is good without highlighting the negatives.

Truth is, development or progress can be good or bad or even both simultaneously.

Development has more in common with advertising than it has with creating fair and equitable societies.

It is cultural genocide to the extent that it creates the idea some cultures are inferior to others. It classifies inferior cultures as undeveloped and superior cultures as developed. It creates the perception of a developed world and an undeveloped world.

Because people buy into the idea that their cultures and societies are inferior, the feel the 'need' to attain the 'new', 'improved', 'advanced', 'modern' ideas, technologies, cultures, economic and political practices of another.

Let me clarify one thing. I understand that a stone axe is inferior as an effective tool for chopping trees. Thus, acquiring metal axes is development. And as soon as a people feel the need to acquire metal axes, an economic and power relationship develops where one party is superior to another.

The people who produce metal axes are automatically classified as a superior culture by those who have stone axes. The stone axe culture is classified as primitive by the metal axe culture.

Development is then defined in terms of acquisition of metal axes. The story of development is what happened when metal axes defined everything. This then led to influences in religion, language, politics, trade, etc.

But what if the stone axe culture was more equitable than the metal axe culture? What if the stone axe culture shared resources better while the metal axe culture exploited each other?

What if the stone axe culture was sailing the oceans way before the metal axe culture? Today a vehicle with large greenhouse emissions is viewed as progress compared to a donkey and cart.

People from the stone axe culture continue to be judged by the standard of the metal axe. They continue to depend on outsiders to supply metal axes. They are no longer in control of their destiny as they once were for thousands of years.

Even if they start producing their own axes, they are in effect judging themselves by the same standard and in effect stating that the other culture is superior.

Producing metal axes is not development. There's nothing new, innovative or advanced about replicating technology. Development is when the stone age culture leaps forward to producing light sabres!

Now you understand what drives the race between nations in technological innovation. It really is about who drives the global agenda of development and human progress based on the model of 'development'.

Continue reading "Independence & development: development & cultural genocide" »

Bougainville landowners are supportive of BCL

JEMIMA GARRETT | Radio Australia

LANDOWNERS ARE MEETING on Papua New Guinea's island of Bougainville to pave the way for the return of mining giant Rio-Tinto.

Rio's Panguna copper mine was the spark that ignited a decade-long civil war which left thousands dead and the economy of the island on its knees.

Two decades on, there is a growing consensus among landowners about re-opening the mine.

In this transcript from Radio Australia, Jemima Garrett speaks with John Momis (President of the Autonomous Government of Bougainville), Chris Damana (Interim Chairman of the Panguna Landowners Association) and Bernadine Kiraa (Chairwoman of the Panguna Lower Tailings Landowners Association).

GARRETT: Reconciliation is now the name of the game between landowners and Bougainville Copper - the Rio Tinto subsidiary that owns the Panguna copper mine.

It has been a long hard road.

Landowners have been holding talks among themselves and with the Autonmous Bougainville government for more than 2 years.

Earlier this month, there was something of a breakthrough - a three-way meeting between landowners, the Autonomous Bougainville government and Bougainville Copper.

Bernadine Kirra, is Chairwoman of the 3000 strong landowner group that suffered most during mining - the lower tailings landowners.

KIRAA: The meeting with BCL was a step forward. it was a very good meeting because we agreed at once some decisions that BCL has to meet before it decides to come to Bougainville.

GARRETT: And what is thew feeling amongst the women and the other landowners. do they want to see the mine re-opened, eventually?

KIRAA: Uh, yeah! Most people in mine-affected areas and all of Bougainville, we would very much want BCL to come back.


KIRAA: To help us with our economical recovery on Bougainville.

GARRETT: Bougainville's President John Momis says the meeting with BCL was very significant.

MOMIS: It was the first time that all the landowners were represented in the group that talked with us. In the past we had other big meetings but not all landowner groups were represented. But this time it was good.

GARRETT: And did the landowner groups include Mekamui and some of the landowner groups that have been hostile to Bougainville copper?

MOMIS: The landowner groups represented all the groups that have been listed as the legitimate landowners, which includes Mekamui, of course, yes.

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As election count nears end, the money starts to flow


THERE ARE TWO CRITICAL stages in the five-yearly Papua New Guinea national election process, and at both the politicians have to confront considerable challenges.

The first stage is the local or provincial constituency election: characterised by large numbers of candidates, many representing tribal and clan rather than national interests. The results are mostly determined on the basis of group loyalty and therefore group size.

The challenge is that of any local politician: how to get the numbers. Foot leather and gift giving play large roles.

The second stage comprises the bargaining and coercing that accompany the post-election period as party leaders seek to gain the numbers that will gain them power positions when parliament eventually sits. During this period, which has already begun even though counting is incomplete, the new members face a very different kind of challenge.

Of the first stage Reilly and Phillpot (‘Making Democracy Work in Papua New Guinea’, Asian Survey, v 42, n 6) wrote in 2002:

“[Elections provide an] arena in which traditional clan rivalries and tribal conflicts can be fought out…. In some areas, electoral contests provide a substitute arena in which traditional clan rivalries and tribal conflicts can be fought out. Elections can also reinforce the salience of clan and tribal affiliations…”

Given that the loyalties, reciprocities and accountabilities are largely local, there tends to be a disconnect between local elections and what happens on the broader national stage. To be blunt, at a local level, most people simply don’t care about the big picture.

It is arguable that most do not comprehend how decisions made in Port Moresby can affect them.

So it is not national politics or the big issues (like corruption) that are likely to influence their vote.

If the first stage is somewhat surreal in terms of national politics in PNG, then the second can be thoroughly venal.

And, in the context of Election 2012, the venality appears to be already showing itself.

Speaking on Radio New Zealand International, the head of Transparency International in Papua New Guinea, Lawrence Stephens, has voiced concern about this practice of political parties buying the support of MPs as the new government is being assembled.

Mr Stephens had this to say after visiting Manus Province, where two new MPs were declared very early in the national vote counting.

“As soon as one of the candidate’s election was confirmed, he was met outside by representatives of one party leader offering a jet aircraft or an aircraft of some sort to fly in, pick him up and take him to the lair of the party leader who wanted to meet with him,” Mr Stephens said.

“And there were even apparently discussions of the value associated with him being involved in that move.”

Mr Stephens said there is evidence that independents and MPs from smaller parties who have so far been declared winners of their seats are being targetted by the major parties.

He said the practice had been adopted in the past, but that the sums of money involved have now soared.

“Many of the players are talking in terms of very large amounts of booty,” he said, “and this is Transparency International’s ongoing concern.

“The fairly blatant corrupt activities that are taking place around buying and selling votes, and disappointment that members approached in this way do not lay official complaints with the police.”

Now this revelation was a case of ‘no names, no pack drill’ for Mr Stephens, but it is enough for us to appreciate the general point that the lack of accountability between national and local level is a critical enabler of this kind of corruption.

In most democracies, voters would not tolerate it; in PNG, by and large, they do not seem to care.

And so vote-buying amongst elected MPs is able to flourish. For many new parliamentarians it marks the beginning of the gravy train.

To the state of the leading parties mid-morning (I combine elected members with leading candidates to gain a clearer picture of party performance):


Elected & leading candidates...

People’s National Congress (O’Neill)




Triumph Heritage Empowerment (Polye)


PNG Party (Namah)


National Alliance (Somare)


United Resources Party (Duma)


People’s Progress Party (Chan)


People’s Party (Ipatas)



Immiserating a people: the Bewani logging scandal

Trevor Freestone, c 1966TREVOR FREESTONE

LOGGING IN THE VANIMO GREEN RIVER region of the West Sepik province in Papua New Guinea has shown a complete disregard for the rights or welfare of the villagers.

In 1990 logging rights were sold to a Malaysian logging company for an unknown sum. The extraction was supervised by the Forest Authority under the direction of then forestry minister, now deputy prime minister, Belden Namah.

It has been demonstrated that 70% of this logging was illegal. It is claimed that only 15% of timber cut down actually makes its way to Vanimo, most being used to fill in swamps and build bridges.

The local people have stated that, even though they were uneducated and unable to read or write Pidgin, they were forced to sign legal documents in English which they had no idea meant that they were signing away their rights to their timber.

They were employed on very low wages to help log timber in their traditionally owned forests. Once their timber had been harvested they were sacked.

There goes our forestThe people were encouraged to buy their food and other supplies from the company’s supermarket in Vanimo, where exorbitant prices were charged.

They needed to buy these supplies because the logging operation had destroyed their traditional sources of food within the rainforest.

Cutting timber - no safety gearIn spite of the Forest Authority claiming that logging companies offer training and safety equipment for chainsaw operators, evidence clearly shows this is untrue. One can see video evidence of villagers working as chainsaw operators with no safety equipment. Not even boots.

The claim that they have been trained in the correct method of felling timber is also incorrect. Anyone who knows how to fell a large tree would be horrified watching them.

The pristine rainforest has not only been destroyed; the rivers and creeks have been so polluted that the local villagers put their lives at risk whenever they wash or drink the water.

Washing up in the riverDiarrhoea and cholera are now common illnesses. Video evidence shows machinery being washed and the runoff going into the river system. Lack of toilet facilities also means that waste finds its way into creeks and rivers.

Now that the forest has been destroyed, plans are underway to create oil palm plantations – an economic activity of dubious benefit to the local people.

The pristine forest of 1966The villagers have stated they are now far worse off than they have ever been and no longer have their beautiful rainforest to supply them with sago and other foods.

I know hindsight is useless but it is sad to know that if the rainforest had been left alone the villagers could in today’s world receive millions of dollars under various carbon trading schemes.

Independence & development: economic & political independence

MARTYN NAMORONG | Part 1 of a two part series

ONE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS behind the creation of nation states is the right of a people to self determination.

