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90 posts from May 2020

TIPNG weighs in against corruptavirus

Covid-19-in-red-backgroundMICHAEL ARNOLD
| Transparency International PNG

Link here to the full article which includes useful tables

PORT MORESBY - As most countries have begun scaling down safety measures against Covid-19, Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) has heightened its efforts in calling on the government of Papua New Guinea to implement measures to safeguard state of emergency funding against misuse and misappropriation.

This call to action by TIPNG comes after concerns raised by PNG treasury minister Ian Ling Stuckey in early April regarding allegations that a bulk of the initial K23 million released by the PNG government for the Covid-19 state of emergency had been spent on hire cars and media consultants.

Continue reading "TIPNG weighs in against corruptavirus" »

Can we remain free?

Chinese view
China's view of neoliberalism could well end up being close to the truth - not that China offers a more persuasive ideology


ADELAIDE - The current coronavirus crisis has thrown into stark relief the inherent tension between individual freedom and social obligation.

This has perhaps been most evident in the United States, where there is now active resistance against demands that individuals sacrifice their personal liberty for the greater good in an effort to control the Covid-19 pandemic that had by yesterday killed 105,000 Americans.

Continue reading "Can we remain free?" »

Frieda mine ban campaign steps up

| Coordinator, Project Sepik

SEPIK RIVER – An historic customary declaration has been issued to the Papua New Guinea government by the spiritual guardians of the Sepik River, the customary clan leaders.

The Supreme Sukundimi Declaration calls for a complete ban on the proposed Frieda River mine, which would be the largest mine in PNG history.

Continue reading "Frieda mine ban campaign steps up" »

PNG team scores in greenpreneurship

Port Moresby can be a beautiful city

| Global Green Growth Institute

PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea’s Travel4Green (T4G) project has been selected amongst 15 candidates to participate in the green entrepreneur program run by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI).

Of the 164 applicants T4G’s entry in the Green City category saw it selected for the Greenpreneurs 2020 program!

Continue reading "PNG team scores in greenpreneurship" »

Radio Days: Back to ASOPA

ITI aerial
The olive roofs of ITI, the tennis court at the rear was owned by the army, whose commando base was in the green-roofed buildings to the left


SYDNEY 1983-84 – In 1973, with Papua New Guinea having achieved self-government as its final step on the way to independence, the old colonial training institute, the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA), was reconceived and rebadged.

Early in 1974, as the International Training Institute (ITI), it accepted its first trainee middle managers from developing countries. It was a 180 degree shift from its colonial roots.

Continue reading "Radio Days: Back to ASOPA" »

Will ‘rona change anything? Nup!

Coronavirus-world-after-brian-staufferCHRIS OVERLAND

TUMBY BAY - An old French saying says 'plus les choses changent, plus elles restent les mêmes'. The more things change the more they stay the same.

Right now, various governments across the world are grimly determined that things will indeed stay the same.

They are bending their will and resources to exactly this end: a return to normality.

Continue reading "Will ‘rona change anything? Nup!" »

Can coronavirus bring positive change?

Economic reform will be difficult if not impossible without PNG getting on top of corruption


TUMBY BAY - Just like it is naïve to assume that racism doesn’t exist in most societies, it is naïve to think that most societies are now classless.

The differentiation of classes is no longer simply based on wealth and inheritance but involves more subtle factors.

The definitions of class have changed to the extent that they are no longer recognisable in the simplistic terms of yesteryear.

Continue reading "Can coronavirus bring positive change?" »

Australian Pacific TV initiative lashed

CaptureKATE LYONS | Pacific Editor
| Guardian Australia | Judith Neilson Institute

SYDNEY - A move to broadcast Australian commercial television, including Neighbours, Border Security and Masterchef in Pacific nations could be counterproductive in promoting Australia’s relationship with the region, an expert media group has warned.

The new PacificAus TV program will allow Australian content to be aired free of charge by broadcasters in seven Pacific nations, at a cost of $17.1m, in a move seen as an attempt to combat Chinese influence in the Pacific region.

Continue reading "Australian Pacific TV initiative lashed" »

We don’t need to understand everything

Michael Dom 2
Michael Dom - “I have no idea what it means to readers, I just write the stuff down to appease the voices in my head"


TUMBY BAY - Bernard Corden recently observed in PNG Attitude that when singer-songwriter Don McLean was asked what on earth the lyrics in the song American Pie meant his response was: "It means I will never have to work again."

Bernard’s comment followed a discussion about what on earth Michael Dom’s poem, The Man in the Mirror actually means.

Continue reading "We don’t need to understand everything" »

Radio Days: A dash at politics

ALP hawkie
Despite John Pilger's assertion in A Secret Country, Bob Hawke and I were never mates (in the ALP sense), but we had some interesting encounters in the 1980s. I think in this pic the Silver Bodgie was having a go at the state of my hair


SYDNEY 1983 – When my family and I returned to Australia in 1979 and moved to live at Clareville on Sydney’s northern beaches, one of my first priorities outside work was to join the Narrabeen-Pittwater branch of the Australian Labor Party.

