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72 posts from March 2020

4,000 nurses to strike over coronavirus

People last-minute shopping in Kokopo ahead of the coronavirus lockdown (Kalolaine Fainu  The Guardian)
People last-minute shopping in Kokopo ahead of the coronavirus lockdown (Kalolaine Fainu,  The Guardian)

| Guardian Australia

PORT MORESBY - Four thousand nurses are expected to participate in strikes across Papua New Guinea this week over concerns that the Pacific nation lacks the medical supplies and funding to handle a potential coronavirus outbreak.

The industrial action follows a sit-in by nearly 600 nurses in the capital of Port Moresby on Thursday over concerns about the lack of personal protective equipment for medical staff.

Continue reading "4,000 nurses to strike over coronavirus" »

African swine fever found in highlands

John Simon  Minister for Agriculture and Livestock
Agriculture Minister John Simon - swine fever was suspected in February when 336 pigs in died in Mendi

| PNG Today

PORT MORESBY - The multi-million pork industry in PNG is under threat with the African swine fever now in the country.

The swine fever is a virus which causes a hemorrhagic fever with high mortality rates in domestic pigs, killing pigs in large numbers as quickly as a week after infection.

Continue reading "African swine fever found in highlands" »

The wave is coming, says top medico

Dr Mathias Sapuri - More than 6,000 cases of interest but PNG is doing very little coronavirus testing


PORT MORESBY – Dr Mathias Sapuri, chairman of Papua New Guinea’s medical board, says he believes that coronavirus is already present in the country.

“Our two closest neighbours, Indonesia and Australia, are climbing exponentially with Covid-19 cases,” he said, “and so they are serious risk to us especially after the PNG lock down period.

Continue reading "The wave is coming, says top medico" »

Experts warn of PNG health catastrophe

| Canberra Times | Edited

CANBERRA - At his meeting with fellow G20 leaders on Friday, Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison called for international focus on the plight of Pacific island nations and said Australia was "reconfiguring" its development assistance to support the operation of critical health services and manage the economic impact.

According to the ABC, this includes the reallocation of $22 million of existing aid commitments toward a COVID-19 support package for the Papua New Guinea government.

Continue reading "Experts warn of PNG health catastrophe" »

Michael Dom: A young poet comes of age

Michael Dom 2
Michael Dom - "Picks up the ordinary and mundane, and projects it on to a page and makes us see what we are unable see on our own"


26 Sonnets: Contemporary Papua New Guinean Poetry, by Michael Dom, JDT Publications, March 2020, 66pp. ISBN-13: 979-8621-24-062-2

Free download 26 Sonnets eBook by Michael Dom

PORT MORESBY - I have great respect and admiration for the bold and measured language in Michael Dom’s poetry.

Reading this collection assured me that Dom is willing to take up forms of poetry that are structured and articulated through very specific rules of construction.

Continue reading "Michael Dom: A young poet comes of age" »

5,000-year-old artifacts rewrite PNG history

Some of the stone tools and art from the Waim site (UNSW - Ben Shaw)
Some of the stone tools and art from the Waim site (UNSW - Ben Shaw)

| Ancient Origins | Edited

With thanks to Fr Garry Roche who brought this important research to our attention

DUBLIN - Scientists have unearthed ancient artifacts in the Papua New Guinea highlands that settle a longstanding archaeological argument regarding the emergence of complex culture in PNG.

About 10,000 years ago, the climate changed to better suit the planting of crops and the Neolithic revolution that brought about agriculture emerged in different parts of the world at different times.

Continue reading "5,000-year-old artifacts rewrite PNG history" »

An enduring book about Australian bastardry

Behrouz Boochani would have made a great Australian


No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison  by Behrouz Boochani, Picador, 2018, ISBN: 9781760555382, 374 pages, AU$15 from Amazon Australia.

TUMBY BAY - I’ve been holding off reading this book for a while. I’m not really sure why.

Perhaps it’s because I couldn’t face the misery and the pathos of that I thought it would depict. Perhaps it’s because of the sense of shame that I thought it would provoke.

