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87 posts from February 2019

Whatever happened to the Crocodile Prize?

Crocodile Prize memorabilia (Michael Dom)MICHAEL DOM

LAE - Why did I write for the Crocodile Prize? I didn’t. I wrote for me. We all do.

All writers, poets, essayists, bloggers, tweeters, Facebook champions and slanderers, regardless of nationality, proclivity, intended objective, altruistic notion, educational or inspirational motive…. we write for ourselves first.

We want to make our thoughts known. We want to have our say. We want other people to know what we think, how we feel, who we blame, why we agree, disagree, why we want to live and for what cause or status we’d happily die.

Continue reading "Whatever happened to the Crocodile Prize?" »

Bougainville red flags ignored back then - and again now

Bill Brown  Canberra  1969
Bill Brown in Canberra in 1969 - wise words on Bougainville not listened to


ADELAIDE - Reading Bill Brown's account of the development of Bougainville’s copper and gold mine at Panguna, you can only marvel at the number of red flags fluttering in the breeze.

Clearly, the great and the good in the Moresby and Canberra bureaucracies had decided the mine would proceed come what may, leaving Bill and his colleagues on the ground in Bougainville in a hopeless position.

Fast forward to today and it is abundantly clear that many of those same red flags are again flying, yet the same old script appears to be playing out.

More than 50 years later there are another lot of players, most of whom are even less equipped to know what is going on than their predecessors.

The Canberra based politicians and bureaucrats do not, as Paul Oates has observed, understand the truth about what is going on at grassroots level in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere in the Pacific.

Australia’s gross under investment in developing a genuinely deep and profound relationship with these countries for the last several decades is going to cost us dearly.

Continue reading "Bougainville red flags ignored back then - and again now" »

Why Vanuatu supports West Papuan independence

Patrick Kaiku - ni-Vanuatu citizens are very sensitive to the plight of Melanesians in West Papua


PORT MORESBY - Recently, in Vanuatu’s lobbying efforts at the United Nations, foreign affairs minister Ralph Regenvanu reaffirmed his country’s support for West Papua. So what is the basis of Vanuatu’s position?

Vanuatu’s staunch support for West Papuan independence is based on core principles of self-determination and non-alignment. These have been consistent values guiding Vanuatu’s conduct of its foreign relations since independence.

Its commitment to self-determination is not limited to West Papua. Since independence, Vanuatu leaders have affirmed support for an independent New Caledonia, advocated the creation of a Palestinian state and were influential in the creation of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) as a vehicle to support decolonisation in Melanesia and denuclearisation in the Pacific.

The country has a strong and consistent record in supporting decolonisation efforts around the world through multilateral forums such as the UN and it was the first Pacific Island state to join the non-aligned movement, signalling its independence from global power struggles.

Continue reading "Why Vanuatu supports West Papuan independence" »

‘Don’t lump Pacific into Asia; we’re a region’ - Juffa

Governor Gary Juffa - West-Papua is a Pacific issue
Gov Gary Juffa - 'We're our own region and West Papua is a Pacific issue'

EDITOR | Pacific Media Centre Editor | RNZ Pacific

AUCKLAND - The Asia-Pacific tag is a misnomer and should not be used to lump in Pacific Island countries, says Papua New Guinean opposition MP and governor of Oro province Gary Juffa.

The Pacific Islands should be considered as a region on its own because its ethnic make-up is distinct from Asia, he said.

Juffa also said the islands region’s surface area was huge and important enough to be a global region in itself.

“When we are lumped together with Asia Pacific, we are dwarfed. They are more vocal, they have their more complicated issues that they present, and we become just like a tag-along.

“I prefer that the Pacific, which is one-fifth of the world’s surface area, be recognised as a region on its own.”

Juffa said he wanted PNG, which is the biggest country in the Pacific islands, to take a lead in demanding the Pacific be recognised as its own region.

Continue reading "‘Don’t lump Pacific into Asia; we’re a region’ - Juffa" »

Tourism beset by issues of safety, infrastructure & support

Peter Kinjap


PORT MORESBY - At the official opening of the Goroka Cultural Show last year, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Emil Tammur told showgoers that Papua New Guinea’s major cultural events countrywide will now be funded directly from the national budget.

