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88 posts from May 2018

PNG students in China say Facebook ban could be damaging

Fb banned
Is Sam Basil's one month takedown of Facebook for dubious "research" just a precursor to a total ban?

MELISHA YAFOI | Pacific Media Watch

Since this article was written and the Facebook ban story widely reported  around the world, PNG communications minister Sam Basil has walked back from his statement about suspending the social media platform. Basil now says his words were 'taken out of context' and 'not official, just a discussion'.....

BEIJING – Papua New Guinean students studying in Beijing, China, have described the move by PNG communications minister Sam Basil to suspend Facebook for one month as “irrelevant” and damaging for educational communications.

Speaking in a forum, the students expressed disappointment, saying there are more pressing issues that the government needs to address yet it is concerned about legislating freedom of speech for the people.

They said that being outside the country they were able to read information and connecting with family back home as many of the people do not have other social media platforms other than Facebook.

Continue reading "PNG students in China say Facebook ban could be damaging" »

We all need to know the interdependence of law & democracy

The PNG national & supreme courts have this helpful tome on sale for a lazy K400


TUMBY BAY - After surviving two years of probation and becoming a fully-fledged kiap and passing the prescribed courses, I was appointed a magistrate of the Local Court in Papua New Guinea.

As a local court magistrate I could hear both civil and criminal cases and fine or imprison people up to certain limits.

The principle law under which kiaps worked was the Criminal Code, which had been adopted from Queensland.

In our training great emphasis was placed on the correct interpretation of legislation. We had to get this right because all the cases we heard were scrutinised in Port Moresby and our rulings could be overturned.

When presented with difficult cases, it was sometimes hard to interpret the law and we had to decide what was the intent of the relevant section before we applied it to a particular situation.

To do this we might have to deal with precedent and be aware how courts in the past had interpreted the law. This could be difficult out in the bush where we didn’t have access to case law. No internet back then.

Continue reading "We all need to know the interdependence of law & democracy" »

'Unrecognised crisis': right next door, women in serious danger

New bornMATT WADE | Fairfax Media

SYDNEY - Australia’s near-neighbour Papua New Guinea is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a mother and there are signs the country’s health crisis is getting worse, a report has found.

Women in PNG are 35 times more likely to die during pregnancy than women in Australia, according to an evaluation of maternal health by the aid agency ChildFund Australia.

Despite laws and programs to encourage supervised births, only 40% of women in PNG gave birth at a health facility with a specialised birth attendant in 2016 down from 44% in 2012. In some regions the share was just 21%.

And when women do manage to reach a rural clinic for the birth of a child they often find these facilities unstaffed or without electricity, running water, or essential medication and equipment.

Continue reading "'Unrecognised crisis': right next door, women in serious danger" »

Reformist v-c Albert Schram ‘may not return’ to defend claims

Albert Schram - "“What happened to me can happen to anyone, and it can easily become a shake-down scam"

JOHN ROSS | Times Higher Education

LONDON - Ousted university reformer Albert Schram says he may never return to Papua New Guinea after being allowed to leave the country on bail.

Dr Schram has accused PNG police of a “shake-down” after they pursued “ridiculous” accusations that he had falsified his doctorate to secure the position of vice-chancellor of the PNG University of Technology, in the country’s second city of Lae.

In a blog penned from Singapore, en route to Europe, Dr Schram said his ordeal should serve as a warning to people visiting the country which is this year hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

“In a time when PNG is looking to attract more tourists and host numerous delegations for APEC meetings, this case is hugely damaging for the country,” he said.

“What happened to me can happen to anyone, and it can easily become a shake-down scam for police without scruples.”

Under Dr Schram’s leadership, the university – known as Unitech – last year achieved what it described as the first “clean” auditor general’s report into its accounts in more than two decades. “[We] became one of the handful of state agencies with this distinction,” he blogged.

Continue reading "Reformist v-c Albert Schram ‘may not return’ to defend claims" »

Money to support Karimui cocoa exists; now let’s get it deployed

Dr John Konam with a cocoa farmer
Agro-scientist and cloning specialist Dr John Konam with a local farmer at the experimental cocoa plantation at Karimui station (PNG Cocoa Board)


KUNDIAWA – Karimui, in the deep south of the Simbu Province, is poised to become one of the major cocoa producing district in Papua New Guinea but it requires special attention from the national government.

The European Union committed K340 million for rehabilitation of cocoa in the cocoa pod borer-devastated province of East Sepik which many of us were not aware of it until it was mentioned recently in parliament by Madang MP Bryan Kramer.

Kramer’s question related to a decision by Planning Minister Richard Maru to cancel the grant to the East Sepik Province and direct it to projects in Karimui, Momase, Papua and Kerevat.

This would involve establishing a cocoa nursery in Karamui and building a connecting road from Gumine to the southern region, where there is no cocoa pod borer problem

A Facebook post by Kramer questioned the prudence and practicality of Maru’s decision in directing part of the grant to Karimui, which he assumed was not a cocoa producing area.

Continue reading "Money to support Karimui cocoa exists; now let’s get it deployed" »

Oil Search scheme spends K10 million on Simbu school buildings

Kerenga Kua  Gerea Aopi & Michael Dua (Jimmy wagl)
Oil Search managers and prominent Simbu MPs officiate at the opening of Mai High School's new buildings


KUNDIAWA – The Oil Search tax credit scheme has reached schools in the Sinesine-Yongomugl District of Simbu with a K10 million infrastructure fund delivering new buildings to educate the province’s children.

