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109 posts from November 2018

Why working hard is a prayer of thanksgiving

Dominic - facilitatorSCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

LAE - I am not religious. But I do believe in the existence of a higher power and the importance of a higher purpose.

Last weekend, I was invited to speak to a group of youngsters from all over the country.  This is one of many engagements I have found myself attending for over six years.

Sometimes, I don’t understand why I end up in meetings like the one on Saturday. In fact I was struggling to understand why I was there.  I had a presentation ready but my thoughts were in a jumble.

Before me, retired Major General Jerry Singirok, spoke about leadership and how young people had to stand up to the challenge and believe in what is right.  It rang true to me in my confused state.

Continue reading "Why working hard is a prayer of thanksgiving" »

Xi’s tough-minded APEC approach has yet to be proved wrong

Xi Jinping at the APEC summit in Port Moresby (Mark R Cristino EPA)RICHARD HERR | Australian Strategic Policy Institute

CANBERRA - President Xi Jinping’s attendance at the recent APEC summit in Port Moresby was meant to be the cap on a soft-power charm offensive validating Chinese influence in the Pacific.

In the event, it has been widely regarded by non-Chinese media and commentators as a diplomatic bust for Xi.

That APEC was a failure seemed clear enough to virtually all observers.

The meeting ended without an agreed communiqué for the first time in its history.

Continue reading "Xi’s tough-minded APEC approach has yet to be proved wrong" »

An inspirational autobiography & success story from Simbu

Quest for EducationFRANCIS NII

‘Quest for Education: from selling firewood to Yale University’ by Pole John Kale, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, November 2018, paperback, 148 pages. ISBN-10: 1729671144. Available from Francis Nii here for K50 (including freight) or Amazon Books here for $US8 (plus freight)

KUNDIAWA - All primary and secondary schools in Papua New Guinea should have a copy of ‘Quest for Education’, an inspirational autobiography. Incredible story of success in education that can inspire the next generation of Papua New Guineans.

It is my pleasure to officially announce the publication of Pole John Kale's autobiography.

It tells of is progress from a typically harsh and poverty-stricken rural Papua New Guinean life to the prestigious Yale University in the United States.

It is a story of the many successes of Pole John Kale of the Mian Tribe of the Gumine District in Simbu Province.

Continue reading "An inspirational autobiography & success story from Simbu" »

Thank you PNG & the many friends who stood up for me

Scott_waideSCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country Blog

LAE - I have been very humbled by the incredible support my family and I have received from people  both here and abroad.

Support also came from friends in the media, academia, law enforcement, the military and many other circles too many to name.

I have been reinstated to my job as deputy regional head of news at EMTV

I wish to thank our media friends here and overseas especially.  Thank you for your support and your words of encouragement. Thank you to my immediate and extended  family and to the strangers who offered support and words of encouragement in Port Moresby, Lae and remote parts of PNG.

Continue reading "Thank you PNG & the many friends who stood up for me" »

Naive Australia should dump grand governance aid goals

Howes_StephenSTEPHEN HOWES | Australian Financial Review

CANBERRA - In a recent opinion piece, former foreign minister Alexander Downer commends the opportunities now available to Pacific islanders to work in Australia. But, when he was minister, Downer publicly opposed the introduction of a Pacific farm labour program.

Instead, the Liberals gave rich-country backpackers generous visa incentives to work on farms, meaning that today, even though there is now a Pacific seasonal farm labour program, most of Australia's fruit is picked by the young people of distant rich countries, rather than the young people of our poor neighbours.

Downer viewed the Pacific too much through an aid lens. In his Financial Review article, he defends successive Australian governments against the accusation that they haven't taken the Pacific seriously enough by referring to our large Pacific aid programs.

Continue reading "Naive Australia should dump grand governance aid goals" »

Agroforestry supports food security & conservation in PNG

Yat Paol holds edible pitpit flowers (Camilo Mejia Giraldo)CAMILO MEJIA GIRALDO | Mongabay | Extract

Read here the full version of this excellent article on PNG food security

Papua New Guinea’s predominantly agricultural society widely practices agroforestry (the cropping of useful fruit and nut trees with understory vines, shrubs, and vegetables in a forest-mimicking system). The produces a wide array of products for farmers, from betel nut to coconut and cacao, and is seen as a tool to address the country’s issues of rapid population growth and shrinking land resources. The diverse and predictable harvest provided by agroforestry allows the community of Gildipasi the additional luxury of putting aside nearby areas of forest for conservation: 2,000 hectares of forested areas and a marine zone have been protected in the last 18 years. Agroforestry also sequesters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provides homes and forage for wild creatures, ranging from cockatoos to bandicoots.

GILDIPASI— After a short walk from his community on Papua New Guinea’s northern coast, Yat Paol (pictured with edible pitpit flowers) clears away dried leaves from a shady patch of ground and sits calmly to chew on buai, betel nuts — one of PNG’s most sought-after agricultural products.

Although surrounded by a lush tropical forest, the respite Paol enjoys from the afternoon sun comes from one of the many cacao trees dotting his family’s small plot, planted alongside slender areca palms, the occasional banana tree, Gliricidia shade trees, and an upper story of tall coconut palms.

Continue reading "Agroforestry supports food security & conservation in PNG" »

PM should step down over conduct: vast evidence of wrongdoing


Mekere Morauta (2)
Sir Mekere Morauta - "Mr O’Neill’s activities bring the office of prime minister into disrepute. Evidence of wrongdoing is overwhelming"

SIR MEKERE MORAUTA MP | Papua New Guinea Observer

PORT MORESBY - Prime minister Peter O’Neill should stand down and submit himself to an independent external inquiry into very serious allegations of personal and corporate impropriety.

