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119 posts from November 2013

DFAT clams up amidst fears medical aid buys counterfeit drugs

Noel TowellNOEL TOWELL | The Canberra Times

THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT has been warned a $38 million medical aid project in Papua New Guinea could be used to foist deadly counterfeit drugs onto some of PNG's poorest villagers.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade bureaucrats in Canberra are refusing to say if Australia will continue to bankroll the distribution network despite warnings from the PNG medical community of corruption allegations surrounding the project.

Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals has won the $28 million contract to supply medical kits to the PNG government with Australian aid, then send the drugs to aid posts and medical centres around the country.

Internal DFAT documents identify Borneo Pacific as PNG's largest provider of drugs from manufacturer North China Pharmaceutical Group, a known offender in China's fake drugs crisis.

Continue reading "DFAT clams up amidst fears medical aid buys counterfeit drugs" »

Damning report into PNG Finance Department: 50 people named


A JUDGE HAS APPROVED the release of a report into corruption in Papua New Guinea’s Finance Department. The judge lifted an injunction preventing the publication of the damning report.

A Commission of Inquiry spent several years investigating allegations of widespread corruption at the Finance Department. In 2010, the day after the report was tabled in parliament, lawyer Paul Paraka and former Solicitor-General Zachary Gelu obtained a court injunction suppressing the report.

They sought a judicial review of the inquiry but the National Court has rejected the application and discharged the injunction.

The report details how the department paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in sham compensation claims. It recommended more than 50 people including lawyers, senior bureaucrats and businessmen be referred for criminal prosecution.

PNG Exposed has posted the full report here

Serious questions about Australian government spying on PNG

SEBASTIAN MANU | The Masalai Blog

Protesters at Jakarta embassy (Daily Telegraph)PRIME MINISTER PETER O’NEILL’s handling of the recent revelations that the United States and Australia have been conducting spying operations in PNG through the offices and affiliates of the Australian High Commission has been absolutely below par and certainly not what is expected of a leader of an independent sovereign nation like PNG.

The prime minister has not accorded the matter the seriousness and focus that is required to raise the matter to the awareness of all Papua New Guineans to understand the extent, the length and breadth of this secret spying that Australia has been and is currently carrying on in PNG.

Continue reading "Serious questions about Australian government spying on PNG" »

The bonfires of the prophet


A LOT OF PEOPLE will remember the hilltop bonfires that were lit all over Papua New Guinea on 16 September 1975 to mark the nation’s independence from Australia.

In a lot of places the kiaps had contrived with the local leaders to build the bonfires and were instrumental in the coordination of their lighting.

It was both an inspiring and eerie sight, especially in places like Simbu where such fires had been lit for other cultural reasons from time to time.

There is a story in the area around Gumine and some other places that such fires heralded the arrival of a “prophet” in the land.  There is a lot of mystery around this story.

One theory is that the “prophet” was the Russian anthropologist, Nicholas Miklouho Maclay, who spent several years living with people on the coast near Madang in the late 1870s and had ventured into the mountains from time to time.

Maclay was an anti-colonialist who objected to the takeover of New Guinea by the Germans and Papua by the British.

Continue reading "The bonfires of the prophet" »

Australia cracks down on PNG fishermen in the Torres Strait


Boats in Daru (South Fly Development Forum)AUSTRALIAN AUTHORITIES HAVE STOPPED seven boats and repatriated 60 Papua New Guinean nationals in a crackdown on illegal fishing on the Torres Strait international border.

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority says the operation is unrelated to the suspected drowning of 15 PNG fishermen in the region in recent months.

About 1,000 kilograms of sea cucumbers (beche de mer) were seized last weekend by AFMA and the 60 men were returned to Daru in PNG to be charged. AFMA general manager of operations Peter Venslovas said there has been an increase in illegal fishing in the Torres Strait by Papua New Guineans.

Mickey & her mongrel ‘besties’: the duck that’s dogs’ best friend


An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Steamships Short Story Award

Wakpi - MickeyAS FAR AS DUCKS GO, Mickey is not much of a looker. Some might say she’s quite dirty and unkempt. However, as far as luck and fortune goes, well, she’s got it all.

Mickey was gifted to the Gimife family of 13/16 Bungi Street, West Goroka, two years ago. She was to be raised for meat but her downy duckling garb and disarming charm melted the family’s heart and she was bestowed with a name, put in a box and fawned over, even to this day.

She struts around the yard honking with the arrogance of one who knows she has the loyalty and unconditional love of an entire household. This includes her “besties” - Taylor, Broney and Brownie - three dogs of unknown breed who have adopted her as an honorary canine and would do anything for her, including defending her against bigger and stronger neighbourhood dogs.

Mickey and Taylor were brought in together as babes and introduced to Broney and Brownie who, together with Taylor, initiated Mickey into the ways of the dog. From the beginning, as with the human family, Mickey’s charm disarmed the dogs and even Taylor could not begrudge her the title of family favourite.

