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94 posts from June 2019

Caroline Evari tells: ‘Nanu Sina’ came from deepest emotions

Nanu SinaLEIAO GEREGA | PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY - Imagine reading through a collection of poems only find out that they were written throughout a decade by a young woman struggling through life.

The 85-page book of poems mostly came as an extraction from a young writer’s Grades 11 and 12 school journal and is titled ‘Nanu Sina’ (‘My Words’).

Looking back on her journey, Caroline Evari of Popondetta, who penned her poems as a way to express her emotions while a student in Port Moresby, does not feel that her journey was unique from any other young Papua New Guineans navigating through life.

Her book captures a decade journey and discusses the four main themes based on conflict, relationships, hope and family and raises questions on fear doubt, love, regret, persistence, motherhood and children.

“I wrote in the evenings during study times, early in the mornings and during quiet times,” says Caroline reflecting on the time it took to write her poems.

Continue reading "Caroline Evari tells: ‘Nanu Sina’ came from deepest emotions" »

Deadly ‘crystal road’ maritime drug route straddles the Pacific

Crystal Road
Maritime drug trafficking poses huge policing challenges for South Pacific countries, monitoring ocean making up one-third of the world’s surface.

KATE LYONS | Guardian Australia

SYDNEY - It’s been dubbed the ‘crystal road’: cocaine and methamphetamines are packed into the hulls of sailing boats in the US and Latin America and transported, in increasing amounts and with increasing frequency, to Australia via Pacific countries.

As part of Guardian Australia’s international reporting team, I investigated what was causing this explosion in the use of this maritime drug highway and what impact the trade was having on the local communities the drugs passed through, for the Guardian's High Seas series.

What I found was that the trade is being driven by Australia and New Zealand's growing and very lucrative appetite for drugs - people in the two countries were consuming more cocaine per capita and paying more per gram for the drug than anywhere in the world.

The use of this drug route has led to some wild stories.

Continue reading "Deadly ‘crystal road’ maritime drug route straddles the Pacific" »


Agiba figure (Gulf)LIGGIE KARE | The Crocodile Prize
| Cleland Award for Heritage Literature

Soukuru are the invisible bush people of the Gulf Province. They are like dwarfs: short, unselfish and full of either good luck or bad luck depending on the type of person you are. They protect the bush and its riches, whether gold, oil, secret places, plants or animals.

I wrote about the soukuru because I was thinking a new LNG project might be established in my village and how it would disturb the people and the environment. I believed the soukuru could wreak havoc on the newcomers. If the right steps are followed, perhaps some form of symbiosis could be maintained. Then you will not hear from the soukuru again.

Over screaming fires under the Karama moonlight
Small children gather to hear of the soukuru
Their ears tuned in to its fullest
To the words escaping the storyteller’s buai-stained lips
Just a few metres away, the waves create a soundtrack
Washing to the shore the jellyfish
caught in a tempest beyond the horizon
Moving air blowing through fallen leaves
The whistling grasses seem to come alive
A hot fire effortlessly fights the wind
Protecting the children from the cold

Continue reading "Soukuru" »

‘Up your game’, journalism winner Ben Bohane tells Oz media

Australian photojournalist Ben Bohane  currently based in Port Vila  Vanuatu
Australian photojournalist Ben Bohane currently based in Port Vila,  Vanuatu (Johnny Blades)

NEWS DESK | Pacific Mornings | Radio Australia

Link here to listen here to Ben Bohane speaking with Tahlea Aualiitia on Pacific Mornings

MELBOURNE - Ben Bohane has been announced as the winner of the Sean Dorney Grant for Pacific Journalism.

The $10,000 grant was available to an Australian journalist wanting to do a project on a story that was under-reported in the Pacific.

Mr Bohane is an Australian photojournalist, author and TV producer who has been covering the Pacific for decades.

When accepting the grant Mr Bohane said that under-reporting in the Pacific with Australian media is a real issue.

"Honestly, our news editors are failing the Australian people by not prioritising more reporting from the Pacific," Mr Bohane said.

Continue reading "‘Up your game’, journalism winner Ben Bohane tells Oz media" »

The value of the outside view: we observers also learn

Phil Fitzpatrick recent
Phil Fitzpatrick


TUMBY BAY - I’ve written a lot about Papua New Guinea over the years. I’ve also written a lot about Aboriginal Australia.

My writing has been as an observer and sometimes as a participant, but it has never been as a Papua New Guinean or an Aboriginal Australian because I am neither of those people.

This fact has occasionally been used to criticise what I write and I admit that such an argument has relevance.

I don’t know what it’s like to be a Papua New Guinean or an Aborigine. All I can do is use what I see and hear, and guess what it feels like.

Some people might say otherwise, but I don’t think this invalidates what I write.

I am well aware, perhaps more than most Australians, how oppressive has been the treatment of Aboriginal people.

Continue reading "The value of the outside view: we observers also learn" »

Why we must never legislate for prostitution in PNG

Pawa - ProstitutesPAWA KENNY AMBAISI

PORT MORESBY – During his time in office now ousted prime minister Peter O’Neill sign off on some controversial issues like the $1.2 billion UBS loan and dismantling Task Force Sweep but he wouldn’t sign the Prostitution Act, which was a blessing for the people of Papua New Guinea.

“I commend the O’Neill government’s decision not to legalise prostitution in Papua New Guinea,” Deborah Kai of Mt Hagen wrote a letter published in The National newspaper The government, in its power and wisdom, has saved Papua New Guinea from definite destruction.

“Through not allowing prostitution, the daughters of this country have been saved from degradation. PNG has been saved from turning to prostitution and the floodgate of wickedness has been prevented from being opened.”

