The Pissing Protocols
I am a Papua New Guinean Writer

Too hairy for a PNG passport? Seems this is a thing

Peter & Rose at Taronga ZooPETER KRANZ

HAIR has become a bone of contention between my wife Rose and the Papua New Guinean government.

Rose is a resident of Australia, but a PNG citizen whose passport expired at the end of last year.

We duly went to the PNG Consulate in Sydney and were told, "No, you have to apply in PNG."

So we paid the fee, got a receipt, and sent all the documents to Waigani.

Then the fun began. After four weeks without a response we asked where things were up to.

The response? "The photos you sent obscure her face. She is too hairy. Send some more."

Rose with too much hair? I thoughbt of the effects of chemotherapy and couldn't resist an ironic laugh. Anyway, we got new photos of the Kela Meri and sent them by express post.

Now PNG doesn't know what happened to them.

Is Rose too hairy, or not hairy enough? It seems they can't make up their minds.

It might be funny except Rose wishes to visit sick Mana in Port Moresby.

And, after all Rose has been through, it sucks to have this thrown at her?


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Peter Kranz

Today Rose received her passport! (Courtesy of PNG Post).

It's only been six months. Edward Lear and Franz Kafka are dancing in their graves.

And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Bernard Corden

Yesterday evening I telephoned the the Australian Government DIBP regarding the status of a citizenship application lodged in Port Moresby.

It was a bureaucratic and Kafkaesque nightmare and I thought I had mistakenly called the rental bond board or Telstra. The alleged assistant referred to me as mate so many times, I am certain he was Scott Morrison' s brother.

It would have been more productive if I had called a checkout assistant at my local Bunnings store.

I have read many anecdotes on this site about the ineffectiveness of the PNG Immigration department but rest assured, it is no worse than its Australian counterpart.

This is hardly surprising when you look at the standard of our current cabinet ministers. There is not one individual who can command respect and there is a dearth of talent in the shadow cabinet, where the only one I would feed is Linda Burney.

Peter Kranz

Watch out, Charles, Xena is coming. After 6 months of delay, excuses, obfuscation and sheer bloodymindedness, Rose is proposing a full-frontal assault on the PNG High Commission in Canberra in a last ditch attempt to get her passport renewed.

Well maybe that should be a half-frontal assault considering the coverage of our Simbu bilas.

She's sharpening her stone axe, restringing her bow, polishing her shield and dusting off the bilas. She is coming with cries of 'Suer!, suer, suer!' Charles better protect his balls. For a Simbu meri when her blood is up is a sight to behold.

Charles, where is Rose's passport? Is it beyond the wiles of even a PNG government department to issue a passport after 6 months?

We've tried flattery, political influence, coercion, bribery and, hell's bells, even Gilbert and Sullivan but to no avail.

There is just one think more to say before the assault starts.

Tratn kinde korknga.

(Now Rose really has something to answer for. Kuman speakers beware.)

Bernard Corden

Q. Why don't public servants look out of their office windows in the morning?
A. They would have nothing to do in the afternoon?

Chris Overland

Reading this thread you really do wonder just how anything at all gets done in PNG's public service.

This story is a great example of how Gary Juffa's "public serpents" are, whether by accident or design, failing their "customers" and, in a broader sense, their country.

I would think that nothing short of wholesale reform of the public sector is now necessary to revitalise the entire organisation.

More importantly, it needs new leadership: no well led and managed organisation would have made the complete mess of issuing Rose's passport that Peter has documented.

Still, progress has been made, however glacial, and any month now Rose will get her passport. I hope it is not due to renewal anytime soon.

Philip Fitzpatrick

No one trusts the postal service in PNG, Peter, especially the Boroko Post Office. We've sent countless books there only to have them disappear and turn up at the markets a few weeks later.

DHL is slightly better but they have a propensity to leave things sitting beside airstrips or sending them to Indonesia by accident.

Still, it's better than the Italian Postal Service. I got a package my son sent from there two years after it was posted. It came via the Caribbean.

Peter Kranz

This is becoming source material for Monty Python. The passport is ready for collection, but it must be sent by DHL which we have to pay for. (What is the connection between DHL and PNG Immigration, when there is a postal service?)

We have arranged for Rose's brother - a police detective sergeant - to collect it to send it to us. But this is apparently not good enough. He needs proof of identity and a letter of authorisation before they will give it to him. They also inferred that a few palms greased could speed up the process, but I'm not saying anything.