Continue reading "Mickey & her mongrel ‘besties’: the duck that’s dogs’ best friend" »

Queen Pacifica


An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Poetry Award

Melanesian womanMelanesian*, Micronesian*, Polynesian*,
She resides with the sea and her tide draws all men, young and old alike.
Where the continents of man fail, this vast Pacific, she reigns.

Oh Queen Pacifica, whose crucifix graces your night sky?
Whose jealous eyes caress you amidst those rain-fed peaks and salted depths?
You are His servant and the mistress of all my earthly desires.

You are my obsidian dream and I will quarry your love
In the Temples of Oblivion, reveal your secrets to me!
Let us strike a mortal bargain to smite the dull frame of night.

Pacific climate change – PNG economy will be hit hardest

Small-island-in-GizoPAPUA NEW GUINEA’s economy is likely to suffer the biggest losses in the Pacific from climate change, says a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) study.

“It is critical that countries contributing to the problem of climate change step up to assist Pacific friends and neighbours in the fight to protect their countries against natural disasters, crop losses, and forced migration,” said Xianbin Yao, Director General of ADB’s Pacific Department.

“Our findings show that if not adequately addressed, climate change could overturn the region’s development achievements.”

Continue reading "Pacific climate change – PNG economy will be hit hardest" »

Crocodile Prize: 2014 essay & journalism sponsor announced


Sponsors 131129THE PNG CHAMBER OF MINES & PETROLEUM has again thrown its substantial support behind The Crocodile Prize after it today renewed its sponsorship of the Essay & Journalism Award for 2014.

There have already been more than 40 entries to this award even though the closing date is not until 30 June next year.

The Chamber is the peak industry body of the resources industry and has about 200 members covering most of the mining and petroleum companies active in PNG.

It is the representative body of the industry and has an educational as well as an advocacy role. You can visit its website here.

The Chamber joins Steamships which is again sponsoring the Short Story Award, Ok Tedi Mining (Book of the Year), Kina Securities (Poetry) and the Cleland Family (Heritage).

Meanwhile negotiations continue with other organisations as the Crocodile Prize Organising Group (COG) seeks further award sponsors as well as backers for its publishing program under which, for the fourth year in a row, the Crocodile Prize Anthology of the best PNG writing will be produced. COG has already received commitments of over $12,000 for its 2014 publishing program and is confident of reaching its target of $20,000.

The Crocodile Prize Anthology 2013 is available from Amazon here for $9 + postage (paperback) and $5 (Kindle e-book).

Sil Bolkin’s ‘The Flight of Galkope’ is launched in Canberra

CRAWFORD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY | Australian National University

Flight of GalkopeTHE PNG HIGH COMMISSION IN CANBERRA was yesterday the scene of the much-awaited launch of Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin’s book, The Flight of Galkope.

Sil was born in the Galkope area of Simbu Province in Papua New Guinea. He studied to become a Catholic priest but quit soon after completing his philosophical studies and attended the University of Papua New Guinea.

He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Development and Anthropology and is now studying policy and governance at Crawford School of Public Policy at The Australian National University.

A son of the Galkope, Sil Bolkin spent several years trekking through his traditional homeland talking to people about their origins. The primary focuses of his enquiries were the traditional men’s houses, where elders and sages of the Galkope recounted, interpreted and handed down stories from the past.

Through these old men it was possible to delve back several hundred years into the mists of time and memory to the very moments of the inception of the Galkope as a distinct people and nation.

Continue reading "Sil Bolkin’s ‘The Flight of Galkope’ is launched in Canberra" »

The words of her children inspired prize-winning poet to write


Doreen BauloniTHE WINNER OF THE FIRST Rivers Peace & Harmony Writing Prize, Doreen Bauloni, is a 38-year old mother four children (aged 11, 9, 6 and one) from Dobu Island in Milne Bay Province.

Doreen lives outside Alotau town and is employed with the Works Supervision Unit, which is attached to Milne Bay Administration, on a three-year contract.

“In 2007, after working for eight years with Milne Bay Estates, I decided to resign and take care of my children because I thought that is where I should spend my time more than work,” Doreen told us.

“While living at home with them, I came to enjoy their everyday plays and phrases.

Continue reading "The words of her children inspired prize-winning poet to write" »

Bored with 'old' Australian politics? Look to Papua New Guinea

SEAN JACOBS | On Line Opinion

YOUNG AUSTRALIANS, IT SEEMS, are disenchanted with 'traditional' politics. They increasingly don't like voting, are sceptical about democracy and prefer to be involved in political causes through social media rather than mainstream political parties.

Amid this discontent, which appears to be growing in developed democracies, British comedian Russell Brand has even called for a revolution. "Imagining the overthrow of the current [British] political system," Brand confesses, "is the only way I can be enthused about politics."

Brand's thoughts may have struck a chord, but young Australians should not expect even minimal change in their political settings or institutions anytime soon.

While an odd comparison, Papua New Guinea– Australia's nearest neighbour of seven million – illustrates the sturdiness and endurance of democratic institutions that are very similar to Australia's. PNG's Westminster democracy – a legacy of Australia's colonial rule – has in fact persisted despite relentless instability and calls for change.

