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75 posts from March 2019

The rigging of the 2017 election: (3) Violence & intimidation

Election violence in Kundiawa
Election violence seized Kundiawa in Chimbu Province. A dispute over who won the governorship continues in the courts but not in Kundiawa where it is considered a danger to public safety


Journalist Mark Davis continues his summary of the main issues arising in the lengthy Australian National University report on the 2017 Papua New Guinea national election. Mark  documents election violence including an undisclosed level of murder and looting that has extended to this day
You can link to it in full here

CAIRNS - According to the ANU report, violence by candidates and their gangs, and police and Defence Force elements (both institutions comprehensively corrupted by People’s National Congress) reached unprecedented levels during the 2017 election.

Observers and citizens reported curtailing their movements throughout the campaign, polling and post-polling periods due to the violence and insecurity which punctuated the elections from start to finish.

The ANU observation team documented and witnessed election-related violence in all but three of the 69 electorates in which it undertook detailed observations.

This included 204 deaths due to election-related violence, hundreds of injuries and the large-scale destruction of property.

Continue reading "The rigging of the 2017 election: (3) Violence & intimidation" »

In industrious Lae, the Morobe Show moves into its 60th year

Wampar village beauty (Jennifer Oliver)
The decorous people of Wampar village at the Morobe Show (Jennifer Oliver)


PORT MORESBY - If it was not for the war in the Pacific between 1942 and 1945, Papua New Guinea would be a different country in terms of tourism popularity.

But let me first go back to April 1883 when James Burns and Robert Philp decided their trading company Burns Philp would offer visits to New Guinea and, in 1884, advertised the ground-braking 'New Guinea Excursion Trip'.

This consisted of a five-week round trip from Thursday Island and was described as the "official beginning of tourist cruises in the South Pacific".

By 1914 Burns Philp’s tourism department acquired the Port Moresby Hotel and the Papua Hotel was purchased some years later.

Burns Philp continued its maritime passenger and tourism services until the outbreak of the World War II in the Pacific in 1942.

Continue reading "In industrious Lae, the Morobe Show moves into its 60th year" »

The language in gifts

Kula exchange of the Trobriand Islands
Kula exchange of the Trobriand Islands


In Melanesia’s reciprocal culture most ancient,
Gifts exchanged oft’n speak a hidden voice,
Of the value of the reciprocated receiver.

You are a hero, if you receive a cow,
A swindler, if your receive a swine,
A conman, if you receive a mumu of corn.

The recipient of the gift must know,
The language of the reciprocated gift,
If the gift is from the lower cluster -

It is a rebuke, language of disdain,
That often belies the reciprocated gift,
Given to the receiver of the gift.

Continue reading "The language in gifts" »

The rigging of the 2017 election: (2) Misbehaviour & malfeasance

Peter O'Neill Patricia Scotland
A happy Peter O'Neill receives the Commonwealth Observer Group report from secretary-general Patricia Scotland. The report was a whitewash, no wonder Peter was smiling. But not so after reading the forensic ANU observers report


Journalist Mark Davis summarises the main issues from the Australian National University’s hard-hitting report on the 2017 Papua New Guinea national election. This is the second of Mark’s four part summary of a report that documents an election replete with threats, malfeasance and corruption. You can link here to the full report

CAIRNS - There is much for the Australian government to consider about the corrupt Papua New Guinea elections in 2002, 2007, 2012 and now 2017.

All were conducted with considerable aid support from Australia, some of it directly to the PNG Electoral Commission but most to the general strengthening of the country’s institutions.

On the evidence of those elections, and independent observations, that aid has failed - as has Australian diplomacy over many years.

But the failure of Australia’s Liberal-National coalition and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to understand the Pacific and develop and implement effective policies is nowhere more evident than in Australia’s relationship with PNG in recent years.

Continue reading "The rigging of the 2017 election: (2) Misbehaviour & malfeasance" »

Commission of inquiry is needed to protect democracy

Sir Mek
Sir Mekere Morauta - the former prime minister demands an election inquiry


PORT MORESBY – Following the release of the damning observer report by the Australian National University, I renew my call for a commission of inquiry into the 2017 national election.

The report is a comprehensive account of the election, based on observer teams led by Papua New Guinean experts who covered 69 electorates in all four regions with detailed studies of 44 electorates.

It is very clear from the report that the 2017 election was designed to be chaotic; it was designed to be rigged; it was designed to produce a particular result.

Those who must take responsibility are Peter O’Neill and Isaac Lupari, and their Chief Electoral Commissioner. They must share the blame for the organised chaos we had on an unprecedented scale.

I agree with the finding of the ANU report, based on my own experience, that this was the worst election ever in terms of official corruption and violence.

As the ANU report so amply demonstrates, the election was not free and fair, and therefore the O’Neill Government cannot claim legitimacy, and nor can Papua New Guinea lay claim to being a parliamentary democracy.

Continue reading "Commission of inquiry is needed to protect democracy" »

Anne Nealibo Dickson-Waiko – pioneering gender academic

Dr Anne Nealibo Dickson-Waiko 2
Dr Anne Nealibo Dickson-Waiko

CATHY KEIMELO | Gender in PNG Research Program

PORT MORESBY – As a teacher, advocate, mentor and silent achiever, the late Dr Anne Nealibo Dickson-Waiko (1950-2018) will be remembered for her contributions to the advancement of women in Papua New Guinea.

