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109 posts from June 2016

Rio gives up – on its way out of Bougainville & leaving a mess

PangunaKEITH JACKSON

AFTER two years of deliberation, Rio Tinto has today transferred its 53.8% shareholding in Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) to an independent trustee, which, in six months, will provide both the PNG and Bougainville governments each with 36.4% of the company.

The remaining 27.2% of shares is held by independent shareholders, who now become important players in the future of BCL.

In a media statement, Rio said Equity Trustees Limited will manage the distribution of shares between the ABG "for the benefit of Panguna landowners, the people of Bougainville and PNG".

Continue reading "Rio gives up – on its way out of Bougainville & leaving a mess" »


Pukpuk Publications has a dedicated website – check it out

Pukpuk PublicationsPHIL FITZPATRICK

TO A large extent digital publishing through Amazon’s CreateSpace solved the problem of producing the Crocodile Prize anthologies at a reasonable cost.

It also led to the creation of Pukpuk Publications to publish books by Papua New Guinean writers. We have 37 titles now and still more in the pipeline.

There are still a few annoying problems however. The biggest is finding an efficient distribution system.

There are no wholesale networks for books in Papua New Guinea that we can easily tap into and we have had to fall back on direct deliveries using the unreliable postal service and a couple of freight companies.

Continue reading "Pukpuk Publications has a dedicated website – check it out" »


PNG-Pacific collection of books goes up in flames at UPNG

The burned out bookshopGREGORY BABLIS

THE ongoing student unrests at our universities – especially University of Goroka, Unitech and UPNG – took on a new dynamic with as yet unknown elements resorting to arson as a means of venting their anger.

I do not wish to speculate here whether or not students were responsible or if external elements were involved, suffice to say that media have been reporting a mixture of both.

The absurdity of all this is that Peter O’Neil has remained oblivious to the reasons for this current state of affairs and has continued to bounce off an outpouring of calls from all levels of society for his resignation.

Continue reading "PNG-Pacific collection of books goes up in flames at UPNG" »


Why not open up the island of New Guinea?

Island of New Guinea
Map by Daniel Feher of Free World Maps http://www.freeworldmaps.net

CHARLES YALA | PNG National Research Institute | Edited extracts

If you like the excellent map by cartographer Daniel Feher you can see more at his website here

I PUT out for public discussion, especially within Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, the idea of opening up the Island of New Guinea.

From the outset, I want to emphasise that I acknowledge the cultural, political, and security arguments involved. I restrict my arguments to the economic benefits that are likely to arise from opening up the island of New Guinea.

I am personally convinced that there would be significant economic benefits via the facilitation or enhancement of trade, investment, and movement of people between the west and the east of the island of New Guinea.

Continue reading "Why not open up the island of New Guinea?" »


Brexit: What lessons are there for PNG and the Pacific?

BrexitBUSA JEREMIAH WENOGO | The Informal Economist | Edited extracts

EUROPE is in shock as Britain votes to pull out of the European Union in what is now termed the ‘Brexit’.

Britain is important to the EU because it is its second largest economy, and the world’s fifth largest. Thus her exit is raising fears that a domino effect could follow with other countries leaving the union. Questions are now being asked if the EU will survive.

There is evidence indicating that right wing ‘nationalists’ in other countries are now pushing for an exit from the EU. One could argue that this is rather premature given Britain and the EU have not yet seen the full extent of the Brexit outcome.

Continue reading "Brexit: What lessons are there for PNG and the Pacific?" »


A beauty never shared; poems whose relevance never fades

Bablis_GregGREGORY BABLIS

IN 2006, when I was doing my undergraduate studies at Divine Word University in Madang, I wrote five poems. It was part of the assessment tasks for a course on contemporary literature in which we were required to write about current issues in Papua New Guinea.

I have never before shared them, except with my lecturer of course.

The beauty of poetry is that it never becomes redundant. The verses in poems are malleable messages of modernity instilled with transcendent transcripts of the values of society and prevalent cultural norms.

The issues I perceived a decade ago are still relevant today at some level of society. As our country develops, old issues still linger, and even as we try to lay old issues to rest, new ones appear.

Continue reading "A beauty never shared; poems whose relevance never fades" »


Man who created the iconography of a nation laid to rest

Hal_2009KEITH JACKSON

Hal Holman was cremated yesterday near Beenleigh in Queensland. I was honoured to be asked to deliver a eulogy.