The allegations concern his then wholly-owned construction company Wild Cat Developments Ltd and a bridge-building contract with the Asian Development Bank.

The bank investigated the contract and found it to be improperly and incompletely implemented by Mr O’Neill’s company.

The bank found proper tender processes had not been followed, rigging of the tender process, misrepresentation, financial management deficiencies, potential integrity violations, serious procurement irregularities, contravention of contract terms, and lack of qualification to tender.

Reports by The Guardian newspaper and the PNGi network state that the 2015-2016 project in West New Britain Province “was fraught with problems, requiring the ADB to temporarily stop payments and send in inspectors…. Eventually, the contract (was) terminated and re-tendered to a Chinese company”.

The information in these reports is deeply disturbing. It raises the question – yet again - of whether Mr O’Neill is a fit and proper person to be prime minister.

Continue reading "PM should step down over conduct: vast evidence of wrongdoing" »

PNG rebuffs Oz & US in favour of ‘insecure’ Huawei internet deal

Despite the best efforts of Kev the Koala to turn things around, PNG has stuck with Huawei to build an important section of its internet infrastructure


NOOSA - In the wake of APEC, we have now learned that China has had an important victory with the Papua New Guinea government rejecting an approach from Australia, the United States and Japan to build an important element in the country’s internet infrastructure.

PNG’s minister for public enterprise and state investment William Duma has announced that his government will stick with Chinese company, Huawei, with which it already had an agreement signed in 2016.

This is a significant rebuff to Australia and the United States, which have tried to persuade PNG to dump the Chinese company as, in recent times, they have sought to dilute China’s influence in the Pacific region.

From PNG’s viewpoint it could be seen as a balancing move to reassure China that it is seeking to maintain a neutral stand in its relations with both the West and China, especially in the light of the deal with Australia and the US to rebuild Manus as a key military asset.

Continue reading "PNG rebuffs Oz & US in favour of ‘insecure’ Huawei internet deal" »

I stand stunned at such natural beauty

Polynesian beautyJOSEPH TAMBURE

I saw her and she saw me
I looked at her a little and she did the same
I stood in shock at her natural beauty
Mouth and eyes wide open, legs so weak
Blank mind, heart beating strong
Knees giving way, sweat pouring like rain
Something strange happening to me

She smiled, teeth white as lightning
Long hair cascading down her back
Short skirt to knees, bracelets glisten
Expensive necklace, jewellery too
Skin smooth and soft as an eel
A natural beauty reserved for the finest
Would I be the one chosen?

Continue reading "I stand stunned at such natural beauty" »

Waide reinstated! People power gives PNG govt a wake-up call

Scott on the job
The essence of Scott Waide's life - giving the people of PNG a voice in their own lives and country


LAE – Over the last 48 hours, I have been very  humbled by the incredible support my family and I have received from people  both here and abroad.

Support also came from friends in the media, academia, law enforcement, the military and many other circles too many to name.

I have since been reinstated to my job as deputy regional head of news at EMTV

I wish to thank our media friends here and overseas, especially.  Thank you for your support and your words of encouragement.

Thank you to my immediate and extended family and to the strangers who offered support and words of encouragement in Port Moresby, Lae and remote parts of Papua New Guinea.

My news teams both in Port Moresby, Lae, Kokopo, Madang and Mt Hagen demonstrated the highest level of professionalism and maturity by remaining away from everything that has happened.  I am proud to lead this team of young journalists, camera operators and support staff.

Continue reading "Waide reinstated! People power gives PNG govt a wake-up call" »

Our media freedom is under threat; but we have a voice

Jimmy Awagl - "Scott Waide, the people are with you. You can’t lose your voice because we are your voice"


KUNDIAWA - Papua New Guinea is a democratic society bound by its constitution which includes freedom of expression.

Neither leaders nor lawmakers are meant to suppress the voices of liberation or deprive citizens themselves of having a voice.

Yet the suppression of public voices is obviously being practiced in PNG - with further restrictions being considered.

The recent suspension of courageous EMTV journalist Scott Waide is a mockery of media freedom in a democratically constituted country.

The political leaders, cronies and managers implicated have been high-handed in dictating their own wishes and imposing them on media and journalism - and on the people - of this country.

These would-be autocrats seem to believe that reporting on what they see as sensitive issues (to them) is morally unjustifiable or unethical and does not warrant reporting for public consumption by anyone, especially an eminent journalist.

This attitude, they seem to think, elevates them above the constitution and people of this country - and they seem to believe this elevated role is available to them but not to any of the rest of us.

Continue reading "Our media freedom is under threat; but we have a voice" »

Who was culprit behind the govt's revenge on Waide?

Revenge-on-WaideBRYAN KRAMER MP | Pacific Media Watch

MADANG - Papua New Guinea’s O’Neill government has taken revenge against senior EMTV reporter Scott Waide, who was suspended over his broadcasting of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s comments about the Maserati scandal.

I was informed soon after APEC that O’Neill planned on sacking Waide. However, there was pushback from EMTV management and staff so they decided to instead suspend him and order that he go on leave.

I suspect given the recent unrest in Port Moresby involving security forces they had to be careful not to trigger another incident.

So the real question is, who was behind the decision calling for Waide’s sacking/suspension, prime minister Peter O’Neill himself or the usual suspects such as O’Neill’s chief media officer Chris Hawkins or APEC minister Justin Tkatchenko?

Continue reading "Who was culprit behind the govt's revenge on Waide?" »

PNG’s attacks on media freedom lead to global downgrade

Atrocities like the shooting of university students protesting against corruption have led to PNG's reputation on basic freedoms being downgraded globally

JOSEF BENEDICT | Civicus Monitor | Edited

JOHANNESBURG – ‘People Power Under Attack’, a report released today by Civicus Monitor and which tracks respect for fundamental freedoms in 196 countries, depicts the dismal state of civic freedoms in the Asia-Pacific region.

