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54 posts from February 2018

PNG govt alert! Our literature could help us get to Vision 50

Daniel with author Mary Mennis
Daniel compares books with Australian author Mary Mennis


WABAG - An assignment given to first year trainees at Enga Teachers College on literature and its importance for primary school children, prompts me to reflect on a recent literary tour of Australia I undertook with three colleagues.

I wondered if teachers in the field were promoting literature. Did they have access to libraries stocked with books appropriate to their readers?

The Papua New Guinea government is spending millions of kina on its tuition free education policy each year.

It also supports sports, music and other major events. It has built modern stadiums, training facilities and provided cash incentives for athletes who win gold medals at Commonwealth and Olympic Games.

The PNG Hunters have lifted rugby league’s profile on the international stage through the Queensland Intrust Super Cup competition.  Many players have signed lucrative contracts.

Continue reading "PNG govt alert! Our literature could help us get to Vision 50" »

Even with help, concern PNG will not be ready to host APEC

Model of the APEC conference centre
Artist's impression of the lakatoi-styled APEC conference centre being constructed at Port Moresby's Ela Beach


SYDNEY - Papua New Guinea is gearing up to host its biggest international event - the APEC diplomatic summit.

It expects both Chinese leader Xi Jinping and US president Donald Trump to be among the thousands of delegates.

Papua New Guinea isn't having to pay the full APEC costs on its own. Other countries are, in effect, subsidising the event, particularly Australia and China - as it competes for influence in the Pacific.

Despite this significant financial help from foreign countries - there's concern PNG won't be ready in time to host the biggest international event in its history.

But the government insists it will host a successful event.

Continue reading "Even with help, concern PNG will not be ready to host APEC" »

Big dreams for PNG - young leaders poised for year-long journey

2018 Archer Leaders
2018 Archer leaders - looking forward to a great year's leadership training

GENEVIEVE NELSON | Kokoda Track Foundation

PORT MORESBY - On Friday, the Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF) announced the recipients of the 2018 Archer Leadership Program at a reception in Port Moresby.

Finding and fostering the next generation of Papua New Guinea’s young leaders, the program works with an exceptional group of final-year tertiary students, taking them on an intensive, experiential leadership development journey.

The 2018 Archer Leaders were announced by Bruce Davis, Australian High Commissioner to PNG, among a range of corporate partners, friends and family.

KTF is delighted with the strength, vision and calibre of the 2018 Archer Leaders. They are an extraordinary group of committed, passionate and driven students, with big dreams for PNG.

Continue reading "Big dreams for PNG - young leaders poised for year-long journey" »

Journos gather for remarkable Sean Dorney tribute dinner

Rowan Callick & Sean Dorney
Eminent Pacific journalists Rowan Callick & Sean Dorney plough through Brisbane's rain on their way to Sean's tribute dinner


At the weekend 150 people assembled at a Brisbane sports club to honour the legendary Papua New Guinea and Pacific journalist and onetime rugby league star Sean Dorney AM MBE, who has motor neurone disease

BRISBANE – On Saturday night I attended the Sean Dorney tribute dinner at the Wests Football Club in Toowong, Brisbane. I sat at table with ABC guys David Ransom, John Highfield, Bob Lawrence, Martin Hadlow and Don Hook.

And what a privilege to be witness to such a massive outpouring of respect from the elite of the media world of Australia. They came from all over Australia, PNG and beyond - 150 of them (another 50 on wait list).

The event was brilliantly organised by Sue Ahearn, Kevin McQuillan and Peter Lewis. Gold Walkley award winner Mary-Louise O'Callaghan was MC. It was a fantastic evening and everyone left on a high when the doors were closed at 11.30 pm and I’m sure it could have gone on for many more hours.

Sean and Pauline were in sparkling form. The cream of Australian journalists had to have their say and typical of so many of them was their admiration of Sean. Many said they had learnt so much from him.

His brilliant sense of humour was obvious and Pauline was just as good. The legendary Rowan Callick said he had originally visited Australia from the UK and, after observing Sean in his offhand Aussie ways, decided to make his home here.

Continue reading "Journos gather for remarkable Sean Dorney tribute dinner" »

Striking photos of the past & present of Papua New Guinea

Joseph Kayan
Joseph Kayan, a Goroka Show participant from Chimbu Province


See all of Sandro’s wonderful images here

WASHINGTON - Is any place on the planet less familiar to Americans than heavily forested, mountainous, linguistically complex, faraway Papua New Guinea?

The images here document just a few points on the wide spectrum of life in PNG today. At one end is what might be called extravagant tradition. To see that, the photographer Sandro, who’s based in Chicago, went to the Eastern Highlands and attended the Goroka Show.

That’s a three-day festival where people from all over the country showcase their customs. In a makeshift studio Sandro photographed men and women wearing costumes unique to their villages.

This kind of undertaking is not without risk. Anthropologists rightly caution against ethnic stereotyping, and a Papuan elder in feathered regalia doesn’t stand in for the entire population any more than a woman wearing a calico bonnet in Colonial Williamsburg is a typical American.

Continue reading "Striking photos of the past & present of Papua New Guinea" »

2017 Crocodile Prize winners announced at Moresby awards

Martyn Namorong hosts the Crocodle Prize awards
Martyn Namorong hosts the Crocodile Prize awards


PORT MORESBY - The Crocodile Prize is Papua New Guinea's highest literary award. For the past two years it has been predominantly PNG-run and funded after being handed over by its Australian founders.