Hailing from Wagawaga in the Milne Bay Province, Anne was born on 15 May 1950, the fourth child of five children to Osineru and Doreen Dickson.

From humble beginnings as a six-year-old school girl at Kwato Mission, Anne continued at Port Moresby High School and later attained a Diploma in Secondary Teaching at Goroka Teachers College.

From 1971 to 1973 she taught at Kilakila High School, during this time marrying John Kaniku, also a teacher, and had two sons.

Juggling motherhood and work, in 1974 Anne joined the University of Papua New Guinea as a professional assistant in social science at the Teaching Methods Centre. Concurrently, she studied part time for a Bachelor of Arts, graduating with first class honours.

Continue reading "Anne Nealibo Dickson-Waiko – pioneering gender academic" »

The rigging of the 2017 election: (1) You were very wrong Australia

Mark Davis
Mark Davis


Journalist Mark Davis has abstracted the main issues of a comprehensive report by the Australian National University’s on the 2017 Papua New Guinea national election. Beginning today, we present Mark’s summary in four parts. The ANU report documents a scandalous election replete with threats, malfeasance and corruption.
You can link to it in full here

CAIRNS - The Australian National University has delivered a devastating and incontrovertible account of the 2017 Papua New Guinea election

The report calls into question the legitimacy of the current regime of prime minister Peter O’Neill and the future of the nation’s parliamentary democracy.

The long-awaited ‘2017 Papua New Guinea Elections - Election Observation Report’ reveals the systematic corruption of the election by Mr O’Neill’s ruling People’s National Congress Party, other parties and candidates, the PNG Electoral Commission, the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, the PNG Defence Force and other elements of society.

It is an extraordinarily detailed report who’s unique and invaluable data is based on direct observation by a team of 258 including 32 PNG academics and researchers as team leaders, 31 ANU-based academics and students, 192 PNG observers and three support staff.

Continue reading "The rigging of the 2017 election: (1) You were very wrong Australia" »

What creates the social curse of gender inequality?

Phil Fitzpatrick recent
Phil Fitzpatrick


TUMBY BAY - We all know that men and women are biologically different. This difference is necessary if humans are going to procreate and maintain their species.

Of itself this doesn’t mean men and women are not equal. It just means that men and women have different biological roles.

How many times have you heard the argument that men are usually bigger and stronger than women and therefore more powerful? This may be so but what has it got to do with equality? Absolutely nothing.

Neither gender can survive without the other. It doesn’t matter whether one is physically stronger than the other. The difference is essentially complementary, not one of strength.

Men and women should be different but equal. But they are not. Why is this so?

If inequality is not a product of nature it must, therefore, be a product of nurture.

Continue reading "What creates the social curse of gender inequality?" »

Sir Joseph Nombri & the emergence of the Chimbu elite

Sir Joseph Nombri
Sir Joseph Nombri


KUNDIAWA - After the Europeans came to Chimbu their laws were introduced among the people and any old ways that were unacceptable to the general principles of humanity were forbidden.

The common Chimbu traits of peace, love, friendship, giving and family were encouraged so travel and communication among the tribes became easier.

In the beginning tribal leaders were the first to embrace the new ideas. The leaders were made Luluai and Tultul and others became policemen, postal boys, translators and held other responsible positions serving the colonial administration all over the highlands and the coast.

Dinga leader Aina was known as an engineer supervising the building of airstrips and roads throughout Chimbu and the highlands.

Kumga chief Tumun, Golen chief Ninkama Bomai, Karimui leader Inuabe Egaiano and Kamare chief Launa were tribal leaders who became some of the first elected leaders to embrace the white men’s ways.

Continue reading "Sir Joseph Nombri & the emergence of the Chimbu elite" »

Of cows, bulls, canon law & having a sense of humour

My cow diedGARRY ROCHE

DUBLIN - On one occasion while working in the diocese of Mt Hagen I was asked to give a talk on canon law (church law) to the priests in the neighbouring diocese of Mendi.

At that time many missionaries looked on canon law with suspicion, often seeing it as not being applicable to the very different cultural situations encountered in Papua New Guinea.

When I entered the large room where I was to give the talk, I noticed that, in addition to the overseas missionaries and local priests, there were some lay expatriate volunteers in the room.

While I was being introduced to the gathering I had the opportunity to look around at everyone in the room.

One local priest was wearing a tee-shirt with a slogan on it that immediately caught my eyes.

Continue reading "Of cows, bulls, canon law & having a sense of humour" »

New data offers insights into rural poverty & undernutrition

The Ramu River winds its way through the rich valley that bears its name

EMILY SCHMIDT | International Food Policy Research Institute

WASHINGTON DC - The dinghy ride up the Ramu River takes nine long hours, but my excitement mounted as we approached the small villages in the lowlands of northern Papua New Guinea.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by children paddling and playing in wooden dugout canoes, and women washing sago palm (an important staple food among lowland populations of PNG) for food preparation. 

When the rumble of the boat’s diesel motor finally cut out at the small sandbar that would serve as our boat dock for the next several days, we were surrounded by an incredible silence that whispered of the isolated lifestyle and resilience of the villagers.

We spent three months last year collecting detailed household survey data for a research project investigating how rural communities ensure food security when faced with natural disasters or other unplanned shocks to household food production.