Continue reading "Why we must never legislate for prostitution in PNG" »

Trail bureaucrats hijack $5 million Kokoda trekker payments

Campsite toilet on Imita Ridge (Lynn)
Campsite toilet on Imita Ridge (Lynn)


SYDNEY - Over the past decade more than $5 million (K11.8 million) has been hijacked from Kokoda trekkers by unaccountable Australian and Papua New Guinean bureaucrats.

This money had been paid in good faith to meet trekkers’ basic needs in the form of adequate campsites and a safe trail. The fees were also meant to provide for shared community benefits for villagers along the trail.

However, since Australian government officials assumed control of the emerging Kokoda trekking industry in 2008, not a single dollar has been spent to improve campsites, toilets or management systems to meet the needs of the trekkers.

Nobody knows where the money has gone because the bureaucrats involved have never produced an audited financial report.

Continue reading "Trail bureaucrats hijack $5 million Kokoda trekker payments" »

Japan, US & Australia K3.4 billion loan for LNG project

Aus_USA_JapHISAO KODACHI | Nikkei Asian Review writer

TOKYO -- Japan, the US and Australia have picked a liquefied natural gas project in Papua New Guinea as their first case for joint financing in the Indo-Pacific region, planning to lend over K3.4 billion, Nikkei has learned.

Three government-backed lenders -- Japan Bank for International Cooperation, the US Overseas Private Investment Corp and Australia's Export Finance and Insurance Corp -- issued a statement yesterday regarding their joint infrastructure efforts.

The three countries agreed in November to join hands in financing infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific to offer an alternative to China's Belt and Road initiative. The LNG project in Papua New Guinea marks the first project in this three-way cooperation.

Continue reading "Japan, US & Australia K3.4 billion loan for LNG project" »

Australian journalists’ union joins bid for press freedom

MEAA cardMEDIA STATEMENT | MEAA | Pacific Media Watch

SYDNEY - MEAA, the union for Australia’s journalists, today joined with other media organisations in calling for urgent legal changes to protect press freedom and the public’s right to know.

As a member of Australia’s Right to Know Coalition, MEAA said in a statement it welcomed the united stance taken by media organisations following the Australian Federal Police raids on the ABC and the home of a News Corporation journalist earlier this month.

MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy said the raids had solidified concerns about the impact of national security laws by seeking to stifle public interest journalism.

“The raids by the AFP earlier this month have highlighted just how vulnerable press freedom is in Australia,” Murphy said.

Continue reading "Australian journalists’ union joins bid for press freedom" »

Taking Back PNG: Is Australian aid obsolete in a China world?

Boniface Kaiyo
Boniface Kaiyo - 'James Marape faces key challenges including the failure of Australia’s aid assistance to PNG'


PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea is in a region at a crossroads. One road takes it towards open markets, inclusive growth and a dynamic economy. The other takes it backwards towards protectionism, exclusion and regional economic slowdown.

Sandwiched in between is foreign aid. In the more than four decades since independence, aid and international development have had a decisive role to play in creating a platform for the country’s e future.

Now, the challenges facing Australia’s aid to PNG have emerged more starkly in light of China’s increasing presence and competition with the US in the region.

Since recently assuming office as PNG’s eighth prime minister, James Marape has made no bones of what he intends to do.

He’s said he will “tweak” the country’s resource laws, a change which seems set to affect the interests of international actors including foreign direct investors. This is in the context of PNG’s resource owners, who have been left waiting for a promised kina windfall which has remained far out of reach.

One view of Marape’s statement is that he is placing PNG’s Chinese connection more highly than his predecessor Peter O’Neill. But Marape must be careful to promote PNG’s national interest. This seems to be a clear gamble.

Continue reading "Taking Back PNG: Is Australian aid obsolete in a China world?" »

The media is overstating China’s aid to the Pacific

China's Pacific aid (Lowy Institute)
China's total Pacific aid (Lowy Institute)

TERENCE WOOD | Devpolicy Blog

CANBERRA - The Guardian newspaper is far from the worst offender in reporting on Chinese aid.

(That award goes to the Sunshine Coast Daily, which helpfully told readers last year that “China almost has Australia surrounded”).

The Guardian is, however, guilty of repeatedly making misleading statements about how much aid China gives to the Pacific.

Others are also doing this, but The Guardian’s reporting combines all the main errors in a few short sentences. As a result, it’s a great teaching tool.

In 2018, The Guardian published an article claiming:

Continue reading "The media is overstating China’s aid to the Pacific" »

Islam in PNG: Long journey towards tolerance & understanding

Imam of Mt Hagen  Ahmad Didat
Imam of Mt Hagen, Ahmad Didat - “When I built this mosque, I was alone. Then the community came"


LAE – At midday, as a small group of men and boys prepare for Friday Prayers in Kagamuga, Western Highlands, a local Imam makes the Muslim call to prayer.

The Arabic language sounds very foreign here. This is one of the few Islamic communities in the Western Highlands finding its way in a country that describes itself as predominantly Christian.

Inside the small mosque, the men and boys line up in front as the prayers begin. The women, as per Islamic teaching, are in another room.

“When I built this mosque, I was alone. I had not received any formal training yet when I converted to Islam,” says the local Imam, Ahmad Didat. “Then the boys nearby came and joined me. Then the community came.”

Continue reading "Islam in PNG: Long journey towards tolerance & understanding" »

Triads threaten new government's desire to ‘take back PNG’

Two of the drug smugglers deported to Hong Kong
Jubilant drug smugglers leave Jacksons Airport, Port Moresby, after serving an 18 month sentence for a crime that would get them executed elsewhere in Asia


WABAG - While the ‘Look North’ policy introduced by the Wingti government was good for the economic prosperity of Papua New Guinea, a sinister development has hijacked those good intentions.

The policy has evolved into a Pandora’s Box of counterfeit goods, gambling, prostitution and drug trafficking.