The report categorises civic space as either closed, repressed, obstructed, narrowed or open depending on a country’s approach to freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression.

In the Pacific, Papua New Guinea and Nauru have been downgraded to join Fiji in the ‘obstructed’ category.

A staggering 94% percent of people in the Asia Pacific region live in countries with closed, repressed or obstructed civic space.

Activists are facing increasing levels of persecution and the media is under assault.

Continue reading "PNG’s attacks on media freedom lead to global downgrade" »

Silencing of journalist is latest attack on constitutional rights

Lawrence Stephens (2)
Lawrence Stephens - "In the past year PNG has had indications of the curtailing of freedoms"

MEDIA STATEMENT | Transparency International PNG

PORT MORESBY – Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) believes firmly that the democratic freedoms that allow journalists and citizens to question those in power must not be curtailed.

TIPNG unequivocally supports the call by the Media Council of Papua New Guinea for the reinstatement of EMTV journalist Scott Waide after allegations that Mr Waide was suspended by his employer because of his reports on government failings.

The Media Council said Mr Waide, EMTV’s Lae bureau chief, was suspended for airing a story considered by the Media Niugini Ltd board, the Kumul Telikom Holdings Ltd board and the Kumul Consolidated Holdings Ltd board, to be ‘negative’.

EMTV which is a free-to-air TV station operates as Media Niugini Ltd and was acquired by Telikom, which is now Kumul Telikom Holdings and is part of the government’s portfolio of state-owned assets under Kumul Consolidated Holdings.

Continue reading "Silencing of journalist is latest attack on constitutional rights" »

‘The Quad’, ‘Indo-Pacific’ & China – what’s going on?

Xi Jinping at the APEC summit in Port Moresby (Mark R Cristino EPA)
China's president Xi Jinping at the APEC summit in Port Moresby where the US prosecuted a fightback on what it termed the 'Indo-Pacific' region

VASILIS TRIGKAS | South China Morning Post

HONG KONG - The recent war of words between China and the US at the APEC summit in Papua New Guinea stunned geopolitical pundits around the world and attests to ominous dynamics in the Asia-Pacific.

As the two powers increasingly see issues in terms of security, there is a real danger of matters escalating into a strategic competition for regional alliances.

Just two days before the opening of the Port Moresby summit, an informal meeting took place in Singapore. There, US vice-president Mike Pence met the leaders of India, Japan and Australia.

This was the third meeting of leaders of the four democratic Asia-Pacific states known as ‘the Quad’, and, while the structure has not been institutionalised into an alliance, American strategists have called for the crystallisation of an archipelagic NATO.

Continue reading "‘The Quad’, ‘Indo-Pacific’ & China – what’s going on?" »

Waide dumping condemned as vindictive & dictatorial

Scott Waide talking to students
Scott Waide speaks at a Transparency International youth program. The overhead slide is headlined 'A Guardian of Democracy', which Waide's many admirers consider him to be


NOOSA – Readers of PNG Attitude have joined thousands of Papua New Guineans and people internationally in voicing strong support for journalist and blogger Scott Waide.

Waide has been suspended from his senior job with EMTV after the television station management received instructions from the Papua New Guinea government to do so.

The prominent journalist was linked to a story broadcast on Saturday 17 November which originated in New Zealand and mentioned that prime minister Jacinta Ardern would not be travelling one of the 40 Maseratis imported by the PNG government for use at APEC.

The purchase had generated great controversy and much criticism in PNG and in the overseas media.

Continue reading "Waide dumping condemned as vindictive & dictatorial" »

Time for us to hear the Pacific’s take on the Pacific

Sean Dorney
Sean Dorney filming at the opening of Joycelin Leahy's Pacific Art studio in 2014

MARY-LOUISE O’CALLAGHAN | Asia Pacific Report/The Interpreter/Pacific Media Watch

MELBOURNE - It is both apt and overdue that veteran ABC correspondent Sean Dorney was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Journalism at the 2018 Walkley ceremonies.

Judged by the trustees of the Walkley Foundation, this award not only recognises Dorney’s extraordinary body of work built over four decades chronicling life and politics in the Pacific, especially Papua New Guinea.

It also but pays homage to one of the last of a near extinct breed of old-time expat Pacific correspondents who lived and breathed their rounds as long-term residents of the communities upon which they were reporting.

Australian newsrooms, instead of panting and pontificating about the growing influence of China, might be better served by tapping into Pacific conversations.

Continue reading "Time for us to hear the Pacific’s take on the Pacific" »

In lavishing funds on PNG, here’s what is really needed

MARK MORAN | The Conversation 

Boy and mobile phone
A student does his homework near a solar power kit in remote PNG (Geoff Miller)

BRISBANE - If you set out by dinghy from the northern-most inhabited part of Australia you will make landfall in Papua New Guinea fairly soon.

Boigu Island, part of Queensland, is the most northerly island in the Torres Strait. With its own Australia Post outlet, it is less than 10 kilometres from the PNG coast, an area known as South Fly District, part of Western Province.

PNG, a country often overlooked by the Australian public, is enjoying the fierce competition among foreign powers for influence in the country after APEC ended in stalemate and heightened US-China tensions.

For PNG, the attention may well translate to development funds. Already the US has pledged to work with Australia to upgrade Lombrum naval base on Manus Island, in what is widely seen as a counter to rising influence from Beijing in the region.

But if foreign powers really want to make a difference to PNG, one of the poorest in the region, then funding equipment like telecommunications gear and solar power kits would be widely welcomed. One key benefit would be using mobile phones to transfer money - instead of traipsing long distances to a bank in town.