Since the inception of the tax credit scheme, it has established impact projects in Southern Highlands and Hela but this was a first for Simbu. The project was conceived by Kerenga Kua MP and Oil Search advisor Willie Kupo.

The money was allocated between three schools: Muaina Secondary and Bii Mai High receiving building funds of K4 million each while Ku High received K2 million.

The completed buildings gave a big boost to Mai High School, which lacked the required accommodation to cater for an increased the influx of students. No less than 26 singsing groups in traditional regalia sang and danced prior to the arrival of the distinguished guests at last Friday’s opening ceremony attended by 2,500 people.

Continue reading "Oil Search scheme spends K10 million on Simbu school buildings" »

Schram - monstrous abuse of process & reversed onus of proof


ADELAIDE - I think the article, 'Dr Schram is a great man but he should respect our courts',  reflects pretty accurately the delusional state of those administering much of Papua New Guinea's judicial system.

The author mistakes the abuse of the judicial process for the proper administration of justice.

Dr Schram has been subjected to a perverted process whereby the onus of proof has effectively been reversed, leaving him forced to prove his innocence.

It is always open to a judge to dismiss an action because he or she forms the view that the claims made have no merit or are merely vexatious.

Continue reading "Schram - monstrous abuse of process & reversed onus of proof" »

Basil hints at Chinese model as Facebook faces PNG shutdown

Wechat FacebookKEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – The Post-Courier newspaper reports today that the Papua New Guinea government intends prevent access to Facebook for one month for so-called “research purposes”.

Communication minister Sam Basil has established no date for the shutdown, nor has he revealed how he will achieve it.

He has also not stated how the country will cope if access is prevented to the many substantive and legitimate sites that are used for day-to-day commercial, government, personal and emergency transactions in PNG.

Basil said his Communications and Information Technology Department and National Research Institute will conduct “research and analysis” of Facebook’s use, adding that his ministry was trying to enforce the 2016 Cyber Crime Act.

Continue reading "Basil hints at Chinese model as Facebook faces PNG shutdown" »

Schram tells: ‘My wrongful dismissal & malicious prosecution’

Dr Schram in Singapore
Albert Schram finally at liberty in Singapore - "A truly terrifying world, but the truth will set us free"


SINGAPORE – On his way back home to Verona in Italy during a stopover in Singapore, Dr Albert Schram wrote a lengthy article on his scarifying experiences in Papua New Guinea. It provides a detailed background and analysis of what befell him when he ran foul of powerful political players. You can read here the original Facebook piece, from which this extensive extract is drawn - KJ

My Arrest

Now that I have safely left Papua New Guinea, I feel free to write about what happened and was not reported in the national media.

As Vice Chancellor (President) for the PNG University of Technology appointed for two terms, I worked with seven Ministers of Higher Education, and three different Chancellors.

My achievements in this period speak for themselves. Most significantly, after an independent account went over all the university accounts, we achieved an unqualified, clean audit report by the Auditor General for the first time in over two decades, and became one of the handful of agencies with this distinction.

Continue reading "Schram tells: ‘My wrongful dismissal & malicious prosecution’" »

Dr Schram is a great man, but he should respect our courts


A 2013 report by the late Justice Sevua legitimated Dr Schram's doctoral credentials. Now attempts are being used to disprove this. Is Dr Schram needlessly defying the courts or are they being manipulated as a political plaything by his enemies? Who should really be on trial here & what are the implications for the rule of law in PNG?

PORT MORESBY - Dr Albert Schram, who had my support throughout his hardships, has now lost it if his intent in seeking a variation to his bail was to abscond and not return to Papua New Guinea to honour his commitment to the national court.

Whatever systems we have in place in PNG are our systems and we need people of great calibre like Dr Schram to accord our court system due respect, notwithstanding it being tinged in whatever shades of grey.

If Dr Schram does not return to PNG, as he has suggested, the esteemed doctor and his lawyer may have got the national court in bed with them to commit a felony.

It would be best for him to turn up in court and produce that authentic doctoral document.

Don’t force the court seek Interpol assistance to get him back to PNG. This time it may be jail and no bail variation application is going to help.

It is this same court he will need to appear before to lodge any damages claim against his accusers. The courts may not always readily avail themselves to his interests.

Continue reading "Dr Schram is a great man, but he should respect our courts" »

O’Neill defends his preparations for Bougainville referendum

Bougainville-flagMERIBA TULO | Asia Pacific Report

PORT MORESBY - With just a year to go before the people of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville go to the polls to determine their political future, the Papua New Guinean government has defended its handling of preparations.

Prime minister Peter O’Neill said the government had done more for the Bougainville during his term than at any other time.

He said next month’s Joint Supervisory Body meeting between the national and Bougainville governments will be of the utmost importance for the referendum next June.

In parliament, the MP for South Bougainville, Timothy Masiu, asked a series of questions regarding the government’s efforts in support of Bougainville’s preparations for the referendum.

Continue reading "O’Neill defends his preparations for Bougainville referendum" »

Separating the sham from the sincere. True leaders know how

Home brew crowd
'If an educated man is enticed into a con men’s den to drink home brew or smoke weed, he will be bestowed with grandiose titles & praised for his great wisdom'


PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinean society has changed rapidly from good to bad and with it people’s ethical behaviour. The Pidgin English language has changed too.

The betel nut and mustard markets and the dens of the drug addicts are also factories where the latest Tok Pisin is manufactured.

