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97 posts from December 2013

Top of the charts: Most commented upon articles in 2013


I’VE SAID IT BEFORE and I’m bound to say it again, but PNG Attitude would be much the poorer without the flow of daily commentary that is sourced in its readers

As you’d expect, some readers are more prominent in offering their views but, each year, some hundreds of people take the opportunity to have their say through our Recent Comments section.

The discussion and debates that ensue often take the articles further than the author might have intended (including wandering into side tracks and even blind alleys), but they’re mostly entertaining and frequently provocative.

One of my jobs as editor is to ensure that the arguments flow freely without getting into water that is too deep legally or in terms of personal offence. Another is to find the time to clean up tortured prose that is defeating the writer’s intent to communicate a point of substance. A third is to exercise interventions from time to time, especially when I know a commenter has made a factual error.

Continue reading "Top of the charts: Most commented upon articles in 2013" »

David Wall & other good men: in PNG at the right time


Sepik BlueTHE LATE DAVID WALL was born in 1936, so he was one of those lucky people who got to Papua New Guinea in the 1950s.  Those years, from the expatriate's point of view, were the halcyon days of Australia's involvement in the country.

There were a lot of colonial buffoons and Colonel Blimps around in those days but there were quite a few enlightened individuals like David too.

Another was Chips Mackellar, the paperback version of whose book I've just had the pleasure of publishing.  I don't know whether David or Chips ever met but they would have got on well together.

It was the stories that the men and women of David's generation told that inspired many of us johnny-come-latelies to go to PNG in the 1960s.

Thinking about that when I heard he had died, I pulled David's 2007 novel Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk off the shelf and flipped through it. I think David was aware that with fiction it's not necessary to let facts get in the way of the truth.

Continue reading "David Wall & other good men: in PNG at the right time" »

The burden & obligation of the present generation

Lucas KiapLUCAS KIAP | Facebook

I HAVE TWO PAPERS in mechanical engineering. I work for the government of Papua New Guinea. But my fortnight salary barely lasts me two weeks.

I can afford to rent only a single small room in Morata Settlement. I hardly have three meals a day. Unfortunately, I pay K600 in tax.

However, our country is rich with natural resources. We can cut our own trees and build enough homes for Papua New Guineans. We have enough land to grow enough food to feed our population. We have enough sources to develop and make cheap energy.

But this is not happening.

Continue reading "The burden & obligation of the present generation" »

Christian lawyer calls for boycott of Post-Courier newspaper


ON 10 DECEMBER 2013 the PNG Post Courier newspaper adopted the headline, ‘Cultural Terrorist’, to describe the Restoration, Reformation and ModernisationProgram of Hon Theo Zurenuoc, the Speaker of Papua New Guinea’s Ninth National Parliament,.

Post 11 September 2001, use of the word ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorism’ anywhere on earth conjures up images of someone who is violent and hostile, driven by religious or political beliefs to kill and destroy others who do not subscribe to their beliefs.

The Post Courier headline gave the image that the Speaker of our Parliament is such a hostile and violent person against our culture.

Continue reading "Christian lawyer calls for boycott of Post-Courier newspaper" »

The Namorong year in review & outlook for 2014

MARTYN NAMORONG | Namorong Report

The World of Namorong2013 WAS ONE EXTRAORDINARY YEAR for me, perhaps the most incredible year in my lifetime. The highlight was being featured in a book by a Japanese writer on the geopolitics of the South Pacific.

The year began in Tabubil. On the stroke of midnight, flares and gunfire welcomed the New Year in the mining township located at a cliff edge on the Ok Tedi River. A fire truck with sirens blaring made its way around the town and voices could be heard near and far shouting ‘happy new year!’

I was coming towards the end of my six month contract with Ok Tedi Mining and looking forward to a two-week study tour of Canberra and Sydney followed by a week at a Deakin University conference.

Continue reading "The Namorong year in review & outlook for 2014" »

The remarkable story of the Anganere Prostitution Band


An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Cleland Heritage Writing Award

The five founding members; four standing and one sitting middle. Paul Kindi is standing fourth from leftTHE SIMBU CULTURAL SHOW has been back this December after many years of hibernation. Though not many young people adorned themselves in traditional regalia, the old and middle-aged took pride in their culture and braved both the drizzle and heat to showcase it. Much talent, glamour and diversity were displayed.

Unfortunately, only two or three foreigners were seen in Kundiawa town and Simbu lost a large amount of tourism dollars. The landslips in the Mindima section of the Okuk Highway in the north and Kingstar to the east of Kundiawa town helped prevent the influx of tourism. The other reason is that Air Niugini hasn’t had direct flights to Simbu for a long time.