He said a policy submission to fund major cultural events “will be out in parliament soon for debate and endorsement.”

The events and festivals include Goroka, Mt Hagen, Jiwaka, Enga, Kutubu Kundu and Digaso, Morobe, Madang, KarKar Island, Kokopo, Sepik, Hiri Moale, Rabaul, Kenu and Alotau.

These festivals are increasingly recognised in PNG for their contribution to the growth of communities,. They revitalise the communication and celebration of indigenous culture, tradition and rituals.

Continue reading "Tourism beset by issues of safety, infrastructure & support" »

A Kiap’s Chronicle: 22 – Trapped amid landowners & bureaucrats

Brown 22 mapBILL BROWN MBE

THE CHRONICLE CONTINUES – In late September 1966, CRA’s geologist Ken Phillips left for his New Zealand homeland, supposedly for a short holiday.

The gossip was that he was unwell and close to a stress-related breakdown. That may not have been true but if it was, I wasn’t very far behind.

Tom Aitchison, the assistant director of my department, had not replied to my letter in which I had told him in the strongest terms that I did not like the task I had been given and wanted out. I expected another officer to fly in unannounced to take over my job at any time.

Two senior kiaps, Phil Hardy and Bob Blaikie, who knew the people well, were based at either end of Bougainville just a 30-minute flight away.

Continue reading "A Kiap’s Chronicle: 22 – Trapped amid landowners & bureaucrats" »

The pink aeroplane, government paperwork & PNG airstrips

Ian Rowles poses near one of his later aircraft, also a Cessna 185, at Lae airport in 1974


GOLD COAST - How do write about someone who died a long time ago and yet who is still so alive in one’s memory? Start at the beginning I suppose.

In 1969, as a liklik kiap (Cadet Patrol Officer) at Pindiu Patrol Post on the Huon Peninsula, I distinctly recall the arrival on the airstrip of a bright pink Cessna 185. “Who the hell is that,” I asked the OIC?

“That’s Rowlesy,” I was told. “They call his plane the Pink Panther.

Ii was easy to see why. The aircraft had been painted a cheerful candy pink. It stood out like the proverbial country pink-painted dunny.

Continue reading "The pink aeroplane, government paperwork & PNG airstrips" »

But still my country’s beautiful


A country in the Pacific
Not many people in the world
Know it exists or is inhabited
Seen as isolated and strange
But still my country’s beautiful

Untouched jungles from coast to highland
Crystal clear lakes, white beaches and sea
Breathtaking scenes and abundant wildlife
Some see as inferior on the map
But still my country’s beautiful

Continue reading "But still my country’s beautiful" »

A Kiap’s Chronicle: 22 – Trapped amid landowners & bureaucrats


THE CHRONICLE CONTINUES – In late September 1966, CRA’s geologist Ken Phillips left for his New Zealand homeland, supposedly for a short holiday.

The gossip was that he was unwell and close to a stress-related breakdown. That may not have been true but if it was, I wasn’t very far behind.

Tom Aitchison, the assistant director of my department, had not replied to my letter in which I had told him in the strongest terms that I did not like the task I had been given and wanted out. I expected another officer to fly in unannounced to take over my job at any time.

Continue reading "A Kiap’s Chronicle: 22 – Trapped amid landowners & bureaucrats" »

The end of the benign Papua New Guinean 'Big Man'

Big_manPAUL OATES with a comment from Phil Fitzpatrick

GOLD COAST - Traditional Melanesian custom required the accumulation of wealth and influence to be a notional practice - referred to as ‘social capital’ to differentiate it from capital measured in terms of money. 

This is because traditional wealth in Papua New Guinea was often measured in highly perishable items like food and animals.

In a tropical climate, with no means of preserving food, it had to be given away, creating recognised wealth in terms of obligation to the giver by the receiver. This wealth became measurable.

Giving away food animals was also important since there was a limit of how much fodder could be grown in most villages to feed a large number of food animals. By giving the animal away, this relieved the original owner of the need to continue to feed the animal while creating an obligation.

The benefit of sharing resources in small communities also helped create cohesion and the survivability of the whole community.

