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87 posts from July 2018

No progress in treatment of women by 'disrespectful’ PNG

Powes Parkop on his weekly Sunday walk (Donlee Consultants Ltd)
Governor Powes Parkop (dressed in red) on his regular weekly Sunday fitness walk

NEWS DESK | Radio New Zealand | Edited extract

You can read the complete Radio New Zealand story here

PORT MORESBY – The governor of Papua New Guinea’s capital says the country must stop treating women like second-class citizens.

Governor Powes Parkop made the comment at the 23rd cultural show of Caritas Technical Secondary School in PNG's National Capital District.

Mr Parkop used his keynote address at the show to call for an end to cultural practices that hamper progress in PNG and its capital city.

He said for Port Moresby to be a truly world-class city, men had to start treating women as equals, and not as inferior citizens.

Citing the fact that PNG's parliament has no female members, Mr Parkop said it was an area in which the country needed to change.

Continue reading "No progress in treatment of women by 'disrespectful’ PNG" »

Where Are We?


In a forest of tall trees riding on waves of
Gentle hills, an old man in tangets swings an axe;
Inside towering skyscrapers on squeaky desks
A young man (suits, ties, shiny boots) is signing checks.

Lines of sweat trickle down the old man's sun-baked skin,
The tree groans, among tweets of jolly birds, and falls;
The deal is sealed and the young man reclines beaming
— it’s a lie, but he has kids to feed, bawds to call.

As this mighty warrior kisses the hearth and sings
Sacred songs to tree demons and tumbunas,
The lawyer clicks remote controls, and greedily
Gobbles meaty doughnuts and uncooked bananas:

Continue reading "Where Are We?" »

PNG, entwined in Chinese expansionism, exports it illegal timber

A Papua New Guinea family wends its way through newly destroyed forest land

BEN DOHERTY | The Guardian

SYDNEY -  Millions of tonnes of illegally logged timber, felled from forests across Papua New Guinea, are being exported to China and from there to the world as finished wood products, a new report from Global Witness has revealed.

Global Witness’s investigation has found that the majority of logging operations in PNG are underpinned by government-issued permits, which are often illegally “extended” and which fail to enforce laws surrounding logging in prohibited and ecologically sensitive areas.

“An assessment of legality risks in most of the world’s timber-producing countries found PNG’s timber to be among the riskiest, with potential illegalities including corruption and bribery in the issuance of permits, failure to follow the logging code of practice, and logging without the consent of indigenous landowners,” the report says.

Continue reading "PNG, entwined in Chinese expansionism, exports it illegal timber" »

Komo landowners give govt ‘last warning’ - “no more excuses”

Komo airport - massive resources asset threatened with shutdown unless landowners get their money

KEITH JACKSON | Pacific Media Centre | EMTV | Sources

HELA - Komo international airport landowners in Hela have given the Papua New Guinea government a last warning and said it must stop making excuses and compensate the 16 clans whose land the airport occupies.

The massive Komo airport was built by ExxonMobil to facilitate the development and operation of the PNG LNG project, although at the time prime minister Peter O’Neill also promoted it as benefiting “people in Hela Province and through the Highlands region through increased business opportunities and greater peace of mind when faced with potential natural disasters”.

It was said ExxonMobil would “continue to own and operate the Komo airfield” which was “open to additional support facilities being constructed outside the current grounds”.

Continue reading "Komo landowners give govt ‘last warning’ - “no more excuses”" »

The day Peter O'Neill called me a moron, a raskol & a snake

Peter O'Neill and Bryan Kramer - in Kramer O'Neill has found an ethical MP with the courage to take him on and the gall to make him lose his cool


PORT MORESBY – On a notable day last week, prime minister Peter O'Neill was forced to apologise on the floor of parliament over rude remarks in which he called me a moron.

His apology was in response to the shadow attorney general Kerenga Kua's request to the deputy speaker to refer O'Neill to the parliamentary privileges committee.

O'Neill's remarks were triggered by my interjections over his misleading statements when trying to answer a series of questions put to him by the member of Moresby North West, Mekere Morauta, in relation to APEC.

O'Neill lost his cool, yelling at me to shut up, branding me a very special kind of moron.

"If the member of Madang can keep his mouth shut then I can answer. You are just a moron, in fact a moron of the highest degree."

Continue reading "The day Peter O'Neill called me a moron, a raskol & a snake" »

Deferral of elections is assault on democracy, says Transparency

PNGns walk against corruption 2018
Many hundreds of Papua New Guineans in Port Moresby and other cities walked against corruption in recent protest rallies throughout the country


PORT MORESBY - Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) says the on-off-on and now, finally it seems, off again 2018 local level government elections in Papua New Guinea is both unconstitutional and will disrupt basic services in local communities.

“The decision by prime minister Peter O’Neill to defer the elections to 2019 is unconstitutional and an assault on democracy,” said TIPNG chairman Lawrence Stephens.

O’Neill has justified the deferral by claiming that funds set aside for the election need to be used to provide outstanding allowances to councillors.

“This is deplorable,” said Stephens. “It indicates that it is the government’s view that constitutional rights can be violated on the basis of poor fiscal management by state agencies.

“Financial matters, such as outstanding allowances, is an administrative issue and shouldn’t be used as an excuse by the government for the delay.”