Self-determination is about a people being in charge of their destiny. The idea of a people being fully in charge of their own affairs is expressed in the word sovereignty.

Sovereignty of a people expresses itself as political independence, economic independence and cultural and societal independence.

Political independence in its fullness, finds itself in the way political power is exercised by the citizens of a nation state. In order for citizens to exercise these powers, they must have greater political capital than any organization, institution or foreign influence.

A nation state in which it's citizens have less political capital than other third parties, is not a politically independent state.

I have decided to use political capital as a marker of true political independence as it expresses who has greater influence on the agenda of a nation's highest legislative entity- parliament.

Declarations of independence and the creation of parliaments are mere symbols of the desire of a people to have full power and authority to execute decisions about the destiny of their nation. 

Parliaments and constitutions are symbols of authority. Ultimately, though, the exercise of authority or the execution of powers is determinant on whether the authority has the resource capacity.

If the authority has its own resources, it exercises its own powers. If the authority has its resource needs supplied by a third party, its powers are exercised merely as the will of the third party.

If theaAuthority has its needs supplied by its people, then it expresses the will of the people.

If one looks at the relationship between resource ownership or wealth and the exercise of political power, one understands that political power is based upon the ownership of wealth.

In other words, economic independence of a nation, produces true political independence of a nation state. Political independence is only a facade if the nation is not economically independent.

In any context, economic independence means local ownership of resources and the means of production for the utilization of natural wealth (aka natural resources). Local ownership is crucial to having the general will of the people being expressed through a political authority.

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Poverty is driving child labour in urban PNG

CATHERINE WILSON | IPS | Safe World for Women

Tembari-Childrens-CareIN AN INFORMAL SETTLEMENT of 10,000 people on the outskirts of Port Moresby, Tembari Children’s Care – a new grassroots initiative – is providing protection, food and education to orphans and abandoned children who would otherwise join the high numbers of child labourers in this Melanesian country.

Hayward Sagembo and his wife, Penny, who live in Nine Mile Settlement, became deeply concerned by the numbers of children neglected and orphaned due to their parents dying of AIDS or other causes.

“So we decided to start an organisation that would help some of them,” Sagembo told IPS. “Tembari Children’s Care started underneath our house in 2003 and we managed it there for eight years.”

With the contribution of two shipping containers by the Papua New Guinean Digicel Foundation, which have been converted into classrooms, and donations of food and materials by local businesses, the centre is able to provide the most vulnerable children with daily meals, school fees and some clothes. Elementary to pre-school education is provided to 120 young children and day care to 280 who are homeless.

“Most of the children are malnourished and since they have been in our care their health has really improved,” Sagembo continued. “Through our early education program, they have gained confidence and gone on to schools where they have won prizes.”

But he emphasised there were many more children in need.

“Sixty percent of children in the settlement are vulnerable and TCC is the only children’s centre at Nine Mile. We are able to help 3-4 out of 10 children.  If our centre did not exist, these children would be living on the streets without shelter and resorting to child labour to survive,” he said.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Asia Pacific region, which is the most child populous region in the world, is home to the largest number of child labourers aged 5-17 years, even though number of children in employment in the region declined from 122.3 million in 2004 to 96.4 million in 2008.

Earlier this year the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) and TACKLE – a four-year joint project between the European Union, the African, Caribbean and Pacific group (ACP) Secretariat and the ILO to fight child labour through education initiatives – released a report on child labour in Papua new Guinea.

Between 2010 and 2011, the report team surveyed children working on the streets and those involved in commercial sexual exploitation in Port Moresby and found that children comprise 19% of the nation’s labour market of 2.5 million economically active people.

The findings of the report were based on a survey of 404 children in the capital. Accurate national statistics on child labour are still unknown.

Continue reading "Poverty is driving child labour in urban PNG" »

Indonesia asks PNG to revoke Djoko's citizenship

RANGGA PRAKOSO | Jakarta Globe

INDONESIA HAS REQUESTED that corruption fugitive Djoko Tjandra’s Papua New Guinean citizenship be revoked, saying that the businessman falsified immigration documents when escaping to PNG.

Deputy Attorney General Darmono has said that Peter Ilau, PNG’s ambassador in Jakarta, told him during their meeting last Sunday that his government would evaluate Djoko’s status.

“To become a citizen of a country, people should be free from legal problems. We believe that Djoko has falsified his data to hide his status as a graft convict. He should be deported because of that,” Darmono said.

Papua New Guinean authorities decided to grant citizenship to Djoko last month. They reportedly announced that he was cleared of the graft charges.

“We have given all of the evidence we have to prove he is a graft convict in Indonesia. I think there should be no more reason for Papua New Guinea to keep his citizenship,” Darmono said.

Djoko was among several foreigners who received a certificate of citizenship last month by the Immigration and Citizenship Advisory Committee of PNG.

PNG’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Ano Pala said he agreed with Djoko’s request, based on the recommendation of the committee.

“He was not a fugitive, not a criminal. He never faced a civil law suit — he was not convicted of a criminal offense, according to information we got from our High Commissioner,” Pala said in an interview with Radio Australia.

“The information was forwarded to the advisory committee and on the basis of their recommendations, [a person can be] handed citizenship.”

Djoko faces a two-year prison sentence and a fine of Rp15 million for his role in the scandal, which involved his now-defunct Bank Bali paying a $70 million “commission” to Era Giat Prima, one of Djoko’s companies, which was linked to the then-ruling Golkar Party, for help in the recovery of loans owed by the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency.

While witnesses have suggested Golkar Party treasurer Setya Novanto received kickbacks in the case, no formal allegations have been levelled against him since the scandal emerged.

Djoko is also reportedly wanted by Interpol after he fled Indonesia in 2009, hours before the Supreme Court convicted him of embezzling Rp586 billion ($62 million).

Writer Jeff Febi well placed in early counting in Lufa


Jeff Febi and companions on the campaign trailPRIZE WINNING WRITER Jeffrey Mane Febi is doing well in early counting in the Lufa Open electorate (Eastern Highlands). Counting began yesterday.

Last year, Jeff won the Crocodile Prize for Short Stories in the inaugural national literary awards. He is also a talented poet.

While on the campaign trail he wrote two articles for PNG Attitude, which you can read here and here.

We’ll keep you informed of Jeff’s progress as the count in Lufa proceeds.

And, as I completed this short piece, the email alarm pinged and out spurted a short poem just written by Jeff….

Election bullshit

Fortune they spent
A tune they sent
Then dreams they see
And dance they in glee
But what of the bullshit?
Heart a many witness it!
So now who is to blame?
For this isn't a game!
Tell me now while I wait
Yell as if it is not a bait.

O’Neill has nose in front for PM – but traps lie ahead


THERE ARE 111 SEATS to be filled in the next Papua New Guinea parliament and less than one-quarter (27) have been declared so far. But the shape of the power structure is beginning to emerge.

The superior organisation of Peter O’Neill’s People’s National Congress is seen in its strong performance across the nation and, given that the current trend continues, it could end up with one-third of the seats in the new parliament.

That’s not a bad base for beginning to assemble a coalition government even though some of the other contenders (read Polye, Namah and Somare) will not be all that keen about being support players


Seats leading or
elected in...

People’s National Congress (O’Neill)




Triumph Heritage Empowerment (Polye)


PNG Party (Namah)


National Alliance (Somare)


United Resources Party (Duma)


People’s Progress Party (Chan)


On the numbers so far, and given that the counting continues along present lines, you would think that O’Neill will form a government.

But I have a sneaking suspicion that, given that he wins his seat (which now seems likely), Namah will spring a surprise or two.

He'll seek to recruit both from the pretty large group of Independents and use his great powers of persuasion to test the loyalties of some of the newly elected members who at first glance appear ‘bound’ by other parties.

By the way, so far 11 sitting members in the 27 seats declared have been tossed out by voters - that's 40% and indicates a very much 'new look' parliament on the backbenches. The top power structure in PNG remains, however. Experienced - but divided.

Anyway, let’s look at what’s been happening in some of the more interesting seats not yet declared.

Lae Open

Long time sitting member Bart Philemon (New Generation Party) has fallen into third place 150 votes behind Independent Fred Wak. But in this seat the voting is very close, with five candidates within 1,000 votes of each other and lots of preferences to spread around. The leading woman candidate, Loujaya Toni (Indigenous Peoples Party) is running fifth but, depending upon preferences, still in with a chance.

Sohe Open

Dellilah Gore (Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party) has been the frontrunner throughout in this very closely fought seat. She’s about 600 votes ahead of her nearest rival in a contest in which any one of ten candidates could win.

Sinasina-Yongomugl Open

The first results are coming in from Simbu, where counting is at a very early stage. Down in the Sinasina, troubled parliamentary Speaker Jeffrey Nape (Rural Development Party), recently charged with ‘undue influence and bribery’, is running third, but it seems the ballot boxes from his strongholds haven’t been opened yet.

Vanimo-Green River Open

Deputy prime minister Belden Namah (PNG Party) was trailing two Independents for much of the count but seems to have a firm grip on the winner’s podium now, being 2,500 votes ahead of the second-placed candidate. There will be a lot of preferences to count but Belden’s back. PNG Greens Dorothy Tekwie was never in the hunt

East Sepik Provincial

It’s all over bar the shouting in Sir Michael Somare’s seat. The Grand Chief is back with a vengeance and doesn’t need a lot of preferences to get over the line. With over 84,000 votes, Somare (National Alliance) is well ahead of the second placed Allan Bird (Pangu) with about 44,000.

Sumkar Open

Fascinating contest between the outspoken MP Ken Fairweather (People’s National Congress) and the outspoken former Defence Force commander, Brig Gen (ret) Jerry Singirok (Pangu). Singorok trails by 2,000 votes but there are lots and lots of preferences.

