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100 posts from August 2017

Development goals, peace & getting PNG women into parliament


BRISBANE - In September 2015, the international aid community met in New York to acknowledge and adopt a follow up to the United Nations millennium development goals (MDGs) under the new badge of sustainable development goals (SDGs).

There was much talk about the over-ambitious imposition on developing nations to achieve the 17 millennium goals over the previous 15 years.

Certainly this might have been Papua New Guinea’s view after its dismal attempt to achieve these goals – none out of 17.

One thing that struck me about the new SDGs was the emphasis that ‘peace’ within a nation is the binding factor if any of them is to be achieved.

So, between 2015 and 2030, that’s a major challenge.

Continue reading "Development goals, peace & getting PNG women into parliament" »

The 100 day plan – positives tempered by old policies & spin

Charles-AbelPAUL FLANAGAN | PNG Economics

You can read Paul's full and more detailed analysis here

CANBERRA – Papua New Guinea’s new treasurer and deputy prime minister, Charles Abel (pictured), has released the promised 100-day economic stimulus plan (read it here).

Overall, there are some positives in the plan. But politics is already circumscribing necessary actions to get PNG back onto the right economic path.

Starting with the positives, even having a 25-point plan is a useful statement that the new government recognises PNG’s economic challenges.

The five elements of the plan are appropriate: fiscal discipline; revenue growth; strengthening the economic base; improving governance; and acting strategically.

Continue reading "The 100 day plan – positives tempered by old policies & spin" »

Australia should not coerce vulnerable people to return to harm


CANBERRA - The Australian government’s announced change in legal status and withdrawal of support to refugees and asylum-seekers is a blatant attempt to coerce the most vulnerable to return to Papua New Guinea, Nauru, or their countries of origin.

Removing accommodation and financial support leaves people at serious risk of destitution in Australia.

Equally, the withdrawal of access to basic services such as trauma and torture counselling will exacerbate their already precarious situation.

Approximately 400 refugees and asylum-seekers remain in community detention in Australia, having been transferred from Papua New Guinea and Nauru due to both serious medical and protection concerns.

Continue reading "Australia should not coerce vulnerable people to return to harm" »

Devil we know: Australia would rather invest in PNG than China

Turnbull & O'NeillMICHAEL HEATH & ENDA CURRAN | Bloomberg | Extracts

NEW YORK - Australia, the world’s most China-dependent developed economy, invests more in the obscure South Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea than it does in its biggest trading partner.

Part of the reason for such an imbalance is corporate Australia’s long history of failure abroad, which deters boards from venturing beyond their often cosy oligopolies at home. Yet when it comes to China, there’s also reason to be circumspect.

“It’s a high-risk area,” said Alan Oxley, a former Australian trade negotiator, citing problems with corruption and difficulties maintaining business relationships in China. “Those that do go in frequently find themselves pressured to share patents.”

Continue reading "Devil we know: Australia would rather invest in PNG than China" »

Juffa’s advice for fellow parliamentarians – ‘don’t be fooled’

Gary-JuffaGARY JUFFA | Asia Pacific Report

ORO - My advice for Papua New Guinea’s new MPs and their staff, minions, hangers on and supporters. Some words about the middle bench. It’s a myth.

I should know. I was there believing that myth for the first two years of the last term of parliament.

The middle bench is government.

I attended government caucus from time to time and made critical reviews of government decisions. If you are allowed to attend government caucus, you are government.

Why did I not choose the opposition at that time?

Because I believed the myth of the middle bench.

And I saw little difference in either side at that time, with the government seeming to be a slightly better option.

Continue reading "Juffa’s advice for fellow parliamentarians – ‘don’t be fooled’" »

Two new & enjoyable collections of poetry from PNG

Moments in a LifetimePHIL FITZPATRICK

Moments in a Lifetime: Short Poems by Julie Mota, JTD Desktop Publishing, 2016, 28 pages, Available from Amazon Books for US$3.60 plus postage.

Silent Thoughts: Exploring Poetry by Jordan Dean, JTD Desktop Publishing, 2017, 96 pages, Available from Amazon Books for US$3.75 plus postage.

ONE of the ways of judging the success of the Crocodile Prize in its early days was to look at the number of entries coming from Papua New Guinea’s 22 provinces.

We knew that there were variables involved, not least the uneven penetration of digital services in the country, but we assumed that if a province was well represented word would spread about the competition.

Just as Simbu was one of the most highly represented provinces, West New Britain was one of the most under-represented. Sometimes there were no contributions at all from there.

