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104 posts from January 2014

After half a million deaths, the tragedy of West Papua continues

GEMIMA HARVEY | The Diplomat

Wpap freedom forum kev-flags-vibrance croppedTHE PEOPLE OF WEST PAPUA have been calling for self-determination for half a century – a struggle for liberation from an Indonesian military occupation that has seen as many as 500,000 Papuans killed.

A recent development in this long campaign is the suspicious death of a commander of the rebel Free Papua Movement (OPM), Danny Kogoya, on 15 December. The cause of death, as described in the medical report, was liver failure, bought on by the presence of “unusual chemicals in his body,” raising concern that he was poisoned.

At the time of his death, Kogoya was at Vanimo hospital, in Papua New Guinea, receiving treatment for his leg. His leg was amputated in 2012 – without his consent – at a police hospital in Jayapura, West Papua, after Indonesian security forces shot him during an arrest.

Continue reading "After half a million deaths, the tragedy of West Papua continues" »

When Rifles Reign


An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Poetry Award

TwoOriginalMauserRifles03_zps9cf2b03cThis poem is dedicated to my beloved father and to all the innocent people who were assassinated in Bougainville by rebels who turned sour and lost what the true fighters were fighting for. May forgiveness reign among all peoples of Bougainville and may the souls of those killed so mercilessly rest in peace

Thus embedded in my heart
Dawn came as a curse
Grandpa mist dragged them in
Not his fault though
My awakening that stood still
For Rifles’ rule I saw!

Continue reading "When Rifles Reign" »

Disaster plan contains whooping cough outbreak in Oro Province


Gary Juffa with tribesmenTHE ORO PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT has said a potentially tragic outbreak of whooping cough in the Kira District has been contained by its rapid implementation of a disaster management policy.

The policy was put into place soon after Governor Gary Juffa took office, and had the help of AusAID funding of the Oro Administrations provincial health program.

The disaster management policy emphasised the need to respond in a speedy manner to disasters of any sort with necessary medical supplies and logistics.

So far, 10 infants have died in Kira since the outbreak was detected by a routine Oro Administration Health Patrol last November.

Continue reading "Disaster plan contains whooping cough outbreak in Oro Province" »

PNG Task Force Sweep corruption busters clear Peter O'Neill


ONeill - AustralianPAPUA NEW GUINEA PRIME MINISTER Peter O’Neill has been cleared by Task Force Sweep of any involvement in the alleged improper payments made to a law firm.

Task Force Sweep chairman Sam Koim said their investigations concluded that the letter on the payment did not come from Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

“As it is now, we don’t have a case to pursue against O’Neill,” Koim said.

Koim said the case against O’Neill was on the letter of 24 January 2012 on the payment to the law firm which he denied writing or signing.

Continue reading "PNG Task Force Sweep corruption busters clear Peter O'Neill" »

Bougainville pays last respects to founding father Carolus Ketsimur

ALEX MUNME | New Dawn on Bougainville

President Momis views the body of Carolus KetsimurTHE BOUGAINVILLE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES met in Parliament House yesterday to pay its last respects to the late Carolus (Charlie) Ketsimur who died on Sunday.

The casket of the late Member for Taonita-Tinputz and Minister for Works was escorted by police followed by a convoy of government vehicles carrying close relatives and public servants.

At Parliament House, the casket was carried by representatives from the Bougainville Police Service who entered the Chamber at slow march.

Those present for the final farewell included ABG President John Momis, Vice-President Patrick Nisira, Speaker Andrew Miriki and other senior cabinet ministers including Finance Minister Albert Punghau, Mining Minister Michael Oni, Local Government Minister Joseph Nopei, Commerce and Trade Minister Wilfred Komba and the Acting Clerk of Parliament Edwin Kenehata.

Continue reading "Bougainville pays last respects to founding father Carolus Ketsimur" »

The regime, the drug company & the ‘murder’ of PNG citizens

MARTYN NAMORONG | Namorong Report

BPP websiteTHIS IS A STORY THAT TYPIFIES the despotic regime in Papua New Guinea. As if allegations of corrupt dealings with public funds wasn’t enough, the highest body representing PNG doctors, the National Doctors Association (NDA) has now accused the government of attempting to murder’millions of Papua New Guineans.

In a statement published in The National newspaper, NDA President, Dr James Naipao, raised concerns over the awarding of a K71 million medical supplies procurement contract to Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals Limited (BPPL). Dr Naipao noted that BPPL was awarded the contract despite its lack of ISO 9002 certification.