Continue reading "An enduring book about Australian bastardry" »

The fallacies at the heart of neo-liberalism


ADELAIDE – In the extract from his book, ‘You’ll Never Work Again – The Great Safety Charade’, Bernard Corden has given us a great example of where letting the market rip, unfettered by effective regulation, combined with blindingly obvious conflicts of interest, leads to disaster in the service of accumulating vast profits.

And, once again, "the weak suffer what they must".

Continue reading "The fallacies at the heart of neo-liberalism" »

Praying to ‘Gote’ at a time of coronavirus

Daniel in Manus
Author Daniel Kumbon in Manus before his failed attempt to return to his family in Wabag. He is now in Port Moresby


PORT MORESBY - The woman next door continues to pray day and night pleading with God to take this pestilence away from Papua New Guinea because the people are innocent, they did nothing to bring the virus into the country.

Alone in her house, she prays and sings worship songs in both Tok Pisin and the Enga language.

Continue reading "Praying to ‘Gote’ at a time of coronavirus" »

Informal economy needs virus protection

Street market - a large part of Papua New Guinea's daily trade and commerce relies on the informal economy


PORT MORESBY - As the spread of coronavirus claims thousands of lives throughout the world it has also brought economic hardship to many countries.

Businesses and governments face a bleak future with economic activities shutting down and the movement of people becoming more restrictive.

In Papua New Guinea the government recently introduced a state of emergency after a foreign mine worker travelling to PNG’s second biggest city Lae tested positive for the virus.

Continue reading "Informal economy needs virus protection" »

Am I A Whore Now


Many young women are becoming victims of revenge porn. In Papua New Guinea, one nude photo is enough to turn you into a whore or porn star. The stigma sticks and it can be a traumatising experience for the women. I hope this poem can help people understand and sympathise with victims. More importantly, I hope victims know that there are people who see their worth - WDIB

Am I a whore now for loving you?
Am I a bitch, too, for trusting you?

Continue reading "Am I A Whore Now" »

After the crisis – more of the same?

Australian businessman Gerry Harvey - bragging about doing well out of coronavirus panic and exulting in other people's distress


TUMBY BAY - There is an interesting and still underlying debate going on about what will happen once the COVID-19 crisis abates.

On the one hand there is the expected conservative view that everything should return to normal.

This is promulgated by most politicians in Australia and elsewhere and seems to be the accepted view of businesses and the public at large.

Continue reading "After the crisis – more of the same?" »

Remote business never easy in PNG

Map of the Sepik region by Bill Brown


BRISBANE - In 1970 we sold our Vanimo stores and bulk fuel depot to Steamships Trading Company.

Mr Lee, the manager of Steamships Madang, had approached us to negotiate the transaction. He was such a fine person to deal with.

Then, 36 years later, Steamships, by now owned by the British multinational Swire Group of Hong Kong, also purchased our stores at Aitape.

Continue reading "Remote business never easy in PNG" »

Planning for resilient island communities

Kinjap - Consultant Wendy Lee at BRCC planning workshop (Peter Kinjap)
Consultant Wendy Lee and participants at the climate resilience development planning workshop (Peter Kinjap)


PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea's Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA) is implementing a K93 million Climate Investment Fund grant to secure greater climate resilience in small islands and atolls.

The project started in 2016 and will end in 2021 in Bougainville, Manus, Morobe, East New Britain and Milne Bay.

Continue reading "Planning for resilient island communities" »

Learning important coronavirus lessons

PNG Defence Force (Alexander Nara)
PNG Defence Force personnel have been assigned to assist in the fight against coronavirus (Alexander Nara)

| My Land, My Country

LAE - So it’s a global pandemic with well over 16,000 dead already, 380,000 infected and less than 103,000 recovered.

It was a national health worry. But within days, it became a national emergency.

The prime minister taking advice from the National Security Council, a state of emergency declared and police commissioner David Manning appointed emergency controller.

Continue reading "Learning important coronavirus lessons" »

'The patient Earth is sick....'