Continue reading "Deferral of elections is assault on democracy, says Transparency" »

PNGDF & police gear up security for APEC meeting

First Pacific Royal Islands Regiment
First Pacific Islands Regiment on a 27 km route march as part of its combat fitness training

LI XIA | Xinhua

PORT MORESBY- Papua New Guinea has geared up its land, sea and air security support services for hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November, PNG Defence Force authorities said on Friday.

"It is a tremendous undertaking and a giant leap for us and therefore at this stage, with a number of months to go, it is important that we understand our capabilities and test them accordingly," PNG’s chief of force preparations, Colonel Siale Diro, told the PNG Post-Courier.

The deployment of dedicated special forces is already being tested to help police and other agencies provide safety and security for the international event, the newspaper quoted Diro as saying.

Continue reading "PNGDF & police gear up security for APEC meeting" »

The Painting of a Black Woman

Ward Barry
Ward Barry


I once painted a black woman naked;
kaukau in her hand, the earth for her bed.
I dabbed a little kabang on her cheeks
and made her mind strong but left her mouth meek.

I took her to the market to be sold.
The price I demanded was neither gold
nor silver but that she be untampered:
her eyes brown, hands green and heart still coloured.

I gave her as a gift to the masta
and that day I became a kanaka.
His smoke tainted her mind, her lips white-glossed;
she chewed papers and her cow cow was lost.

I saw her at the mall, gold in her hand.
She speaks a talk-place I don’t understand.

Getting the numbers: How Somare won the 1972 election

Robert Forster
Robert Forster - author of the just published 'The Northumbrian Kiap'


NORTHUMBRIA - In the 1972 Papua New Guinea elections there were 102 seats in the House of Assembly.

The conservative, anti-independence United Party won 42. Michael Somare’s Pangu Pati won 24.

The United Party was sure it would form the next government, but Pangu Pati expertly put together a coalition.

Iambakey Okuk, a MP from Simbu in the highlands region, played a key role in forming the government that took the country into self-government and independence.

He later became Deputy Prime Minister and, as a minister, worked to reserve sectors of the economy for citizens as a method of returning a complex economic role to Papua New Guineans. He died aged only 41, and is recalled as one of PNG's great independence leaders.

Here is Iambakey Okuk’s own version of how it was done, taken from an address to some university students in 1982.


Continue reading "Getting the numbers: How Somare won the 1972 election" »

The reappearance of polio in Papua New Guinea

Stop polioLINDABETH DOBY | The Borgen Project

SEATTLE, USA - A polio outbreak was reported in Papua New Guinea. This is the first time polio has been seen in the country in nearly two decades, and an especially poignant occurrence as polio is extremely close to eradication around the world.

Polio is a dangerous virus spread through food, water and contact with infected people. Those who do not have access to adequate sanitation are especially vulnerable to the virus.

Polio multiplies in the intestines but can move to other parts of the body through the bloodstream and affect the nervous system. This can lead to paralysis. The poliovirus has no cure once contracted, so the only route to the end of polio is through vaccination and other methods of prevention.

Continue reading "The reappearance of polio in Papua New Guinea" »

Big timber buyer China is ignoring destruction of PNG forests

There goes our forest (Global Witness)
China says it's a friend of PNG, but does it respect culture, livelihood and biosphere by destroying forests? (Global Witness)

NEWS DESK | Global Witness

LONDON – Anti-corruption NGO Global Witness has today released research revealing how many logging operations in Papua New Guinea appear to be breaking the law and selling illegal timber overseas.

This destruction of irreplaceable ancient rainforest is driving climate change and damaging the livelihoods of indigenous communities.

A significant majority of timber from PNG is shipped to China - representing 29% of China’s tropical log imports in 2016.

Yet China has no regulation to keep illegal timber from entering its borders.

The risk of illegal timber flooding China’s markets can damage its reputation and major trade relationships as many countries which ban illegal timber imports take action to stop the trade.

Continue reading "Big timber buyer China is ignoring destruction of PNG forests" »

Oz voice in the Asia–Pacific: foreign policy & media revolutions

Graeme Dobell

GRAEME DOBELL | Australian Strategic Policy Institute

CANBERRA - The wrack and roil afflicting the international system matches the digital disruption of news media. The rules and norms of the foreign policy game and media world both shake, shift and suffer.

Australia frets about threats to the rules-based system as the tectonic plates of geopolitics and geo-economics crunch. Luckily for Canberra, amid all the disruption, there’s a perfect media instrument ready to serve as Australia’s voice in the Asia–Pacific, to do journalism that’ll serve our interests and values.

Well tested by history, with a proud heritage of great journalism and a wonderfully prescient charter, that instrument is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Simple as ABC, really.

Trouble is, as this column has been arguing, Canberra has to rediscover the value of independent media as a foreign policy instrument. And the ABC, too, has to rediscover its history and confront its failure to meet the international dimensions of its charter.

Continue reading "Oz voice in the Asia–Pacific: foreign policy & media revolutions" »



Poems are those odd things that keep us afloat;
wattles on water, three bulls on a boat.
Hither we sail, Here-A-Little and There.
A gift: the pond offers us to the moon
as a congregation of crickets croon
a requiem for an unfulfilled affair.