Continue reading "The remarkable story of the Anganere Prostitution Band" »

O’Neill seeks debate on parliamentary artefacts destruction


Theo ZurenuocPRIME MINISTER PETER O’NEILL has called for proper debate before cultural relics are removed from Papua New Guinea’s parliament house.

In an interview with television station EMTV he said he had made his position known to the Speaker Theo Zurenuoc (pictured), who has been organising the destruction.

Mr O’Neill said the people have the right to be consulted before such measures are taken.

Parliament House was first opened in 1984, built in the style of a Maprik haus tambaran. The architecture is based on spirit houses found near Wewak in the East Sepik Province.

Continue reading "O’Neill seeks debate on parliamentary artefacts destruction" »

The true significance of the destroyed carvings of Parliament House


Carved heads removed from PNG ParliamentTHE 19 CARVED HEADS IN THE LINTEL above the entrance to Parliament House (and which have since been destroyed) came from Maprik, Wosera (Abelam people) and West Yangoru (Arapesh people), who saw the significance and good meaning of the haus tambaran and adopted it as a symbol of governance.

Some Arapesh people on the Maprik side also adopted this symbol of governance 500 to 1,000 years ago when the two cultures clashed, so culturally we practiced more the Abelam culture but speak the Wewak/Aitape languages. We call the haus tambaran ‘Kalabu’ while the Abelam people call it ‘Kwarambu’.

Continue reading "The true significance of the destroyed carvings of Parliament House" »

We lose David Wall – man of letters, ideas & PNG Attitude luminary


Dave Wall with Graham GreeneDAVID (DAVE) WALL, A MAN WHO Phil Fitzpatrick recently referred to as “gracing these pages”, died on Boxing Day - leaving his wife Deborah, his other loved ones and the friends he never met who regularly read his words on this blog.

As with many of our contributors, I never had the pleasure of meeting Dave. But like us, he was passionate about Papua New Guinea, where he had worked for 18 years on plantations and then in the malaria control division of the Health Department.

Upon returning to Australia in 1980, Dave qualified as a teacher-librarian and began to write his thoughts and reminiscences on PNG, many of which he shared with us. And we have been the richer for it.

Continue reading "We lose David Wall – man of letters, ideas & PNG Attitude luminary" »

Bubu power, love, faith & a miracle of Christmas


LIKE PHIL FITZPATRICK, I reckon that many of us have had a gutful in 2013 of the stories of atrocities, witch killings, brutality against women and children, rampant corruption and greed topped off with a good old bout of religious fascism.

I remember the opening words of one of Dad's sermons when I was a kid. "Some pastors may preach to you about original sin. But today I want to talk about original goodness." That's always stuck with me.

As George Michael sings, "You gotta have faith" - faith that sometimes things do work out for the best, whether you are religious or not. And faith that most people are innately good, and the evil that abounds in some circles is an aberration.

We've just had our feel-good Christmassy experience.

I'd done the shopping, getting food and presents in for all and sundry, when we had a call from Rose's cousin in Sydney. "Come and have Christmas with us! We have some family down from Simbu and they want to meet youse two."

So stuffing the turkey back in the freezer (it can keep till New Year) we upped and went on the spur of the moment to stay with the tambus.

Continue reading "Bubu power, love, faith & a miracle of Christmas" »

Julie Bishop defends decision to withdraw drugs funding


TB patient at Daru hospitalAUSTRALIA'S FOREIGN MINISTER JULIE BISHOP has strongly defended her government's decision to withdraw money for a medical supply program in Papua New Guinea.

The Papua New Guinea government recently awarded the multi-million dollar contract to a company called Borneo Pacific to distribute supplies to health centres across the country.

But the Department of Foreign Affairs has told PNG it will not be providing $38 million to fund the program due to serious concerns about the tender process.

"The Australian government had agreed to pay for the distribution across PNG of medical supply kits and of course the kits were to be high quality from a reputable and international supplier," she said.

Continue reading "Julie Bishop defends decision to withdraw drugs funding" »

The bug in the sauce bottle: doing business in PNG


PAPUA NEW GUINEA has got the unfortunate knack of making even the simplest thing difficult. A lot of it has got to do with disorganisation and inefficiency.  An equal measure can be attributed to pig-headedness and plain stupidity.  And, of course, there are the elements of corruption, greed and self-interest.

When a whole country has such a reputation it rubs off on everything else.  It also frustrates Papua New Guineans and expatriates in equal measure.

Even a company or individual with the highest possible standards and uncompromising ethics and efficiency suffers in the long run.