Continue reading "New data offers insights into rural poverty & undernutrition" »

Writers take up your pens. Crocodile Prize roars back to life

Crocodile-prize trophiesBEN JACKSON

PORT MORESBY - The Crocodile Prize is getting ready for a big year as it continues to bring the best of Papua New Guinean writing to the world.

The Prize was founded in 2010 and director Ruth Moiam said it has developed as the country’s most important platform for writers and poets.

“It is a means of building and strengthening Papua New Guinean literature,” she said, “and it gives writers the encouragement and recognition they need.”

Ms Moiam has asked potential sponsors to consider putting their weight behind Papua New Guinean writers.

Continue reading "Writers take up your pens. Crocodile Prize roars back to life" »

Porgera ‘Mama Gold’

The Porgera underground mine produces 1.4 million tonnes of ore a year and is one of the 10 richest in the world. It lies at the top of Porgera Valley, home of the Ipili people in Enga Province


This is a miner’s poem. It’s a recollection of many of their thoughts - mainly on the welfare side. It’s a Papua New Guinean story from the mining industry, which is the so called backbone of the PNG economy, a story of where the real gold comes from. ‘Mama Gold’ is a term used by the Porgera locals for the fool's gold, which is pyrite. It looks like gold but is not actual gold - DAT

Kirap early 4am, finish lon 7pm late
12hours max you givim olgeta like no other
Some day our children will look back sadly of these times
When recorded on an history book
Where was the welfare?
Even when mine workers pay the highest personal tax
No car, no holiday trip, no good house, you’d have to sacrifice some other basic costs as an option
They’d say we didn’t build anything either
But only dug a big hole here
Poor old bugger
On Hire Fire, Hire Fire
We are just another worker
They can get another when they wanna
Poor old miner!

Continue reading "Porgera ‘Mama Gold’" »

Peter O’Neill has lost the support of his caucus, says Kua

Kerenga Kua (2)
Kerenga Kua


PORT MORESBY - Shadow attorney-general Kerenga Kua says the action by Sir Peter Ipatas in filing a supreme court reference questioning the validity of the district development authority has cost prime minister Peter O’Neill the support of his government caucus.

Mr Kua, MP for Sinasina-Yonggomugl, said Sir Peter’s action had the support of 16 other governors.

“Mr O’Neill has lost the support of senior members of his government,” he said.

“Sir Peter Ipatas has been able to gain support from both opposition members and government MPs to question the role of the District Development Authority Act.

“These are issues that should be resolved in the government coalition caucus.

The fact that Mr O’Neill hasn’t been able to deal with it in there shows he has lost the support of a great number of members of his government.

Continue reading "Peter O’Neill has lost the support of his caucus, says Kua" »

It’s time to do something about squatter settlements

Port Moresby squatter settlement
Port Moresby squatter settlement


TUMBY BAY - I saw my first squatter settlement in 1967 in Mount Hagen.

The settlements around Mount Hagen in those days were nothing like the ones that came later.

Unlike their counterparts in the big towns like Port Moresby and Lae, where squatters came from other districts, they were mainly occupied by local landowners. The town was not yet big enough to have created an underclass of dispossessed landowners.

The settlers around Mount Hagen were generally made up of people who had moved in closer to the town to take advantage of its attractions and to sell the vegetables they produced in their nearby gardens.

They were, nevertheless, a hodgepodge of ramshackle buildings constructed with no thought of order.

Continue reading "It’s time to do something about squatter settlements" »

Be patient, stand in line and just wait for your turn


MADANG - I’m sure it takes a lot of patience to stand in a long line. We stand in lines for one common thing and that is to get served. In other words, we stand in line to receive service.

In Papua New Guinea, you see that everywhere. You see the line in front of the commercial banks, police offices and the immigration office.

I believe it’s just part of life to stand in line. Even when you die, you stand in line to face your judgement. (I don’t know for sure about this but maybe it’s because I watch too many movies about life after death.)

Some people get offended when you tell them to wait in line. Mind you, these kind of people will find the easiest way to get to the front.

Continue reading "Be patient, stand in line and just wait for your turn" »

Kundu & Digaso festival is restored after quake disaster

Kinjap - Kutubu women nearing Daga village on canoe (Pekinjap)
Kutubu women nearing Daga village by canoe (Peter Kinjap)


PORT MORESBY – In February 2018, Daga village located in the midst of tropical forest near Lake Kutubu in the Southern Highlands, was the scene of a devastating earthquake.

The quake was a disaster for more than 40 villages, claiming many lives, destroying houses and food gardens and displacing hundreds of people.

The remote Daga village was unknown to the outside world until nine years ago when it hosted a traditional party known as the Kutubu Kundu and Digaso Festival.

The event is hosted at the centre of Daga village, which lost its traditional Kutubu long house, to the shocking earthquake. Buildings surrounding the outdoor area where the festival takes place were also damaged.

Continue reading "Kundu & Digaso festival is restored after quake disaster" »

Want to publish? You can but here’s the truth behind the scenes

Francis Nii
Francis Nii - talented writer, wise publisher and a patriot strongly committed to Papua New Guinea and its literature


KUNDIAWA – I feel that it is important for me to share my experience of book publishing with authors and would-be authors to give them insights into book publication so they can make informed decisions to find the best and cheapest online or other publisher of their choice.

My first publication was my maiden novel ‘Paradise in Peril’ in 2005 with CBS Publishers and Distributors of New Delhi, the same publisher that produced books by Sir Paulias Matane and other Papua New Guinean writers.

