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109 posts from February 2013

Rev Paul Bustin, revivalist missionary, dies at 71


Rev Paul BustinAS A YOUNG MAN, just in his second year at God’s Bible School and College, Paul Bustin received a call to work as a foreign Christian missionary.

He listened. From 1964, he and his late wife, Carolyn, would spend 23 years overseas. They had their five daughters during a 19-year stay in Papua New Guinea.

Rev Bustin returned to the Cincinnati in 1987 and spent the rest of his career as a travelling evangelist whose revival meetings also featured him as a singer.

“Dad believed in the power of prayer to heal people,” said one of his daughters, Cindy Rapson.

Rev Bustin, 71, has died from complications of diabetes and kidney disease at his daughter’s home in Pleasant Ridge.

Born in 1941 on Andros Island, the Bahamas, the son of missionary parents, Rev Bustin lived in Haiti and Florida as a child before moving to Cincinnati to attend God’s Bible School, Mount Auburn.

After two years in seminary, knowing he wanted to work as a missionary, he enrolled in the University of Cincinnati’s medical school.

“He wanted to take care of people spiritually and physically,” Rapson said.

He met his future wife, put his medical studies aside and headed overseas.

 “It was an exciting way to spend our childhoods,” she said. “It was `the old days.’ We knew what it was like not to have a washing machine, running water and to read by lantern light.”

Rev Bustin also sang, offering his rendition of traditional Southern hymns. He recorded seven record albums on vinyl.

After returning to Cincinnati, he took a job in 1990 for five years as a delivery driver with City Dash. As diabetes took a toll on his vision, he spent his remaining years as a travelling evangelist.

He frequently worked with a small faith community of immigrants from New Guinea in a Springdale church.

Together we can stop 'witch-burning' in PNG

Leo IgweLEO IGWE | Institute for Emerging Ethics & Technologies

I AM WRITING TO URGE the international community to come to the aid of the Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea as it grapples with the menace of witchcraft or sorcery related violence.

Witch persecution and killing has been going on in the country for too long and we cannot allow it to continue. We need to take action now!

The recent lynching of a 20-year old woman, Leniata Kepari, for sorcery has revealed the urgency and complexity of the situation. It underscores the imperative a pro-active approach.

Even as the world is still trying to comprehend the reason for this savage act, the police in PNG have reportedly saved two other women from being lynched. According to the report, the ‘two elderly women were tied to poles and people were preparing to set them alight over the death of an eight-year-old girl’.

The girl’s relatives believed the women killed their child through sorcery and magic. A local sorcerer called a glasman who claimed to have supernatural powers had identified the women as responsible for the child’s death.

But the police said the girl was gang-raped and killed by two people who were part of a lynch mob.

Prime minister Peter O’Neill has deplored the widespread killings associated with sorcery. Violence against women, he noted, was becoming too common in certain parts of the country.

The government is asking people who are not sure of the cause of death of their family members to take the body to a doctor for an autopsy.

In PNG, most people do not accept natural causes of death and diseases. People attribute their misfortune to sorcery or witchcraft. In July, police arrested 29 members of a witch hunting cult who allegedly murdered and cannibalized their victims, believing they were sorcerers.

But a local police chief has noted the problem of evidence- that the evidence for magically causing a death or illness is simply not there. "What evidence do they have to produce to court for sorcery-related killing and torturing?" He queried. ‘It is just a belief’.

Mere belief indeed. Unfortunately, this is a realisation which few people in the country entertain and can openly express. Most people in PNG think sorcery is more than a belief. That sorcery is ‘real’. Hence the problem of witch burning continues.

The civilised world needs to help Papua New Guinea to stop this wave of violence. Countries and international institutions should remain indifferent in the name of respecting people’s culture, religion or tradition.

Witch burning is not a cultural or religious practice that should be respected. Witch persecution is a violent custom that should be opposed, condemned and abandoned.

Continue reading "Together we can stop 'witch-burning' in PNG" »

Sibidiri people benefit from Crackers' PNG passion

LIAM PARSONS | The Cairns Post

Craig Hand with village elder Gwama in the Lom RiverCRAIG ‘CRACKERS’ HAND is Far North Queensland's accidental humanitarian.

After setting out on a solo voyage to Papua New Guinea in his trusty 4.5m boat four years ago, Crackers has turned the journey into a regular trip to donate much-needed equipment to a small tribe in the country's Western Province.

"My first trip, I left Cape York and ended up going to PNG and met a tribe there," Crackers said.

"I was the first tourist they had ever seen."

During his three visits with the Sibidiri tribe, the self-described jack-of-all-trades has brought with him everything from mosquito nets and fishing reels to building materials and reading glasses.

The founder of non-profit group Friends of PNG said he had happily shrugged off the lure of a big payday at the mines to continue his charity work.

"It just gives them a bit of hope," Crackers said.

"The coastal areas tend to get aid from Australia but some of the inland tribes get forgotten."

During his second trip Crackers also helped set up a VHF aerial, climbing a 130m tower to install the device.

The aerial helps provide vital emergency communications.

"It means that if there was a medical emergency they can let people know they were coming or that they needed help," he said.

Holmes in NG: The adventure of the black pearl 2


Mountain of smoke & fireHAVING DEFEATED THE MENACE of the Hun at Bita Paka, Holmes and Watson were luxuriating on the verandah of a grand colonial home in Rabaul, gins and tonic at their fingers.

Watson was studiously perusing The Rabaul Times.

"Holmes, there is an advertisement here placed by someone desiring to purchase black pearls. A price of 20 marks will be paid for each one of good promise."

"Let me see that", Holmes grabbed the paper from Watson's hands.

"20 marks is a handsome sum in any currency. I believe we are on to something."

"Remember that brush we had with Moriarty at St James? I believe this may lead us to the source of that most infamous black pearl!"

"Do you think those excellent Simbu bodyguards that Vex arranged might be still around?"

Watson - "I believe I saw one loitering outside just a short while ago."

"Capital Watson. See if you can find her, we need to speak"

After 20 minutes Watson led a still fierce but somewhat dejected Simbu lady into Holmes' presence.

Holmes - "Wagai wei Ambai. Sie wissen nichts über schwarze Perlen?

"It's all right, Mr Holmes, I speak perfect English."

"Madam, we need your help. Do you know who is buying black pearls from this coast?"

"Yes sir, but I feel afraid at the question.  He is a bad man and will hurt me if he discovers I have spoken to you. We call him Mariati."

Holmes - "Have no fear, we will ensure your safety. But where to find him?"

The exotic bodyguard pointed in the direction of the volcano Tavurvur.

Voyage of hope: Pacific conservation, culture & climate

Manuai PortraitMANUAI MATAWAI | Supported by the Chalapi Pomat Writing Fellowship

I RECENTLY RETURNED with my crew from a 12 week canoe voyage between the islands of Papua New Guinea and the Solomons.

On the way we covered over 5,000 kilometres and visited 21 island communities.

We shared stories and documented experiences in conservation, culture and how to deal with climate change. We were warmly welcomed everywhere, from New Ireland to Honiara.

The entire crew and I are of the Titan people. We come from villages on the islands of Pere, Mbuke and Baluan in the province of Manus, the largest of the Admiralty Islands, off the north coast of Papua New Guinea.

All our communities are involved in conservation, and both Mbuke and Pere have successful protected areas in place as part of local development and natural resource management strategies.

The Titan people are of a seafaring and island culture and we pride ourselves on our sailing, boat-building and navigation skills. I learned these skills from my father, a locally famous canoe-master.

I led my first voyage five years ago, from Manus across the Bismarck Sea to Madang, and from there across to our neighbours in West Papua.

Climate Challenger approaching shoreI began building my own voyaging canoe two years ago, with a mission to share our experiences in Manus with other communities in PNG, Melanesia and the Pacific.

I named the boat Climate Challenger. Our current voyage was the culmination of a lot of planning and effort, but it was a resounding success.

The story of our voyage, and a map of the route, can be found here.

Among other roles, I am on the management committee of the Pere marine area. Established just a few years ago, the evolution of our conservation area has been challenging and exciting. We now have very effective protection in place, and the benefits to our community are numerous.

It was not an easy task. It took time and patience to win over the community, in addition to a lot of trial and error.

External support and back-up, both technical and financial, has been very important.

We have also been able to network in and around Manus, and we have worked with other communities and the provincial government to expand a network of protected areas across the islands.

Our planning efforts can be seen in this video clip.

The connectivity of local efforts can make a really big difference, especially as more development is planned for Manus and as the effects of climate change affect us more and more – particularly sea-level rise, which causes flooding and coastal erosion - and periods of warmer seas, which causes loss of coral, altered fish migration routes and unpredictable weather.

Everywhere on our voyage, we came across island communities facing similar challenges, particularly with erosion, flooding, loss of mangroves and shoreline vegetation and the depletion of coastal resources and local fisheries.

Continue reading "Voyage of hope: Pacific conservation, culture & climate" »

Paul Aiton wants PNG to find a new Stanley Gene


Stanley Gene in actionPAPUA NEW GUINEA hooker Paul Aiton has issued a rallying call to the people of Hull, England.

It came ahead of the Kumuls’ clashes in the Rugby League World Cup later this year.

The matches will be played at Craven Park, home to Super League outfit Hull Kingston Rovers, with which Stanley Gene built a famous career in the UK following his strong performances for PNG at the 1995 Rugby League World Cup.

Aiton hopes to utilise the PNG’s links to the city of Hull to mobilise a partisan crowd to get behind PNG at RLWC2013.

“We have the link with Stanley and Makali [Aizue] having played over there, and both players still have a great following over in Hull,” Aiton told

“I really hope we can rally the support of the Hull KR fans at the tournament. We’re based over in Hull and I know Stanley feels a great love for the city.

“He played for Hull KR and Hull FC, and I hope we can get supporters from both sides of the divide down at Craven Park for the games.

“In return, I’d like to think that people will enjoy the way we play and the passion we show whenever we pull on the shirt of our nation.

“We play hard, we play expansive footy and we like to entertain the fans.”

Aiton also believes that RLWC2013 could help uncover the next big star from PNG, 18 years after Gene made his mark on British soil.

“Not too many players have been picked up. I’ve been involved with the Kumuls for a lot of years now and I’ve played alongside some very talented young players,” he said.

“I’m very surprised that so many haven’t been given a chance. I don’t know if they are undiscovered, or that clubs just don’t want to take the chance.

“But I definitely think we could unearth another Stanley Gene at RLWC2013. There are a lot of players who could make it over here.

“I’ve found the Super League very welcoming and I’m sure there’ll be some perfect match-ups between British clubs and PNG players looking for an opportunity.

“Stanley’s obviously enjoyed his stay, and he’s enjoyed a fantastic career with a few clubs, and I can see no reason why another PNG player can’t follow in his footsteps.

While Aiton is hoping to depend on vociferous backing from the terraces at RLWC2013, he knows for sure the Kumuls can also count on PNG’s fanatical rugby league fan base back home.

“There’ll be so many tuning into watch the games on TV, and I can tell you that the stories people hear about how fanatical the fans can be are completely true,” said Aiton.

“Rugby league is the number one sport in PNG and we want to do our nation proud at Rugby League World Cup 2013. We can’t wait for the challenge.”

Papua New Guinea face France at Craven Park on 27 October and return to the venue on 4 November when Samoa provide the opposition.

The Kumuls’ group campaign culminates on 8 November, when they travel to Headingley to take on defending champions New Zealand.

Holmes in NG: The adventure of the black pearl 1


SHERLOCK HOLMES WAS IDLY playing a few cadenzas on his violin when Dr Watson wandered in and picked up the evening paper.