This threatens to negate the bold declaration made by the Marape-Stevens government to ‘Take Back PNG’ and make it “the richest black Christian nation on earth”.

Drug trafficking is already entrenched in PNG, which is reported to have become a transit point for international drug cartels helped by poorly policed, open borders, isolated islands and outdated drug laws.

Seven foreigners experienced how weak our laws were when they were deported last month after spending just 18 months in jail for drug trafficking and illegally entering the country.

One of the men, Lam Tse Lik, was wanted by Hong Kong police after his name appeared in Interpol’s international criminals’ wanted list. Of the others, five were from mainland China and one from Montenegro.

Continue reading "Triads threaten new government's desire to ‘take back PNG’" »

Providing police housing is a Marape government priority

Police Minister Bryan Kramer and chairman of Nambawan Super chairman Anthony Smare
Police Minister Bryan Kramer and chairman of Nambawan Super Anthony Smare - hundreds of new homes for the police

BRYAN KRAMER | Kramer Report.

PORT MORESBY - While members of the police force have received much lip service over the years to address on-going housing issues, this will be a priority issue under the new Marape-Steven government.

My office has already commenced discussions with Anthony Smare, chairman of Papua New Guinea’s largest superannuation fund, Namabwan Super, on developing a strategy in partnership

Mr Smare explained that Namabawan Super has plans to build 3,000 plus houses at 9 Mile in Port Moresby, a project I hope the government will buy into, providing over 1,000 houses to members of the police force and their families.

In addition to the government housing component, we also discussed establishing a police home ownership scheme where officers who have served 10-15 years will qualify for home ownership at cost.

There is no point in the government providing police housing only to kick retired officers on to the street without any recognition of their service to the country.

Continue reading "Providing police housing is a Marape government priority" »

New book guides journalists through climate change jungle

Climate-Change-book-coverDAVID ROBIE | Pacific Media Centre/Pacific Media Watch

Science Writing and Climate Change, Edited by Crispin C Maslog, David Robie and Joel Adriano, Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication, June 2019, ISBN 978-1-927184-57-8. Paperback, 130pp, NZ$20.00. Purchase online here from Auckland University of Technology Bookshop

BANGKOK - A new handbook for the existential problem of our time – climate change – has been published as a boost for journalists working in the Asia-Pacific region.

Launched at the 27th Asian Media Information and Communication (AMIC) conference at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, this week, ‘Science Writing and Climate Change’ is a “book for our times”, says lead author Professor Crispin Maslog.

Dr Maslog, chair of the Manila-based AMIC, said at the launch that a book of this kind had been needed by journalists for a few years.

“Climate change is upon us and we need to educate people about this urgent problem now,” he said.

“What former US Vice-President Al Gore described as an ‘inconvenient truth’ years ago is now an ‘incontrovertible fact’.”

Continue reading "New book guides journalists through climate change jungle" »

How I reconciled the break-up of my marriage & was better for it

Pawa Kenny Ambiasi
Pawa Ambiasi - "I did not cry because of a death in my family.  I cried for my kids and my wife"


PORT MORESBY – Somehow I survived 2013 and 2014, the worst years of my life. I proved to a world that believes broken marriages cannot be reconciled that I could reconcile and nurture my marriage.

This happened as I focused on the unseen world, the need to control my emotions and thoughts even though they were burning me alive.

My wife and I separated on 5 January 2013. Our relatives demanded it. My title as husband and father which I had worked at for six years was stripped off in a moment.

I was no longer husband and a father and I lived that life for the next two years.

The breakup happened on a Saturday. Many people had gathered at my village singsing ples, an area reserved for important gatherings. They came to witness my bride price ceremony. The people who contributed to the bride price plus my wife’s relatives made up the number.

In the process of exchanging the bride price, my wife’s relatives decided not to accept the combination of money and pigs I’d put up.

Continue reading "How I reconciled the break-up of my marriage & was better for it" »

The fallen calophyllum tree & our real connection to Bougainville

Calophyllum treeSIMON PENTANU

BUKA - A fallen calophyllum tree hacked to death and felled into the sea by the most predatory species on the planet.

This is old growth beach tree is more than a century old.

I know this tree, this is where we used to roam, run and swim along the beach and foreshore when growing up as children in the early 1950s into the 1960s before some of us left the village to get educated in classrooms.

Some of the calophyllum of similar age and size, along with other old growth beach tree species, are still standing along the beach. It is always a great relief to see and touch them and get a sense of perspective of how small a man is compared to their height and huge shade-providing foliage.

This fallen calophyllum met with its fate because, compared to the others along the beach, it had a straighter trunk attractive to provide a couple of sawn planks which were used to contribute to building material for teachers’ housing at the local island school.

Continue reading "The fallen calophyllum tree & our real connection to Bougainville" »

Kiap days: Spitters, pokers & Bombay bloomer voyeurs


TUMBY BAY - As patrol officers we were also policemen, local court magistrates and often gaolers.

As such we saw the full gamut of the legal system as it operated in Papua New Guinea prior to independence.

And a funny gamut it often turned out to be.

I was in the Highlands in 1968 and the trade store movement was in full swing. Everyone and it seemed their dog was setting up trade stores by the side of the road.

A typical store was a one room affair, just a couple of metres square, with an opening at the front for customers. The store was clad in galvanised iron sheets with big padlocks on the door and the serving hatch.

Continue reading "Kiap days: Spitters, pokers & Bombay bloomer voyeurs" »

Papua New Guinea: A tough place to be a woman

Michael Bociurkiw
Michael Bociurkiw - "The aspiring 'richest' and 'Christian' nation needs to take immediate action to guarantee the protection of its female citizens"


PORT MORESBY - You don't have to spend a long time on the fringes of Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, to realise that many of the roads lead to a place where luck seems to have run out.