Continue reading "In lavishing funds on PNG, here’s what is really needed" »

Uproar over Maserati TV item leads to suspension of top journalist

Reinstate Scott WaideKEITH JACKSON

NOOSA - In the weeks before the recent APEC meeting in Port Moresby, the eminent Papua New Guinean journalist, Scott Waide – assisted by his listeners and viewers throughout PNG, gathered first-hand evidence that the health ministry had been lying about the availability of drugs and medical equipment across the country.

It wasn’t the first time that EMTV’s senior reporter had identified and related factual stories that the PNG government found embarrassing, but this one – implicating powerful and controversial health minister Dr Puka Temu - apparently seriously stung the government. You can read the story here.

But on Saturday 17 November, in an EMTV news bulletin, another story about the PNG Maserati scandal  was broadcast slap bang in the middle of the APEC leaders' summit, triggering the suspension of Scott Waide, a senior figure at the broadcaster.

Continue reading "Uproar over Maserati TV item leads to suspension of top journalist" »

News boss wants police who assaulted journalists punished

Police storm parliament
Scene in Port Moresby last week as police and other security personnel stormed parliament

GENESIS KETAN | My Land, My Country Blog

PORT MORESBY - As director of news for PNGFM, I am very disappointed at the manner at which two of my reporters, one male and one female, were assaulted by disciplinary officers while covering the storming of parliament on Tuesday 20 November.

They were simply there to do their jobs and cover the proceedings of what was happening at the national parliament when they were accosted by a group of inflamed disciplinary officers, both police and correctional service officers.

Upon seeing the journalists – one officer called out “Em ol reporter ya, ol laik kisim wanem kain story, paitim ol”. (“They are reporters, what kind of story are they here for, beat them up.”)

Continue reading "News boss wants police who assaulted journalists punished" »

Asian views of the weekend APEC became arena for two giants

Xi Jinping at the APEC summit in Port Moresby (Mark R Cristino EPA)
Xi Jinping at the APEC summit

COMPILATION by The Straits Times, Singapore

APEC Fizzles – Editorial, The Statesman (India)

The worthies who gathered at Papua New Guinea over the weekend have agreed to disagree.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit has failed, a collective failure that has been underlined by the inability to agree on a communiqué.

This is said to be the first time in its history that a joint communiqué has been the casualty of discord, primarily between the US and China.

Cooperation has floundered on the rock of conflicting perceptions of trade and investment.

Continue reading "Asian views of the weekend APEC became arena for two giants" »

The Taboos of Life

Png-marriage-by-timothy-allenJOSEPH TAMBURE

At teenage, parents arrange future marriage
Trustful that a relationship will flourish
Unknowing what the future holds for them
The tender teens never have the choice
It’s taboo to choose yourself

At adolescence they have different roles to play
To become a man and woman it is compulsory
Under strict rules you must be groomed
Not allowed to see anyone accept parents
The male more stricter than female
It is taboo to ignore initiations

Continue reading "The Taboos of Life" »

Whether error or manipulation, claim about jobs is utter rubbish

Actual job trends chart
The statistically valid truth of how PNG job numbers have collapsed
Treasury job trends chart
PNG Treasurer Charles Abel's rosy newspaper version of PNG's jobs trend

PAUL FLANAGAN | Edited extracts

CANBERRA – Papua New Guinea’s budget for 2019 is scattered with factual errors. In this short article, I want to consider the government’s public assertion about employment.

The budget claims in the budget that total employment grew by 1.6% in the last year. In fact, it declined by 2.9%.

This significant error was repeated in double-page advertisements in the national newspapers promoting the government’s economic performance.

These included a graph showing employment increasing strongly from 2014. A fact check indicates that in reality it had fallen by 6.6% since 2014.

Continue reading "Whether error or manipulation, claim about jobs is utter rubbish" »

The inside story of China’s ‘tantrum diplomacy’ at APEC

China swamps Mosbi in red
China swamped Port Moresby with Chinese flags. The PNG government demanded they be taken down before APEC. China then replaced them with solid red flags

JOSH ROGIN | Washington Post

PORT MORESBY - For the first time in its 20-year history, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit ended in disarray on Sunday when the 21 member countries could not reach consensus on a joint statement because of objections by one member — China.

When the summit failed, to the disgust of the other diplomats, Chinese officials broke out in applause.

But that was only the final incident in a week during which China’s official delegation staged a series of aggressive, bullying, paranoid and weird stunts to try to exert dominance and pressure the host nation and everyone else into succumbing to its demands.

“This is becoming a bit of a routine in China’s official relations: tantrum diplomacy,” a senior US official involved in the negotiations told me. “Them walking around like they own the place and trying to get what they want through bullying.”

Continue reading "The inside story of China’s ‘tantrum diplomacy’ at APEC" »

Lombrum – chaos & incoherence in Australia’s strategic policy

HMPNGS Rabaul leaving Lombrum
HMPNGS 'Rabaul' leaving Lombrum

MIKE SCRAFTON | John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations

CANBERRA - It is difficult to find a strong, rational strategic argument for Australia’s to return to Lombrum Naval Base (or HMPNGS Tarangau) on Manus island.

Of course, not all of the Defence Department’s activities have strictly military objectives or relate directly to the defence of Australia and, in the southwest Pacific, defence cooperation has been a major component of foreign policy and diplomacy.

But even in that context an Australian naval presence at Manus makes little sense. The somewhat vague US decision to contribute to developing the base is even more obscure.

On the upgrade of the base, prime minister Scott Morrison has said: “It’s an important part of the strategic set of arrangements we have in place in our region, I think it’s fairly obvious”.