Old and young alike are now savvy in manufacturing words and there is no keeping adult-only language away from kids.

Coarse language, sexually explicit songs and dirty jokes are aired freely in the internet and social media, in ordinary conversation and on radio stations [referred to as Tok Pisin Kilim Ol [‘having infinite vocabulary in Pidgin’].

In this overwhelming melee of information, Kenyan money schemes and Filipino global money pyramids send chain emails and Facebook messages to lure people into false wealth arrangements.

Continue reading "Separating the sham from the sincere. True leaders know how" »

Education in PNG is not always what it’s cracked up to be

Arthur Williams
Arthur Williams & photo album at home in Wales - 'too many of my PNG friends got an education but not a career'


CARDIFF - My wife’s extended family in rural Papua New Guinea are subsistence folk. Any of their children able to reach higher education rarely find paid employment back home where they can use their learning.

So they migrate, often forever, to the urban areas of PNG where they live in sub-standard homes in settlements or on the fringes of town.

They are expected to repatriate some of their salaries to help mum and dad pay for sibling to get educated, with a little money left over for a bag of rice and some sugar.

Thus, when the Malaysian loggers come along accompanied by an educated wantok spiv, the opportunity of getting a 20 kina note or more is hard to resist. After all, they only have to say yes and sign an official form in English legal jargon.

In the late 1980s, I worked at Gogodala in the Western Province employing mostly local staff. One of my female workers decided to get married to a recently qualified wantok policeman stationed in Moresby. So she sailed away to live with him in the big city.

Continue reading "Education in PNG is not always what it’s cracked up to be" »

PNG economy: Possible policy improvements; bad economic news

Loi Bakani
PNG Reserve Bank governor Loi Bakani - good, bad & confusing economic news

PAUL FLANAGAN | PNG Economics | Edited

CANBERRA - There has been some good, bad and confusing news in recent monetary policy statements from Papua New Guinea’s central bank governor Loi Bakani.

In summary, the good news is:

  • the central bank has committed to end its imprudent and risky practice of printing money to finance budget deficits
  • the balance of payments has improved (but there have been massive changes both up and down)
  • possible moves towards a more flexible currency – but there are political obstacles and still a long way to go to fair value
  • inflation is at 4.7% and seems well under control

Continue reading "PNG economy: Possible policy improvements; bad economic news" »

Dr Schram overseas on bail claims prosecution was 'political'; says he will not return to PNG ‘until major changes occur’

Albert Schram & reinstated passport
Dr Schram & associate were delighted to see his Netherlands passport returned last week - now he has said he will not come back to PNG to face trial 


NOOSA – In a shock development in the Schram case, the former vice-chancellor of the PNG University of Technology has said he will not return to Papua New Guinea “until major changes occur in the country”.

Dr Schram said he has been the subject of a “political prosecution” and will forego bail rather than return to an uncertain legal future in PNG.

“[We entered] a parallel world where lies are truth and all people are blind, deaf and mute,” he wrote in Facebook of the charge of 'false pretence' he is facing.

“In this world, you are completely alone because there is no point in trying to have a reasonable conversation with anyone. A truly terrifying world, but the truth will set us free.”

But Dr Schram said he will still go through “the costly process” of getting his original doctorate legalised and send it through diplomatic channels to the committal court in Waigani.

“This should clear all charges for ever,” he said.

Continue reading "Dr Schram overseas on bail claims prosecution was 'political'; says he will not return to PNG ‘until major changes occur’ " »

The impossibility of draining Port Moresby’s corrupt swamp

Phil Fitzpatrick at mic
Phil Fitzpatrick


TUMBY BAY - In light of revelations about money laundering in Australia and multi-million kina overseas investments by politicians, one can’t help wondering how they do it and how so many of them seem to get away with it.

Also of interest are the uncaring mentalities they must possess to drive them to deprive the people of such large amounts of money.

I’m no expert on corruption and I don’t fully appreciate the technical details of such blatant dishonesty but it appears to me that larceny on such a grand scale must involve complicity across a wide range of individuals and agencies.

This must include fellow politicians, public servants and lawyers, both within Papua New Guinea and in Australia.

Any politician contemplating such crimes and devising the crooked schemes required to carry them out must have to involve other individuals and agencies.

Curiously, on the rare occasions when one of them gets caught, you don’t hear much about the network that obviously supports them.

Continue reading "The impossibility of draining Port Moresby’s corrupt swamp" »

Urgent need to expand services for PNG's hidden HIV epidemic

Sida PNG panneau en tok pisinSTAFF REPORTER | Kirby Institute & UNSW Media | Extract

SYDNEY - Researchers from the Papua New Guinea Institute for Medical Research and the Kirby Institute at the University of NSW say expanded health services are needed to tackle high rates of HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted infection among key populations in PNG.

The study, Kauntim mi tu (“Count me too”), represents the most comprehensive understanding of PNG’s HIV epidemic among the key populations considered to be most in need of HIV-related health services.

It provides crucial clinical and behavioural information to assist plan a national response to support the country’s efforts in prevention and care.

Continue reading "Urgent need to expand services for PNG's hidden HIV epidemic" »

What’s in a name? Recalling the nicknames of the kiap brotherhood

Bill Brown as a young kiap
Bill Brown as a young kiap in the 1950s

BILL BROWN | Ex Kiap Website

SYDNEY - A fellow cadet patrol officer, Vince Smith, introduced me to kiap nicknames during my first week at the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) in June 1949.

