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90 posts from June 2018

The rise and fall of Angra – and the realisation of his grief

Finger cutting ritual
In Melanesia, fingers may be ritualistically cut off to indicate grief


MAI - Through the gorges of Kui Valley - the periphery of the land they call the ‘rain factory’ - strides a striking Angra.

Just ten years old, he lives with his parents, harmoniously attending to daily chores as they earn their livelihood in this remote location.

Angra plays marbles with his peers and hunts for birds in the nearby bush. It’s part of his daily routine, but it does not include attending the local primary school.

One time, for some reason, his dad attended a Grade 8 graduation at the school and heard several speeches from the guests, picking up a particular phrase from the guest of honour’s presentation.

“Value education as your life time asset, since a child attending school is a gold mine.”

The message touched his heart and, at home that evening, he sat beside the fire meditating upon it.

When Angra returned from hunting, his father called him to his side.

“Son, you are my asset. I will earn my future not from traditional practices but from education.”

Continue reading "The rise and fall of Angra – and the realisation of his grief" »

Politicians need courage & wisdom to settle highlands grievances

Landowners set fire to buildings & machinery
Hela landowners set fire to buildings and machinery


KUNDIAWA - The call by Angore landowners in troubled Hela Province for a forum to discuss the problems surrounding the gas project could be the beginning of meaningful dialogue among landowners and other stakeholders leading to a peaceful solution to the royalties crisis disgruntled.

The issue has been exacerbated by lack of landowner and political leadership on the ground.

All members of parliament from Southern Highlands and Hela mostly operate out of Port Moresby. They have avoided face to face dialogue to address the grievances of the people.

Frustrated landowners resorted to violence to draw the attention of their political leaders, resource developers and the PNG government to their marginalisation.

Continue reading "Politicians need courage & wisdom to settle highlands grievances" »

Noble art – the day Doug Beer sought the solace of the ropes

Digger Annand
After Digger Annand left PNG he played rugby league in Australia. Here he prepares to take a ball for Taree United


SYDNEY - During Port Moresby rugby league’s off season in the 1960s and 1970s, some players turned to boxing to keep fit.

Bouts were usually held at the old Nita Theatre in Tabari Place, Boroko, though sometimes bigger promotions were held at Lloyd Robson Oval or Sir Hubert Murray Stadium.

The biggest boxing attraction from rugby league ranks was the big James ‘Digger’ Annand, a talented and tough second rower cum centre from the DCA club. Digger was also a competent heavyweight boxer.

After a series of bouts against second rate opponents from Port Moresby’s league ranks, a group of expatriate promoters matched him with a known fighter from Australia, a man named Doug Beer.

Beer claimed to be the “heavyweight champion of the Riverina”, whatever that meant. In reality he had featured in only 14 bouts, winning a few but on the losing end of most.

Moreover he had been knocked out in his last two fights which had taken place about two years before his appearance in Port Moresby.

Continue reading "Noble art – the day Doug Beer sought the solace of the ropes" »

Demands for money from MPs can drive us into a corner

Governor Taboi Yoto

TABOI AWI YOTO | DevPolicy Blog | PNG Blogs

Taboi Yoto MP is governor of Western Province and an opposition member of the Papua New Guinea national parliament

DARU - There’s a public perception out there that members of parliament have a lot of money. In Western Province, many assume that MPs and the Governor are supposed to have all the money and goodies to dish out for every personal/family/group request.

Though it’s a fact that what we MPs receive in a fortnight is more compared to the rest of our ordinary citizens, the list of requests we receive is way beyond what our fortnightly pay can offset.

Since I won, there has been a never-ending list of requests that continue to flood my office via my Facebook inbox, Whatsapp, text messages, emails and phone calls.

Many requests that I have received have tagged phrases used to try to squeeze something out of me. Tagged phrases such as “I’m your voter”, “I campaigned for you”, “I gave you my first preference vote”, “I sacrificed my time for you”, “I’m your die-hard supporter since 2012”, “I was your scrutineer”, “I lost my tears for your victory”, “mi hard wok man yah” etc. etc.

Continue reading "Demands for money from MPs can drive us into a corner" »

PNG’s intractable drugs problem: the worst is yet to come

Marijuana face painting
Marijuana face painting - drug use in PNG has become a destroyer of culture


KUNDIAWA - Each year on 26 June we try to tell people of the danger of drugs in Papua New Guinea; without much success so far. The problem is getting bigger, much more complicated and workable solutions are not presenting themselves.

Many of us working in the area of drug rehabilitation and education are fed up and frustrated.  We feel helpless and unable to do much - voices in the wilderness.

We work in isolation with no coordination, support or funding from either government or international donors.

Drug related problems are a serious dilemma affecting the development of PNG. Socio-economic problems are getting worse, they are exacerbated by drugs and people no longer live in peace and harmony.

Our cultural values and norms which once were our guide and discipline have been thrown to the winds. There is confusion our youth consuming more drugs – marijuana, homebrew and even harder stuff - that triggers more social problems.

The effects have become unbearable and there seem to be no known solutions. The consequences have become far greater than the problem itself.