TUMBY BAY - While a number of conspiracy theorists, alarmists, doomsayers and social media terrorists have tried to insinuate that there is a link between the coronavirus epidemic and climate change, more level-headed minds have been trying to alert us to the connection between the health of the planet and the health of humanity for some time.

In 1993 the Norwegian physician, Per Fugelli, wrote: "The patient Earth is sick. Global environmental disruptions can have serious consequences for human health. It's time for doctors to give a world diagnosis and advise on treatment."

Continue reading "'The patient Earth is sick....'" »

Cry me a river – The Rabaul Queen disaster

Rabaul Queen survivors await rescue - 246 were picked up; as many as 500 died


Extract from ‘You’ll Never Work Again – The Great Safety Charade’ by Bernard Paul Corden, self published, 2019, 1058 pp. A thorough examination from global sources of how corporate barons – large and small – so often place their employees and the public at unconscionable risk. Download 'The Great Safety Charade'

BRISBANE - On 2nd February 2012 the MV Rabaul Queen ferry capsized and sank with the loss of approximately 150 passengers in treacherous waters off the northern coast of Papua New Guinea.

Despite holding a current but somewhat superficial seaworthiness certificate, the congested, overloaded, listing and dilapidated rust bucket departed from Kimbe in West New Britain the previous day.

Continue reading "Cry me a river – The Rabaul Queen disaster" »

Now we learn they can’t handle a crisis


TUMBY BAY - One thing is becoming abundantly clear as the coronavirus epidemic rapidly escalates.

And this is that any government based on an ideology of neo-liberalism is the worst possible model to deal with a crisis of this magnitude.

This is most apparent in the USA, the home of laissez faire capitalism, where confusion reigns supreme and the virus is uncontrollably rampant.

But it is also becoming evident in Australia.

At the moment there are huge queues of people outside Centrelink offices who have lost their jobs because of the lockdown of businesses.

Continue reading "Now we learn they can’t handle a crisis" »

Marape declares state of emergency

James Marape and health minister Jelta Wong


PORT MORESBY – Following the detection of the first coronavirus case in Papua New Guinea late last week, in an emergency meeting yesterday the national executive council decided on the implementation of a series of tough measures to stop or slow the spread of the disease through the country.

“This is not just a health issue but a national security issue,” prime minister James Marape said in a public statement, adding that it will have profound effects on the economy, law and order and education.

Continue reading "Marape declares state of emergency" »

The old priest & the young councillor

Alois Alapyala Yolape (right) speaking with Paul Kurai at opening of new Leptenges churchDANIEL KUMBON

WABAG - Alois Alapyala Yolape often thanks Fr George Schubbe publicly, even though the priest is dead, for playing an important role in getting him elected for the Monokam council ward in the Ambum Valley 57 years ago.

Recently, he again acknowledged Fr Schubbe at a new church opening at Leptenges near Sirunki, where his late mother was born.

Continue reading "The old priest & the young councillor" »

Coronavirus & the ignorance of privilege

Simon Jackson (2)
Simon Jackson; Will coronavirus forge a new realisation of the world as it is, or reinforce the bastions of privilege?


AUCKLAND - Like many people who have lived deeply in developing countries and been exposed to crises people in 'developed' nations see only on TV or at the movies, an observation by Chris Overland in PNG Attitude yesterday hit home for me.

Amongst much else worth thinking about, Chris wrote in 'Coronavirus: A warning from history', that whatever else awaits us in the aftermath of this coronavirus epidemic, “we will not be able to sit here, fat, dumb and happy, while bad things happen to other people."

Continue reading "Coronavirus & the ignorance of privilege" »

Sepik boosts border virus surveillance

Wutung entry facility at the border between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea (RNZ - Johnny Blades)
Wutung entry point at the border between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea (RNZ - Johnny Blades)

| Radio New Zealand | Edited extract

AUCKLAND –Members of parliament in Papua New Guinea's Sepik region say they'll fund bolstered surveillance of the international border with Indonesia.

West Sepik province hosts the main land access point between PNG and Indonesia where coronavirus cases are surging.