In an urban slum called Eight Mile, women are relegated to decrepit shacks, caring for their children, who are fighting off a range of illnesses from malaria and dengue fever to skin rashes.

Last month, former finance minister James Marape was sworn in as the new prime minister on the promise of transforming the country into "the richest, black, Christian nation on the planet."

But chances are that it will take some time before the women and children of Eight Mile and across much of this South Pacific nation of eight million see any tangible improvements in their livelihoods.

Continue reading "Papua New Guinea: A tough place to be a woman" »

Amazing Moresby: more attractions than you dreamed of

POM - National Parliament House Waigani
The Haus Tambaran - PNG's national parliament house


PORT MORESBY – National Capital District governor Powes Parkop has branding Papua New Guinea’s capital as ‘Amazing Port Moresby’.

It’s his contention that this city goes far beyond just being another big town in the Pacific.

And it’s true, when you look around the city you’ll notice many of the modern buildings have been inspired by traditional totems.

People who appreciate architecture will rejoice in some of Port Moresby’s iconic buildings which boast innovative design and impressive mosaic facades. The striking national parliament is one such.

Built in Haus Tambaran [spirit house] style, the towering mosaic façade depicting Papua New Guinean motifs. Inspired by the traditional sacred houses of the Maprik region of East Sepik Province, the rocket-shaped roof pointing to the sky gives the building a futuristic look.

Continue reading "Amazing Moresby: more attractions than you dreamed of" »

Samoa says how about less patronising talk & more climate action

Fiame Mata’afa (La Trobe University)
Fiame Mata’afa -  'Australia and New Zealand keep telling us that we’re not old enough, not capable enough'


MELBOURNE - Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister, Ms Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, has urged Australia and her own country to “become adults” in their relations, which she said have been marred by “petulance” in the past.

“I think we need to have a more mature relationship. Because quite frankly, it’s been one of patronage, in a way,” said Ms Mata’afa, delivering a keynote address last week to a development conference hosted by La Trobe University in Melbourne.

She illustrated her concerns in the context of increasing diplomatic competition between China and Australia within the Pacific region.

Ms Mata’afa, who is the daughter of Samoa’s first prime minister and has served as the country’s deputy prime minister since 2016, said “people keep on telling us, including Australia and New Zealand, that we’re not old enough, we’re not capable enough, to run our own relationships with China.

“When it comes to us, they say, ‘you really need to be, you should remember that we are your older brothers, or sisters, here in the Pacific, and you have to be careful of those Chinese people’ ”.

Continue reading "Samoa says how about less patronising talk & more climate action" »

More than bad manners: the problem with ignoring the PNG media

Scott Waide
Distinguished PNG journalist Scott Waide. Newton Cain asks if Australia is signalling to the PNG leadership that answering questions from the media is something you only do when it suits you

TESS NEWTON CAIN | Twitter | Edited

“Senator Marise Payne, Australia's foreign affairs minister, made a brief visit to Papua New Guinea and Bougainville late this week….

"The Australian High Commission in Port Moresby had told local journalists in no uncertain terms that there would be no opportunity to ask Payne questions about her visit.

"This was not the first time the High Commission has shown such gross discourtesy to the PNG media, who have previously been excluded from interviews, official lunches and even media conferences.”

– Keith Jackson in PNG Attitude yesterday

BRISBANE - As I’ve discussed before [see for example, here and here] this type of behaviour on the part of Australian ministers when visiting PNG and other Pacific countries is more than bad manners.

It is a worrying sign that the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby assumes it is entitled to dictate access to a sovereign nation’s media.

Continue reading "More than bad manners: the problem with ignoring the PNG media" »

World Whistleblower Day: Is this a landmark year for protection?

Brian Alois
No protection for PNG whistleblower Brian Alois - still suspended as provincial engineer  more than a year after exposing corrupt contracts

NEWS DESK | Transparency International

BERLIN - The brave individuals who report wrongdoing at work are vital for exposing corrupt schemes and actions.

Countless lives and billions of dollars of public funds have been saved thanks to whistleblowers.

Too often, however, they face retaliation after bringing corruption, fraud and financial malpractice to light.

These attacks are sometimes professional, sometimes legal, and can even be directed against the whistleblower’s family, property or physical and mental well-being.

Many times, those who enact revenge on whistleblowers are able to get away with it because there aren’t sufficient measures in place to protect whistleblowers from retaliation.

But, is change around the corner?

Today we celebrate World Whistleblower Day, Sunday 23 June, with some serious wins for whistleblower protection already behind us in 2019, and some encouraging developments on the horizon.

Continue reading "World Whistleblower Day: Is this a landmark year for protection?" »

The Kimadi – a microcosm of PNG’s troubles with land alienation

A forest denuded (Tallulah)
Signs that the Kimadi’s subsistence lifestyle is under threat appeared last July when Malaysian company Woodbank Pacific began logging 10 kilometres upstream

ROBERTA STALEY | Corporate Knights

Link to the full article here

MADANG - Eight members of the Kimadi tribe stand, crouch or sit on the hard ground, knotty with exposed tree roots, enjoying the relative cool offered by a verdant canopy of leaves overhead.

Just a few metres away, the quiet clear waters of a Bismarck Sea lagoon, filled with small schools of striped tropical fish, lap against the grassy bank.

The setting is tranquil and bucolic – but not for the Kimadi, who have travelled from their traditional territory in Madang  Province to consult with an NGO, the Bismarck Ramu Group (BRG).

Founded in 1996 and headquartered just outside the town of Madang, BRG provides consulting services and advice to Indigenous groups like the Kimadi who are fighting ever-growing threats from logging and palm oil development on their lands.