"Holmes, there's a young virtuoso performing the premiere of Mr Elgar's new violin concerto tonight at St James's Hall. It’s promoted by the Royal Philharmonic Society. What say we make an evening of it?"

"Young Fritz Kreisler? Yes, he shows promise. I'm with you, Watson."

Dressed in their best evening clothes - black tie, top hats and canes – the pair made their way to St James, feeling somewhat out of place amongst the great and good of London society.

"Watson, I tire of these social events. If it wasn't for the opportunity to hear Fritz I'd be inclined to retire home."

"Holmes - who is that man yonder wearing a black fedora? I'm sure I've seen him before."

Holmes grabbed Watson by the arm and steered him behind a pillar.

"Watson, if I'm not mistaken, that is one of the most evil geniuses to have walked this earth. Machiavelli was a mere innocent by comparison. Take care, he mustn't see us!"

"Now why do you suppose Moriarty would come to a musical concert? We must observe."

The aforementioned Moriarty strode across to a tall gentleman in what appeared to be the German dress uniform of a high-ranking officer.

Holmes - "Now what can they be up to?"

The German officer discreetly handed a small package to Moriarty, then turned on his heel and marched away.

Continue reading "Holmes in NG: The adventure of the black pearl 1" »

For a wonderfully written but excruciating to read article on the insane butchery of Papua New Guinea’s modern day 'witch hunts', and the complicity of police, you can read Jo Chandler’s It’s 2013, And They’re Burning ‘Witches’ in today's Global Mail here

Show gritty leadership & let me die happy (eventually)


I WILL DONATE A PIECE of rotten kaukau as the annual Ostrich Prize for the PNG intellectual who buries his head the most deeply in the sand of self-deception, obfuscation and making a fool of the nation by his words.

Joe Wasia, you can pick up the 2013 prize from my agent in Goroka at the end of this year, as I doubt that your effort in comment on my own recent piece on the Hagen  immolation-murder will be surpassed.

Joe wrote, inter alia: ‘Not all Papua New Guineans practice sanguma and black magic but many articles, especially by whites, paint all PNGians like that. And that is unfair. Only a few people practice sanguma and black magic….

‘If sorcery practices were common in PNG cultures there wouldn't be any counter-reaction like you see, hear and read. People are against the practice. It’s about time the PNG government reviewed the laws governing these practices.’

As you know by now there have been two more attempts to burn women to death reported from the City of Mount Hagen.

As a minor-courts magistrate in my youth in the Gulf, I gaoled many black-magic practitioners of various sorts including those known as meamea and vada. Vada is simply sanguma under another name, a belief that a sorcerer can implant death within a living victim and cause the victim to die at a time and at a place of the sorcerer's choosing.

It is difficult to go any distance with changing fear-based beliefs among unworldly and naive people, as the majority of Papua New Guineans are to this day, without ongoing efforts to raise the level of education and thus of worldliness and sophistication leading to dissipation of fear.

At a relatively young age, I had abandoned superstition, including the Anglican faith in which I was brought up and schooled, and was confident enough of my own faith that superstition is based upon the fear of the unknown and the misunderstood, to challenge the sorcerers of the Purari. I suggested they might put me to death with their powers.

This did not occur, although of course no sorcerer made it known that he would try.

Despite a couple of bad bouts of malaria, and the periodic ill-health suffered from the effect of heavy and lonely consumption of Negrita Rum as my only means of social outlet at the long-abandoned post of Beara, I did not succumb.

The laws against the practice of sorcery still exist, of course. It is not a valid comment to say that "the government must do something " as Joe opines.

It is up to those in control of a very sad and sick police-force, and a similarly ineffectual and corrupt lower-court magistracy, to use the powers they already have without fear or favour. And without a cash incentive.

This is what I meant when I wrote "for PNG to show itself to the rest of the world as a self-confident and fair and humane modern society is a far bigger job than most Australian commentators, or PNG intellectuals, or its political leaders, seem able to contemplate or articulate with any profundity."

Continue reading "Show gritty leadership & let me die happy (eventually)" »

Australian aid making an impact on TB scourge


Daru TB ward under constructionTHE FIGHT AGAINST TUBERCULOSIS in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province is making progress as a new TB ward, funded by AusAID, also takes shape.

The new 22-bed TB ward at Daru General Hospital is part of a $31 million package of support Australia is providing to help the government of PNG improve health services in one of its poorest provinces.

There will be six isolation rooms to quarantine patients in the infectious stage of TB so they do not pass the disease on to others, with a further 16 bed inpatient ward for TB patients in the convalescent stage.

The design of the ward has been assessed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as complying with international infection control standards.

The ward is one of a range of measures AusAID is supporting to help PNG fight the disease. Since implementing the support, mortality rates for drug-resistant TB in Western Province dramatically reduced from 25% to 5% last year. Detection of the disease rose by 30%.

Dr Geoff Clark, AusAID’s program director for health and HIV in Port Moresby, said treatment for TB can take from 6 to 24 months.

"When you look at the amount of time it takes for people to recover, it’s clear that any approach that is going to work must branch out into the communities where people live," Dr Clark said.

"The specialist TB facilities at Daru are a critical element of AusAID’s broader package of support."

Igwe’s offer to help fight sorcery is rebuffed

BARRY DUKE | The Freethinker

Leo IgweFOLLOWING REPORTS that a young woman in Papua New Guinea had been burned alive for being a witch, Nigerian humanist and human rights campaigner Leo Igwe (pictured) – who has tirelessly been campaigning against witchcraft atrocities in Africa – issued a statement calling for international action and education programs to stamp out the superstitious beliefs that lead to these horrendous killings.

Kepari Leniata, 20, died on a bonfire in a rubbish tip after being accused of being a witch, and using her powers to kill a young boy. The young mother was stripped, tortured in doused with gasoline.

Igwe said that for too long UN agencies and other international human rights bodies have kept silent, all in the name of “respecting” the cultural beliefs, and he called on “sceptics, critical thinkers and all people of reason in Papua New Guinea to rise up to the challenge of bringing end to witchcraft-related murders and other superstition-based abuses”.

To this end, Igwe contacted a number of organisations and agencies in PNG in an effort to enlist their co-operation, but at least one body, The Melanesian Institute, said it could not possibly cooperate with Igwe because of his association with the James Randi Institute, and the nature of articles written by Igwe and posted on the Internet.

On 11 February, Igwe wrote to Rev Jack Urame, of the Melanesian Institute, saying:

My name is Leo Igwe. I am research student-working on witchcraft accusation at the University of Bayreuth. I am partnering with the James Randi Educational Foundation to understand and help address the phenomenon of witchcraft accusation.

I am contacting you regarding the recent case of witch burning in your country. We at JREF would like to partner with you to understand and help address this sociocultural issue.

With your Institute, we can work to develop a public education and enlightenment program, and campaign to bring to an end the menace of witch burning in Papua New Guinea.

We were all touched by the recent tragedy and would like to help in any way we can stop the witch hunt in Papua New Guinea.

Please let me know if your Institute will agree to work with us.

Writing in behalf of Rev Urame, Rudolf Lies, replied:

We feel indeed that as an institute the MI has done a lot already and will attempt to do its best to continue along that vein and work for change and the eradication of these horrible crimes.

Legal attempts to either change or as we rather feel abolish the Sorcery Act in the country are underway, but a change of mind will take time and effort.

However we feel that the premises that you express in articles found on the internet, and that seem also to be implied in the work of the James Randi Education Foundation make it not possible for us as an institute owned and run by four big churches to enter into closer cooperation.

We wish you all the best, and maybe our efforts will meet with some of yours in practical steps to change cultural patterns that allow for these atrocities. Christian ethics as we see them definitely strive for humanity and a love of life.

First writers' small group in Moresby a great success


LAST SATURDAY, under the auspices of the PNG Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers (SWEP), I introduced an idea to a bunch of Port Moresby writers.

Basically it was this: small groups of writers meet regularly to individually read short examples of their own writing to the group. Then the group, in rotation, offers suggestions, corrections or comments on the piece.

This is a common modus operandi of many writers’ groups throughout Australia and it’s a concept I thought might work well in Papua New Guinea.

Traditionally, both in PNG and elsewhere, it is common to discuss matters in small groups which tend to be very self-disciplined and thus achieve results.

My Scottish ancestors no doubt got together with just the fight leaders and strategists to plan how best to clobber the English on the morrow, just as did the recent ancestors of today’s PNG generations – and for similar reasons!

Family issues, village issues, disciplinary issues and criminal issues were all usually sorted out in small groups before including the rest of those interested.

The venue for this small group of writers was the Moresby Arts Theatre, where a tasty light lunch was provided.

Members of the SWEP committee, notably Ruth Moiam, Steve Ilave and Regina Dorum, had capably arranged invitations to Moresby writers, advertising and a host of other details.

The meeting started with 18 (of 31 pre-confirmed) and an hour and a half later numbers had grown to 25 attentive, passionate, participatory writers, sitting on the near seats in the tiered theatre.

From where I spoke, sitting on the edge of the stage, I could tell by the affirmative nods, the smiles and whispered comments that the idea was being accepted. This was confirmed by several speakers in the open session which followed.

Steven, as an informal chairman, asked everyone to introduce themselves and make what comments they wanted. This was, for me, the most interesting session.

Some people spoke at length and brought up interesting and relevant aspects of the writing scene.

And what a modern, discerning bunch of writers they are – discussing how today’s social media might integrate with their work.

Not for them Twitters and Facebook, which they see as being person-to-person communication, and useful to that extent only.

Blogs? Yes, definitely have a place in publishing, for comparison, for education.

And agreement that for a blog posting and for a blog comment, the writing should be the best the writer can muster.

I was very happy with the day, and most impressed by the ability and good PNG commonsense of those writers.

We enjoyed our light lunch with a can of soft and informal discussion before we all went our various ways.

Thank you again to those competent, friendly SWEP committee members for a job well done.

Holmes in NG: The adventure of the black pearl


Great bounding Baskerville hounds of hell and malevolent marauding muruks! My researches in the gloomy depths of Das Bundesarchiv has revealed another amazing episode of Sherlock Holmes' adventures in New Guinea!

SalomeHOLMES, WATSON AND THE EXOTIC and befeathered Salome cautiously entered the dark cavern, choking on its sulphurous fumes.

A shadowy figure emerged just as a hundred fierce warriors jumped from the darkness, menacing the great detective and his little party.

"Moriarty, you have us at a disadvantage. What do you expect us to do?"

"Why Holmes," murmured Moriarty, stroking the tame cuscus cradled in his arm. "I expect you to die!"

As quick as lightning Salome grabbed a hanging vine, untangled her feathers and appeared behind Moriarty holding a razor sharp bush knife.

Unga, ungera, wailo wei! Yu noken bagarapim wantok bilon mi!" she shrieked, holding the knife to the villain’s quivering throat. "Rausim! Rausim ol dispela raskol nau!"

Begins in PNG Attitude Saturday.... and Happy Valentines to all our readers

Things falling apart is a cultural issue in Melanesia


TRADITIONAL SOCIETY IN Papua New Guinea was a ‘throwaway’ culture.

If a house started to fall down or a canoe started to leak the natural thing to do was build a new one.

This attitude is reflected today in peoples’ attitudes to infrastructure.

Rather than maintain what is already there, people are more inclined to simply spend money on a new one.

Westerners find this very frustrating.

A school or an aid post may be built in a community only, a few years’ later, to be found falling down with machinery like pumps and generators having ceased to operate.

In the workplace this is also common, with maintenance a low priority.

It takes acculturation to fix this problem, which takes time.

This attitude helps explain why infrastructure from before independence has fallen into disuse.

Hunters and gatherers in the Australian deserts are similar but to a much greater extent. A desert hunter's total possession might have consisted of a couple of spears and a woomera.