Continue reading "PNG’s intractable drugs problem: the worst is yet to come" »

Like fake credentials, PNG’s treatment of academics is harmful

Dr Albert Schram
PNG damaged both by fake credentials & the persecution of genuine achievers like Dr Schram


ADELAIDE - A G Sitori (‘Fake academic credentials: a world problem we’ve inherited) is right to regard fake qualifications as a serious threat to Papua New Guinea’s professions, trades, economy and overall credibility.

This rise in the incidence of fake qualifications in PNG closely parallels what has been happening across much of the world.

In part, this is because so much emphasis is now placed upon having post-secondary or tertiary qualifications to do jobs that were once typically held by people who had only completed their secondary education.

Thus, many employers now demand a degree level qualification for jobs that, in truth, merely require average intelligence, secondary level literacy and numeracy and a good work attitude.

It is also a function of technology, in that it is now possible to relatively easily produce exceedingly good fraudulent documentation such as the fake University of Nottingham certificate mentioned by Mr Sitori.

And, of course, there are still so-called institutions of higher learning that cheerfully issue degrees to those willing to pay for them and who have done little or no work in their purported area of study.

Continue reading "Like fake credentials, PNG’s treatment of academics is harmful" »

10 Minutes

Vanessa Gordon
Vanessa Gordon

VANESSA GORDON | My Father’s Daughter

‘My Father's Daughter’ (link above) is a collection of poetry and stories by Vanessa Gordon which are designed to share, empower and raise awareness of important issues affecting women in the Pacific. Born in Papua New Guinea and raised in Hawaii, Vanessa is the only child of the late New Zealand cinematographer and storyteller Chris Gordon, whose creative intuition was inherited by Vanessa and, following his passing, became the inspiration for ‘My Father's Daughter’.

BRISBANE - A few years ago I wanted to find out why I was always so sad. I was happy enough on the outside. I was hilarious on the outside but on the inside I was always sad.

I thought that grief and loss just kind of lingered and that the feeling would eventually pass but it never passed. I decided to do some research and find out why I felt the way that I felt and how to stop feeling perpetual sadness.

According to google and a two minute quiz in a magazine I ticked the boxes.

I was depressed. Next plan of action was to find a cure.

At first I tried meditation, church and food. The meditation helped kill time on sleepless nights. Church seemed like the right place to go to seek peace. Food filled a void.

Continue reading "10 Minutes" »

Fake academic credentials, a world problem we’ve inherited

Credentials 4 saleA G SITORI

PORT MORESBY – For some time in the place that I work I was fortunate to act as human resources director.  Part of my job was to shortlist applicants for each position that was advertised.

The large numbers of dubious looking certificates that crossed my desk were cause for concern.  The computer-scanned copies were almost as good as originals.

In the end, we had to institute measures to stop people pulling wool over our eyes. This included asking for a show and tell of the original certificates.

I believe that more than half the workforce in our organisation comprises people with qualifications and credentials that are dubious. There are just a few dedicated officers who carry the load here. Others with high qualifications just do not pull their share of work.

Continue reading "Fake academic credentials, a world problem we’ve inherited" »

Barely coping highlands people struggle for services & peace

JOHNNY BLADES | Dateline Pacific | Radio New Zealand 

Johnny Blades

WELLINGTON - Political and tribal violence in Papua New Guinea's Highlands is compounding the struggles in a region devastated by a major earthquake nearly four months ago.

The two provinces worst hit by February's 7.5 magnitude quake - Hela and Southern Highlands - have been thrown into further disorder recently by violent unrest.

In Hela, frustrated landowners have attacked the major LNG gas project, while in the Southern Highlands, disputes related to last year's election have reignited in shocking fashion.

PNG's government declared a state of emergency in Southern Highlands after supporters of a losing candidate in the regional election went on a rampage in Mendi.

When a court ruling upheld the election result, a mob destroyed a commercial aircraft and set fire to the local courthouse, the provincial governor's residence and other buildings.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill went to Mendi earlier in the week and called on people to respect the court decision and the rules of the state of emergency which includes deployment of extra police and soldiers to the region.

Continue reading "Barely coping highlands people struggle for services & peace" »

PNG's first polio outbreak in 18 years as health services decline,

PM Peter O'Neill & a child are vaccinated against polio & measles
Prime Minister Peter O'Neill & a child are vaccinated against polio


SYDNEY - The first cases of polio in Papua New Guinea in 18 years have been detected, with a six-year-old boy from the Morobe province the first confirmed case of the virus.

The boy presented to health authorities on 28 April with weakness in his lower limbs and the virus – a vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 – was confirmed on 21 May.

Last week, the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention found the virus was also present in the stool samples of two children in the boy’s community; prompting health authorities to declare an official outbreak.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the impoverished island nation polio-free in 2000, along with the rest of the western Pacific region. Only three other countries in the world continue to battle the virus; Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan.

So far the three cases are isolated to the Morobe Province, where polio vaccine coverage is low, and only 61% of children have received the recommended three doses. WHO has assessed the risk of polio spreading to other countries as low, because travel in and out of the region is relatively limited.

Continue reading "PNG's first polio outbreak in 18 years as health services decline, " »

Messing about with books & the curse of the digital age


TUMBY BAY - One of the greatest pleasures available to humankind is spending a lazy afternoon browsing in bookshops. It is a pastime at least on a par with messing about in boats.