I have volunteered these past two years as a member of the Crocodile Prize Organizing Committee and yesterday I hosted the Crocodile Prize literary awards ceremony.

This was witnessed by various dignitaries including Dr Anna Joskin from the University of PNG literature department and United States Ambassador to PNG, Catherine Erbet-Gray.

“As the founders of the Crocodile Prize, Keith Jackson and I are as pleased as Punch to see it surviving and prospering," said Phil Fitzpatrick.

Continue reading "2017 Crocodile Prize winners announced at Moresby awards" »

Last letter from Kurt Pfund: Eminent artist chose PNG as his home

Chimbu Warrior (Kurt Pfund)
Chimbu Warrior (Kurt Pfund)


SYDNEY - Kurt Pfund (1935-2017) was born in Switzerland and lived, worked and played in Brazil, Canada and the Caribbean before finding his way to Papua New Guinea.

He was lured there by the ambition to become a crocodile hunter. Instead he developed an abiding love for the country and its people which he expressed through his paintings and his writing.

Kurt was already a significant artist and had held several successful exhibitions at an international level when I first met him in 1973.

He had also published two books, ‘Islands of love: portrait of the Trobriand Islands’ (paintings and text by Kurt Pfund) and ‘Legends of Papua New Guinea’ (paintings by Kurt Pfund, text by Jack McCarthy). His studio was on a five-acre property at Sapphire Creek.

We saw a lot of Kurt until we went our separate ways after Independence in 1975. Kurt returned to Switzerland and we returned to Australia for a while. The Sapphire Creek property became an official residence.

Continue reading "Last letter from Kurt Pfund: Eminent artist chose PNG as his home" »

Cyber ghosts & false hopes: Sam thought revolution would be easy

Sam Basil
Sam Basil - social media didn't do for me what it promised


PORT MORESBY - Enough time has passed to discuss the issues at the centre of my recent decisions [to move from opposition to government]. I did not take any steps without considerable thought of the future of my political party and my country.

I spent each day imagining the wishes and aspirations of millions of people who advocated for revolutionary change in Papua New Guinea in 2017. I knew that my job was to deliver on some of the dreams expressed to me in emails, blogs, and private conversations and even in popular songs.

However, when everything was said and done many hundreds of thousands of people did not follow through with the support that appeared to be pledged to me mainly through social media.

I too was misled into believing that the growing rhetoric would match the end result.

Like any other Papua New Guinean ahead of the 2017 general election, I had expectations and high hopes for a result I knew I had worked vigorously to achieve with few resources.

Continue reading "Cyber ghosts & false hopes: Sam thought revolution would be easy" »

Is PNG a lynchpin in China’s expansion into the Pacific?

Phil Fitzpatrick at mic
Phil Fitzpatrick


TUMBY BAY - In the ongoing debate about governance in Papua New Guinea and the internal and external forces influencing it, we tend to make certain assumptions as if they are foregone conclusions requiring no further examination.

One of these is that PNG is a very small fish in an extremely large pond and is irrelevant in terms of global geo-politics.

From this we then assert that it has no role in wider events such as globalisation and the rise of China.

I’m not sure this assumption is necessarily true, especially when one begins to examine the motives and methods used by the key players in these power struggles.

Late last year both the USA and Australia released strategy documents that attempted to define Chinese ambitions and suggest ways to deal with them.

These documents all concluded that China is a “revisionist power” that wants to displace the USA in the Indo-Pacific and, using predatory economics, “reorder the region in its favour”.

Neither the USA nor Australia wants this to happen but both are unsure how to prevent it.

Continue reading "Is PNG a lynchpin in China’s expansion into the Pacific?" »

Belt and Road to nowhere: China’s incoherent aid in PNG

Graeme Smith
Dr Graeme Smith

GRAEME SMITH | The Interpreter

CANBERRA - At the tail end of this month’s episode of The Little Red Podcast, a show I host, Jo Chandler shares a story from her visit to Manus in 2014, when she caught up with Powes Parkop, a native Manusian, current governor of Port Moresby and one of Papua New Guinea’s most respected politicians:

“Manus Harbour was absolutely enormous; it was almost the scale of Pearl Harbour. MacArthur won the Pacific out of Manus. Strategically, it was this enormous resource – a million American military went through this tiny little place toward the end of the war – and this PNG politician [Powes Parkop] is pointing out to me it wouldn’t take too much work to clear some of that rubbish off and you’d have those lovely runways back, and if Australia’s not going to help us out, I’m pretty sure the Chinese might like to ... Just put that in your newspaper for me will you?”

With this single anecdote, Chandler captures how chance, accident, and a willing Pacific partner can shift the geostrategic game.

When Concetta Fierravanti-Wells railed against Chinese aid’s “white elephants” and “roads to nowhere” in the Pacific, part of her frustration was with the speed and surprise attached to these projects.

Continue reading "Belt and Road to nowhere: China’s incoherent aid in PNG" »

The delicate balance between perception & accountability

Sam Koim
Sam Koim - public perception is not always a reflection of reality


PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea is so politicised that even our simple-minded people are quick to perceive that every decision by any public authority is influenced by politics regardless of its merits.

So too has corruption become so rife in public life in PNG that our people tend to attribute governance decisions to an invisible hand of corruption at play.

Well, unfortunately, such is the state we have come to be in.

Those perceptions have evolved overtime with our unsavoury experiences. Every time decisions on public interest matters are made, we may unwittingly see them as possessing these biases.