He found Michael Joseph Cockburn's name was too formal and renamed him Sizzledick. Not content with that travesty, a few days later he truncated it to Sizzle, a diminutive that we used with affection for more than 25 years.

ASOPA was no Ivy League college. We had no hallowed halls of learning but took our lectures in two refurbished mechanical workshops. We learned in one.

Next door, the old timers—the kiaps down from New Guinea to attend the first Long Course— toiled in the other and called their youngest member Thrasher. John Gibson epitomised youthful exuberance.

I thought those nicknames were pretty smart until I met some people in the commercial world. The manager of Mandated Airlines at Lae in the early 1950s, Harold Hindwood, knew and enjoyed his nickname of Timber Arse.

Continue reading "What’s in a name? Recalling the nicknames of the kiap brotherhood" »

Female principals join march to end tribal war in Wabag

Principal  and deputy principal Jane (right)
Nursing school principal Noelyn Koutalo from New Ireland and deputy Janet Nakore from West New Britain


WABAG - It was a rare sight to see two women – the principal of a nursing school and her deputy - marching to petition the Papua New Guinea government to stop the warfare on Wabag's doorstep with a more effective intervention.

Principal Noelyn Koutalo from New Ireland and deputy Janet Nakore from West New Britain said they joined in the protest march because Enga is now their home and they were sad to see the suffering, death and destruction resulting from the prolonged tribal war between the Kii and the Kala tribes on the edge of town.

Noelyn Koutalo graduated from Sopas School of Nursing when it was operated by the Seventh Day Adventist Church before it moved to the Pacific Adventist University. She was appointed principal when the provincial government established the new college in 2013.

She has lived in Enga for nearly 25 years and her deputy, Janet Nakore, has been at the college for eight years. Both were very near the fighting zone and experienced the effects of the tribal fight.

Continue reading "Female principals join march to end tribal war in Wabag" »

Half a century on, Biga & Sinclaire recall early Post-Courier years

Adventures of Big Pat logoPATRICK (BIG PAT) LEVO | PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY – Down memory lane can only be a nostalgic yet lonesome place.

And the pages of time, soiled by the minutes of a bygone era, hold their own abundant place. And the space afforded in the liberty of the black and white typeface of a bold bygone era.

As these two oldies discovered when scrutinising the first issue of the PNG Post-Courier, time does dispense eternal friendships.

After many years of separation, with wizened bald patches and diminishing waistlines, the two old mates got together again to search for their bylines in the first ever Post-Courier edition of 1969.

They were young, daring and sparing of thought, but in their sprightly nuances, they forgot that the hot metal typesetting of yesteryear spared no-one, not even the brightest ink toasting spark.

Their impromptu meet and greet in the Post-Courier newsroom foyer created a mini sensation in Sela Haus, drawing curious stares from today’s generation of PC workers and editorial staff.

Continue reading "Half a century on, Biga & Sinclaire recall early Post-Courier years" »

That ambai - the way she smiles; the way she walks

Jimmy Awagl


SIMBU - A dawn of a new day with the ascending rays of the sun painting the fog red. A lone boy rests upright against his dirty pillow in the small hut beside the gorge.

The young man is about to turn another year older. He pulls on a yellow and black striped shirt with the word ‘BII’ printed on it. Many years before people in the street had adopted ‘Bii’ as his nickname.

Bii lives on the periphery of the Sikaku tribe at the eastern tip of Yongos. He walks downstream on fine afternoons cutting across to the roadside market in search of vegetables.

He strolls gently, a stick clutched in his hand, whistling his favourite courtship song imagining courting with cute girls.

On this day, at a bend in the road, he encountered two girls returning from afternoon classes at Mai High School.

Continue reading "That ambai - the way she smiles; the way she walks" »

Neo-colonialism, Palm Island, LNG & the shifting of blame

A Huli man at Ambua in the Southern Highlands
A Huli man at Ambua Lodge near Tari in the Southern Highlands Province


BRISBANE – “2018 marks the centenary of the first forced placement of people on Palm Island and we, the Palm Island Community, are inviting you to ‘Share Our Journey’ as we hold a series of events.”

This handful of words is part of a large, bold statement that introduces the online visitor to a calendar of activities in which the Bwgcolman (‘many tribes, one mob’) of Palm Island will reflect on the past, celebrate the present and look to the future.

Palm Island’s status as former penal colony was never imparted during my Australian school education, and to come across it is revelatory.

Instead, we are exposed to the story of a wayward society lacking in cohesion and a hot bed of violence cultivated in the blackwashed hyperbole with which the Australian media relayed the tragic events of 2004.

Continue reading "Neo-colonialism, Palm Island, LNG & the shifting of blame" »

The challenging cycle of family poverty, violence & breakdown

Poster in a Lae Seventh Day Adventist Church extolling a good family man's attributes (Michelle N Rooney)


You can read the complete article on this important research project here

CANBERRA - We conducted research in Lae for three weeks in April to explore the connections between women’s experiences of seeking support to address family and sexual violence in their lives and their children’s wellbeing and opportunities for education.

Emerging findings from this research have highlighted the multiple financial and social considerations that limit women’s ability to seek certain types of assistance.

The research also highlighted the gap between formal systems of support and the reality for most low-income families whose children tend to fall out of the education system because of the immediate and longer-term impact of family and sexual violence.

Many of the women we interviewed have extremely low incomes and low educational levels. Their experiences of violence reflect deeply-entangled cycles of poverty, marital breakdowns and chronic episodic violence – all of which reinforce each other.