Any good manager knows that a good reputation is absolutely crucial to success.  But even the best company based in PNG comes with a pre-ordained bad reputation.  It is like an economic original sin.

Continue reading "The bug in the sauce bottle: doing business in PNG" »

Australia withdraws funding over corruption & fake drug fears


AUSTRALIA HAS WITHDRAWN FUNDING for a $38 million program that supplies medicine to Papua New Guinean health centres, due to concerns about the way PNG has awarded contracts.

Previously, Australia’s aid agency chose the supplier and distributor for the medicines, but this year that process was handled by PNG.

In June, the PNG government removed a crucial quality-control criteria and later awarded the contract to local company linked to a Chinese supplier of sub-quality drugs.

Doctors say the distribution of ineffective medicine in a country rife with TB, malaria, pneumonia and gastro will cost lives.

Continue reading "Australia withdraws funding over corruption & fake drug fears" »

Easy pickings: PNG is a victim of ‘finance scheme terrorists’

THE OFFICE OF PRIME MINISTER Peter O’Neill has alleged that Papua New Guinea is a victim of ‘financial scheme terrorists’.

The PM’s Office says it has been made aware of the presence of fraudulent agents and marketing representatives of international media and publishing companies in PNG.

These people are said to visit ministerial offices, departments and agencies soliciting interviews and policy materials for publication.

They pose as journalists, financial consultants and economists, “making believable cases of wanting to publish information” and have succeeded in convincing unsuspecting government entities to pay large sums of money to fraudulent entities.

Continue reading "Easy pickings: PNG is a victim of ‘finance scheme terrorists’" »

Sir Julius accuses Newcrest Mining of deceit & arrogance

ROWAN CALLICK | The Australian

NEWCREST MINING IS FACING FLAK not only from its shareholders and from the price of gold slumping to a three-year low, but from political royalty in its main field of operations, Papua New Guinea.

Julius Chan, the governor of New Ireland Province — where Newcrest, Australia’s biggest goldminer, operates one of its largest mines, Lihir Gold — has launched a surprisingly bitter attack on the company.

At a press conference, he called on Newcrest to leave the province, accusing it of deceit, arrogance and incompetence.

Sir Julius, a former prime minister and the father of Mining Minister Byron Chan, said he was “sick and tired” of hearing Newcrest say that the bottom has fallen out of the gold price.

Continue reading "Sir Julius accuses Newcrest Mining of deceit & arrogance" »

PNG consolidates as global player but still a paradise in waiting

FR GIORGIO LICINI | Catholic Reporter

WASN’T THE YEAR 2013 A TURNING POINT for Papua New Guinea? Not only a new generation of political leaders in their forties consolidated power, but the country has found itself embroiled in some of the most contentious contemporary issues.

Take, for example, the debate on crime and the death penalty, the controversial agreement with Australia on the asylum seekers, and more recently the religious revival which led the Speaker of Parliament to remove traditional carvings from the national haus tambaran in Waigani.

All these issues have been widely debated in the modern global social networks. In all cases, concerned authorities have gone ahead with their plans, but educated citizens have acquired a higher degree of participation and PNG has become better known on the world stage.

Continue reading "PNG consolidates as global player but still a paradise in waiting" »

The Grand Anti-Beelzebub of Papua New Guinea


THE GRAND ANTI-BEELZEBUB of Papua New Guinea, his right royal Zilliness, the most reverend Theo Zurenuoc was annoyed.

He had just enjoyed a hearty breakfast with the new Prime Minister and Minister of Religion and Foreign Affairs, Dame Loujaya Kouza, in the great hall of his regal palace on top of Touaguba Hill and was about to depart on an inspection of the new Parliament House being constructed at Waigani.

The new parliament was being built using special aid money provided by his royal highness, Tony Abbott, the Mad Monk of Australia, who was scheduled to ceremonially bless it in a month’s time.

Continue reading "The Grand Anti-Beelzebub of Papua New Guinea" »

A Christmas recollection about the best choir in history


MY DAD WAS A MUSICIAN. More specifically he was a choirmaster. We had an old Ferrograph tape recorder and he had some precious recordings that he held in high regard, including the Vienna Boys Choir, Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians, the LSO Chorus, Mahalia Jackson and Tommy Dorsey and the Golden Gate Quartet.

But the best of them all was the choir of King's College Cambridge. Christmas music for the ages.

We had some Aussie friends around for Christmas in 1969. Dad said, "I'll play you the best choir ever."

They laughed.

Continue reading "A Christmas recollection about the best choir in history" »

Think those carvings are trivial? Could you be the problem?