Continue reading "The Kimadi – a microcosm of PNG’s troubles with land alienation" »

Foreign minister Payne's PNG relationship - but no media please

Marise Payne - igat poret long toktok wantaim ol nius raita


NOOSA - Senator Marise Payne, Australia's foreign affairs minister, made a brief visit to Papua New Guinea and Bougainville late this week.

In Port Moresby she met with prime minister James Marape, deputy prime minister Davis Steven and a number of other ministers.

After the lightning trip, Payne issued a media release saying her visit "was an opportunity to further strengthen Australia’s relationship with our close friend and neighbour".

Of course, every time PNG is mentioned by an Australian official, there is a brag about the "relationship".

So how then does this work out in practice?

NBC radio station Tribe FM was able to tell us, reporting that the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby had told local journalists in no uncertain terms  that there would be no opportunity to ask Payne questions about her visit.

Continue reading "Foreign minister Payne's PNG relationship - but no media please" »

Interesting moves by a fresh prime minister. We wish him well

James Marape
James Marape’s new course for Papua New Guinea is laudable but its grandiosity has a touch of the unbelievable


TUMBY BAY - Papua New Guinean politics has always been interesting to watch.

For anyone brought up under the Westminster system of government with its adversarial politics and strict rules of process what goes on in Papua New Guinea can appear both bizarre and quixotic.

On the one hand its politics conforms to the Westminster ideal but on the other it seems to owe much more to traditional clan politics.

Mixed in there too is an element of patronage and corruption imported directly from Asia.

This potpourri has now been stretched even further from the realms of possibility by the recent musical chairs surrounding the sidelining of Peter O’Neill.

Continue reading "Interesting moves by a fresh prime minister. We wish him well" »

In a crazy world, can PNG have its own Age of Enlightenment?

Could James Marape be the harbinger of PNG’s age of enlightenment, with a genuine belief in truth, justice and fairness for all


ADELAIDE - When I first arrived in Papua New Guinea in 1969 I was in search of excitement and adventure which, as it turned out, was not hard to find.

To the extent that I understood my primary role as a brand new liklik kiap [junior patrol officer], it was to help bring to the people of PNG peace, good government and what I unquestioningly believed to be the benefits of western civilisation.

As a single man with no money, I carried very little physical baggage with me. With the benefit of hindsight, I was carrying more than a little intellectual and philosophical baggage, which I had mostly unknowingly acquired during both my formal and informal education.

In the late 1950s and 1960s I was taught by mostly young teachers who, predominantly, were born either during or immediately after World War II.

They were the first of the so-called ‘baby boomers’ and collectively were heavily influenced by ideas about the world that had first arisen during the Enlightenment, which is usually said to have commenced around the year 1500.

The ideas they impressed upon me and my fellow students included a belief in the primacy of science as a means of acquiring real knowledge and, just as importantly, of eradicating the superstitions, fears and ignorance that had for so long afflicted humankind.

Continue reading "In a crazy world, can PNG have its own Age of Enlightenment?" »

Becoming a rich black nation: Are we not rich already?

Children (Unicef)ROSA KOIAN

PORT MORESBY - We all want change and we want that change to happen quickly.

Many of us feel deprived of certain opportunities and privileges and therefore miss or forget that we are rich already.

As a country we didn’t have to struggle to become an independent democratic nation.

Beyond that we are rich with our good Papua New Guinean ways, cultures and traditions.

Our people have in them skills and talents that often are given freely.

Continue reading "Becoming a rich black nation: Are we not rich already?" »

O’Neill's end brought forth the good; now call puppets to account

Kerenga Kua has never been politically disloyal or a yoyo in the many indecisive moments of PNG politics. He’s a steady, no-nonsense man


KUNDIAWA – It was a lively session on the floor of parliament before the election of Papua New Guinea’s eighth prime minister a few weeks ago.

One little remarked aspect of the controversy was Madang governor Peter Yama’s words to Kerenga Kua, member for Sinesine Yongomugl in Simbu and now petroleum minister.

The remarks have drawn widespread conjecture and condemnation, especially in Simbu. from many people, where people are questioning the integrity of Yama in calling Kua a ‘liklik mangi’ [little boy] in Pidgin.

Personal interest too often ruins the public interest. Even in the heated situation of a stressful parliamentary sitting, Yama should have shown the patience of a mature leader and representative of the people of Madang.

However, he egotistically levelled this derisive remark at his political rival, Kua, who without hesitation branded him as a political puppet.

Kua took the phrase ‘liklik mangi’ as no more than political rubbish from an ant speaking on behalf of floundering prime minister Peter O’Neill as the curtains were being drawn on the previous regime.

Continue reading "O’Neill's end brought forth the good; now call puppets to account" »

What life is really like in (very expensive) Port Moresby

Port Moresby (Scott Waide)
In Port Moresby what appears to be a big salary is ripped to shreds by the reality of big city life

SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country | Edited

LAE - Anyone living in Port Moresby without institutional housing, or support from relatives or parents, knows it’s an absolute nightmare.

Port Moresby is the most expensive city in the Pacific.

The rental price structure is like that in Australia and yet the wages employers’ pay don’t match the cost of living and housing is skewed towards the high end market.

Real estate companies charge a minimum K1,000 - K5,000 a week in rental. The vast majority of Papua New Guineans don’t see that kind of money in a fortnight or even six months. 

A salary of between K35,000 and K50,000 is next to impossible to live on if you have a family.

Continue reading "What life is really like in (very expensive) Port Moresby" »

How decentralised funding became decentralised corruption

Jeffrey Febi
Jeff Febi - "If corruption was bad in Port Moresby, at district level it was worse. If corruption was secretive in Port Moresby, in the district it was in plain sight"


LUFA - Over the years, successive Papua New Guinea governments did well in decentralising power from Waigani.

The establishment of District Development Authorities signified the completion of the decentralisation process, and also showed that the distribution mechanism for funds was ready to roll.