It redeems my cup, when it is empty,
to fill it with the sunshine and the sea;
to sip a soup of stars and salt and sand.
If you find me lounging on forever
moments, strip down, join me in the water.
It's warmer and safer here than on land.

I can build stairs to the moon if you ask.
All I need is a notebook and a mask.

Not always easy, not always nice, but look where we are

Chimbu Valley
The Chimbu Valley


KUNDIAWA - From the north coast our ancestors climbed into the mountains arriving here in the Chimbu more than 24,000 years ago.

They operated in small groups and freely roamed the vast forests of the time, living by hunting and gathering.

Through natural calamities and feuds with other groups, these early people fragmented and reorganised into new groups and settled on the sides of mountains and in the valleys and farmed the land becoming some of the first people to undertake agriculture in the world.

Then closer to our time today, the advent of kaukau ensured our people settled into more stable communities with domesticated animals.

In the 1930s Australian gold prospectors stumbled upon our remote villages in Karimui and soon after our people saw their first aeroplane flying high in the sky from east to west and back again.

Continue reading "Not always easy, not always nice, but look where we are" »

Bougainville, independence & the doctrine of ‘stare decisis’


ADELAIDE - In 1977, as a young and ambitious ex-kiap turned proper public servant, I sought and obtained appointment to the apparently important position of Chief Clerk of the South Australian Department of Education.

The use of the term ‘Chief Clerk’ to describe this position was anachronistic in the extreme. The title was a hangover from the 19th century when such a person, seated at a high table reminiscent of a judge’s bench, presided over serried ranks of more junior clerks, each studiously dipping their quills in ink and writing or transcribing official documents of one form or another.

By 1977, while I still presided over 40 or so clerical officers, their duties ranged from running the department’s huge file registry to drafting, promulgating and interpreting the regulations made under the Education Act.

Continue reading "Bougainville, independence & the doctrine of ‘stare decisis’" »

Interfaith conference pursues Melanesian theological identity

Waterlily Pond
Water lily pond at the Pacific Adventist University just outside Port Moresby


PORT MORESBY - The Melanesia Association of Theological Schools conference, held last week at the Pacific Adventist University, is an annual event where theologians, scholars and pastors from theological schools and churches gather to discuss theological issues affecting Christians in Melanesia.

The university hosted this year’s interdenominational conference and its school of theology, humanities and education worked together for the whole year to prepare for the event under the leadership of Dr Elisapesi Mason.

The three-day conference was officially opened by Dr Lalen Simeon, deputy vice chancellor of Pacific Adventist University in the presence of vice chancellor Dr Raul Lozano, registrar Mrs Pele Alu and staff members.

Continue reading "Interfaith conference pursues Melanesian theological identity" »

An anniversary not to be celebrated – 5 years of inhumanity



SYDNEY –On 19 July 2013, then Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd announced that any asylum seeker who arrives in Australia by boat would have “no chance of being settled in Australia as refugees.”

Soon thereafter, Australia signed agreements to resettle people at Manus in PNG and on Nauru. Since then, Australia has forcibly transferred 3,172 people, most of them refugees, to camps on those islands at a cost of more than $5 billion. About 1,600 remain: 750 men in PNG, and 850 men, women, and children on Nauru.

“The fifth anniversary of depositing people in misery and suffering on isolated Pacific islands at the cost of a billion dollars a year should be viewed with outrage,” said Elaine Pearson, Australia director at Human Rights Watch.

“Australia has gone from being a country that once welcomed immigrants to a world leader in treating refugees with brazen cruelty.”

Continue reading "An anniversary not to be celebrated – 5 years of inhumanity" »

Justice for the Kanakas: Australia’s ‘invisible’ Melanesians

South Sea Islanders  Mackay  1907
South Sea islanders (kanakas) pose in front of a house in Mackay, Queensland, 1907. Kanaka was a Hawaiian word meaning 'human being'

FRANK JORDAN | Australian Humanist

BRISBANE - In 1901 the Commonwealth of Australia came into being with the federation of the Australian colonies. Among the first laws passed by the new Australian parliament was the Pacific Island Labourers Act, ordering the deportation of black Melanesian workers known as kanakas.

Other aspects of what became known as the White Australia Policy have since been rectified, but this shameful stain on our past has yet to be properly addressed.

The process was planned in stages over several years and there were some amendments. In 1901, about 10,000 Pacific islanders were living in Australia. By 1908, the process was officially completed with the closure of the Pacific Island Branch of the Queensland Immigration Department. Just 1,654 kanakas were officially allowed to remain, and around 1,000 stayed on unofficially.

Continue reading "Justice for the Kanakas: Australia’s ‘invisible’ Melanesians" »

New study reveals dangers inherent in land registration

New oil palm planting and mill in Pomio District  ENBP
New oil palm planting and mill near Pomio in East New Britain


BOROKO - Customary land registration processes can easily be captured by local ‘big men’ and companies with disastrous consequences for local people.

This is the conclusion of a study on recent oil palm expansion in Papua New Guinea by academic Caroline Hambloch from the University of London.

Hambloch’s findings are based on three months field research in East and West New Britain and are presented in a paper titled ‘Land Formalisation Turned Land Rush’ presented at a World Bank conference in Washington earlier this year.

The paper demonstrates how land registration processes, rather than protecting customary land, can easily be used to disenfranchise local communities and alienate them from their land. This is because of an environment of weak governance and huge power and information imbalances.