Continue reading "Bored with 'old' Australian politics? Look to Papua New Guinea" »

Canadian Mounties investigate Bougainville corruption allegations

JO CHANDLER | The Global Mail

John Momis, pictured (centre) between former President Joseph Kabui and his wartime enemy, Joel Banam, in 2001 (AAP)DETECTIVES FROM THE Royal Canadian Mounted Police are on Bougainville to investigate deals by Canadian-based miners positioning for a stake in the war-torn territory’s vast gold and copper riches.

Three Mounties, members of a specialist unit briefed to investigate allegations of corruption of public foreign officials, flew to Port Moresby on Sunday en route to Buka in Bougainville, where they are expected to spend a week gathering evidence and testimony and probing the miners’ interactions with the internecine workings of the island’s powerbrokers.

Though economically bereft, Bougainville has immense minerals wealth. Its Panguna site was once one of the world’s largest copper mines and underwrote PNG’s economy when it gained independence from Australia in 1975. Jockeying for access to, and income from, its buried treasure has become fierce ahead of the now autonomous island’s decree of new mining laws and the easing of a decades-long exploration moratorium.

Continue reading "Canadian Mounties investigate Bougainville corruption allegations" »

Chinese entrepreneurs out-muscle local business


Chinese kai bar and Chinese miner shopping in Madang (Bernard Yegiora)An entry in The Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Essay & Journalism Award

HUMAN BEINGS ARE ECONOMIC BEINGS. We engage in various economic activities to help us survive. Regardless of where we are, whether on the island of Malta or off the coast of East Africa, we engage in buying and selling to generate some form of income to sustain our livelihood.

Over the last two years, the town of Madang, like all other towns and cities around PNG, has witnessed an increase in the number of Asian entrepreneurs engaged in various economic activities. From kaibars (food bars) to merchandise stores to auto parts outlets, Asian businesses are mushrooming all over town.

In their bid to make ends meet, Asians have outmuscled the citizens of this country. They have acquired land and buildings with ease, causing concerned citizens to wonder how on earth they did it.

In an interview with a paralegal specialising in landowner cases and who facilitates backdoor acquisition of land, I was able to get inside information about acquiring land. He said K50 is like poison. One can use this poison to get anything.

Continue reading "Chinese entrepreneurs out-muscle local business" »

Ancient ceremonial stone tool is rescued from the bulldozer

ROBIN TORRENCE | Australian Museum

Obsidian stone toolAN EMAIL I RECEIVED from the General Manager at Barema oil palm plantation in New Britain in Papua New Guinea sent me hurrying to the airport.

It was October 2010 and bulldozing the side of a hill to make a terrace for a new manager’s house had uncovered a group of stone tools made from obsidian, a volcanic glass. A workman had recognised the obsidian as something belonging to the time of his ancestors and rescued a large tool before it could be crushed by the bulldozer.

The shape in the photo I was sent showed that it belonged to a group known as ‘stemmed tools’ because they have handles that resemble the stem of a leaf. These are very rare artefacts and date to between about 10,000 and 3,000 years ago, a period for which there is very little archaeological information from the island regions of PNG.

Even more amazing, the stone was flaked into a shape whose profile was unmistakably meant to be a penis.

Continue reading "Ancient ceremonial stone tool is rescued from the bulldozer" »

Dame Carol Kidu urges parliamentary seats for Pacific women

JEMIMA GARRETT | Radio Australia

Person of the YearPAPUA NEW GUINEA's former minister for community services Dame Carol Kidu has told aspiring politicians that reserved seats for women can play a vital role in ensuring Pacific countries have a genuinely representative democracy.

Papua New Guinea's former minister for community services has told aspiring politicians that reserved seats for women can play a vital role in ensuring Pacific countries have a genuinely representative democracy.

Speaking at youth forum in Sydney, Dame Carol Kidu said there is a strong argument for affirmative action.

"When there is only less than one per cent of half the population in Parliament, it is not a representative democracy," she said.

Continue reading "Dame Carol Kidu urges parliamentary seats for Pacific women" »

Doreen Bauloni wins first Rivers award with poem that “says it all”


Dalai Lama on peaceTHE K750 INAUGURAL RIVERS Peace & Harmony Writing Prize has been won by Milne Bay poet Doreen Bauloni with a poem that proposes a positive pathway for a more peaceful and harmonious Papua New Guinea.

The Prize was established this year by Val Rivers, a onetime school teacher in Papua New Guinea and former senior examiner in the South Australian Education Department.

“All writers should be congratulated for their work,” said Val Rivers of the 17 entrants who included some of PNG’s leading poets and essayists.

“They are all brilliant and deserve accolades,” said another judge, Peter Kranz. “All the authors should feel proud.”

Among the writers who were highly assessed by the judges were Jeff Febi, Dominica Are, Michael Dom, Leonard Fong Roka and Tanya Zeriga Alone. But unfortunately there is only one first prize.