Disbursements of K10 million each year to the districts was the highlight of decentralisation.

These funds not only enabled districts to implement their development goals without having to face the Waigani bureaucracy, it also gave them financial power and, ultimately, the freedom to choose and fund projects and deliver services according to home-grown plans.

With this freedom and power, rather unfortunately, followed endless impairments of virtue and moral principles.

The K10 million became everyman's object of envy: district government officials, local businessmen, village leaders, church pastors, recent graduates, and village illiterates. In fact every Tom, Dick and Harry.

Continue reading "How decentralised funding became decentralised corruption" »

PNG’s fluid politics: winners & losers from O’Neill to Marape

Figure 1
How members of parliament voted in the first five months of 2019

MICHAEL KABUNI | Devpolicy Blog | Edited extracts

PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea politics is fluid. In January 2019 the government voted to adjourn parliament with 88 votes to the opposition’s 23).

On 10 April 2019, James Marape resigned as minister for finance as well as a member of the People’s National Congress (PNC) party led by O’Neill.

Joining the opposition, he was nominated to replace prime minister Peter O’Neill in a vote of no confidence when parliament met on 7 May 2019.

Marape was later followed by 26 other MPs who either resigned as PNC members or left the coalition and joined the opposition, increasing numbers to 50.

Continue reading "PNG’s fluid politics: winners & losers from O’Neill to Marape" »

National anthem should reflect the true make-up of PNG

"....more than half are daughters of the land and most have suffered abuse, rape and mistreatment at the hands of males"


O arise all you sons of this land,
Let us sing of our joy to be free,
Praising God and rejoicing to be
Papua New Guinea.

MORRISET - This is the first verse of the Papua New Guinea national anthem. It needs to be changed.

How about changing it to be more inclusive? Instead of 'O arise all the sons of this land', maybe 'Arise all the children of this land'?

After all more than half are daughters of the land and most have suffered abuse, rape and mistreatment at the hands of males.

An estimated 67% of wives have been beaten by their husbands, and close to 100% in the Highlands Region according to a 1992 survey by the PNG Law Reform Commission.

Continue reading "National anthem should reflect the true make-up of PNG" »

Some advice on getting married young – don’t do it


PORT MORESBY - Family relationships is a hot topic. It bothers me. In the workplace and at home, I frequently think and talk about marriage and family life.

Even at public bus stops and shopping centres or while travelling, I’m always bothered. Honestly, I’m suppressed by thinking too hard on this issue.

This dilemma started after I got married in 2008. In my young life, I did not experience this phenomenon.

All I thought about, talked about and did was dream, wishing I could find out what best the world could offer me.

Sometimes I’d dream I was in a graduation hall receiving double degrees. At other times that I was a mechanical engineer or aircraft engineer. Or maybe in the hangar fixing aircraft engines.

Continue reading "Some advice on getting married young – don’t do it" »

Lands minister Rosso must act on long-running SABL scandal

Sabl-how-much-landEDDIE TANAGO | Campaign Manager, Act Now!

PORT MORESBY - New lands minister John Rosso must make the Special Agricultural Business Lease (SABL) land scandal his number one priority!

It is a national disgrace that six years after a commission of inquiry most of the unlawful leases recommended for cancellation still exist.

For six years, the O’Neill government made promise after promise to cancel the leases, stop the logging and return the land to its customary owners, but all we have seen are lies and obfuscation.

Act Now! says if the new Marape government is serious about tackling corruption then the SABL scandal must be finally put to bed.

The minister should start by publishing a list of all the SABLs and their current status. The people have a right to know, which leases have been cancelled and which have not.

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My journey as a writer – Part II

Evari - the boxes of booksCAROLINE EVARI

PORT MORESBY - My hands shake as I break open two boxes that have been collecting dust in my house.

Two years ago the generous Phil Fitzpatrick sent me two boxes of books after I made a plea for books to be donated for Safia Community School back in my home village of Musa, which was in dire need of reading materials, especially books.

Given the remoteness of the school with the only land access being by a bush track, which takes five days to walk, my desire to have the books delivered did not work out.

The last time I had been on a plane to Musa was in 1997. Chartering flights is expensive and sadly not an affordable option.

So I left the boxes in the corner of my house unopened and collecting dust.

Continue reading "My journey as a writer – Part II" »

B’ville referendum choice clear, but where does Australia stand?

BRA guerrillas
Never again, surely. In 1994, from a hilltop position, Bougainville Revolutionary Army guerrillas observe the Papua New Guinea Defence Force garrison at Koromira (Ben Bohane/Australian War Memorial)


NOOSA – Two apparently unconnected events in Bougainville and its neighbouring and culturally related Solomon Islands have highlighted to a looming Australian dilemma in Bougainville.

If the autonomous Papua New Guinean province votes for independence in an October referendum, a decision requiring approval from the PNG parliament, how will Australia respond?

Earlier this month, as the Bougainville and PNG governments announced they had further refined the referendum choices for Bougainville’s political future, the Australian government announced a $250 million aid program for Solomon Islands.

In addition, Australia said it will provide $3 million in loans to Solomon’s workers who want to come to Australia under labour schemes as well as funding a new building for its prime minister's office and foreign affairs ministry.

The ABC commented that this “swift redesign of parts of the aid program [signalled] Australia's determination to reinforce its influence in the Pacific as strategic competition intensifies and China continues to pour resources into the region.”

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Getting PNG literature recognised as a nation building tool

Kumbon - James Marape  Dr Lino Tom  Peter Mision Yaki
James Marape with Dr Lino Jeremiah Tom and Peter Mision Yaki and two of my books. Photo taken at Laguna Camp just a few days before Marape was elected prime minister by an overwhelming majority


WABAG - I was privileged to present two copies of my books to James Marape a few days before he was elected the eighth prime minister of Papua New Guinea.