Until a few years ago abandoned near-new Toyota Landcruisers with seized motors were commonplace around outstations and homelands.

Europeans have a much more personal attachment to their stuff', especially prestige stuff like houses and cars, and tend to look after it.

When they look at them they see function but they also see dollars and cents.

Just ask Jared Diamond.

Brutal sorcery slayings are a test for modern PNG


WHILE THE PUBLIC IMMOLATION of a young woman as an act of revenge is an unusually spectacular modus operandi, it is no less disgusting and reprehensible than the revenge murders which are carried out at least weekly in Papua New Guinea.

One case near Goroka 10 years ago occurred when an unfortunate person judged to be the sanguma agency in the death of a woman had his hands and feet chopped off, then his heart cut out whilst he writhed on the ground.

The heart was cut into small pieces and eaten by every clan-member including children so that they would all possess a part of the sanguma’s evil power and thus be protected against its future malevolence in their midst.

I know of several similar cases, in one instance the elderly lady killed was the mother of an old friend of mine.

The outrage described above occurred in a village next door to a very large protestant mission station. So far as I know, no investigation or legal action was carried out.

This is just one killing the details of which I am privy to.

For PNG to show itself to the rest of the world as a self-confident and fair and humane modern society is a far bigger job than most Australian commentators, or PNG intellectuals, or its political leaders seem able to contemplate or articulate with any profundity.

Neither has there been any ability shown thus far to articulate and execute simple and logically-attainable solutions within realistic timeframes.

One has to ask the question - is PNG up to the task, or is it doomed to become little more than an undercover colony for money-hungry entrepreneurs?

Footnote: Police in Mt Hagen say they have arrested 50 people in connection to the burning murder of 20-year old mother of one, Kepari Leniata, suspected by villagers of responsibility for the sanguma death of a young boy

'Woman of integrity’ mooted as Solomon Islands envoy

Catherine DavaniTHE PAPUA NEW GUINEA government is seeking to appoint a woman of exceptional integrity as PNG’s High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands, foreign minister Rimbink Pato has said.

The post has been offered to Justice Catherine Davani of the PNG National and Supreme Courts.

Pato said that the High Commission in Honiara had been plagued with controversy for several years, which had brought disrepute and tarnished the image of PNG.

Justice Davani has had 28 years of legal experience in PNG and was appointed as a judge in 2001 after practicing law at both the public and private bar for 18 years, mostly in the civil litigation area.

During her career, she has shown a keen interest in the development of the law and how it can or should change to suit PNG’s needs.

She was a member of the Council of the PNG Law Society for 10 years and is also is president of the PNG Judicial Women’s Association.

She has sat on major trials both in the National and Supreme Court and deliberated on major decisions affecting the political and social lifestyle. She presently also serves on the Court of Arbitration for Sport which has its seat in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Barrick has ‘done its best’ on human rights in PNG

EDITORIAL | The Globe and Mail

CHANGE HASN’T HAPPENED QUICKLY enough in the global mining sector, despite prodding from advocacy groups concerned about environmental sustainability and human rights abuses.

But when a mining company responds to pressure and makes changes for the better, that should be acknowledged, not dismissed as an empty public relations gesture.

Recent criticism by Mining Watch of Barrick Gold’s initiative to assist the women who were raped by local employees of its mine in Papua New Guinea is short-sighted.

It has accused the company of “rushing” the women through the claims process, and of forcing them to sign away their legal rights.

That is stretching the truth. In fact, Barrick, the world’s largest gold-mining company, has done its best to clean up the mess at the Porgera gold mine.

Since 2011, it has spent 18 months consulting with human-rights advocates and developed an opt-in program of remediation for the victims, offering them counselling, access to micro-credit and medical care.

The program is administered by an independent team, including the former chief magistrate of PNG.

The women are free to pursue action against any individuals involved but once they settle the grievance procedure with the company, they cannot make further legal claims against it. This seems fair.

There is no denying that the Toronto-based corporation should have acted before the allegations of gang rapes became public in a 2011 Human Rights Watch report. That is regrettable.

However, Barrick has since responded “with vigour,” to use the words of Human Rights Watch. It launched a major internal investigation, facilitated a criminal investigation by the local police and dismissed the employees who were charged.

Sexual violence against women remains a serious problem in PNG, due in part to the country’s patriarchal culture. In the Porgera district, many women have experienced trauma and violence. This deeply rooted problem will not be resolved overnight.

Mining Watch, a non-profit advocacy group, is right to continue to monitor this issue in PNG and in other countries where governance is weak and corruption a problem.

But it should also be prepared to acknowledge change, and to chart the continuing evolution of the mining sector.

Pathway to militancy: Growing up in Oune politics

LEONARD FONG ROKA | Supported by the Jeff Febi Writing Fellowship

Clement NabiauOune is a small enclave of people between Avaipa (Eivo) and Ioro (Panguna) with its own Nasioi dialect. The enclave covers the villages of Onove, Enamira, and Darenai that surround what is now referred to as the Panguna mine’s ‘upper tailings zone’ of the Kavarong River. Today, the area is commonly called the Tumpusiong Valley and referred to as being ‘along the dirt’ in Nasioi because of the mine waste that destroyed the valley.

The area is home to the late ABG president, Joseph Kabui, his elder brother, Martin Miriori, and another notable figure in Bougainville political history, the late Luke Robin, whose murder in Goroka in the early 1970s alongside his Buin brother, Peter Moini, resulted in increased anti-PNG and BCL feeling. Compared with most of the Panguna District, Oune is an area with many educated people.

AS THE MINING GIANT, Conzinc Rio Tinto Australia (CRA) was clearing the jungles and digging up the mountains of Panguna in the 1960s, downstream the Kavarong River daily dumped tonnes of waste on Clement Nabiau and his Oune people.

They watched as their food sources in the river and along the surrounding banks were biologically mutilated by a force beyond their understanding.

To the Oune people, CRA and the colonial government, dominated by New Guineans and white men, was beyond their reach. So their strategy was to wage war on the works in an attempt to politically rescue Bougainville.

In 1968 when the Oune people organised themselves, Clement Nabiau (pictured above) was 13 years old.

Under the leadership of Catholic mission-educated Michael Aite from the Avaipa area (nicknamed Makakii = physically slow growing person), the people created a village level governing body called Oune Mumungsina.

The inauguration was witnessed by Bougainville leaders Moses Havini and Leo Hannet. It had Dupanta village, on the border of Avaipa and Panguna, as its official headquarters.

Oune Mumungsina, as an organisation of the people, stretched its influence to the neighbouring villages of Bapong, Pisinau, Damara and the Kosia area of Avaipa.

To the Panguna people, the western-educated Aite was a rare leader and many cult groups dissolved and joined forces with Oune Mumungsina. Aite was now an authority across Oune, Panguna, Avaipa and beyond. He had political alliances and support for secession from other parts of Bougainville.

By this time, the works at Panguna were fast developing and the Tumpusiong Valley was engulfed beyond imagination by the fallout from the mine site.

Oune Mumungsina’s first strike against CRA was an order to people to uproot the survey pegs marking the area of the Special Mining Lease (SML) at Onove. Young children like Clement Nabiau followed the elders to unearth the pegs and bring them back to the surveyors’ camp at Dau, a stream at Onove.

According to Nabiau, the colonial administration response was a build-up of police at the Dau camp. This did not stop the people, so a kiap later called a meeting with the disgruntled people.

As the Oune people awaited the kiap’s visit, word reached the leaders that Guava villagers with their leader, Oni, who had earlier signed the mining go-ahead, had said that the anti-mining Oune people would be their future housekeepers and cleaners as they sit and slept in luxury from the mine benefits.

So the Oune leaders plotted that the coming meeting with the kiap would now be used for an attack on the Dau camp, the kiap and the police.

Continue reading "Pathway to militancy: Growing up in Oune politics" »

Sonnet 8: The Perfect Woman


How many gentlemen have chased your myth?
How many captains and how many kings?
How many have heard of your legend fell?
How many poets and how many priests?
How could they resist your tender mercy?
They'll never deny the world at your feet.

How many gentle ladies dread your myth?
How many mistresses, how many maids?
How many have known your calamity?
How many nurses and how many nuns?
How, ever, could they dare compete with thee?
They'll never deny the world your beauty.

How many people, both women and men,
Meet the measure of The Perfect Woman?

This sonnet was penned on my iPhone, commuting on the 7:30am train from Gawler to Adelaide in South Australia. I had noted a competition on the website and this was my input representing Papua New Guinean poets

Barrick Gold's offer to rape victims slammed by NGOs

ROB ANNANDALE | The Tyee Newsletter / British Columbia, Canada

Barrick Gold's Porgera mineBARRICK GOLD, THE WORLD'S LARGEST gold mining company, has come under fire for attaching strings to a "remediation framework" offered to women raped by employees of its Papua New Guinea mine.

Following allegations of a series of gang rapes at its Porgera mine, Barrick devised a strategy the company says will help fulfill its promise to the surrounding communities: "We will uphold your rights and we will protect your dignity."

But a group of NGOs from Canada, the US and the UK says that the resulting document, far from protecting rape victims, requires them to waive their rights.

The framework document stipulates that in exchange for remedies such as access to counselling and micro-credit, "the claimant agrees that she will not pursue or participate in any legal action against [Porgera Joint Venture], PRFA [Porgera Remediation Framework Association Inc] or Barrick in or outside of [Papua New Guinea].

PRFA and Barrick will be able to rely on the agreement as a bar to any legal proceedings which may be brought by the claimant in breach of the agreement."

MiningWatch Canada's Catherine Coumans said the NGOs "do not believe women should have to sign away rights to possible future legal action in order to access the types of remedy Barrick is offering these victims of rape and gang rape."

While some of the alleged rapists were company employees, others were members of the police assigned to provide additional mine security.

But the NGOs say the material support Barrick provided to these police officers blurred the line between employees and non-employees, and they want the company to assist women raped by either category of security forces.

"We are also concerned that Barrick is not offering remedy to those women who have been raped and gang raped by members of police mobile squads who are being housed, fed and supported by PJV on PJV property," according to Rights & Accountability in Development's Tricia Feeney.

Continue reading "Barrick Gold's offer to rape victims slammed by NGOs" »

A tribute from 'PNG Attitude' to Ian Kemish AM


Kemish, Fitzpatrick, JacksonIAN KEMISH, WHO’S TENURE in Port Moresby is about to conclude, proved to be the right person in the right place at the right time for both Australia and Papua New Guinea.

His three years as Australia’s principal man in PNG turned out to be tumultuous ones. In future years, I’m sure he’ll look back on them with his wife Roxanne, herself a contributor of note, with feelings of both awe and satisfaction.

Ian Kemish also proved to be right for PNG Attitude and some of our major projects. Indeed, if it wasn’t for him, an important initiative that is proving to be of immense significance in PNG probably would never have got off the ground. More of this later.

The legacy of the Howard-Downer years was still overhanging the Australia-PNG relationship when Kemish was handed the reins three years ago.

Australia as deputy sheriff in the south-west Pacific never played well in Port Moresby nor was it a role that the Yankophilic Australia of the time either understood or, when it came to PNG, was particularly interested in.

In these conditions, PNG’s “look north” policy was invented and the relationship with China began to blossom. The Melanesian nations combined and began to exert some diplomatic muscle as an independent regional bloc.

Australia’s attitude was epitomised by the notorious incident in which prime minister Somare was unceremoniously divested of his footwear by immigration officers during an official visit to Australia; giving offence that was still stinging when Kemish took over the high commissioner’s office.

The England-born Kemish had gone to PNG at a very young age. His father Len worked for Elcom in the 1960s and early 1970s and the young Kemish completed his primary schooling in Moresby.

So the connection was there.