HAL HOLMAN lived a long and productive life and I want to represent some of that life in this tribute.

A year or so ago, his wife Jo edited and published - in a limited but finely produced volume - Hal’s memoir, The Phoenix Rises Eternal.

Hal had written the book over many years but had found that his struggles with computers and earlier editors difficult to overcome.

Hal’s voice speaks clearly and authentically from those pages, and the anecdotes emerge gloriously in all their comedy as if he himself were there.

Continue reading "Man who created the iconography of a nation laid to rest" »


A need to highlight disingenuousness, self-deception & folly

Old man in GorokaCHRIS OVERLAND

ED Brumby neatly encapsulated my own thoughts on the matter of the relationship between we ‘old colonials’ and Papua New Guinea today.

One of the few advantages of ageing is the sense of perspective it provides about the world and your place in it. 60 or more years of experience can confer a degree of wisdom and, unless you are truly delusional, you mostly see the world as it is, not as you might wish it to be.

Also, your concerns about what others may think of you diminish with age. You give yourself permission to say what you really think. You do not tend to hold back for fear of upsetting someone.

Luckily, the contemplation of your own impending mortality also tends to bring a degree of introspection and a related awareness of your own imperfections. Thus the tendency to be judgmental about human folly can be balanced by a wry appreciation of your own failings and foibles as well.

Continue reading "A need to highlight disingenuousness, self-deception & folly" »


The Ink Master

ImageVAGI SAMUEL JNR

Amongst fading thoughts that will never cease to exist
Resonate, a thousand words that my mouth longs to speak
Buried deep within my mind that resists to be weak
Abundance of reasoning lust for my thirsty hands to frisk

Wild is this journey that begins with an empty page
Each line that is ruled for an alphabetical marathon or
A stanza that send words to preach about this race
Offer gifts of unheard voices to come to the fore

For every ink that drops onto a blank space, echo a whistle
Not that it blows about to arrest big minds so little
Nor does it alarm to withdraw transitioning silence
But to perform surgery to so many deaf ears

Continue reading "The Ink Master" »


Papua New Guinea – you couldn’t make it up if you tried

Phil (crop)PHIL FITZPATRICK

PAPUA New Guinea is a fascinating place to watch, especially its politics. The entertainment value alone is worth the trouble.

You have to wonder why Australians jaded by their own predictable politics haven’t caught on.

In PNG it all plays out like one of those horrible reality shows than seem standard fare on television these days.

The formula is simple: you set up highly unlikely and nonsensical scenarios and then let them play out with the maximum embarrassment possible.

Continue reading "Papua New Guinea – you couldn’t make it up if you tried" »


Something clearly unhealthy with PNG’s health service

Port Moresby General HospitalPAUL OATES

AS IF chief secretary Isaac Lupari didn’t have enough headaches this week, there’s a crisis in the Papua New Guinea health service.

Initially, doctors and nursing staff at Mt Hagen general hospital went on strike over mismanagement and corrupt practices, threatening mass resignations which the health secretary construed as a “disrespect for due process”.

Mr Lupari subsequently met with health minister Michael Malabag and senior health officials to “ensure a multi-sectoral response to address the issues.”

A high powered delegation was to be “briefed and instructed to make further investigations and make required recommendations.”

Continue reading "Something clearly unhealthy with PNG’s health service" »


The glittering steel tower on the hilltop

Wii_Paul WauglaPAUL WAUGLA WII

An entry in the 2016 Crocodile Prize

The wooded land atop the hillock
Where the silhouettes of the ancient oak
Stand aloft and motionless in the midday hour.
Those eucalyptus trees beyond the graveyard
And the ancient oak and the others
Whose names the midday wind utters
In such gentle tunes.

In the cool of the midday hour
A sudden destruction befalls the wooded greenery
The roar of chainsaws reverberates
Through the sacred burial grounds.

Continue reading "The glittering steel tower on the hilltop" »


Student killed, buildings torched in savage Unitech attack

Destruction at UnitechKEITH JACKSON

A STUDENT was killed and buildings set on fire at the University of Technology in Lae in a violent attack last night.

Vice-chancellor Albert Schram said that at around 10pm a group of men armed with bush knives attacked a dormitory with a student later dying from his wounds.

“Subsequently a group of marauders set fire to various academic buildings,” Prof Schram said.

“The power supply was cut off and the telephone network went down.”  