Enga governor Sir Peter Ipatas, Wabag MP Dr Lino Tom, education secretary Dr Ulke Kombra, two national court judges, school principals, bookshop managers and other prominent people have also received copies of the four books I have published so far.

I belong to a group of emerging PNG authors, essayists, poets and social commentators who have steadily published books in the last few years due mainly to the Crocodile Prize annual literary competition.

But not many people including students ever get to read any of these published works.

The education department has made no effort to ensure schools in our country have PNG authored book are on the shelves of their libraries, which would ensure suitable titles for students to read.

In this way students will comprehend and relate more to PNG authored books than foreign books with unfamiliar cultures, ways of life and scenes.

After I presented my books to James Marape and the other leaders, I am optimistic the new government will at least see the significance of literature and the role it plays in nation building.

Continue reading "Getting PNG literature recognised as a nation building tool" »

Former student leader calls for enquiry into 2016 UPNG shootings

James Marape (Prime  Minister's Office)
James Marape - asked to instigate enquiry into 2016 student shootings

NEWS DESK | PNG Education News

PORT MORESBY – The former president of the University of PNG students’ representative council, Kenneth Rapa, has asked prime minister James Marape to order a commission of inquiry into the police shooting of UPNG students during the 2016 student unrest.

“As we look towards the future now with renewed hope, we ask that you heal all the wounds from the past,” Rapa wrote in a letter to Marape.

Rapa said students at that time had no personal or political agenda.

He said they had the people’s agenda to respect the integrity of the office of prime minister and restore democracy by demanding that Peter O’Neill to step down, but they were suppressed by police.

Rapa said students were a relevant voice in the country and had taken the responsibility to protest the government’s decisions that were negatively impacting their lives – mismanagement of the economy and the lack of good governance and true democracy.

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Inspector Metau tells: The crimes & non-crimes of PNG

Inspector Hari Metau 2
"If you are going after organised crime in PNG, Inspector  Metau advised, start at the top"


TUMBY BAY - I was talking to Inspector Hari Metau the other day. He’s retired now but he always has something interesting to say.

We had met at the Beachside Brasserie for a coffee. Hari is addicted to good highland coffee and can’t live without his daily fix.

We got to talking about crime and all the varied forms it takes and how Papua New Guinean crime sometimes tends to differ from crimes committed in other countries.

Hari has a kind of classification system for Papua New Guinean crime.

He divides it into three categories. The first is organised crime; the second is disorganised crime; and the third is what he calls ‘other’.  Of the three the last category interests him the most.

According to Hari organised crime is an illegal activity carried out by mafia-like groups.

In Papua New Guinea, he explained, organisation and coordination are not natural traits. It’s got something to do with the Melanesian mindset, he reckoned, but it’s something too complicated to explain over a couple of cups of coffee.

Continue reading "Inspector Metau tells: The crimes & non-crimes of PNG" »

30,000 TB cases a year makes PNG a regional health issue

Lady Roslyn  Morauta
Lady Roslyn Morauta - "8.5 million people face very serious development and public health challenges"


PORT MORESBY - Investing in health is one of the best ways to build a better future. Healthy societies are more stable and equal and have stronger and more productive economies.

In today’s increasingly interconnected world, improving public health is a global common good.

Because microbes do not stop at borders, an infectious disease threat in any corner of the world can be a threat everywhere. No one is safe until everyone is safe.

Take the example of Papua New Guinea, where I have lived and worked for many years.

Since the turn of the century, there has been significant progress in the fight against HIV and malaria in PNG.

Continue reading "30,000 TB cases a year makes PNG a regional health issue" »

We need to invest in teachers to achieve quality education

Pawa Kenny Ambiasi
Pawa Ambiasi - "PNG has a problem delivering quality education because it has overlooked its teachers over the years"


PORT MORESBY - When he announced Joseph Yopyyopy as Papua New Guinea’s new education minister, prime minister James Marape said his government will continue the tuition fee free (TFF) education policy and add quality to it.

Managing TFF is one thing but quality education is what we need most in PNG society.  

A civilised society should be made up of well-educated people who apply the highest level of self-discipline, tolerance, respect for others and esteem for private and public institutions.

The sign at the entrance to the education department’s head office of in Waigani has the motto ‘Quality Education for Quality Citizens’, but, even though the motto has existed for some time, education standard continue to drop.

There is a very big gap in the learning of mathematics and science. Many students can’t understand what is taught in school. And many students cannot attain the scarce places in tertiary institutions.

So what is lacking? Is it policy? Is it money? Is it resources? No. We could have a silver coated TFF policy, money and resources but we would still have a problem with the quality of education.

Continue reading "We need to invest in teachers to achieve quality education" »

Can PNG become the world’s richest black nation in 10 years?

Laveil Table 1
Table: Richest black, Christian countries based on real GDP per capita

MAHOLOPA LAVEIL | Devpolicy Blog

CANBERRA - Papua New Guinea recently underwent a change in leadership, which saw the incumbent prime minister resign prior to a prime ministerial election on the floor of parliament.

James Marape was elected PNG’s eighth prime minister on 30 May 2019 with an overwhelming majority. Some 101 parliamentary members voted for Mr Marape, with seven voting for the other nominee, Sir Mekere Morauta.

That same evening Mr Marape addressed the country on one of its free-to-air television stations, EMTV, and later on social media. Amid thanking the former government and assuring the country it was in safe hands, Mr Marape announced that he aspired to make PNG the “richest black Christian nation on planet earth” within 10 years.