We all have our personal prejudices but the one I am talking about is kind of 'national syndrome' of cynicism.

Continue reading "The delicate balance between perception & accountability" »

PNG CEO’s reveal problems & hopes: foreign exchange still critical

Port Moresby CBD
Port Moresby CBD - CEO's say forex a big problem into third year but security & communications big improvers


NOOSA – The annual Business Advantage International (BAI) survey of 100 chief executives in Papua New Guinea has found that the shortage of foreign exchange remains the top problem facing business in the country.

The PNG 100 CEO Survey, conducted each year since 2012, included senior executives from a representative sample of PNG’s largest companies across all sectors of the economy.

Each year, the survey asks CEOs to identify the important issues they face and also provide information about anticipated profit levels and expectations for investment and recruitment in the year ahead.

For the third consecutive year, access to foreign exchange was the most significant impediment to business, being nominated by 71% of respondents as a first order issue, up from 60% in 2017.

Continue reading "PNG CEO’s reveal problems & hopes: foreign exchange still critical" »

Despite repeated promises, PNG’s greatest ever scandal continues


PORT MORESBY - Today is the first anniversary of the presentation of a 10,000 signature petition to the Department of Lands demanding the cancellation of the SABL (special agriculture and business) leases.

2018 also marks five-years since the SABL Commission of Inquiry exposed the full extent of the illegal land grab, which affects more than 10% of the whole country.

But, despite repeated promises from the O’Neill government to cancel the leases, stretching back to 2013, almost nothing has been done.

The government’s response to the illegal SABL land grab is the greatest scandal this country has ever seen.

Continue reading "Despite repeated promises, PNG’s greatest ever scandal continues" »

Singirok says control of lethal weapons entry has broken down

Jerry Singirok

NEWS REPORT | PNG National Broadcasting Corporation

PORT MORESBY – The chairman of the Guns Control Committee and former commander of the PNG Defence Force Major-General (retired) Jerry Singirok has said the Papua New Guinea government needs to invest heavily in border security.

The committee was set up in 2005 to come up with recommendation to address issues of gun violence in the country.

It made 244 recommendations but nothing was done by the government to address them.

Mr Singirok, speaking on the NBC's Morning Tru program, said stringent control measures should be taken at PNG’s border entry points to monitor and curb deadly weapons.

"The other biggest issue is that we have a border security problem,” he said.

“The government has not invested much in security forces to ensure border control is enforced.

“For example, Wutung-Batas, the Indonesian check point, is the weakest, weakest point.”

Catholic-run family planning in PNG: assistance or oppression?

Family planningCATHERINE GRAUE | Pacific Beat | Australian Broadcasting Corporation | Extract

You can read the full article here

SYDNEY - Pressure is mounting on Papua New Guinea's Government to reconsider its contracts with health clinics run by the Catholic Church, amid concerns some are deliberately failing to meet their obligations of providing a full family planning service.

While advocating natural methods of contraception, the Church insists it also provides counselling and a patient referral system, which is a requirement of its contract with the PNG Health Department.

But family planning advocates claim items being provided to Catholic clinics by the Government go unused and are being destroyed, while others report spot checks are being carried out by senior church officials.

Continue reading "Catholic-run family planning in PNG: assistance or oppression?" »

Too late for PNG & its fragile & exploitable vulnerabilities

Muse Mohammed PhotographyCHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - Sadly, I believe Phil Fitzpatrick's analysis of the current situation in Papua New Guinea is accurate.

Worse still, I now think that it is too late to prevent PNG's inevitable spiral into some form of authoritarian state or, possibly, an anarchical collapse into a number of smaller, competing mini-states. The latter outcome would be more broadly consistent with its pre-colonial history.

There are many reasons for this decline but the overriding one is that PNG’s traditional cultures are not really conducive to the establishment and maintenance of a viable democratic state.

PNG cultures are communalist in nature but do not have underlying governance structures that provide a solid foundation for democratic institutions.

They are, in essence, anarchical, and profoundly inconsistent with the acceptance or even imposition of any form of central authority except by force and coercion.

PNG is not alone in this. Even so-called mature democracies rely, at bottom, upon the imposition and maintenance of state authority by means of a centrally controlled, enforceable legal framework.

Continue reading "Too late for PNG & its fragile & exploitable vulnerabilities" »

South Pacific looks to China as West cuts aid & turns away

Papua New Guinea Mine WatchALAN BOYD | Asia Times

HONG KONG - China is quietly filling the breach as traditional Western donors cut back on their aid pledges to the South Pacific.

And it seems many of the struggling island nations on the receiving end of China’s largesse couldn’t be happier with the shifting currents.

Last month, Australia’s international development minister, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, scathingly attacked Beijing’s aid program in the region, accusing it of funding “roads to nowhere” and “useless buildings.”

“We want to ensure that the infrastructure that you do build is actually productive and is actually going to give some economic benefit or some sort of health benefit,” she said.

Continue reading "South Pacific looks to China as West cuts aid & turns away" »

Schram fightback: ‘No presumption of innocence; biased process’

Dr Schram - "What just happened to me is a clear breach of due process"


LAE - On 15 February, the Council of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology decided to terminate my services, and gave me and my wife seven days to ship out and leave our residence on campus where we have lived more than six years.

On 19 January I was given a mere seven days to answer the allegations and I managed to hand in my answers, though incomplete, before the deadline.

I returned to campus from an engagement elsewhere with my wife on 23 January and that same day Acting Vice Chancellor Dr Ora Renagi wrote that I should “stay away from the office”.