Continue reading "Student killed, buildings torched in savage Unitech attack" »


What we lapuns know and why we care

Ed BrumbyED BRUMBY

It has been claimed that the comment referred to in this piece, and which motivated it, was made by an impersonator  - but this and other responses are legitimate and make worthwhile points, so are being retained - KJ

A SHORT while back I was somewhat affronted by a question cum comment, ‘What do all you lapuns in Australia know and care about Papua New Guinea?’

I was glad to see Phil Fitzpatrick’s quick short form response: ‘…because many of us devoted significant periods of our lives there.’

That seemed to be the end of the matter: a pertinent question asked; a response offered.

On reflection, however, I believe there’s more to be considered.

I realised that it was not the question that Sonja asked that provoked me, but the apparent sarcasm with which it was delivered – as judged by the ensuing responses from Sonja and others.

Continue reading "What we lapuns know and why we care" »


The gullible masses are not raising their voices

Paul Waugla WiiPAUL WAUGLA WII

An entry in the 2016 Crocodile Prize

OUR country is ruled by tyrants who have completely wrecked the national economy and have run up debts amounting to billions of kina.

Corporate greed thrives in Papua New Guinea simply because the masses are not raising their voices against the perpetrators who are dipping their fingers into the public coffers.

PNG is probably the only country in the world where corporate criminals and despots walk around freely without having to look back over their shoulder.

Almost two weeks ago, a group of university students marching to parliament house was shot at by police.

Continue reading "The gullible masses are not raising their voices" »


Wara kalap

Wara kalapRAYMOND SIGIMET

Naispela wara kalap
Long maunten antap
Kol blong en i nais tru
Harim em lap stap long yu
Taim em i ron kam daun
Na kalap paitim ston

Naispela wara kalap
Em ron yet na kalap stap
Em yu yet lukim long ai
Aninit long ol bus diwai
Nogat narapela i olsem
Ples wara kalap long en

Dispela wara kalap
Stap long naispela hap
Em i ron na kalap i stap olsem
Bipo yet long lapun tumbuna taim
Kam taim blong papamama
Na nau ol pikinini na yangpela tumbuna

Continue reading "Wara kalap" »


A Kiap’s Chronicle: 10 - Obutasa

Map of the Obutasa patrolBILL BROWN MBE

IN KAINANTU in late 1953, with Assistant District Officer Harry West returned from a long patrol to the Fore, I was planning a follow-up patrol to the Lamari, but it did not work out that way.

District Commissioner Ian Downs decreed that the Lamari patrol was to be delayed until after he had made an aerial survey of the area in the New Year.

In the late afternoon of News Years Day, Downs duly arrived in a de Havilland DH84 Dragon flown by Ray Harris, the boss of Territory Airlines.

The next morning, we took off with Harris in the single pilot’s seat in the nose of the aircraft, Downs and West perched behind him on bench seats on either side of the aircraft and me in the rear.

Downs and West could see some of the countryside ahead but I could only see a little to the side. That was odd, as I was the one who needed to see the terrain over which I was about to walk.

Continue reading "A Kiap’s Chronicle: 10 - Obutasa" »


Lupari slams 'obsessed critics undermining economy’

Isaac LupariKEITH JACKSON

THE Papua New Guinea government’s chief secretary, Isaac Lupari, has hit out at what he calls “ill-informed naysayers preoccupied with talking down the national economy”.

In a media statement, Mr Lupari said as commodity prices continued to rise the PNG economy is easing but that people who talk the economy down are ignoring the facts.

“There is a small group of people, some Papua New Guineans and some foreigners, who have a singular obsession of trying to mislead markets and the nation about the national economy,” Mr Lupari said.

“The behaviour of these people is not normal and they obviously have other agendas that they are pursuing.

Continue reading "Lupari slams 'obsessed critics undermining economy’" »


All things to all people: The report on Australia’s aid program

Oates PaulPAUL OATES

SOON after Australia’s election was called – and too late for it to be anything but an historical document – the Australian parliament released the Senate report on the delivery and effectiveness of Australia's bilateral aid program in Papua New Guinea.

You can read the full report here.

As I started to read this extensive document my eye was drawn to a sub paragraph that spoke of a matter near and dear to my heart: (g) establishing realistic performance benchmarks to assess aid outcomes against set targets and to improve accountability’.

Continue reading "All things to all people: The report on Australia’s aid program" »


How Aitape lost many wartime aircraft

ROB PARER

Aitape B-25
The remains of the B-25 Mitchell bomber, ' Feather Merchant', at Aitape High School

 

AITAPE - Over many years, American billionaire David Tallichet (1922-2007) was interested in the World War II aircraft left behind in the Sepik.