As a diplomat, prior to his PNG appointment, Kemish had already spent time in Indonesia, worked on secondment in New Zealand with special responsibility for Melanesia and spoke fluent Tok Pisin, an attribute not to be underestimated.

As evidence of his competency, Kemish had also been made a Member of the Order of Australia for managing the Australian government’s response in the aftermath of the 2002 Bali bombings.

You can be sure a higher honour and more senior appointments await him after the acumen he has shown during his most recent time in PNG.

His lack of arrogance, ability to go the extra mile, willingness to engage with ordinary Papua New Guineans wherever they were (even opening a Twitter account in the last few months!) and coolness in crisis were all noticed and appreciated in PNG.

Within a couple of hours of the news spreading that Kemish was about to depart, the expressions of regret had already begun to pour in.

One of them was mine.

When we were working to get the Crocodile Prize national literary awards up and running at the end of 2010, Phil Fitzpatrick and I were in desperate need of a strong, credible and resourced supporter in PNG.

Step forward Ian Kemish of the Australian High Commission with a commitment of finance, materiel and personnel – although the doughty Ruth Moiam proved to be much more value than the mere term ‘personnel’ might suggest.

I know not what Kemish had to contemplate or argue in throwing his weight behind a couple of blokes with no corporate or institutional backing who were trying to flog what they saw as a good idea.

Certainly we’d been studiously ignored by AusAID and by DFAT in Canberra who just didn’t want to know. Still don’t.

I can only assume that Kemish sniffed the air, rubbed his hands, rolled his eyes and decided to back his judgement.

The result has been a successful Crocodile Prize (now into its third year), the PNG Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers (which transferred administrative responsibility to PNG) and an annual anthology of PNG writing (print run 3,000).

There are now hundreds of Papua New Guinean writers who are conveying their own experiences and affairs from a distinctly Melanesian perspective and gaining public recognition, publication and funding.

There are thousands of readers who have the opportunity to read about their own country and its issues and stories as brought to them by their countrymen and women.

Phil and I are proud of this achievement, every PNG Attitude reader who supported it (and there have been many) should feel proud and that pride can certainly be shared by Ian Kemish.

An Australian who understood Papua New Guinea.

Photo: Kemish, Fitzpatrick and Jackson at the 2011 Crocodile Prize awards

New Australian High Commissioner to PNG announced

Deborah StokesMS DEBORAH STOKES will be Australia's next High Commissioner in Papua New Guinea. She will take up her appointment next month, replacing Ian Kemish AM who has served with distinction during his four years in PNG.

Ms Stokes is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and was most recently head of the international organisations and legal division.

She has previously served as Australia's Ambassador to Austria and as deputy head at the Australian Embassy in Tokyo.

Ms Stokes has also held senior positions in AusAID.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Adelaide and a Master of Philosophy from the University of Cambridge.

In her most recent post, Ms Stokes advises on Australia’s involvement in the United Nations, Commonwealth and other international organisations, with a focus on peacekeeping, human rights and international environment issues.

Revelations of alleged manipulation in BCL shares


Sturm_AxelUNUSUAL ACTIVITY ON THE Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) last Friday “confirms our suspicion that there is on-going market manipulation” in Bougainville Copper shares, according to Axel Sturm (pictured), president of the European Shareholders in Bougainville Copper.

Mr Sturm said that the ASX had experienced its highest daily turnover in Bougainville Copper equities for many years – which he described as a “stunning quantity”. In total more than 2.2 million shares were exchanged.

He said that ESBC us now investigating this event and that by the end of this week it will report more and “be able to bring light into this unusual affair.”

Mr Sturm believes that the unusual surge in activity was part of a plot by “crooked individuals who try to pull down the share price by selling their shares under value”.

He has urged investors to buy BCL shares to thwart what he terms “this malicious down-trading”.

Mr Sturm remains bullish on BCL share price, currently trading around 63 cents, expecting that at fair value it will “soar to $3 or even more.”

He also welcomed as positive news that Australian High Commissioner Ian Kemish will visit Panguna tomorrow.

Mr Kemish tweeted yesterday that he is “off to Bougainville for Panguna peace initiative supported by AusGov & ABG. Landowners, churches, former combatants & women coming together.”

Afek – mother of the Min of the Star Mountains


Telefol Cult House (photo, Colin Simpson, 1952)THE MIN ARE THE PEOPLE who live around the Ok Tedi Mine.  Their creation mother is called Afek.

The story of Afek varies greatly from place to place and the details are often contradictory and confusing.

No one knows the myth in its entirety. Rather, various groups know different parts of it.

Anthropologist Robert Brumbaugh says the myth is the ideological device which the Min mobilise to deal with unprecedented situations arising from contact and development. It is a statement of identity and a map of relationships. It was invoked during the development of the Ok Tedi mine.

In the late 1970s its existence came under serious threat from a Christian revival movement. The Christians rampaged through villages destroying the men's spirit houses.

The main spirit house at Telefolmin was almost lost but the 'pagans' held fast and saved it. The government then moved to protect the spirit house from Christian attacks by declaring it a national monument.

So the Afek myth is still alive and well today thanks to the efforts of the 'pagans' and it still fulfils its age-old role in Min life.

Beyond the traditional context, such as trade, the myth has the ability to underwrite new types of connection as circumstances change.

Initiation into an Afek cult house does not produce a ‘fully initiated’ man who knows the whole story. Knowledge is ‘parcelled’ out rather than shared. No one person knows the full story of Afek. 

Some Min groups partition knowledge between ritual moieties, each excluded on principle from the full knowledge held by the other.  Only the collective knowledge of the Min encompasses the full story.

The epoch that Afek created began about 300-400 years ago and it was not intended that it should last forever. Afek predicted that it would not last beyond 27 re-buildings of the Telefolip cult house (27 is the base of the Min counting system). 

At that point the earth is destined to turn over and flood. Based on genealogical data and oral history the epoch has currently reached just beyond the midway point.

There were no people before Afek. The world before belonged to the Utungmin or ‘spirit people’. Afek drove them into the deep forest to make way for her descendants but they remain hidden there to this day, where they are sometimes encountered by hunters.

While there is no definitive account of Afek and the collective version is riven with contradictions and inconsistencies it is possible to construct a narrative of sorts. 

The outline of the myth below is constructed from the Telefolmin version of the myth as recorded by Robert Brumbaugh, which is largely followed by other Min groups like the Faiwolmin and Wopkaimin around Ok Tedi.

Continue reading "Afek – mother of the Min of the Star Mountains" »

Attitude’s most commented upon articles in January


JANUARY WAS A STRANGE month for me personally – no soon had I become mobile from the last operation than I was plonked into hospital for the next. Which has left me temporarily without the use of one leg. Fortunately mobility, or the lack of it, is no restraint on the production of PNG Attitude.

January was a very good month for edgy articles, as you’ll see from the catalogue below. The top stories, as judged from your comments, have real substance and bite to them and they’re worth reading again – or for the first time if you haven’t caught up yet.

Good to see four Papua New Guinean names in the top five writers. (And we could probably add Peter Kranz to that as an honorary Melanesian.) Also, unusually, a poem features in your top selection of pieces this month. We often get comments on poetry, but rarely in enough quantity to make the bells ring.

And so to our most commented upon pieces for last month….

18 comments - Melanesian fruit pickers in Australia: the true grim story (Peter Kranz) After talking with a group of Papua New Guinean fruitpickers working in north-west Victoria under an official Australian assistance scheme, Peter produced this expose of the unconscionable conditions in which they were induced to work.

14 - On police brutality & police theft in Papua New Guinea (Ganjiki D Wayne). The PNG police can be a law unto themselves, and innocent citizens too often bear the brunt of their excesses. Ganjiki blows the whistle.

14 - Instead of banning betel nut, let’s try other ideas (Francis Nii). Banning buai may seem like a good idea for a range of health and environmental reasons but, as Francis points out, the decision is set to cost hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people their livelihoods.

14 - Fijians: Melanesians like PNGns but a class above (David Kitchnoge). “Fijians are Melanesians like us but they definitely are a class above. They are a nation of well groomed, calm and very organised individuals.” This comparison triggered an energetic debate amongst readers.

12 - Expats: Saving themselves more than serving us? (Ganjiki D Wayne). A tricky question – do expats serve in PNG to help others, help themselves or run away from something? “It's possible (they) are here because it gives them some sense of meaning and significance.”

8 - Citizens more scared of police than crims: what’s the answer? (Keith Jackson). A summary of the fascinating discussion provoked by Ganjiki Wayne’s article on police corruption and brutality. We also offered a solution.

8 - If you don’t know where you’ve come from…. (Phil Fitzpatrick). “Late last year I visited a village at the northern end of the Yuat Gorge. asked them how they came to be so far away from Wabag and living in East Sepik Province. None of them really knew.”

7 - Getting ready for Chinese money on the Okuk Highway (Terry Shelley). Will the application of billions of borrowed kina to improve PNG’s main trunk highway prove a bounty for looters, saboteurs and pirates?

7 - Haikai no renga - memories of Mosbi (Michael Dom). It’s rare for a poem to make the ’10 most commented’. Michael’s distant and wistful look at Moresby from a foreign land proved to be an exception – “Awoken at night / Stray winds bring dirty smells that / rain washes away”.

7 - Women advocates confuse gender equality & feminism (Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin). Sil let rip against ‘pedestal’ women leaders who “espouse demagogical rhetoric and make discriminatory speeches about the opposite sex… Their actions and speeches are usually and indelibly feminist and not about gender equality at all.”

7 - Death of pioneering PNG patrol officer Jack Karukuru (Allan Tarua) One of the first Papua New Guinean patrol officers, who was to become a departmental head, Jack Karukuru, died on New Year’s eve. “Jack Karukuru was a humble man who had a big heart for this nation.”

7 - Famous Kone Tigers oval is now a sex workers den (Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin). The ground that boasted great PNG rugby league names like Clarrie Burke, John Kaputin, Sean Dorne and Dadi Mahuru Toka has become a sleazy venue for public sex and drug consumption.

23 years on Charles weeps for his wife & daughter

LEONARD FONG ROKA | Supported by the Jeff Febi Writing Fellowship

Charles BangkiOPERATION TAMPARA WAS THE PNG government effort - including riot police and Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) elements - to quell the Bougainville uprising of May 1989 to early 1990.

Tampara is a Nasioi word that means ‘good’, so the military code name stood for ‘Operation Goodness’ or ‘Operation Bringing Goodness to Bougainville’.

But it was damning for old Charles Bangki (pictured) of Mosinau village in Panguna who had fled as a refugee to the Kongara 1 area of the Kieta District.

For Charles and the other people of Kieta, the name of the operation was a contradiction. In fact, it hardened people’s minds and hearts against the PNG government and against New Guineans and Papuans.

By the end of the operation, the villagers fully supported the militancy led by Francis Ona.

The PNG government’s brutality against the Bougainville people, who were fighting against PNG and Bougainville Copper Limited’s exploitation of their island, was fierce. The government and BCL supported each other to suppress the militancy for once and for all with every measure available.

The government security forces, as they were known, torched villages and looted gardens; used airborne machine guns, deployed mortars against civilians and killed innocent people.

Two of the many victims were Mrs Maria Bangki and her two-year old daughter, Joyce Bangki.

Upon their arrival in May 1989, the PNGDF concentrated their energies in the areas surrounding BCL’s Panguna mine in the hope of arresting rebel leader Francis Ona.

They began their unlawful acts of torching villages from the west of the mine site, in the Tumpusiong Valley.

When Australia donated four Huey helicopters, the PNGDF took the inaccessible villages of Widoi, Poaru and Mosinau in the Toio River valley, east and south-east of Panguna.