I DON’T KNOW IF YOU’RE AWARE of the term “false dichotomy” - the logical fallacy where proponents claim the idea they favour is so important that any other possibilities are trivial or outrageous or mere sideshows.

The falsity being that, when faced with a challenge, many more options than one may be relevant, workable or significant.

Let me give you two recent examples of false dichotomies from recent PNG Attitude comments.

“There are more important things that affect a nation’s reputation than removal of carvings. Political stability, economic progress, corruption in high places, health indicators and poverty are the main issues at the moment” – Frank K Daosak

“Papua New Guinea has become the laughing stock of the world not because of some destruction of ancestral heirlooms but we are embarrassed that we are one of the most corrupt nations in the world, and the top corrupt nation in the Pacific” – Robert Puyu

Continue reading "Think those carvings are trivial? Could you be the problem?" »

How the works of our ancestors rose to the challenge


ALL PAPUAN NEW GUINEANS should remember the dreams of their ancestors. This is a tribute to Wenamba and Bimai, two great leaders of the Eastern Highlands in the 1950s, as told to me by the villagers of Kanangomato.

Daulo Pass is at the top of Mt Gesegga in the Eastern Highlands and at its highest point is 8,500 feet above sea level. The pass was built in 1952 and 1953. It was a very difficult task and the challenge was accepted under the leadership of Ian Downs, the District Commissioner at the time.

Just exactly how this difficult project was achieved is a story in itself and Bob Cleland’s book Big Road tells the amazing story.

Continue reading "How the works of our ancestors rose to the challenge" »

Australian government is set to rein in costs of foreign aid

LISA CORNISH | News Limited

AUSTRALIA’S COALITION GOVERNMENT will crack down on the spiralling administrative costs of foreign aid after it was revealed spending almost quadrupled since 2007.

Between 2007 and 2012, Australia's aid spending doubled from $3 billion to $6 billion, now costing every Australian $291.80 a year.

Data released by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development shows administration was last year the third biggest spend of Australia's Overseas Development Assistance at $378 million - up from $102 million in 2007.

These administrative costs were more than double the money allocated for basic health care and more than four times the money used to provide basic drinking water and sanitation.

Continue reading "Australian government is set to rein in costs of foreign aid" »

Speaker's wilful destruction has damaged PNG's reputation


I STRONGLY SUSPECT that this business of destroying ancestral heirlooms housed in the National Parliament has irreparably damaged Papua New Guinea's international reputation.

It has done much more damage than all the claims of corruption and the hideous witch killings put together.

Papua New Guinea has now become the laughing stock of the world.

It is being lumped in with the worst fundamentalist countries in the poxiest parts of the world.

It has severely embarassed her allies and, worst still, has turned away many of her supporters throughout the world.

Continue reading "Speaker's wilful destruction has damaged PNG's reputation" »

PNG Speaker removes non-Christian artwork - with a chainsaw

TERRY FIRMA | Patheos (US)

IF THEO ZURENUOC GETS HIS WAY, the PNG government will soon install ‘a National Unity Pole, which will contain a Bible, a copy of the Constitution and an everlasting flame to represent God’s word’.

Presumably, the Unity Pole will be ready for prime time soon after Mr Zurenuoc is done destroying national historical artifacts that do not conform to his brand of Christianity.

Let’s back up a little. Theo Zurenuoc is the Parliamentary Speaker of Papua New Guinea and a devout Christian. As his shocked countrymen and women learned this month, Zurenuoc’s devoutness meant that he took great exception to the 19 carved ancestral masks on a part of the facade of PNG’s parliament building, and also to a totem pole contributed by indigenous Papuans.

The artifacts were part of a permanent architectural structure representing the country’s different cultures — but to Zurenuoc they represented idolatry, witchcraft, and ungodliness.

Continue reading "PNG Speaker removes non-Christian artwork - with a chainsaw" »

Christmas gift: 50 more Aussie police officers now in PNG


THE SECOND AND FINAL CONTINGENT of Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers arrived in Papua New Guinea on Saturday to work alongside their counterparts in community policing operations in Port Moresby and Lae.

Speaking at the arrival of the final 10 officers, AFP Assistant Commissioner Alan Scott said that this deployment brings the total number of sworn officers working as part of the PNG-Australia Policing Partnership to 62.

“We have met the Australian government’s promise of an additional 50 AFP officers to be working in PNG by the end of this year,” Assistant Commissioner Scott said.

“Now that the full contingent is here, we are looking forward to working in partnership with the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) to assist in developing their highly visible policing capability.”

Continue reading "Christmas gift: 50 more Aussie police officers now in PNG" »

Papua New Guinea? Sorry, I’m over it now


DAVID WALL HAS RECENTLY graced these pages with a couple of reflective articles to do with growing old, both of which I have found most interesting.