He explained that ISO 9002 certification ensures that products and services rendered by BPPL are of the highest acceptable international standards.

Continue reading "The regime, the drug company & the ‘murder’ of PNG citizens" »

The Queue


An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Steamship Short Story Award

The queueMAISY GOT ON THE RICKETY old PMV bus in Eriku and went to top town. It was 8:40 am, but the heat of the sun plus the dust from the half sealed road was unbearable. The driver drove like a maniac trying to avoid the deep pot holes and at the same time illegally overtaking other vehicles from his right.

When the bus stopped in top town, Maisy pushed her way out of the heavy stale of sweat and grim interior of her transport. She walked around the huge bags of betel nut, which she suspected belonged to three women conversing loudly in their mother tongue and continued polluting all the passengers with their Cambridge. She squinted in the blistering sun and quickened her pace, placing a 20 toea coin in Samu the beggars out stretched hands. She avoided and ignored the street sellers, who were trying to sell her Chinese made sunglasses.

Continue reading "The Queue" »

The blackbirders

CharlieCAROLUS KETSIMUR | Crocodile Prize Anthology 2011

This is an extract from an unpublished novel by Bougainvillean journalist and politician Carolus Ketsimur who died on Sunday. It was entered in the first Crocodile Prize national writing contest and published in the subsequent Anthology of PNG writing.

THERE WAS HARDLY ANY CLOUD IN THE SKY. From the vast blue above, the tropical morning sun shone brightly on Banio Bay, revealing a deep blue horseshoe-shaped expanse ringed by a narrow brown strip separating the sea from the green forest, which ran gently towards the mountain ranges in the distance.

Just beyond the southern corner of the bay, the kunai-covered Re’an Hills seemed out of place in the lush green Bougainville vegetation. The hills were the remains of a huge volcanic eruption of a long time ago – of which no-one knew.

Continue reading "The blackbirders" »

Veteran Solomons broadcaster & politician dies after long illness


SIBCPATTESON MAE, WHO HAS DIED at his home village of Gela in the Solomons after a long battle with diabetes and heart problems, was one of the best-known voices on radio in that country.

He was also a successful politician and, like his Bougainvillea counterpart, Carolus Ketsimur, who died on Sunday, was still serving at the time of his death.

Patteson Mae began his career as a broadcaster with the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation in the late 1970s. He went on to become General Manager of the organisation and also worked energetically to enhance the Pacific Islands News Association, of which he became president, and other regional media bodies.

Continue reading "Veteran Solomons broadcaster & politician dies after long illness" »

The story of a a jungle doctor who cares for 30,000 patients

Dr Beth Lewis & PNG childBETH LEWIS | Northern Echo (UK)

WATCHING A FIVE YEAR OLD stand up and walk across a room to say ‘good morning’ shouldn't have reduced me to tears. But last week it did.

Roman was admitted to hospital here in Papua New Guinea in August. Barely conscious, severely malnourished and having multiple seizures, we didn’t think that Roman would survive.

Amazingly he did, but as he began his recovery it became clear that he had had a stroke, leaving him unable to communicate and with weakness of the whole right side of his body.

Such are the effects of tuberculosis. It’s been a long, hard road, and he still has a long way to go, but five months later this little boy is a walking, talking miracle, and an absolute delight.

The same day that Roman started to walk again, a canoe arrived at Kapuna hospital. A young woman in labour was carried in, again semi-conscious, having been fitting on and off for 12 hours. But this wasn’t TB, Maggie had eclampsia and obstructed labour and was unable to deliver her baby.

Continue reading "The story of a a jungle doctor who cares for 30,000 patients" »

The Australian national curriculum - has PNG been neglected?


Australia's education minister, Christopher PyneSO HOW ABOUT SOME CREATIVE options for the Australian school curriculum, currently under new management?

Well the curriculum could be revised with proper respect to Papua New Guinea history. Get Kevin Donnelly and Professor Ken Wiltshire on to it as soon as possible.

And I seem to remember Julie Bishop responding favourably to the idea of much greater PNG/Australian student and teacher exchange schemes. But that was before the election.

(Come on Julie - make good on what you said in your dialogue with PNG Attitude contributors!)

Continue reading "The Australian national curriculum - has PNG been neglected?" »

Carolus Ketsimur, politician, journalist & jazzman, dies in Bougainville


Carolus KetsimurCAROLUS (CHARLIE) KETSIMUR – who died at Pamets village near Tinputz in Bougainville on Sunday evening at 69 - was a man of the finest calibre.