Continue reading "Two new & enjoyable collections of poetry from PNG" »

Gender equality – you could end up with Peta O’Neill


TUMBY BAY – Here is something to consider in the current debate about gender equality and reserved seats for women in the Papua New Guinean parliament.

Having women in parliament, whether in reserved seats or on merit, will not necessarily provide a panacea for the way it operates.

They will not necessarily be Papua New Guinea’s political saviours.

Women are just as prone as men to the evils that make governments dysfunctional, including corruption, mismanagement, stupidity and the promotion of bizarre ideas.

I think a perusal of the activities of the few women who have broken through the barrier in Papua New Guinea speaks for itself. Not to put too fine a point on it, most of them were disappointing.

Continue reading "Gender equality – you could end up with Peta O’Neill" »

The challenge of the novel (& a comment from a hardened novelist)

3 short novelsJORDAN DEAN

PORT MORESBY - Recently, I challenged myself to write a novel. I’ve written poetry and short stories, why not give it a try. Whether it’ll end up a good book, I don’t know.

This is something I’ve been contemplating a long time but the thought of writing a story with twists and turns for over 100 pages put me off.

Up to this point, I’ve written a paragraph here, a page there and a chapter somewhere else.

For the novel, I plan to write at least 500 words every day so that in three months I should have a novel of about 45,000 words.

The word count of a novel is debatable because each genre and narrative has different requirements. That said, most novels are no shorter than 40,000 words.

Currently, my word count is just above 9,000. Technically, it’s already a novella.

Continue reading "The challenge of the novel (& a comment from a hardened novelist)" »

Minister must ensure police ban in SABL areas is enforced


PORT MORESBY - Community advocacy group Act Now! has praised new police minister Jelta Wong, for his commitment to stop the intimidation and harassment of customary landowners by police officers in SABL [special agricultural and business lease] areas.

But Act Now! remains concerned that the minister’s instructions may not be followed in all SABL areas.

Mr Wong has said he will ensure the government’s decision cancelling all SABL leases will be supported:

The Post-Courier newspaper has quoted him as saying that “No members of the police force should be interfering and intimidating affected landowners in SABL areas.

Continue reading "Minister must ensure police ban in SABL areas is enforced" »

Minister’s directive an act of intimidation says leading clinician

SCOTT WAIDE | EMTV Dr John Yockopua

PORT MORESBY - A ministerial circular gagging health professionals and hospital managements around Papua New Guinea from making public statements has drawn the ire of the national secretary of the Doctor’s Association.

Dr Sam Yockopua (pictured) has described the circular as a dictatorial attempt to intimidate and suppress health workers.

“This is political propaganda meant to mislead and shut people who are speaking out about a bureaucracy that is not working,” he said.

The circular - issued by health minister Sir Puka Temu on 15 August - said that recent information relating to health functions had been distorted and disseminated and that this “created fear and confusion in the community.”

Continue reading "Minister’s directive an act of intimidation says leading clinician" »

The history gap: Who will remember PNG’s saints and sinners?

Sil Bolkin at Croc PrizePHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Five years ago I worked closely with Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin when he was finalising the chapters of his landmark book about one of the tribal diaspora in Simbu, The Flight of Galkope.

Sil (pictured) had trekked throughout his ancestral lands speaking to all sorts of people, especially those in the men’s houses, about their history and writing it down.

He then contrasted and correlated those recorded oral histories with the short and incomplete written histories of the modern era to produce a marvellous book.

It contained what Dr Bill Standish called stories that “link Galkope clans to those from Gembogl to Gumine and Kup to Koge and show Chimbu men’s thinking from ancestral times to troubled life in the 21st century”.

What Sil was doing during his arduous treks was recording what is known in the trade as ‘oral history’.

Continue reading "The history gap: Who will remember PNG’s saints and sinners?" »

Girl with a Bagi

Girl with a bagiJORDAN DEAN

Girl with a bagi
I am mesmerised with your beauty
You shine brightly like the midnight sun
Your reflection is like the moon shadows  

Your figure sparkles like the eastern star
You walk elegantly like a pacific princess
Your hair is curly like the ocean waves

Around your neck,
Is a pearl necklace from
Our native home, Milne Bay
Where the sun rises

Daughter of the ocean
My goddess Aphrodite
And the choice of my parents
I worship you with my eyes.

Gender equality in PNG: What a dispiriting conversation


THE conversation around the reservation of seats for women in PNG and gender equality more broadly has been most dispiriting.

Men – and, equally disappointingly, women - have been vehement in their opposition to the proposed reservation of seats, instead calling for election on merit.

Meritorious election presumes an equal playing field. It is glaringly obvious that the playing field is not equal in Papua New Guinea, both in parliament and outside it.