Continue reading "The challenging cycle of family poverty, violence & breakdown" »

‘Mai hebogahisigu ida, bamahuta’ (With sadness, goodbye)

Moses Tau
"Moses was a superstar - his stardom reached every corner of our nation"

JASEY V | Jasey V Diaries

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” – Oscar Wilde

DIASPORA - On 16 May an iconic Papua New Guinean departed this world for the next on the very day of his birth.

Moses Tau,or Moshanty as he was affectionately known to the nation of PNG, lived his life with no regrets and certainly breathed every word of Oscar Wilde’s quote right till the very end.

With a distinctive voice and tunes that latched onto listener’s brainwaves, Moses took to the stage, and graced our screens, with hits such as ‘Ito Paka Paka’, ‘Temarama’ and the all-time favourite ‘Helalo Une’.

Ask many from our island nation and we will tell you that Moses is a national treasure. For those of us Papua New Guineans that live abroad ‘Helalo Une’ has become a regular at our independence day celebrations and on our ‘homesick’ playlist.

Continue reading "‘Mai hebogahisigu ida, bamahuta’ (With sadness, goodbye)" »

Think we can stick it to China? Go whistle in the cemetery

Chinese embassy in PNG
The Chinese embassy in Port Moresby - never mind the graffiti, think of the money


ADELAIDE - It didn't really need the resources of the CIA to uncover the nature of China's grand strategy in the Pacific.

That said, I think it is a serious error to underestimate just how effective this strategy will ultimately become.

History tells us that big powers like to dominate small powers within their self-described sphere of influence and will do whatever it takes to achieve this objective.

So China is simply proceeding down a well-trodden path and one which is entirely consistent with both its history and its current ambitions.

It amuses me when the governments of tiny and penurious countries like Vanuatu proclaim they can and will resist pressure to allow China access to ports or airstrips. This is simply whistling in the cemetery.

Continue reading "Think we can stick it to China? Go whistle in the cemetery" »

Sedition case: ‘Fiji Times’ executives acquitted of serious charges

LITIA CAVA | Fiji Times


SUVA - “It is a victory for the media in Fiji and we should be encouraged to keep going and to stay within the law.”

These were the words of an emotional publisher and general manager of the Fiji Times, Hank Arts, after high court judge Thushara Rajasinghe concurred with the unanimous not guilty opinion of the three assessors and acquitted him and two other senior officials of the Fiji Times, the company and a letter writer of sedition charges.

Continue reading "Sedition case: ‘Fiji Times’ executives acquitted of serious charges" »

We gave away too much to PNG LNG, but not next time

PNG LNG wellDAN MURTAUGH & AARON CLARK | Bloomberg | Extract

You can read the complete article here

LONDON - The tiny, impoverished nation of Papua New Guinea came out on the short end of a $19 billion development with Exxon Mobil Corp to build one of Asia-Pacific’s biggest energy projects.

But, as the company pushes to expand the venture, the government is vowing that round two may require a much bigger payday for the locals.

By most accounts, the liquefied natural gas business that Exxon and partners built from scratch is an engineering and commercial success.

Continue reading "We gave away too much to PNG LNG, but not next time" »

Albert Schram allowed to temporarily leave PNG to get PhD

Dr Schram's detention in PNG on academic fraud charges has caused international concern


PORT MORESBY - The national court in Waigani has allowed former University of Technology vice-chancellor Dr Albert Schram to return to Italy for three weeks to obtain his original doctoral credentials.

Dr Schram had his passport seized and was detained in Papua New Guinea after being arrested earlier this month and charged with obtaining employment through ‘false pretence’.

Police allege he produced a fake PhD certificate to Unitech in 2012 when he successfully sought the post of vice-chancellor there.

Dr Schram denies the charges and has produced copies of his credentials in the past and, more recently, even published them on the internet

Continue reading "Albert Schram allowed to temporarily leave PNG to get PhD" »

Secret US report warns about China's 'debt book diplomacy'

Chinese-aid-in-the-pacificSTAFF CORRESPONDENT | Asian News International (ANI)

WASHINGTON DC - In a secret report it commissioned recently, the US State Department has warned that China is offering a hundred billion dollars worth of loans to Australia's smaller regional neighbours in a bid to gain economic leverage and strategic and military prowess in the Asia Pacific region.

According to an article published by the Australian Financial Review at least 16 states, including Vanuatu, The Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Tonga and Micronesia and Papua New Guinea are falling for China's so-called "debt book diplomacy".

For example, the AFR article cites the case of Papua New Guinea. Historically, it has been in Australia's orbit and now news is in circulation that it has accepted Chinese loans that it possibly cannot afford to repay.

Continue reading "Secret US report warns about China's 'debt book diplomacy'" »

What about our children? Corporate harm on the Pacific frontline

Toberua-IslandAMY SINCLAIR | NewMatilda

BRISBANE - The natural wealth of Pacific nations is disappearing overseas.

Unseen and unheard, the voices of Pacific island communities on the frontline of deforestation, irresponsible mining and seabed exploitation are being overlooked and human rights abuses are going unchecked in remote rural regions.

Voices from the Pacific need lifting to overcome the tyranny of distance and ensure that businesses operating in the region respect human rights.

The Pacific Ocean is a treasure trove of islands, hiding an abundance of precious resources. Cloaked in hardwood forests, rich veins of copper, bauxite and gold lie in its earth and rare mineral deposits sit buried in its sea floor.