Carolus, who became Minister for Works in the Autonomous Bougainville Government after a long and distinguished career as a journalist, had been ill for some time and recently returned from a period in hospital in Port Moresby.

And so an illustrious, sometimes turbulent and high-achieving life is over. I’ll remember Carolus as a great journalist, an enthusiastic jazz musician and a good bloke.

Carolus was in the first group of Papua New Guinean journalists to train with the ABC in 1962 and became Director of Programs in the new National Broadcasting Commission in 1974.

Continue reading "Carolus Ketsimur, politician, journalist & jazzman, dies in Bougainville" »

In an era of religious wars, fancy dragging PNG into the mess


Christianity-v-IslamIN THE PAST, WARS WERE primarily waged for economic reasons.  Wealthy men (and a few women) started wars in the interests of gaining power, money and glory. 

For cannon fodder they used agrarian serfs and, after the Industrial Revolution, factory workers and farmers.  To satiate their greed thousands of these gullible individuals perished.  The last two world wars were fought for economic reasons.

In recent times wars, have been primarily waged for religious reasons.  The wealthy are still there urging everyone on in the hope of making a quick buck supplying the tools of trade or taking over valuable resources, but the impetus now is mainly religious.

Continue reading "In an era of religious wars, fancy dragging PNG into the mess" »

Chris' story - a look at the state of mental health in PNG

SCOTT WAIDE | Tingting Bilong Kantri Blog

ChrisMY JOURNEY HAS TAKEN ME to strange and wonderful places and I keep meeting interesting people. In 2003,  I met Chris.  In front of Garden City, we had a lively conversation  about outboard motors  and the kind of fuel they use.   I am not too sure how  that conversation began.   But I introduced myself and he did the same.

Over the next five years, Chris’ mental state deteriorated. He was rejected by his family. On one occasion, I met him in Boroko with his arm in a sling.   For me it was upsetting to see him  in the state he was.  His shoulder was dislocated. I asked him how he was, and he told me how members of his family had assaulted him and how people on his street called him “longlong”  and joined in the assault.

Continue reading "Chris' story - a look at the state of mental health in PNG" »

In praise of mothers: a journey in a paradisiacal life


An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Cleland Family Heritage Writing Award

I BEGAN MY RUDIMENTARY formal Western education at Bogo St Nicholas Primary School in Simbu Province in 1985. After six years of primary education, my headmaster congratulated me and said I had qualified to attend Rosary High School at Kondiu to continue my education.

I spent four years at Kondiu, finishing in 1994. The years of hard work at high school paid off for me with two places opening up at tertiary level. It was my mother’s wish that I become a Catholic priest so I decided to go to the minor seminary at Kap, near Alexishafen.

I was there until 2006, eleven consecutive years in the seminary program. Adding this to my 10 years of primary and secondary education it was cumulatively 21 years of schooling, which was really tiring and boring.

My bishop must have seen me weak and tired after a long period of seminary studies so he called me into his office and said, “In the past, Gaby, you were enthusiastic and endeavoured well in the seminary program but now I see that you are different from what you were before.

Continue reading "In praise of mothers: a journey in a paradisiacal life" »

Chronic corruption has left the people with decades of darkness


Corruption destroys election posterAn entry in The Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Essay & Journalism Award

WHERE IS MY TAX-FREE CITY? Where are my sealed roads? Where are my modern hospitals? Colleges? Airports? Bridges? Schools?

My beautiful Hela, the home of the much talked giant PNG-LNG project, has nothing to show after four years of beautiful memorandums of understandings and benefits sharing agreements.

My lifestyle is unchanged. It is no different than decades before. The agreement papers have turned blank. It’s like elementary kids playing around with pencil and paper and leaving them unwanted and unattended.

Continue reading "Chronic corruption has left the people with decades of darkness" »

Arrest warrants for PNG leaders thrown out of court

HELEN DAVIDSON | Guardian Australia

Peter O'Neill (Photo - Eoin Blackwell)CONTROVERSIAL ARREST WARRANTS issued against Papua New Guinea’s prime minister, Peter O’Neill, and two senior government ministers were thrown out by a district court in Port Moresby on Friday.

The warrants were deemed invalid because the legislation they were based upon was repealed in 2000, principal magistrate Lawrence Kangwia ruled, according to the Post-Courier newspaper.

However, Mr Kangwia said investigators were free to reapply for new ones and he refused an application to dismiss the entire complaint against the men.