Continue reading "New study reveals dangers inherent in land registration" »

PNG promises come to nought, & Bougainville is getting anxious

John Momis
President John Momis

EDITOR | Radio New Zealand Pacific

AUCKLAND – Bougainville’s president John Momis has raised concerns that the Papua New Guinea government is not pulling its weight as the autonomous region prepares for next June’s referendum on its political future.

Momis recently met with PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill at a meeting of a joint supervisory board to discuss preparing for the vote.

However, outstanding financial commitments of hundreds of millions of kina which PNG owes to Bougainville remain an obstacle to preparations.

PNG finally made a minor payment of $US1.49 million to Bougainville last week, but the cheque bounced, although this embarrassment has been denied by PNG treasurer Charles Abel.

Continue reading "PNG promises come to nought, & Bougainville is getting anxious" »

Remembering Jack McCarthy: letters of historic importance


Robert Lenton Parer CMG MBE is by adoption and upbringing a man of the West Sepik, a member of a great Australian family which is famous in Papua New Guinean mining and aviation with Rob himself a prominent trader and friend and advocate of that remote corner in the northwest of PNG adjoining the  order of Indonesia West Papua. Franzalbert Joku, a man of West Papua who crossed into PNG as a refugee was, in time, to become a valued citizen of that country and achieved the eminent position of prime minister Sir Julius Chan’s chief of staff. These letters have been edited - KJ

Letter from Rob Parer

BRISBANE - Because of the Indonesian scare, there were a lot of police stationed at the border with an Australian police officer in charge. I was wondering, Franzalbert, if you were in the OPM [Free Papua Movement] camp inland from Wutung in the early 1960s?

The South Pacific Post [now Post-Courier] journalist, old Jack McCarthy, was a friend of mine and the Australian government was trying to stop him getting to the OPM camp. He stayed with me at Aitape on his way to Vanimo and told me he had organised with OPM people at Madang to visit the camp.

Continue reading "Remembering Jack McCarthy: letters of historic importance" »

Transnational crime - The case of the shipload of cough mixture


SYDNEY - Recently an Indonesian national was convicted of attempting to smuggle into Australia a large quantity of cough medicine.

The reason authorities were interested in this product was due to the fact that two of its key ingredients - ephedrine and pseudoephedrine - are also components, or precursors, for the dangerous drug, ICE.

In fact until authorities woke up to this relationship, addicts were purchasing numerous bottles of cough medicine and extracting either of the two precursors to satisfy their addiction.

This recent case reminded me of something similar which occurred in Papua New Guinea several years ago.

Continue reading "Transnational crime - The case of the shipload of cough mixture" »

The mysterious Citizenship PNG Unit is on the prowl

Geoff Luck
Geoffrey Luck


SYDNEY - Our daughter was born in Port Moresby in 1958 during my first term of service in Papua New Guinea.

Recently, she applied to renew her Australian passport, six months ahead of its expiry date. To her surprise, the current perfectly valid passport was immediately defaced by clipping the pages.

She was told before a new passport could be issued she had to prove her Australian citizenship. The documentation required for this included her birth certificate, both her mother's and her father's birth certificates, their marriage certificate and details of their (that is, mine and my wife's) parents' place of birth.

Expostulation that this was merely the renewal of an Australian passport, which had previously been issued at least three times previously without question, was brushed aside without explanation.

Continue reading "The mysterious Citizenship PNG Unit is on the prowl" »

James Sinclair - Last word on a land he loved

Jim Sinclair & Pami  Lake Kopiago  c 1952
James Sinclair on patrol at Lake Kopiago with Pami, 1952

KEITH JACKSON | The Australian

Middle Kingdom: A Colonial History of the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, by James Sinclair, Crawford House, 672 pp, $89.95)

NOOSA - British journalist Joshua Burt has written of “great scholars endlessly returning to excavate old terrain, to carefully study it from all angles and prod it gently with a stick”.

Burt could have been describing James Patrick Sinclair, whose final and monumental work about Papua New Guinea, Middle Kingdom, crowns 50 years of writing about Australia’s erstwhile colony.

Sinclair’s oeuvre was the exploration and development of PNG, a pursuit augmented by his vast knowledge and great love of its Highlands, the ‘‘middle kingdom’’ of the title.

When Sinclair died late last year aged 89, he ­bequeathed an opus of 35 works and an indelible reputation as the great recorder of PNG’s colonial history, especially after World War II.

Cumulatively, his books amount to a substantial ­contribution to the understanding of an important ­period in the development of PNG, and Australia’s critical ­involvement in the creation of this nation.

They tell the story of the Australian ­encounter (often more of a collision) with New Guinea, a land so ­unexpected and exotic that even ordinary people found themselves doing extraordinary, and sometimes exotic, things.

Continue reading "James Sinclair - Last word on a land he loved" »

The wild Hagara Irishman with a seeming dislike of cowboys

An outdoor assembly at Hagara Primary School
An outdoor assembly at Hagara primary school in more recent and peaceful times


SYDNEY - During my teaching years in Papua New Guinea, I worked with a variety of headmasters, but one in particular stands out.

His name was Fred Briggs and he was from Ireland. We worked together at Hagara Primary School in Port Moresby.