Reflection and re-evaluation of one’s beliefs and interests seems to be a natural part of the ageing process.  It comes at the confluence of a lifetime of learned wisdom and prejudices and the realisation that we are mortal after all.

In essence it is a sort of working-out of what is important in life and what is mere dross and trivia.  It is amazing how, upon examination, the latter outweighs the former.

Reflection is not an exacting or concise process and sometimes it takes time to evolve.  Half the time it is not even a conscious thing.

Continue reading "Papua New Guinea? Sorry, I’m over it now" »

A development perspective for Christmas 2013


“Poverty is man-made and can be reversed by the actions of human beings” - Nelson Mandela

THE EARLY PROMISE OF DEVELOPMENT has eluded many Papua New Guineans. There is a need to reverse the trend. Every policy document or plan done at all levels of government in 2014 onwards should begin with the line: “It is unacceptable that …”

This current government with its crop of leaders has what it takes to reverse the tide. The government is moving in the right direction with key policies and plans. But more quality work needs to be done at the local levels – districts and local level governments.

Sometimes, when we are out of perspective, we need to take our cues from some of the giants of history.

“When I look at the solar system, I see the earth at the right distance from the sun to receive the proper amounts of heat and light. This did not happen by chance,” said Sir Isaac Newton (1643 – 1727).

Continue reading "A development perspective for Christmas 2013" »

Let’s use the carvings to drive the wedge even deeper


IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE the O’Neill government in Papua New Guinea there are two issues that you should be taking a stand against.

The first is the ‘cleansing’ exercise by Speaker Theo Zurenuoc in vandalising and destroying public property (that is, carvings and totems in Parliament House).

The other is the K78 million paid to a foreign firm, Borneo Pharmacy, which doesn’t have ISO certification to procure and distribute medicines in PNG.

In a recent two page advertisement in The National newspaper, the Speaker slyly attacked Sir Michael Somare’s views on carvings & Christianity. Somare will be furious about this, and he still retains some political influence.

Continue reading "Let’s use the carvings to drive the wedge even deeper" »

Sonnet 13: Poetry’s interstices


An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Poetry Award

These are the spaces I confide
These are the narrow crevices
These are the places I reside
These are the secure refuges

Upstairs attics with small windows
The quiet corners where I go
The hidden chambers no one knows
Downstairs cellars through secret doors

There I have my room for dreaming
Room to create and postulate
Pose questions and probe for meaning
Riddles and rhymes to contemplate

In there the world does not dictate
And there I have less room for hate.

Sonnet created on 16 December 2013, 8:30pm at Labu Station.

I teach old men how to read and write


I TEACH OLD MEN HOW TO READ AND WRITE.  I do it one day a week. It is a sort of personal penitence for a lifetime of enjoying reading and writing.  Most of the men are younger than me but they are old men nevertheless.

One of them, Toby, had a bad accident as a child.  He fell off his bike and his hand went under the spinning blades of a rotary mower that his father had left idling on the lawn while he nipped inside for a cool drink.

Toby has now got a strange left hand with a little finger where his thumb used to be and other fingers sticking out at unnatural angles.  He lost a lot of blood during the mad ride to the hospital and it left him unable to walk or talk for a couple of years.  When he was in hospital he caught pneumonia and then had a stroke.

After that he was shunted around a variety of Special Schools, always languishing at the back out of the teacher’s reach.  At his last school, in a supreme act of irony, he was given the job of mowing the school lawns in lieu of school work.

Continue reading "I teach old men how to read and write" »

AusAID has a lot of Australia’s responsibly sensitive employees


YOU MIGHT THINK 'WOG' is a fairly harmless term. What could be offensive about three little letters?

But call a young black man in London a 'wog' and you will probably be smashed in the face. I asked my wife Rose (from Papua New Guinea) what she understood by the word. She responded, "What, you mean some sort of worm? I have a wog in my tummy if I have diarrhoea?"

The Urban Dictionary offers us this definition: "Offensive slang (1925-30) from 'Golliwogg', a 19th century blackface doll; or alternately an acronym of '(W)orthy (O)riental (G)entleman'. British English: (racist) a black African or dark-skinned South Asian (usually Indian or Pakistani); (Anglocentric) a non-Briton or non-Englishman. "The wogs start at Calais" (British proverb).

I’ll let you into a secret. Australia’s aid agency AusAID has a Wog Policy endorsed by the Australian Government.