Continue reading "Arrest warrants for PNG leaders thrown out of court" »

A disturbing novel based on a disturbingly true Melanesian story

MARIA CRAWFORD | Financial Times

People in the TreesThe People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara, Atlantic Books, 384 pages. Available from Amazon here – hard cover $17.04, paperback $12.18, Kindle e-book $9.75

IN 1996, THE NOBEL PRIZE-WINNING VIROLOGIST Dr Carleton Gajdusek was charged in the US with child sex abuse and later served a year in prison.

His victim was one of more than 50 children he had “adopted” during research trips to Papua New Guinea and Micronesia. It is on his true story that Hanya Yanagihara bases her disturbing debut novel.

Continue reading "A disturbing novel based on a disturbingly true Melanesian story" »

Will politicians act to sustain a national literature in PNG?


The rough draftIN THINKING ABOUT how to promote a sustainable literature in Papua New Guinea it is useful to consult history.

The halcyon days of literature occurred in the 10 years or so leading up to independence in 1975 and a few years afterwards.  It was then that Vincent Eri published the first Papua New Guinean novel, The Crocodile, and when books by writers like Albert Maori Kiki and Russell Soaba appeared.

Those were the years when Papua New Guinean written literature was born and when it blossomed.  At the same time there was a relative abundance of work by expatriates based in Papua New Guinea, both fiction and non-fiction.

Continue reading "Will politicians act to sustain a national literature in PNG?" »


Petronilla PomaDOMINICA ARE

An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Poetry Award

Dedicated to my beautiful niece, Petronilla Poma


Princess Petronilla, how we adore your
Enchanting smiles, we are
Thankful to God, for creating you into a
Replica of your mummy & daddy, you are
Our priceless and valuable gem, and
Naturally beautiful,, you are so
Intelligent and always impressing us, the
Love of our Life, how
Lively and Lovely you are, an
Angel sent from God

The Flight of Galkope


An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Ok Tedi Mining Book of the Year

Flight of GalkopeTHERE HAVE NOW BEEN FOUR works entered in the inaugural Ok Tedi Mining Ltd Book of the Year Award within Papua New Guinea’s Crocodile Prize national literary contest for 2014.

They are Francis Sina Nii’s novel Fitman, Raitman & Cooks: Paradise in Peril; Leonard Fong Roka’s collection of verse, The Pomong U’tau of Dreams; Leonard Fong Roka’s collection of short stories, Moments in Bougainville; and Sil Bolkin’s The Flight of Galkope, from which we provide the fascinatingextract below.

The tribes and clans of the Galkope have occupied the steep mountain slopes and valleys of the southern part of the Simbu Province for countless generations. As a son of the Galkope, Sil Bolkin, spent several years trekking through his traditional homeland talking to people about their origins, especially in the traditional men’s houses.

Here the elders and sages of the Galkope recounted, interpreted and handed down their past stories to him. Through these old men, Sil found he could 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.

In this extract, however, the history is of more recent origins as the old men, through Sil Bolkin, retrace how modern Christian religions came to the people of the Simbu….

Continue reading "The Flight of Galkope" »

The search for fallen airmen in Papua New Guinea continues


The Grey Ghost B-17 wreckTHE  US NAVAL RESEARCH LABORATORY (NRL) will lead a team of scientists and engineers to fly a Multi-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (MB-SAR) to gather information to aid in the search and recovery of unaccounted aircraft losses in Papua New Guinea during World War II.

The US Pacific Command and Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) is sponsoring the mission.

It is believed many of the downed aircraft sites are located in the Northern, Central, and Morobe Provinces in austere terrain under triple canopy foliage. The goal of the mission is to highlight the effectiveness of remote sensing information to aid JPAC search and recovery efforts.

Continue reading "The search for fallen airmen in Papua New Guinea continues" »

Sherlock Holmes in the place of the great masalai - Pt 3


Basil Rathbone as Holmes"WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE?" muttered Dr Watson in a post-prandial drowse.

Holmes and the good doctor were relaxing on the verandah of a grand colonial plantation house at the base of Hornbrum's Bluff, far enough away from the hustle and humidity of Port Moresby to provide a relaxing interlude for Holmes to ponder this case.

He knew Moriarty was involved somehow in the latest atrocities in the Islands, but he couldn't quite put his finger on the connection.

Continue reading "Sherlock Holmes in the place of the great masalai - Pt 3" »

Sir Michael stymies Speaker on artefacts destruction


FORMER PAPUA NEW GUINEA PRIME MINISTER Sir Michael Somare has succeeded in extending an order to stop the speaker from continuing to remove and destroy artefacts at parliament.