I wrote the story on scrap paper and later Lutheran Pastor Daryl Boyd assisted me type it on a rugged old typewriter. When I felt the story was complete, I sent a hard copy by airmail to Governor General Sir Paulias Matane at Government House for his assessment and comment. There was no internet service in Kundiawa at the time.

Some weeks later, I received a letter from CBS in India through the post office. The letter said CBS had received my manuscript and was happy with the narrative and was ready to publish it. Thanks to Sir Paulias.

For a literary work of a first-timer to be accepted for publication by a renowned foreign publisher was quite a feat. I was very happy.

Continue reading "Want to publish? You can but here’s the truth behind the scenes" »

‘Australia over a barrel’: PNG official sought K20 million ‘donation’

Manus from the air - looks peaceful but corruption, greed and exploitation roil beneath


MELBOURNE  - An Australian government contractor on Manus Island was asked by a senior Papua New Guinea official in 2017 for a multi-million-dollar donation to the ruling party of prime minister Peter O’Neill.

When the company, which was working for the Home Affairs department on the offshore detention regime, refused the request, the company's senior managers began to encounter problems with visas for staff to enter or remain in PNG.

The contractor, which asked that its name not be used to protect the welfare of its Manus Island-based staff, rejected the donation request and reported it to senior department officials in late 2017. It's understood more than one contractor has experienced similar problems.

Continue reading "‘Australia over a barrel’: PNG official sought K20 million ‘donation’" »

Annie Dori, the award-winning poet who didn’t know it


PORT MORESBY - Annie Dori always kept journals, but never for a moment thought of herself as a writer.

As a graduate nursing officer she travelled through the remote districts of Western Province and her journal pages began to fill with the voices of people she met.

They were the stories of everyday Papua New Guineans.

“We were going from village to village,” Annie said, “they were quite far apart – it can take days for people to get to the nearest health centre.”

“Mothers’ would tell their stories of giving birth with no access to a health post and disabled men described their struggles to get around.

Continue reading "Annie Dori, the award-winning poet who didn’t know it" »

We Need Change

Papua New Guinea's literary awards in the Crocodile Prize are preparing for a big revival later in 2019


Winner of the 2017 Crocodile Prize Poetry Award

The voice of a child begs for a touch,
The voice of a mother in hopelessness,
The voice of a youth searching for direction,
While the old weeps in pain.

The world seems to have lost its humanity,
Portraying injustice, hatred and jealousy,
Nature seems to agree,
Allowing disaster to conquer harmony

Where has the heart of a leader gone?
The kind that stands for justice,
And brings hope to the downhearted.

The child is still begging,
There is no medicine.
The mother is still hopeless
Her child is dying.
The youth is still searching,
Schooling seems only for the rich.
The old is still weeping,
How much more do we have to cry?

What a leader does

Traditional chief, Trobriand Islands


A leader is the head,
The guardian of trust,
Placed on him by many.

A leader sees ahead,
A million miles farther
Than the followers.

A leader thinks ahead,
A million ideas at times,
At the speed of light.

A leader reads ahead,
To keep abreast of times,
To stay ahead of the trend.

A leader exercises ahead,
To keep the body primed,
To stay in shape and fit.

Continue reading "What a leader does" »

Bite size rules. But tome size gives you the smarts

Barack Obama
Barack Obama - "books gave me the ability to slow down and get perspective"


PORT MORESBY - In the age of Facebook, tens of millions of people favour the habit of reading bite size information rather than to plough through dense tomes.

To read tomes requires time, intense concentration and mental agility. Literature that is dense and lofty taxes the mind, stretches mental barriers and breaks mental molds.

Such readers become deep readers and deep thinkers because reading shapes mental contours and fuels original and imaginative thinking.

But today’s generation prefers the less taxing and easier route of bite size information.

In one Facebook survey, the greatest engagements (likes, comments and shares) came from short posts, while longer information was ignored. In another survey, photos received thousands of likes and longer articles were snubbed.

These scenarios reflect a dangerous habit in today’s readers. The titans of social media have created algorithms that promote bite size and the masses devour these without regard to the impact such content has on their mental landscape.

Continue reading "Bite size rules. But tome size gives you the smarts" »

From shocking tribal violence to strawberries for Singapore

Kumbon - Wabag provincial headquarters
Enga provincial headquarters in Wabag


WABAG - Nobody believed the people of Enga Province would one day export premium strawberries. To outsiders, it seemed their main achievement was to involve themselves in tribal warfare.

That perception will hopefully be erased now that a market has been established in Singapore for Enga strawberries and possibly other agricultural products.

This is the result of hard work put in by Governor Sir Peter Ipatas who encouraged Israeli company Innovative Agro Industries to partner with the Enga Provincial Government to establish a K23 million vegetable project at Taluma in the Sirunki area of Laiagam.

Many people felt the project would fail because the local Makol tribe was involved in tribal fighting. But now strawberries are produced there for export as well as potatoes for Port Moresby.

Continue reading "From shocking tribal violence to strawberries for Singapore" »

Landowner identification in PNG is a job for government

Protesting PNG landowners (One PNG)
Protesting PNG landowners (One PNG)

PETER DWYER & MONICA MINNEGAL | DevPolicy Blog | Extracts

CANBERRA - The Papua New Guinea Liquefied Natural Gas (PNG LNG) project commenced exporting gas to China, Korea and Japan in May 2014.