Tallichet, who made his fortune as ‘The Father of the Themed Restaurant’, had piloted bombers over Europe in World War II and his post-war hobby was restoring some of these aircraft.

Continue reading "How Aitape lost many wartime aircraft" »


Banning betel nut is creating a ‘hulkanian’ problem

Buai ban provokes lawlessnessBUSA JEREMIAH WENOGO | Informal Economist

THE Incredible Hulk comes to mind when one is asked to identify a comic character to describe the National Capital District buai ban – which has seen a significant increase in the price of betel nut and the proliferation of smuggling and associated clandestine and illegal activities.

Just like the Hulk, whose transformation is ignited by rage, the imposition of the ban and the incredible increase in prices has caused vendors to be more rebellious and prepared to defy new rules and regulations.

The now illegal buai trade has created a whole new set of problems and challenges as suppliers and traders compete for the wealth to be acquired from the sale of the ‘green gold’ – leading to violent confrontations and deaths among the competing suppliers and an inexorable growth in lawlessness.

The government could only watch as the buai unleashed its wrath on a city struggling with what I call a ‘Cinderella’ syndrome. 

Continue reading "Banning betel nut is creating a ‘hulkanian’ problem" »


Want to know what the world thinks of PNG? Read this….

World_mapELAINE MOORE | Financial Times (Extract)

PAPUA New Guinea, one of the least explored countries on earth with one of poorest records for government transparency, is attempting to drum up investor interest for a debut sovereign bond.

Government representatives from the south-west Pacific nation are this week flying to meet fixed income investors in London, New York and Boston in a sign that accommodative central bank policies in the west are spilling over into emerging markets.

Continue reading "Want to know what the world thinks of PNG? Read this…." »


Constitutional challenge to illegal expropriation of Ok Tedi

PNG ObserverSIR MEKERE MORAUTA

THE Supreme Court has set 1 July as the date for a hearing on whether I have the right to challenge the constitutionality of the O’Neill government’s illegal expropriation of PNG Sustainable Development Program’s 63.4% shareholding in Ok Tedi Mining.

I am seeking standing to bring the challenge as a private citizen – a former prime minister and senior public servant, businessman, economist, chairman of PNGSDP and former chairman of OTML.

I announced in January 2016 that I had begun new legal proceedings seeking to have the Mining (Ok Tedi Tenth Supplemental Agreement) Act 2013 declared unconstitutional and invalid.

Should the Court declare that I have standing, a full trial of the substantive issues will follow.

Continue reading "Constitutional challenge to illegal expropriation of Ok Tedi" »


Reports: Students clash with UPNG security; vehicles torched

Security vehicle on firePETER SOLO KAULGA

UNIVERSITY of Papua New Guinea students at the Waigani Campus claim to have been provoked by the university security service this morning resulting in a fight in which vehicles were burned, the Michael Somare Library stoned and some security officers injured.

The situation occurred when students were meeting in front of the UPNG clinic and Toa hall of residence. It was alleged that security officers tried to stop the meeting.

The students were meeting to discuss an official apology from the University Administration on the police shootings including meeting the medical expenses of students who were injured.

They were also seeking an immediate independent investigation into the shootings separate from the government-sanctioned inquiry. After discussing these issues, the students were hoping to return to class next week.

Police have been called into the campus and the situation is now reported to be quiet.

Meanwhile, University of Technology (Unitech) students in Lae are ready to resume classes on Monday. A student from Unitech said there is police presence on the campus but most students are ready to resume classes.


PNG's appetite for debt is reckless & profligate

BPNGCHRIS OVERLAND

ONE of the lessons of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) is that any bank which makes itself hostage to one asset class or, worse still, one major debtor, is placing itself in a very dangerous position.

America's biggest banks grossly over invested in toxic collateralised debt obligations (CDOs) because these products were supposed to be AAA rated and ‘bullet proof’ investments.

They weren't, and the ensuing crisis brought the world's financial system to the very edge of complete collapse.

Unhappily, it seems that the main lesson learned from this crisis by the banks is that because they are considered too big to fail, government (that is, the taxpayer) is compelled to rescue them in the event of failure.