Continue reading "Doreen Bauloni wins first Rivers award with poem that “says it all”" »

His tale


Old Man from Duna (Percy and Renata Cochrane Collection)An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Award for Poetry

One's path to self-discovery
Is almost a rugged terrain
Rigid, cold and dark
The unknown so deeply vague

An old man’s wisdom surging
Like light that filters through leaves
Authentic, serene and true
The unknown slowly unfolds

His eyes glisten with hope
Of memories rekindled at heart
Vivid, lucid and subtle
The unknown slowly unfolds

Continue reading "His tale" »

PNGDF medical patrols deliver vital health care in Gulf Province


A baby is immunised in TobarePAPUA NEW GUINEA DEFENCE FORCE soldiers have put combat first aid training into practice by conducting medical clinics in remote villages in Gulf Province.

The majority of the 27 soldiers had just completed a Combat First Aid Course, delivered by the Australian Defence Cooperation Program.

The visit to Gulf Province in mid-November was led by Lieutenant Micha Jeremiah who was assisted by Second Lieutenant Charles Namuesh, the Regimental Medical Officer of Goldie River Training Depot.

Based in Kikori, the soldiers hired boats to travel the Kikori River to the villages of Kabarau, Kopi, Ero, Veraibari, Goari, Bisi, Kiaim and Apeawa.

Continue reading "PNGDF medical patrols deliver vital health care in Gulf Province" »

Sorong to Samarai: West Papua independence day events in PNG

MARTYN NAMORONG | Namorong Report

Papuan girls in Port Moresby (Free West Papua)WEST PAPUAN INDEPENDENCE leader Benny Wenda will launch a series of events today to mark West Papua‘s forthcoming Independence Day celebrations in Port Moresby.

On 1 December 1961, the people of West Papua were granted their freedom and nationhood by the departing colonial power, the Netherlands.

On this historic occasion, the West Papuan Morning Star flag was raised for the first time, the first West Papuan legislature was convened, the national anthem of the West Papuan people was sung and all the trappings of a West Papuan nation were demonstrated internationally.

However, a year later, in 1962, the Indonesian military invaded and annexed the predominantly Melanesian-peopled West Papuan nation. This illegal act is well-documented and is the subject of growing demands for the revisitation of the role of all parties involved in this scandal.

Continue reading "Sorong to Samarai: West Papua independence day events in PNG" »

Cricket: PNG still in contention for place in World 20/20 2014


PAPUA NEW GUINEA fought their way to a 25-run victory over Bermuda to ensure they stayed in the race for a place in the World Twenty20 2014.

Their victory, coupled with Kenya's loss to Afghanistan, meant PNG finished at No. 5 on the Group B points table and edged out Kenya - who finished sixth - for the final spot in the playoffs.

PNG chose to bat and were off to a disastrous start, reduced to 3 for 9 and 4 for 26, before the middle order rescued the innings alongside opener Tony Ura.

Continue reading "Cricket: PNG still in contention for place in World 20/20 2014" »

Falsely accused: The 1989 raid on Tonanau Village


Ansca SiraoriTHE TONANAU VILLAGERS in the Tumpusiong Valley of Panguna knew that the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) had burned down the neighboring hamlet of Kavarongnau but decided to remain at Tonanau because they knew they were an innocent party because none of their youth was in the bush with the militants.

Traditional beliefs had sustained their progenitors since time immemorial, so the important feast they had prepared for a dead relative had to be executed despite the guns. The villagers, led by the family of the late Itamari, were halfway through preparing for an overnight feasting ceremony when the PNGDF raided and torched nearby Kavarongnau.

In the midst of the grieving family was Ansca Siraori, a young man and relative from Kupe in the hinterland of Arawa, who was helping the mostly women and children with the feast. He had never joined the young men of Tumpusiong who were in the militancy.

Continue reading "Falsely accused: The 1989 raid on Tonanau Village" »

Don’t hack my phone, just ask me, says Peter O’Neill


PAPUA NEW GUINEA prime minister Peter O’Neill has warned of his displeasure if Australia tapped his phone or those of his family.

''I would hope that my communications, and those of my family, are not being intercepted by any agency - government or non-government. If they were, I would be less than happy,” Mr O’Neill said, responding to questions from Fairfax Media.

“But I am not aware that they are being or have been. ''If people want to know what I discuss, they can ask.''

Continue reading "Don’t hack my phone, just ask me, says Peter O’Neill" »

Weapons & death threats common in PNG sexual violence


PNG woman (Vlad Sokhin)WEAPONS AND DEATH THREATS are a common feature of sexual violence in Papua New Guinea, according to statistics released on Friday by Medecins Sans Frontieres.

Paul Brockmann, who heads the Doctors Without Borders’ mission in PNG, said since December 2007 MSF had treated more than 18,000 women, children and men who had been raped, beaten and assaulted by family members, spouses, parents and others.

“It shows a really quite disturbing and shocking statistic about the number of those survivors that we treated who had been abducted or held in confinement, or threatened with a weapon as part of the assault,” he told AFP.

Of those treated, 5,350 had received a direct death threat, 557 had been abducted or confined, and in 5,459 cases the person was threatened with a weapon. In 2,800 instances, the patients were children.