Continue reading "What about our children? Corporate harm on the Pacific frontline" »

Hard going for the Tkatchenkos in developing their Brisbane estate

Architect's drawing of the main building
Architect's drawing of the ornate main building with its feature cupula planned for the Tkatchenko estate


NOOSA – Papua New Guinea's sports and APEC minister Justin Tkatchenko and his wife Catherine are being frustrated by 178 pesky neighbours and the powerful city council in creating their dream estate in the Brisbane suburb of Brookfield.

The Tkatchenkos intend to build an ornate main dwelling, a three bedroom second dwelling, two pavilions, a large greenhouse, a big gym, an ornamental lake with two fountains, a 25 metre swimming pool, animal stables and a 30 aviary complex for 600 finches.

And now the saga of the property at 15 Upper Brookfield Road that they purchased for $1.77 million in 2015 has made it all the way to the courts.

The Tkatchenkos have lawyered up to fight for their rights as they struggle with Brisbane City Council over what to the naked eye is a lavish multi-million dollar transformation of the mini-estate.

Continue reading "Hard going for the Tkatchenkos in developing their Brisbane estate" »

It's difficult to be enthusiastic about APEC's immense cost

Watna Mori - government still owes much money from past spending on public spectacles

WATNA MORI | The Interpreter | Lowy Institute

PORT MORESBY - It is not clear when the big-man politics in Papua New Guinea’s foreign policy began.

It was likely during the prime ministership of Sir Michael Somare in the early 2000s, when he pushed for PNG to be an aid donor to the region.

At the time, and to this day, PNG continues to be Australia’s largest aid recipient, so Somare’s aim seemed hugely ironic. The ambition kicked off debates in the national newspapers between Somare’s cohorts and critics.

With the exit of Somare and the entry of Peter O’Neill, the benevolence grew. In 2013, O’Neill unveiled the Pacific aid program and proceeded to make donations to various Pacific countries, including a whopping US$18.5 million of funding for the Fiji national elections in 2014.

The O’Neill government also needed to deliver on several infrastructure-heavy commitments made in the heat of promised liquefied natural gas (LNG) returns. These included the Melanesian Arts Festival in July 2014 and the South Pacific Games in July 2015.

Continue reading "It's difficult to be enthusiastic about APEC's immense cost" »

Short term gloom, long term boom: mixed message on economy

Kishti Sen - PNG has significant short term economic problems but beyond that a resources comeback makes future looks good


NOOSA – Kishti Sen, an economist with the ANZ Banking Group, has offered a mixed message about Papua New Guinea’s economic prospects.

At a recent business conference in Brisbane he warned companies in PNG to “run a tight ship, have lean operations and survive two to three years.”

But he reassured them, saying “there will be significant returns to be had once the mining recovery starts.”

Sen said PNG’s growth rate was forecast to be 2% both this year and in 2019, “well below PNG’s long-term average.

“If you look back 27 years, you get long average growth of about 4% a year. So 2% is well below and it means you can’t absorb the increase in the labour force to keep unemployment steady.”

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Moses Tau: Out of the cage to live a life of joy & giving


NOOSA – The sudden death last week of one of Papua New Guinea’s best known entertainers has both saddened the nation and raised the hot issue of how PNG treats its gay community.

Moses Tau died soon after collapsing at Port Moresby’s Lamana Hotel, triggering an overwhelming response as thousands of messages of condolence inundated the social media.

The Post-Courier newspaper noted perceptively that Tau had “made a place for the gay community in PNG by forcing this place through his music and performances”.

Government minister Justin Tkatchenko wrote on his Facebook page describing the singer as “vibrant and a true showman”.

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Govt must explain why free education is failing - & fix it

Mai High School
Mai High School - "the government is playing games and sabotaging our rightful basic school services"


CHUAVE - The government component of TFFE (tuition fee free education) to schools in Papua New Guinea has been slashed to only 50%.

TFFE subsidies are released to schools each term and are supposed to cover the actual cost of running a school for ten weeks.

The actual school fee per student is divided into two segments: lower secondary (Grades 9 and 10) and upper secondary (Grades 11 and 12). Lower secondary students were allocated K1,300 for 2018 and upper secondary K1,600.

The Education Department under the ministry of Nick Kuman adopted the concept last year. But it was not effectively executed. There was a large amount cut from the money supposed to be paid to schools.

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It wasn't low oil prices that dried up PNG LNG benefits

It wasn't just the LNG tankers that sailed away - the benefits to the people of PNG did too


Connect here for the complete article including links and references

CANBERRA - The yawning chasm between Papua New Guinea’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) benefit predictions and its adverse impacts on the PNG economy has little to do with the fall in oil prices. Claiming so is a poor and inaccurate defence.

The PNG LNG modelling done in 2008 accurately predicted export sales revenues for 2015 and 2016. While oil prices were some 25% below the model’s mid-case scenario, this was fully offset by actual LNG production being some 25% higher than 2008 expectations.

Price falls were matched by production increases – sales revenues were as predicted. As the marginal cost of production is low (most costs of LNG production relate to the high initial capital costs), sales revenue is the driver for expected benefits.

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Tragedy awaits as PNG runs out of HIV & other medicines

Dr Glen Mola
Dr Glen Mola - 'becoming more difficult for doctors & nurses to stay positive'


PORT MORESBY – It’s not always good news. Today we heard at our staff meeting at Port Moresby General Hospital that we have run out of antiretroviral (ART or HIV) medicines.