Continue reading "PNG's appetite for debt is reckless & profligate" »


Small-scale mining returns as Bougainville revenue earner

Tunnelling for gold ore at MoroniKEITH JACKSON

Download Small Scale Mining in Bougainville

A TEAM of four researchers - Ciaran O’Faircheallaigh, Anthony Regan, Dennis Kikira and Simon Kenema - has published an initial report on small scale mining in Bougainville.

The report focuses on issues such as mining methods, economic motivations, safety and health risks and the possibility that small scale mining might foster tensions in a   still fragile post-conflict Bougainville.

Prior to Papua New Guinea’s independence in 1975, the Australian administration approved development by a subsidiary of the multinational mining company Rio Tinto of one of the world’s largest copper mines at Panguna in central Bougainville.

Continue reading "Small-scale mining returns as Bougainville revenue earner" »


P&O vessel visits Conflict Islands for the first time

Conflict IslandsBRAD CROUCH

SOME people dream of buying an island. Australian Ian Gowrie-Smith bought an entire archipelago — sight unseen.

P&O Cruises Pacific Jewel has made history by becoming the first cruise ship to visit the remote Conflict Islands, putting the idyllic atoll — and their fascinating owner — briefly in the spotlight.

The 21 islands ranging from 1ha to 97 ha gathered in a pear shape around a sheltered lagoon are about 150km from Alotau at the eastern tip of Papua New Guinea.

With pristine reefs and abundant marine life, these serene remnants of an extinct volcano were named after British ship HMS Conflict which charted them in 1886.

Continue reading "P&O vessel visits Conflict Islands for the first time" »


Whatever happened to a proud and successful nation?

Williams_ArthurARTHUR WILLIAMS

WE JUST celebrated Father's Day in the United Kingdom and, as I looked out at the drizzle of a typical British summer and ate my Kelloggs, I thought I'd cheer myself up a bit by reading a witty yarn on the ex-kiap website by the excellent tale teller, Gary Luhrs.

That was my first mistake. Luhrs too was worried about what had gone on with the university students’ protests. So I thought better check out PNG Attitude.

Wow, Papas Dei! Surely it could only get better after the sad prophetic writings on this blog by Chris Overland about the PNG prime minister’s project.

In 1975, I believed Papua New Guinea could become a proud independent and successful nation. How wrong I was, perhaps because at that time I had lived only among coastal people, who seemed quite able to run their own lives.

Continue reading "Whatever happened to a proud and successful nation?" »


Politicised central bank steering PNG down a slippery slope

Sir Mekere MorautaSIR MEKERE MORAUTA

THE O’NEILL government’s political interference in the Bank of Papua New Guinea is threatening the stability of the nation’s financial system and state finances.

It is also increasing risks for bank depositors and investors in financial institutions.

The central bank, the nation’s premier financial institution, is supposed to be the independent watchdog that supervises the system and ensures that risks are kept to a minimum.

One of the reforms my government (1999-2002) introduced was to strengthen the independence and the watchdog role of the Bank of Papua New Guinea, setting clear prudential guidelines and assigning it the additional role of supervising the superannuation industry as well as the financial intermediaries.

Continue reading "Politicised central bank steering PNG down a slippery slope" »


Listening

JEFFREY FEBI

An entry in the 2016 Crocodile Prize

Dedicated to Nalepa Diou Febi

Though I listen to myself constantly
Not the sound of blinks have I heard
Nor the sound of hair growing
Even in the storms of my life
The thunderous thud fades to nothing

But this voice of a call
Perpetual call of a voice
Sweet like the sugary sap of a cane
Mingles with my blood
Resounds even to the ends of my little world

Continue reading "Listening" »


The history & mythology of biango dudu, the Huli singing dog

Singing dogBETTY GABRIEL WAKIA

This is dedicated to my dad because of his love for 'biango dudu'

SINCE the beginning of Hela history, Huli people have lived in close contact with animals, usually as farmers and hunters, and have developed myths and legends about them.

All kinds of creatures play important roles in Huli mythology. In some Huli legends, animals perform heroic acts as mediators between heaven and earth. They may also be the source of the wisdom and power of a shaman.

Animals often have a dual quality in Huli mythology, being helpful to humans or harmful or sometimes both. They provide people with food, but at the same time, they can be dangerous. As sources and symbols, Huli myths and legends of animals represent the mystery and power of the natural world, which can create or destroy.