I was also denied an extension of time to prepare myself and I was not given access to important files regarding this case in the Registry and Bursary.

Council itself acknowledged that the main ground for dismissal was that I allegedly did not present a certified copy of my original doctoral degree from the European University Institute. Here is a link to this on the Institute’s website.

Continue reading "Schram fightback: ‘No presumption of innocence; biased process’" »

Backlash to Schram dismissal grows as documents emerge

Schram thesis
The verification of Dr Schram's PhD award is on the internet - one allegation against him is that he has not produced his credentials


NOOSA – The dismissal of Dr Albert Schram from his vice-chancellor’s position at the University of Technology has resulted in a backlash from Papua New Guineans who believe he has been treated unjustly.

And it has also led to the publication of documents that appear to vindicate his argument that the claims against him are exaggerated.

In PNG Attitude on Sunday there were conflicting accounts of the reasons for his termination presented by Dr Schram and the Unitech Council.

A Council meeting last Thursday decided to dismiss the vice-chancellor and gave him just seven days to settle his affairs at the Lae campus.

The controversy has led to a flood of comment to PNG Attitude as readers engage with both sides of the controversy.

Some people have been shocked by the allegations against Dr Schram while others believe he has been subjected to a ‘kangaroo court’ which has distorted the evidence against him.

Continue reading "Backlash to Schram dismissal grows as documents emerge" »

Unless people show more spirit, is this goodbye PNG, hello Africa?

Octopus Kracken Teacup pottery sculpture by Face Jug Maker GraftonPHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Everything appears to be going to hell in a teacup. Economy spiralling out of control. Government borrowing money to pay interest on other borrowings. Rock bottom on every economic and social indicator the world compiles.

Massive and uncontrolled exploitation of non-renewable resources by ravenous multinational corporations - the nation’s future seemingly for sale. Precious millions of kina spent hosting frivolous and irrelevant international conferences and sporting events to boost the ego of the elite.

Major infrastructure falling apart. Hospitals deprived of essential drugs and equipment. Long eradicated diseases re-appearing. Drugs and alcohol laying waste to young people. Schools without books, teachers and classrooms. Public servants without pay. Well educated people without work.

The police and military corrupted. The judiciary compromised. Law and order out of control. Criminal gangs infiltrating government. Gun control non-existent. The fraud directorate denied funds to pursue the corrupt. Fishing and logging inspectors disappearing in the pursuit of their duties. Suppression of the media and attacks on journalists.

Continue reading "Unless people show more spirit, is this goodbye PNG, hello Africa?" »

Bring forth their downfall

David-and-goliath1DOMINICA ARE

We have a just and fair God
Who loves what is right and true
He looks upon us with compassion
He sees how pitiful, restless and helpless we are

The wicked sitting above
ignore the sufferings down below
watch with amusement the relentless dramas
He sits way above them – His heart aching
To see the poor crying
To see the just shed blood for justice
To see the faithful plead for mercy
To see the innocent dying

With our hearts full of patience, hope and courage
We continue the fight for justice
incessantly fight for what we believe in
To Him, our pleas don’t go unheard
We believe that soon, sadness will turn to joy
That soon the just will trample the wicked
That soon the wicked will pay for their transgressions
We believe that soon their riches will turn to rags

Continue reading "Bring forth their downfall" »

Highly recommended: A family cruise to Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea landfall - Pacific Eden docks at Alotau

DAWN NICHOLSON | P&O Cruise Review

SYDNEY - Our kids have been bugging us for a couple of years now to do a cruise, but it wasn’t until we found P&O’s Papua New Guinea cruise itineraries that we finally booked one.

The kids had seen cruise ships throughout our travels and were absolutely taken with the on-board activities and luxurious ships.

When I discovered that we could cruise to Papua New Guinea, a country I never thought we would ever visit, I was hooked.

I grew up with an intense interest in other cultures.  I devoured National Geographic magazines, took anthropology classes in university and sought out remote areas on our travels. 

The idea of visiting untouched islands with rich, tribal cultures straight out of those anthropology textbooks was incredibly alluring for me.  Especially since we could do that and experience our first cruise together as a family, making the kids happy too.

Continue reading "Highly recommended: A family cruise to Papua New Guinea" »

Governor’s drunken staff bash journo in another media assault


LAE – A drunken pack attack on a journalist by six men including a senior adviser to the Morobe governor has drawn widespread condemnation throughout Papua New Guinea.

On Thursday the Post-Courier’s Lae-based journalist Frankiy Kapin (pictured) was assaulted by officers of Governor Ginson Saonu, who accused him of writing “negative reports”.

One of the men was the governor’s chief of staff, Steven Boting.

Boting and five other assailants punched Kapin, who was on assignment, multiple times. They also issued threats against other journalists in Lae.

Four men including Boting have been arrested and charged with assault and drunk and disorderly behaviour. They are in police custody and will appear in court today.

Continue reading "Governor’s drunken staff bash journo in another media assault" »

Powerful call to action as Pacific slides into media repression

VDP 5000thDAN McGARRY & MARC NEIL-JONES | Editorial | Vanuatu Daily Post

PORT VILA - It’s becoming far too common: Journalists and whistle blowers are being singled out and silenced as governments throughout the region allow the Pacific to slide down the slippery slope of repression.

Either we act now to stop it, or we accept that in ten years, the region’s media may look a lot more like the People’s Daily News than the Sydney Morning Herald.