National Capital District Provincial

Governor Powes Parkop (Social Democratic Party) has a huge 6,000 vote lead on current runner up Wari Vele (People’s National Congress) in a large field. But, as is the case in so many seats, the vote has spread itself across lots of hopefuls and preferences will decide the outcome. My view is that Powes would have to seized by aliens to lose.

Northern Provincial

One candidate who would truly grace the national parliament is former top civil servant Garry Juffa (People's Movement for Change) who has slightly extended his lead in this close fought seat. With 6,400 votes, Juffa is 1,300 ahead of Allen Mesa (PNG Country Party) in a large field of candidates, many of whom have recorded substantial numbers of votes.

Australia wants transparency as Indon troops to Papua


AUSTRALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER Bob Carr raised sensitive issues relating to alleged human rights abuses and violence in Indonesia’s poorest province, Papua, during a meeting with his Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa on Monday.

Marty said that Carr told him Australia wanted the Indonesian government to promote transparency in matters concerning Papua.

“But he also reiterated the principal position of Australia: that it recognizes Indonesia’s integrity and sovereignty which includes Papua,” Marty said after the meeting Carr.

“We’ve quietly worked with the Indonesians to see that there, as elsewhere, reasonable standards of human rights protection are maintained,” Carr said in Yogyakarta.

The Papua issue has remained a sensitive issue for most Indonesian politicians, particularly when it comes to the role of Australia.

Many have regularly blamed Australia and the Western countries for meddling in the province’s affairs, alleging that they have engineered the worsening security through their sponsored NGOs.

Indonesia’s obvious concern is that Papua may end up breaking away from Indonesia as in the case of Timor Leste, which benefited from intense advocacy and support from Australia and the West world before its independence from Indonesia in 2002.

The government has also remained the subject of criticism for failing to resolve the prolonged violence in Papua, including a series of deadly shootings.

Dozens of civilians, police and military personnel have been killed in various locations in Papua over the past few months.

The latest bloody incident was the killing of a soldier and two civilians last week.

With the killing remaining mostly unresolved, the Indonesian Military, police and intelligence services have been blamed by human rights activists for having a role in allegedly creating the security instability in the province for their own ends.

Papua is home to the operations of US-based Freeport McMoran, one of the world’s biggest gold miners, and London-based energy company BP.

With the protracted violence, Papua has probably the world’s highest ratio of police and soldiers to civilians.

With around 2.85 million people, Papua has more than 20,000 TNI personnel and 25,000 police officers.

The TNI is building up its forces in Papua by sending more troops to help secure the border with PNG, which has been used as a refuge by members of the Free Papua Movement.

Politicians should respect integrity of public office

MARTIN KOMBRI | PNG Perspectives

IN DEVELOPED DEMOCRACIES like England, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and elsewhere, people who hold public office and become the subject of allegations and investigations for any misconduct in office often either readily resign or step aside to allow for due process of the law to take its proper course.

This they do out of respect for themselves and their own integrity and the integrity of the office they hold and the institutions they are part of as well as respect for the law.

This is most noble, respectful and a demonstration of true leadership in difficult times for the sake of good administration, governance and the greater interest of the nation.

The tradition of voluntary stepping down, in light of allegations and accusations of misconduct in office or criminal conduct of a public office holder, became part of PNG’s democracy and tradition.

At least two leaders, as far as we are aware, respectively resigned and stood down from office in such circumstances.

The first leader was Opai Kunangil. What he did is recorded in the decision of the court (Supreme Court) cited as SCR No 2 of 1982; Re Opai Kunangil Amin (1991) PNGLR 1.

The other leader was Sir Julius Chan who decided to step down as Prime Minister during the 1997 Sandline mercenary crisis.

Since then right up until this month’s general election, it is unfortunately fast becoming the norm for most leaders in PNG, who are the subject of allegations and investigation for misconduct in office and or criminal offence, to continue to occupy their respective offices and continue to function and are readily applying for stay or injunctive orders.

Some of them are even interfering into the proper conduct of investigations and proper conclusions of such investigations.

Others are doing everything they possibly can to remain in office, continue to function and in most instances are either committing more misconduct in office – from tempering with evidence, interfering with witnesses, swindling funds – or otherwise seriously abusing their powers knowing that they may not last long in those offices.

Martin Kombri is a PNG lawyer This article was originally published on Sharp Talk and PNG Perspectives

Tighter controls wanted on Australian chook imports


THE PAPUA NEW GUINEA chicken industry is calling for tighter quarantine controls on the importation of uncooked Australian chickens.

General manager of Zenag Chicken, Stanley Leahy, said Australia is dumping chickens on the PNG market, undercutting local producers.

He says the industry provides works for tens of thousands of people in PNG and while Australia might be in the middle of a price war, dumping excess raw product in PNG is damaging.

Mr Leahy says PNG wants the same bio-security controls that Australia applies to foods it is importing.

“From a quarantine perspective we should be able to stop a lot of these uncooked imports coming in,” Mr Leahy said.

“More seriously than just the short term harm it is causing our industry, there are also serious disease threats.

“Papua New Guinea is amongst a handful of countries in the world that are free of the worst avian diseases, far cleaner disease status than Australia has.

“So one of our biggest concerns about this stuff coming in from Australia, as well as the fact that everyone is having to slow down production, is the disease risk.”

Nautilus & PNG agree to arbitration over Solwara 1


NAUTILUS MINERALS IS CONTINUING to work with Papua New Guinea in an effort to resolve the monetary dispute over the 30% stake the PNG government holds in the proposed Solwara 1 underwater mine.

Nautilus is the first company to explore the ocean floor for prospective minerals and is developing its first project at Solwara 1, where it is aiming to produce copper, gold and silver.

Nautilus and PNG have agreed on the appointment of former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, Murray Gleeson, as the arbitrator.

The arbitration will be conducted in Sydney under established arbitration rules and may take several months to conclude, provided that Nautilus and PNG comply with the timetable set by the arbitrator and act in accordance with the rules.

Last Friday PNG issued the company with a second notice of arbitration in relation to disputes concerning certain statements made by the parties and whether such statements were made in accordance with the agreement.

According to Nautilus, PNG has yet to pay for its 30% stake in the project.

Oops, there goes the dynasty… Arthur loses seat


Arthur-somareARTHUR SOMARE, FORMER MINISTER and son of Papua New Guinea's Grand Chief, this afternoon lost his seat of Angoram in the East Sepik Province.

After a close tussle, Somare (National Alliance) was defeated in the final count by inveterate candidate (he first stood for election in 1982) Ludwig Schulze (Pangu), who finished with 11,800 votes to Somare’s 10,624.

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 and may be expected to support him in the new parliament.

Like many PNG politicians, Arthur Somare has been a controversial figure. He was first elected in 1997 and served in a number of ministries including Communications, Planning, Public Enterprises, Information and Development.

As Minister for Public Enterprises, Somare was responsible for the Independent Public Business Corporation, the sole shareholder of Air Niugini, Telikom, PNG Power, Ports PNG, PNG Waterboard, and other businesses.

He was considered to be one of the key political tacticians of the National Alliance.

Losing his seat is the greatest hiccough in his career, but he’s had a few previously.

In 2006, he resigned as Minister for National Planning and Monitoring over alleged “financial improprieties”. He was soon reappointed but, in July last year, was suspended for “misconduct in office”.

Somare has also been accused by the respected one time prime minister Sir Mekere Morauta of squandering state funds through poor business decisions, malpractice and misappropriation of funds for personal gain, including lavish homes in Australia and visits to Singapore.

Footnote: The seat hasn't been declared yet, but Trade Minister and occasional PNG Attitude contributor Charles Abel has easily won Alotau for the People's National Congress.

Tabubil shines the sun on the Crocodile Prize


NASA Landsat image of TabubilTHERE’S NO DOUBT ABOUT those good folks at Tabubil in the Star Mountains of the Western Province: they are great supporters of the Crocodile Prize national literary contest.

When the call went out last week for funding to ensure we could manage a respectable first edition of the Crocodile Prize Anthology 2012, it resonated in the mountains and, between the people there and other generous sponsors, organisers are now able to fund an initial print of 2,000 copies of the book.

The Tabubil settlement, a company town that services the Ok Tedi copper mine, is located in dense jungle and records one of the highest rainfalls in the world.

But there’s no raining on parades from any of the companies out there near the Indonesian border when it comes to good corporate citizenship.

Paul A Povey, managing director of the MRSM Group of Companies, has been a wonderful supporter of the Prize and, this time around, arranged for two of MRSM’s subsidiaries - Fubilan Catering Services and Tabubil Engineering Ltd – to donate K1,000 each to the printing program.

Meanwhile Nigel Parker, managing director and CEO of Ok Tedi Mining Limited, was hatching a plan of his own and authorised a $5,000 gift to the Prize – which will print about 500 books.

OTML is already the sponsor of the award for women’s literature; Paul Povey is an important private donor; and the Star Mountains Institute of Technology is a notable supporter.

It’s a magnificent display of community spiritedness by all these good folks.

Some crucial questions about Vanimo-Green River


Logging near Vanimo (Seymour Greene)I SPENT TWO YEARS teaching in Pagei (now renamed Bewani) and on weekends the school children would take me on excursions into the rainforest. We even walked from Pagei to Vanimo through the rainforest, which took four days for the return journey.

So, along with the patrol officers who opened up the place, I am familiar with this area. It is very sparsely populated with only a few villages. During my time there I visited them all.

That someone might have made millions of dollars in the Vanimo - Green River area would have raise suspicions.