Continue reading "The history & mythology of biango dudu, the Huli singing dog" »


State of Origin fanatics, this is your poem

State of Origin face paintingJIMMY AWAGL

An entry in the 2016 Crocodile Prize

PNG fanatics are mounting for Origin
Their agenda is focussed on Origin
Their emotions, desires, confidence
Resources, time and effort, all

Bragging about Blues or Maroons
To the climax of the day’s celebration
Face painting Blues or Maroons
Flag raising Blues or Maroons

Continue reading "State of Origin fanatics, this is your poem" »


Peter O’Neill: Appalling governance from our worst PM ever

MathiasMATHIAS KIN

“THE best ever PM the country has ever had since independence,” claimed a commentator to PNG Attitude. The majority of us Papua New Guineans thinks otherwise.

The father of the nation, Michael Thomas Somare, had his cold days. Between 2002 and 2011 his government was engulfed in rumours of widespread corruption and nepotism. 

The people were frustrated with Somare’s children and some handpicked ministers, called the ‘kitchen cabinet’, who were dominating all decisions of the executive.

Then many Papua New Guineans became unhappy with the Grand Chief’s prolonged absence when he was hospitalised in Singapore. 

Continue reading "Peter O’Neill: Appalling governance from our worst PM ever" »


The apologists: A sad pride before the fall that is coming

Peter O'Neill (PNG Blogs)PHIL FITZPATRICK

AS THE Peter O’Neill saga rolls on in tandem with Papua New Guinea’s worsening economic outlook and plunging social indicators, the cacophony on social media is building to a crescendo.

It is like watching a volcano getting ready to blow its top.

People are actively looking for ways to get the message out to voters to eject the current crop of parliamentarians in 2017 and to never vote for their like again.

Whether they will succeed or not is difficult to predict. The optimists are hoping they might and the pessimists are resigned to their belief that nothing will change.

Continue reading "The apologists: A sad pride before the fall that is coming" »


The story of a mendicant state with little prospect of recovery

O'Neill and MugabeCHRIS OVERLAND

CORNEY Korokan Alone makes the mildly astonishing claim that the West has a grudge against Zimbabwe for expelling the white landholders and resuming control of land they had cultivated.

In fact commentators’ criticism of Mugabe is not so much that he allowed the frequently unlawful seizure of land, not to mention the murder of its occupants, but that he presided over a catastrophic decline in the wealth and living standards of Zitsimbabweans.

Colonial Zimbabwe, for all its faults, was easily able to feed the entire population and produce grain and other foodstuffs for export to other parts of Africa. Not for nothing was it called the breadbasket of Africa.

Now, Zimbabwe is routinely in food crisis and reliant upon international aid agencies to feed a substantial proportion of its population, millions of whom have fled to South Africa.

Continue reading "The story of a mendicant state with little prospect of recovery" »


Hal Holman OL OAM, soldier, artist & designer, dies at 93

MedalsKEITH JACKSON

HAL Holman, who was awarded significant honours by the governments of both Australia and Papua New Guinea, has died on the Gold Coast aged 93.

He was a prodigiously talented artist and sculptor who devoted much of his life - and his art - to Papua New Guinea; his achievements including the design of the national crest and major influence in the design of the PNG flag.

After war service as a commando in New Guinea, which included operating behind Japanese lines on the mainland and being attached to the American marines who landed in New Britain, Hal used his Army demobilisation grant to earn a Diploma of Art at East Sydney Technical College.

Continue reading "Hal Holman OL OAM, soldier, artist & designer, dies at 93" »


Invest or die: PNG Power needs to learn some lessons

PowerlinesFRANCIS NII

ENDLESS power blackouts in Simbu and elsewhere in Papua New Guinea indicate that PNG Power is inefficient in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity.

It reminds me of the worst-case corporate coup ever in the history of PNG when Caribbean-based communications giant Digicel almost crippled the mobile phone business of home-grown rival BMobile in 2007-08.

BMobile, carrying the flag of Telikom PNG, had a golden opportunity to invest in rural areas during its monopoly period but failed miserably.

No member of parliament, particularly the minister for communications, and no state-owned enterprise back then had perceived that mobile phone services could become an infinite gold mine after an initial aggressive investment.

Continue reading "Invest or die: PNG Power needs to learn some lessons" »


Corruption & neglect are dooming Cape Rodney rubber

Dutton_WarrenWARREN DUTTON

THE future of the rubber industry in Papua New Guinea was once again the subject of discussions at the meeting of the Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council agriculture sectoral committee last Tuesday.