Continue reading "The end of the benign Papua New Guinean 'Big Man'" »

An open letter to the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA)

Kokoda-Trail (Outdoor Australia)RASHMII BELL | Edited extracts

DEAR MR WARGIRAI - I am writing in response to your recent correspondence to Australia-based Kokoda Trail tour operators outlining the Kokoda Track Authority’s decisions and agenda for the 2019 trek season.

The welfare of guides and carriers is an issue I have been following for some time through media and predominantly online publications by Charlie Lynn OAM OL.

I view his conscientious efforts as intended to assist and support Trail management to improve and develop an effective, ethical, accountable and transparent trek tourism industry along the Kokoda Trail.

I support your expressed commitment to redeem relationships with landowners and monitor delivery of projects that will have a positive impact on the daily lives of Trail communities.

Continue reading "An open letter to the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA)" »

The picture of a grieving mum that told a million stories

Ezekiel's mum weeps over his body (Sally Lloyd)
Ezekiel's mum weeps over his body (Sally Lloyd)

SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

LAE - A few days ago, I asked Sally Lloyd about the picture she posted on Facebook of a distraught mother weeping over the body of her baby who had died.  This is the story behind the picture.

They are from Fomabi Village near Nomad. It’s in Nomad LLG - I think... middle Fly in Western Province.

The child got sick with pneumonia, I believe, and Nomad Health Centre could not help them. The facility there has been very run down and ill equipped for a very long time. 

They then had to make the long walk to Mougulu health centre for many hours to get further help.

Unfortunately, the child died the following afternoon, and without any helpers with them the parents had to walk back to their village with the dead child.

Continue reading "The picture of a grieving mum that told a million stories" »

Fallen bridge testament to the chasm in rural development

Bottleneck caused by the fallen Banab bridge (Camilo Mejia Giraldo)
Traffic bottleneck caused by the fallen Banab bridge (Camilo Mejia Giraldo)

CAMILO MEJIA GIRALDO | Mongabay | Extract

Link here to Camilo Mejia Giraldo’s detailed account of PNG’s rural infrastructure issues

MADANG— On the banks of the Banab River in Papua New Guinea’s province of Madang, rows of makeshift wooden shops, eateries and huts have popped up alongside the remnants of a bridge that collapsed a year ago.

Since January 2018, locals have had to make do with crossing the Banab on foot along a makeshift wooden bridge or via a series of small boats that ferry people between the banks, both costing two kina a crossing.

The only alternate for large vehicles involves a drive inland along an abandoned logging road and a crossing over backfilled creeks, an option that can only be safely attempted in dry weather.

Until late last year, stacks of prefabricated metal slated for the bridge’s repairs had been seemingly abandoned by government contractors on the side of the road near the southern bank of the river. According to locals, the materials had been there since July.

Continue reading " Fallen bridge testament to the chasm in rural development" »

Bob Hoad’s Olsobip – the building of a nation

Hoad - Cessna dropping supplies; Gum Gorge in background
A Cessna drops supplies as the land for an airstrip and on which Olsobip will stand is cleared


TUMBY BAY - In 1964 Patrol Officers Bob Hoad and Warren Dutton and their seven-man police contingent were hard at work building an airfield and a patrol post at Olsobip.

This remote dot on the map is at the headwaters of the Fly River in the rugged foothills of the Star Mountains in what is now Papua New Guinea’s Western Province.

Working alongside Hoad and Dutton was an enthusiastic labour force of about 90 villagers drawn on a rotational basis from the small Faiwolmin population of about 1,500 thousand people in the surrounding mountains.

The Faiwolmin were delighted to have a patrol post in their area and just about every man woman and child was lending a hand.

Continue reading "Bob Hoad’s Olsobip – the building of a nation" »

Painter in paradise: William Dobell in New Guinea

Simbu Girl (Dobell  1953)PETER KRANZ

MORRISET - This painting is of a Simbu girl wearing kina shells and with a bilum hanging from her head. It’s dated around 1953 and it is lovely.

It was painted by Sir William Dobell (1899–1970), one of Australia's greatest artists and a Wangi lad (just up the road from Morriset), who spent time painting in Papua New Guinea’s Wahgi valley in 1949 and the early 1950s.

Dobell had been invited there by Sir Edward Hallstrom of Taronga Zoo fame, who had founded an experimental sheep station and bird of paradise sanctuary at Nondugl in the central highlands.