The PNGDF attack on the Toio Valley was overwhelming for the war-primitive militants who had no high-powered guns or mortars.

With mortar platoons perched on the Guava-Kokore ridge shelling the valley below and hovering choppers raking heavy machine gun fire upon the jungles, the government troops torched villages alongthe Toio Valley.

It was then that Charles Bangki and his wife Maria decided to flee for safety with their children to the Bougainvillean highlands in Kongara 1.

In the Kongara area, the family were refugees but safe.

But in October 1989, the PNGDF choppers began routine daily visits into the highlands of Bougainville. Government troops began visiting Sipuru and Kakusira villages in Kongara 2 by road, blocking off Kongara 1.

On a late October morning, the government forces raided the village of Tairima that was a few minutes’ walk from the Bangki family at Dopari. Stunned villagers watched from a distance as the soldiers burned down their homes.

By midday, mortar platoons engaged Dopari village. The Bangki family and the people fled into the inhospitable jungle. Here they erected makeshift shelters to hide from killers and looters.

From the safety of the jungle, they watched as Dopari village went up in flames. People wept for their assets. Then helicopters opened fire on the jungle, keeping the people on the run.

Continue reading "23 years on Charles weeps for his wife & daughter" »

Examining the politics of righteous & abusive leadership

Kofi Mangi Tari AssanKOFI MANGI TARI ASSAN | Facebook

“YOU ARE A SPECIALLY prepared generation for our time to demonstrate better leadership”. When I turned 16, I started feeling promptings to serve as a leader for our Great Nation.

I knew I was too young to have such a thought in mind but it was a dream. I knew very well that one day I must fulfil it. Initially I felt excited about serving, but embarking on this mission was more challenging than I anticipated.

My Dad did not understand why I had such a dream; my own friends surely thought I sick. But I knew that God wanted me to serve a mission. Now at 25 I would like to reflect on my journey so far and outline some of my experiences.

“God has blessed us with the will and desire to be an example to the rest of Papua New Guinea and to live the balanced, righteous life as a leader”.

Over these years I was lucky enough to be at the frontline of politics as my father served as a consultant to the Department of Minerals and Petroleum; it seemed that every day he was in and out of Parliament House.

And the travel. Today Hela, tomorrow Ok Tedi. The trips were endless for him.

Inquisitive as I was in order to achieve my mission, I followed him to every state banquet in order to see the leaders that power PNG.

It was a great experience. I made sure I spoke to every single one of them and exchanged a friendly handshake.

I wanted to know more. I wanted know the type of leadership they pursued - Righteous or Abusive leadership. Sadly I couldn’t clarify this over several exchange of handshakes, but I did work it out over the years of studying their tactics in governing this Great Land.

Our present and past leaders have two attributes - Righteous and Abusive. It’s simple - they choose one or the other. When our leaders take the mantle of leadership they make a choice for one or the other, heavily influenced by power, money, greed and yearning for publicity.

We have been privileged to live at a special time in our political history. The early era gave us great traditions and the pioneers are still present and active in both politics and social life.

I think our leaders, both present and past, are fiddlers on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking their necks.

It isn’t easy and you may ask why they stay up there if it’s so dangerous. I can say they are up there because PNG is home and they wanna make a difference.

The grounds around Parliament Haus are always attractive. Go in front of it and see if it does not inspire you to make some improvements in the way we serve PNG.

The Lord has established some basic standards for governance which we must honour. Obedience to these standards remains a requirement before entering Parliament.

Sometimes when we are in power or serving as public servants we may feel that others will not accept us because of the high standards we have for ourselves, but just do it.

Abusive leadership just won’t do.

“As we serve and lead we must exhibit Righteousness as directed by the Lord regardless of our calling, we will both bless and be blessed by Mother PNG”.

Our leaders are called to help us become true followers in order for us to be better. Our leaders must live up to the expectations we have for them.

They must teach us how to be true followers by their personnel example. Not by exhibiting abusive leadership.

Join me in striving to make a better PNG. Even the bird sometimes faces obstructions in its flight. Thank God we are still able to correct the mistakes of our past and present leaders.

Kumuls leave the Bunnies shaken but not stirred

DANIEL LANE | Sydney Morning Herald

Taking it up the middleBOASTING A PROP NAMED Loko and a back-rower called Mexico the Papuan New Guinea Residents sounded as though they could be a bunch of tough hombres, and on Saturday the pair played their part to ensure Souths' annual return to Redfern Oval was a bone-rattling occasion.

With their co-owner Hollywood actor Russell Crowe watching proceedings from high in the stand, the Rabbitohs won the encounter 38-12 – but they suffered a few bruises along the way

Mark Mexico nailed Souths forward Dave Tyrrell when he returned the kick-off for the second quarter like a cannonball.

The Souths faithful, and there were a few thousand of them, screamed “shoulder charge” to the referee as Tyrrell was presumably asked by his team's trainer what planet he was on.

He rallied a few minutes later when he dragged three defenders across the line to allow the Rabbitohs to level the scores 12-12 after they went into the first quarter a surprising six points behind the visitors.

If any Souths player pulled his boots on thinking the trial against the Papua New Guineans was going to be a walk in a park, they were rudely enlightened by the men from Port Moresby, Lae and the Highlands.

They were subjected to some fierce hits, and it was a collective and committed effort in defence from the resident Kumuls. Time after time in the first half they repelled numerous Rabbitohs raids with scrambling defence.

Their try-saving feats were assisted, to a degree, by the Souths attack, which failed to keep the ball alive out wide when there were tries begging.

There were plenty of players trying to make things happen, including halfback Luke Keary, a former Australian rugby union schoolboy representative who starred in last year's Souths under-20 side.

His halves partner, Jason Hunt, played some clever and skilful football and sparked some exciting raids. Hooker Apisai Koroisau, who is behind Isaac Luke and Nathan Peats, was another to make the most of his opportunity in the top team.

The Papua New Guineans were as keen to impress. Enoch Maki unceremoniously up-ended George Burgess; his brother

Thomas was given a tough welcome to Souths when, as the fourth member of the Burgess clan from England to play for Souths, he was dragged down by a few defenders while making some mighty runs.

The visitors displayed some flamboyance to complement their toughness and the pick of them was their No 7, Israel Eliab, a 22-year-old with a promising future. He scored two tries in the opening 20 minutes, the most exciting of the pair a 70 metre intercept try.

They didn't get a look in from there. Souths, who played the game in a good spirit, seized control of the game on the back of tries to Jason Clark, who bagged a double, Tyrell, Ben Lowe, Aaron Gray and Bennett Leslie.

Souths 38 (Jason Clark 2, Dave Tyrrell, Ben Lowe, Chris McQueen Aaron Gray, Bennett Leslie tries; Bryson Goodwin 5 goals) beat PNG Residents 12 (Israel Elobi two tries)

Angry West Papua leaders demand Diamond’s apology

Survival International

Diamond book warningLEADERS ACROSS WEST PAPUA have demanded controversial author Jared Diamond apologises for describing them in his new book as warlike, and strengthening the idea that indigenous people are ‘backwards’.

The West Papuan leaders attack Diamond’s central arguments that ’most small-scale societies … become trapped in cycles of violence and warfare’ and that ‘New Guineans appreciated the benefits of the state-guaranteed peace that they had been unable to achieve for themselves without state government.’

Mr Diamond makes no mention of the brutality and oppression suffered by the people of West Papua at the hands of the Indonesian occupation since 1963, which has led to the killing of at least 100,000 Papuan tribal people at the hands of the Indonesian military.

Benny WendaBenny Wenda (pictured), a Papuan tribal leader, said to Survival, ‘What he (Jared Diamond) has written about my people is misleading … he is not writing about what the Indonesian military are doing … I saw my people being murdered by Indonesian soldiers and my own Auntie was raped in front of my eyes.

'Indonesia told the world that this was ’tribal war’ – they tried to pretend that it was us that was violent and not them – this book is doing the same. He should apologize.’

Markus Haluk, a senior member of the Papuan Customary Council, added, ‘The total of Dani victims from the Indonesian atrocities over the 50 year period is far greater than those from tribal war of the Dani people over hundreds of thousands of years.’

Matius Murib, Director of the Baptist Voice of Papua, condemned Diamond’s assertion that tribal peoples live in a ‘world until yesterday’.

He said, ‘This book spreads prejudices about Papuan people … that indigenous Papuans still display a way of life from hundreds of years ago. This is not true and strengthens the idea that indigenous people are ’backwards’, ‘live in the past’ or are ‘stone age.’

Reverend Socratez Yoman, Head of the West Papuan Baptist Church, has also demanded an apology from Mr Diamond to the Papuan people.

Dominikus Surabut, currently jailed for treason for peacefully declaring West Papuan independence, described the relationship of indigenous West Papuans and the Indonesian state as political apartheid.

In a statement smuggled out of his jail cell, he said, ‘This is the very nature and character of colonial occupation of indigenous peoples, where they are treated as second class citizens whose oppression is justified by painting them as backwards, archaic, warring tribes – just as suggested by Jared Diamond in his book about tribal people.’

Survival International and TAPOL received the messages of outrage following condemnation of the book by Survival last week. The book has since been the subject of heated debate during Mr Diamond’s visit to the UK

The PNG gas boom and its ‘wildly inequitable results’

CÉLINE ROUZET | Le Monde Diplomatique

THROUGH THE CRACKED WINDOWS of the local minibus we watched Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, flash past: potholed roads, concrete and sheet metal buildings baking in the sun, weed-covered walls crowned with barbed wire.

Port Moresby is dangerous, and foreigners are advised not to travel by bus, by taxi, or on foot.

The slums that surround the city have swollen since ExxonMobil’s huge Papua New Guinea Liquefied Natural Gas (PNG LNG) project started in 2009.

Benjamin, a politics student who used to rob banks, took us to the Badili slum, his home of the past 11 years, where a group of men gathered around us, chewing betel paste and eyeing us with a mixture of curiosity and distrust.

“People kill each other here,” said Benjamin. “There are all sorts: people fleeing tribal fighting or accusations of witchcraft in their villages, people looking for a better life in the capital, civil servants, professionals, criminals, prostitutes… we do what we can to survive.”

Has anything changed since the PNG LNG project began? “We’ve got nothing out of it, the only difference is that now more people live here.”

In four years, the arrival of the second biggest oil company in the world and its $19bn project (20% financed by the government) has transformed the capital. It aims to supply China and Japan with gas for 30 years, and is the biggest development project ever undertaken in the Pacific. But it has caused a dispute between the US and China.

On 2 March 2011 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even accused Beijing of trying to push ExxonMobil out of the project: “We are in a competition with China,’’ she told the Senate foreign relations committee. Papua New Guinea is rich in natural resources and has become a strategic pawn for the US in its attempts to counter the growing influence of China, which quadrupled direct investment in the country between 2005 and 2010.

Luxury international hotels and apartment blocks for foreign executives have arrived in Port Moresby with ExxonMobil, raising prices. An average apartment in this dusty little city now costs $1,300 a week; offices and accommodation are more expensive than in Manhattan.

“Exxon and its subcontractors only house foreign employees in Moresby; most local workers live with their families in the slums,” said Benjamin. Around us skinny children fought over empty beer bottles on the ground. A drunk staggered by and showed us his finger, stained purple with ink:

“Look, I’ve voted! But our politicians are corrupt; they don’t care about us. In a year or two, this place will probably disappear. ExxonMobil wants to build tower blocks here.”

Continue reading "The PNG gas boom and its ‘wildly inequitable results’" »

PNG spends on the new stuff; neglects what exists

Radio New Zealand International

Tattered national flagAN AUSTRALIAN ACADEMIC says there are concerns that too much of Papua New Guinea’s national budget goes on new developments rather than maintaining existing facilities.