Continue reading "Sepik boosts border virus surveillance" »

Coronavirus: A warning from history

Indian pangolin. Some people believe coronavirus entered the human domain because the pangolin  (found in Africa and Asia) is considered a delicacy in China


ADELAIDE - I spent 32 years working in various capacities within the health, hospital and aged care sector.

It was a continuous learning experience for me and one which, despite the anxiety and distress it sometimes generated, was richly rewarding in providing insights into the nature of humanity.

A fascinating part of my long term learning experience was working in the public and environmental health division of South Australia’s department of health.

Continue reading "Coronavirus: A warning from history" »

How much aid ‘leaks’ into corruption?

Double-talk-and-corruption (C Gado)
The double talk of aid and corruption (C Gado)

| DevPolicy Blog

CANBERRA - Is development aid an effective solution to lifting countries out of poverty?

Some argue that aid plays a central role in promoting economic development in the poorest countries, while others are still very sceptical.

A recent World Bank research paper has added to the debate (and garnered a lot of media attention) by drawing a strong link between World Bank aid flows to poor countries and deposits from those same countries in international financial havens like Switzerland, Singapore and the Cayman Islands.

Continue reading "How much aid ‘leaks’ into corruption?" »

Expats flee PNG as Australia shuts borders


PORT MORESBY – Even as Papua New Guinea's airline, Air Niugini, announced it will cease carrying inbound international passengers from midnight tomorrow, expatriate workers and their families were flooding back to Australia to escape the closure of its borders.

Australia has been a late starter in providing an adequate response to the spread of coronavirus and even now there is controversy about whether it has done enough.

Continue reading "Expats flee PNG as Australia shuts borders" »

Crack down on international flights

Air Niugini
Papua New Guinea joins the global aviation shut down

| NBC News

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea is shutting down international flights amid Coronavirus fears.

Flights in and out of Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Sydney, Honiara and Nadi will cease next Sunday.

Prime minister James Marape said flights will be limited so as to only allow “controlled entry” from Brisbane, Cairns and Singapore.

Continue reading "Crack down on international flights" »

The tragic flight of Mary Madsen

Cessna 180
The Cessna 180 Skywagon was a common aircraft in 1960s PNG


MELBOURNE - In the mid-1960s, Mary and her partner, ‘Mads’ Madsen – no-one used his given forename, ran a small trade store at the top end of Angoram’s infamous Tobacco Road, a few metres from the banks of the Sepik River.

Both were in their mid- to late forties, although no-one knew for sure, and kept mostly to themselves in a small house attached to the trade store which they shared, literally, with a collection of possums and cuscuses which, as you’d expect, provided the house with a none-too-pleasant odour.

Continue reading "The tragic flight of Mary Madsen" »

The library of unpalatable facts

Still from  ABC-TV footage of what appears to be an extra-judicial killing of an Afghani civilian by an Australian SAS soldier


TUMBY BAY - Apart from the escalating disaster of the coronavirus epidemic, a couple of other unsettling items have come to my notice this week.

The first was the release of the appalling footage of an Australian SAS soldier executing an unarmed villager in Afghanistan in May 2012.

The second was an email relating to a horrible and disgusting incident involving police and defence force personnel in Papua New Guinea in 1998.

Continue reading "The library of unpalatable facts" »

Coronavirus a testing time for Marape

With its first possible case of coronavirus just recorded, James Marape and his government know that they face a testing time

| The Interpreter | Lowy Institute

SYDNEY - It’s been a volatile week for the PNG Hunters.

The Papua New Guinea rugby league team was celebrating on Sunday after staging a late comeback to clinch a 32-30 win against the Souths Logan Magpies in the first round of the Queensland Intrust Super Cup last weekend.

Continue reading "Coronavirus a testing time for Marape" »

PNG announces coronavirus measures


PORT MORESBY - The Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) has been put on alert as the health minister, Jelta Wong, formally declared coronavirus as a ‘quarantinable disease’ under the country’s health laws.

On Tuesday, the PNG national security council met to discuss additional control measures in light of the worsening crisis in Australia and surrounding countries.