Although Morrison has also been at pains to point out that PNG is leading on this joint initiative, the aims seem in reality to be modest.

Continue reading "Lombrum – chaos & incoherence in Australia’s strategic policy" »

A Kiap’s Chronicle: 21 – Coming to grips with Bougainville


Kiap 21 - Map


THE CHRONICLE CONTINUES, early 1966 - It took the Assistant District Commissioner at Kieta, Max (MJ) Denehy, more than an hour to drive from Aropa to Kieta town, and we were tossed and shaken about as we followed the water-filled wheel ruts winding through the plantation's coconut groves.

Ten kilometres further on, the flat coastal section of the road seemed to have been hewn from cliffs of volcanic rock that had flowed into the sea aeons ago. We picked up speed on the graded stretch that passed the Toboroi Plantation homestead where Mrs Francis Kroening and her married son Bruno resided.

Continue reading "A Kiap’s Chronicle: 21 – Coming to grips with Bougainville" »

The triumph of the idiocracy will see us pay a very high price

Idiocracy_movie_posterCHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE – ‘Idiocracy’ is the title of a satirical film made in 2006, the premise of which was that the entire world had become stupid and was governed by idiots. Subsequently, the term idiocracy has come to mean government by fools.

It is a splendidly evocative word and neatly fits the premise of the film. It appears to have originally been conceived as an amalgam of the words ‘idiot’ and ‘democracy’.

However, I think that the word ‘ideology’ should be in the mix too, because it is now quite clear that the democratic world has collectively allowed itself to be governed, or at least greatly influenced by, a much more sinister idiocracy than the film makers had in mind.

Consider the abundance of evidence in support of my thesis.

The first and most obvious example is the climate change deniers.

These are people whose stupidity manifests itself in their outright rejection of a huge body of scientific evidence that we humans are actively despoiling the one and only planet upon which we can actually live.

Even as the evidence continues to accumulate, they still clutch their pieces of coal while extolling the virtues of perhaps the most pernicious source of the climate change they so adamantly deny.

Continue reading "The triumph of the idiocracy will see us pay a very high price" »

China condemned for exclusion of journalists at APEC forum

Xi Jinping at APEC
Xi Jinping at APEC

STAFF REPORTER | Pacific Media Watch

AUCKLAND – The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned the discrimination practised by the Chinese delegation against local and international media at the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) held last weekend in Papua New Guinea and attended by President Xi Jinping.

During the APEC leaders’ summit, held from 17-18 November in Port Moresby, several accredited media – including the Australian public broadcasting TV channel ABC and the local EMTV News channel and The National daily newspaper – were prevented from covering three events organised by the Chinese delegation and involving Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The events included a dinner with President Xi’s counterparts from eight Pacific Island States. Chinese journalists were apparently the only ones allowed to cover these events.

Continue reading "China condemned for exclusion of journalists at APEC forum" »

Journalists and their coverage of the APEC leaders’ forum

Stephen Dziedzic
Stephen Dziedzic - media coverage was poorer for the lack of Pacific voices

STEPHEN DZIEDZIC | Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Journalism in action is often not as simple or straightforward as non-journalists assume. The ABC’s Stephen Dziedzic, recently in Port Moresby covering APEC, in this article addresses criticisms of the lack of visibility of Pacific islands leaders in media coverage. These remarks originally appeared as a Twitter thread but I thought them important enough to record here before they disappeared out of sight in the social media morass - KJ

PORT MORESBY - Some Pacific experts like Tess Cain and Ashlee Betteridge have argued the media neglected and ignored Pacific leaders in our coverage of APEC.

In the spirit of open friendly debate, I thought I’d offer an explanation, a mea culpa and a defence, all in one.

First, a mea culpa. Yes, it’s true - there were very few Pacific voices in our coverage. Looking back, it was clearly an omission. We talked a huge amount about the Pacific, without talking to many people from the Pacific. Our coverage was poorer for it.

I’d point to one exception though - the largest Pacific nation, Papua New Guinea. Leaders from PNG featured heavily in our coverage, largely because as chair it wielded influence and bore plenty of responsibility. Pato, O’Neill etc were significant players and prominent figures in our stories.

Continue reading "Journalists and their coverage of the APEC leaders’ forum" »

The diplomatic disaster that was APEC Port Moresby

Xi O'Neill Abe Pence
"Morrison and O’Neill watched on mutely, like rabbits caught in the headlights of an oncoming car, as the meeting wound down to its disastrous end"

TONY KEVIN | John Menadue’s Pearls & Irritations

CANBERRA - There is still a lot we do not know about how and why the APEC summit in Port Moresby was such a diplomatic disaster, from which APEC may not readily recover anytime soon.

China’s President  Xi had been the first leader to accept the 2016 invitation to attend the 2018 APEC meeting in Port Moresby, extended by the chairman, PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill.  At that time, the focus of Chinese interest was thought to be seeking to involve more Pacific island countries in joining China’s One Belt One Road regional trading infrastructure initiative. Peter O’Neill was the first Pacific leader to sign up for One Belt One Road.

This set alarm bells ringing in Australia’s US-reliant strategic and intelligence communities.

Counter-plans were developed, including: more generous Australian infrastructure aid to Pacific countries , obviously to counter China’s growing influence ; an attempted rebranding of the  traditional diplomatic term ‘Asia-Pacific region’ to ‘Indo-Pacific region’.

Continue reading "The diplomatic disaster that was APEC Port Moresby" »

How the West must deal with the Pacific – better than at present

Busa Jeremiah Wenogo
Busa Wenogo


PORT MORESBY - If there was going to be a place to test the seriousness of US and China to engage with the Pacific; Papua New Guinea was going to be that place and the APEC 2018 summit provided that opportunity – the first communiqué less summit in the 25 years since it was established.