Continue reading "AusAID has a lot of Australia’s responsibly sensitive employees" »

PNG’s alarming & rapid journey towards Christian fundamentalism


WHILST IT MAY BE TRUE that the Western world is moving towards secularism, in other parts of the world religious fundamentalism is on the increase and it is resulting in strife on an unprecedented scale.

Look at Egypt and Turkey where secular politics have been replaced by Islamic leaning politics with disastrous consequences. Now this is happening to dozens of countries where Islam is the dominant religion.

But this is not limited to Islamic countries and one can link religious fundamentalism fuelling ethnic tensions in Israel with the loss of dominance by the Labour party and its partners to right wing orthodox Judaism and, in India, right wing Hindu fundamentalism eroding the secular pillars of Hindu politics established by the Nehru family and People’s Congress party.

Continue reading "PNG’s alarming & rapid journey towards Christian fundamentalism" »

In-laws to be


An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Steamships Short Story Award

WE MET IN THE CITY and fell in love instantly the first time we met. We were an adorable pair. He is a doctor and I’m an accountant with one of the largest and well known accounting firms.  He was a true friend. Someone to laugh and cry with, to hug and confide in. I never dreamt that I would find someone like him.

I am such a career oriented person that finding love was the last thing on my mind. Being with him were the best moments of my life. He is everything I let myself dream of in a man. He is Hardworking, kind, funny, charming and intelligent. And to top of the icing on the cake, he’s from the highlands, because ever since I was eighteen, I always have a thing for highlands guys.

  ‘You are perfect. You will win’, he smiles at me eagerly. I winced smiled and rolled my eyes. So he pops the question I dreaded the most. He wants me to meet his parents. Ouch!!! .    I just want to be with him. Just live with him with no plans for the future.  But he thought otherwise.    He loves me a lot. He wants to marry me. He wanted me to meet my in laws to be. It was a spur of the moment decision.

Continue reading "In-laws to be" »

Scholarship on offer to promote public health in PNG

MELISSA LYSAGHT | International Health & Medical Services

THE NOSSAL INSTITUTE FOR GLOBAL HEALTH is partnering with leading medical company International SOS and its subsidiary International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) to promote public health in Papua New Guinea.

The partnership will see a Papua New Guinea citizen awarded a Nossal Scholars Program scholarship at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health. The scholarship is designed for graduate research degrees in global health-related fields including basic science, social sciences, clinical services and public health.

The recipient will travel to the University of Melbourne for the first year of study, return to Papua New Guinea for fieldwork in their second year, and complete their PhD thesis in Melbourne. The scholarship will cover living expenses, international travel and fieldwork, while the University will provide full fee remission for the length of the scholarship. There is also potential support for residential accommodation at the university’s Parkville campus.

Continue reading "Scholarship on offer to promote public health in PNG" »

Education & self-reliance keys to better future for women


TO YOUNG PAPUA NEW GUINEAN activist Tamara Kruzang Mandengat, education and self-reliance are the keys to a better future. Ms Mandengat is a researcher and networker at Bismark Ramu Group - a non-government organisation based in Madang.

She has a passion for women’s empowerment, and argues that the development of the mining, logging and fishing industries have had a negative social impact on women and families. She says that in coastal centres like Madang, women have traditional fishing grounds where they used to take their canoes out to fish for their livelihood.

However, “when the big tuna factories are built, and with the big fishing boats, they chase away the fish on the local fishing grounds for these women . . . . so where would they get their fish from?” She says crew members from the boats sell their catch to the women who often have no way to pay for it but with sex.

Continue reading "Education & self-reliance keys to better future for women" »

Providing PNG’s women & girls the safety they deserve

AMELIA FREELANDER | Amnesty International Australia

I RECENTLY RETURNED from a trip to Papua New Guinea, and I'm still reeling from what I saw there.

Women and girls who had been attacked in the most violent and horrifying ways -- burned with hot metal, raped and beaten, limbs chopped off, and worse.

I'm not talking about a couple of cherry-picked cases here, the violence is systemic and most women in PNG have been at the receiving end.

But we have the chance to help create real, lasting change in PNG so women and girls can finally enjoy the safety they deserve.

Continue reading "Providing PNG’s women & girls the safety they deserve" »

What kind of “reformation” does the Speaker have in mind?

Fr Giorgio Licini, Rome, 2011FR GIORGIO LICINI |Catholic Reporter

AN ARTICLE ENTITLED ‘Speaker breaks silence’ in the PNG Post Courier newspaper has shed some light on the lead up to the recent controversy on the decorations of the House of Parliament. Unfortunately the light is dark. Here are my humble observations.

I maintain that there are a lot of decent, educated and well mannered people among the members of parliament elected in July last year. To the best of my limited knowledge, I include among them the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the House.