The main concerns I have about the logging that has been happening in this pristine area are these:

1. Who gave the companies the right to log and where did the millions of dollars go?

2. How is it that 139,509 hectares of customary land was taken from villagers who did not give approval for this acquisition under the SABL scheme?

3. How is it possible for politicians to own secret bank accounts in American Samoa, Fiji, Hong Kong and Singapore - and why?

4. Have any of the promises made to villagers about hospitals, schools and jobs on the illegally acquired palm oil project been kept?

5. It has been claimed that 20 politicians are being investigated by the Ombudsman Commission on instructions from Task Force Sweep. Is Belden Namah one of these politicians? What is his involvement in the Bewani oil palm fiasco?

6. Why has the company involved in the oil palm plantations (in which Belden Namah has a large interest) been given taxation exemptions for the next 10 years? Surely this tax money should be made available to the Local Level Governments to improve the area’s facilities.

7. Has Belden used some of his ill-gotten gains to buy votes in this extremely poor community who have seen their rainforest destroyed and don't seem to have gained anything except idle promises?

Emperor in his own mindFinally I hope that Task Force Sweep does investigate Mr Namah and he definitely should not be allowed to take part in the new government until his name has been cleared. Any money that has been obtained illegally must be returned to the Bewani people.

And a comment about that infamous photo of Belden being carried on a chair. Politicians are there to support and carry the people, not to be carried around by the people. Shame on you, Belden.

My name is Sandy

IMELDA YABARA | The Crocodile Prize

SHE SAT SHIVERING. Constantly checking whether her skirt was covering her breasts, pulling it with trembling hands up again and again. Silently she mouthed a prayer thanking God that she had worn a long skirt that day.

Outside the sun shone but no sunlight shone through the window. It was blocked by the people staring in.

She closed her eyes trying to shut out the eyes.

“You okay?” he snapped in Pidgin, Papua New Guinea’s second language, before slapping the file down on the table between them. She looked up at him. He threw down a black t-shirt and motioned for her to put it on before he pulled back a chair and plonked down.

She pulled the t-shirt over her head. Then reached under it and carefully worked her skirt back down until she felt the waistband back around her waist. Once again she wrapped her arms around her body.

“You’re lucky, they only hit you, cut you and ripped your clothes off. Other women have been in far worse situations,” he said while looking at the people staring in. “What were you doing walking alone in the first place? You should know better. What did you expect when you put yourself in that sort of position?” he asked.

“I … was walking to work,” she explained.

“Well next time go with someone,” he retorted. “How many?” he asked tapping his pen against the table as he looked at the ‘Domestic Violence is a Crime’ poster on the light blue cement wall.

“Three,” she said quietly while reaching to her back. She pulled out the shirt stop it sticking to her back.

“What, speak up, what is wrong with you?” he snapped.

“Three,” she tried again this time louder.

“What weapons did they have?” he asked.

“A rifle, bush knife and a kitchen knife,” she told him closing her eyes feeling faint. “They ca … me out from the overgrown grass on the vacant plot on the other side of the highway and.... called me to wait for them, so I ran across the umm .. highway to get to the other side,” she carried on, not stopping.

“That’s why they hit you and cut you, you should have listened to them,” he scolded her.

“I thought……that. If ... if I got to the other side of the .. the road then I could follow  the iron fence and try to make it to the residential…housing area which is just before the warehouse where I worked but ... they reached me before I got there..” she looked at him, bending up and down trying to make eye contact.

He kept shaking his head.

“Is there someone you want to call to pick you up or do you want us to drop you off at the hospital to get those cuts look at?” he asked looking at her for the second time since he walked through the door.

“I want to call ...” she said.

“Use the phone on the table,” he said while pushing out the chair to stand up.

She gulped before saying, “ex ... excuse me sir.”

He turned and glared. “Yesssss,” he ground slowly out.

“Did…. ummmm…did you get them and don ... don’t you want to hear the rest of the story?,” she asked steeling herself not to look away.

“No vehicle, besides they probably already ran away…and you should be thankful nothing bad happened, did they rape you?” he growled.

She shook her head.  He turned and left.

She sat staring at the doorway after he left, before turning and looking at the people staring in. Only three remained.

“Shame, shame on you,” she spat out. Two left, one stayed put, a grin spreading on his face. They stared at each other until he turned his head.

“Bitch,” he mumbled as he walked away.

Minutes later she heard Rose’s voice asking where she was. Rose burst in the room. She came to a dead stop.

“Let’s just go home,” she said, struggling to keep her voice in check.

Rose nodded, “Oh my god you’re cut, your arms are cut,” she said blinking rapidly trying to stop the tears from escaping.

“Rose, pleassse…,” she pleaded.

Nodding again Rose helped her up and they made their way out the door and down the corridor to the front desk where her interviewer sat talking to another officer who glanced at them.

“Are you okay?,” the officer asked coming out and attempting to take her other arm before realizing it had blood soaked strips of cloth tied around them.

“Sandy,” she blurted out.

“What?” Rose asked her confused.

“My name is Sandy,” she said again, louder almost screeching. “My name is Sandy, you didn’t even ask my name to put on your report," Sandy said. “So I am telling you … it’s Sandy and I’ll get my husband to follow up to see if there is any progress,” she screeched at the interviewer whose lip curled and twitched as he stared at her.

Then Sandy saw her husband tearing in, his face scrunched in anger, and the tears she had held back so long fell free.

“I’ll be back,” her husband told the officer, who was now asking the interviewer for Sandy’s file, before gently steering her to the car.

“Thankful, he said, I should be thankful,” Rose heard Sandy say over and over again as she tried to hold Sandy trying to stop her shivering. Sandy jerked back. Rose pulled her arm away then realized her inner arm was covered with blood.

“My arms, legs and my back hurt,” Sandy moaned as her husband maneuvered the car out of the police station car park. At the end of the driveway, he stopped.

“Hospital?” he asked no one in particular, staring at his wife’s black eyes, split swollen lips and bruised cheeks through the rear view mirror.

“Quickly,” Rose said watching her sister-in-law talking to herself.

Imelda Yabara (36) was born in Port Moresby and lives in Madang.  Her partner is a magistrate and she follows him around the country. She is the mother of two girls and, when time permits, loves writing. She was an entrant in last year’s competition and two of her poems were published in the Crocodile Prize Anthology 2011

Belden mounts charge as vote count goes 24/7


PAPUA NEW GUINEA’S Electoral Commission is conducting round-the-clock shifts to get vote counting for the general election complete by the end of next week.

And counting in Simbu and Eastern Highlands only started yesterday, with officials being trained at the last minute.

Three weeks of polling to choose a new 111-member parliament has now finished but counting is slow in many electorates and the PNGEC is struggling to meet the 26 July deadline.

“What’s happening in the Highlands is that they’re going to be working 24/7, they’re going to work the counting on shifts,” said RNZI correspondent Titi Gabi. “It’s going to be challenging but we have to meet that deadline.”

Meanwhile, the PNGEC website last night was declaring 14 candidates elected, with all major political parties represented in their number.

After days of trailing two independents, Belden Namah slipped into the lead yesterday as counting moved to ballot boxes from his strongholds in the West Sepik electorate of Vanimo-Green River.

With about 19,000 votes counted, he had a lead of 300 over independent Willie Inaru. PNG Greens candidate Dorothy Tekwie was a distant seventh.

Namah will need plenty of preferences but it seems he will be returned – and become an assertive challenger for the prime ministership.

Amongst the MPs already elected there are also prime ministerial aspirants Don Polye (Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party), Peter O’Neill (People’s National Congress) and possibly Paul Tiensten (People's United Assembly).

Other MPs declared elected last night were Sam Basil (PNG Party), Joel Sungi (National Alliance), Allan Marat (Melanesian Liberal Party), John Simon (National Alliance), James Marape (People’s National Congress), Charlie Benjamin (People’s National Congress), Paul Isikiel (People’s National Congress), Ronny Knight (New Generation Party), Julius Chan (People's Progress Party), Ben Micah (People's Progress Party) and Byron Chan (People’s Progress Party).

Bubbling under - on the verge of winning - are William Duma (United Resources Party), Michael Somare (National Alliance), Puka Temu (Our Development Party), Anderson Agiru (People's United Assembly), Philip Nai (Triumph Heritage Empowerment) and Charles Abel (People's National Congress).

State of the Parties (members elected & leading) 

People’s National Congress – Peter O’Neill


Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party – Don Polye


PNG Party – Belden Namah


National Alliance – Michael Somare


United Resources Party – William Duma


People’s Progress Party – Julius Chan




Media concern over election count bans


AS THE ELECTION RESULTS from Papua New Guinea continue to flow in, the country's national media workers association has joined the Pacific Freedom Forum in its concern over returning officers interfering with media work at two provincial centres.

The PNG Media Workers association and regional media monitoring network say the public right to know polling results came under threat last week. In two separate incidents, journalists at polling centres in the Western Highlands and Morobe provinces were banned from doing their jobs.

Journalists at the centres reported last Monday that the returning officer for the Huon/Gulf electorate in Morobe demanded payments for release of information from Lae-based journalists, and verbally abused an NBC reporter.

Two days later, another returning officer overseeing the counting for the Hagen Open polls in the Western Highlands banned media from reporting the results.

"We are concerned over the incidents affecting the ability of media to get on with the work of reporting the polling results. Keeping journalists away from reporting the results of the counting shuts the door on the people relying on news for updates, and robs the public of their right to know," says PFF chair Titi Gabi, from PNG.

Gabi is also a founding member of the PNG Media Workers Association and is currently leading a media support group at the Elections Media Centre.

The reporting of the incidents to Ms Gabi led to a speedy resolution of the issues. Journalists -- some of whom had wanted to boycott the elections after their harassment, resumed their usual observation and reporting of the results where the incidents took place.