Even more disappointing is this prevailing view espoused by Jordan Dean and others that women "don't need equality - they need self-recognition”.

Unpacking such statements is almost a waste of our time and effort: at best, it is a vacuous throwaway line and, at worst, a subliminal statement of misogyny.

Continue reading "Gender equality in PNG: What a dispiriting conversation" »

The fragile men of PNG who cannot tolerate women’s success


When Keith Jackson and I set up the Crocodile Prize in 2010, we thought it was necessary to have a special category for women's writing.

It didn’t take long for us to abandon this idea when it became abundantly clear that Papua New Guinea had many talented female writers.

In subsequent years, plenty of awards were carried off by women - it was close to a 50-50 split between male and female writers.

We believed this was a matter to be celebrated. And we understood that this success opened up a significant avenue to promote the cause of gender equality.

It was this kind of thinking that eventually led to the publication of the first anthology of PNG women's writing, 'My Walk to Equality', under the astute editorship of Rashmii Amoah Bell.

Continue reading "The fragile men of PNG who cannot tolerate women’s success" »

Time to declare state of emergency in Enga says businessman

Cr Paul Kurai with two elderly local womenDANIEL KUMBON

WABAG - Businessman and councillor Paul Kurai has appealed to the O’Neill-Abel government to immediately declare a state of emergency in the troubled highlands province of Enga to prevent a politically motivated tribal war from spreading to other towns and villages.

The Wabag businessman (centre right) said the state of emergency must continue as long as necessary to bring hope and normalcy to the people.

Cr Kurai warned that if leaders Don Polye, Alfred Manasseh and Governor Peter Ipatas do not intervene to urge their people to stop fighting many more people will die and more property will be destroyed.

“They must not wait for the fight to stop on its own,” he said. “This is the wrong attitude.

Continue reading "Time to declare state of emergency in Enga says businessman" »

Remembering this week: the RAAF’s worst peacetime air disaster

Caribou-Crash-Site-1972IAN LOFTUS | Ian Loftus History & Travel Blog

PERTH - This week marks the 45th anniversary of the RAAF’s worst peacetime air disaster, the crash of a Caribou transport aircraft from 38 Squadron in Papua New Guinea’s Morobe province on 28 August 1972.

With 29 on board (three RAAF crew and 26 passengers) the aircraft disappeared en-route from Lae to Port Moresby. Only four of those on board survived, all cadets.

Most of the passengers were PNG high school cadets from the 35th Cadet Battalion returning home from their annual cadet camp in Lae. They were accompanied by an Australian Army officer and a cadet officer, also from Australia.

Despite an intensive search by RAAF, Army and civilian aircraft, the Caribou remain undiscovered for several days due to its remote location and extensive tree canopy.

A searching Army Sioux helicopter located several survivors who had walked from the crash site. RAAF Iroquois were called, and the survivors were able to lead crew to the crash site, which was near the crest of a ridge.

Continue reading "Remembering this week: the RAAF’s worst peacetime air disaster" »

Wars of words over Panguna as Bougainville moves to new era


PANGUNA - With Bougainville less than a year away from a referendum on its political future, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and a local Panguna group known as the Meekamui Government of Unity are in a war of words over the re-opening of the Panguna copper and gold mine.

The ABG wants the now reformed Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) to operate the mine which it believes will finance the redevelopment of Bougainville.

But the Meekamui and the Osikaiyang Landowners Association are keen to see the mine opened by an Australian company they have aligned with called RTG.

Bougainville’s president John Momis has said the ABG will not allow a company with no track record to mine at Panguna.

Continue reading "Wars of words over Panguna as Bougainville moves to new era" »

PNG needs to stop the talk & start acting to heighten security


HONOLULU - It is believed that North Korea’s missile program is moving close to achieving the range to hit targets as far away as the United States and Papua New Guinea.

But it is premature for vulnerable countries like PNG to openly condemn North Korea’s intentions and possibly provoke the hermit kingdom to see PNG as a target to attack or be threatened, especially as APEC convenes in Port Moresby next year.

PNG has military support from Australia and other allies but not having significant military assets and capability leaves it in a vulnerable state.

The hostile words to North Korea expressed by the PNG's foreign affairs minister in local newspapers recently were childish and regrettable but are too late to recall.

Continue reading "PNG needs to stop the talk & start acting to heighten security" »

Why corporate social responsibility fails to promote peace in PNG

Kylie McKennaKYLIE McKENNA | Dev Policy Blog | Extract

Read the full article here

SYDNEY - Papua New Guinea has long been a site of analysis for exploring the links between natural resources and conflict, having been used as an example in prominent studies of the natural resource curse and as a source of learning in international debates on corporate social responsibility (CSR).