Fred was a reasonable enough bloke but had a violent, explosive temper, what is quaintly referred to as having a “short fuse”. In fact Fred had no fuse at all. His outbursts of temper were pretty much instantaneous.

Fred was also something of an odd ball. He would only eat sausages. On the plus side, he also liked a beer.

During recess break he would amble around the perimeter of the playground, dressed in khakis, military-style boots and a huge hat.

Continue reading "The wild Hagara Irishman with a seeming dislike of cowboys" »

Australian miners in firing line of PNG resources law shake-up

Mine-pitJEWEL TOPSFIELD | Sydney Morning Herald | Edited extracts

SYDNEY - Major Australian mining companies face the prospect of higher royalties, tough restrictions on fly-in fly-out workers and the potential nationalisation of assets under reforms under consideration by the cash-strapped Papua New Guinea government.

The proposed law changes have sparked warnings from the country's peak mining body that they would pose “significant deterrents” to investment in future projects and “threaten the existing operations of current mines”.

Several Australian Securities Exchange listed companies including Newcrest, Highlands Pacific and St Barbara Limited operate mines in PNG, which has significant resources including gas, gold, copper, cobalt and nickel.

Continue reading "Australian miners in firing line of PNG resources law shake-up" »

On Lihir, a doctor pursues eradication of a disfiguring disease

Oriol Mitjà examines a young patient  Jeremiah
Oriol Mitjà examines a young patient, Jeremiah, who has an active infection which can be cured with a dose of azithromycin (Brian Cassey)

MARTIN ENSERINK | Science | Edited extracts

Read the complete article by Martin Eyserink here

LIHIR ISLAND—In a small village 15,000 kilometers from home, Oriol Mitjà jumped out of a white van one early May afternoon and started to look at people's legs.

"Any children with ulcers here?" he asked in Tok Pisin. "Can we see them?"

Soon, a young woman pushed a crying boy about five years old toward Mitjà. The boy was barefoot; he had a mop of blond curly hair, like most kids here, and was dressed only in dirty blue shorts.

A group of villagers, mostly women and children, had gathered to watch. "What's his name?" Mitjà asked as he sat down on a low wooden bench, pulled on disposable gloves, and gestured to the sobbing kid to come sit on his right leg. "Jeremiah," his mother said.

Continue reading "On Lihir, a doctor pursues eradication of a disfiguring disease" »

Tales of Bumbu Zab Zab MBE from Butibum, Morobe


SYDNEY - After two years of enduring the incredible hardships of the Australian School of Pacific Administration - endless lectures, compulsory assignments, practice teaching, lesson preparation and assorted other tasks - it was a relief for the Class of 1961-62 to be finally let loose as teachers on the unsuspecting students of Papua New Guinea.

I enjoyed my subsequent nine years in the Education Department, spent mostly drinking, socialising, smoking, womanising, gambling and playing sport with, I nearly forgot, some teaching on the side.

However in 1972 it was time to say farewell to chalk and blackboard as I was offered a position in an obscure government department squirreled away in Konedobu. (In fact I liked the new job so much I didn’t leave it until 2004 and, because I was once a teacher, I can tell you that’s 32 years.)

As was the case with most government agencies a Tea Boi was part of the establishment and ours was an unforgettable character who by the name of Bumbu Zab Zab, who hailed from Butibum in Morobe Province.

Continue reading "Tales of Bumbu Zab Zab MBE from Butibum, Morobe" »

My brave little girl, Brianna, and the power of a smile



GOROKA - Her dazzling smile lit up the room. Her enchanting beauty amazed them all. Her liveliness made them feel alive. Their pain faded at her sight. She gave them hope. This little angel gave them hope.

Late last month, at about three in the afternoon, I had to rush my nine-month old daughter Brianna to our doctor.

She had an awful swelling on her left jaw after the mumps, which she had for a week, seemed to have subsided.

Well, there is a first time to everything and I panicked. Brianna was diagnosed with a parotid abscess and had to be admitted for surgery at Goroka Base Hospital for surgical drainage to remove the pus. The medical terms scared me. Even the term ‘minor surgery’ didn’t sink in well.

Myriad frightening thoughts raced through my mind. I wasn’t even listening to what the doctor was saying. We live in a time of uncertainty and I was worried and very concerned about something going wrong.

Continue reading "My brave little girl, Brianna, and the power of a smile" »

What now, Australia? You’re being truly outgunned by China


KUNDIAWA - The recent surge of Chinese influence in the western Pacific and especially in Australia’s former colony Papua New Guinea should not be a surprise.

China has been in the region long enough to capitalise on weaknesses in the Papua New Guinea-Australia relationship.

Instead of Australia getting anxious and wringing its hands, Canberra should be asking where it has gone wrong as PNG’s big brother and start working on fixing the relationship.

The official Chinese presence in PNG goes back to 1976 when the People’s Republic of China established diplomatic ties soon after PNG gained independence in 1975.

Continue reading "What now, Australia? You’re being truly outgunned by China" »

Australia’s influence in – and knowledge of – the Pacific diminishes

Chinese navy destroyer
Chinese navy destroyer - eyes on the Pacific as Australian influence wanes

ROWAN CALLICK | The Australian | Extracts

You can read Rowan Callick’s complete article here

BEIJING - Asia is heading into typhoon season, symbolising the rivalries being unleashed in the region with a fervour not seen for decades.