Australia is no exception. Even now, the Coalition government is considering draconian new laws that would outlaw activity that is necessary to the proper functioning of a democracy.

In every country of the world, social media is eroding people’s sense of the truth, and undermining its importance in their daily existence.

In the Pacific islands, the threat is real. Last week, three veteran journalists, all of them with spotless reputations, were detained by police on suspicion of inciting unrest.

They had published the news that a magistrate who ruled against the government’s interest in a labour case had been sacked. They were held for hours, and their phones and laptops were seized.

Continue reading "Powerful call to action as Pacific slides into media repression" »

Poor resources prevent police investigating ‘high level’ corruption

Matthew DamaruSTAFF CORRESPONDENT | Radio New Zealand | Edited

PORT MORESBY - The director of the Papua New Guinea police fraud and anti-corruption squad says corruption has grown significantly in recent years.

Chief Superintendent Matthew Damaru  (pictured) said with the growth of PNG's economy, corruption has grown from simple fraud to more elaborate scams.

He said anti-fraud detectives are looking at corruption at the highest level.

However his directorate has been marginalised by funding constraints.

Mr Damaru said 2017 was a good year for the squad with many people arrested and charged, prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to jail.

Continue reading "Poor resources prevent police investigating ‘high level’ corruption" »

‘In our best interests’: Unitech council details reasons for Dr Schram’s termination & says due process was followed


Download Public Statement by Unitech Council

PORT MORESBY –  Jean Kekedo (pictured), the Acting Chancellor of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology, Sunday afternoon issued a statement on behalf of the Unitech Council on the termination of Vice-Chancellor Dr Albert Schram for alleged serious misconduct and breach of his employment contract.

Ms Kekedo said the Council made a unanimous decision last Thursday to terminate Dr Schram’s contract with immediate effect, adding that the Council consisted of “very learned people of standing in the society hence the decision was made after considering all the materials and following due process.”

The statement said that “on 19 January 2018, Council made a unanimous decision to charge Dr Schram with 21 allegations. As per the term of his contract of employment, Dr Schram was given seven working days to respond to the allegations. During the term of his suspension, he was allowed to access his office to prepare his reply although his powers as VC were suspended.

Continue reading "‘In our best interests’: Unitech council details reasons for Dr Schram’s termination & says due process was followed" »

My fight for my job: Unitech council is denying me due process

Happier days
Happier days - Dr Schram after winning his first battle to remove him from Unitech in 2014. He now faces a new struggle over his academic credentials

ALBERT SCHRAM | Vice Chancellor, Papua New Guinea University of Technology

LAE – To understand my predicament, people need to understand that allegations about my credentials reaching back to 2014 and 2015, and which were not an issue a year ago during my annual performance assessment, are the product of political infighting and nothing else.

The only ones who have treated me as a convicted criminal without giving me the benefit of the presumption of innocence are those who seem to have, for whatever reason, a personal interest in my removal.

With the gracious help of the press, I created an opportunity for the University Council to give me access to my personal file and provide me with a few more weeks to refute all the allegations in detail.

Regrettably, the Council seems impervious to any influence from outside: staff, press or students. All this has nothing to do with logic or the truth. The agenda was set in advance and seems to be driven by narrow personal interests.

Continue reading "My fight for my job: Unitech council is denying me due process" »

On the trail of the missing PNG fisheries observers

Fishing monitoringKEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – The other day I tweeted an alarming story that had been raised in the Papua New Guinea parliament by East Sepik Governor Alan Bird.

“The latest observer lost was James Numbaru, an employee of PNG's National Fisheries Authority, who went missing in mysterious circumstances in the sea near Nauru last year,” Radio New Zealand had reported.

My tweet read: “In recent years 18 official #PNG fisheries observers have ‘disappeared’ from foreign fishing vessels. Eighteen! Their job is to look out for illegalities. Only now has the matter been raised in the PNG parliament.”

Well this brief note had a big reaction: so far it has reached more than 5,000 people and triggered over 160 interactions with readers.

Continue reading "On the trail of the missing PNG fisheries observers" »

The trials of Professor Schram: ‘Beyond facts, logic or truth’


Albert Schram
Professor Albert Schram

NOOSA – It was a brief response from Albert Schram that I received last night: “Thank you for your support. This has gone beyond facts, logic or truth.”

Now, as regular readers of PNG Attitude will know, Professor Schram is vice-chancellor of the University of Technology in Lae, Papua New Guinea.

In 2013, as he tried to revitalise an ailing institution, Schram was booted out of the country because he’d discovered a nest of vipers in his own institution and in PNG’s higher education sector.

But sanity eventually prevailed and in 2014, to the delight of Unitech staff and students, he was allowed to return to PNG and to his post.

He received the homecoming of a hero.

And now, as his institution rebuilds and begins to make real progress, it is all happening again.

Continue reading "The trials of Professor Schram: ‘Beyond facts, logic or truth’" »

National statistician in hiding: told to front fraud investigation

MEDIA STATEMENT | Transparency International PNG

Lawrence Stephens
Lawrence Stephens

PORT MORESBY Positive steps by the government to audit the National Identity Project (NID) has been marred by the efforts of national statistician Roy Koloma which appear intended to evade a police investigation into alleged fraud.

TIPNG has earmarked three key national issues it would campaign for in 2018: an Independent Commission Against Corruption; citizens’ free access to public information; and the resolution of scandals involving the NID.