The forced closure of the Panguna mine in Bougainville in 1989 due to conflict was a major catalyst for the adoption of CSR in PNG.

Despite this 28-year history, company-community conflict remains a significant and ongoing challenge across the country.

A possible explanation is that CSR counterintuitively fosters discontent due to a predominant focus on the distribution of material benefits.

Continue reading "Why corporate social responsibility fails to promote peace in PNG" »

Is PNG’s inability to learn smothering our young democracy?


PORT MORESBY - I consider myself fortunate. And it is not because I come from a wealthy family or enjoy the privileges of living in a developed nation.

In fact, I live in a developing country that happens to be one of the most corrupt in the world and where there is a general sense of disregard and disrespect for the rule of law.

Police are a law unto themselves. The national procurement system is a cash cow for corrupt politicians. Taxpayers’ money is wasted on unproductive official inquires that never see the light of day.

And we have a dysfunctional public service that is a hallmark of our nation's backwardness.

In saying all that, I acknowledge that we do have hard-working and honest public servants, law enforcers and politicians. But they are like specks in the sand. So few of them make any significant contribution to our nation's future.

Continue reading "Is PNG’s inability to learn smothering our young democracy?" »

Could the roiling disaster of PNG stomach a woman’s touch?

PNG panel at Sunshine Coast writers festivalPHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - I’m back in my quiet little corner of South Australia after spending a couple of weeks meandering through the hustle and bustle of Queensland’s south-east coast.

There was a burst of unseasonal hot weather up there, so stepping off the plane in Adelaide on the way home was a bit like jumping into a freezer. But I think I’ll survive.

In Queensland I attended the successful Papua New Guinean women writer’s event at Coolum Beach and learned a lot about the travails of being a woman in PNG, especially those women who produce ground-breaking anthologies of women’s writing. (Some of those women are on stage with me in the accompanying photograph.)

To say that the anthology My Walk to Equality has been both a great success and a tremendous burden for the women involved is an understatement.

Continue reading "Could the roiling disaster of PNG stomach a woman’s touch?" »

Bougainville has many revenue sources; we don’t need a mine

Leonard Fong Roka  October 2014 H&SLEONARD FONG ROKA

PANGUNA - Since the formation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) in 2005, a chronic shortage of revenue has been the norm.

The Kabui government experienced it; the Tanis regime had a big taste of it, and now the Momis government screams about it.

This is not because we are poor but because we are caught up in a neo-colonial system that controls and tries to keep developing states as its slave.

Thus in the Pacific, every state - including Bougainville that wants to be a state - will always have big brother Australia looking over us.

In every ABG government department, there is some Australian advisor and monitor.

Continue reading "Bougainville has many revenue sources; we don’t need a mine" »

Disputes & unfinished business as election wrangles continue

Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato (Johnny Blades)JOHNNY BLADES | Radio New Zealand International

RESULTS are still pending in two seats in Papua New Guinea's election, three weeks since the overall return of writs.

The Electoral Commission has confirmed that declarations are not finalised in two Highlands electorates that experienced deadly election-related violence in the past month.

The vote count for the Southern Highlands regional seat remains suspended due to clashes between supporters of rival candidates in the provincial capital Mendi which resulted in several deaths. Electoral Commission has ruled out failing the election as a number of parties in the province are calling for it to do.

Having been moved to neighbouring Western Highlands province, the Southern Highlands regional vote count was expected to resume this week. Yet the delayed result in the Southern Highlands seat has tested the patience of voters in a volatile region.

Continue reading "Disputes & unfinished business as election wrangles continue" »

Everywhere & nowhere: forensically analysing grand corruption

Kris LasslettKRISTIAN LASSLETT | The Tokaut Blog | Extract

You can link to Professor Lasslett’s complete article here

THE problem with corruption in PNG, at its most grand levels, is that it is everywhere and nowhere.

Its morbid symptoms are apparent for all to see, but the particular mechanisms through which the disease of corruption infects governments and markets, and disables the body of the nation, proves difficult to observe, owing to its secretive nature.

Yet in order to fight corruption effectively, we need to answer elementary questions relating to its core characteristics.

For example, what type of corrupt transactions are most common and damaging in PNG, who are the participants, what motivates them, how do they make their illicit gains, what do they spend it on, and which institutional structures permit these illegal activities to take place?