So here's a song for the PNG Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

I am the very model of a modern NG bureaucrat
I'll take a bribe and offer for to doff my hat
The money isn't everything
But I'll do 'bout anything
Cos I'm, the very model of a modern NG bureaucrat.

Chorus - She is the very model of a modern NG bureaucrat
She'll offer up her knickers and then reply with "how was that?"
The money isn't everything
But it still helps to take the sting
I am the very model of modern 'you just take the rap'.

Peter Kranz

Old Bill once said "When troubles come, they come not single spies, but in battalions."

Today Rose had a phone call from PNG Immigration, Waigini, to say her passport was renewed and is ready for collection - from Port Moresby!

"Doesn't the fee I paid cover the cost of posting it back to me?"

"No, sori tru. You have to arrange for DHL to collect it."

Words fail me (and that doesn't happen often).

`Robin Lillicrapp

Peter, I do recall the Datsun SSS rally version imported for the Safari by my boss, Peter Newman of Boroko Motors.
And I remember being seconded to protection detail for the Company lady's team who successfully completed the Safari course, without incident.

That era was characterized by intense interest in Motor sport, I guess led by the often larger than life characters involved in the industry.

Bill and Arna Chapman, I remember well. Where did they end up?

Bill was often active in recovering wartime aircraft with a view to mounting a display. I'm not sure that vision was ever realized.

Peter Kranz

I found this bit of amazing history (completely irrelevant to Rose's passport, but links nicely to old Fords and pionerring car rallies in PNG.

The South Pacific Motor Sports Club. An international off-road car rally in PNG in the '60's!

"The first major competition on the calendar was a 300 mile rally (of which I became organiser with Max May, and chief marshal), which was to be held in October, and which, in the following year, became the annual Papua Safari of 500 miles. This was organised by the late Bill Crawley, one of Alan Morris' lieutenants, who continued to run it until he transferred to Lae to run the PNG Motors operation there. When Bill left it was then taken over by Bill Chapman.

The Safari took place over mainly wartime roads which one year included one particularly nasty one down towards Rigo where a local farmer had bogged his farm tractor the week before, and only four of us got through. There used to be a bald hill to the left of, I think, Scratchley Road on the way to Vabukori. Bill Crawley sent us straight up this hill followed by a circumnavigation of the top, on the edge of the drop and at a camber that felt like 45° - great fun. At its peak it attracted works teams from Australia including two Australian rally champions and Brian Culceth who was imported from the U.K. to drive a works Leyland for PNG Motors."

Anyone know more about this?

Peter Kranz

Sil - an old car joke (maybe some old fogies might remember). My Dad had a Ford Prefect, but could never afford a Consul.

It could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 22.5 seconds.

Peter Kranz

Well blow me down with a feather! PNG Immigration has just confirmed that Rose's passport was renewed on June 7th and should be 'in the post'.

Peter Kranz

And my favourite... "She should go to Port Moresby to get a new passport."

Peter Kranz

This is becoming a farce of Monty Python proportions.

Still no response to Rose's application for a passport renewal, first submitted in March. We've tried PNG Immigration in Port Moresby, The High Commissioner in Canberra, the Consul in Sydney, and this morning got fobbed off to the 3rd consul.

After a dozen phone calls, two of which are on continuous voicemail, and the last one this morning when Rose found someone willing to talk in Pisin and was told she was wasting their time; six email contacts, three of which return an error message; and any number of excuses - Rose still doesn't have a passport.

The excuses given deserve marks for creativity. "How did you send the documents? Via International Express Post. Oh no, you must use DHL."

"Did you photocopy everything before you sent it? No? Well I'm afraid we can't do much."

"What's the receipt number of the payment you made? Don't know. Well I'm afraid you must always keep receipt numbers."

"Why did you pay $100? Because that's what the Consulate said. Oh no you shouldn't have paid that much!"

Maybe I should smuggle her on a boat to Manus.

Philip Fitzpatrick

I've had a spate of Pukpuk Publications orders disappearing as soon as they get to Moresby, Peter. Lost two substantial shipments in the past month, one to SWA and one to Bomai Witne.

Things are really falling apart there.

Peter Kranz

Still no progress on passport. We are chasing things up at the PNG end. It seems everything was "lost in the post" despite resending the photos twice to the official address and being telephoned back twice. Are PNG government departments still operating? Or is all just confusion and chaos?

Peter Kranz

Seems things are just getting worse. Rose has been waiting 8 weeks for a passport renewal now. Mr Lepani in Canberra offered to follow things up but no luck so far.

This morning Rose went to the PNG Consulate in Sydney. Again. They said "it's all up to Port Moresby". We rang the number but apparently it's been disconnected.