Under agreements reached in 2009, landowners of eight petroleum licence areas, eight pipeline licence areas and a liquefaction plant site near Port Moresby were to receive royalties. By February 2019, payments had been made to people in only the last of these areas.

The identification of landowners has been a major difficulty, and assigning responsibility for completing the task has been a matter of debate.

At the close of 2018, social mapping and landowner identification studies carried out by consultants to petroleum companies, clan-vetting exercises carried out by officers of the Department of Petroleum and Energy, and alternative dispute resolution processes implemented by the judiciary had failed to solve the problem.

Continue reading "Landowner identification in PNG is a job for government" »

It’s International Poetry Day, so we asked along Ray Sigimet

Raymond Sigimet
Ray Sigimet - "A simple poem or story with a simple message can inspire change"


DAGUA - I started writing poetry as a form of personal expression when I had my first piece published on PNG Attitude in September 2015.

It was a poem about my daughter who was born in 2011 and it expressed the awe and wonder she brought into my life.

My daughter exuded an inner strength and zest for life which inspired me.

She was also growing really fast and, when she started talking about going school, I realised that I had to leave something for her to enable her to find her strength and remember me later on in life.

This was when I started to jot down a few stanzas and lines.  

In my poems, I mostly write about things or issues that I read, hear or see happening in the country or region. I am always in awe of Papua New Guinea and try to capture in my poems its social changes and challenges.

My poems are mostly about life, politics and justice, land and development, family and home, spirituality, and self and identity.

I believe that humans have shared experiences that transcend time and space and when these are captured effectively in a simple poem or story with a simple message, the reader is able to relive those experiences, relate to the poetry and perhaps be inspired to create change.

Continue reading "It’s International Poetry Day, so we asked along Ray Sigimet" »

Two cows and a pig & the proportionality of status

A pig
The minister's pig: Was it gift enough or should it have been a horse?


VERONA - It is no secret that university governance in Papua New Guinea has been completely politicised.

Rules are not respected and there is no transparency or accountability.

Now it seems all this has been thrown out of the window, and traditional justice practices are being used to resolve university governance issues.

As a foreigner, even after having mastered the relevant anthropological literature, I found it hard to understand how wonderful customary justice principles based on restoration of social harmony, reciprocity and proportionality worked out in practice.

Continue reading "Two cows and a pig & the proportionality of status" »

A small disagreement over land and a dog

Ian Rowles with his Kabwum Trading Company Cessna 185, Lae, 1974. Soon after this photo was taken, Ian died in this aircraft in a bad weather crash (Richard Leahy)


GOLD COAST - In 1971, as a newly promoted Patrol Officer, I took a break from supervising the construction of a road between Yalumet and Derim airstrips in the Morobe District to spend a few days at the sub-district headquarters at Kabwum.

To my surprise the small town was buzzing with hundreds of prisoners – unmistakeable in their bright red laplaps featuring roughly printed broad black arrows.

“What the heck’s going on?” I asked one of the station staff.

Well, it turned out it all began over a dog. Or at least that’s what triggered the immediate problem of who was the true owner a section of land near Indagen airstrip, south east of Kabwum where Ian Rowles’ Kabwum Trading Company had a trade store and a Summer Institute of Linguistics family were translating the Bible into the local language.

Two local clans had a long-standing dispute over who owned the land, a common enough situation in Papua New Guinea and one that was usually extraordinarily difficult to determine.

Continue reading "A small disagreement over land and a dog" »

Momis urges strong vote for independence in referendum

Konnou Disarmament
Ex-combatants from Konnou in South Bougainville surrender weapons in preparation for the referendum. Member for Konnou Willie Masiu MP said peace building is a priority in his constituency


BUKA - Bougainvilleans have been urged to present a unified front in casting their votes when the Autonomous Region of Bougainville goes to the polls for the referendum on its political future in October.

“As your leader I urge you all to vote for option two and that is independence,” President John Momis said during the final stage of the week-long Bougainville referendum roadshow.

“Having a result that presents a unified Bougainvillean choice gives our leaders the power to negotiate with the national government,” Dr Momis said.

He reminded the people that after the referendum the result will still have to be ratified by the PNG parliament as stipulated under the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

“If the national parliament fails to ratify the result of the referendum then we still have the option of a negotiated outcome where both governments will collaborate to get the best outcome for the people of Bougainville,” he said.

“This is our time to exercise our right to self-determination, it is our time to forge a new future for our children and the generations to come.

Continue reading "Momis urges strong vote for independence in referendum" »

Kokomo sits in the old yar tree; but always with an eye for danger

Kokomos in a yar tree (Rocky Roe)GRAHAM KING

BIALLA - When my children were small and living in West New Britain they would sing the Papua New Guinean version of ‘Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree’ which was ‘Kokomo Sits in the Coconut Tree’.

They also sang another version which was ‘Kokomo sits on the ‘lectric wire, jumping up and down with his pants on fire’.

I have never seen Kokomos roosting on a coconut and, besides, coconuts are palms not trees.

But in West New Britain the Kokomos love to find a tall yar tree on which they spend the night.

In Bialla over 200 Kokomos (Blyths Hornbill) fly in every afternoon at dusk to roost in a tall yar tree (Casuarina equisetifolia) in the Area 7 Executive Housing complex.