Continue reading "Everywhere & nowhere: forensically analysing grand corruption" »

Dysfunction & waste allegations against AFP ‘colonial masters’

Chris-HawkinsRORY CALLINAN | The Australian | Extracts

ALLEGATIONS of dysfunction, harassment and waste have been levelled at the multi-million dollar Australian Federal Police (AFP) mission overseeing the 2018 APEC summit in Papua New Guinea.

The claims which have raised questions about the capability of PNG to host the forum, range from a breakdown in relations with top level local police and the purchase of unnecessary equipment and futile training to bullying and vicious internal feuding amongst the AFP.

Among the bullying and harassment claims are that an AFP civilian was flying a camera drone around windows of a female AFP member’s high rise apartment in Port Moresby, that a pornographic movie was aired during a function and an AFP officer physically assaulted another colleague.

Continue reading "Dysfunction & waste allegations against AFP ‘colonial masters’" »

Gunshots all around as election violence resumes in Wabag

The late Sano Peter MendaiDANIEL KUMBON

WABAG, Wednesday afternoon - Election violence has resumed here and gunshots are ringing out over the small township after a ceasefire imposed last week broke down yesterday and a death was reported this morning.

Wabag is experiencing its most violent time since Enga Province severed ties with the Western Highlands to assume its own political and administrative responsibilities in 1974.

Maters were made worse by the unrelated death of a young pilot Sano Peter Mendai (pictured), who was to graduate from a flying school in New Zealand this month.

Sano Mendai had come to Port Moresby to witness the graduation of his wife, Jane Kipok, from the University of Papua New Guinea’s.

Continue reading "Gunshots all around as election violence resumes in Wabag" »

Papua New Guinea: Let’s be honest about the debt


IN the face of foreign media reports indicating a lack of liquidity in government coffers, I urge the prime minister to come clean about the country's debt situation.

Why is it that we continue to hear stories of government workers facing lockouts because rental payments are not being made, both here in PNG and abroad in places like Washington DC and Singapore?

We also hear of unpaid United Nations fees and electric power being cut to government departments.

Continue reading "Papua New Guinea: Let’s be honest about the debt" »

Papua New Guinea expresses gratitude for Australian support

MEDIA STATEMENT | Office of the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill  Bruce Davis & Bronte Moules

PRIME minister Peter O’Neill has welcomed partnership activities between Papua New Guinea and Australia that are building capacity in healthcare, and providing support for the hosting of APEC in 2108.

Following a courtesy call by Bruce Davis, Australia’s high commissioner to Papua New Guinea (seen here with deputy high commissioner Bronte Moules), Mr O’Neill said the bilateral relationship with Australia continues to strengthen.

“The ongoing co-operation between our two governments is very strong which is also enhancing business links, and delivering capacity building support,” he said.

“Australia’s commitment to improving healthcare in Papua New Guinea is delivering tangible results, particularly in dealing with diseases such as HIV/AIDs and tuberculosis.

Continue reading "Papua New Guinea expresses gratitude for Australian support" »

True greatness is not edifices but the welfare of the people

Edifice complexCHRIS OVERLAND

MATHIAS Kin commented in PNG Attitude: “That we need eye-catching buildings to get recognition is not the direction our mostly rural-based people need. Let the world do it their way, we can achieve greatness from what's around us.”

I support Mathias's comments. To my mind he is absolutely right. PNG's leadership need to focus on the basics, not upon building vast edifices.

The edifice complex is a well understood condition that appears to afflict otherwise perfectly rational people who enter politics.

Those afflicted seem to believe that the erection of huge stadia, monuments or sky scrapers is necessary to proclaim their and their nation's greatness.

Continue reading "True greatness is not edifices but the welfare of the people" »

The personal & professional struggles of Dr Kevin Pondikou

SCOTT WAIDE | EMTV Dr Kevin Pondikou & friends at Rumginae

WHEN Dr Kevin Pondikou arrived at Rumginae Rural Hospital in the Western Province he was quite happy to have found a job.

But the challenges that confronted him quickly brought to the fore the reality of rural medical service provision. Within a few days, he knew it wasn’t going to be an easy journey.

“The people live a very tough life even though we have a mine in the province,” he says. “Food is a problem. Cash is a problem. Many people live a very impoverished life.”

Rumginae is located in the North Fly District. Apart from the hospital, the former mission station has an airstrip and a training school for community health workers and a primary school.

Continue reading "The personal & professional struggles of Dr Kevin Pondikou" »

Some ways in which PNG is investing in a higher tech future

Papuan taipan anti-venomJORDAN DEAN

PAPUA New Guinea is largely a consumer of innovation, imported technologies and knowledge products. In the interests of our economic future, we need to move up the value chain to be a producer of innovation.

Science, technology and innovation are key forces driving economic growth and development in today’s global economy. This is a challenge for us.