Brockmann said the 18,000 people who came to MSF were seen at only two hospitals — one in the country’s second largest city of Lae and another in the small highlands community of Tari — meaning that many more victims must be present around the mountainous country of seven million people.

Continue reading "Weapons & death threats common in PNG sexual violence" »

Epidemic of family violence requires a coordinated response


MSF warning sign PNGDURING MY FIRST WEEK IN TARI, in the beautiful central highlands of Papua New Guinea, I came face to face with the terrible consequences of what is labelled ''family violence''. I was at a clinic when the guard called over the radio for a stretcher. I grabbed one and went to the gate.

There, a young woman lay in the back of a ute, blood pooling in the tray, her clothes slashed open, soaked with it.

We shifted the lady to the stretcher and moved her to the emergency room where medical staff started treating her. They called the surgeon and requested the patient's friend - an elderly lady - to wait outside the emergency room, where she told us what had happened. I asked one of the guards to translate. The injured woman had been beaten by her husband but did not know why.

Continue reading "Epidemic of family violence requires a coordinated response" »

How corruption is effectively legalised in PNG

Martyn NamorongMARTYN NAMORONG | Namorong Report

I WILL BEGIN THIS DISCOURSE by redefining corruption in Papua New Guinea. My definition of corruption in PNG is that it is the protection by law of irregular situatio ns, contexts, and behaviours of individuals that allow those situations, contexts and individuals to be unaccountable.

Based on smart lawyering and conventional legal interpretations, in PNG the law corrupts and the justice system provides protection.

Let me clarify here, I am not referring to corruption in a negative, dirty, murky way. What I am referring to is that, like Pontius Pilate, the law will, can, and most often does wash your hands clean.

It’s the biggest lottery in this nation and you have to be in it to win it, so to speak. The rewards are enormous and it’s not necessarily illegal. After all, everything is done within the framework of the law to protect one’s self interest.

That is why, anyone in Papua New Guinea who has money and who can afford good lawyers can act with impunity and receive the full protection of the law.

Continue reading "How corruption is effectively legalised in PNG" »

From BRA fighter to a sniper’s role in the Mr Pip movie


Kevin Paibaku (Leonard Fong Roka)HE WAS ONE OF THE MEN who ambushed and killed eight Papua New Guinean soldiers outside Arawa in late 1992. He was wounded at the former Kieta port in mid-1993. And he recently acted as a Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) sniper in the movie, Mr Pip.

Today Kevin Paibaku and his wife and children live a calm life at Bomena hamlet in Pidia village of Kieta, taking up opportunities with openness and a positive mind.

“We all suffered in the 10 year war for independence,” he told me, “but our struggle is still going on. We have yet to reach the destiny we fought and died for and that is freedom from our own selfish leaders, the cruel PNG government and its people, and Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) and its friends that are still running around to exploit us again with old laws.”

Continue reading "From BRA fighter to a sniper’s role in the Mr Pip movie" »

Sam Koim says influential people behind attempted break-in


Sam KoimSAM KOIM, THE HEAD OF corruption investigators Task Force Sweep in Papua New Guinea, says some high profile people in the country are attempting to foil its efforts.

Mr Koim confirmed that two four-wheel drive vehicles approached his office at 9pm on Wednesday asking guards to let them in to speak to Mr Koim. He said the six men were turned away when guards telephoned him. He said his guards and police are armed.

Mr Koim said he suspects the men were being used by more influential people. This latest attempt followed a burglary in January when laptops and paperwork were stolen.

“We are trying to create a future for PNG with equal opportunities and benefits for all of us, which is somewhat distorted by corruption,” Mr Koim said. “We want to minimise corruption so that everyone has a share of the benefits in this country."

Sorcery and witchcraft in PNG: Problems in definition

RICHARD EVES | Australian National University

Sorcery-papua-new-guinea-crimeTHE ANTHROPOLOGIST MARIE REAY once noted a tendency to lump sorcery and witchcraft together, often under either heading, and this, she felt, had brought a lack clarity to the situation. This remains true today for Papua New Guinea, where these terms are frequently fused or used interchangeably, and are rarely conceptually distinguished.

This blurring of the two occurs not only in popular accounts in the media but is widely reproduced by NGOs, donor organisations, and government institutions. A new acronym has even been coined — SRK (‘sorcery-related killing’) — that perpetuates the definitional lack of clarity, since, as Reay noted, it uses one term, sorcery, to refer to both sorcery and witchcraft.

Continue reading "Sorcery and witchcraft in PNG: Problems in definition" »

Civil servants - Making financial pressure a way of life


Maket meri 3PAPUA NEW GUINEA has a plethora of “money-rain” institutions and human cash mules (maket meri) that will give loans to any working class man or woman in need of immediate cash.

The “money-rain” institutions are good at exaggerating the benefits of getting loans through advertisements and luring gullible workers into financial bondage. The interest rates range between 150 - 200 % in most cases, even though they are repaid over an extended period of time. 