The comment was made by Professor Steven Howes of the Australian National University as his Development Policy Centre met with the PNG National Research Institute to study ways to make PNG budget spending more effective.

The two institutes are considering the results of a survey which looked at the impact on key infrastructure of the substantially bigger PNG budgets of the last few years.

Prof Howes said the surveys have been conducted going back ten years and they have noticed a tendency to spend on projects rather than supporting every day service-delivery funding.

“Certainly one of the things that our team noticed as they went out as just that the standard of facilities left a lot to be desired,” Prof Howes said.

“A lot of them were literally falling down,” he said.

“So I think one problem is that so far too much of the new money has gone to new projects, for new roads or new classrooms and not enough has gone to maintaining the existing stock of assets.”

Panguna may reopen as Rio warms to its old mine


Panguna as the mine wasRIO TINTO IS LOOKING into restarting its Panguna mine in Papua New Guinea, one of the world's largest sources of copper and gold until the company abandoned it a quarter century ago after local villagers chased off workers in a secessionist uprising.

A new study by Rio Tinto's majority-owned subsidiary Bougainville Copper Ltd says the mine on Bougainville contains at least five million tonnes of copper worth $41 billion at today's prices and 19 million ounces of gold worth $32 billion.

Renewed interest in the Panguna mine comes as Rio Tinto, which is expected to report a 20% drop in annual profit to around $10 billion next week, heralds a greater focus on its copper and iron ore businesses in the coming years.

Rio Tinto has long-shunned returning to the island despite an end to hostilities in 2001 and discussions from time to time with the government. In 2005, it sold its stake in another mine on Lihir island.

Between 1972 and 1989 some 3 million tonnes of copper and 9.3 million ounces of gold were mined from Panguna.

The potential for a restart could only be fully assessed once it was safe to return to the mine, according to Peter Taylor, managing director of Bougainville Copper, which owns the Panguna mine.

The new estimate for copper and gold "supports consideration of a number of potential development options", Taylor said in a statement.

"BCL continues to work with stakeholders on exploring ways in which the project may be advanced," Taylor said.

Bougainville Copper's income is now generated primarily as interest revenue on a range of debt and equity investments.

For the year ended 31 December 2012, it posted a loss of $2.6 million.

First major survey of cervical cancer in PNG

IRIN | UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

A LARGE-SCALE SURVEY of cervical cancer will be launched later this month in Papua New Guinea, where more than 1,500 women die of the disease each year.

“Results of the study will be available later in 2013 when, for the first time, PNG will have the necessary evidence to build a solid public health policy in this area,” said Andrew Vallely, deputy director of science at the PNG Institute of Medical Research.

Cervical cancer is caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), with the two most common types (HPV16 and HPV18) resulting in 75% of all cancers.

While effective vaccines are available, authorities do not know how much or what type of HPV they are dealing with.

According to the World Health Organization, cervical cancer is the most common cancer among women aged 15-44 in PNG.

There is no data on the HPV burden in PNG’s general population, but worldwide an estimated 11.4% of women harbour cervical HPV.

Sherlock Holmes in New Guinea: Part the ultimo


HOLMES, WATSON, POLICEMAN VEX and Planter Howard burst into the Bita Paka telegraph station and confronted a squad of surprised German soldiers.

"Don't go for your weapons, gentlemen, you are surrounded!" said Watson, brandishing his revolver.

At this moment there was a distant roar followed quickly by a tremendous shaking of the ground as if the very air around them had erupted.

"Wir kapitulation!" shrieked the terrified German Kiapitan.

"Gentlemen, you are confronted by the might of the British imperial fleet. Surrender with honour!"

And so Holmes, Watson, Vex and Howard saved the South Pacific from domination by the Hun.

Watson - "Holmes, how did you know that the volcano was about to erupt?"

Holmes - "Elementary dear Watson. And now we have a score to settle with the lovely Ms Adler!"

Watson - "But Holmes, there's one of those newfangled submersible craft waiting to take us to safety! I believe it is based on the plans of Mr Bruce-Partington."

Holmes - "I think we'll take a slow boat home Watson."

Peter O’Neill must act to stamp out sorcery killings


Kepari Leniata is burned aliveTHE IMAGE HERE is so shocking as to be almost indescribable. That it has gone around the world with such speed is unsurprising.

In the eyes of many people, it is set to become a metaphor for today’s Papua New Guinea.

Brutal, mindless, out of control.

After being accused of sorcery, Kepari Leniata, 20, was stripped, tortured, bound, doused in petrol and burned alive on a rubbish heap in Mount Hagen on Wednesday.

Police said Kepari was attacked by relatives of a boy aged 6, who had died in Mount Hagen hospital the day before.

Of course police say the people responsible for the horrendous killing will be caught and punished, one would expect no less.

But the real problem lies with the PNG government. Successive administrations have seen sorcery-related murders increase on their watch without taking any substantive action to eliminate the practice.

Such mindless brutality is a sign of significant social breakdown at the nation’s grassroots.

The neglect by central government of the areas where the bulk of its people live is well known.

It has been manifested by a degrading infrastructure, outbreaks of diseases previously been brought under control, an appalling track record in health and education, and by people taking the law into their own hands.

We await an immediate statement by Peter O’Neill on what his government, in conjunction with provincial governments, will be doing to stamp out such practices.

Papua New Guinea and its people should not have to tolerate this bloodthirsty behaviour for one moment longer.

How stonewalling contributed to the death of Pres Kabui

LEONARD FONG ROKA | Supported by the Jeff Febi Writing Fellowship

This is the 6,000th article to be published in PNG Attitude since it began in February 2006

David PerakaiDAVID PERAKAI (pictured), blood nephew of the late Bougainville President Joseph Kabui, was a founding figure in the militancy against Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) in 1988.

After the 1990 ceasefire between the Papua New Guinea Defence Force and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army he remained near his uncle and, with the dawn of the Bougainville Peace Process in 1997, he served as Kabui’s personal bodyguard until the president’s death in June 2008.

To Perakai, Kabui’s death was the ‘punishment’ of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) because of Kabui’s approval of Canadian businessman Lindsay Semple, who’s firm Invincible Resources backed the Bougainville Resources Development Corporation (BRDC) without cabinet’s blessing.

The BRDC issue was recently addressed on the floor of the ABG parliament by President John Momis. But back in 2005-2008, the ABG House with its few big-mouth parliamentarians was not willing to deal with it systematically.

According to David Perakai, the late president had the desire to treat the BRDC-Invincible Resources affair independently and did not dip his hands into the K20 million of Lindsay Semple’s money.

The ABG, under Kabui, initially used some of this money to repatriate BRA/Bougainville Interim Government (BIG) overseas based activists Moses Havini, Mike Forster and Martin Miriori.

Some of this controversial money undeniably went into the pockets of BRDC/Invincible supporters; some went to the recently completed ABG housing project at Hutjena, Kubu and Sohano.

But Kabui’s parliamentarians protested against him by denying him access to clean funds for medical treatment overseas.

Just before the BRDC/Invincible Resources standoff, the late Joseph Kabui was admitted to the Pacific International Hospital in Port Moresby with a serious heart problem.

He was referred to the Catholic Church run Malhas Hospital in Townsville, Australia, for an operation to replace the main artery supplying blood to the heart.

Thus in June 2007 President Kabui, his wife and David Perakai were in Townsville where Kabui’s artery was removed and replaced with a plastic artery that required a review every six months at the cost of some K10,000. With other expenses like transport it would add up to K20,000.

Upon his return, the ABG row over BRDC/Invincible Resources erupted, dividing the government and arousing public condemnation of the president.

In light of his medical needs, and in an attempt to isolate the BRDC/Invincible Resources crisis, Kabui pushed for a proper budgetary allocation for his medical review. This was denied.

By this time another problem had surfaced in the ABG. The member for Central Bougainville Women, Magdalene Toro’ansi, was stripped from her portfolio for being a mole in the ABG.

Toro’ansi was known in the ABG for leaking confidential ABG agendas to Waigani before planned Waigani-ABG meetings. Thus all ABG meetings and negotiation strategies were unproductive. So the Bougainville Executive Council removed her to the backbench.

To cover up her disloyalty to Bougainville, Toro’ansi joined the anti-BRDC camp that included parliamentarians Robert Sawa Hamar, Thomas Lugabai and Francisca Semoso. This change added fuel to the anti-Kabui campaign.

The protestors claimed that President Joseph Kabui was misusing public funds in the pretext of medical trips.

With a settlement of the crisis nowhere in sight, the president’s health worsened as he faced the dilemma of missing the second medical review in June 2008. But with illness threatening he and David Perakai left for Manus where the Kabui chaired the Papua New Guinea governors’ meeting.

On Friday 6 June, the president and his team returned back to Bougainville without any rest when the protestors ordered a Bougainville Executive Council meeting to talk about the BRDC/Invincible Resources case by 1 o’clock that same day.

Just after midnight on the 7 June 2008, Joseph Kabui died at his residence in Hutjena.

For David Perakai and other parliamentarians and bureaucrats sympathetic to Kabui, there remain doubts as to why the President John Momis, after getting into office, cost the ABG some K80,000 for a medical review in Singapore with his whole family without any noise from parliamentarians!

This was a privilege that the late President Joseph Kabui had been denied.

Photographer documents atrocities against PNG women


Hellen AlphonsPAPUA NEW GUINEA suffers under a cloak of violence against women that still runs unabated, especially for those who live at the bottom of society with little legal recourse or protection.

A new and alarming trend in some assaults has been carefully documented by award winning photojournalist Vlad Sokhin, who exposes an ancient form of violence against women in the region.

“Women told me their stories; many of which just shocked me,” said Sokhin, the founder and publisher of Fotoevidence, an acclaimed online archive that also hosts The Fotoevidence Book Award.

Through the award, Fotoevidence recognises each year, “a documentary photographer whose project demonstrates courage and commitment in addressing a violation of human rights, a significant injustice or an assault on human dignity.”

Growing up as a Russian/Portuguese photographer, Sokhin currently lives in Sydney. In March 2012 he was recognised as the winner of the 2012 FotoEvidence Book Award.

In his in-depth documentation of social injustice against women, Sokhin has not shied away from an honest and at times hard look at violent acts against women in PNG.

These women have been on the receiving end of a system where 80% of all violence against women is unpunished.

“If you dig deep beneath the pain of Sokhin’s images you can find compassion and a rising sense of outrage in the desperate needs for protection of all women,” says WNN – Women News Network founder and editor-at-large Lys Anzia.

Sokhin’s project Crying Meri was selected for a screening at Visa Pour L’Image 2012 in Perpignan, France. His photos have also been displayed by a United Nations educational campaign in Papua New Guinea, addressing the issue of violence against women.


Hellen Alphons, 38, walks with a rudimentary crutch outside her home. She lost her leg in 2005 in a fight with her drunken husband, Alai Kawa, when he chopped her right leg with a bushknife in front of their young children.

Kawa was arrested but, after treatment, Hellen left her home fearing her husband's release. When she returned home in 2010 she learned that her husband had died in prison.

Nowadays she lives together with Alai’s sister. Today they both run a small shop in Kundiawa in Simbu Province. Image: Vlad Sokhin

Sherlock Holmes in New Guinea: Part d’aighth


THE AROMATIC German agent Ms Adler addressed the disguised Holmes brusquely. "Herr Schwanz? What a joke. I have your informant Planter Howard twisted around my little thumb!"

Watson - "Ma'am, with all due respect, I think you mean your little finger."

Adler - "Shut up you coward!" and Irene pulled a Luger pistol from beneath her meri blouse (the exact whereabouts of where it was concealed shall not be revealed) and pointed it straight at Holmes' forehead.

"Now you die, you British dog!"