Unfortunately, it’s a pleasure eschewed by modern, electronically tuned generations and, most tragically, something that has never really been available to Papua New Guineans.

Like many other simple pleasures of life, it now looks like going the way of the dinosaur.

A couple of years ago a frustrated Scottish second hand bookseller, Shaun Bythell, took a Kindle e-reader outside and blasted it with a shotgun.

Continue reading "Messing about with books & the curse of the digital age" »

Kiaps: the ‘right types’ who never again quite belonged

Patrol officers course  Port Moresby  1971
Patrol officers course, Port Moresby, 1971


ROBERT FORSTER - The informal group photo of our ASOPA intake at Four Mile Camp in Port Moresby resurfaced about six months ago to illustrate a PNG Attitude article entitled ‘Kiaps: Ol narapela kain man who built a nation’.

We really were a scruffy lot. I have since wondered what the institutionally trained, corporate human resources specialists who police most of today's company recruitment would have made of those trainee kiaps.

There would hardly have been a straightforward CV amongst us. I estimate our age range at 19 to 41, I think 11 of the intake of 39 were married; seven born in the UK, one in Canada and two were Vietnam veterans. Perhaps half had secured a tertiary qualification.

Continue reading "Kiaps: the ‘right types’ who never again quite belonged" »

Save Pes (I Know Your Face)

Mauswara-cartoonWARDLEY D I BARRY

This is a poem in Tok Pisin for PNG Attitude. It's the first one I've written in Tok Pisin. It is about politicians ignoring voters but coming back at the next election to once again seek their votes. During their term, politicians recognised voters as save pes (acquaintances whose faces are recognised but whose names are not known). However, come election time, the roles are reversed. Sick of being treated as nobodies, the people refuse to vote them back. The politicians have become the voters' save pes - WB

yu laik antap
bikos yu blo antap

mi blo tamblo
na mi bai stap tamblo

yu tok ‘To Mak’
na mi givim yu mak

yu tok ‘tura’
mi givim yu namba

mi baim takis
na yu kisim akis

tasol wanem
taim ba mi karim nem?

Continue reading "Save Pes (I Know Your Face)" »

While Mendi & Hela burn, the tribal killing continues in Enga

On the warpathDANIEL KUMBON

WABAG - Clearly the government of Papua New Guinea is not in control of the escalating law and order problems in parts of Papua New Guinea, especially the Highlands.

The serious problems in Hela and the Southern Highlands have dominated the news recently but we continue to have grave and deadly issues in Enga.

Shocking news has just reached Wabag that a young teaching couple, their two children and relatives have been massacred at a road block as they were travelling home to Kompiam for the term break from Sir Tei Secondary School.

Soldiers from Moem Barracks deployed to Wabag to quell wafare between two tribes on the fringes of town were sent to Kompiam to retrieve the bodies and find those missing.

Continue reading "While Mendi & Hela burn, the tribal killing continues in Enga" »

Letter home: From afar a leader calls for peace & order

Guns  Nipa SHP
Heavily armed irregular fighters man pick-up trucks at Nipa in the Southern Highlands Province


NOOSA – Papua New Guinea finance minister James Marape has pleaded with the people in his Hela Province to “cease the use of threats, intimidations and guns as a means of getting your grievances heard and settled”.

This follows a period of arson, looting and road blocks on the fringes of the Angore and Hides gas fields last week.

“I ask you all to remove blockages and we work through the normal channels of dialogue again,” Marape said in a press statement issued in Port Moresby, which offered irony to his subsequent metaphor that “the O’Neill Abel government is not far from you landowners.”

One of the problems driving the elevated state of violence and disruption in the south-western Highlands provinces which are rich in resources has been the disregard of genuine landowner and other grievances and the absence of elected leaders from situations where they might have been able to exercise some influence.

Continue reading "Letter home: From afar a leader calls for peace & order" »

Death of Leo Hannett - a Bougainville leader of the middle way

Leo Hannett
Leo Hannett - politician, administrator, thinker & a true son of Bougainville


BUKA - My friend and colleague Leo Hannett, who died on Friday 15 June, was a man of passion tempered by common sense.

He had remarkable ability to bridge the gap between educated leaders and leaders at the village level. He was a leader gifted in finding the middle way through situations where people were deeply divided. He used his very many gifts in many ways that brought great benefits, especially to the people of Bougainville.

I first knew Leo in 1963, when he and I entered the same class at the Catholic major seminary in Madang.  We spent five years together, to the end of 1967, studying to be catholic priests.

Leo decided to leave the seminary  to be more involved in active politics. He  studied at UPNG and at the University of Hawai’i, where he developed his abilities as a commentator on pre-independence PNG politics.

Like me, I am sure that Leo was shaped in many ways by our joint experience of seminary education. Our training there included human rights and social justice and we had access to what was, by the standards of the day, a very good library.