The maket meri set their interest rate at K1 for every K2 borrowed and are easily accessible on the streets.  Not much paper work is involved.  With this challenge from the maket meri, the “money-rain” institutions have adjusted their operations to give loans within a few minutes.

Continue reading "Civil servants - Making financial pressure a way of life " »

Can Mr Namah rely on social media to reach the people?


Belden NamahYOU WOULD HAVE TO BET that the decision by Papua New Guinea opposition leader Belden Namah not to deal with mainstream media and instead rely on social media to get out his message won’t last long. Quite simply, the numbers won't be there.

So what do we know about the audience reach of social media in PNG? While reliable statistics are hard to come by, a quick internet scan reveals that, compared with the tried and true mainstream media of press, radio and television, Facebook, Twitter and blogs are going to struggle to accumulate comparable audiences.

For example, the three most popular blogs about PNG (PNG Blogs, PNG Attitude and PNG Mine Watch in that order), top out at around around 40,000 unique visitors a month with PNG Exposed and Masalai a few steps behind them. In terms of typical daily usage, if PNG Attitude is a guide, this represents probably 2-3 thousand people (which can double if an issue is running hot).

Continue reading "Can Mr Namah rely on social media to reach the people?" »

UPNG student discovers Lapita pottery in the Pomio District


Lapita pottery from Kiton River, Jacquinot Bay (Matthew Leavesley)

A RECENT REPORT of a new Lapita archaeological site in the Pomio District of East New Britain has triggered a great deal of interest in the Papua New Guinea and Pacific archaeology community.

The site was discovered by University of PNG history student Andrew Sarar and his father Patrick and is located on the shores of the Jacquinot Bay at the mouth of the Kiton River. Ironically the site has been known by the locals for years and is regularly used by them for their daily chores.

Lapita pottery is the archaeological marker of a great migration of people into the New Guinea Islands region. These people arrived in the Bismarck Archipelago about 3,300 years ago and, after a short period of time, integrated with the pre-existing hunter-gatherer populations who had been in the region for around 40,000 years.  Today, everyone from the New Guinea islands can trace their ancestry to the early hunter-gatherers and the Lapita migrants.

Continue reading "UPNG student discovers Lapita pottery in the Pomio District" »

Oz immigration targets black passengers for 'racist treatment'


Bart PhilemonBART PHILEMON AND I were at the University of Papua New Guinea together. We shared Prof Rex Mortimer’s politics honours class along with people like Rabbie Namaliu, Utula Samana and Paul Pora Schmidt.

Unlike me, who failed at my only attempt at the polls in Australia’s 1983 federal election, the year Bob Hawke became prime minister, my student colleagues of the mid-1970s – including Bart – all went on to considerable and successful political careers.

Until he was defeated in 2012, Bart was the long-serving (20 years) member for Lae in the PNG parliament, serving as Treasurer and in other cabinet roles. He was also one of the founders of the once-dominant National Alliance Party. He is now a director of Oil Search.

Continue reading "Oz immigration targets black passengers for 'racist treatment'" »

Calls for additional media controls in PNG are very disturbing


PNG-media%20censorship2IN RECENT DAYS there have been two interesting - nay disturbing - moves in the relationship between the Papua New Guinea government and the media.

First, our old friend Belden Namah has said he is boycotting traditional media briefings in favour of social media because he doesn't think the mainstream media is giving him a fair go.

Well maybe that's his choice, but I don't think social media will give him the same reach as radio and television in PNG if he solely relies on the 100,000 or so people who actively participate in social media compared to the few million that watch TV and listen to radio.

Continue reading "Calls for additional media controls in PNG are very disturbing" »

US think tank condemns failure to act on land grabs

JEMIMA GARRETT | Radio Australia

Land is our lifeA UNITED STATES’ THINK TANK has criticised Papua New Guinea's prime minister Peter O’Neill for failing to act on the findings of a Commission of Inquiry into controversial land leases.

Three commissioners took more than a year to investigate the leasing of more than five million hectares of land, often to foreign interests, without the permission of land owners.

The research findings have been revealed in a report by the Oakland Institute entitled On Our Land - Modern Land Grabs Reversing Independence.

The Oakland Institute has also launched an accompanying film about land acquisitions in PNG and the human and environmental cost of land and resource loss.

Continue reading "US think tank condemns failure to act on land grabs" »

Fiscal discipline lacking as PNG embarks on spending spree

MARTYN NAMORONG | Namorong Report

Treasurer Don Polye (centre) & Budget MinistersYESTERDAY’S PAPUA NEW GUINEA BUDGET was very difficult for me to swallow. Yes teachers get a pay rise but the government’s party-boy behaviour means they’re going to fuel inflation and further drive down the kina.

You may not have heard of the Alotau Accord – it was the shopping list of ‘what I wants’ made by the culprits who put the O’Neill-Dion government into power.

Treasurer Don Polye did not mention the Alotau Accord in his budget speech but this budget reeks of it and is bound to add downward pressure on the PNG economy.

Now all those MPs are counting their chickens as the eggs hatch at the expense of the people of Papua New Guinea.