Hallstrom also helped preserve the famous singing dogs and once lectured editor Keith Jackson on the animals of PNG and Africa (although it wasn’t until more than 50 years later that Keith visited Africa for the first time).

The NSW Art Gallery had an exhibition of Dobells works a while back and while it was on I was fortunate enough to be able to introduce Rose and Mana Kuman to the gallery’s director.

Continue reading "Painter in paradise: William Dobell in New Guinea" »

Embellished poetry


These lines were inspired by a comment from Phil Fitzpatrick on my poem ‘The creative subclass’. Here, I describe the steps I go through when writing a poem…..

The labour of love expended,
By those of poetic inclination,
To create poetry elegant,
Is laborious and dawdling.

They, by creative thinking,
Generate ideas original,
Like pearls shining,
On strings of beads.

They devour poetic wisdom,
Ingesting densely poetic tomes,
From history’s stellar casts of poets,
And snippets of Shakespearean wit.

Continue reading "Embellished poetry" »

The O’Neill regime is dumbing down a whole generation


PORT MORESBY - High profile journalist Scott Waide’s recent article about the high cost of his daughter’s university fees highlights a conundrum Papua New Guinea faces in terms of the quality of its education system.

Scott was shocked about the high cost. But let us reflect on what is a major crisis in the sector.

When the O’Neill government introduced the Tuition Fee Free (TFF) education system for primary and secondary schools, it failed to account for capacity constraints.

Schools were flooded and schools lacked and continue to lack learning resources, infrastructure and staff numbers to cope with the influx.

Continue reading "The O’Neill regime is dumbing down a whole generation" »

Corruption of economic statistics: Treasurer versus Economist

Bulletin front pagePAUL FLANAGAN | Facebook | Edited extracts

CANBERRA - Late last Saturday evening, I was surprised to see Treasurer Charles Abel responding on Facebook to my recent blogs on the issue of the corruption of Papua New Guinea’s economic statistics.

The front page of PNG’s weekend paper, The Sunday Bulletin, featuring the headline ‘Economic Statistics Corrupted’, possibly contributed to the comments from the Treasurer.

Democracy thrives on discussion and debate and I congratulate The Sunday Bulletin for being brave enough to cover the issue.

The report on PNG Economics covering the issue, supported by analysis from other independent think tanks and universities, was worthy of a news article.

However, in an environment where there is clear pressure on the PNG media not to cover unfavourable stories about the O’Neill-Abel government, I can imagine the ferocity of the phone call from a certain advisor in the prime minister’s office and the threats that could be made.

Continue reading "Corruption of economic statistics: Treasurer versus Economist" »

The birth of kleptocracy: A eulogy for the nation

Lt Col Ted Diro in 1974
Brigadier Ted Diro in 1974


PORT MORESBY - In the late 1980s judge Tos Barnett prepared what would become a classic study on forestry sector corruption – The Commission of Inquiry into Aspects of the Forestry Industry.

During his investigation, judge Barnett cast a spotlight on the Angus Group of Companies and their bid to secure the Gadaisu forestry permit area in Central Province.

The story of the Angus Group is the story of a kleptocracy taking its first steps – a nation ruled by thieves.

Although this sordid tale of corrupt conduct at the very top took place three decades ago, the scheme exposed by Judge Barnett is a blueprint of what is now commonplace in Waigani.

It centres on one of the nation’s founding fathers, Edward ‘Ted’ Diro. Diro, the inquiry found, worked hand in glove with one of the country’s most respected lawyers, to set up an illicit scheme that signed over a lucrative forestry permit to Malaysian loggers.

Continue reading "The birth of kleptocracy: A eulogy for the nation" »

How to tell a man is not a wizard. One sniff will do

Gende warriors
Gende warriors celebrate at a singsing in 1970. In 1932, their fathers used detective work to understand what the first Europeans really were (Robert Forster)


NORTHUMBRIA – In 1969, when I was stationed in the foothills of the Bismarck Range in Papua New Guinea’s highlands, I often spent evenings talking with local people who responded by telling me their favourite stories.

Some were traditional – for example the adventures of a man with an amazingly long penis that he could release to scurry through undergrowth in search of suitably receptive women.

Another was an account of an execution by American soldiers of a villager from a neighbouring community who had offered his help to the Japanese army.