Sir Michael had gone to court on the last day of 2013 and successfully obtained interim restraining orders until the matter is fully argued in court.

It has been extended to 17 January and prevents the speaker, Theodore Zurenuoc, and others from taking away cultural property including artefacts, art works, adornments and totem poles.

The speaker's actions attracted much criticism both from members of parliament, the media and the public

The Unitech saga: a serious impingement upon academic freedom

PNG BLOGS | Extracts

Unitech main buildingMONTHS OF CONFUSION about who is responsible for straightening out the management mess at the University of Technology (Unitech) by members of the public, students and staff now extends to Higher Education Minister David Arore, whose 20 December statement on EMTV news regarding the vice chancellor indicated that some basics of Unitech governance need to be explained.

In his television statement, Minister Arore said he had terminated vice chancellor Dr Albert Schram and that a new vice chancellor would be appointed.

The Papua New Guinea University of Technology Act 1986 defines the governance of the institution.

Continue reading "The Unitech saga: a serious impingement upon academic freedom" »

I am me


An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Poetry Award

I am me
Call me stubborn and ignorant
Call me shy and silent
I may be quiet but bright
I am me

I am not perfect
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve committed the worst crimes
But I love my imperfections
There’s nothing I regret

I’ve learnt from my mistakes
I have been hurt
But I’ve learnt to forgive and forget
To be strong and silent
And to face my fears

Continue reading "I am me" »

Inter-Solomon trade flourishes - & can be very profitable


Robin Nareu at Pidia village after a trip from Solomon IslandsACROSS BOUGAINVILLE RETAIL OUTLETS have many goods originating from a wholesaler in Choiseul Province of the Solomon Islands. Every day alcoholic beverages, food items and traditional cultural items are loaded on to Bougainvillean outboard motor boats crossing the short distance of the Solomon Sea to Bougainville.

Bougainvilleans are also now increasingly heading for Gizo and Taro towns in the Northern Solomons for recreation and shopping on weekends and during the festive seasons.

Continue reading "Inter-Solomon trade flourishes - & can be very profitable" »

That Namah-O'Neill imbroglio - time for a please explain


O'Neill and NamahCOULD SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN what on earth is going on between opposition leader Belden Namah and prime minister Peter O'Neill?

I have a limited understanding of the Byzantine machinations of Papua New Guinean politics but this business really leaves me scratching my beard when trying to work out what is really going on.

As I understand it -

- Task Force Sweep has been investigating payments to Paraka Lawyers going back to the Somare government days, of which both O'Neill and Namah were a part.

- Namah (now leader of the opposition) is concerned that there has been some sort of cover up, and has instituted legal proceedings against O'Neill and two other government ministers.

Continue reading "That Namah-O'Neill imbroglio - time for a please explain" »

Reflections of blogging & social media in PNG – Pt 1


Nou Vada, Martyn Namorong and Emmanuel NarakobiA FEW WEEKS AGO, I, as well as many people in Papua New Guinea and abroad read with unease and disgust at how one of PNG’s most prolific and bravest voices in social media was threatened into silence and submission.

Blogger Martyn Namorong was told at knifepoint to cease and desist in his independent assistance of the country’s political Opposition in calling out the national government over a number of controversial dealings it has been involved in.

The story took me back two years; to a time when the social media landscape in PNG was very much different from now.

I remember sitting on a creaky seat in the main lecture theatre at the University of Papua New Guinea one night, listening to the leader of the Australian Greens Party (whoever the hell he was) give a special lecture on the Party and its policy for environmental development in the region.

Continue reading "Reflections of blogging & social media in PNG – Pt 1" »

West Papua – little human rights improvement in 2013


West Papua referendum posterTHERE WAS LITTLE IMPROVEMENT in the human rights situation in West Papua in 2013. A number of military operations took place and the security forces cracked down on peaceful rallies called by various civil society organisations.

In the crackdown on the rallies called to commemorate the tragic event of 50 years ago when West Papua was handed over by UNTEA to Indonesian administration, two people were killed and three seriously wounded in the town of Sorong.  

The police shot and killed two protesters on 30 April as they prepared to mark the 50th anniversary of the handover. Another activist who was shot, Salomina Kalaibin, died of her wounds in hospital on 6 May.

Continue reading "West Papua – little human rights improvement in 2013" »

What just happened?