We have many thousands of HIV positive people on treatment in the National Capital District (and several more thousands around the rest of the country) and they may not have any medicine to take unless new supplies arrive in the very near future.

People on ART must take their medicine every single day: if they stop and start again they are very likely to breed resistant HIV.

This is not only bad (in fact life-threatening) for the patient, but life-threatening for everybody else in the community who might catch HIV from them.

We also don't have any syphilis test kits in the country. Syphilis used to be the commonest cause of stillbirth (babies dying inside their mothers) in our audit statistics - and after we started routine testing of all mothers coming to ante-natal clinics and treating the positives we virtually eliminated this scourge from our pregnant mums.

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‘Cheated’ landowners threaten to close fish processing plants

Majestic Seafoods
Majestic Seafoods cannery line in Lae

SCOTT WAIDE | Asia Pacific Report

LAE - Landowning clans in here are threatening to close down five fish processing plants if the government does not review the existing agreements that govern them.

The clans, which include the Ahi and the Busulum, say they have been cheated of development benefits.

Since the agreements were signed four years ago, they have received K5,000 a year for the five portions of land they own.

The threat comes after three years of complicated wrangling with the government and the companies over landowner benefits.

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The writer: staying home, making it there or on the literary trail

Griffith ReviewRASHMII BELL

BRISBANE - Managing connections, exploring ideas and interpretations, refining skills or simply absorbing literary knowledge are amongst the array of reasons why writers and readers gravitate towards each other.

The shape of these meeting points differ, as does their meaning and significance.

Consider the fictional ‘Letters Library’ in the young adult novel, ‘Words in Deep Blue’ by Cath Crowley:

“Customers are allowed to write in the books in the Letter Library. They can circle words that they love, highlight lines. They can leave notes in the margins, leave thoughts about the meaning of things…they leave whole letters and put them between pages in the books…Mostly people write to strangers who love the same books as them – and some stranger somewhere, writes back.”

Crowley’s multi-award nominated book follows the exploits of teenager Rachel Sweetie, whose experience of family grief pivots the trademark stumble from awkward adolescence to adulthood.

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Rice is not food security for PNG; let’s focus on our own staples

Rice cultivation (Trukai)TANYA ZERIGA ALONE | EmNau’sPNG Blog

PORT MORESBY - A family meal in Papua New Guinea is incomplete without rice. Indeed, rice has fast become a staple for town residents in the four decades since independence.

Rice is referred to as marasin [medicine] and has the same effect on some people. One can never go wrong presenting to relatives back home a bag or packet of rice.

Rice is consumed by nearly half of the entire world population and many countries, especially in Asia, are completely dependent on rice as a staple food.

Rice is said to be the world’s food security, and in PNG there is a rush for rice cultivation.

Indeed, a 10-year domestic rice development policy was approved by the National Executive Council in 2005.

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Factoring the Pacific into Australia’s approach to China

Chinese-aid-map (Lowy Institute)
Map showing scale of Chinese aid in the Pacific (Lowy Institute)

BAL KAMA | DevPolicy Blog

CANBERRA - The ‘China-in-the-Pacific’ dilemma has once again hit the headlines in Australia, this time with a proposed naval base in Vanuatu.

It was promptly rejected by the Vanuatu government, but the likelihood of having Chinese military hardware on a long-term basis in the Pacific has raised significant discussion on the strategic implications for Australia and its allies.

Australia has long maintained a well-established and enduring relationship with the people of the Pacific. But China’s influence is undeniably increasing. Its investment in soft power in particular has been a success, not only in economic terms but also in the lives of ordinary people.

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Sonnet 25: Ejaculation is as sure as spit

Poetry-pencilMICHAEL DOM

There is less lyric in pyric passions
Explosive, explicit, exotic dance
Some syllabic maze to navel-gaze on,
Swallowing a shallow, callow cadence.

When the deeper you feel, the more you drool
And as high as some bird flies in the sky
There's somewhere, somehow, some similar fool
Achieving states of ecstasy as high.

Instead, use emotional propulsion 
Let this be surrendered to the rudder 
Thence to the tiller of our tongue, your pen,
Confer your soul: seek emancipation.

Ejaculation is as sure as spit
Show me your poetry, don't just write it.


First light in PNG (RKH Photography)JEFFREY FEBI

Days are born at first light.
Dead at last light.
Less they care about memories.
Gather, don't they in anniversaries?

Often many a day is grey and boring.
Certainly, a dark day would be raining.
Without winds of determination.
Strong when winds are, it's a confrontation.

But we know a day is ours particularly.
When mild is the heat, wind is airworthy.
Streams refreshing, and noise calming.
A day is great when it's approving.

Many as the stars, may great days be.
And in their last lights, may dark days flea.
First lights herald births of days.

‘Mr Tomato’ defamation case back in national court today

Martyn gagged
Martyn Namorong - gagged for last year's national election


NOOSA – The ‘I am not a tomato’ defamation case brought by Papua New Guinea electoral commissioner Patilias Gamato against writer Martyn Namorong returns to the national court in Port Moresby today.

The case began in an unusual way during last year’s PNG election when Gamato complained he was defamed in critical social media posts that likened him to a tomato.

The chaotic PNG election had resulted in wide criticism of his commission’s conduct of polling and counting.

"He made some defamatory statements and also called my surname, which is Gamato, as 'tomato'," the ABC reported Gamato saying about Namorong at a press conference.