My favourite was their reaction to the first Europeans to move into their area – and exactly how they concluded that, while these strange visitors had the obvious advantage of many technical innovations, they fell well short of being supernatural and were human beings like themselves.

The punch line focused on faeces.

One reason for my interest in the punch line is its near perfect alignment with a phrase often used in Northumberland, where I came from and still live, to put down, or place in context, individuals who by birth, status, or inclination, believe themselves to be superior.

Continue reading "How to tell a man is not a wizard. One sniff will do" »

Cuban doctors won’t solve PNG’s medical problems


PORT MORESBY - The O’Neill government has totally bungled the health system on the watch of a health minister who is a registered medical practitioner.

Recently, the government has sought to blame Papua New Guinean doctors and public servants for hampering its efforts to bring in Cuban doctors and claims they are the cause of deteriorating health conditions.

This deliberate use of deflective communications, along with the oversimplification of the problem and solution, is representative of how the O’Neill regime continues to misinform citizens.

In a country like PNG where much of the populace is ignorant and illiterate many people would think Cuban doctors will equate to better health. But healthcare is more than doctors.

Continue reading "Cuban doctors won’t solve PNG’s medical problems" »

The leaving of PNG & the re-establishment of career

Frankston City Council chamber
The chamber at Frankston City Council where, after many attempts, Ross Wilkinson found a job in Australia


MELBOURNE - I learnt about culture shock very early on whilst on my first leave from colonial Papua New Guinea.

I trod a well-trodden path: invitations to address the local Rotary Club, the old school and so on.

While interest appeared to be there and the questions indicated some degree of attention, I was never sure what impact I made on the audience.

During my first leave I went back to catch up with my mates and play a couple of games with my former football club. 

After the match there was the usual party at someone’s house and the usual question, “So you work in New Guinea, what’s it like?”

If you didn’t talk about bare breasts, cannibals or the quality of SP beer within the first 30 seconds, eyes would glaze over and the conversation would quickly drift to the day’s footy or racing results.

I learnt to become outrageous!

Continue reading "The leaving of PNG & the re-establishment of career" »

BCL says proposed B/ville mining laws raise serious concerns

Mel Togolo
Sir Melchior Togolo - chairman of Boigainville Copper Ltd

STAFF REPORTER | Bougainville Copper Ltd

PORT MORESBY - Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) has serious concerns over proposed new mining laws that some members of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) seem keen to rush through parliament.

The three bills that were introduced to parliament last Wednesday, with insufficient stakeholder consultation, are proving divisive at a time when unity is required in the lead-up to the referendum.

If passed, one of the bills seeks to amend the Bougainville Mining Act 2015 to allow a new company, Bougainville Advance Mining Limited, to be issued with a special mining licence granting “large-scale mining leases over all land in Bougainville available for reconnaissance, exploration and mining that is not subject to an existing exploration licence or mining lease”.

Continue reading "BCL says proposed B/ville mining laws raise serious concerns" »

Death of young man sparks heartfelt plea from Bougainville leader

Joseph Nobetau
Joseph Nobetau - "enough is enough"


‏BUKA - Violence and senseless killing of young Bougainvilleans is never the answer.  I call on the Bougainville Police Service to act now. Enough is enough.

I learnt today of the senseless killing of a young Bougainvillean, Justin Kukue Tsibing, in Buka.

This was senseless act of violence and those responsible must be held to account. Bougainville must learn from history.

We must unite and do what is best for all. That is what I have been trying to do over the last two years by calling out corruption and bad practice.

Innocent people must not be targeted based on my actions. Those that wish to call me to account, must do so using lawful means.

I also have been targeted recently, with my family and I attacked on New Year’s Eve in Buka.

Continue reading "Death of young man sparks heartfelt plea from Bougainville leader" »

Does Bougainville's Mining Act promise a new legal dawn?

Bougainville's abandoned mine
Bougainville's abandoned Panguna mine (AIIA)


TUMBY BAY - There has long been an argument that western-style laws are not fit for purpose in a Melanesian country like Papua New Guinea.

This is epitomised in the laws governing minerals and mining, including oil and gas.

The multiple landowner issues plaguing the giant PNG LNG project typify everything that is wrong with these laws.