China’s significant presence in PNG and the region may well be one of the major factors as to why the US and China could not agree to the wording of a communiqué. In a high profile summit like APEC, compromises had to be made in the spirit of diplomacy. Unfortunately that was not the case.

The sight of Chinese flags waving on rows of poles erected on the side and middle of roads designated for APEC leaders and their convoy of vehicles would have rung alarm bells especially among the Western leaders.

Seeing PNG and Chinese flags fly alongside each other was a powerful statement to the West that China is already ahead in the game of chess when it comes to geo-politics in PNG and the region.

Continue reading "How the West must deal with the Pacific – better than at present" »

Sr Francois Wridgeway MFIC dies – an amazing missionary sister

Sr Francois with her stamp albums
Sister Francois with her stamp albums - she knew exactly how many stamps she had and the location of each and every one


BRISBANE - I am sad to share the news that Sr Francois Wridgeway MFIC died at St Vincent's Hospital in Brisbane at 3 am last Saturday.

She had not been well at all and was in hospital for some time.

Sr Francois was with the pioneer Franciscan Sisters who first came to Aitape in 1949, being based at Sissano where they had a clinic.

The only doctor in the large Sepik District, the popular Dr John McInerney, was based at Wewak and owned a small Auster plane. He would call at Sissano occasionally to give a helping hand. Tragically, in March 1953, he crashed into the sea taking off from Vanimo and died.

Two kiaps who were with him, Assistant District Officers George Wearne and Ian Skinner, survived. Overloading was a principal contributing factor and crash inspectors also found a hornet's nest blocking the pitot tube so there was no indicated airspeed.

Anyone who spent time at Aitape, Lumi, Fatima or Sissano would know Sr Francois, who was an amazing missionary Franciscan sister.

Continue reading "Sr Francois Wridgeway MFIC dies – an amazing missionary sister" »

Gunshots, looting after hundreds of police protest over APEC pay

Protesting-PNG-security-forces (PNG Loop)
Police and security forces protest at parliament house over unpaid APEC allowances. Elements stormed parliament causing some interior damage


PORT MORESBY - There were reports of gunshots and looting last night after Papua New Guinean police and other security personnel demanded the payment of allowances they say they are owed for providing security at the APEC leaders’ summit.

The protests began yesterday morning at parliament house, the precincts of which were flooded by many police vehicles and hundreds of police, some armed.

Protesters invaded parliament, causing considerable damage and assaulting staff, throwing one into a fountain. 

But tensions escalated during the afternoon and there were disturbing reports of women heading home after work being  pulled off PMVs and threatened with knives.

ABC correspondent Natalie Whiting and PNG Attitude contributors told of looting and gunshots in many parts of the city.

Radio New Zealand said earlier in the day that police were demanding to speak with prime minister Peter O’Neill and APEC minister Justin Tkatchencko about the extra allowances they were owed.

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Fairer & more accountable: Should PNG become a federation?

Brexit___dr_meddyCHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - One of the many challenges confronted when attempting to understand the flow of history is securing a broad consensus on what the agreed facts are and then, usually only after a good deal of argument, how the facts should be interpreted.

I mention this because recently I made the mistake of inserting myself into a debate about the forthcoming (or maybe not) Brexit, whereby Britain exits the European Union.

My mistake was, as a disinterested observer, to offer the view that there were some pretty significant issues with the structure and ultimate objectives of the EU which the so-called Remainers seem to studiously ignore when prosecuting their case. I was rather promptly and forcefully told that this was not the case and that everything was just wonderful with the EU.

I suppose if I had offered a view that the so-called Brexiteers are ignoring a lot that is good and worthwhile about the EU I doubtless would have been promptly howled down in much the same manner.

Continue reading "Fairer & more accountable: Should PNG become a federation?" »

Unesco produces a tool to counter the fake news era

Journalism  'Fake News' & Disinformation


Journalism, ‘fake news’ & disinformation by Cherilyn Ireton and Julie Posetti, Handbook for Journalism Education and Training, 122 pp, UNESCO Series on Journalism Education, Paris 2018

PARIS - UNESCO works to strengthen journalism education, and this publication is the latest offering in a line of cutting-edge knowledge resources.

The handbook which you can download here is part of the ‘Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism Education’, which is a focus of UNESCO’s International Program for the Development of Communication.

The initiative seeks to engage with teaching, practising and researching of journalism from a global perspective, including sharing international good practices.

Accordingly, the current handbook seeks to serve as an internationally-relevant model curriculum, open to adoption or adaptation, which responds to the emerging global problem of disinformation that confronts societies in general, and journalism in particular.

It avoids assuming that the term ‘fake news’ has a straightforward or commonly understood meaning.

This is because ‘news’ means verifiable information in the public interest, and information that does not meet these standards does not deserve the label of news.

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A new Cold War unfolds – and the US is at a disadvantage

Replenishment at sea
Aircraft carrier USS John C Stennis conducts a replenishment at sea with ammunition ship USNS Charles Drew on 13 November (Nick Bauer, US Navy via Reuters)


CANBERRA - Amid the chaos of the Trump presidency, vice president Mike Pence’s declaration of a new Cold War with China on 4 October 2018 is by far the administration’s biggest departure from ‘business as usual’.

The declaration came after Trump’s tariff war was well underway and the US Treasury had issued regulations to screen inward investment tightly, pursuant to the new Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernisation Act.

For good measure, the US Commerce Department will also screen corporate technology flows destined for China, pursuant to the updated Export Administration Act.

Economic sanctions are the front line of the new Cold War, unlike the US–Soviet confrontation of yesteryear. But military escalation cannot be far behind.