An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Poetry Award

It’s been a year of speed
Digital connections
High speed options
Increased traffic

Bottle neck queues
In the stores
At the banks
And in the hospitals

Everywhere you go
There is no escape
While the prices go higher
The kina purchase is lower

A mother’s face grimmer
We either go wiser or more foolish
The belt goes wider around
And the skirt tighter than ever

Continue reading "What just happened?" »

Tribe versus nation: Observations on PNG's critical challenge

Gary Juffa speaking in ParliamentGARY JUFFA

IF PAPUA NEW GUINEA is to progress, and its significant potential for development harnessed, it needs to shift its leadership philosophy from tribalism to nationalism.

This is one of the most significant observations I have made in my first term as an elected official, a political leader in the ninth parliament of Papua New Guinea.

It is one of many concerns which, in due time, I intend to speak of. I like to think that concerned Papua New Guineans care what a leader thinks. Maybe I am kidding myself; maybe people do not care.

Last year was an interesting year in Papua New Guinea’s ninth parliament. There were good and bad outcomes but one particular lesson was most sobering for me.

Continue reading "Tribe versus nation: Observations on PNG's critical challenge" »

Thugs, bent coppers & other ordeals along the Okuk Highway


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

Traffic queue at Kingstar landslipTHE 13-15 DECEMBER SIMBU KUAKUMBA cultural show was one of the things I wanted to see and take part in since my tribe was likely to be participating.

I flew to Goroka on 12 December and was to jump on a PMV bus later in the afternoon when I heard talk on the street that there was a landslip below the Kingstar limestone knoll and the travelling public were stranded.

I didn’t want to be caught up on the road in the evening, so I decided to overnight at Fishwara settlement in East Goroka.

At dawn I rose with the cicadas and arrived at the Simbu bus stop. Some 14 passengers and I jumped on the first 15-seater bus that was heading Simbu way. We left Goroka town at 7 am and the passengers chewed betel nut and smoked cigars for breakfast and happily chatted as we sped west into the morning clouds. 

Continue reading "Thugs, bent coppers & other ordeals along the Okuk Highway" »

Fitman, Raitman & Cooks: Paradise in Peril

Fitman-raitman-cooks-paradise-in-peril-mr-francis-nii-paperback-cover-artFRANCIS SINA NII

An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Ok Tedi Mining Book of the Year

TODAY WE OFFER READERS an extract, Chapter 4, from Francis Nii’s entry in the inaugural Papua New Guinea Book of the Year Award.

The K5,000 award, sponsored by Ok Tedi Mining Ltd, is part of The Crocodile Prize national literary contest.

Francis’s novel is the first entry in this newly-established prize for book-length writing, the first of its kind in PNG. Books published between January 2013 and June 2014 are eligible for the award.

We’re expecting further entries from Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin and Leonard Fong Roka and, we hope, other authors of fiction or non-fiction. You can read more details here about how to enter The Crocodile Prize.

An read John Fowkes' review for Amazon Books at the end of this extract....

Continue reading "Fitman, Raitman & Cooks: Paradise in Peril" »

Eminent judging panel will select PNG book of the year


LogoTHE ORGANISERS OF THE CROCODILE PRIZE have appointed a distinguished group of judges to choose Papua New Guinea’s first Ok Tedi Mining Book of the Year.

Dame Carol Kidu and authors Trevor Shearston and Philip Fitzpatrick will select the winning work, the first time in PNG that an award has been offered for a full length book.

It is an event that marks a significant step forward for PNG literature as the Crocodile Prize enters its fourth year.

The first entry – Francis Nii’s crime novel Fitman, Raitman & Cooks (based on a true story) - has been received and contest organisers are aware of three other books published since January 2013 that will be submitted.

Continue reading "Eminent judging panel will select PNG book of the year" »

The good sorcerers: many of us believe in a little bit of magic


THERE IS A VERY FINE LINE between sorcery and magic, just as there is a fine line between magic and religion.  All are necessarily related because of their essential gestation in the human mind rather than in reality.

In 1871, anthropologist EB Tylor suggested that magic was a primitive form of science because it sought to explain the nature of phenomena that humans observed and experienced.

In 1890, a colleague, JG Frazer, postulated that modern human thought has evolved in three stages, from magic through religion to science.

The practitioners and guardians of the rituals that accompany these three stages are what we call sorcerers.  Magicians like Merlin were sorcerers.  The priests, prophets and popes of the world are sorcerers.  So too are the doctors, physicists and chemists who practice science.