They also highlight what can happen when a corporation and a government tie themselves in knots trying to interpret laws in a context that is neither user-friendly nor amenable.

Continue reading "Does Bougainville's Mining Act promise a new legal dawn?" »

The Tree of Life


This solitary tree now stands bare
A stark reminder of what once were
Though comforted by its ancient limbs,
where once were vines, moss and leaves,
now dry old accusing fingers point
to the sky and to the earth

This tree was all tall and full
where people came from far and wide
and bathed themselves in leafy cool
Now no one wants to care or know
about that last leaf that fell long ago;
the vines and moss that died soon after

Continue reading "The Tree of Life" »

PNG legislators must – must – act against corruption

Francis Nii
Francis Nii


KUNDIAWA – Unsurprisingly, Papua New Guinea was rated as one of the most corrupt countries in the Pacific region and the world by international corruption watchdog Transparency International’s 2018 corruption index.

Instead of brushing aside this annual report as it has done in the past, the PNG government should take it seriously and do something to combat the pernicious disease of corruption.

PNG was ranked 138 out of 180 countries in the just published Corruption Perception Index.

In a ranking of 0 to 100 with 100 perceived as very clean and 0 as highly corrupt, PNG scored 28, making it to be one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

This rating is not a surprise because it is a common knowledge that corruption has dug its roots into this country from the office of the prime minister down to lower level public servants and civil society at large.

Continue reading "PNG legislators must – must – act against corruption" »

Kiap’s notebook - births, deaths, marriages & anniversaries

Robbins - At Ako
Doug Robbins at Ako with confiscated shotgun. The fighting sticks and club are from a fight over a coconut tree at Foru


SPRINGBROOK - Annette and I had been married for just two years when we went to Papua New Guinea in 1969.

During my induction course at Kwikila with 38 other patrol officers before we were assigned to unknown postings, Annette waited at home in Brisbane.

She arrived in PNG at the completion of our five weeks training and, after spending a night in Port Moresby, we flew to Popondetta five days after our second wedding anniversary.

Probably because I was the newest recruit at Popondetta, in the first few months I was given two burials to administer.

The first was still on the hospital operating table and I wondered if the relatives would blame the death on the white doctor and his knife.

Continue reading "Kiap’s notebook - births, deaths, marriages & anniversaries" »

To challenge China's influence, Australia turns to rugby league

PNG PM's XIII versus Australia (NRL)STAFF CORRESPONDENT | Reuters

SYDNEY - Australia will direct more foreign aid to develop the sport of rugby league in the Pacific, officials say, bolstering a soft power offensive against China’s growing influence in the region.

The plan, backed by prime minister Scott Morrison, aims to tap into a shared passion for the bruising game — which differs from its more globally popular cousin, rugby union — by funding more coaching clinics and exhibition matches on far-flung Pacific islands being wooed by China.

“The prime minister sees rugby league as a central component of his soft-power plan as China’s influence in the Pacific grows,” said a senior rugby league official.

Continue reading "To challenge China's influence, Australia turns to rugby league" »

Bishops appeal for refugee action in open letter to O’Neill

Licini_Fr Giorgio
Fr Giorgio Licini - 'I appeal to your sense of humanity and the responsibility of your high office'

FR GIORGIO LICINI | General Secretary, Catholic Bishops Conference

WAIGANI - Dear Hon Prime Minister: It is with heavy heart and an intense sense of sadness that I report to you on my recent visits to Lorengau town in Manus Island and to the Pacific International Hospital in Port Moresby.

At the two locations, I had the heartbreaking experience of making contact with an appalling level of desperation in which refugees and asylum seekers live.

I am not referring to the logistic conditions in which the men are kept, which appear to be decent with security, cleanliness, and respect by national and expatriate personnel.

My concern is rather about their fast deteriorating health status, which is making now acts of self-harm and attempted suicide a daily occurrence: three cases only for the two days I was in Manus on 20-22 January.

While travel to Manus and to the detention centers may prove hard to your busy schedule, I warmly invite you to make a quick visit to the [Intensive Care Unit] ward of Pacific International Hospital at 3 Mile.

You will come across well-kept health facilities and extremely kind and professional personnel, but you will also meet about twenty refugees and asylum seekers in a deplorable state of mental health compounded with other ailments affecting their cardiac and respiratory system, kidney failure, fractured bones, etc.