Continue reading "PNG announces coronavirus measures" »

Coronavirus forces changes to SDA program

SDA church in Goroka

| Adventist Record | Edited

MARYLAND, USA - Preachers from other parts of the South Pacific will no longer be going to Papua New Guinea for a harvest program scheduled for May.

Church officers consulted with the PNG Union Mission about the inherent risks of the coronavirus pandemic before taking the difficult decision.

Continue reading "Coronavirus forces changes to SDA program" »

The protection of PNG’s democracy

PNG flag raising (Department of Defence)JEFFREY WALL
| Australian Strategic Policy Institute

CANBERRA - One of the questions frequently asked about Australia’s closest neighbour, Papua New Guinea, is whether a military, or other, coup is possible.

Over the 40-plus years of my association with PNG, my view has been consistent—it is possible but fortunately highly unlikely.

There are two reasons why I have always been confident in this assessment.

Continue reading "The protection of PNG’s democracy" »

The hind foot competition

The Peië grasshopper

| Transcribed by Emily Bina

KOTIYUFA VILLAGE 2013 - Gholou-e valley, before human beings arrived, was occupied by two tribes of grasshoppers. One was the dull brown coloured Ganu tribe. The other was the multi-coloured Peië.

During the dry season, as leaves of plants matured and died, the food source for grasshoppers would diminish. As the dry season got longer, the competition for good green leaves to eat became intense.

Continue reading "The hind foot competition" »

Trainer of kiaps Tim Terrell dies at 90

Tim Terrell and two local kiaps on the first course at Finschhafen Training Centre
Tim Terrell and two local kiaps on the first course at Finschhafen Training Centre, 1960


TUMBY BAY - Former kiap Tim Terrell AM died in Canberra last Tuesday at the age of 90.

His passing is significant in the history of Papua New Guinea because he established the first training centre for local kiaps at Gagidu near Finschhafen in 1959-60, assisted by another kiap, Peter Foldi.

Continue reading "Trainer of kiaps Tim Terrell dies at 90" »

Pacific tightens borders against coronavirus

Health staff screen airline passengers at Majuro  Marshall Islands (Hilary Hosia  RNZ Pacific)
Health staff screen airline passengers at Majuro Marshall Islands (Hilary Hosia RNZ Pacific)

| RNZ Pacific | Asia Pacific Report | Pacific Media Watch

WELLINGTON, NZ - Pacific countries have further tightened border measures to try to keep the coronavirus from gaining a foothold in the islands.

Six cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the Pacific so far – the first three in French Polynesia and, on Sunday night, three were confirmed in Guam.

Continue reading "Pacific tightens borders against coronavirus" »

The mysterious Goilala ‘totem pole’



NORTHUMBRIA - This photograph is the most puzzling in my Papua New Guinean collection.

I tramped through the bush for almost six years and it is the only example I bumped into that had any resemblance to the totem pole so often presented as typical of Native American culture in the nineteenth century or the mumbo-jumbo, voodoo style, pagan doll depictions so readily associated with early British exploration of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Did kiaps and anthropologists who broke PNG bush much earlier than the late 1960s come across anything that was similar?

It was housed in a traditional sentry box-like structure standing at the end of a line of village houses in the Pilitu section of the Goilala Sub-District that I came upon in January 1974.

Continue reading "The mysterious Goilala ‘totem pole’" »

The other side of the looking glass


TUMBY BAY - I’ve got a host of friends and acquaintances who don’t wholly exist. They all live just shy of the cusp of reality.

Most of them are amalgams and constructs. They contain a good bit of me, elements of people I have known or read about and a fair slab of pure imagination. In short, they are the characters in the stories I write.

Continue reading "The other side of the looking glass" »

What's with these new Kokoda 'kiaps'?

New kiaps
Charlie Lynn argues it's about time the Kokoda Track came under the management of locals not imported park rangers


SYDNEY – The Australian foreign affairs department (DFAT) 'Kokoda Initiative' has managed the Kokoda Trail through their surrogate Kokoda Track Authority for the past 11 years at a cost of more than $50 million (K105 million).

But in that time they have not been able to identify a single Papua New Guinean with the expertise to maintain the trail in a safe condition and protect the local environment.