Continue reading "Death of Leo Hannett - a Bougainville leader of the middle way" »

Uneasy calm returns to highlands as O'Neill sends in the troops

Landowners set fire to LNG assets
Huts and equipment torched at the LNG project - the damage is being assessed and at last report it wasn't certain when operations would recommence


NOOSA – Last week turned out to be one of those only too frequent turbulent periods in Papua New Guinea when you never know what’s going to happen and, for long periods, who might be in charge.

The week ended with the deployment of half the PNG Defence Force's ground troops to the region as the government seemed to have decided to crush for once and for all a well armed if disorganised blend of angry landowners, disaffected tribes and criminal elements (see below).

First angry supporters of losing candidates in last year's contentious national elections set alight an Air Niugini aircraft and burned down court buildings and the governor’s residence in the Southern Highlands capital of Mendi.

The entire nation watched attentively as for some days prime minister Peter O’Neill seemed to be reluctant to visit his troubled home area and use his authority to placate people whose aggression had reached boilover. Fortunately in this incident there were no deaths recorded and just a few injuries.

Continue reading "Uneasy calm returns to highlands as O'Neill sends in the troops" »

China wants to align Belt & Road with PNG development

Peter O'Neill and Li Keqiang
Peter O'Neill and Li Keqiang

HU YONGQI | China Daily

BEIJING – Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and visiting Papua New Guinea counterpart Peter O'Neill oversaw the signing of multiple agreements on Thursday that boost cooperation under China’s Belt and Road Initiative and in other areas.

China's relations with PNG have made steady progress and can be a good example for its ties with other Pacific island countries, said Premier Li.

Prime Minister O'Neill's visit is seen as an important high-level exchange, as among Pacific island countries PNG has the largest population and land territory and is seen to have significant regional impact.

Li said China especially appreciates PNG’s support of the One-China policy and its choice to develop in line with its unique national circumstances.

China would like to better align the Belt and Road initiative with PNG's development strategies and create more opportunities to boost cooperation in fields such as trade, energy, infrastructure and industrial production capacity, Li said.

Continue reading "China wants to align Belt & Road with PNG development" »

Love Suicide


CHUAVE - As the hanging fog cleared from the cliff wall of Sikewake, a rooster crowed at the dawn and I arose slowly from the cane bed and edged towards the fireplace to warm my numb body.

As I began to feel alive an ugly shriek reverberated through the men’s house. I hurried towards the door and peeped out.

A ghostly figure swayed back and forth. The shriek subsided.

I put my palm on my eyes and rubbed them. I glanced for a second time to confirm whether the noise came from the hanging figure. If it had, it had stopped.

Continue reading "Love Suicide" »

The envy that seeks to destroy the progress of women in PNG


PORT MORESBY - It was such a privilege to sit alongside a group of distinguished Papua New Guineans as we collectively recognised the nomination of the first book authored by PNG women as our country’s nomination for the annual UNESCO Girls’ and Women’s Education (GWE) Prize.

In addition to counterparts and supporters of My Walk to Equality and PNG Attitude, we were joined by Ponabe Yuwa, the Education Department’s UNESCO representative and Ambassador Joshua Kalinoe.

The GWE Prize was established by the UNESCO, supported by the Chinese government, in 2016 to reward outstanding efforts by individuals, institutions and other entities engaged in activities to promote girls’ and women’s education.

Continue reading "The envy that seeks to destroy the progress of women in PNG" »

Visit to China sparks Australian anxiety, Chinese nonchalance

O'Neill & Xi
Peter O'Neill and Xi Jinping

LIU XIN | Global Times

BEIJING – As Peter O'Neill visits China, local analysts say well-developed China-Papua New Guinea relations fit the interests of both countries and Australian media should not hype China's threat in the south Pacific region.

During the visit, Chinese president Xi Jinping met with prime minister O'Neill.

"Papua New Guinea, the second Pacific Island nation in the southern Pacific Ocean which stretches across Oceania and Asia, has paid attention to developing ties with Asian countries for ages,” said Professor Han Feng, of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

“It is natural for PNG to strengthen ties with China, considering China's increasing influence," Han said, noting that PNG is also important to promote the Belt and Road initiative.

Continue reading "Visit to China sparks Australian anxiety, Chinese nonchalance" »

Retelling old stories – tales that keep alive great traditions


Viviwava: Tales from the Islands by Jordan Dean (illustrations by Tamara Jenkinson), JDT Publications, Port Moresby, 2018. ISBN: 9789980901705, PGK20, US$5, available from Amazon

TUMBY BAY - For people attuned to western traditions of storytelling the legends and folktales of pre-literate societies can often seem confusing.

Quite often these old stories mix reality and the supernatural in unfamiliar ways and make the underlying narratives elusive for western readers.

Re-interpreting these stories for popular consumption without losing their essential meaning and flavour requires great care and skill.

It is not just a case of translating the original language but also fitting the stories into a modern reading context so that people schooled in that style can understand and relate to them.

Literal translations, such as those undertaken by anthropologists, often fail to spark the interests of modern readers.

Continue reading "Retelling old stories – tales that keep alive great traditions" »

For women, selling betel nut can come at a heavy price

Woman selling betel nut at Goroka market (NPR)
A woman betel nut seller at Goroka Market

DURRIE BOUSCAREN | National Public Radio (USA)

GOROKA - The women are mostly in their early 20s. They have children at home. Selling betel nut — an addictive, natural chew — to passers-by in mountain towns of Papua New Guinea is a good way to earn a living.