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Solomons church leaders share their views on sorcery


Sorcery image (Lovely Planet)SORCERY IS PART OF CULTURE and it must be addressed and not ignored, a Catholic priest has told the Solomon Islands Law Reform Commission in Honiara.

“Sorcery is very much part of our culture, passed on from generation to generation, through our ancestors,” said Fr Henry Paroi of Henderson Catholic Dominican Society.

“We just cannot ignore it; the thing is to find ways to deal with it. It won’t happen overnight. It takes time”.

Bishop Jonnie Kupper of the Diocese of Central Melanesia said sorcery is a challenge for church leaders and the issue critically needs additional provisions in the law.

Former Solomons Governor-General Sir Nathaniel Waena described sorcery as a symptom of societal decay.

“The rise of sorcery is a wake-up call for church leaders,” Sir Nathaniel said.

The law reform team will be going to provinces for Review of Sorcery Offence consultation paper as of next year.

Small islands demand UN protection from rising sea levels


Sea level rise in the Carteret islands, BougainvilleTHREATENED BY RISING SEAS, some of the world's small island developing states are demanding that the UN's new set of Sustainable Development Goals place a high priority on the protection of oceans and marine resources.

A growing number of these states, including Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Maldives, Tonga, Nauru and Kiribati, are making a strong case for a stand-alone goal for the protection of oceans in the post-2015 development agenda, which is currently under discussion.

Hassan Hussain Shihab, first secretary of the Maldives diplomatic mission to the UN, told IPS that oceans are a priority for the Indian Ocean island nation, whose 339,000 citizens are threatened by sea-level rise.

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Ponds are being constructed for prosperity in PNG

EMMA ZALCMAN | Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research

Constructing a fish pond in the highlands (F Gako)THERE’S MORE TO CONSTRUCTING a pond than just digging a hole and filling it with water. Just ask Francis Gako, who has been helping out with an Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) project in Papua New Guinea aiming to improve smallholders’ fish production for food security and income generation.

There are more than 10,000 small-scale fish farms in PNG, and interest in aquaculture is growing fast. The PNG government has recognised the important role of fish in food security, particularly in inland areas. However, despite the peoples’ interest in aquaculture, current production levels are low when compared with other South-East Asian systems.

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Papua New Guinea: A land whose magic soaks to the core

LIAM CREEDON | Yorkshire Post

Tari man putting in a nose bone‘NEVER SPEND MORE THAN 24 HOURS with a woman,” the village bigman huskily intones, pausing to scratch his nose with the sharpened tip of an arrow. “It will make a man lose his magic and his powers will be weakened.”

Advice from a Huli tribesman in the Papua New Guinea Highlands is generally heeded, especially if given by a man whose facial expression is masked under red and yellow war paint, whose nose is pierced by the long quill of a cassowary, and who is naked apart from a pig-tail belt. Seated around an open fire in the gloom of a smoke-stained hut, my interpreter explains that to preserve his “powers” the chief lives separately from his three wives.

Wife number one lives next door in a similar lean-to, sharing space with the pigs and children. Other wives and relatives are housed around the settlement, guarded on all sides by steep mud walls designed to deter attacks from marauding neighbours.

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Peter O’Neill claims corruption busters have cleared him


Peter O'NeillPAPUA NEW GUINEA's Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has said that an independent police probe into corruption has cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Mr O’Neill was implicated in an investigation into corrupt payments from government coffers to high-profile lawyer Paul Paraka, who was arrested last month.

He says the only link to him is a letter approving payments with his signature, which he says is forged.

“They have established that the letter did not originate from my office so this is just an unnecessary distraction from the real issues in the country,” Mr O’Neill said.

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Before evaporating, self-styled anti-corruption group issued manifesto

Last Wednesday's Opposition-inspired anti-corruption rally didn't happen and yesterday's stop work protest was a debacle. But before everything went belly up, VINCENT MOSES ("on behalf of all anti-corruption activists") issued this statement....

Stop Corruption bannerAS CITIZENS OF THE Independent State of Papua New Guinea, we are becoming increasingly alarmed and concerned about recent statements and actions taken by police in support of an increasingly unpopular and openly corrupt government.

The Metropolitan Superintendent of the National Capital District, Andy Bawa, who is a member of the NCD Law and Order Committee, announced [last] week that, in the interests of public safety, peace and good order, there would be no protest march or strike yesterday.

He said members of the public found congregating in public places would be arrested and charged by police for loitering and/or unlawful assembly.

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Paul Barker urges strong stance on inquiry into MPs’ funding


Barker_PaulAN IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY could be lost if an investigation into MPs who failed to submit financial returns falls by the wayside, says Paul Barker (pictured), the director of Papua New Guinea’s Institute of National Affairs.

The Registrar of Political Parties, Dr Alphonse Gelu, has referred nine members of parliament to the Ombudsman Commission for failing to submit election expenses incurred during last year’s election.

Political parties also have a poor record - from over 40 parties who participated, only 12 filed returns.

This is the first time the Registrar has taken such a step and Paul Barker hopes the Ombudsman Commission will be equally motivated to send a strong message to politicians.