Since the United States and China already possess enough intercontinental nuclear missiles for ‘mutually assured destruction’, and since the United States would be hopelessly outnumbered in conventional land battles, military escalation will focus on naval power and hypersonic short-range missiles.

Continue reading "A new Cold War unfolds – and the US is at a disadvantage" »

Where ‘removing the foreigner’ is preferred to embracing change

John Warren (2)
John Warren - 'In developing countries, working in the higher education sector as an individual is a high-risk game'

JOHN WARREN | Times Higher Education | Extract

LONDON - There are no doubt some people who will regard the very idea of a Westerner running a university in the developing world as a form of neo-colonialism.

But having recently returned from being the vice-chancellor of a small university in Papua New Guinea – a country previously ruled by the UK, Germany and Australia – my concerns are not so much that I left a poisonous long-term legacy as that my legacy of introducing basic quality assurance will not endure at all.

Landing such a position is hard enough. They are not always openly advertised. All too frequently, senior management positions are political appointments, with any thought of an overseas appointment being headed off by anti-immigration rhetoric.

If you nevertheless receive a warm welcome, that warmth is unlikely to endure long.

Chief executives are not employed to be everyone’s friend. They are paid to make difficult decisions, which frequently involve treading on a few toes. The more broken the institution, the more squashed toes there will be.

In the developed world, university leaders are compensated (many would argue over-compensated) for the risks and stresses associated with taking difficult decisions. But those taking on the job in the developing world will probably experience a drop in real income. Fortunately, money is not everyone’s main motivator.

Continue reading "Where ‘removing the foreigner’ is preferred to embracing change" »

Generous resource extraction incentives are a big cost to PNG

Robbed blind? A tanker sails away with more than PNG gas - resource extractors also benefit from huge government tax subsidies and concessions

PAUL FLANAGAN | PNG Economics | Edited

CANBERRA – Papua New Guinea gave a tax subsidy of at least K504.3 million to PNG LNG in 2017. I nearly choked on my breakfast when I came across this number in the 2019 budget.

I remember the difficulties I had explaining the low tax revenues received from the PNG LNG project in a major report I prepared earlier this year.  PNG’s Institute of National Affairs had similar difficulties.

Now the quantification of these tax subsidies by the PNG Treasury and the Internal Revenue Commission helps explain some of the gap between the promise of PNG LNG and its realities.

It was a timely reminder of the enormous importance of getting a good return for PNG from its resources.

At about the same time I was choking on the K504.3 million, PNG was signing another deal for another major LNG project.

Continue reading "Generous resource extraction incentives are a big cost to PNG" »

China called upon to take urgent action on illegal wood imports

Illegal logs from Turubu_SABL (Global_Witness)
Illegally harvested logs from a lease at Turubu are carted away for use in China (Global Witness)

STAFF REPORTER | Global Witness

PORT MORESBY – During the APEC forum civil society groups in Papua New Guinea delivered a collective letter to president Xi Jinping calling on him to urgently review the current lack of regulation on illegal wood entering China.

In 2016, PNG provided 29% of China’s tropical log imports, making it the country’s single largest supplier.

But despite being the world’s largest consumer and manufacturer of wood and wood products, China has no regulations to keep illegal timber from entering its borders.

Recent reports have revealed evidence that large quantities of China’s wood imports come from illegal operations in PNG.

Under China’s flagship Belt and Road initiative, it has already committed to billions of dollars in infrastructure and agricultural projects across PNG.

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Thousands of antiquities returned to PNG after more than 100 years


Sir William MacGregor (1846-1919)
Sir William MacGregor (1846-1919) - "....very much had the people of Papua New Guinea in mind"

PORT MORESBY - Australia’s long, deep ties with Papua New Guinea were celebrated at last weekend’s APEC meeting in Port Moresby and included the largest return of traditional artefacts by an Australian museum.

The decades long project involved thousands of PNG objects being repatriated to the National Museum, with thousands more still to go.

Everyday disposable items from PNG make up the MacGregor collection at the Queensland Museum, assembled more than a century ago.

Kari Thomas from the PNG community in Brisbane is at the museum contributing to the ‘kambek’ [come back] book to help interpret one of Australia’s great collections of PNG artefacts.

Holding a plain woven, palm-leaf bag that is more than 100-years-old, she was overcome with emotion. “Sorry,” she said with a tear in her eye.

"Because I’ve been in Australia for a long, long time, when I see these things, it takes me back home.” 

Ms Thomas is from Hanuabada but in the decades since she came to Australia the palm leaf bags are now rarely made or used there.

This PNG collection consists of rare, fragile daily items sent to the museum by Sir William MacGregor, the colonial governor of Queensland colony of British New Guinea in the late 1800s.

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APEC PNG wrap: Bad vibes, ugly scenes & no communiqué

APEC leaders 2018
APEC leaders in their finery: The meeting of leaders was an ugly contest between China and the US. And let's not forget the expense

KATHARINE MURPHY | Guardian Australia | Extract

SYDNEY - The APEC summit has been unable to produce a joint communiqué because of tensions between the US and China over trade and security issues which flared throughout the gathering of regional leaders.

While Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, had struck an upbeat note as APEC drew to a close, declaring that Washington and Beijing were getting closer to resolving a trade war that threatens economic growth in the region, the Port Moresby summit failed to reach consensus on a concluding statement because of differences between the major powers.

The APEC summit saw Australia, Japan and the US push back against Chinese efforts to use spending through the Belt and Road initiative to gain influence in the Pacific.