The great global powers are jockeying to position themselves to emerge on top from the big ­annual summits they increasingly seek to game to demonstrate their authority and attractiveness.

An early indication of where Australia stands will come from the annual Australia-US Ministerial Consultations in California next Monday and Tuesday.

Foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop and defence minister Marise Payne will meet US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and defence secretary Jim Mattis.

Continue reading "Australia’s influence in – and knowledge of – the Pacific diminishes" »

PNG’s brush with the infamous Baader Meinhof Gang

TerroristenALLYN HICKS

SYDNEY - The recent death of Papua New Guinea’s former director of public prosecutions, Kevin Egan, in Hong Kong brought memories of two interesting cases he handled in Port Moresby in the late 1970s.

One was the jailing of former member of parliament Nahau Rooney, who was released the next day after the intervention of then prime minister Sir Michael Somare. The other was the conviction and jailing of a German national, Rene Gorlitz, 29.

In mid-1977, Gorlitz and his girlfriend, Ingrid Koch, also 29, stole a yacht in Sydney Harbour and sailed it to Milne Bay where they were arrested and transferred to Port Moresby.

Gorlitz was found guilty and ended up in Bomana. Koch was deported.

Around the same time, on the other side of the world, a leader of the notorious Baader Meinhof Gang, Andries Baader, was sentenced to life in prison. His partner, Ulrich Meinhof, had committed suicide in May 1976.

Continue reading "PNG’s brush with the infamous Baader Meinhof Gang" »

So much to say, but let me begin: Some words come from pain

Vanessa Gordon


BRISBANE - I have so much to say. I don't know where to begin. I'll start with I do not think all men are savages.

I am not a misandrist in any way, shape or form. I appreciate that Papua New Guinean men play a pivotal role in PNG society. I get it. Mi save tu lo pasin lo ples ,na kastom. Iau nunure. Mi save!

Secondly, I will always support a PNG writer, male or female. I will read, share and buy your work. I will wave my PNG flag beaming with pride around the world. Your words come from a place from deep within.

Ward Barry, you have this thing called freedom of speech and right of assembly. You are able to express your thoughts. You can express your thoughts and creative gifts through poetry. And others that read your work can respond with the same rights.

I have enjoyed your poetry in the past. Did I enjoy this particular poem? I am indifferent. I feel nothing.

Continue reading "So much to say, but let me begin: Some words come from pain" »

Are PNG men really savage? A balanced view about PNG


PORT MORESBY - Colonial literature portrayed Papua New Guinea as an exotic and savage paradise. I am surprised that view is still maintained by Australians and some learned Papua Guineans.

One such view is that Papua New Guinean men do not respect and treat our women properly. This is a slap in the face for all the caring gentlemen in Papua New Guinea. We know how to open doors, buy chocolates and golden necklaces for our women. We love our women just like anyone else. We don’t live in the stone-age.

Let’s not confuse ourselves with ‘equality’ and ‘gender based violence’.  Equality – equal access to resources and opportunities between men and women. GBV – violence against women. Using economic terms, equality is macro whilst GBV is micro in nature.

I am all for equality and a level playing field. I believe PNG is a country of equal opportunities. In the process of trying to give a based view, I’ve been called names online and misunderstood.

Continue reading "Are PNG men really savage? A balanced view about PNG" »

How the PNG tsunami 20 years ago was a big wake-up call

Sissano Lagoon
Sissano Lagoon devastated after the 1998 tsunami (Jose Borrero)

PROF DAVE TAPPIN | Geoblogy | British Geological Survey

KEYWORTH, UK - 20 years ago this week, on the evening of the 17 July 1998, 2,200 people died when a 15-metre high tsunami devastated an idyllic lagoon on the north coast of Papua New Guinea.

The event was to prove a benchmark in tsunami science as the tsunami was generated not by an earthquake but by a submarine landslide.

Most tsunamis are generated by earthquakes and, previously, submarine landslides were an under-appreciated mechanism in tsunami generation. This was because there had been no recent historical event to prove just how dangerous they could be.

Back in 1998, there had been few recent destructive earthquakes, they were to strike later.  Although earthquake mechanisms were generally well understood in tsunami generation, the mechanisms by which submarine landslides cause tsunamis, were not. In fact it was generally believed that submarine landslides could not generate destructive tsunamis.

PNG changed all this.

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Championing the role & interests of women in PNG

Michael Dom


This commentary from Michael Dom was written as a contribution to a continuing and intense discussion in PNG Attitude about gender equity and violence against women in Papua New Guinea. More pertinently it was written before Ward Barry’s harrowing verse published below.

Many Papua New Guinean men admit they have committed sexual violence against their partner, 80% in fact. But solutions are not enhanced by blaming all men for this perfidious behaviour any more than solutions are assisted by using the humanity of decent and innocent men to dilute the case against the perpetrators.

One thing is for sure, it will take the combined efforts of wise men and women to solve this shocking social and cultural problem. And that’s what I like about this comment from Michael – it recognises that reality and shows that – in some circumstances - it is already occurring – KJ

SOMEWHERE IN PNG - While conducting agricultural surveys in many isolated communities across Papua New Guinea, my team regularly comes face to face with gender and equity issues.

Gender and equity are mainstreamed into development policy and are often crosscutting within our extension, research and development programs.