PNG’s comparative advantage lies in its natural assets: its people, natural resources and rich cultural heritage. We need to translate these into tangible products and services to create opportunities for development.

One such endeavor is the biofuel research and development project at Pacific Adventist University. The project was initially funded to support the installation of a processing and testing facility and later to complete the design and installation of the processing plant.

Continue reading "Some ways in which PNG is investing in a higher tech future" »

Was PNG’s so-called election ‘success’ just part of the Matrix?


ADELAIDE - Of recent times, as many PNG Attitude readers will have observed, I have become increasingly sceptical about the utility of representative democracy.

Somehow, it seems to be broken. It has and continues to produce results that are, frankly, bewildering. Donald Trump's election is an obvious case in point and the re-election of Peter O'Neill is another.

This has caused me such a degree of despondency that my daughter has taken to calling me a "sad panda" (whatever that is) while my wife, ever to the point, thinks I am being a royal pain in the arse for stressing over things I cannot hope to fix.

However, I am pleased to report that my sombre mood is beginning to lift. The reason for this is a realisation that democratic politics across the globe may not actually be broken but just becoming surreal.

Continue reading "Was PNG’s so-called election ‘success’ just part of the Matrix?" »

How are we going in educating our kids? Backwards

Ilo ilo classPAUL WAUGLA WII

GOROKA - The forces of globalisation exert both good and bad influences upon Papua New Guinea’s ability to attain economic independence and social cohesion.

Our over-reliance on other countries can be both helpful and detrimental and, as free-thinking individuals, we must shun the bad and embrace the good in order to progress as a people.

One of the positive trends of globalisation is the mass mobilisation of human labour beyond people’s cultural or ethnic demarcation and Papua New Guineans educated in PNG do – and increasingly will - live and work elsewhere in the world.

This thought leads me to consider the kind of education have we provided for our young people over the last 20 years and whether we have the best education plan for this country.

Continue reading "How are we going in educating our kids? Backwards" »

Not Africa. The sleeping giant of the Pacific awakes

Jordan Dean - selfie at KLCC Twin TowersJORDAN DEAN

PORT MORESBY - “Papua New Guinea, mmm, is that somewhere in Africa?” said my new friend from Gambia after I introduced myself over dinner.

At the same table were colleagues from Thailand, Iraq, Pakistan and Nigeria; all of us attending a three-week technical program on green energy and technology in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

I wondered if my Gambian friend had difficulties with geography during his schooldays, since I was quite good with the atlas and could name the capital cities of a hundred countries before I finished primary school.

Anyway, he had a master’s degree in public policy and I didn’t, so he wasn’t academically deficient.

Perhaps his ignorance was because PNG isn’t a rich and powerful country and not big in the mass media.

Continue reading "Not Africa. The sleeping giant of the Pacific awakes" »

Trying to better understand corruption & violence in PNG politics

Deadly Kundiawa election violencePHILIP KAI MORRE

KUNDIAWA - National  elections give us the opportunity to vote for good leaders to represent us in parliament; leaders who can develop sound policies that respect the aspirations of the people for the growth of our nation.

But in the recent election, this freedom to elect good leaders was not practically achieved. Once again, it was accepted as normal to vote for tribally-based candidates.

The democratic process of electing the best leaders disappears beneath the strong wantok system where our mind set is not open to elect to represent us in parliament good leaders of upright moral character, honesty and integrity.

Corruption in high office is the cornerstone of everything that has gone wrong in Papua New Guinea.

How can we fight this evil when the very people who are supposed to fight corruption at the top level are corrupt themselves?

Continue reading "Trying to better understand corruption & violence in PNG politics" »

Papua New Guinea’s election: what happened, what next?

May_Prof RonRONALD MAY | Australian Institute of International Affairs

CANBERRA - Papua New Guinea has recently concluded its ninth general election. With the results in five constituencies yet to be declared, parliament met on Wednesday 2 August and the incumbent prime minister, Peter O’Neill, was re-elected to head a new coalition government.

Congratulations were received from other heads of state, and Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop praised Papua New Guinea for its ‘successful election’ and said Australia looked forward to working with Prime Minister O’Neill.

But just how successful was the election, and to what extent should O’Neill’s re-election be welcomed?

Some 3,324 candidates contested the 111 seats in the 2017 election, an average of over 30 per constituency. This included 167 women. Forty-five political parties were registered prior to the election, but, as usual, the majority of candidates stood as independents and all candidates appealed primarily to local loyalties and parochial issues.