Continue reading "APEC PNG wrap: Bad vibes, ugly scenes & no communiqué" »

The tough job of fighting a polio outbreak in PNG

Png_polioJO CHANDLER | The Lancet | Extract

PORT MORESBY - After a long morning of organised chaos inside a crowded government compound in Papua New Guinea's capital Port Moresby, hundreds of health workers and volunteers are finally wrangled into teams, issued with instructions, and piled into a fleet of hard-worn four-wheel drives.

As the first of four mass vaccination waves scheduled over October and November begins to push out across the Pacific nation, emergency teams are rolled out in the capital.

The vehicles are loaded up with loud hailers and ice boxes full of oral polio vaccine. Before they head into the surrounding settlements, posters are hastily taped to the windows and doors: ‘Stop Polio in PNG’.

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Peter, oh Peter, what are you flaunting at APEC?


“A new nation doesn’t project itself to the world by flaunting its characteristics. It projects itself as a creative personality, which finally comes down to a tone of voice” - Clive James, poet and author

MOROBE - It’s quite understandable, so I’ll let you APEC leaders off the hook easy, go ahead and play the friendly, interested guests with our PM Peter O’Neill.

I can guess what you’re really thinking when he’s not around. I know, right, what a dufus. It must be all that pumpkin.

Actually, Peter’s a wily little bugger. As Sam Koim and Mathew Damaru et al found out some time ago (2014) when they asked him to front up at the National Court. Water under the bridge now.

If it’s any defence on the part of most sane and/or taxpaying Papua New Guineans, there’s no watertight evidence that we legally voted him into position in the first place.

But never mind that, let’s move along with business shall we. That’s why you’re here.

Continue reading "Peter, oh Peter, what are you flaunting at APEC?" »

At a peculiar summit in PNG, America is still the odd one out

Mike Pence
Mike Pence addresses APEC - Mocked China's Belt and Road initiative as a “constricting belt or one-way road”"


PORT MORESBY - The America First policy of US President Donald Trump was savaged by every world leader taking the stage at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Papua New Guinea on Saturday, who together launched a stern defence of free trade and condemnation of the escalating trade war between Beijing and Washington.

Trump’s name was never mentioned, but it was no secret who was being addressed by representatives of the 21 Asia-Pacific economies.

First, Malaysia’s 93-year-old prime minister Mahathir Mohamad condemned “trade wars between major economies,” before Australian prime minister Scott Morrison warned against “throwing up protectionist barriers.”

“More than a billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty since 1991 in large part because of the jobs and access to affordable consumer goods that free trade has enabled,” Morrison told navy suits gathered in the small theatre aboard the P&O Pacific Explorer.

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All aboard the ‘Belt & Road’ express as Xi & O’Neill meet

Xi & O’Neill (Solomon Kantha)
Beijing’s investment in PNG in 2017 – mostly in infrastructure projects – tripled to K8.3 billion

LEE JEONG-HO & KINLING LO | South China Morning Post

HONG KONG - China and Papua New Guinea have agreed to upgrade their relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership and work more closely together on projects under the Beijing-led ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, according to Chinese state media.

Chinese President Xi Jinping met Papua New Guinean prime minister Peter O’Neill in Port Moresby on Friday ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

“China is willing to work with PNG to enhance mutual trust, deepen cooperation and promote bilateral relations to a new comprehensive strategic partnership,” Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.

“This is not only a manifestation of the traditional friendship between the two countries, but also a powerful impetus for further cooperation,” he said.

PNG established diplomatic relations with China in 1976, a year after gaining independence from Australia, and the two nations established a strategic partnership in 2014.

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Glimmers of change in the land that #MeToo forgot

Haus RuthSTAFF REPORTER | France 24

PORT MORESBY - Ask people in Papua New Guinea about #MeToo and you are likely to get blank stares, but in a country with a reputation as the worst place in the world for women to live, attitudes to domestic and sexual violence are slowly changing.

The beatings started before Lucy Sausiniaka was married and didn't stop even when she was pregnant with her daughter.

Today the gentle 23-year-old and her quiet doughnut-munching toddler live in a women's shelter by the shore of Port Moresby's Ela Beach.

The paint is flaking and old bedsheets are slung as curtains, but the Haus Ruth refuge is peaceful and, more importantly, it is safe.

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Pence says US will partner Australia in developing Manus base

A ragged PNG Kumul flag flies at HMPNGS Tarangau, Lombrum Naval Base, with  HMAS Choules in the distance


PORT MORESBY - The United States will join forces with Australia and Papua New Guinea in the redevelopment of a naval base in Manus, a move designed to curb China's influence in the Pacific.

Australia recently announced its own plans to redevelop the decrepit Lombrum naval base in a bid to lock China out from developing its own facility in PNG.

Now US vice-president Mike Pence has announced his country will join in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Lombrum.

"The United States will partner with PNG and Australia on their joint initiative," he said.

"We will work with these two nations to protect sovereignty and maritime rights in the Pacific islands."

Pence said the US vision for the region was about “collaboration, not control”.

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Chinese officials ban PNG & foreign media but not China’s hacks

Journalists covering the APEC meeting (Natalie Whiting)
China’s behaviour to foreign journalists casts doubt on the sincerity of its vows to treat people with respect

SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea’s freedoms of speech, expression and access to information were challenged yesterday when Chinese officials barred both PNG and non-Chinese media from attending meetings at three APEC venues.

It began in parliament when Chinese president Xi Jinping was giving an address after a guard of honour. 

EMTV journalist Theckla Gunga who was assigned to cover the president’s visit reported that just after 11am Chinese officials accompanying the president ordered the microphones removed from a speaker next to which they had been placed to record the speeches.

“Chinese officials who are organising the official opening of the Chinese-funded six-lane road have refused to give audio feeds to media personnel,” Gunga wrote in a WhatsApp message. “Microphones belonging to both local and international media have been removed.”

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