Continue reading "Kokomo sits in the old yar tree; but always with an eye for danger" »

Universities should beware of ministers bearing (small) gifts

Matheson Library_0
Matheson Library at the PNG University of Technology in Lae


VERONA, ITALY - The recent visit by minister Richard Maru to the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (Unitech), where he donated a few hundred thousand kina in laboratory equipment may give the impression that everything is fine.

In fact, the opposite is true.

In Papua New Guinea, there have been four major student uprisings in the five years from 2012 to 2017, the result of endless government meddling in university council affairs.

As a result, for anyone interested in student protest, it has become the world’s number one place to be. If you want to lead a peaceful family life on campus, however, it is possibly not the preferred location.

Moreover, the overtly anti-foreigner attitude of the government, chancellors and many university staff members, as demonstrated by the recent persecution of foreign vice-chancellors and academics, is not conducive to a positive working environment.

Continue reading "Universities should beware of ministers bearing (small) gifts" »

12 women who 'think equal, build smart & innovate for change'


BRISBANE - Readers might have believed that when PNG Attitude’s publisher and editor proclaimed post-surgery, “Now time to get this old cart back on the road”, the words were reflective rather than prescriptive. Nope.

Whereas 10 minutes helping my son with Year 5 long division means immediate, uninterrupted and unspecified rest on the sofa, PNG Attitude’s recovery from five-time spinal surgery means returning to his keyboard and the company of thousands of readers around the globe.

I guess individuals like Keith Jackson are wired differently.

A few short hours after his release from hospital, I received an email from Jackson who explained that, while he was late to International Women’s Day 2019, PNG Attitude still ought to mark the occasion by recognising the women of Papua New Guinea.

I was invited to nominate a handful of women and briefly explain why.

The International Women’s Day clarion call of ‘Think equal, build smart, innovate for change’ signalled the task for the year ahead.

Innovating to remove barriers and accelerate progress for gender equality. Encouraging investment to develop gender-responsive social systems. Building services and infrastructure to meet the needs of women and girls.

Continue reading "12 women who 'think equal, build smart & innovate for change'" »

Kokoda: Is world heritage ambition killing the military heritage?

WW2 troops on the Kokoda TrailCHARLIE LYNN | Edited

SYDNEY - Since Australian environment officials assumed control of the Kokoda trekking industry in 2009, trekker numbers have declined by almost 50% from 5,621 in 2008 to 3,033 in 2018 – despite an injection of more than $50 million of aid funding.

The official response to the decline invariably refers to an aircraft crash in 2009 and a couple of deaths around the same period. The reality today is that, whenever the crash site is pointed out to trekkers, the usual response is ‘what crash?’

Prior to the discovery of the $3 billion Kodu gold and copper deposit on the southern slopes of the Kokoda Trail near Mt Bini there was no interest in the area or its people from either the PNG or Australian governments.  The appearance of bulldozers from Frontier Resources in 2006 changed that.

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Report shows mining pollution limits access to clean water

Mining pollution
Mining pollution turns the Pongema River red (Red Water Report)

ALY AZHAR | Earth Institute | Columbia University

NEW YORK - A new report titled ‘Red Water’ documents the social, environmental, economic, and health impacts of gold mining in Porgera, Papua New Guinea.

The report finds that the communities affected by mining do not have access to consistent and safe drinking water.

This is due, in part, to the fact that the PNG government has not met its human rights obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the right to water in Porgera, and because companies that own and operate the mine — Canadian company Barrick Gold and Zijin Mining from China — are in breach of their responsibilities to respect the right to water.

‘Red Water’ finds that the Porgera Joint Venture gold mine poses direct threats to the social and economic rights of communities living near the mine. These key findings are a result of a four-year study conducted by Earth Institute scientists, Pennsylvania State University scientists, and Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic faculty and students.

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David Attenborough's long association with Papua New Guinea

Journeys-to-the-other-side-of-the-world coverPHIL FITZPATRICK

Journeys to the Other Side of the World: Further Adventures of a Young Naturalist by David Attenborough, Two Roads (Hodder & Stoughton), ISBN: 978-1-47366-665-8, 414 pages, about $20-30 from most booksellers

TUMBY BAY - I think everyone with access to a television set has heard of David Attenborough, the British naturalist, broadcaster, writer and film maker.

Attenborough is 92 years old and still working. He is a passionate advocate for action on climate change and recently warned it is an existential crisis for humanity that could, if not remedied, lead to our extinction as a species.

I first saw him at a live presentation for school children in the late 1950s at the old Regent Theatre in Adelaide.

He had just published his book ‘Zoo Quest for a Dragon including the Quest for the Paradise Birds’ and it was the beginning of my fascination with the natural world and Papua New Guinea in particular.

I’ve still got my copy of that book but was interested to note that much of the PNG section has been recently republished in a compilation called ‘Journeys to the Other Side of the World’.

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Hypocrisy undermines Australia’s position as a corruption fighter

PNG is the most corrupt country in APEC, but the Manus contracts reflect badly on Australian governance which  appears to be hypocritical and replete with double standards


CANBERRA - Recent media revelations about the $423 million (K1 billion) contract awarded to a relatively unknown company, Paladin, to provide security and other services to refugees on Manus has attracted extensive discussion in Australia.

Most of this has centred on Paladin, the extravagant cost of the contract and rate of profit for the company (estimated at K40 million a month), and, of course, the opaque and abbreviated tendering process followed by the Department of Home Affairs.