"As you wish Ms Adler, but there is a fiercesome warrioress from a famed Simbu clan behind you with a stone axe aimed at your skull. I believe her reflexes are quicker than yours."

But a microsecond before she could fire, Inspector Vex leapt from the chair where he had been watching and forced her arm upwards. The shot went harmlessly into the ceiling, where the bullet hole can be seen to this day.

Holmes - “Good Vex, where did that fine Highlands creature appear from, and why?”

“Mr Holmes, I took the precaution of engaging some local security to help protect us as we are in dangerous German territory.  They have been tracking us for some time. They are from the infamous Geefouress tribe, trusty but of somewhat dubious reputation. They share one talk of mine.”

Holmes - "Watson, Vex - quickly, come with me. We must save Howard before it is too late. Leave Adler, she's just playing an old tune."

They rushed from the hotel and hailed the nearest horse and cart. "Hurry - to Ulaveo! There are lives at stake!"

The three got to Ulaveo just in time. "Howard! Take cover!" A burst of machine gun fire raked the homestead. "Quick Howard, out the back  Where did that fire come from?"

Planter Howard indicated the vicinity of Bita Paka. "The Huns have a secret telegraph base there about two miles hence. We must put it out of action!"

Howard - "You realise the Germans are planning to invade Australia once hostilities commence?"

Holmes - "Yes Howard. That is why we are here."

Evading German patrols, they at last found themselves outside the telegraph base, hidden by dense jungle.

Holmes - "Watson, draw your service revolver. We have need of it! If we don't take this base it will be a downer for all!"

Howard reluctantly nodded agreement as the men prepared for an assault hoping not to be peppered by gunfire.

Seeking the descendants of coastwatcher Jack Read


Jack ReadMY FATHER-IN-LAW - Morgan Seeto of Kavieng - died recently and we held a ceremony for him here in Brisbane on Tuesday.

One of the interesting things in his early life was that, when he was at boarding school in Melbourne in the 1950s, he used to go up to stay with the Mrs Jack Read, who was the widow of Jack Read (pictured), the Coastwatcher and, as I understand it, the first post-war District Commissioner of New Ireland.

My wife and mother-in-law would like to contact any of the Read's children, if indeed, they had any, to let them know of this connection and also to thank them.

My father-in-law had survived the war, was sent to Australia to catch up on his education and the Reads were very kind to him, making those years in Melbourne less strange.

I approach you Keith as I noticed you were listed in Patrick Lindsay's book on the Coastwatchers as one of the people he consulted.

Indeed, we bought the book for my father-in-law about two years ago and he read it from cover to cover, given that he had spent much of his early life dodging the Japanese with his family on the west coast of New Ireland.

Does anyone know where the Read descendants might be?

Sherlock Holmes in New Guinea: Part the servants


AFTER MANY DAY of hardship, Holmes, Watson and the policeman Vex eventually made their way to the coast.

Holmes - "Vex. How do we find our way to the German colony over the seas?"

Vex - "We will have to hire some local sailors with knowledge of the reefs and passages."

Holmes - "Well please make appropriate arrangements. They will be amply rewarded. We have to meet with a planter called Howard. His family plantation is at a place I believe to be called Ulaveo."

Vex - "The boats are ready, Mr Holmes"

And so they embarked on what they hoped might be the last stage of their perilous journey halfway around the world to counter the clear and present danger to the British Empire that Holmes had deduced from a simple piece of paper.

Holmes - "Watson, we have to assume disguise as we are now entering German territory. They are ambitious to overthrow Britain, so we must be discreet. You can be Herr Adelheid, I'll take on the persona of Herr Schwanz. We are both prospective businessmen interested in the copra trade."

Watson - "All right, Holmes, whatever you say. But my German is not really up to scratch."

Holmes - "Just keep saying bitte and danke. It normally suffices"

Vex - "Holmes, I speak fluent German. Grew up with it."

Holmes - "Excellent Vex - you can pretend to be our secretary."

And so they landed at Rabaul. As it was late, they decided to stay the night at the Hamamas Hotel. They enjoyed a fine local meal of steamed fish and tropical vegetables wrapped in a banana leaf.

Watson - "Igair Holmes, this local food is rather tasty! What do you say we get Mrs Hudson onto cooking this?"

Holmes - "Alimentary good Watson. I fear her culinary talents are somewhat ethnophobic. But I wouldn't mind a taste of her excellent plum duff for afters."

After dinner they wandered into the lounge to enjoy a cigar. Seated comfortably, they had just lit up, with a post-prandial glass of brandy next to their elbows, when the room was transformed by the entry of the most beautiful woman either had ever seen.

Watson - "My God Holmes, who do you that excessively attractive young woman might be?"

Holmes - "Watson, keep your voice down. That is the most effective German agent ever employed. It is Ms Irene Adler, born of German and New Guinea parents. And she's coming to see us!"

Ms Adler sidled up to their table with a languorous look and smelling of perfume from M Dior. She took one look at Holmes and purred, "Herr Schwanz, I presume?"

Why is that man standing on his head? Cultural awareness turned upside down


ONE OF THE OCCASIONAL OFFSHOOTS of my social mapping activities is teaching cultural awareness.

Social mapping tries to provide resource developers with a range of cultural, historical, economic and social data so that they can understand the communities upon whom they plan to impose themselves.

The theory is that with such an understanding they are less likely to breach social protocols and upset people.  Good manners, after all, go a long way towards establishing useful working relationships. 

At the same time, although they are less likely to acknowledge the fact, it gives them an edge when trying to head off dissent and other costly hiccups.

The various pieces of legislation in Papua New Guinea that make social mapping and landowner identification studies mandatory, such as the Oil and Gas Act, do not explicitly cite the above elements as aims but the assumption of their value seems to be generally accepted by everyone involved.

Also accepted is the proposition that development is inevitable.  If there is a resource somewhere to be exploited it is a given that it will eventually be dug up, cut down or otherwise harvested.

The emphasis in the law is more about being seen to mitigate the impact of development and less about actually doing it. It is also largely about identifying the correct people to whom royalties will be paid – the people that both the government and the company need to suck up to and cultivate and get on side.

So pervasive is this need perceived that universities in Australia and overseas now offer courses in social impact analysis.  But don’t kid yourself that they are about helping the locals; they are all about making the developer’s road as smooth as possible.

Cultural awareness teaching sometimes follows social mapping.  It is generally an informal and hit-and-miss process that might involve a one-off session with company bosses in an air conditioned conference room somewhere with the usual power point presentation featuring colourful snapshots and impressive pie charts. 

At another level it might be simply talking informally to a bunch of scruffy riggers in a bush camp out in the jungle. 

In either case it can be guaranteed that the participants will forget everything they’ve been told within a day or so.  Either that or their innate hard-nosed corporate attitude will cause them to dismiss everything you’ve said because they really know better. 

The technical term for this attitude is ‘going through the motions’.  In these situations you come away with a sense of hopeless inevitability and a vague but disturbing gratitude that they’ve found time to humour you, if only for an hour or so.

Continue reading "Why is that man standing on his head? Cultural awareness turned upside down" »

Sherlock Holmes in New Guinea: Parth the thixth


Giant red leechTHE MOTUAN POLICEMAN, Inspector Vex, guided Holmes and Watson out of Moresby accompanied by some trusty native porters. They climbed and eventually gazed down at the distant lights of Port Moresby.

"Where are we Vex?"

"A place called Sogeri. The wildlife is unique and the climate somewhat more pleasant than the coast".

They travelled on a few more miles and stopped to make camp.

Watson - "Holmes, there is a strange foreboding feel to this place. What do you think?"

Holmes - "Watson I fear we may have stumbled across a place of great future importance, although my inner sense leads me to shudder when thinking about this track. There is pain and misery and desperation awaiting some poor souls."

Watson - "I should think so. Just look at the soles of my boots!"

Holmes - "Better turn in now, my old friend, we have some hard days slog ahead. Did you bring your trusty service revolver? I fear we may have need of it."

And so the small party trudged on, making their weary way to the small hamlet known as Kokoda.

Watson - "Holmes! I've been attacked by a giant slimy creature! Luckily my good friend Vex knew how to deal with it."

Holmes - "I see you have made acquaintance with the Kinabalu giant red leech, not normally found in these parts. That is interesting. Can you please preserve it in a jar of formaldehyde? I may have occasion to write a scientific paper about it."

Watson - "Holmes, it attacked me! Damned if I'm going to preserve it. It's repulsive!"

Vex - "Be quiet you two. There are tribes in this area known to cannibals! And we hear strange noises in the jungle ahead!"

Holmes - "But Vex it is merely the welcoming sound of kundu drums if I'm not mistaken. They are announcing we are welcome to the next village where they have slaughtered a pig and prepared a meal for us! Come, we have not a mumu to lose!"

Do some missions exaggerate what they find in PNG?


PNG Attitude scours a range of publications for material of interest to readers. In doing so, we’ve discovered that a characteristic of many missionary organisations is a tendency to exaggerate the dangers and bizarreness of their work in Papua New Guinea. We publish these articles without comment, although we do omit the most offensive or insensitive parts. Here Phil Fitzpatrick addresses the issue….

I FIND THE PROPENSITY of missionaries in Papua New Guinea, both now and in the past, to discover things that aren't there extremely curious.

The recent account of ‘ritual widow-killing’ isn't an isolated story. In fact, a few of the missionaries’ more outrageous and ludicrous accounts occasionally feature on PNG Attitude.

These articles are the tip of the iceberg. If you check out some of mission blogs, especially the American fundamentalists like New Tribes, hideous pagan rituals and customs in Papua New Guinea are in plague proportions.

The most common modern missionary claim seems to be that their people go to places where no European has ever been before.

This pioneering trek is closely followed by the discovery of some licentious behaviour which is healed through the power of prayer.

Either these missionaries are extremely gullible or they are not telling the truth. I suspect the latter.

But I suppose making up wild and improbable stories is part and parcel of the Christian zealot's ethos.

What sad people. You'd think they'd have better things to do than bother hitherto happy villagers.

Days of the Kiap – the savage murders of Telefomin


The memorial at Telefomin0001THE MURDERS OF Patrol Officer Gerald Szarka, Cadet Patrol Officer Geoffrey Harris, Constable Buritori and Constable Purari near Telefomin in 1953 had a profound effect on the minds of every kiap and policeman in Papua New Guinea at the time and became a reference point that endured up to independence in 1975.

The 1950s in TPNG were the Shangri-La years, a sort of golden age for the kiaps and the police who worked with them. 

Patrols were everywhere walking into hidden pristine valleys and discovering large populations of happy and virile people who greeted them openly with smiles and brightly coloured feathers and flowers in their hair.

As the old kiaps and policemen now contemplate that great patrol post in the sky it is invariably set in the halcyon 1950s. Life was raw but simple, fulfilling and joyous. The events at Telefomin had a jarring effect on that naivety.

What happened at Telefomin was both unusual and disquieting. The people there had had contact with Europeans since before World War II and the patrol post had been set up in 1948. They were not newly-contacted people reacting to the shock of alien invasion. The patrol they attacked was undertaking a routine census.

Most disquieting of all was the fact that the attacks at three separate places occurred simultaneously, were deliberately opportunistic and appeared to have been well planned.

The opportunity to attack finally came when Szarka split his patrol, sending Harris to one part of the Eliptamin valley while he visited the other. This decision turned a strong, consolidated patrol into a weak and vulnerable one.

Jim Sinclair provides the following details:

Harris was attacked first, at about 7.30 a.m., while still in bed in the Terapdavit resthouse. He was terribly wounded with tomahawk blows and arrows.  One of his police constables, Kombo, was seized at about the same time and injured with blows from a heavy length of wood and a tomahawk, but he broke free, secured his rifle and shot one of Harris’ attackers, frightening them all into flight.