Genetic evidence: cannibalism common in human past

SAM KEAN | Slate Magazine | Extracts

HUMANS IN DURESS EAT OTHER HUMANS, always have. A 100-pound adult, after all, could provide his starving comrades with around 40 pounds of precious muscle protein, plus edible fat, liver, blood, and gristle.

Some archaeological evidence suggests that humans have tucked into each other even when not famished. But for years, it was unclear whether most non-starvation cannibalism was religiously motivated and selective, or culinary and routine. According to some scientists, our DNA suggests routine….

Cannibalism per se isn’t bad for you; you can even spoon up and eat most human brains safely. But if your guest of honor happened to suffer from Creutzfeldt-Jakob or another prion disease, those misshapen proteins can slither into your own gray matter when you eat him. This exact scenario unfolded in Papua New Guinea last century, among some highland mountain tribes who consumed their relatives in ritual funeral feasts.

At its peak in the late 1950s, the PNG epidemic killed 200 tribal members per year. Strangely, though, while many victims died as children, some people exposed to prions lived four decades or more before succumbing. And some people who consumed tainted brains never showed any symptoms.

DNA explained the discrepancy. More than three-quarters of the long-term survivors had two different versions of the prion gene. Both versions produced healthy, functioning proteins, despite their slightly different shapes. The shapes made a difference only when people ate tainted brains, and faced an invasion of the infectious vampire prions.

While the bad prions could latch onto one of the two shapes just fine, the other shape could shrug them off and avoid corruption. Overall, then, having two different versions of the prion gene slowed the destruction down.

If the word “prion” has been tickling the back of your brain until now, that’s probably because of the outbreak of mad-cow disease in the United Kingdom in the 1990s. Mad-cow is a prion disease that arose when humans ate cows that had been forced to cannibalize each other on factory farms.

Continue reading "Genetic evidence: cannibalism common in human past" »

Fire truck

BIANGO BUIA | The Crocodile Prize

BANGI WAS ALWAYS NOISY in his class and the teacher Miss Sama Saki put him up with a girl called Dorrtie.

Dorrtie was a “nice girl” said all the teachers in the school. She never said bad words, was never late, an obedient girl and always very clean.

iss Sama had thought that if she put Dorrtie and Bangi on the same desk then there was a chance that Bangi would quieten down and that maybe some or all of Dorrtie’s goodness would rub off on to Bangi.

Bangi and Dorrtie were in grade three at the Morehead Primary School in the South Fly District of the Western Province.

While they were the same age at 11, in the same school, in the same grade, and on the same desk, they were very different in outlook. Some teachers suggested that they appeared more like an angel and the devil on the same desk!

While in Grade 3 Bangi, his village friends, Wills and Boni and Mila the son of the Head Teacher were playing marbles at the edge of the school yard on a dry Saturday afternoon. After playing for some time Bangi ran into the nearby scrub, pulled done the front of his shorts and began to pass urine.

His friends heard some giggling from the scrub and ran to see what Bangi was giggling about. What they saw was quite funny. Bangi was spraying the lizards in the scrub and the lizards were running in every direction to avoid the “mighty waterfalls” of Bangi.

It looked so funny that the other boys pulled down the front of their shorts and also started spraying the lizards. It was so funny to see the whole lizard population in and around the scrub running for cover in all directions.

The boys laughed long about this situation. But sad to say the young boys ran dry of “ammunition” to the relief of the lizard population.

Then Bangi suggested, “Let us go drink more water or anything that would make us pass more urine and chase the lizards again.”

Then Mila, said quite excitedly, “Hey Bangi, you know when my father drinks beer how they always go to the toilet to pass urine at short intervals.”

Bangi screamed; “Yes Mila”.

Mila said, “Well my father and Dorrties’ father were drinking last weekend and when the Pastor came to see how we were going they hid the beer bottles at the back of our garden”.

“Okay, Mila run right now and find the bottles,” commanded Bangi.

 Mila ran as fast as he could and returned in record time with the three bottles.

Wills and Boni were quite nervous now.

 “Bangi, you are not going to drink beer are you?” they asked.

 “Well, not drink but we want to chase the lizards and we need the water, so that’s why we will drink.”

Bangi opened one bottle and drank a mouth full. The taste was terrible but he subdued any signs of yuckiness and offered it to the other boys.

In a short time the boys had lowered the front of their shorts and were at it again, wetting all the lizards in the surroundings. It was quite funny because the boys were literally “operating on fire truck mode”, with their little “water sprinklers” ahead of them.

Continue reading "Fire truck" »

We are the children of God


We have been under the hostage and murderers,
We have been the prisoner’s pain, We have been the storms of betrayed,
We’ve watched our World sinking. 

We’ve seen our stream bloody river, We’ve heard the screams of agony,
We’ve seen hardness and stand broken. We’ve seen with our eyes and never say.

But now we’re rising from the ashes. And we are holding out our hands,
And we touch you with our story, See through your eyes and understand.

We know no comfort, we know no shelter. We know no wrong, we know no right.
We’ve neither glory nor metal, Just the terror of the night.

They felt that in Bougainville, in highland regions of PNG and in Solomon Islands.
We will be bitter the battle. Be friends to us and say no more-wars.
They play the games and he will rule them. They play the rules that never ill.
For them, there’s no fidelity. For us the killing is real.

You say it’s just the distance thunder, Look into your hearts and you will see.
These are your Sons, and your Daughters .They are you and they are me.

We have all kinds of peace, Inside ourselves,
We have all kinds of love, When the world goes before,
And they know kinds of love.

We can save your lives.
We are  -  We are the children of God creation.

Pusateryanna Tandak (13) was born on Santo in Vanuatu.  Her father comes from Pina Village near Wabag in Enga Province and her mother comes from Vanuatu.  She is a student in Year Seven at St Michelle Secondary School in Luganville on Santo.  When she finishes her Year 10 studies she hopes to go to Papua New Guinea to finish off her education

Glacial progress - national election count grinds on


VotingOBSERVING THE PAPUA NEW GUINEA general election count can be a bit like watching corrugated iron rust: nothing much happens for a long time and, when it does, it catches you by surprise.

The PNG Electoral Commission website is doing its best to keep up with counting as the election enters its fourth week.

So far 33 of the 111 seats, most of them in the highlands, have not reported any results.

Four seats have now been declared, including that of prime minister Peter O’Neill and sitting member Byron Chan in Namatanai.

Women candidates continue to poll poorly – with only one, Dellilah Gore, leading, and then very narrowly.

In terms of how the political parties are making out, Peter O'Neill's People's National Congress leads in 18 seats, followed by Triumph Heritage Empowerment (Don Polye, leading in 9); Independents (9); National Alliance (Michael Somare, 8); and the PNG Party (Belden Namah, 8).

Our round up provides you with the latest information on some of the more interesting seats and candidates.

In a number of cases we’ve linked to previous stories in PNG Attitude to provide more background and description.

Continue reading "Glacial progress - national election count grinds on" »

Street child! Nakan of Madang town

STANLEY MARK | The Crocodile Prize

LITTLE NAKAN HURRIES ACROSS the busy lane to pick up the empty 500 ml Sprite container thrown into the rusty buai stained rubbish drum.

His skinny left fingers hold firmly a white plastic bag containing a couple of empty containers while his right fingers cling on to his buckle, pulling it up to his skinny waist every second, making sure not to let it fall and expose his undernourished legs.

His sun-burnt forehead and cheeks overflow with sweat, showing he has roamed the avenues of Madang town all day for empty containers. He has no choice. He must collect containers in order to eat and survive.

Seven year old, Nakan Akus comes from Tambunum village in the East Sepik province. He lives with his mother and four brothers and sister at the Wagol settlement, a few blocks from the Lae Building Contractor’s headquarter in Madang.

His father had left them for Lae longpela taim and they have not heard from him. The K50 his father was paid working as a bus crew wasn’t enough for both food and school fees, so Nakan had to leave Kusbau Primary School at Grade 2 in 2006.

However, as the first born in the family, he has the responsibility to take care of them.

It all began on one Monday morning, when two of his pals from the settlement persuaded him to follow them to Madang town. He was bewildered to see them going from one rubbish bin to another picking empty 500 ml Coca Cola, Sprite and Fanta containers.

He didn’t trust his pals when they told him that the containers would make them a great fortune by the end of the day when they smilingly received a bunch of eight K2 notes from a buyer.

Nakan decided that container-collection would help him, his mother, three small sisters and brother to have some food on their table every day.

Nakan says he goes to town at 12 noon and collects empty containers until 4 in the afternoon. He brings his containers to the ice block sellers and sells them for 30 toea each.

Because there are many others like him doing the same thing, he receives only K5 -K7 for what he collects.

He takes his money to the Madang market or Balasigo market and buys a heap of kaukau, two or three bunches of raw kalafua bananas and aibika, a dry coconut and spends the rest on peanuts for his sisters and the bus fare home.

Prais bilong kaikai long stoa i antap tumas na hat long baim rice, olsem na mi save kisim moni mi kisim long konteina i go long maket. Em bai orait sapos gavaman opis daunim prais,” he frowns with puckered brow. [Prices of store goods are very high and it’s hard for me to afford rice so I take the money I receive from containers to the market. It would be easy if the government office lower the prices]

Continue reading "Street child! Nakan of Madang town" »

The old sibuta

HINUVI ONAFIMA | The Crocodile Prize

The old country road
When I asked my old mama
She could not remember
How many times
She had walked through.

Down the road,
I will not forget
The old sibuta*
Where hanging like a bat
I would slumber peacefully in
And with the cold mountain wind
Like other branches
I would sway back and forth.

And the old road
That leads to mama’s door
Every afternoon, from the field,
She would follow home
With the old sibuta
Hanging against her back.