“In January, TIPNG called for the government to halt payments to NID until an independent audit was done on the K230 million spent by the Department of National Planning,” said TIPNG chairman Lawrence Stephens.

“We also called for the head of the National Statistical Office Roy Koloma to step aside whilst investigations of alleged fraud were conducted.

Continue reading "National statistician in hiding: told to front fraud investigation" »

Momis says police must crack down on escalating crime rate

Tokura & Momis
Bougainville police chief Frncis Tokura and President John Momis


BUKA - President John Momis has challenged the Bougainville Police Service to curb the provincial crime rate that has escalated in recent months, including within the public service.

Dr Momis was speaking at the celebratory mass to open the legal year in the autonomous province.

He reminded police of their duty to serve the people of Bougainville and to ensure the rule of law exists within communities and the public service.

He said that as well as major crimes police must give serious attention to all crimes that impede good governance.

“In Bougainville we stand at the threshold of new socio-economic, political and moral order that will give freedom, development and social harmony to our people,” Dr Momis said.

Continue reading "Momis says police must crack down on escalating crime rate" »

Preventable disease is close to being out of control in PNG

A PNG youth with TB
Mother with her seriously ill (with tuberculosis) son


“About 20 years ago I was the chief executive of a large regional hospital at Mount Gambier in South Australia. At that time, two of my colleagues left SA Health and took up appointments as advisers to the Lae and Mount Hagen hospitals” – Chris Overland, PNG Attitude, 13 February 2018

MOUNT HAGEN - I suspect I am one of the advisers to whom Chris refers and I am still in Papua New Guinea, no longer as an adviser but working in a province in the health system.

The health system is in disarray and there is widespread corruption particularly in the procurement and distribution of drugs.

Budgets have been cut, although, through smoke and mirrors, it appears they have increased.

And, while per capita funding is reasonable for a developing economy, the way the funds are spent, particularly by the National Department of Health, means that not much flows to where it is needed.

Continue reading "Preventable disease is close to being out of control in PNG" »

PNG’s new high commissioner meets teacher after 44 years



CANBERRA - John Kali, just appointed as Papua New Guinea’s high commissioner to Australia, has reunited with his former teacher after 44 years.

It was an emotional meeting as Mr Kali met the man who had a great impact on his life, Richard (Dick) Clark.

Mr Kali says that this is the man who helped him become who he is today for which he is forever grateful.

In June of 1964, 21-year-old D ick Clark arrived in PNG. He had met all the requirements to become a teacher and was prepared to spend time in remote parts of the then territory.

Mr Clark taught at the school in which John Kali was a student at. Mr Kali states that, because of the quality of teaching Mr Clark delivered, his class was the top in the country.

Mr Clark returned to Australia in 1974 but the impact of his life and teaching made a big difference. Mr Kali attributes his success to his teacher. He states that with his new appointment in Australia, he will make a bigger impact in PNG.

Satan is Sanguma. But Western hegemony doesn’t see it that way

Satan-by-jack-chickKELA KAPKORA SIL BOLKIN

PORT MORESBY - The Western world’s Satan and Papua New Guinean sanguma (sorcery) seem to be similar concepts but Western religious scholars dictate that the Trinity and the college of angels (including Satan) exists in the ether but sanguma does not.

This view defies logic because both Satan and sanguma are associated with evil and are on the same side of the coin.

No Christian (verifiably anyway) has seen the Trinity, angels, the intercession of the Saints or Satan yet they believe in their existence and control over the peaks and troughs of life.

However, sanguma, exactly the same concept as Satan, is stamped ‘null and void’.

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'Disgraceful' PNG government trashes its health system

Nurse & patient - Port Moresby Hospital
Nurse tends a seriously ill patient at Port Moresby General Hospital


ADELAIDE - About 20 years ago I was the Chief Executive of a large regional hospital at Mount Gambier in South Australia.

At that time, two of my colleagues left SA Health and took up appointments as advisers to the Lae and Mount Hagen hospitals respectively.

They soon realised that the health system in Papua New Guinea was in a parlous state. They contacted me and asked me to twin my hospital with Mendi hospital and provide it with help and support.

To this end, I persuaded my board of directors to allow me to visit Mendi hospital in early 1999.

I was greeted at Mendi by the hospital's manager, who took me on a tour of the facility. It was in a terrible state, being desperately short of equipment, drugs and all the essential materials required to provide a decent service to the local people.

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Momis urges more urgency for Bougainville referendum readiness

Momis sbs
John Momis - struggling to create pan-Bougainville unity as an independence referendum looms


BUKA - Meeting the commitments and expectations of the Bougainville Peace Agreement remains an uphill battle with the referendum on Bougainville’s political future less than 18 months away.

And the question of how ready the Bougainville people are for their referendum plagues the Autonomous Bougainville Government as the home stretch looms.

President John Momis says that, although many Bougainvilleans will opt for independence, being ready for the referendum is another matter.

“We are not prepared simply because we are too lazy, we are too individualistic,” he said.

“We are not prepared to work in unity to create a conducive environment for us to be independent if we so choose.”

Efforts to create a financially self-reliant Bougainville through developing primary and extractive industries have met opposition, especially from landowners around the Panguna minesite.

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Government stalls on supplies of drugs as death toll rises

Audit-reportSTAFF REPORTER | PNGi Central

You can read the complete article here

Media reports from around Papua New Guinea have drawn attention to the critical shortages of vital medicines in hospitals, health centres and aid posts.

These shortages are causing unnecessary suffering and even death – especially among the most vulnerable; young children, pregnant mothers, the elderly and disabled.