Less has been said about what these events might say about Australia’s ongoing engagement with PNG. We argue that this case potentially serves to undermine Australia’s standing among those striving to combat corruption and improve governance in its northern neighbour.

According to the Australian Financial Review, the Australian federal government ran a ‘limited tender’ for two contracts won by Paladin.

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The 30-year struggle of journalism education at USP

Wansolwara student journalists
Wansolwara student journalists on publication day at the University of the South Pacific

SHAILENDRA SINGH | Pacific Media Centre | University of the South Pacific | Edited

SUVA - The University of the South Pacific’s recent 50th anniversary also marked 30 years of existence for its regional journalism program.

In an eventful journey, the program has weathered military coups, overcome financial hardships and shrugged off academic snobbery.

Funded by the Commonwealth, the program started in Suva in 1988 with a handful of students. Since then it has produced more than 200 graduates serving the Pacific and beyond in various media and communication roles.

USP journalism graduates have won awards, started their own media companies and taken over positions once reserved for expatriates in regional organisations.

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PNG bishops attack government over corruption, incompetence

CorruptionKEITH JACKSON | Sources

NOOSA – The Catholic bishops of Papua New Guinea have had enough of the O’Neill government, blasting it for failing to take action on corruption and for what they have referred to as its “general incompetence”.

In a public statement, the bishops asked why an Independent Commission Against Corruption had not yet been established, despite many promises over many years, and why nothing has been done to end the Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABLs) which are said to have led to many illegal land grabs.

They condemned SABLs for continuing to destroy the environment and the livelihoods of thousands of Papua New Guineans.

The statement also attacked the practice of politicians directly distributing government funds to the people themselves.

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Enga’s annual show highlights people, tradition & identity

Kinjap - Sili Muli girls prepare for the show
Sili Muli dancers prepare for the Enga show


PORT MORESBY - We can safely say there is enough evidence for us to know that more than 25,000 years ago the Melanesian people crossed land bridges from Indochina to inhabit what we refer to as Papua New Guinea.

When Engan son and prolific writer Daniel Kumbon paused at the display of Engan artefacts at the African American Cultural Centre in Dayton, United States, he addressed black Americans with the words:

“Like some of you, we too are black. Like you, our roots are rich and deep. We are your distant cousins, sharing a common African heritage but now scattered in different parts of the world.”

“Maybe black Americans have appreciated the [Engan] display more than others,” said Dr Paul Brennan, the American anthropologist, when he saw the love and admiration of his culture on Daniel’s face.

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Bougainville’s referendum show hits the road

Kaybing - John Momis
President John Momis at the referendum roadshow


BUKA - The Autonomous Bougainville Government’s referendum roadshow kicked off last week as leaders gathered to address people in the former provincial capital of Arawa.

The roadshow is an initiative of the United Nations in conjunction with the ABG with the objective to meeting with key stakeholders in the three regions of Bougainville with the underpinning key message – ‘Peace by peaceful means, unity and rule of law’.

It will also give leaders the opportunity to inform and engage with the people enabling referendum related activities to be widely discussed.

The main members of the roadshow were president John Momis, Bougainville affairs minister William Samb, peace agreement minister Albert Punghau and UN resident coordinator Gianluca Rampolla.

They were accompanied by the ABG house of representatives Speaker Simon Pentanu, members of the Bougainville Referendum Commission as well as several leaders from Central Bougainville.

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'Feelings of fear': Kiaps, police & the PNG people


TUMBY BAY - Joe Herman, in PNG Attitude, has joined a growing list of Papua New Guineans who have alluded to the feeling of fear induced by many Australian kiaps in the days before independence.

At the same time, some of those kiaps have expressed surprise that they or their cohorts created that perception or were ever regarded in this way.

Like me, I think that a lot of kiaps went out of their way not to convey any overt authoritarian or oppressive power imbalance in their day-to-day dealings with the people they administered.

As a group of administrators that were very thin on the ground and deeply embedded in often remote societies under their care, such arrogance was never an effective tool. Cooperation, more than anything else, was the key to their success.

They did, however, hold responsibility for administering, among other things, the rule of law, which had certain sanctions attached to it that had to be applied without fear or favour.

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The looming & crucial question of Bougainville independence

Mt Bagana
Threat and majesty - Mt Bagana volcano symbolises the contradictions of Bougainville as its people near a vote on its political future

GRANT WYETH | The Diplomat

WASHINGTON DC - Earlier this month the date of the Bougainville independence referendum was pushed back. Initially — although tentatively — scheduled for 15 June, the poll will now be held in October.

Under the 2001 peace agreement that followed a decade-long civil war in Papua New Guinea, it was negotiated that a referendum on the future status of Bougainville would be held prior to mid-2020.

While preparations have been ongoing, it is believed the Bougainville Referendum Commission, headed by former Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern, would have been both financially and structurally struggling to meet the referendum’s requirements by June.

While the delay in the referendum isn’t a great surprise, the exact meaning of the referendum continues to be contested.

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The Return of the Prodigal


Prodigal Son (LDS Living)He left, his deep pockets full of gold,
And went to a far country of sin,
Spending his substance in a gambling bin,
Squandering the gifted treasures of old.

Hired himself to work in a piggery,
To get the food to appease his hunger,
To stop his dear life from being torn asunder.
The slops of the rich man became his eatery.