If only I could pause now,
How it was then,
I shall remember…
The old sibuta*

* Sibuta – big hand woven bilum (bag) used for carrying large quantities of food. It is also used to ferry babies

Hinuvi Onafimo (30) was born in Goroka and now lives in Port Moresby.  He is a graphic artist who likes writing in his free time

Sunshine Coast teacher assists Kokoda schools

RICHARD BRUINSMA | Sunshine Coast Daily

Derek Hughes spent recent holidays working with PNG teachersA CALOUNDRA (QUEENSLAND) TEACHER spent the recent school holidays, braving snakes and sleeping on the floor in Kokoda to help struggling teachers and families.

Derek Hughes, head of middle school at Caloundra Christian College, spent part of his childhood in PNG and has a soft spot for the locals.

So when the schools around Kokoda fall into hard times he has no hesitation to help.

"It's rough: pit toilets with snakes in them, sleeping on the floor; tough conditions but you don't seem to mind when you're there," Mr Hughes said.

"None of the schools or the hospital have electricity, the hospital does not have a doctor, the teachers' college doesn't have chairs or desks, no plumbing or sewerage, no running water. It is very basic living with most rudimentary facilities."

Mr Hughes was invited to the region by the Kokoda Track Foundation to visit schools identified as "at risk" and implement conflict resolution and pastoral programs.

One school had suffered as a result of teachers failing to adequately do their jobs, with others leaving without notice to work at the PNG elections.

"Teachers were left with large class sizes of between 50 and 100 students, and parents were getting angry and taking it out on the teachers that were there," he said.

Mr Hughes helped by suggesting ideas to the teachers and also speaking to parents, and was able to get "them back on the same side so they weren't tearing each other apart".

He also organised for the teachers and parents to sign a "treaty" that stipulated their responsibilities to each other, in order to encourage cooperation that ensured the best outcomes for the students.

"My observations are of a people who want more for their children," Mr Hughes said. "And teachers who are willing to work for free in terrible conditions.

"I visited one teacher this trip who left Year 10 a year or so ago, completed a six-week course on teaching prep, and is now the only teacher, working as a volunteer, in a Grade 3-8 school of 250 kids. How can I not try and do something to help this girl?"

It was the third trip to Kokoda in 18 months for Mr Hughes, who is motivated partly by the support given by the local people to Australian soldiers in World War II.

"The connection between the people of the track and Australians is definitely very strong as a result of the Kokoda campaign," Mr Hughes said.

"It's not just that they accept our help in a range of areas but that we have a debt to pay. The fuzzy wuzzy legend is a common one in Australian wartime folklore.

"Walk the track once and you get to see the truth behind the legend."

Sheffield Eagles' Menzies Yere thinks of home

BBC | Sheffield and South Yorkshire

Menzies YereA CHARITY STARTED BY Papua New Guinea rugby league international, Menzies Yere [pictured], in South Yorkshire has donated rugby shirts and playing kit to his homeland.

Yere plays centre for Sheffield Eagles in the Championship.

He started personally donating used kit "back home" and as the idea spread the charity was launched in 2011.

A container with 120 complete rugby kits, 2,750 shirts, 350 balls and pairs of boots arrived in Papua New Guinea, where rugby league is a leading sport.

It is currently being distributed by the Rotary Club of Boroka throughout the country.

Before the charity was formed Yere, who came to the club in 2009, had started by buying two pairs of rugby boots every month and posting them home for players less fortunate than himself.

He also collected shirts to take back to Papua New Guinea.

Following that initiative, Kits 2 Kids was set up by Yere and Sheffield Eagles director Chris Noble.

England Rugby League player Adrian Morley was one of the people who made a donation to the scheme.

Michael Saunders of the rotary club said the donations had made an impact on children living in rural areas of Papua New Guinea, where people are predominantly subsistence farmers.

Tauna Igala of Germorubu village sent a letter to the rotary club after receiving donated equipment.

In the letter Mr Igala said: "It brings the youths together and energises them, which gives them no time to resort to illegal activities."

That Croc Prize book heads for a good print run


A FEW DAYS AGO in PNG Attitude we ran an inspiring story about 98-year old Daisy Henry and her commitment to reading. Daisy’s family donated $1,000 on her behalf to help get the Crocodile Prize Anthology 2012 printed.

In the same article we mentioned how the dual failure of the Australian and PNG governments to get behind the Crocodile Prize had left the organisers in the invidious position of being unable to fund a print run for the Anthology that would be anything more than derisory.

That’s when my company kicked in $5,000 as a donation to get more books printed so enabling many first rate PNG writers to have their words read, and allowing PNG readers to access creative writing from their own country.

My gift was quickly followed by a further donation of $5,000 from Ok Tedi Mining and K2,000 from Mineral Resources Star Mountains Limited (the MRSM Group).

These two great companies were backing up – they were already sponsors of the Prize.

And with the word out amongst the resources companies, I have an inkling there may be even more money to come.

Together with what we have in our Westpac bank account in Port Moresby, the Anthology printing fund is now heading north of $20,000.

This will print around 2,000 books, which is getting to be a respectable number.

The respective government, of course, may well believe their intransigence has led to a wonderful self-help project and saved their bureaucrats time, effort and money.

Of course, it tells the rest of us that they have their heads in the sand and are totally ignorant of the benefits that accrue from a nation that is prepared to develop its own literary tradition.

For a few dollars more – beyond TA & the big lunch


WHEN WE ASKED the Australian government, via the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, for a few dollars to help out with the printing of the Crocodile Prize Anthology, it said:

“Um, er, we’re in the middle of filling out our latest travel allowance claim and we need to finalise next month’s bookings at the Crowne Plaza and someone has to pick up our fifteen new Land Cruisers; could you ring us back in a year or two, someone might be able to help you out then?”

Fair enough, we thought, those poor people are obviously being run off their feet; we’ll try the PNG government.

We had a bit of trouble at first.  When we rang the phone kept ringing out.  We asked a few people about this and were told that either the telephone had been disconnected because no one had bothered to pay Telikom or the people on the other end were out to lunch.

Strange, we thought, why would the whole government be out to lunch between 10am and 3pm?  We’d better try ringing early.

When we finally got through the nice gentleman on the other end said, “Yes, what do you want, I have to go to lunch shortly.”

“Is this the PNG government?” we asked.

‘That’s right, what do you want, I’ve got to go soon?” he replied.

“Who are we speaking to?” we asked.

“It’s Akis!” he replied.

We explained our request to Akis.

“No worries wantok,” he replied, “how much do you want?”

We named a figure.  The line went quiet for a while and then Akis told us what 10% of our figure worked out at and gave us an address in Hohola to which we should mail the money – in cash please.

“What about if we just buy you lunch next time we’re in Mosbi?” we replied.

“Okay, Akis said.  “Send in your submission and we can discuss it then.”

We sat up burning the midnight oil for a few days and came up with what we thought was a well argued, detailed and succinct submission.  We added a draft copy of the Anthology and mailed it off to Akis at his Hohola address.

A month or so later we met Akis in the Crowne Plaza.  He ordered a huge lunch and we watched him consume it with great relish.  He then called for another Crown Lager and half a dozen plastic containers and loaded the leftovers into them.  “For the family,” he said, “can’t waste good food.”

When we had paid the rather expensive bill we asked him about our submission and what he thought about the draft Anthology.

“I’m sorry, but we can’t fund it,” he replied.

“Why not?” we asked.

“Well, there’s the matter of the outstanding 10% commission; my boss said we couldn’t entertain your submission without some incentive; besides we’re both behind in this month’s dinau.”

“Who is your boss, by the way?” we asked.

“This week it’s, er, John, I think,” Akis replied.

“Didn’t you like the Anthology either?” we asked.  “We thought it is rather good.”

“Well, it is okay, I suppose,” Akis replied.

“Okay?” we replied.

“Well, it doesn’t mention either me or John and there is nothing in it about how wonderful and generous Peter and Michael are.”

“We suppose we could mention you all?” we replied.

“You’d better say something about Belden too, just in case, if you know what I mean, and maybe Jeffrey, otherwise he’ll get stroppy and sue you.”

“What do you reckon we should say?” we asked.

“Well, Belden likes people to acknowledge his generosity and vision and nobility and kingly qualities and ….”

“What about Jeffrey?” we asked.

“He likes his rugged good looks mentioned,” Akis replied smiling into his hand.

“What else do we need to do?” we asked.

“Well, you need to do a bit of editing; some of those people in there are not saying very nice things; that Namorong person and Nou Vada and maybe that Dom person; we’re not keen on that Kitchnoge person either; and all those women whinging about being beaten up and raped, that had better go too.

“It might be best just to leave them all out I think,” Akis said and then burped before signalling a waiter for another Crown Lager.

“Um, we might get back to you Akis,” we said, “maybe after the elections.”

“Sure!” Akis replied.  “I’ll still be here; I’m not sure about John or Belden or Jeffrey though.  Maybe we can have lunch again?”

He broke the egg


ONE MOONLIT NIGHT in April 1953 the sky was inundated with twinkling stars. Nineteen year old Apa, standing at the peak of Dua, saw the flicker of lights at Urgiai, Gor and the Bari II lands to the south and south east.

The lights were an indication that people were staying indoors because of the stiff cold wind.  Indeed, the rushing wind up the hill from the Ulma and Gapal Rivers made him too yearn for warmth.

‘It is a perfect evening to crawl into a bed with a beautiful girl to generate some heat and squeeze out the aches in the muscles,’ he thought.

He whistled a courtship song but it was whisked away by the wind. He looked at the hills ahead and saw a cane grass torch at Mebir.