Continue reading "Bishops appeal for refugee action in open letter to O’Neill" »

Denuding democracy – election 2017 did not measure up

Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln - "Government of the people, by the people and for the people"


PORT MORESBY - Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg speech captured the essence of democracy. Democracy, he said, is a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

In democratic societies, the people have the right to vote and elect their leaders. The democratic form of government was conceived as a revolt against the monarchical governments that controlled much of Europe and suppressed the people to servitude.

So democracy was established as an alternative to oligarchy.

According to British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill, real democratic process comes to play when “the little man, walking into the little booth, with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little bit of paper, without intimidation.”

In a democratic society, the people choose their representatives without fear or favour. When an electoral process is transparent, an election is deemed authentic.

Continue reading "Denuding democracy – election 2017 did not measure up" »

A Journey Awaits

Gates (Backdrop Express)RAYMOND SIGIMET

A courageous journey awaits us all
This lonely walk into that tunnelled lens
Where we leave behind our earthly call
and cross over beyond when breath expends

A journey made when our eyes get dark
Where spirit and soul will cross to meet
And time will remember and weigh its mark
while they gather silent below its feet

This lonesome walk into a far dim light
A much travelled path for the burdened soul
Where it will stand before the Judge's might
while the body sleeps in its earthly hole

This journey will cease with the trumpet sounds
when we all hope to wear our lustrous gowns

Wimping it out in Waigani – and the rest of PNG

Anti-corruption activists  2015
Anti-corruption activists, 2015 - despite the excesses against the people of PNG, there is no mass push for change that has any significant impact


TUMBY BAY - I attended my first political protest in late 1969 while home on leave from Papua New Guinea. It was an anti-Vietnam war rally.

Somehow I managed to get caught up in a group that was carted off to the city watch house by the police.

Most of my co-arrestees were either long haired, bearded types or women who made a point of not wearing a bra. They were all colourfully dressed in the hippy fashions of the time. By contrast I was short-haired, beardless and conventionally dressed.

Thus disguised I simply took advantage of the confusion and walked out the door. Luckily no one stopped me. I had no desire to answer any awkward questions when I got back to work in Papua New Guinea.

The experience nevertheless jarred something in my consciousness and it led to a lifelong interest in politics and prompted me to add a politics major to my already erratic and eclectic curriculum vitae.

Continue reading "Wimping it out in Waigani – and the rest of PNG" »

Mixed outcomes & missed opportunities for PNG’s economy

Export actionPAUL FLANAGAN | East Asia Forum

CANBERRA - The last year should have seen Papua New Guinea’s economic fortunes improve significantly.

Higher oil prices should have contributed to a major decline in budget deficits. The November 2018 APEC meeting provided an opportunity to showcase what PNG has to offer.

But an earthquake, lax budget policy and a build-up of protectionist and anti-market policies meant that the year ended as a mixed bag. The latest International Monetary Fund assessment indicates 0% growth in 2018.

Resources now account for over 80% of PNG’s exports, a major increase from the 50% level of the 1970s and early 1980s.

Continue reading "Mixed outcomes & missed opportunities for PNG’s economy" »

A fine project to preserve the fine art of Motu pottery

Mother-and-daughter-making-pots-hanuabada-1920s (Australian Ceramics Association)
Mother and daughter making pots, Hanuabada, 1920s (Australian Ceramics Association)

TOMÁS DIETZ | Project Gida

CANBERRA - Project Gida [pronounced GHEE-da] is the umbrella name for activities designed to protect and invigorate fading Motuan traditions.

‘Gida’ is the Motu word for 'embers’ - remnants of a fire.  This name was chosen to signal the idea that the embers of Motu culture can be either left to die to cold ashes or fanned back into flame.

As one activity towards retaining these cultural traditions, I am starting an experimental pottery group in Canberra to teach Motu pottery techniques. It will include Canberrans who share a fascination for this ancient tradition.

This group will experiment with the techniques of Motu pottery-making that I acquired in Gida's pilot visit to Boera village.

The point is to gain a practical understanding of Motu pottery construction and will thus make a huge difference in the future when I implement revival programs in the Motu villages.

Continue reading "A fine project to preserve the fine art of Motu pottery" »