Continue reading "The good sorcerers: many of us believe in a little bit of magic" »

Sad sad world


An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Poetry Award

I see people suffering they die and I start muttering hey why
I see people paining and my heartache is gaining
Humans engulfed in misery, I couldn’t gulp that mystery
Did the cripple-one asked to live? O that rip all I’m tasked to believe

I can happily walk and laugh but they can’t possibly talk and stuff
I got plenty next to eat, they got empty next to it
So I fiddled my food saddened while they riddled their hood maddened
Who do they blame for this flame? Who do I blame for this game?

Continue reading "Sad sad world" »

2013 in review: The state of the arts in Papua New Guinea


Luk Save Art ShowIN PAPUA NEW GUINEA state infrastructure and support for the visual arts are meagre, with most artists self-reliant. The National Museum and Art Gallery in Port Moresby is a repository of 55,000 anthropological and archaeological artefacts and 7,000 contemporary works, and led by Cambridge-educated director Andrew Moutu.

The 11th Luk Save Art Show (pictured) held in September at Port Moresby’s Crowne Plaza Hotel comprised around 200 artworks, ranging from drawings, paintings and sculpture to pottery and, for the first year, photography, by more than 56 artists.

The NASFUND Best in Show award was presented to Johannes Gelag for his woodblock print, Family Against the Storm (2013).

Continue reading "2013 in review: The state of the arts in Papua New Guinea" »

Work experience in the newsroom: the journalistic lifestyle

Jessica KoeaiJESSICA KOEAI | PNG Perspective

ENTERING THE POST-COURIER NEWSROOM on Lawes Road in Port Moresby last 24 October to clock my first day of work experience was a blessing.

As a student reporter, I would say my time in the newsroom enabled me to see and read of PNG’s current development challenges. Likewise the staff of the Post-Courier – especially the editorial staff – were very encouraging and supportive.

I am glad that with their support and encouragement, I gained a lot of confidence to write stories.

Apart from learning journalism skills taught at the Divine Word University in Madang, my Post-Courier experience equipped me with the skills to face the real world and deliver news for the mass audience to read and be aware of what is actually happening in our country.

Continue reading "Work experience in the newsroom: the journalistic lifestyle" »

Sherlock Holmes in the place of the great masalai - Pt 2


HOLMES ESCAPED FROM MORIARTY'S LAIR with Salome with the help of the Great Masalai.  But the words carved on that ancient piece of wood given to him by Karol rang through his head.  What was the secret key to unlock this message?

He had managed to translate the ancient heiroglyphs into something vaguely understandable. But this still puzzled his great brain.

They read - "4d 6f 72 69 61 72 74 79 20 77 69 6c 6c 20 66 61 6c 6c 2e 20 41 20 6e 65 77 20 70 65 6f 70 6c 65 20 77 69 6c 6c 20 72 69 73 65 2e 0d 0a"

What great demonic secret did this hide? What ancient wild mathematical system could this represent? He had heard stories of demonic curses embedded in old carvings in ancient symbolic languages.

Continue reading "Sherlock Holmes in the place of the great masalai - Pt 2" »

Churches must face the demonic or contribute to confusion


WHILST I APPRECIATE many of the points made by Fr Franco Zocca SVD in his article Science not religion to defeat sorcery [PNG Attitude yesterday], I do not fully agree with his conclusions.

I think the fact that Christian leaders in Papua New Guinea are divided on this issue [of sorcery] only contributes to confusion among the people.

This is a very good reason why the Churches should convene for dialogue on what religious institutions can do to prevent people from accusing others of causing sickness, death, and disasters by sorcery practices.

Perhaps belief in the demonic in PNG resembles the pre-enlightenment worldview of Europe in the Middle Ages.

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Mine central to sustainable development, says John Momis

BEN JACKSON | Bougainville 24

John Momis announcing 2014 budgetBOUGAINVILLE HAS ITS ROAD MAP for the year ahead as the President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), Dr John Momis, announced the 2014 budget.

In a new year address to Parliament, Dr Momis introduced the budget as one for “consolidating sustainable development though high impact investment” and the reopening of the Panguna mine could be central to this.

“My government believes that an operating Panguna mine will be catalyctical to Bougainville’s economic development, generating much needed revenue to support other sectors of our economy,” Dr Momis said.

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A review of social media activism in PNG in 2013

CHARLES GILICHIBI | Goilala District Development Forum | Extracts

TO ALL THE WONDERFUL ANGELS of change in social media and in particular, Facebook, you’ve done wonderfully well in 2013. Never underestimate your contributions in the year that was.

Progress is built on the stock of past performance and without what we have collectively accomplished in 2013, we may not aspire to greater achievements in 2014.