But the extra income sometimes comes at a heavy price: violent beatings by their spouses. Two out of three women in Papua New Guinea experience abuse at the hands of an intimate partner at least once in their lifetime, according to the World Health Organization and aid groups.

Betel nut sellers in Goroka, the main city in the Eastern Highlands, say physical violence is particularly common in their marriages.

"If I give him my earnings, he leaves me alone," says Mala, 20, who sells betel nut and other goods in Goroka. She's talking about the man she married when she was 12.

Continue reading "For women, selling betel nut can come at a heavy price" »

The early days of Papuan rugby league: Friday nights at the PRL

Papua v New Guinea 1964
Program for the annual Papua versus New Guinea encounter, 1964


SYDNEY - In the 1960s and 1970s there was only once place to be in Port Moresby on Friday night, well during the footie season anyway.

The place was the Papuan Rugby League ground in Boroko, play starting with Reserve Grade at six followed by A Grade at nine, usually finishing around 10.30 which gave most club members four or five hours to get well lubricated.

Although there were only five A Grade clubs the standard of play was high and supporters very committed to their teams. As the consumption of alcohol escalated, so did the noise of barracking.

But, as tough and skilled as were the games, the real action took place after the final whistle of A Grade. The downstairs area of the club became a venue for Games Night, each club taking it in turn to run the events which were a valuable source of funds.

The games included Under and Overs, Crown and Anchor and, later in the evening, Two Up. As you would expect, the mix of alcohol, parochialism and gambling created a heady atmosphere although ever vigilant club officials made sure fights rarely occurred within the gambling area. After all, if things got out of hand, they could lose a lot of money and the revenue from these nights was essential. (Rugby League in PNG was professional even in those days.)

Continue reading "The early days of Papuan rugby league: Friday nights at the PRL" »

A little known breed - those patrol officers of the Australian bush

Fitz - Desert camp
An Australian patrol officer's desert camp


TUMBY BAY – It’s often thought that the patrol officer system was unique to Papua New Guinea but similar systems existed in different parts of the world, especially in African colonies administered by the British.

There was also a patrol officer system in Dutch New Guinea before the Indonesians took over.

And patrol officers also worked in remote parts of Australia amongst our indigenous people.

The patrol officers in Australia were mostly employed by the Commonwealth Government in the Northern Territory but a few states also had their own patrol officers.

Quite a few of them trained alongside kiaps going to Papua New Guinea at the Australian School of Pacific Administration in Sydney and some of them switched between the Australian and Papua New Guinean services.

Continue reading "A little known breed - those patrol officers of the Australian bush" »

Unrest in the highlands exposes deep political divisions

Enga fightersJOHNNY BLADES | Dateline Pacific | Radio New Zealand

WELLINGTON - Last week's court ruling upholding Southern Highlands governor William Powi's 2017 election win sparked the rampage by supporters of a losing candidate who had challenged the result.

As part of the ensuing state of emergency provisions, Papua New Guinea’s government has ordered the deployment of armed forces to restore order and has suspended the provincial government.

However, subsequently supporters of the suspended government and Mr Powi have been mobilising around the province with high-powered weapons, threatening violence.

While Mendi had quietened down by Monday, Mendi police commander Gideon Kauke said the potential for unrest remained acute.

"This is not a normal law and order situation. It is political differences and politically manipulated issues that are causing all the destructions," he said.

Earlier, prime minister Peter O'Neill said those behind last week's destruction would be arrested and prosecuted. But Commander Kauke said police hadn't made arrests yet because the situation was highly charged.

Continue reading "Unrest in the highlands exposes deep political divisions" »

‘My people can’t compete’: China’s influence provokes resentment

Martyn Namorong & Julie Bishop
Martyn Namorong - "My people feel they can't compete."   Julie Bishop - "We want to continue to be the partner of choice."

STAFF REPORTER | South China Morning Post

HONG KONG - In the gritty, steamy streets of Papua New Guinea’s capital Port Moresby, signs of China’s push into the Pacific island nation are inescapable.

A Chinese worker stencils a logo for China Railway Group outside the new national courthouse being buil; China Harbour Engineering Group labourers tar roads under the searing midday sun.

“Little by little they are taking slices of our businesses,” said Martyn Namorong, who campaigns to protect local jobs and communities as China ramps up infrastructure spending in the resource-rich nation, often bringing its own workforce. “My people feel we can’t compete.”

The nation of eight million people is the latest frontier in Beijing’s bid for global influence that’s included building artificial reefs in the South China Sea, a military base in Africa and an ambitious trade-and-infrastructure plan spanning three continents.

Continue reading "‘My people can’t compete’: China’s influence provokes resentment" »

We don’t want to be a nation of beggars. Peter O’Neill must resign

Mekere Morauta (2)SIR MEKERE MORAUTA

PORT MORESBY - The prime minister’s mismanagement of the economy and public finances has turned Papua New Guinea into a state of ‘hunting and gathering’, living daily from hand to mouth.