All of which could be prevented.

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UN chief slams PNG govt; tells O’Neill, ‘you’re in the spotlight’

O'Neill and Hussein
Peter O'Neill meets Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein - their encounter became chilly after the handshake

AGENCY REPORTER | The Nation (Nigeria)

NAIROBI – During a visit to Papua New Guinea, a top United Nations’ official has slammed the government’s human rights record, including the situation of refugees on Manus Island.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, met with PNG leader Peter O’Neill and other top officials during his one-day visit on Friday.

Hussein called on the government to take firm measures to combat corruption, build good governance and strengthen the rule of law.

“Papua New Guinea appears to be a country of contradictions.

“Despite exemplary laws and policies to protect human rights, they are reportedly often not enforced,’’ Hussein said in a statement.

He raised concerns about the plight of the Manus Island asylum seekers and refugees, and asked the government to identify lasting solutions, which would respect their human rights.

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Weasel words in politics cover up an often dreadful reality


ADELAIDE - Some years ago, I read ‘Weasel Words’ by Don Watson, in a previous life the speech writer for former Australian prime minister Paul Keating.

Watson's book is both an entertaining and disturbing review of how perfectly good words can be stripped of real meaning and rendered into what Watson calls "empty husks".

‘Weasel word’ is an informal term for words and phrases aimed at creating an impression that a meaningful statement has been made when instead only a vague or ambiguous claim has been communicated.

Why? Because this can enable the speaker to later deny the specific meaning if the statement is challenged.

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A radio station run by women rises to the daily challenge

NBC East Sepik
Radio East Sepik - powered by hard work & faith in God to brush off resource scarcity and inform the people of PNG

SYLVESTER GAWI | Graun Bilong Mi (My Land) | Edited

LAE - It was quite an experience for me travelling home to Wewak for a well-deserved break from reporting stories of petty crimes, housing issues and road accidents which dominate news out from Lae.

The plan was to go to Wewak and travel by road to Pagwi where I would get on an outboard vessel and travel up the Sepik River to home sweet home, Aibom - an island in the Chambri Lake.

Accompanying me on the trip was Post Courier reporter Frankiy Kapin who had been assigned to cover the aftermath of the Kadawar Island volcanic eruption, which had occurred three weeks earlier.

But I decided to stayed on in Wewak and follow Frankiy on his news trips and that is when we met NBC East Sepik journalist Edward Hagoria, who introduced us to several of his contacts in Wewak and soon we were on the news hunting trail.

I wasn't sure where to go in Wewak, having spent most of my life growing up and working in Lae. But I covered news and filed stories for radio and television and Frankiy did the same for print media.

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O'Neill's speech to business council was spin over substance

Peter O'Neill
Peter O'Neill - failing to deal candidly with PNG's significant problems

LANCE LOTTE | PNG Today | Edited extract

You can read the complete article here

PORT MORESBY – A recent address by prime minister Peter O’Neill to the PNG Business Council cannot go unchallenged.

I’m not knocking Papua New Guinea nor being unpatriotic, we just need to be careful not to delude ourselves into believing that all is well and convince ourselves of a false sense of comfort.

"Back to Business" should not mean back to conducting business the way we have been accustomed to over the last few years. It should be about identifying mistakes and correcting them.

The prime minister's speech was beautifully written and cleverly pitched. But their lies the problem - it is but a public relations exercise; the product of adroit spin doctors who appear to have gained ascendancy in the executive branch of government.

Any serious follower of the state of the Papua New Guinea economy and discerning observer of the performance of the government with respect to budget implementation would know that what was said, much of which was a regurgitation of ideas and intentions covered in previous speeches, differs from reality.

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Eminent journalist Sean Dorney on life with motor neurone disease

Zane Bojack & Sean Dorney
Sean Dorney with the ABC’s Zane Bojack. Sean was guest commentator for last year’s Queensland rugby league grand final when the PNG Hunters defeated Sunshine Coast 12-10

MARK BOWLING | The Catholic Leader

A tribute dinner for Sean Dorney will be held at Brisbane’s Western Districts Rugby Football Club on Saturday 24 February with funds going to motor neurone disease research. You can book with or go to

BRISBANE - On a recent family trip to Caloundra, acclaimed foreign correspondent Sean Dorney shuffled down the beach to the surf, assisted by his wife and daughter, unable to raise his legs more than a few centimetres above the sand.

“If you are walking behind me the tracks look as if a turtle has been scraping through the sand,” Mr Dorney said.

Mr Dorney, 66, has lived an exceptional, active and varied career.

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Of missionaries and kiaps and great partnerships

Leprosy Leeches and Love by Val BockPHIL FITZPATRICK

Leprosy, Leeches and Love by Val Bock, Published for The Leprosy Mission by Kingsway Publications, Eastborne, Sussex, 1981, ISBN 0860651401. My copy from The Book Bazaar, Port Lincoln, $2.00

TUMBY BAY - Our nearest large town is Port Lincoln, about 50 kilometres south of here. Among its numerous attractions is one of the best second hand bookshops I’ve ever come across.

It’s run by a team of middle-aged ladies and the proceeds go to various charities in the district. The shop’s not big enough to be daunting and everything is neatly arranged in sensible categories with authors listed in strict alphabetical order.

The ladies know a valuable book when they see one, so there’s no opportunistic profit to be made here. They also know a gem when they come across it and, once they get to know you, they are happy to lead you to it.