It was a sign that Molpa, his girlfriend was going to and fro to the pig’s hut feeding them but Apa also knew that the torch was also a deliberate ploy to signal him to walk over to her home that very evening. The Ulma River separated him and the bearer of the cane grass torch that he saw on the other side of the hill.

Molpa was an innocent 17 year old Mor Baulo girl. They had been friends for a while.

He could see Molpa’s beautiful body and her smiles in his mind’s eye from where he stood. He wanted to sleep close to her heart and feel her maturity. Yes, he was willing to walk the distance to her home that night.

He strolled down the hill and crossed the Ulma River. He ascended the hill with speed and arrived at Molpa’s home and hid in the dark shadow of the banana patch. Once in a while he had to wave off the fire flies that circled the banana patch.

From the rear of the hut he heard voices a few times and quickly worked out the occupants of the hut. Molpa and her parents were inside. The smaller siblings must have gone to their uncle’s hut for the night. 

That night he was convinced that he would take Molpa home as his wife for the first time and break the egg just like the other boys.

Molpa had retired to bed but was not asleep because she expected a soft whisper on the wall nearest her bed calling her name.

The week before Molpa and Apa had met at the Ulma River when she returned from her garden. They had sat on a huge boulder and Apa had told her that he would come this very night to take her home as his wife.

Molpa who was determined to become Apa’s esteemed wife for as long as she was alive and was keeping a vigil that evening to see if Apa would come and take her as promised.

‘Close the door, cover the embers and sleep. I am already tired and am off to bed,’ instructed Molpa’s father, Yau and jumped onto his log bed.

His wife, Wari started to bury the embers with the ash and said, ‘I am going to bed as well. I have to wake up early tomorrow to go weeding.’

In the cold night, Apa crept over to where Molpa slept and quietly scratched the wall.

Continue reading "He broke the egg" »

The bumpy road to government: PNG’s election

RON MAY | The Conversation

PAPUA NEW GUINEA IS CURRENTLY in the midst of its eighth post-independence national election. The elections were due to conclude last week, but have dragged on due to poor organisation on the part of the Electoral Commission, security issues, and bad weather.

Of the 46 parties registered, oddly it seems only 22 have endorsed candidates. More than half of the 3,435 candidates contesting the 111 seats for the National Parliament are standing as independents.

The election has brought an end to more than eight months of political impasse following the unconstitutional dumping of Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, while he was recovering from medical treatment in Singapore, and the election by parliament of a new prime minister, Peter O’Neill, in August 2011.

In December, the Supreme Court ruled against the parliament’s actions, endorsing Somare as the legitimate prime minister, but O’Neill and his erratic deputy, Belden Namah (a former member of Somare’s National Alliance party), ignored the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Earlier, the O’Neill-Namah coalition had attempted to block a legal challenge and remove the chief justice, and had passed retrospective legislation to remove Somare from his parliamentary seat.

After August 2011 there were thus two claimant prime ministers, each with his own cabinet, and for a while two police commissioners and two governors general.

But by December 2011 the public service and the police had lined up behind O’Neill, who had a clear parliamentary majority, and locally and internationally the O’Neill-Namah coalition was generally accepted as “the government” of Papua New Guinea.

A national election scheduled for June-July 2012 seemed to offer the only way out of this impasse. But in early 2012 Namah began pressing for a postponement of the election, despite statements by the Electoral Commissioner that the election must go ahead. O’Neill promised the election would be held on schedule, but subsequently supported a parliamentary vote to defer it.

At the same time, O’Neill’s office announced that emails and blog sites would be monitored and critics “misrepresenting” the government’s actions would be “dealt with”, and Namah, as acting prime minister, declared a state of emergency in the national capital and highlands provinces.

By May, however, with electoral preparations proceeding and more than 3000 candidates out campaigning there was little chance of anyone stopping the election. Polling commenced on 23 June and continues this week.

Early polling has run into problems. There have been a number of violent incidents, including election-related deaths and intimidation of voters by armed men in several parts of the country (particularly the volatile highlands provinces).

Ballot boxes have been hijacked, and there have been delays in the commencement of voting due to the late arrival of ballot papers. Electoral and security personnel are reported to have been demanding prior payment of allowances, and there are complaints that large numbers of prospective voters have been unable to find their names on the rolls. These problems are not new.

Continue reading "The bumpy road to government: PNG’s election" »

Flying on one engine: public enterprise in PNG


WE ARE HERE TO WELCOME this new aeroplane to our country – it will be a most valuable addition to Air Niugini’s fleet, serving on the Brisbane, Sydney, Cebu, Manila and Auckland routes.  So it’s going to be a bit of a workhorse. 

This is exactly what Air Niugini needs – maximum use of its capital assets, maximum profit from its investments.

I congratulate the Chairman Mr Garth McIlwain and the Board, and the management team led by Mr Wasantha Kumarasiri for this initiative.

The national airline, like all of our publicly owned enterprises, can be healthier than it currently is.  The status of this aircraft in fact is a symbol of the problems the company faces.  It is leased. Air Niugini does not own it.

Now many airlines do not own all the aircraft in their fleets – many choose not to for good financial reasons.  But in Air Niugini’s case, it does not have the luxury of choice.

The reason, simply, is that the national airline’s balance sheet is not strong enough to stand the cost of outright purchase of all its aircraft, especially bigger jets like this.

There is nothing new in this. Air Niugini has been unable to own all of its fleet for many years.

In today’s fleet of 22, less than half are owned by Air Niugini – four Fokker 100 aircraft, three Q400s, two Dash 8-100s and one Dash 8-200.  And these are the less expensive aircraft.

Air Niugini is leasing 12 aircraft - three Boeing 767s, two Fokker 100s, three Dash 8-200s, three Dash 8-300s and this Boeing 737.

The constrictions imposed by its balance sheet do not end with aircraft – they affect every aspect of the organisation and its operations.

We all know the results: flights cancelled, flights delayed, passengers offloaded, and so on.

And there are longer-term and more fundamental consequences: Air Niugini in its present configuration is unable to provide reliable and affordable services to all the people, the shareholders of Air Niugini.

It is flying on one engine, not two.

To be in a position to provide the services that travellers need, Air Niugini requires a large infusion of financial capital from its shareholder, the national Government.  I believe Air Niugini needs at least K800 million to re-fleet appropriately, in type, size and number of aircraft. 

But providing all public enterprises with the money needed to rehabilitate them and put them onto a sound financial footing is virtually impossible.  No government has ever been able to meet all their requirements, so Public Enterprises struggle on as best they can with what they generate or borrow.

Air Niugini is to be congratulated for the fleet restructuring that it is undertaking at present – it will be more efficient and it will be more profitable and it will provide better services.  It is to be congratulated as well for its recent decision to fly into Wau-Bulolo and Daru.

But it could do so much more if it was put on a sound financial footing.

Continue reading "Flying on one engine: public enterprise in PNG" »

Social transformation & violence in Papua New Guinea


Book - Engendering ViolenceEngendering Violence in Papua New Guinea. Edited by Margaret Jolly and Christine Stewart with Carolyn Brewer. Available online or in paperback from ANU E Press

THIS COLLECTION BUILDS on previous works on gender violence in the Pacific, but goes beyond some previous approaches to domestic violence or violence against women in analysing the dynamic processes of engendering violence in PNG.

‘Engendering’ refers not just to the sex of individual actors, but to gender as a crucial relation in collective life and the massive social transformations ongoing in PNG: conversion to Christianity, the development of extractive industries, the implanting of introduced models of justice and the law and the spread of HIV.

Hence the collection examines issues of ‘troubled masculinities’ as much as ‘battered women’ and tries to move beyond the black and white binaries of blaming either tradition or modernity as the primary cause of gender violence.

It relates original scholarly research in the villages and towns of PNG to questions of policy and practice and reveals the complexities and contestations in the local translation of concepts of human rights.

It will interest undergraduate and graduate students in gender studies and Pacific studies and those working on the policy and practice of combating gender violence in PNG and elsewhere.

National election round up - the counting so far....


THE PAPUA NEW GUINEA ELECTORAL COMMISSION website is featuring progressive results from the national election – so far from 78 of the 111 seats in contention.

Only three seats have been declared until now, including that of prime minister Peter O’Neill, as the election moves to the end of its third week.

Unfortunately, women candidates are not faring well - only one is leading, narrowly, in Sohe Open.

In terms of how the political parties are making out, Peter O'Neill's People's National Congress has the most candidates in the lead so far with 20.

The PNC is followed by the National Alliance (Michael Somare, leading in 9 seats); Independents (8); PNG Party (Belden Namah, 6); People's Progress Party (Julius Chan, 5); and Triumph Heritage Empowerment (Don Polye, 4).

But there's still a long way to go, even though voting was supposed to be concluded a week since.

This round up seeks to provide you with the latest information on the most interesting seats and candidates.

If nothing else it may brush up your knowledge of PNG place names.

We’ll try to provide you with a similar round up in a couple of days time.

ABAU OPEN - Very early in the count, Sir Puka Temu (Our Development) is leading

AITAPE LUMI OPEN - The colourful Patrick Pruaitch (National Alliance) has a comfortable lead in this electorate

ALOTAU OPEN - Charles Abel (People’s National Congress) has a huge lead over his nearest opponent from the PNG Party in a 40-candidate field

ANGORAM OPEN - Arthur Somare (National Alliance), Sir Michael’s son and one-time PM heir apparent, is leading in a tight contest

BULOLO OPEN - The outspoken Sam Basil (PNG Party) has a huge early lead and seems certain to be re-elected.