Mr O’Neill is now begging and selling the country into China’s lap. This week’s visit to China is a glaring example of begging. And begging is not for the good of the nation.

It is used for projects for O’Neill’s own glorification – like tearing up good roads in Port Moresby for the Chinese and his friends to rebuild so APEC motorcades can ride on them for one day.

Look at the members of the delegation that has gone to China. Is the prime minister in China to sell off our petroleum, gas, fisheries and forestry resources, Ok Tedi, and Bank South Pacific?

Continue reading "We don’t want to be a nation of beggars. Peter O’Neill must resign" »

Troops arrive in Mendi. Politicians apologise for ‘distress’

STAFF REPORTER | Asia Pacific Report | EditedPeter-oneill

PORT MORESBY - More than 100 Papua New Guinea soldiers from Taurama Barracks have arrived in the Southern Highlands capital of Mendi after a nine-month state of emergency was declared by the PNG government.

And political leaders from the Southern Highlands – including prime minister Peter O’Neill - apologised to the nation for the “distress” caused by rioting and destruction of state property last week.

Video clips circulating in PNG social media show armed Southern Highlanders, some with assault rifles, challenging the government and threatening the massive PNG liquefied gas pipeline project in the province.

Some protest placards referred to the suspension of the Southern Highlands provincial government and the appointment by Port Moresby of an acting provincial administrator although it was unclear what the full range of their demands were.

Continue reading "Troops arrive in Mendi. Politicians apologise for ‘distress’" »

Racism, bigotry & the ways we choose to separate each other


TUMBY BAY - In most open societies public discourse still has certain taboos, things that people are not expected to talk about. These taboos are often backed up by the law.

Libertarians, who profess to believe in free speech, are often annoyed by these laws. They maintain that everyone has a right to a point of view and should be able to express it.

A politician in Australia once defined this as the right to be a bigot, someone who is intolerant of other people’s views and opinions.

Of particular interest to these sorts of people are various ‘isms’ - racism, sexism, anarchism, fatalism and so on - things people often abhor and seek to constrain. Here’s a list of 234 of them.

Continue reading "Racism, bigotry & the ways we choose to separate each other" »

I feel for the crew of the ill-fated Dash 8 flight to Mendi

Mendi ablaze
The governor's residence well ablaze - targeted by protesters who have reached the end of their tether


WABAG - Air Niugini’s beautiful bird of paradise which for decades have showcased our cultural diversity were shredded when the Dash 8 aircraft was burned to the ground in Mendi last week.

I cannot describe the emotions I feel when I see our nation al icons destroyed.

It is the same emotion that wells up in me when I encounter our carvings, paintings, music or meet Papua New Guineans in far off lands.

In 1989, I had such an experience as I flew on an Air Niugini airbus painted with a giant bird of paradise with its yellow plumage covering the entire fuselage of the aircaft like a satin dress as we headed north to Hong Kong.

I was already seated when I saw two young men enter the cabin and watched the air hostess direct them to their seats.

Continue reading "I feel for the crew of the ill-fated Dash 8 flight to Mendi" »

PNG forces may face superior firepower in highlands incursion

MAG 58 Model 60-20 machine gunJERRY SINGIROK | Edited

PORT MORESBY - The MAG 58 Model 60-20 seen here is one of the most robust, deadly and effective machine guns ever manufactured.

It is an air cooled, piston and gas operated weapon manufactured in the USA and Belgium that uses a 7.62mm NATO belt-fed round and can effectively engage targets from 200-800 meters and, in open country, up a kilometre.

In 1996, after trials, the PNG Defence Force under my command purchased them.

Continue reading "PNG forces may face superior firepower in highlands incursion" »

While Mendi burns, Peter O'Neill hides out in Moresby

Dash 8 on fireBRYAN KRAMER MP | Nokondi Talk | Edited extracts

MADANG – On Friday prime minister Peter O'Neill declared a state of emergency in Southern Highlands Province following a serious outbreak of civil violence in the capital Mendi.

The decision covered the suspension of the provincial government, appointing an emergency controller, deploying the police mobile squad and criminal investigators, initiating troop deployments and approving K6 million to enable their mobilisation.

The unrest – including the torching of the governor’s residence, an Air Niugini aircraft and the court house - was triggered by a national court ruling dismissing a petition challenging the election of Governor William Powi.

The PNG electoral commission had declared Powi the winner of the regional seat in last year’s general elections, a decision unprecedented as the decision was made before counting was complete.

What is particularly interesting about this matter is that it is taking place in O'Neill's own province. So what does he do?

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Informal economy keeps us going as our country struggles

Street vendors
Selling convenience goods, sweets, cold water, soft drink and betel nut - all part of PNG's informal economy


HONOLULU - Luckily Papua New Guinea has an informal economy that sustains the life of citizens despite an economic recession that is badly affecting the country.

With the sale of items like buai, daka, cold-water, ice-block and the like anywhere that’s convenient without regulation on trade, PNG commerce keeps going as usual.

We’re lucky to have an informal economy where everyone is minding their own business and earning an invome.

Most of these people hardly notice the economic recession which mostly concerns only the working class people and those who pay tax from their wages and salaries.

That said, however, everyone pays GST to access goods and services in urban areas and such people are not excluded from the overall economic cycle.