"I don't look like a tomato, I'm a human being. He put a big tomato on my head, what if he did that to you?"

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Losing Kokoda: $50 million & dishonouring our military heritage

Trekking Kokoda (Charlie Lynn)
Crossing a stream on the Kokoda Trail - too little to show for $50 million of Australian taxpayers' money

CHARLIE LYNN | Spectator Australia

SYDNEY - The ‘blackbirding curse’ is as damaging to Papua New Guinea’s adventure tourism industry as the ‘resource curse’ is to mining and exploration.

‘Blackbirding’ was a term given to the coercion of native people from PNG to work as cheap labour in Queensland’s sugar plantations in the latter part of the nineteenth century. When the extent of the exploitation became known it was outlawed as a form of slavery.

The ‘resource curse’ refers to the paradox that countries with an abundance of natural resources tend to have less economic growth, less democracy and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources.

Over the past decade 45,000 Australians from all walks of life have trekked across the Kokoda Trail. Their reasons are many and varied but the wartime significance combined with a sense of adventure in the land of the unexpected is the most compelling motivation.

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Is China using 'debtbook diplomacy' to achieve its strategic aims?

Country_vulnerability_mapBEN WESTCOTT | CNN | Edited

HONG KONG - The Chinese government is leveraging billions of dollars in debts to gain political leverage with developing countries across Asia and the Pacific, a new report presented to the US State Department claims.

The independent report, written by a pair of Harvard University scholars, identified 16 countries targeted by the Chinese government for "debtbook diplomacy.

According to the report, in some cases the huge debts grow to a size too large to pay back, allowing Beijing to leverage the loans to "acquire strategic assets or political influence over debtor nations."

This could allow the Chinese government to extend its influence across the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, encircling India and Australia as well as helping to consolidate its position in the South China Sea, the report said.

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National court mulls Albert Schram’s application to leave PNG

Schram doctorate
Dr Schram's PhD certificate - proof positive of his credentials


NOOSA – Albert Schram’s application seeking leave to retrieve his original PhD documentation from Italy is now being determined by the PNG national court.

The former vice chancellor of Papua New Guinea's University of Technology and his wife Paulina sit in a Port Moresby hotel nervously awaiting the outcome of the judge’s deliberations.

The national court is expected to make a decision by Monday.

Dr Schram was arrested earlier this month and charged with obtaining employment through ‘false pretence’ with police alleging he produced a fake PhD certificate to Unitech in 2012 when he was seeking the post of vice-chancellor.

This matter was first raised in 2013, not long after Dr Schram’s appointment, as he began to implement measures to improve financial transparency and accountability at Unitech.

These interventions caused controversy among some senior staff at the university leading pro-chancellor Ralph Saulep to challenge the veracity of the doctorate after which Dr Schram was deported from PNG in March 2013.

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My free air tickets lapsed because I'm fearful of re-entering PNG

Tickets to nowhere - Paul Flanagan fears he'll be treated like Albert Schram if he tries to return to PNG


CANBERRA - There was a moment of glee when I won the major prize at a Papua New Guinea-Australia investment conference in 2017 – a return air ticket for two anywhere on the Air Niugini circuit.

The option of a wonderful trip with my wife from say, Sydney to Japan, seemed very tempting.

But glee quickly turned to the reality of fear.

When I talked to the Air Niugini representative after the prize drawing, I immediately asked if I could donate the tickets to charity. “Why would you want to do so?” was the very reasonable question.

The answer to that question has been unfortunately thrust upon the former vice-chancellor of PNG’s second largest university, Dr Albert Schram.

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The unfathomable wonders of our beautiful mothers

Png-_pg-08_09-sti-det-mother-at-clinic-4PHILIP KAI MORRE

KUNDIAWA – It was Mothers’ Day last Sunday and in many places people celebrated with gifts, parties, church services and prayers.

Elsewhere a low profile was kept because of cultural norms.

But in all societies, whatever the culture, the key role of women – and especially mothers – is recognised.

Our mothers seem gifted with intuitive knowledge and special and unique skills, they are creative, gentle, warm, loving and empathetic in understanding us and seeing to our needs.

Just take a moment and contemplate and recall the worthy things our mothers did for us during our childhood, and our extraordinary relationship with them.

And the words that spring to mind – diligence, tenderness, protection, love – all exercised whatever the emotions and uncertainty confronting them each day.

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Oil Search chairman & executives need to stop blame-shifting

Chris Haiveta - "Oil Search chairman Rick Lee is out of line"

CHRIS HAIVETA | Governor of Gulf Province

KEREMA - The Oil Search chairman and senior management need to stop deceiving the media and collectively own up to the processes that were fast-tracked in an effort to capitalise on Papua New Guinea's resources while leaving PNG landowners stranded with little possibility of promptly receiving royalties.

Oil Search has had a very long relationship with PNG; over 89 years of history. The company has continued to build its empire in PNG with our rich resources and the ongoing acquisitions of major oil and gas projects and concessions from major international brands PNG like Chevron Texaco in 2003.

It has been here long enough to know better than to try and deceive PNG and push false statements.

Oil Search has used the government for its own ends time and again. The transfer of Orogen Minerals, and along with that the State equity in Kutubu and Gobe Projects, to Oil Search by Mekere Morauta’s government was what made Oil Search, not new discoveries by the company.

Oil Search’s current equity in the Papua LNG project is not from its own money, but the loan that government took to buy shares in Oil Search and to provide it the protection against takeover.

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