From this lowest estate he regained his senses,
Remembering his father house of wealth,
The life of great happiness and health,
The abundance of what his father possessed.

So he rose from the pig bin to return to his home,
And met his father’s humility and sweetest welcome.

Piece of Land

(Oakland Institute)JOSEPH TAMBURE

A priceless commodity
Passed through generations
Born and died on, blood and sweat spilt on
Gives status and precious worth
Defended and tended to provide our security

Without land, a people homeless
Nomads wondering alone and baseless
No name, just shadows in the air
Victimised and abused; poor and ignored
It’s a worthless life without land

A piece of land owned
Through inheritance, gift or sale
Holds everything we need in life
People steal and kill for this priceless land
Giving contentment, security, home and life

Reject the ban on street food. It is not a real solution

Cooked Food
A lazy solution to what? Port Moresby residents warned not to sell cooked food in public places


PORT MORESBY - The informal economy in Port Moresby is once again under siege. The National Capital District Commission (NCDC) is about to introduce another ban.

This time the ban will target street sellers of cooked food and betel nut (buai) and will come into force on 22 or 23 March.

The last time NCDC introduced a ban was the controversial buai ban that caused great disruption and even deaths and was eventually replaced by a partial prohibition after the ban turned into a game of cat and mouse as buai smuggling became a new phenomenon.

The stories of abuse, harassment and death that unfolded at the height of the ban remain fresh in the minds of city residents.

Defiant betel nut vendors buoyed by the prospect of huge gains colluded with law enforcers to smuggle large quantities of buai into the city.

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Late Terry Shelley receives one of Rotary's highest awards

Joe Shelley Wes Nicholls
Joe Shelley receives a humanitarian award on behalf of his late father, Terry, from Rotary director Wes Nicholls


BRISBANE – The late Terry Shelley was both a successful businessman in Papua New Guinea and a generous philanthropist.

He dedicated his working life to the welfare of the people of the Highlands and was always one of the first to contribute when PNG Attitude and other organisations initiated projects to benefit the ordinary folk of PNG.

Two years ago he worked with me on a massive undertaking to provide library books and related materials for dozens of schools in the Chimbu Province.

This was where Terry had started his career in the 1960s as a cooperatives officer and where he was a familiar figure for the rest of his life as an entrepreneur and benefactor.

A few weeks ago, Wes Nichols, the international director of the Rotary Club of Toowong in Brisbane, visited Goroka to present Terry’s son, Joe, representing his late father, with the Paul Harris Fellow award and medallion.

This prestigious award marked the Rotary Club’s recognition of a man who was a true humanitarian and an adopted son of Papua New Guinea.

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PNG & the unsolved mystery of Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart posing by her plane in Long Beach  California  1930
Amelia Earhart posing by her plane in Long Beach, California, 1930


PORT MORESBY - While experts have done a tremendous job trying to determine what led to the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, the world’s most celebrated female aviator, there are people in the Pacific Islands who have their own ideas about what happened after her last port of call in Lae, Papua New Guinea.

From 1937 until now, aviation investigators have failed to establish any leads in the search for Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan.

But the mystery continues to engage attention. Many people have invested much time and money in seeking to solve this enigma.

In the 1930s, Earhart was nothing short of a legend. She put herself into the history books as the first woman to fly solo over the Atlantic, the first woman to fly solo non-stop across the United States and the first person to fly the hazardous route between Hawaii and California.

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The kiap experience from the receiving end

Joe Herman - mixed experiences with the kiaps he came across


SEATTLE, USA - I had mixed experiences with kiaps. When I was small, fear lingered in my village. The adults told us to keep away from the kiaps.  The dominant feeling was that the kiaps would punish us, or even take us away.

These feelings were reinforced as we watched the road between Laiagam and Kandep built. Everyone was required to work on road construction and other government projects.

The police rounded up those who did not show up and beat them or threw them in gaol. This fear drove my movement and I always watched from the periphery of the centre of activities.

As I got older, I lived at Laiagam station, about 20 kilometres from my village, and witnessed some of the changes that were occurring.  In particular I remember interactions with individual kiaps.

I thought that kiap Mr Van Ruth at Laiagam was a borderline bully. At times he would set his dog on us and we ran in all directions. 

He had the late Paul Lare and three medical orderlies thrown in gaol for making loud noises while walking past his residence.  They were heading home after drinking at the local tavern.

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Politicians push coal as Pacific lashes climate change

Mongabay - A young boy looks at mud contaminated by salt water (Jeremy Sutton  Greenpeace)
A young boy looks at mud contaminated by salt water (Jeremy Sutton,  Greenpeace)


CALIFORNIA - Politicians in Papua New Guinea are ratcheting up their support for a new foray into coal mining and power generation, even as neighbouring states call for a global reduction in carbon emissions to stave off a catastrophic rise in the sea level.

PNG’s mining minister, Johnson Tuke, recently hailed the prospect of a new coal industry to boost government revenue and public access to electricity, following visits to coal mines and power stations in Australia.

PNG has no coal mines or coal-fired power plants; in Australia, 60% of grid electricity comes from burning coal.

But the burning of coal is one of the largest contributors to human-driven climate change, setting PNG up on a collision course with smaller Pacific island states, such as Kiribati and Tuvalu, where rising sea levels threaten coastal communities and undermine water and food security.

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