Continue reading "Papua New Guinea’s election: what happened, what next?" »

It’s getting to be a big problem – Moresby is bursting at the seams

Port Moresby street sceneANTHONY DEKLIN | West Sepik Development Vision

WEWAK - An overpopulated urban enclave is the dominant and troubling image I am still trying to handle in my mind of the national capital I visited recently.

People were everywhere. Anywhere you looked there were people. Not busy working but loitering. Many just sat on the steps of buildings and along the streets, observing the throngs of passers-by or staring into empty space with hungry looks on their faces.

It was not the healthy look of a developing country.

The results of such overcrowding are too many to chronicle here. But to name just two: the traffic is chaotic with too many cars on too few roads, made worse by inadequate signs and faulty traffic lights.

Continue reading "It’s getting to be a big problem – Moresby is bursting at the seams" »

“We fought for our uncounted boxes,’’ Polye supporters tell

Enga provincial building near the eye of the fightDANIEL KUMBON

WABAG - At last town residents, business houses and the general public are resuming normal life, or so we are assured by the authorities.

The post-election warfare officially ceased Wednesday under a heavy police and army presence. More than 30 people died in the violence, including four this week.

Provincial Police Commander Supt George Kakas said the Kii and Kala tribes had wrongly allowed former opposition leader Don Polye and civil aviation minister and member for Kandep Alfred Manasseh to exploit them to stage three weeks of killing and destruction.

Supt Kakas said the two tribes had agreed to stop fighting and accepted conditions of a preventative order which restrained them from further violence.

Continue reading "“We fought for our uncounted boxes,’’ Polye supporters tell" »

The black hole where PNG's anti-graft efforts disappear

Lawrence Stephens of Transparency International PNG (Loop PNG)JOHNNY BLADES | Radio New Zealand International

WHEN a commission of inquiry is announced in Papua New Guinea, it's often a sign that little will be done about the problem or issue at the heart of it.

Anyone recall the commissions of inquiry into the Tumbi landslide disaster, misdealings within the Finance Department, the fraudulent Special Agricultural Business Leases or the Rabaul Queen ferry sinking?

Some of these inquiries were convened and even made it to the final report stage, but typically they took a long time and few if any of their recommendations were ever acted on. Justice was rarely seen to be delivered.

Papua New Guineans tend to characterise an inquiry announcement as usually a way to make a problem or issue fade from public view, to disappear into a type of black hole.

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Sydney-based PNG coffee roaster seeks better deal for farmers


A SYDNEY-based company is looking to provide a better deal for Papua New Guinea coffee farmers, and hopes to develop markets for PNG coffee in Australia, the US and China.

But to do that, says principal Pana Wiya, he needs a capital backer.

Coffee growers earn only 2-5% of the retail price of coffee in supermarkets, or about K2.40 kilogram, and that’s unjust, says Mr Wiya, the owner of Sydney-based Village Coffee.

“It’s unjust because they do 90% of the labour and use their most fertile land to produce the beans. We aim to increase that income to about 30-35%,” he told Business Advantage PNG.

Village Coffee is located in the Sydney suburb of Padstow. So far Mr Wiya has imported 15 tonnes of beans from the Morobe and Eastern Highlands provinces.

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Leaders must take responsibility to address economic woes

Buai-meri-paintingBUSA JEREMIAH WENOGO

GIVEN that some ugly fiscal numbers are stacking up against the O'Neill-Abel government, it is expected tough decisions will have to be made as the new regime puts together a supplementary budget as well as the 2018 national budget.

The question in people’s mind is where the adjustments will hit in the formulation of these budgets.

It is obvious that tough decisions have to made with flagship policies such as free education and primary health care, even though an additional K900 million loan has been sought from the Asian Development Bank.

Funding for major infrastructure work looks like being scaled back and the K10 million district service improvement program needs to be reconsidered.

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PNG needs to devalue kina significantly to get economy moving


ECONOMIST Paul Flanagan has told Radio New Zealand International that Papua New Guinea’s new government needs to consider a substantial devaluation of the kina.

Mr Flanagan, director of the firm PNG Economics, was commenting on treasurer Charles Abel’s plan to begin addressing the country’s serious economic woes during the government’s first 100 days in office.

He said PNG needed to end its substantial reliance on oil, gas and minerals and also focus on developing sectors such as agriculture.

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The fears & foes of an impoverished primary school student

Butibam Primary SchoolISO YAWI

MY time at Butibam Primary School just outside Lae was embarrassing. From the day I entered Grade 5 in 2003 until I completed my final year in 2006, I had trials in my life – and I looked upon these as my ‘foes’.

The first four years (1999-2002) at Butibam had been pleasant, but as the clock struck 2003 a cloud of doom descended on me like a giant shadow waiting for my little soul to pass through.