Present at the meeting were Vele Kagena, chairman of the PNG Rubber Board, and his deputy Josephine Kenni as well as Lee Wari, Director of the Rubber Division of the Department of Agriculture.

Unfortunately the PNG government provides no real money for smallholder rubber or other cash crop development. But  in National Gazette of 4 May 2016 there were eight pages of items exempted from import duty for the Bogia Frozen Vegetable Plant for the greater good of the prime minister’s Israeli friends.

North Fly Rubber Limited has paid company tax for nearly 20 years, during which time, with K29 million derived from the Ok Tedi copper mine, it has assisted 10,000 families in 202 villages across all three districts of the Western Province to plant new hybrid rubber trees on their traditional land.

Continue reading "Corruption & neglect are dooming Cape Rodney rubber" »


A new reason for Australia to close Manus: To save PNG

Peter O'Neill and Malcolm TurnbullPHIL FITZPATRICK

APPEALING to Australian politicians in both major parties to close the Manus Island detention centre has consistently fallen on deaf ears.

As a result Australia cannot put pressure on Peter O’Neill to step aside or resign. He has them over a barrel and is playing it to the hilt.

He went along with the recent supreme court decision that the centre was illegal under Papua New Guinea’s constitution and must be closed down simply so he could use it as a veiled threat to Australia.

Now he is stalling in the way we have grown accustomed to and it’s obvious he has no intention of closing the place down.

Continue reading "A new reason for Australia to close Manus: To save PNG" »


In praise of the learning that comes from far away

Hideaway Hotel - Hard at workALEXANDER NARA

IT WAS a rainy February morning in 1997 and a trip I will never forget.

The heavy downpour overnight had assaulted the rusty corrugated roof of my old man’s house at Bialla Primary School in Kimbe.

The pale glow of the rising sun shone weakly on the dark clouds which hung low over the infamous Whiteman range forming the spine of New Britain and connecting with the Nakanai range to the west.

My mom, a typical K-Mori from Kairimai up the Purari River, had dragged my lazy frame out of bed at six that morning to eat a breakfast of fresh Nakanai taro baked over the fire with a cup of lemon leaves mixed with sugar.

Continue reading "In praise of the learning that comes from far away" »


As student protests spread, a defiant prime minister digs in

Peter O'NeillThe Economist

CORRUPTION scandals are a familiar story in Papua New Guine), a remote, mountainous country of 7.7m with an economy that depends on mineral resources and logging.

One led to the suspension of the previous prime minister. Another threatens the current one, Peter O’Neill.

On June 8 police opened fire on unarmed University of Papua New Guinea students protesting against Mr O’Neill’s refusal to present himself for questioning on corruption charges. Dozens were injured, though none were killed.

Protests soon spread from Port Moresby, the capital, across the country, and show no signs of abating. Clashes have left students hospitalised in Goroka, the capital of the country’s Eastern Highlands province, and Lae, PNG’s second-largest city.

Continue reading "As student protests spread, a defiant prime minister digs in" »


Remembering the life of a great Simbu man, my bubu Pius

Bubu Pews & Rose KranzPETER KRANZ

I THINK this is one of the best photographs I have ever taken. It is of Bubu Pius (Pews) and my wife Rose at Kundiawa a few years ago.

Bubu was Rose's grand-dad and was one of the first Simbu people to meet the early explorer Jim Taylor.

He died three years ago aged anything between 95 and 200 (the family always exaggerates). I think he was probably in his mid-nineties.

Bubu always refused to live in a house; he slept in the hauskuk (kitchen) where he could look after the pigs.

He was a lovely man, and I have only just started to have an understanding of him.

We gave him a Simbu bilum cap, which he wore until he died. He was the subject of my first article on 27 June 2010, when I was just referring to myself as Peter.

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Among a rare blended family

Blended familyJIMMY AWAGL

An entry in the 2016 Crocodile Prize

This poem is dedicated to all couples who remarried,
with their kids having a stepmother and step father

The glow of the setting sun sparkles
Glimmering rays on the valley of Kewamugl
At the western end the setting sun glows
As I descended from Mount Mondia
I caught the full glimpse of the spectrum

The clouds on Mount Oho split
A thick shower of golden hail falls
And clenched still on mom’s chest
You build your kingdom
Along this splendid plateau 

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Is Peter O'Neill a Machiavelli moving to some cabal-style rule?