As you probably know I'm not an expert on gender and gender equity, but what I do understand about approaching these issues is that it's always a social and therefore a cultural negotiation.

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Pacific Beat’s end signifies the corrosion of PNG-Australia bonds


KUNDIAWA -  There have been certain things that signify the bond between Australia and Papua New Guinea despite what appears to be a quickly eroding relationship.

Amongst them was ABC’s shortwave service and the program Pacific Beat, which has had a history of its own in playing a vital role in the Australian-PNG relationship and development process.

But these connectors between the people of PNG and the people of Australia are disappearing.

It is ABC’s Tok Pisin service Pacific Beat that reaches all corners of PNG and the Pacific with news and other information.

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Charles Abel’s one billion kina (or more) budget blow-out

Summary of likely sources understating 2017 budget deficit
Summary of likely sources used to understate Papua New Guinea's 2017 budget deficit

PAUL FLANAGAN | PNG Economics | Edited extract

You can read Paul Flanagan’s full article, including charts, here

CANBERRA - Deputy prime minister and treasurer Charles Abel’s credibility was on the line. He had made a commitment. Now could he deliver on it?

So did Charles Abel keep his 100-Day Plan promise to reduce Papua New Guinea’s 2017 budget deficit from its unsustainable level?

The answer is almost certainly “no”.

The actual 2017 budget deficit is conservatively estimated at more than one billion kina larger than claimed – largely because the government has not paid its bills or its GST refunds.

The conservative estimate lifts the size of the 2017 budget deficit from 2.4% to just under 4% of GDP. However, the upper reaches of the deficit estimate could be K2 billion more than the K1.8 billion deficit reported in the 2017 final budget outcome.

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Reviving some of the lost stories of German New Guinea

German native police  1909
German native police on parade in 1909


BRISBANE - I lived most of my life in what was formerly German New Guinea. In Wewak for the first four years of my life and then, after schooling in Australia, in Aitape for the rest of my working days.

In recent years, the history of German New Guinea has become available in books translated from German into English and am learning some astounding information not known by the Aitape people.

For example, I was amazed to find in a 1910-11 report a bridge 165 metres long was planned to be built across the Raihu River and villagers from Wokau, Pro and Lemieng worked tirelessly at felling heavy ironwood logs of and dragging them to the site.

And a permanent public ferry service had been established at rivers and creeks so people could travel dry-shod from Aitape to the great Sissano Lagoon 45 km away. Now, in 2018, long gone.

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China continues criticism of Pacific undersea cable deal

Australian underwater cables in Asia-Pacific
Australia's undersea cables in the Asia-Pacific region

HAMARTIA ANTIDOTE | Pakistan Defence | Edited

KARACHI - The leaders of Australia, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea have marked the start of a project to lay an undersea internet cable between the three countries amid criticism from China that Australia is trying to contain its influence in the region.

Australia is spending nearly $137 million to lay the cable and prime minister Malcolm Turnbull described it as a "very practical way" of providing foreign aid

Back in 2016 the Solomon Islands government signed a deal with Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei to lay a cable to Australia.

But the Australian government was concerned Huawei would be permitted to plug into Australia's telecommunications infrastructure.

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Culture is important but collective humanity is moreso

Cornish tin miners
Chris Overland's forebears were Cornish tin miners like these - he can't speak their language but knows how to bake a mean Cornish pastie


ADELAIDE - In a recent article, ‘Do You Understand Who We Are?’, Vanessa Gordon talks about culture and what this means to her as a proud Tolai, as well as to other Papua New Guineans. Clearly, Vanessa’s cultural background is important to her as it is to virtually all humans.

As I reflected upon her writing I started to wonder about this thing we call culture and what we really mean when we talk about it.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines culture as “the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time”.

It then proceeds to give examples of the use of the word culture in reference to things like ethnicity, age, gender, religion and civilisation.

It immediately struck me that culture is a very slippery concept which we routinely use in a variety of different contexts to mean very different things.

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Farewell PNG: Reflections on a country of contradictions

Eric Tlozek with Ikundi villagers
Eric Tlozek with Ikundi villagers - the land and its people captured Eric like it captures most of us

ERIC TLOZEK | Australian Broadcasting Corporation

PORT MORESBY - I learnt about Papua New Guinea through the struggles of my staff and of strangers.

One staff member had a premature baby, which died at just six days old. Sitting with the grieving family around the body of that tiny girl I witnessed a deep and terrible sadness.

Another staff member nearly died from tuberculosis, then a subsequent bout of pneumonia.

One's brother was shot and killed, another endured horrible domestic violence.

I treated others for infections and took them to hospital when they had been beaten and robbed.

I did the same for a woman I found bleeding on the street, who'd been hit in the head with a rock.

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Does your smart phone think it knows more than you?


TUMBY BAY - Have you noticed the new level of scrutiny that seems to accompany everything we do nowadays?

The days when you could safely potter away at something by yourself without causing offence to anyone seem to be well and truly over.

I’ve got neighbours who know exactly what I’ve been doing on any given day and at any given time of the week. Not only that but they’ve got video to prove it.

Talk about big brother – I’m surrounded by dozens of big brothers, big sisters, big aunts, big uncles and big nieces and nephews.