So I had trials, ‘foes’.

The main foe was poverty. For most of my friends poverty seemed as nothing but for me it was a cause of great embarrassment.

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Is Australian government money distorting scrutiny of PNG?

Wabag on fire (PNG News)KEITH JACKSON

ON Tuesday I had a vigorous exchange of views on Twitter with Dr David Ayres of Papua New Guinea’s National Research Institute triggered by continuing debate on PNG's recent election and its often violent aftermath.

David - a straightforward man - let me know in no uncertain terms that he believed my (and others’) expressions of opinion about the chaotic election were over the top.

In fact, he referred to them as “hysteria” and said my own reaction was “punch drunk” – comments he subsequently deleted from Twitter late Tuesday night, as was his right.

During my own tweets that night, I had mentioned my discomfort with reports and articles on the PNG election that have been emerging from the professional commentariat in organisations like the Lowy Institute.

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Nick Laki dies at 35 leaving a legacy as a great man & thinker


NICHOLAS Jew Laki (15 October 1981 – 5 August 2017) was a gentle man who could also be stern and commanding when need be.

He was open-minded but also held strong Christian values and principles that defined boundaries.

He balanced generosity with a strong work ethic. He was a man of ideas who turned words and dreams into reality.

These contrasting qualities reflect Nick’s colourful journey through life.

Amidst the death and destruction of tribal warfare in the Mul District, Nick emerged into the world on 15 October 1981. Pastor Israel Laki learnt from prison, where he was facing charges related to tribal warfare, that he had a son called Nicholas who was born at Tinsley rural clinic in Baiyer.

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B'ville ex-combatants threaten violence against Panguna family

Unhappiness at PangunaLEONARD FONG ROKA

IT was reminiscent of the event in which our father was killed by the Bougainville Revolutionary Army on 18 March 1993 during the peak of the Bougainville conflict.

On that day, armed men located themselves at the assassination scene and lied to someone they met and told him to call our father to the scene of his death.

On this occasion, Panguna New Generation Leaders tricked someone to call us to a place for something good but when we reached it, dozens of men appeared and began intimidating us. A number were under the influence of liquor.

Panguna New Generation Leaders consists of former BRA men who are aggressively campaigning for the re-opening of the Panguna mine with funding from the Panguna Negotiations Office of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).

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Are the courts still capable of offering the people justice?


AFTER I wrote the article, Justice delayed is a denial of the people’s rights, I was certain that justice would finally emerge after the court dismissed the application to further stay the arrest of prime minister Peter O’Neill.

I was of the opinion that, even if the prime minister’s legal team challenged the lower court's decision, the supreme court would only overturn the decision if the presiding judge had erred in his ruling.

Therefore it came as a shock that the chief justice made a decision to once again stay the arrest of the prime minister pending further instruction.

This was on the back of the chief magistrate and a senior judge of the national court ruling that the arrest warrant be executed.

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The Australia-PNG relationship – it’s time to blow it wide open


WHEN someone in Papua New Guinea criticises the government or a politician in the media, the response is invariably primal.

It can range from blustering (followed by inaction and stalling in the hope the issue will go away) right through to sacking officials, intimidation, court action, legal tinkering and violence.

In Australia it works differently.

Here we have a government that is too frightened or preoccupied with trivia to do anything about serious issues in case they are adversely criticised and thus diminish their chances of re-election.

The only way this kind of political stasis can be galvanised is to use fear as a weapon.

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Hedemari people achieve their church born of a dream

BISHOP DONALD LIPPERT The new church at Hedemari

THE people of Saint John the Apostle Parish in Hedmari, Hela Province, recently hosted a joyful and reverent celebration for the blessing of their new one-of-a-kind church building.

The old church building was falling into serious disrepair and the community was quickly outgrowing it.

The people together with the parish priest Fr Joice Packel CST considered the options.

At first they thought of attaching a wing to the old church but abandoned the idea as impractical.

The real dream of the people and Fr Joice was to build a new church, but how?

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The grand scam: How Peter O’Neill managed to stay in power


PAPUA New Guineans may never fully discern the extent of foul play Peter O’Neill and the Peoples National Congress (PNC) committed to retain power in the recently concluded 2017 election.

As a candidate for Simbu Regional and a regular contributor to PNG Attitude, I want to record my personal views of what I see as a grand scam by the ruling party.

First, I am very troubled by the shocking image circulated on social media of an Enga tribesman shot by the security forces in Wabag at the height of the counting.

My concern was that the photo clearly showed the gun the man was carrying had a red PNC4PNG sticker on it.

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