Continue reading "What's with these new Kokoda 'kiaps'?" »

The PNG flu epidemic of 1969


ADELAIDE - In late 1969, I was summoned to the Assistant District Commissioner’s office in Kerema and told I was to prepare to go immediately on patrol in the mountains lying to the north of the town.

I was to be accompanied by three aid post orderlies and several police. Our task was to identify and treat people suffering from the Hong Kong Influenza, which was running rampant across the world and had finally reached Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "The PNG flu epidemic of 1969" »

Police violence is alienating youth

Police 10 seater
Professional policing should never involve unlawful conduct, especially torture - which they glibly call "interrogation"


KIMBE - The common practice of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary picking up youths going about their legitimate business in the street, throwing them in the back of a police 10-seater and belting them to try and get information (torture), that they may or may not have, has to stop.

Police Minister Bryan Kramer, your officers cannot expect our youth to respect the rights of others, and not steal from them or harm them, if they themselves are victims of illegal violence from police officers.

Continue reading "Police violence is alienating youth" »

Coronavirus threatens PNG economy

The spread of coronoavirus seems to have spared PNG so far, but nevertheless the economy will suffer a big hit

| EMTV | Extracts

LAE - Papua New Guinea may need to review its economic outlook for the medium term as global economies contend with the wide-ranging impacts of coronavirus.

While Papua New Guineans have been debating the preparedness of the health system, and bracing for a possible outbreak, the economic burden brought on by the global pandemic could further cripple efforts to contain the spread of the disease.

Continue reading "Coronavirus threatens PNG economy" »

Building PNG’s climate resilience

Community consultation at Karawara Island  East New Britain (BRCC)
Community consultation at Karawara Island,  East New Britain (BRCC)


PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea was identified as one of the most vulnerable countries in the wake of global climate crisis.

Lack of basic government services in the most remote parts of the country have further deteriorated since then and the current coronavirus crisis may increase PNG’s vulnerability.

Continue reading "Building PNG’s climate resilience" »

Death of the ‘bosboi’

Paul Kiap Kurai sitting as his father(centre) towers over him  after Form 4 examinations in 1975
Cr Paul Kiap Kurai (sitting) as a schoolboy in 1975, his father, Joseph (Bosboi) Kurai towering over him


WABAG – That night in Wapenamanda, Mathew Kandamaine had a strange dream in which he saw his father, Joseph Kurai Tapus, come to his house and ask for a single K5 note so he could attend a party in heaven specially prepared for him.

Early next morning, Mathew woke with a start. He was glad the dream wasn’t real. But he had a sinking feeling, worrying it might turn out to be true.

He shared it with his wife, from Ialibu in the Southern Highlands.

As Mathew and his wife finished talking, they heard a car honk its horn several times from where it was parked on the highway near his home.

One of his brothers, Timothy, had driven their father down from Wabag. Mathew’s heart sank when he saw his father. But Joseph Kurai Tapus was his normal self.

Continue reading "Death of the ‘bosboi’" »

The importance of place

Tumby Bay
Tumby Bay - a fine place to be born and  to die - but cast my ashes to the winds, writes the much travelled Phil Fitzpatrick


TUMBY BAY - It is not so long ago that people were born in one place and remained there for their whole lives.

This can still happen, as we know, but many people now pass through multiple places over the course of a lifetime.

In places like Papua New Guinea it is still common for people to spend their lives in one area, just as it is in rural regions of Australia.

Continue reading "The importance of place" »

Getting HIV services to vulnerable people

UNAIDS Winnie-Byanyima-is-greeted-by-outreach-workers-at-Begabari-HIV-Clinic
UNAIDS executive director Winnie Byanyima greeted by outreach workers at Begabari HIV Clinic


PORT MORESBY - There are around 45,000 people living with HIV in Papua New Guinea, with marginalised groups such as sex workers, other women who exchange sex for money, goods and protection, gay men and other men who have sex with men, and transgender women most affected.

However, less than half of the people who belong to those vulnerable groups have ever taken a test to know their HIV status.

Continue reading "Getting HIV services to vulnerable people" »