This national leadership, however, was born with an “original sin” which has come to light on several occasions: the sacking of the vice-chancellor of the University of Technology, the agreement with Australia on refugees, the probable implementation of the death penalty and now the removal of Parliament decorations as a first step for a special project aimed at “uniting” the country under the common denominator of “Christianity and faith in God”.

Continue reading "What kind of “reformation” does the Speaker have in mind?" »

2013 PNG-Australia forum: one step forward, one step back


AID WAS A CENTREPIECE of the talks at the 22nd Papua New Guinea–Australia Ministerial Forum, held last Wednesday in Canberra and chaired by the two countries’ foreign ministers.

While in some areas little new ground was covered and previous commitments were simply recommitted, there were some notable inclusions in the communique, and some significant omissions.


Gender was completely absent from the communique at the last forum, so it was very positive that it was prominent this year.

“The PNG Government recommitted to implementing commitments made under the 2012 Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration, including increasing funding for services for women survivors of violence across the country, particularly women’s refuges and Family Support Centres in all provinces.”

Continue reading "2013 PNG-Australia forum: one step forward, one step back" »

Illegal land grabs & logging are robbing Papua New Guineans

NINA WEGNER |Huffington Post (USA)

The village (The Oakland Institute)SAD BUT TRUE: THE MAHOGANY DESK in your study or the merbau flooring in your living room probably came from illegal timber logged on tropical lands.

It's a dirty trade that's been happening for decades, but a new report finds that Papua New Guinea, one of the main exporters of illegal timber in the world, is now leasing out its ancestral lands to foreign loggers and investors in one of the fastest and largest land grabs in recent history.

Published by the Oakland Institute, the report lays out how these land grabs, made possible by a scheme called Special Agriculture and Business Leases (SABLs), are putting forests customarily owned by local clans and tribes into the hands of national and foreign corporations, often through intimidation, deception, and empty promises.

Continue reading "Illegal land grabs & logging are robbing Papua New Guineans" »

Theo Zurenuoc: Saviour or destroyer of cultural heritage?

Bernard h&s


An entry in The Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mining & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism

THE BIBLE, IN THE BOOK OF EXODUS, states that the God of the Israelites was a jealous God. When the Israelites entered the land of Canaan they were forbidden by the Ten Commandments to worship the Gods of the other conquered tribes.

In particular “Thou shall worship no other Gods but me” is the underlying law that guided the Israelites. The Israelites needed to protect their religious belief as they came into contact with the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

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In Mandela’s shadow: When the great pass away from us


Sir Michael SomareWHEN SIR MICHAEL SOMARE finally gives up the ghost, I have no doubt that Papua New Guinea will go overboard in the memorial praises and tributes for him.

Of course, the international coverage will not be as extensive as that given to Nelson Mandela, and I expect we’ll not be favoured with a fake sign language interpreter like the one at Mandela’s memorial, but all the slogans will be there: Grand Chief, Architect of Independence, Father of the Nation, Sana, Peacemaker.

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Justice adviser says there is too much compensation in PNG


AN ADVISER WITH Papua New Guinea’s law and justice division in Eastern Highlands Province says traditional systems of mediation and compensation are being perverted for personal gain.

The comment was made Don Hurrell, a former Queensland police officer who is also a PNG citizen, in the context of a recent conference in the provincial capital Goroka on the rise in sorcery-related violence.

Much of the conference discussion emphasised the importance of mediation and communities coming up with their own solutions.

But Mr Hurrell said mediation is being used for the wrong reasons.

“Every single thing that happens here now is someone else’s fault, so then it has to be mediated,” he said.

“Mediation in its pure form in the districts and in the villages is fine. But it has become a money-making business.”

Mining & mythology: In search of Mt Kare's gold bonanza

MARTYN NAMORONG | Namorong Report

Aerial view of Mt Kare site (Nigel Nawara)THE LANDSCAPE OF MT KARE is defined by cosmic events of the mythology of local tribes in Papua New Guinea's highlands region as much as by the geology of the area.

Located at the boundary of the highlands provinces of Enga and Hela Provinces, the gold rich region of Mt Kare has suffered from the titanic clash of a modern gold rush mixed with complex claims of traditional ownership over the gold.

Indochine Mining is the 100% owner of the Mt Kare project. But of course, the question of ownership isn't as straight forward as acquiring shares and pieces of paper confirming ownership.

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A crime against the past, present & future of our nation

Michael Dom hsMICHAEL DOM

I AM DISAPPOINTED THAT MY FRIEND Francis Sina Nii thinks the way he does on the parliamentary carvings issue. No matter what long words, lengthy essays or pulpit preaching there may be, the desecrators and their supporters have committed a crime against this nation; past, present and future.