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China Radio seeks to address 'misunderstandings'

Dr Viola Kuo Huang
Dr Viola Kuo Huang - not possible for China Radio to provide a service targeting a Pacific islands audience

JOHNNY BLADES | Dateline Pacific Radio New Zealand

WELLINGTON - China Radio International is seeking to bridge the gap in understanding about China in other parts of the world. That's according to Dr Viola Kuo Huang, a principal researcher at China Radio International's English Service in Beijing.

China Radio International recently took up frequencies formerly used by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's short-wave service into the Pacific Islands. It broadcasts globally in 65 languages including Mandarin. Dr Kuo Huang spoke to Johnny Blades.

VIOLA KUO HUANG: The English service of China Radio International is trying to braid the misunderstandings between the outside world and China. So we have hourly news about what's happening in the world, what's happening in China and what's happening in some English-speaking regions.

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Nauru ban on ABC journalists is 'dictatorial'

Nauru - once little rich guys, now little big noters profiting from Australia's refugee cruelty

MONG PALATINO | Global Voices | Asia Pacific Report

Read the complete article by Mong Palatino here

SYDNEY - Protests have been gathering force over the Nauru government’s ban on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from entering the country to cover the Pacific Islands forum leaders’ summit in September.

Nauru has accused Australia’s public broadcaster of biased and false reporting.

The summit is an annual gathering of Oceania’s heads of state, where important matters concerning the region are addressed.

On 2 July, the Nauru government issued a statement restricting the number of people who can attend the summit because of “very limited accommodation.” But it singled out the ABC and explained why it banned the broadcaster:

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Do you understand who we are? Do you understand our essence?

Couture versus culture. Melan[es]ia Trump in her kumul dress: for Melania just 'pretty'; for many Melanesians pretty offensive


KOKOPO - East New Britain has been buzzing this week as the South Pacific Export Mask Festival and Tolai Warwagira welcomed visitors from all over the world to experience the magic and wonder of an intricate and unique culture.

The annual festival showcases dances from East New Britain, West New Britain, New Ireland and other provinces in Papua New Guinea.

One of the highlights is the Kinavai ceremony which starts on the beach at dawn. Dukduks and tubuans arrive on canoes just as the sun rises.

Dukduk is a secret society, a sacred part of the Tolai culture. The society represents spirits. The dukduks represent male spirits and the tubuans are female spirits.

The only way to differentiate between dukduk and tubuan is by the mask worn by the dancer. The dancers are always male. Always.

Even though they may be representing a tubuan. the dancer will always be male. Females are not allowed in the society.

As the canoes approach, villagers, residents and tourists congregate on the shore of Omorong Beach.

Hundreds gather and wait in silent anticipation.

Continue reading "Do you understand who we are? Do you understand our essence?" »

The last days of the kiap – a rare tale of the end of an era

Northumbrian Kiap coverPHIL FITZPATRICK

‘The Northumbrian Kiap: bush administration in self-governing PNG’ by Robert Forster, UK Book Publishing, Whitley Bay, 2018, ISBN: 978-1-9-12183-36-4, 294pp. My copy from the Book Depository UK, AU$25.80 with free postage

TUMBY BAY - By 1960 the training of local indigenous officers for the public service in Papua New Guinea had accelerated dramatically.

These officers were paid the same rates as expatriate officers. As a result the wages bill of the Australian Administration rose rapidly.

In 1962 Minister for Territories Paul Hasluck decided to restructure the public service. His aim was to cut costs by turning it into “an essentially territorial service based on local conditions and rates of pay, staffed as fully as possible by indigenous officers and assisted by an auxiliary service staffed by expatriate officers”.

This was the beginning of what later became known as “localisation” and signalled the end of career paths for expatriates in the then Territory of Papua and New Guinea.

This development caught a lot of people by surprise, including a lot of local staff whose salaries were suddenly reduced.

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When you invite family to mumu, you don’t mumu family

Our feathered brotherMARLENE DEE GRAY POTOURA

LAE - When my siblings and I were growing up, our mama looked after chooks in a fenced off hut. Her chooks were snobs, but ma and her feathered brood understood each other.

There was a bastard that grew up with attitude because ma reared him in our house.

She named him Brith. A wrong name.

Now Brith was a mean and cruel fictional giant in a children’s book. He lived on a hill and every now and then stumbled down to the houses below and terrorised the villagers.

Brith the giant had flaming ginger hair. Brith the rooster had ginger feathers. And both giant and rooster had similar attitudes. They sucked totally.

Mama indulged Brith who became a spoilt brat. He wandered around the houses everywhere he chose, more like a mute human being than a bird. No one dared touched him, for fear they would get a scolding or, worse still, a whopping from Mama delivered by a guava twig.

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I am a PNG Man

Couple and childrenWARDLEY D I BARRY

This is not a response to the truthful observations of Michael Dom's We are Dying One by One’. What I'm offering here is another perspective left out of his candid representation of women in Papua New Guinea. I hope this perspective is appreciated by readers of PNG Attitude - WDIB

I am a PNG man, and I love my women
Here is my sister, there is my aunt, she is my niece
I call her mama or mum, and that one is my friend

I am a PNG man, and I love my women
I say they’re all wonderful, I say they’re all worthy
And I love it when we’re together in the kitchen

I am a PNG man, and I love my women
Some are good nurses, and some are inspirational
Instructors, most of them are miles ahead of the men

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