DEI OPEN - PurI Ruing (United Resources), who featured in a recent PNG Attitude story, is leading comfortably at an early stage of the count. In third place is female Independent Margaret Parua

EAST NEW BRITAIN PROVINCIAL - John Kaputin (Melanesian Alliance) has nearly twice the number of votes of the second-placed Triumph Heritage Empowerment candidate after the 22nd count

EAST SEPIK PROVINCIAL - Michael Somare (National Alliance) who was in a neck and neck struggle with his Pangu opponent Allan Bird is now about 20,000 votes ahead as counting nears completion

ESA'ALA OPEN - Sitting MP Moses Maladina (People’s National Congress) is trailing Davis Steven (People’s), but not by much, in early counting

GAZELLE OPEN - There’s a keen fight here between Norbert Kubak (People’s National Congress) and Malakai Tabar (Melanesian Liberal) with my former UPNG colleague Sinai Brown (Triumph Heritage Empowerment) beginning to trail off badly

HELA PROVINCIAL - Governor Anderson Agiru (People's United Assembly) leads by 3,000 votes in a fairly close tussle with Independent Andy Kapa. The preferences of the third placed candidiate will be important here

IALIBU-PANGIA OPEN - Prime minister Peter O’Neill (People’s National Congress) won this seat in a landslide and was the first candidate to be declared elected.

KANDEP OPEN - Prime ministerial aspirant Don Polye (Triumph Heritage Empowerment) has more than twice the votes of his nearest opponent

KAVIENG OPEN - Ben Micah (People’s Progress) has a handy lead midway through the count.

LAE OPEN - The popular Bart Philemon (New Generation) has a lead in early counting. In a big field Loujaya Toni (Indigenous People's), who wrote for PNG Attitude recently about the travails of being a female candidate is running fifth about 600 votes in arrears.

LUFA OPEN - No counting as yet but there’s a huge field of candidates including PNG Attitude contributor Jeffrey Mane Febi (People's Movement for Change)

MADANG PROVINCIAL - Former chief justice and Somare supporter Sir Arnold Amet (National Alliance) leads by 300 votes at an early stage of counting from one of the few women candidates, Mary Kamang (People’s National Congress) to be doing reasonably well

MANUS OPEN - Ronny Knight (New Generation) won by 250 votes over Job Pomat (People’s National Congress)

MANUS PROVINCIAL - Charlie Benjamin (People’s National Congress) won by about 700 votes from Michael Sapau (Triumph Heritage Empowerment)

MAPRIK OPEN - Pita Lus (Pangu), like Michael Somare an ageing veteran now, is trying to make a political comeback. He’s running a creditable fourth to John Simon (National Alliance)

MORESBY SOUTH OPEN - The controversial Justin Tkatchenko (Social Democratic) is leading comfortably in this urban seat.

NAMATANAI OPEN - Sitting member Byron Chan (People’s Progress), Sir Julius’s son, is handily placed well into the count.

NATIONAL CAPITAL DISTRICT PROVINCIAL - Governor Powes Parkop (Social Democratic) has about double the votes of the second-placed candidate but in a big field

NEW IRELAND PROVINCIAL - Former PM Sir Julius Chan (People's Progress) is going around again and is leading from Ian Ling Stuckey (National Alliance) in what looks like being a keenly fought contest.

NORTHERN PROVINCIAL - The respected Garry Juffa (People's Movement for Change), seeking to enter parliament for the first time, is leading narrowly at an early stage in counting

POMIO OPEN - Early days yet but the colourful former minister Paul Tiensten (People's United Assembly) is well behind the leader Francis Koimanrea (People’s Democratic Movement)

SOHE OPEN - Dellilah Pueka Gore (Triumph Heritage Empowerment) is the only female candidate to be leading but it’s at an early stage in the count.

VANIMO-GREEN RIVER OPEN - With just over half the votes counted deputy PM Belden Namah (PNG Party) is running a poor third to two Independent Willie Inaru and Tradggy Waramin. However observers say that the strong Namah areas are yet to have their votes counted. Greens candidate Dorothy Tekwie is trailing badly in a large field of candidates

WABAG OPEN - Sam Abal (Independent) has a comfortable lead over the second placed candidate

WESTERN HIGHLANDS PROVINCIAL - A celebrity field is battling for top spot with former PM Paias Wingti (People’s Democratic Movement) who until recently lived on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast just ahead of Tom Olga (Triumph Heritage Empowerment). Trailing badly in sixth place is Independent John Nonggorr, a prominent barrister and constitutional lawyer


RUTH KAMASUNGUA | The Crocodile Prize

THINGS HAPPENED SO FAST and he still could not digest all that had happened. He had walked down to the street near his cousin’s house to buy betel nut. It was sometime past six when he crossed over to the other side of the road and bought two nuts for K2.

After he chewed the meaty fruit he threw the skin at a passing police truck. The truck stopped and a policeman came out of the back of the Land Cruiser with a rifle.

“Did you throw a stone at the police car?”  The officer asked. “No I swear I didn’t.” 

The policeman cursed and swung his rifle at the head of the man. He felt a thud at the back of his head and fell. That was the last he could remember.

When he came back to his senses he was rolling about on the floor of the police truck with his hands cuffed. He couldn’t gain his balance. He was rolling like a ball with the movement of the vehicle as it made its rounds throughout the city.

His head felt like a heavy stone and he could hardly open his eyes for they were swollen and his lips felt as if they had doubled their size. 

He felt jabs of pain coming from his ribs and he could hear cursing and swearing coming from those who were sitting in the car. The smell of alcohol filled the moving vehicle and voices of drunken men talking and laughing.

He tried to open his mouth in vain. Somebody stepped on his head and another kicked him in the guts and he passed out again.  When he came back to consciousness, he could hear the sound of laughing men who used curse words at each other. 

Suddenly the car came to a halt and someone poured what seemed to be a bucket of water on his bruised head and body.  The water was freezing cold and he was completely alert by then. Maybe that was the purpose; these brutes thought that they could wake their victim up with cold water.

He felt ice-cold water penetrating his bruised face like a slicing knife and tried to lift his head in vain. His right eye was completely shut and he tried his best to open his left eye in vain. 

“Throw the pig out now,” someone ordered from the front of the vehicle. “Give me the key to the hand cuffs,” said someone else who sat closer to him. He was rolled roughly around by someone’s heavy boots. He could hear the key clicking open the merciless cuffs which had bound him all night.

Continue reading "Nightmare! " »

Barasi – New Year celebrations, Manam style

LORRAINE BASSE | The Crocodile Prize

Manam Island seen from the mainlandSITUATED 25 KILOMETRES AWAY from the township of Madang, along the fringes of the North Coast drive and a 30 minute journey by boat from mainland Bogia, is Manam Island.

Manam, a volcanic island, has fifteen villages and only one language which is Manam Motu. The people of Manam are fun loving, warm-hearted, caring, and hospitable and take pride in their chieftain society. One thing they love to do is to keep their traditions alive and one such tradition is Barasi.

Barasi is a festival about becoming a new person again and is a transitional rebirth from the old self to the new. It falls every year in the months of May, June and July, is a time of plenty and a celebration of a new year and a new beginning.

However, this cultural celebration is slowly dying at each passing year as Manam islanders have been displaced after the 2004 volcanic eruption and are now living at Potsdam, Moumba, Daigul, Asuramba and Mangem care centres located at old coconut plantations in Bogia District.

The festival starts when the elders of the village beat the garamut (slit drum) at about four o’clock in the morning as they see a group of stars (Pleiades or Seven Sisters) rise just over the top of the island to announce its commencement.

The 15 villages on the island are then divided into three areas to cater for the months of May, June and July. After celebrating in one area they move on to the next area until the whole three months are over.

Here, there and everywhere hustling and noises of people can be heard as they rush into the central area. Grandparents who can walk, and parents and children all go down to the gathering area as it is custom that everyone should be present in order to be blessed by the spirits of riches, wealth, long life and whatever good the New Year might bring.

A huge fire is then lit for the elders to welcome the people and to drive away evil spirits. After that the people sing, shout and dance with the children towards the slowly advancing elders. As they get closer, some elders quickly grab a child for whipping as it is part of the cleansing ceremony.

The girls and small boys are whipped with the tanget leaves while the bigger boys are whipped with a betel nut trunk. Sometimes some boys fall unconscious when the elders beat them hard enough to knock some sense into them because of misbehaving and disobedience.

The elders then put special leaves close to their noses so they inhale and become conscious again. This act helps them to behave and obey the people and the elders.

The girls and smaller children go to another group of dancers to be whipped with the tanget leaves while the boys are normally carried by two elders. While this is going on the people sing and dance to this song:

Goposi, posi be taengru o.
Goposi, posi be taengru o.
Moaede natumanga.
Tanepoa natumanga.
E –e – e – o – o – o kau

Continue reading "Barasi – New Year celebrations, Manam style" »

Fly past & hose down for first Air Niugini Boeing 737

AIR NIUGINI | Press Release

Boeing 737

AIR NIUGINI WELCOMED its first Boeing 737-700 series aircraft this week with a traditional fly past and hose down at Jackson’s Airport, Port Moresby.

The aircraft, under PNG registration of P2-PXD has 120 seats, 16 business and 104 economy.

The Boeing 737 will be initially utilized on three routes: Port Moresby-Sydney, Port Moresby-Brisbane and Port Moresby-Cebu.

Cebu in the Philippines is a new route, being the tenth international destination in Air Niugini’s network.

The arrival of the Boeing 737 brings the total number of aircraft operated by Air Niugini to 22. The fleet includes a variety of aircraft types from Dash 8, Q400s, Fokker 100s, Boeing 767s, and now the first of two Boeing 737s.

The Boeing 737 carries fuselage livery depicting the Owen Stanley Ranges along which was fought the Kokoda campaign.

The special livery commemorates the 70th Anniversary of the Kokoda Campaign and honours the legacy of all who served.