Chris OverlandCHRIS OVERLAND

THOSE of us who have watched events play out in Papua New Guinea over the last several months have, I suspect, believed that we were observing politics as usual in the land of the unexpected.

But what if something else is going on? Is it possible that Mr O'Neill's current problems with allegations of corruption are a mere sideshow and not the main game?

Consider, for a moment, how the situation is unfolding.

First, in what seems like politics as usual, Mr O'Neill has been able to ensure that the one body that can dislodge him more or less instantly has remained supine.

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Australia’s immigration policy comes at the expense of democracy

Jeff-SparrowJEFF SPARROW | The Guardian | Edited extract

IN ITS report for 2015, Human Rights Watch lists the financial inducements offered by the Australian government to make the Manus Island deal happen.

“Australia remains [PNG]’s most important international partner,” it explains, “providing an estimated US$460m in development assistance for 2013-2014. Australia provided an additional $556.7m this financial year to support the Manus Island detention center.”

But O’Neill also possessed his own reasons for signing the deal.

In 2011, the PNG supreme court ordered him to stand down in favour of Michael Somare, an order with which he simply refused to comply.

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An encounter with Tiru Jaire, the army gardener

Tiru Jaire (Nara)ALEXANDER NARA

IT WAS getting late in the tiny village of Golaveka, deep in the heart of the Kefamo valley in Eastern Highlands Province.

The flames in the fireplace in the centre of the room had begun to die down casting dull flickering reflections and crooked shadows on the cane and bamboo walls of the kunai round house.

Nine-year old Tiru twisted and turned on his wooden bed to face the fireplace.

The flames now gone but the red embers still glowed and Tiru’s mind drifted along as the tuneless carol of the night insects blended into the soft voice of his aging mother somewhere outside humming a traditional tune.

From the steep hills that sank into the Kefamo river sprang a freezing breeze that began to suck the warmth from the fire forcing Tiru to pull the old grey blanket over his head as he succumbed to the darkness and the cold.

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Do you have the feeling you’ve been here before?

Police & demonstratorsPHIL FITZPATRICK

HISTORY should be one of the most important items in a politician or administrator’s toolbox. It should sit in there alongside compassion, equity and honesty.

History can tell us which ideas might work and which won’t. It can also act as a reliable predictor of outcomes and trends.

One classic lesson from history is that when university students start to protest about something the tolerance level of a nation has probably been reached.

You only have to look back to the Paris riots of 1968 and the protests at Kent State University in the USA in 1970 to see how this is true.

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A country’s prosperity depends on its institutions & leadership

SilKELA KAPKORA SIL BOLKIN

MANY people feel the decisions and actions of the current Papua New Guinean parliament and the timid bureaucrats who report to it have outweighed the collective blunders of their predecessors.

Critics thought spending sprees, excessive borrowing, wrecking the criminal justice system, banning public assembly and peaceful demonstrations, amending laws to suspend judges, gagging and postponing parliamentary debates and sittings, firing vulnerable departmental heads and establishing vetting committees for inexplicable reasons to be actions that damaged the country bigtime.

During critical times, the country needs assertive politicians and heads of department who will stand up and be objective, but the current plutocrats instead have willingly reduced themselves to intellectual eunuchs and have done nothing objective as this anarchy unfolds.

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Cape Rodney rubber due for a replant but PNG govt not up to it

The road to Cape RodneyALAN GRANT

I’M CONCERNED about the state of affairs at what used to be called Cape Rodney in the Abau District.

The issue comes down to this: 30 years ago, along with a team of mostly expatriate people of the rubber extension service within the Department of primary Industry, I created a series of smallholder subdivisions in that area.

But now the rubber is a decade overdue for replanting. Except at the later Upulima subdivision, the trees are dying.

I cannot get anyone at the Department of Agriculture and Livestock to respond - even though I have submitted a respectful paper on the subject.

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O’Neill’s home province provides 70% of defence force recruits

PNGDF recruits pass outKEITH JACKSON

PRIME minister Peter O’Neill and defence minister Fabian Pok have been accused of pursuing recruitment policies that skew the composition of the PNG Defence Force to personnel from their own highlands provinces.

Deputy opposition leader Sam Basil says that since Mr O’Neill came to power 70% of defence recruits have come from his Ialibu-Pangia Electorate in the Southern Highlands while 30% have come from Jiwaka Province, home of Dr Pok.

Dr Pok and Southern Highlands governor William Powi have called Mr Basil’s claims “unfounded” but have not provided statistics to disprove them.

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