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Manus people cut out: O'Neill concerned about refugee facility


Peter O'Neill (News)PAPUA NEW GUINEA PRIME MINISTER Peter O'Neill is annoyed that his people are not benefiting from an asylum-seeker processing deal with Australia.

"It is alarming to note that our Papua New Guinean businessmen and women are not given the opportunity to participate. That was the whole intention of setting up this centre in the first place,'' Mr O'Neill told the PNG parliament.

"The agreements are very clear and it's a blatant abuse of trust.

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Lazy & naïve young men sweep away fine traditional leaders


An entry in The Crocodile Prize

IN THOSE OLDER NOSTALGIC DAYS, leadership in Simbu was reserved for those who stood the test of time and had infinite civic virtue that protected social cohesion.  These leaders earned their place in society by working their land to make ends meet and stood tall during the troughs as well as the peaks of Simbu life.

Their values and discipline as leaders of their households won the admiration of the community and, when a vacancy was created due to a passing leader, the community knew who would be the replacement.

These leaders built their own houses, cultivated bananas, sugarcane and domestic animals in their yard. They looked after their wife and children and send their kids to school, contributed in cash and kind to feasts and compensation, and were an asset to the community.

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Cricket: Desert rain robs PNG of win against lucky Afghanistan


AH, THE UNFAIRNESS OF IT ALL. In a rain-affected match in Sharjah, Afghanistan edged out Papua New Guinea after the Duckworth Lewis system was invoked, denying the Barramundis their third win of the ICC World 20/20 qualifiers.

PNG won the toss and scored a creditable 167 off their 20 overs, with Tony Ura producing another strong performance with the bat.

Then heavy rains lashed the ground and Afghanistan was given a revised and straightforward target of 69 from seven overs. Afghanistan won off the last ball.

Ura’s magnificent 56, after scoring a century in his previous match, was in vain.


Honour among thieves


I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you - Exodus, 12:13

Highlands stone axeIN THE EARLY DAYS of the Australian Administration in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, prisoners were an integral part of outstation maintenance.  They cut the grass and unloaded the aircraft and the cargo boats. 

They maintained the station gardens and the station roads, disposed of the rubbish, chopped the firewood and pumped the water and doubled as builders’ labourers.

Prisoners serving time in these small outstation jails were never far from their families.  In fact, it was a common sight to see prisoners’ wives and families on daily visits from nearby villages sitting patiently under the station trees watching the prisoners cutting the grass or doing other outstation maintenance work.

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On the trail of PNG’s Tenkile, rarer than the Great Panda

EUAN RITCHIE | The Conversation

TenkileMUCH OF MY TIME as an ecology lecturer has been spent teaching students about the wonders of this planet’s biodiversity, but also, regrettably, how much of this biodiversity is under severe threat. Hundreds, if not thousands, of species become extinct each year.

With such a disastrous outlook for the species with which we share Earth, it’s easy to get disheartened about where we’re headed. More personally, I often question whether my own fields of ecology and conservation biology are really enough to help stem the extinction tide.

But I’ve embarked on a journey to Papua New Guinea’s remote Torricelli Mountains - part of a crowd-funded project, Discovering Papua New Guinea’s Mountain Mammals, that is a partnership between myself at Deakin University and Jim and Jean Thomas of the Tenkile Conservation Alliance.

Together, as part of conservation efforts in the region, we’re counting and identifying mammals including some very special species of tree kangaroo.

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Cricket: PNG Barramundis have comfortable win over Netherlands


Tony UraTHE BARRAMUNDIS SCORED a comfortable win in the world 20/20 cricket qualifier against the Netherlands overnight after a quickfire century by Tony Ura (pictured) took them to a commanding 3 for 193 off their 20 overs.

The rated Netherlands, who once famously defeated England A in the longer form of the game, could manage only 141 in reply, falling short by 52 runs.

Ura scored an even century off 80 balls and was ably assisted by Kila Pala who scored 57 off 47.

Nineteen year old quick bowling find Norman Vanua then made short work of the Netherlands top order with 3/12 to leave the Dutch in disarray.

The Papua New Guinea team continue to make an impressive start to this tournament, which could stamp them as an emerging force in world cricket.

Full scorecard here.

Bougainville: Politics & power struggles hold back normalisation


Lawrence DaveonaTHE PEAK BODY OF LANDOWNERS around Bougainville’s Panguna copper mine, the Panguna Mine Affected Landowners Association (PMALA), is riven by internal politics and power struggles.

This is causing a lot of frustration that is holding the Bougainville people and the Autonomous Bougainville Government to ransom. It’s also opened a window for opportunists like Lindsay Semple and consultants like Tony Regan.

PMALA chairman Lawrence Daveona (pictured) told the PNG Post-Courier on 16 July that “PMALA will emphasise and ensure that all discussions and consultations on Panguna between parties are extensive and meaningful, that they are better coordinated, that there is regular and continuing consultation with the national government and BCL, and that ABG provides adequate support in resources and capacity to the landowners in order that they participate effectively.”

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