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Mi no save gut long dispela ‘go pinis’


From ‘Pardon My French’ by Anne-Marie Smith, Ginninderra Press, 232 pages, $32.50. You can order your copy here

HENLEY BEACH - Leaving Papua New Guinea after ten happy years there was the toughest yet the gentlest of experiences.

“We’ve come to see you out. It’s for good luck,” our Melanesian neighbours stood at the door.

“It’s our custom,” they said, “we like to safeguard our friends as they leave their house.”

Their presence also took the fuss out of locking up and dulled the ache of glancing at the house for one last time.

Arriving at the airport, I sensed a sweet smell. The scent got stronger, reminding me of the frangipani tree I had left in bloom in the front garden of our house.

“We made these leis for you to wear.” a group of waiting friends called out. “Look, there is one for each of you. Try them for size.”

Someone said “size 0” and giggling resounded throughout the group, a Papua New Guinea English in-joke, no doubt.

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After mass that Sunday, I witnessed a tribal fight at Kailge....

Mock battle
Kopia-Kubuka warriors in a mock charge as part of a compensation ceremony at Palimung, 1983


DUBLIN - It was while I was stationed in Ulga in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea that I witnessed a tribal fight near a place called Kailge in the Nebilyer Valley.

Kailge was on the other side of the Nebilyer River, more recently the area has been referred to as Hap-Wara (Trans-Nebilyer).

On Saturday 9 December 1972 I went to Kailge planning to have mass there on Sunday.

Father Eddie O’Neill drove me as far as the road went and I walked the rest of the way.

But when I got to Kailge I discovered there was trouble brewing. The Kailge clans (part of the the Kopia Kombuka alliance) had discovered that one of their young men had been accused of sending poison to a young man of a neighbouring tribe, a member of the Teia-Dyna and Toka-Waneka alliance.

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Resources curse, a corrupt elite & landowners with no hope

Torched Dash 8
"The promises contained in the landowner benefit sharing agreements with the PNG government began to languish, and frustrations simmered"

MICHAEL MAIN | East Asia Forum

CANBERRA - Two recent reports on the massive ExxonMobil-led PNG LNG project have brought renewed attention to the undesirable economic and social impacts of Papua New Guinea’s largest-ever resource extraction enterprise.

This research shows that PNG LNG has hurt, rather than grown, PNG’s economy and that it has inflamed violence and tensions in the PNG highlands region. Papua New Guinea’s so-called ‘resource curse’ has hit local communities the hardest.

Violent conflict in the PNG highlands, certainly among the Huli landowners of Hela Province where PNG LNG is based, has been an almost constant feature since before first contact with colonial forces in the 1930s.

Levels of violence have fluctuated markedly in response to historical conditions. The 1970s and 1980s were relatively peaceful, as PNG transitioned from Australian administration into the early independence years.

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China-PNG friendship never been better, Chinese executive boasts

China in PNG
China Railway International Group in discussions with PNG officials as its starts a public relations offensive in the country


PORT MORESBY – A Chinese executive of a major construction company says “the relationship between Chinese enterprises and the local people has never been stronger.”

And Wu Dongzheng, general manager of China Railway International Group in the South Pacific, told Xinhua Chinese news agency that the company's impact in “the picturesque, palm-tree laden paradise” goes far beyond the bricks and mortar.

With more than 2,500 local staff, the group has “made it a priority to improve living standards of the employees and their families”.

"I've seen too much poverty, too many jobless young men and too many families without medical care," Wu said.

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The importance of stories & the progress of our species


TUMBY BAY - Bear with me, this is a bit esoteric and complicated.

The Israeli historian, Yuval Noah Harari, in his 2011* book ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’, wrote that all animals only experience major behavioural shifts when their genetics change. That is, when they experience an evolutionary change.

There is an exception however. Humans.

Humans evolved into our modern form about 300,000 years ago but for a long time we were just one of many species of animal subject to the whims of nature.

Drought, flood, fire, famine and occasionally abundance ensured that our numbers were always in balance with nature.

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There is Hope for Every Child Ever Born

Wardley Barry at work
Ward Barry - master poet


There is hope for every child ever born
under city lights or kerosene lamps.
God is fair, our paths with dreams he adorns.

The homeless, recruited young to be tramps,
children scavenging among rubbish bins,
sheltering under drains or shanty camps;

the child spotting its mum’s eyes and dad’s chins,
cradled in white gossamer blankets,
garbed and magnified in lustrous satins.

Each child, at birth, was welcomed with trumpets
sounded by angels of the sacred choir,
whether they were born of saints or strumpets,

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Mendi in flames as rioters threaten more destruction

Dash 7 torched
The Air Niugini Dash 8 totally destroyed after its undercarriage was shot out by gunfire and it was torched by rioters


KUNDIAWA -  Mendi town is in chaos after disgruntled supporters damaged the undercarriage of an Air Niugini Dash 8 aircraft by gunfire then burnt the plane to ashes.

It seems a national court decision on the disputed return for Southern Highlands regional MP William Powi, a member of Peter O'Neill's ruling People's National Congress, angered the numerous supporters of losing candidates Joseph Kobol and Bernard Kaku.