What a sad a misguided Christianity. Is it any wonder they fight a losing battle and need to import prayer warriors?

By the way, apart from a few movie characters from un-Hollywood, why are angels always Caucasian? (I like the blue mutant in X- Men.)

How brain washed we are. Hah!

Whenever the real Satan comes to us he will be beautiful, have no doubt.

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Manus treatment of detainees ‘humiliating & excessively cruel’


Manus detaineesLIFE FOR DETAINEES at the Manus detention centre is humiliating and excessively cruel, says Graeme McGregor, refugee campaign coordinator for Amnesty International Australia, who has just returned from a week on Manus.

What he found inside the centre was bleak and far worse than he had anticipated. The entire system has apparently been designed to mentally break asylum seekers and force them to return from where they've fled. In one compound, he found 112 asylum seekers crammed into a sweltering, windowless shed.

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Sr Benedicta reflects on her highlands teaching mission


Sr Benedicta with Bible students

AS HER THREE YEARS in Papua New Guinea come to a close, Sr Marie Benedicta Sim recently reflected on her ministries in the Highlands.

Sr Benedicta conducted prayer services, taught Pidgin classes for the people living with HIV, and held Bible class for the people (adults and youth) in the Banz parish church and for people living with HIV.

“Even though Papua New Guinea is a Christian country many people don’t have a Bible. I was fortunate to have had five groups of adults and five youth groups who completed the Bible from Genesis to Revelation,” she said.

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Parliamentary sacrilege & the demarcation between State & Church


THE SACRILEGE COMMITTED by Theo Zurenuoc in destroying works of art by PNG master carvers and displayed in Parliament is akin to Pope Francis ordering the destruction of the works of art by Michelangelo in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel.

The idea that by removing these works of art, Parliament and the body politic of PNG will be cleansed from dark pagan forces associated with the artwork is a misguided attack on our aesthetic past that has helped define us as a people.

The sacrilege to parliament is based on the interpretation  of the  Christian Covenant  in the new testament bible with the Semitic God of the old testament Bible and  that there can be no worship of  idols but that of the one true God Yahweh.

It is erroneous to assert that this  idea forms the fundamental philosophical and moral basis upon which modern PNG is constructed and must be held to the exclusion of any other belief system to give meaning and Christian purpose to our modern government.

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Removing tambaran carvings is a stepping stone to change


THE OPPONENTS OF THE REMOVAL of carvings and art work at the National Parliament under the direction of Speaker Theo Zurenuoc have ignored two important facts in their arguments.

First, the National Parliament is not a museum. The right place for the preservation of historical relics, carvings and all kinds of cultural heritage is in a museum and not the National Parliament.

All the carvings being taken down can find their rightful place at the National Museum and Art Gallery which is nearby. No problem.

Parliament House is a modern structure based on modern political ideology and as such the structure and the face of it can be altered at any time to suit development and change.

In fact the idea of removing all those ugly, scary, evil looking idols is not new. It has been mooted by parliamentarians, civil society and Christians for some years and it is so happens that the practicality of it has eventuated during the tenure as Speaker of Theo Zurenuoc. At least he had the guts to sanction the project.

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Crimson Regret

Crimson RegretJ P RICHARD

An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Award for Poetry

The poem is about foreseeing an inevitable break-up from a long term relationship, preparing the heart for the worst - JPR

And that dreadful hour would weave torrents of merry moments
Entwine shall they collide with currents of blurry torments
Rumbling up from the core of the collision gradually very dormant
It’s been sleeping a thousand years never dreamed of being brought to life
Never was my weary soul succumb to my lamentation
For that moment shall rip my complete heart and crush my virtue
Then my veins shall burst my crust pouring crimson regret

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Flicker of hope is seen in long-running Schram affair


Albert SchramON 8 FEBRUARY THIS YEAR, the vice-chancellor of the University of Technology in Lae, Albert Schram (pictured), was deported from Papua New Guinea. No justification was given for this precipitate action and, since then, Dr Schram’s requests for a both a new visa and an explanation have been ignored.

It seems certain that the reason for this bloody-minded act (when he was deported, Dr Schram had just landed at Port Moresby airport after a medical visit to Singapore) is rooted in corruption and incompetency that he had uncovered in his new role as vice-chancellor of Unitech.

And it says a lot about PNG today that, instead of being regarded as a hero for trying to clean up the mess he inherited, the vice-chancellor was subjected to a malign whispering campaign and then to the covert exercise of power that reached to the very top of the political process.

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