One of the other constables, Paheki, was also rushed and he, too, managed to defend himself with his bayonet, stabbing a tribesman in the back and another in the belly. The third constable, Muyei, a strongly built man, was outside basking in the sun, and he easily threw off the men who jumped him, running into the police quarters in time to save the medical orderly, Bunat, from a grisly death.

Continue reading "Days of the Kiap – the savage murders of Telefomin" »

Sherlock Holmes in New Guinea: Part the Vth


HOLMES MADE HIS WAY to the harbour at
 Thursday Island to see what vessel Watson had managed to engage for their trip to New   Guinea.

Holmes – “Watson, what is this waterlogged heap of old debris you have acquired for us? It looks like a toy!"

Watson - "Funny you should say that Holmes. It's a lakatoi, and has been plying these waters for thousands of years."

So they embarked on the next stage of their adventure - across the Torres Strait and the Gulf of Papua to Port Moresby.

The winds held true, the crew caught fish and a turtle, and after five days the coast of Papua was

Watson – “I am in need of dry land. I can't stand this continuous rocking and rolling."

Holmes – “Get accustomed to it, Watson. I believe it will be fashionable one day."

And so at last they stepped ashore in Fairfax harbour, and made for the Governor's

Watson - "Holmes, let’s desist! It's too hot to continue!"

Holmes - "Watson, pull yourself together man. Remember we are British. And besides Government House is just around the corner and up this hill."

Watson - "I'm, shit scared that I'll never make it!"

Some hill. Some Britishers. Some Australians.

Eventually they got there.

"G'day mates!” said the guard. “Where have you bloody Poms come from? Swum from blighty? Looks like it."

So came the greeting from the private on duty, who proved to be Antipodean. "Got a bloody good meal for you blokes in the outhouse of steak and kidney pud, but it'll cost youse."

Watson - "Holmes - I want to go home!"

Holmes - "Hang on Watson, we're nearly there!"

And so, perspiring voluminously, they arrived at Government House and were ushered into the Governor's presence.

Governor - "I have special information for your, Mr Holmes. Foreign Office. It's signed 'C', so I expect you know it's significance.”

Holmes - "Old Mansfield himself, eh!"

After reading the message, Holmes said urgently: "Watson, we have to depart. Governor, how can we travel the quickest to the north coast?"

"You'll have to cross the mountains,” replied the Governor. “There's a track, little used and hard going. I'll provide some local guides."

And so Holmes and Watson met Inspector Kwai Motu Vex of the Papuan Constabulary.

Blow to Gillard: UN labels Manus centre a legal affront

PAUL MALEY | The Australian

THE MANUS ISLAND processing centre set up by the Gillard government has been labelled an affront to international law, with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees accusing Australia of arbitrarily and unlawfully detaining transferred asylum-seekers.

The UNHCR handed down a scathing report on the Manus facility, describing the living arrangements as "harsh" and the conditions for the 34 children there as a "particular cause for concern".

The UNHCR also criticised Australia for failing to establish any system for processing the refugee claims of asylum-seekers, the first of whom were transferred to PNG in November.

The UNHCR sent a three-person team to visit the facility which, along with its sister facility on Nauru, was belatedly established by the Gillard government last year after the parliament refused to authorise Labor's Malaysia people-swap.

The UNHCR, which the Australian government noted harboured a "longstanding position of opposition" to offshore processing, was particularly critical of the absence of any processing arrangements for testing the refugee claims of asylum-seekers.

While PNG is a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees, it lacks the experience and the expertise to process the refugee claims of the 254 asylum-seekers detained there.

The team found that while PNG was drafting regulations that would establish a refugee-status-determination framework, there was no timeline as to when it would be done.

"There is no adequate domestic legal framework to implement PNG's responsibilities under the 1951 Refugee Convention," the report said.

The failure to process refugee claims meant asylum-seekers, children included, were effectively subject to ongoing and mandatory detention.

"The current PNG policy and practice of detaining all asylum-seekers at the closed centre ... amounts to arbitrary detention that is inconsistent with international human rights law," the UN body said.

The UNHCR urged the refugee claims of children be "prioritised" and that children be moved to child-friendly accommodation once preliminary health checks had been completed. "The current policy and practice of detaining children should be terminated as a matter of priority."

Tomorrow your editor reluctantly resumes his regime of carpentry & joinery in the surgeon's den. Expect the pace here at PNG Attitude to slow, though not by much. Keep those Comments  coming, remembering to attach both your first and last names otherwise posting may be delayed as I cannot edit from my iPhone....

Scourge of cancer in PNG made worse by late diagnosis

Francis NiiFRANCIS NII | Supported by the South Pacific Strategic Solutions Writing Fellowship

IN MY CATCH-UP READING of stories in PNG Attitude after being debilitated for more than a month, I came across the heart-moving story about the battle against cancer of our wonderful friend and mentor of PNG writers, Barbara Short.

This is a remarkable story of faith and courage. Barbara is a champion. God bless all her beautiful guardian angels. From now on I will share Barbara's story of boldness, faith and miracles to encourage people to be prayerful and courageous in their battle against the morass.

For the last 10 years, I have lived and interacted with all kinds of cancer patients and I know very well the experiences that they go through.

I live in Ward 2 of the Dr Jan Jaworski Wing Two at Sir Joseph  Nombri Memorial  Hospital in Kundiawa and this is where cancer patients live, are operated on and treated with chemotherapy.

Every year new cancer patients come in; the hospital receiving an average of two patients a month. I interact with them almost every day and I share the pain, trauma and depression brought on by this terrible illness.

One thing I know to be the worst enemy of cancer patients is self defeat: feelings of hopelessness and surrender. Once they are told by the doctors that they have cancer, they take it as a death sentence and are mentally devastated. Their spirit departs from them.

As a result, subsequent treatments like operations and chemotherapy don’t seem to help much. They get weak and debilitated and pass on early.

A counselling program based on God’s word was started several years ago by Jean Kupo, a Christian nurse who was in-charge of the ward. It was very helpful.

From time to time, I joined her and over a soup of noodles, garlic and onion, we would chat with the patients one at a time or in group. Sometimes Jean would play the guitar and we would sing hymns and forget about the cancer and its pain.

In 2006, Jean and I organised a decent burial for a mouth cancer patient, Kaupa Kali, a single male late in his 50s from Salt Nomane.

His relatives had abandoned him when he was diagnosed with cancer. They never visited him in the hospital. Jean used to provide him with small personal items like soap and toilet tissue.

The evening of the night that he passed on, he called us over and said; “I am ready to go home. Don’t send this old house back to Salt Nomane. You know my people rejected it. Dump it somewhere in Kundiawa”.

We felt very sorry for him and assured him that all was going to be fine.

To honour his wish, Jean and I got the police coroner’s approval to bury Kaupa at Ega  Lutheran Cemetery in Kundiawa.

Jean organised some boys from her village at Yuwai to dig the grave. I organised the hospital workshop, just a few metres away from the ward, to construct a coffin. Then Jean washed and dressed him. Finally we laid Kaupa to rest at Ega.

The evening after the burial, we held a small feast of lamb flaps, bananas, sweet potato and vegetables with other patients in the ward in what we called rausim haus krai.

It was sad but fun too. To this day, none of Kaupa’s relatives have had the courtesy to say thank you to us. We didn’t mind. We did what we did on humanitarian grounds.

Continue reading "Scourge of cancer in PNG made worse by late diagnosis" »

First writers bung will meet in Moresby on Saturday


THERE WILL BE A significant literary double in Port   Moresby next Saturday: the first Writers Bung and the launch of the 2013 Crocodile Prize national writing awards.

First, under the auspices of the Papua New Guinea Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers (SWEP), I will introduce and demonstrate, the concept of small writers' groups. (Later in the year, I will be visiting other centres in PNG to repeat the exercise.)

Writers groups, 'Writers Bungs' in PNG, comprise 10 or so writers from beginners to experienced who meet regularly as equals to talk about each other's writing.

The bungs are informal, operating with just a few basic procedural rules. Experience with similar groups elsewhere has shown that they are an enjoyable way of improving writing skills and just talking about writing in a friendly social setting.

Saturday’s second event will see SWEP launch the Crocodile Prize for 2013.

"With the success of the Crocodile Prize in 2012, we’re really excited about what is to come in 2013,” said Society president, Amanda Donigi.

“As well as administering the Prize, we also hope that SWEP can offer regular opportunities for writers to improve their skills, including their ability to research their theme or genre then edit and revise their own writing to perfection.

“Events such as the Writers Bung are excellent opportunities for writers to meet and share their experiences, successes, and challenges to be able to really move forward with the craft of writing in PNG.

“We’re extremely grateful for the time and effort that Bob Cleland is putting into these bungs this year."

First PNG Writers Bung

Venue: Moresby Arts Theatre, Waigani

Time: 10 am to 1 pm

Date: Saturday 9 February

Entry: Free

Sherlock Holmes in New Guinea: Part the quarto


Homes profile imageTHE BURNER PUFFING hot air into the huge balloon, Holmes, Watson and Lamington flew northwards propelled by a strong and favourable southerly wind.

Watson - "Holmes, this wind is remarkably unusual for this time of year. My meteorological knowledge leads me to believe this may be a sign of some great change in the climate of our planet."

Holmes - "Watson, please calm down. This is a mere aberration. However you may be proved right 100 years from now."

And so they drifted at speed to the north, until at last the wind eased allowing a safe descent.

Holmes - "Lamington, what is this strange tropical isle you have landed us in?"

Lamington - "I believe it is Thursday  Island, so named because it was discovered by white men on a Thursday."

Holmes - "Not very original! I wonder what the inhabitants call it?"

Lamington - "I believe it is called Waiben, but apparently we Europeans find that difficult to pronounce."

Watson - "They'd be better off if they all learned English."

Holmes - "Watson, do be quiet. And by the way, what did the original inhabitants of dear old blighty name England?"

Watson (in a huff) - "Well damned if I know. I was only making a comment."

The balloon touched down gently and Holmes and Watson found their way to the only decent hotel on the island.

Upon registering, Watson scanned the hotel register and exclaimed, "I say Holmes, there's a Mr Somerset Maugham staying here! We must make his acquaintance. I heard of him while working briefly for the intelligence service. Not enough service or intelligence if you ask me."

Holmes - "Watson, you are invaluable. He's our very man! Now let’s see about getting a sailing craft bound for New Guinea. We must proceed as soon as possible.

“You go down to the harbour and procure a suitable craft, Watson, while I have a conversation with Mr Maugham. Hurry!"

Holmes knocked and walked into Maugham’s room.

Maugham – So who do I have the pleasure of meeting?"

Holmes - "Sherlock Holmes of 221b Baker Street, London. I observe that you have recently been crab fishing, had a dalliance with a local girl and prefer Javan kretek cigarettes."

Maugham - "Why sir - get out of here! What impertinence! I only kissed her once!"

Holmes - "Mr Maugham. I am here on an errand of the greatest importance to the British Empire. I
need to speak to you. I merely observed the remnants of crab shell on your shoes, the touch of lipstick on your collar and the undoubted smell of kretek. Would you deny me an interview?"

Maugham - "The redoubtable Mr Holmes, eh? Come in and take a seat. I apologise for my outburst."

Watson - "Mr Maugham, I have in my possession a secret microcode which details the exact position of German military assets in the south-west Pacific and their intentions to move against Australia should hostilities be declared. Does this have anything to do with you?

Maugham - "How did you come to know this?"

Holmes - "I am on a special mission from my brother Hoamswit. You may have heard of him?"

"Hoamswit Holmes? And you are his brother? Thank heavens you are here. All hell is about to break loose. We must stop it!"