Come on PNG, can't you even renew a citizen's passport without everything being 'lost in the post'?

Kafka just ain't in it.

Dikko Komendano

Sorry to hear about your plight. I had my passport stamped at the Brisbane consulate last year with a 12 month extension. Enough time to travel to Port Moresby and get a new one in two days.

You just have to be persistent and someone will eventually get back to you. Also helps if you have a friend or relative in Port Moresby to follow up. Best of luck.

Peter Kranz

Sil and other Simbu angra na ambai - you might appreciate this comment from Rose in Kuman. "Drano dendinge singwa" (they all all liars - the polite version)

Peter Kranz

We have followed this up with Charles Lepani's office in Canberra. They rang us back the same day, apologised and said they were chasing it up. But also did advise us to photocopy everything, which suggests they don't have too much faith in their own officers.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Good point Paul - you should have stuck some of the folding stuff in the envelope Peter.

Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin

Kera Peter, it is almost impossible in PNG for a public servant to deliver a good to the public without receiving a bribe.

Let us know when Rose gets the passport without the public servant asking for a gift.

Paul Oates

A cynic might suggest the real reason you have to apply in PNG could be that you can't arrange a direct, non receipted, 'incentive' payment to the person processing the application while you are overseas.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Chris, I didn't realise how bad the public service was in South Australia until I left it and had to deal with it from outside the fence.

In PNG public servants stick to the rules with maddening persistence. I think it is because they don't feel competent and are afraid of any consequence of making a mistake.

This is ironic because we left them with a lean and pragmatic system that allowed for flexibility (in contrast to what the Brits left in India).

That said, there are some mean and nasty people in Waigani who seem to delight in stuffing up everyone's travel plans by failing to deal with visa applications in a timely or efficient manner.

I was going to add that those people are all of a particular gender but that would be sexist, so I won't.

Chris Overland

I have to confess that I was a career bureaucrat.

The persistent image of public servants involves idle days spent consuming cups of tea and chatting with colleagues. This image, above all, has captured the imagination of cartoonists, writers, movie directors and, consequently, the public.

To say this image irks public servants is a major understatement, but there is nothing much to be done about it. So, most bureaucrats just sigh and quietly plug away at their jobs, doing the best they can for the public they serve.

Sadly, there is a sub-set of the bureaucracy who do the rest a great disservice. These are the people who have an exceptional capacity to interpret the rules to stop things happening or otherwise mess people about.

In my experience this is rarely due to malice: these people simply have a special talent (perhaps an anti-talent if there is such a thing).

In many respects, they fit the classic profile for a career criminal, typically having poor problem solving skills, poor impulse control and worse judgement.

These are the people who can discover flaws, problems and barriers where none exist. They have an encyclopaedic knowledge of what is allowed, exceeded only by their ignorance of what is possible.

These people usually constitute a small but virulent infestation of the middle ranks of any large organisation. The analogy of fleas and dogs comes to mind.

As a senior executive in the public service, I spent a lot of time trying to get these types of people to understand how they were creating problems where none existed. Could they not see how they could be helpful, not a hindrance. No chance mate!

So I was often obliged to overrule pettifogging and obstructionist decision making. Sometimes I was abrupt and peremptory in doing so: patience is not my middle name.

This, of course, upset these people and made me unpopular in certain circles, but getting things done was more important to me.

I mention this because it seems that Peter and Rose have fallen foul of someone who can't see how to get things done. He or she will doubtless insist that "I'm just doing my job, sir", but the "can't do" mentality is on vivid display nonetheless.

This is an international phenomenon so its genesis lies in human nature, not ethnicity or culture.

For example, I have friends who have told me that dealing with the Indian bureaucracy is a transcendental experience (in a very bad way), with innumerable forms, stamps and long, long waits in grubby reception rooms being required to gain even the simplest objective. A legacy of the British Raj so I believe, one which India could have done without.

This is no comfort to Peter and Rose of course, but at least they can be confident that it is not just a PNG thing.

They are having an international experience, an attack of bureaucratic dysentery, that just has to be endured for a time before the damn thing goes away.

Peter Kranz

And we had all the photos taken at our local post office, which is registered to take passport photos according to the Australian Government standards - no smiling, no glasses, no loose hair, no hat etc.

Hair today, gone tomorrow. They haven't haired the last of this. (Come on, I'm sure there are more hairy puns you can come up with!)

Daniel Kumbon

Rose, you will get your passport but I like the way you look so happy after all you've been through. Mi amamas tru long lukim yu olsem.God bless.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)