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‘Our women in blue face unspeakable difficulties’: Kramer

Kramer and RPNGC
Women police and Bryan Kramer: "I'll make it my business to stamp out gender bias and sexual harassment in the RPNGC"

BRYAN KRAMER MP | Kramer Report | Edited

MADANG – On Thursday I had the privilege to accompany prime minister James Marape and fellow ministers to inspect progress on the Australian government-funded Angau Hospital redevelopment project in Lae.

During the event, members of the Royal PNG Constabulary asked me if it was OK to take to a picture with them.

Under the leadership of Marape-Steven government, and in my capacity as police minister, our women will play a greater role in policing throughout the country.

While all members of the force face challenges in serving our country, our women in blue face unspeakable difficulties, not because of their lack of ability or performance but because of discrimination for being a woman.

Continue reading "‘Our women in blue face unspeakable difficulties’: Kramer" »

Pacific islands will view Adani mine decision with dismay

Wesley Morgan
Wesley Morgan - "To avoid catastrophic impacts, the world cannot expand coal production"


SUVA - News has broken that the controversial Adani coal mine in Australia has been given the green light for work to start.

So how will this news be greeted by other countries in Australia's Pacific neighbourhood?

Coal is the single greatest driver of climate change. In 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) explained that coal-fired power must be phased out to avoid dangerous climate change.

To avoid catastrophic impacts, the world cannot expand coal production. Last year, 12 Pacific island countries issued a joint statement at United Nations climate talks explaining "there must be no expansion of existing coal mines or the creation of new mines."

At last year's annual Pacific Islands Forum meeting, 16 countries (including Australia) issued a regional security declaration explaining climate change is the "single greatest threat" facing the region.

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Dear Hon James Marape, I make a plea for an innocent man

Dr Albert Schram - "Last year he was gone and the evil won"


PORT MORESBY - I am not close to you to speak these words directly, so I make this humble request through PNG Attitude.

An innocent man was accused by power-hungry people who had made the University of Technology their cash cow before Dr Albert Schram’s term as vice-chancellor.

Dr Schram was accused on baseless grounds and the purpose of accusing him was to make Unitech a cash cow once again after he had gone.

Last year he was gone and the evil won.

I fought for change a student at Unitech from 2011 to 2014. The change I wanted to see slowly flowed in from Dr Schram’s arrival in 2013 and beyond.

Continue reading "Dear Hon James Marape, I make a plea for an innocent man" »

Kramer says he won't fire Baki. That's cabinet's job, he says

Kramer Baki
On his first day as police minister this week, Bryan Kramer receives a briefing from police commissioner Gary Baki - their relationship has often been frosty

NEWS DESK | Radio New Zealand

AUCKLAND - Papua New Guinea's new police minister Bryan Kramer says he wants to address the attitude problem which he links to the force's disciplinary problems.

Kramer is aiming to improve the constabulary's working relationship with a public which he said often fears police more than criminals.

He said it hadn't helped that the force has been politicised over the years.

"When you put on a police uniform, there's a degree of power and respect that comes with that uniform. And it becomes very easy to abuse it. And that has been the problem with the police force," Kramer said.

"There's been ill-discipline and very little accountability in members of the force. So, I'm hoping to change that attitude."

Kramer is also aiming to review the way the country's troubled constabulary is funded.

Continue reading "Kramer says he won't fire Baki. That's cabinet's job, he says" »

O’Neill’s 8 years: achievements insufficient to counter mistakes

Peter O'Neill - tipped out of office with the economy "bleeding and struggling"

STEPHEN HOWES | Devpolicy Blog

CANBERRA - Peter O’Neill was Papua New Guinea’s second longest serving prime minister, and by a long way.

He was prime minister from 2011 to 2019, about one-fifth of the country’s history as an independent country.

He may well remain a political force, and even be a future prime minister. But for now at least his term of office is over.

How should we assess it? Certainly, no other individual has so dominated the pages of the Devpolicy Blog, which I have co-edited since its inception in 2010.

Indeed, the pages of our blog provide a rich source of materials on which to base an assessment of O’Neill’s long tenure. In what follows, I focus on domestic policy, the importance of the 2013 O’Neill-Rudd Manus agreement notwithstanding.

Continue reading "O’Neill’s 8 years: achievements insufficient to counter mistakes" »

A short essay on sycophants, toadies & arse-lickers


TUMBY BAY - Bill Brown’s last couple of chapters of his ‘A Kiap’s Chronicle’ reminded me of all the sycophants in the higher echelons of the Australian Administration in colonial Papua New Guinea that field staff had to deal with prior to independence.

A sycophant is a person who acts submissively (but insincerely) towards a more important person in order to gain advantage. In colloquial terms, dating back to the 16th century, they are known as arse-lickers.

One of the key aspects of an arse-licker is to tell other people, especially superiors, what the arse-licker thinks they would like to hear rather than what they need to hear.

Those colonial sycophants did an enormous amount of damage before PNG’s independence in 1975 and their legacy still lives on in the way Australia’s foreign affairs department operates today.

Sycophants have been around since the world began, of course. And especially where you have anything resembling a bureaucracy you’ll surely find them.

They are a self-perpetuating breed of hangers-on.

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USAID supports PNG & Pacific region to address climate change

Billy Bau, Ruben Robin & Peter Kinjap
Billy Bau, Ruben Robin & Peter Kinjap work on project to sustain forests using blockchain


Images by Stella Wainetti

PORT MORESBY – A key pathway to combat climate involves building capacity and training locals to be climate change ready and resilient.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has taken the lead to provide the required training for people in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu so they can better address climate change issues.

According to US Ambassador to PNG, Catherine Ebert-Gray, well over $80 million has been invested in Pacific environmental and climate change projects over the last few years.

The USAID climate ready project has been in PNG for nine years, with $11 million in small grants being disbursed.

The project was established so PNG and island nations could access the growing amount of international funds available specifically for Pacific countries to address the effects of climate change.

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