The Crocodile Prize: aggregating a national identity
Friend of PNG makes good as Steamships abandons Croc Prize

Steamships reneges on its Crocodile Prize short story award

Steamships cheque handoverKEITH JACKSON

STEAMSHIPS Trading Company, which describes itself as having a “pre-eminent position in the (PNG) community”, has at the last minute reneged on a commitment to sponsor this year’s Crocodile Prize.

The pledge, first given by Steamships in October last year and restated on several occasions over a seven month period, was to renew its support for the Short Story Award it first sponsored in 2011 (see the photo at right from happier days) and claims credit for in its annual report.

The most recent affirmation that Steamships would continue to sponsor the award was on 23 May.

A week later Corporate Relations and Public Affairs Officer Wanita Wakus, without explanation, announced in an email, “I'm sorry to say that we're unable to continue with the sponsorship this year”.

The Crocodile Prize Organising Group, COG, had already agreed to a request from Steamships to cut the value of its sponsorship from $5,000 to $2,500 as a protracted discussion took place over seven months. (You can download the email trail here.)

During this period, as COG proceeded in good faith, Steamships’ sponsorship was advertised extensively in PNG Attitude and on the Crocodile Prize website.

One angry COG member exclaimed, “Does it mean Steamships is pulling out after all the assurances and six months of promotion at this final month? This is inconceivable, loathsome and mendacious act.”

A weekend review of COG’s finances to find means of funding the Short Story Award reduced the budget allocated to publishing the 2014 Anthology from $15,000 to $10,000.

This will cut the Anthology print run from 1,500 to 1,000 books – a heavy blow to PNG readers.

Given that these books are often shared between many readers, Steamships action represents a slap in the face for thousands of Papua New Guineans.

We are not letting Steamships’ disappointing action go unremarked and a second article tomorrow reveals how the company seems to have breached its own corporate values.

Meanwhile readers can help by taking to the social media to express their concern about Steamships decision.


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Francis S Nii

The thing that made me hate Steamies and its fat cats so much is its pulling out at the very final month of the Crocodile Prize competition after many assurances that the cheque was forthcoming.

On the understanding that the payment was forthcoming, PNG Attitude accorded the bastard six months of prominence by way of advertisements.

It's a great shame Steamships and evidences a very poor corporate-community relationship.

William Dunlop

Peter - James A Michener in his Tales of the South Pacific
quoted the late Fred Archer, the well known Rabaul
planter: "BP's means Bloody Pirates".

Looks like Steamships has earned that role now.

Peter Kranz

Interesting to investigate the dummy trade in copra plantations in PNG ('20's and '30s), managed by Burns Philp, Steamships and WR Carpenter (amongst others).

One notable beneficiary was Lyall Howard whose son became an interesting Australian prime minister.

Peter Kranz

Did they give any reason? Surely the bad press they are now receiving is not worth it.

And if the 'little people' like us can contribute remind us how.

Maybe it's an opportunity for other major PNG companies to step up to the plate. Carpenters, I'm looking at you.

As the published emails show, there was no explanation. On 23 May, the cheque was said to be in process; by 30 May it was all abandon ship, so to speak - KJ

Ludmilla Salonda

Steamship needs a few lessons on the "triple bottom line" as an important competitive advantage for any company worth its salt in today's world.

So it is now up to the consumer to impress upon this company the value of corporate social responsibility.

Tanya Zeriga Alone

Very disappointing.

Jeff Febi

This is totally irresponsible for a major corporate citizen in PNG.

Jane Awi

This is really disappointing when individuals voluntarily make efforts to build a literate PNG and big companies like Steamship do not live up to their commitment to the people of PNG.

I thought Steamship was committed to improving the lives of Papua New Guineans, however this does not seem like it.

Their withdrawal and non-particpation in promoting and sustaining PNG literature this year is not reflective of a commitment to their loyal shoppers and PNG people generally. Very disappointing!

Jimmy Drekore

"Its story will not be short." Damn well said, Michael.

Michael Dom

This is something we did not need to happen. The Crocodile Prize is a not for profit organisation and the impact of its activities is directly related to the sponsorship support.

Steamships support was essential to getting our job done properly.

The manner in which they have reneged their agreement is a betrayal of trust and indeed poor corporate behaviour.

It is one thing to bemoan the dearth of culturally relevant literature, lack of educational materials drawn from PNG writers and generally low standards of educational support - and quite another matter to actually do something about it.

I thought that was what Steamships was doing, particularly with their category, the short story.

Obviously I was wrong and this was only a passing fad to them.

Well, thanks Steamies, very. We are disappointed in this indifferent dumping, but not devastated by it.

The Crocodile Prize will not be a passing fad and its story will not be short.

Bernard Nolan Sinai | From Facebook

That is sad and disappointing.

Ismael Isikel | From Facebook

This is very sad.

Peter Comerford | From Facebook

Lousy bast%2%ds...

Martyn Namorong

I do not really hold a high opinion of Steamships. Some of my perceptions are indeed shared by the wider business community.

(The story behind why Steamships lost a major nationwide Mobil fuel shipping contract to Inchape Shipping is a classic).

Their snubbing of the Crocodile Prize reflects their attitude towards PNG intellectuals in both public and private spheres of influence.

It also raises questions whether Steamships can be viewed as a reliable partner not just in the development of PNG literature but in the growth and development of PNG as a nation.

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