The rioters also burned down the local court house and William Powi's residence.

We are hearing through our bush drums that this is the beginning of other serious destruction today and in future days.

I will keep readers  posted on further developments.

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Bougainville poetry collection is appearing at a pivotal moment

Raymond Girana

Raymond Girana’s first collection of poetry is approaching publication and PNG Attitude writer PHIL FITZPATRICK has written this foreword for the book which places it into the context of the recent turbulent history of Raymond’s Bougainville home.

TUMBY BAY - There is no doubt that more than anything else the civil war in Bougainville was a human tragedy of epic proportions. Not only did it take a huge physical toll but it had a profound psychological effect on the people of Bougainville that lingers to this day.

The question that many Bougainville people are now asking themselves as the countdown to the independence referendum draws closer and closer is could it happen again?

There are good reasons why they should be anxious. At the local level they are under pressure from international mining interests, local business people and some politicians to re-open the mine. At the national level they are confronted by a government that is making it very plain that they may ignore the results of the referendum if it doesn’t suit them.

It is this anxiety, even fear that informs the poetry in this collection.

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Tribal fighters turn traditional rules of warfare into modern law

Tribal fightingSTAFF REPORTER | International Committee of the Red Cross

MT HAGEN – Some 34 councillors of the Nebilyer Local Level Government in the Western Highlands Province have agreed to respect and implement traditional rules of fighting to minimise consequences of warfare on people and property.

After numerous meetings tribal leaders generated 15 rules and these were formalised as aw at a recent signing ceremony.

“The rules are neither new nor borrowed but are the ones used in the past by our forefathers when engaging in any tribal fight,” said Gabriel Kiap, chairman of Western Highlands provincial law and order.

Kiap, once a tribal leader involved in fighting during his younger days, said these fights had greatly affected the community.

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Understanding corruption, and knowing how to deal with it

Sam KoimSAM KOIM | Extracts

PORT MORESBY - Corruption, being a very destructive societal disease, is like a cancer that eats at every fabric of society.

It comes in various types and stages ranging from low-level petty corruption to high-level grand corruption.

There is no single treatment for this pernicious disease, and literature shows that the best way to combat it is the application of a combination of approaches towards the same goal.

To treat this societal illness, a careful diagnosis must first be undertaken. The process will determine the type of the disease and the stage to which it has spread within society.

Corruption is like a multifaceted octopus that rears its ugly image in all the facets of society.

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Facebook - the modern hausman enriching leaders & us all

FB censored
Hausman blo tede
Hausman blo bifo


CHUAVE - In the recent debate over the suspension of Facebook in Papua New Guinea, the conclusion of most people was that such a move would be both uncalled for and childish.

Facebook plays a significant role among the elites and the intellectual citizens of this country. It is used as a forum to discuss issues concerning PNG including the deeds, conduct and perceptions of the leaders who are administering its political, economic and constitutional affairs.

Communication minister Sam Basil came out publicly advocating the switching off of Facebook for a month to ‘research’ its use. It was a proposal that demeaned the competence of his leadership.

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Facebook, writing & connections with friends around the world

Kumbon - AFPF fellows  USA  1991
These journalists (including Daniel Kumbon at left) were awarded United States study fellowships in 1991, when this photo was taken. Many of them, including Daniel, went on to illustrious media careers & still keep in touch using Facebook


WABAG - As heated argument raged on the government’s intention to ban Facebook, there was an instant reaction to my Facebook article complaining about how the government was not supporting Papua New Guinean authors.

Two foreign friends I met 27 years ago in America also reacted to my post. They are Sameh Abdullah from Eygpt and Dmitry Radyshevsky from Moscow who currently lives in Israel.

Sameh continues to work as a journalist in Cairo while Dmitry runs the Jerusalem Summit, a world Zionism organisation which he founded. He has written extensively and published books on the subject.

Another Russian colleague, Alexandra Backlanova Popoff has published several books and her latest, ‘A Biography of Vasily Grossman’, is to be released by Yale University Press.

Of my two other female colleagues, Chemi Whitro from Tanzania, remained in the US. She became an actress appearing on the stage plays and in movies, including in a film starring Mel Gibson.

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Is Bougainville’s referendum binding on the PNG government?

Momis & O'Neill at the referendum conference
John Momis & Peter O'Neill at the referendum conference in Port Moresby

Extract from a talk by ANTHONY REGAN to last week’s Bougainville referendum conference. You can read more comprehensive coverage of the conference here

PORT MORESBY - As was agreed between the parties negotiating the Bougainville Peace Agreement, following the intervention of Australia’s then foreign minister Alexander Downer, the outcome of the referendum scheduled for June next year will not be binding on the Papua New Guinea government.

The peace agreement states that “the outcome will be subject to ratification [final decision-making authority] of the national parliament” and that the two governments (Bougainville and PNG) “will consult over the results of the referendum”.

The provisions of the PNG constitution, though, are worded differently. They state that the governments “shall consult over the results” and that the results shall be taken to the national parliament “subject to the consultation”.

In other words, if it were to be agreed to by the two governments in the course of the consultation that there is no need for the results to go to the parliament for the time being, that would be permissible.

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