That’s how I picked up this delightful little paperback called ‘Leprosy, Leeches and Love’ by Val Bock.

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Senior hospital staff ordered not to talk about medicine shortage

Madang-s-Modilon-General-HospitalSCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

MADANG - The CEO of Modilon Hospital in Madang and the hospital’s Director of Medical Services have been issued directives barring them from talking about a medicine shortage at the hospital, EMTV’s Madang correspondent, Martha Louis, has reported.

This is not the first time senior health staff have been threatened and intimidated through orders from above,

Earlier last year, the health minister also issued directives barring staff and senior management from Angau Hospital from speaking out about the state of the cancer unit and a medicine shortage.

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Captain Beverly is PNG's first woman to captain jet aircraft

Captain Beverly Pakii & crew
Captain Beverley Pakii (right) and crew ready for her first scheduled jet flight

KEITH JACKSON | Air Niugini Media Release

PORT MORESBY - Captain Beverly Pakii has become the first female pilot in Papua New Guinea to captain a jet aircraft after attaining her command on an Air Niugini Fokker.

This achievement enables Captain Pakii to command domestic and international flights operated by Fokker 70 and Fokker 100 aircraft.

Her first commercial flight was on 4 January captaining a Fokker 100 aircraft from Port Moresby to Lae and back with First Officer Taylor Yama.

Captain Pakii, from Enga-Morobe parentage, in 2004 became the first female pilot to be sponsored into Air Niugini’s pilot cadet program, in 2015 becoming the first female pilot under the program to command Dash 8 aircraft.

She acknowledged the investment that Air Niugini had made in her career and gaver an encouraging message to fellow female pilots and aspiring female pilots.

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Wantok Musik offers great opportunity for a PNG band

Tony Subam
Tony Subam

COOPER-LILY NIKORA | Wantok Musik Foundation

PORT MORESBY - The Wantok Musik Foundation in association with APRA AMCOS has announced the second intake of Tony Subam Fellowship applications for 2018.

The annual fellowship is open to any band in Papua New Guinea with a strong element of cultural expression in its work.

The fellowship was named in honour of the late Tony Subam, former member of the band Sanguma which pioneered the use of traditional PNG music and songs in harmony with western styles.

The winner will be a band or group which the judges believe builds on exporting the sounds and performances Tony Subam achieved with Sanguma and during his association with Foundation until his death on Christmas Day 2011.

The foundation shares Tony’s strong belief that PNG’s traditional songs and sounds are unique to our music and that Papua New Guineans must be proud of their cultural heritage and roots.

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The sad story of the O’Neill government’s dumbest investment

Moi Avei
'The right moment' - a less than ecstatic Sir Moi Avei at the media conference announcing the sale of Oil Search shares


PORT MORESBY - On 21 September 2017, Kumul Petroleum Holding Limited, a state owned company, sold 149 million Oil Search shares it held on behalf of the eight million people of Papua New Guinea.

The shares were purchased in March 2014 by the O'Neill government for K3 billion by securing a loan from the Union Bank of Switzerland’s Australian branch.

Last year, with PNG unable to service the loan, O'Neill was forced to sell the shares at a significant loss, using the proceeds from the sale to repay the balance owed.

On 24 September The National newspaper published a misleading report suggesting the government had made a gain from the transaction.

"The government has sold its shares in Oil Search Limited, making around K100 million from the transaction," the report stated.

It went on to quote Kumul Holdings chairman Moi Avei saying that the company made K87.33 million as a result of the sale.

“So we’ve waited for the right moment when the share was trading at the right price and we’ve made the decision to divest the shares with Oil Search in this transaction,” Sir Moi claimed.

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Let’s concentrate on skills ahead of knowledge-based education


PORT MORESBY - We should denounce knowledge-based education and concentrate on skills-based education.

Let us not judge our children by their ability to memorise and regurgitate information, let us assess them for being innovative.

Let them do it in Pidgin too. Speaking fluent English does not put food on the table, entrepreneurship does - money does not speak just one language.

We are an intelligent people. Our ancestors learnt by observation. Nothing has changed in our psyche.

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193-welcome-to-alotau50th Anniversary of Alotau

In 1968, the capital of Milne Bay Province, was moved from Samarai to its present location at Alotau, and the town is this year celebrating its 50th anniversary.  Valued reader Arthur Smedley is assisting the organisers with historical research - and there are a few things you may be able to help with.

One is a copy of an article published in the Cameron High School magazine in the early 1970s. It was by Richard Jackson (no relation) and others and entitled, 'Alotau: a new town in Papua New Guinea.  Arthur is also hoping to hear about your memories and stories and get hold of photographs. You can contact him here


Informal economy, long neglected, shows signs of turnaround

Lae street vendors (Michael & Lori Johnson)
Street vendors in Lae (Michael & Lori Johnson)


PORT MORESBY - Dealing with the informal economy in its entirety – all those street vendors, hawkers, kerbside buai sellers,small time artisans and the rest - is a difficult proposition for any government.

Just ask the National Capital District Commission how daunting a task it is just to address the problems related to sale and consumption of buai (betel nut) in Port Moresby.

Even the national government has found it difficult to develop suitable laws and policies for the informal sector, particularly in terms of encouraging adequate investment to support its growth.

The Constitutional Law Reform Commission has concluded that lack of government ownership is a major impediment. The Community Development Department said it was “not clear” on what role it should to play and also stated that, with limited resources, it was too overwhelmed to coordinate government efforts to spur informal economy growth.

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