If we hadn’t tried to blow the whistle on corruption, keep the heat on bad leadership and mobilise communities to action, then we would have failed. In our individual and collective capacities we have tried and here are a few successes.

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An overdue & judicious remuneration policy for magistrates


An entry in The Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Minerals & Petroleum
Essay & Journalism Award

Philip Tabai, veteran village court magistrate, with Francis Nii in KundiawaTHE O’NEILL-DION GOVERNMENT allocated K38.4 million in the 2014 national budget for the remuneration of the 4,800 officials in the 1,600 village courts throughout Papua New Guinea. This is a judicious policy of recompense that needs to be be sustained by successive national governments in future.

In a country where the bulk of her population dwells in small, scattered and isolated communities across rugged terrain where civilisation is still a dream and the presence of government literally zero, village courts are often the only evidence of tangible governance; maintaining order and peace in what could otherwise have been an anarchic state of affairs.

Established under the Village Courts Act of 1973, the village courts came into operation in 1975, the year that Papua New Guinea gained independence. It is the foundation of the country’s four-tier judicial system: Village, District, National and Supreme Courts.

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Purge of sorcery beliefs attributed to science & education not religion

Fr Franco ZoccaFR FRANCO ZOCCA SVD | Melanesian Institute

“CHRISTIANITY IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA has so far failed to eradicate the belief that malevolent sorcery and witchcraft is the cause of sickness, death and disasters.”

This was a common observation at the recent conference on Sorcery and Witchcraft Accusations – Developing a National Response to Overcome the Violence held at the University of Goroka from 3-5 December 2013.

From the history of Europe, in fact we know that Christian leaders, especially during plague epidemics, did accuse and prosecute people for allegedly having caused sickness and death through the practice of sorcery and witchcraft.

For a long period of time Christian leaders as well as the simple people and the civil authorities did believe that sorcerers and witches could cause sickness, death, and disasters in collusion with Satan and demons. And those witch-trials were to continue for centuries during and after the Middle Ages.

Continue reading "Purge of sorcery beliefs attributed to science & education not religion" »

Most commented (and most liked) articles in December


I’M TRYING SOMETHING NEW. In addition to registering the most commented upon articles for December, I’m including another list of the writing which readers (via Facebook) marked as their favourites.

The two lists vary significantly, but other than to note that difference, I will forego further analysis. Perhaps you’d like to put your mind to a rationale.

Far and away the most commented upon articles involved the vandalisation of the Parliament House carvings, something over 200 comments in total on this one issue. The wilful destruction of part of PNG’s heritage, and the ‘sacrilege’ of the built structure of parliament that represented national unity, took aback many readers. While other, of course, saw Speaker Theo Zurenuoc’s actions as a blow against sorcery and corruption (now exactly how is that supposed to work?).

Continue reading "Most commented (and most liked) articles in December" »

Death at 88 of legendary Sergeant Ben Moide CBE


Ben Moide with the late Bill BellairsIT IS WITH GREAT SADNESS that I advise of the death of Sergeant Ben Moide CBE, a famous warrior of World War II. Ben, aged 88, was living with family at Waigani in Port Moresby.

Ben's father came from the village of Saguane on Kiwai Island near Daru in the Western District while his mother came from the Motuan village of Pari, 5km to the east of Port Moresby. Steven Benjamin Moide was born on 21 June 1924, the third of nine children. Ben's mixed cultural background was a marked feature of his Army and civilian life.

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Crocodile Prize 2014 entries already near the 100 mark

Sponsors 131129KEITH JACKSON

WITH PAPUA NEW GUINEA’s premier literary awards, The Crocodile Prize, barely out of the starting blocks for 2014, there have already been nearly 100 entries submitted by more than 60 writers.

K25,000 in prize money as well as the prestigious Crocodile Prize trophy will be awarded to five overall winners, while runners up will be presented with Awards of Merit.

The PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum Award for Essays & Journalism has so far received 45 entries, the Kina Securities Poetry Award 44, and the Cleland Family Heritage Award and the Steamships Short Story Award four entries each.

So far there have been no entries for the Ok Tedi Mining Book of the Year award, but there are expected to be as many as 10 or 12 full length books submitted for the judges to deliberate over by the time entries close on 30 June.

Full details of the Prize, including an entry form, are available on this webpage and we urge all people thinking of entering work to study the conditions and to begin planning their entries now.

There is no limit on the number of entries that may be submitted.

If writers have any questions not dealt with on the webpage, they can email the organisers at this email address.