I’d been a member of the ALP for eight years, having joined in strange circumstances in 1971, but had never been part of a branch.

Continue reading "Radio Days: A dash at politics" »

A wind of change in Maramuni

Dr Lino Tom MP meets the people of Maramuni
Dr Lino Tom MP meets the people of remote Maramuni


KOKOPO - Maramuni, a poorly developed region in Enga Province, is experiencing the wind of change as a new road project, initiated by national government minister Dr Lino Tom, takes shape.

The Maramuni local level government is located 250 kilometres north-west of Wabag, the provincial capital.

Continue reading "A wind of change in Maramuni" »

I fight, therefore I am

Mock tribal skirmish
Mock tribal skirmish


TUMBY BAY - One of the essential ingredients for tribal unity is an enemy. Fear of that enemy is important in keeping the tribe together and united.

A good tribal leader will spend much time explaining to the people the horrific motives of the enemy.

In traditional societies, rape, murder and cannibalism are effective fear narratives while in modern societies the memes centre round ideology and economics.

Continue reading "I fight, therefore I am" »

Radio Days: Broadway follies

2SER chalk radio headKEITH JACKSON

SYDNEY 1981-82 – Vulgarity, offence and obscenity have cherished places in the folklore of broadcasting and all broadcasters have their favourite story of how they said something inadvertently odious or incredibly stupid while the microphone was live and thousands of people listening in.

A colleague of mine, the manager of Radio Rabaul, Paul Cox, given the job of broadcast director of the royal tour of Papua New Guinea in early 1974, was one broadcaster who experienced the fallout from inadvertence.

Continue reading "Radio Days: Broadway follies" »

Covid-19 - The PNGDF is ready

Morning parade before starting the day’s activities of the Covid-19 task force
Morning parade before starting the day’s activities of the Covid-19 task force


“The Force has a range of capabilities ready to react in the government’s Covid-19 efforts and will be committed when and wherever required”
- Chief of Defence Force, Major General Gilbert Toropo

PORT MORESBY - It was getting late last Tuesday afternoon when I bumped into PNGDF task force Covid-19 commander, Lieutenant Colonel Raphael Yapu, in the corridors of PNG Defence headquarters.

He was busy on the phone issuing orders to someone and made a sign for me to wait.

Continue reading "Covid-19 - The PNGDF is ready" »

Hanging Balls – you be the judge

Author Baka Bina asks you to review his short story. I'm here to tell the judges it's a rattling good yarn, absolutely splendid - KJ


PORT MORESBY - I had submitted this story to the Commonwealth Writers Prize for 2020. Three stories from Australia and New Zealand were on the short list. None of the Pacific islands entries made it.

Like Thomas Hukahu has said, we in Papua New Guinea tell stories but not in the same way that first language English speakers wants them told, or how they want to hear them.

Continue reading "Hanging Balls – you be the judge" »

The challenges of unsafe water

Hand washing PNG (ADB)
Fighting coronavirus is a daunting task when clean water for drinking and washing is a major challenge

| Asian Development Bank

MANILA - A lack of safe water supply in urban settlements around Asia and the Pacific complicates efforts to use improved hygiene to fight COVID-19

Handwashing with soap and proper hygiene are the first lines of defense to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Continue reading "The challenges of unsafe water" »

Soldier without a weapon

Chaplain Kakeni
Chaplain Norman Kakeni issuing a bible to a soldier before deployment to Daru


PORT MORESBY - Chaplaincy is an intense and profoundly rewarding experience and chaplains play a distinctive role in the military setting.

They are strategically assigned to all military establishments and wherever there are military members, including in combat zones.

Chaplains tender to the spiritual well-being of soldiers regardless of religious background, provide confidential counselling and help personnel meet challenges in areas like religious education, ethics and morale.

Continue reading "Soldier without a weapon" »

Nicholas’s solution to election violence

Election-related violence in Hela Province
Election-related violence in Hela Province


PORT MORESBY - The Highlands region of Papua New Guinea is known for the election-related violence that has clans fighting amongst themselves and prosecuting bloody wars that have no end.

Provinces like Enga, Southern Highlands, Simbu, Western Highlands and Hela are particularly known for this.

Continue reading "Nicholas’s solution to election violence" »

Radio Days: Hello Sydney!

Keith-jackson-2ser- 1979
Keith Jackson in the main studio of the just completed 2SER-FM, August 1979


SYDNEY 1979 – Sue and the kids had returned to Australia in January while I wrapped up my Maldives consultancy for UNESCO.

I was counting on getting a job in Sydney.

I’d been told by my onetime ABC colleague In Papua New Guinea, Andrew Greig, that an educational radio station, to be known as 2SER-FM, had been licenced for the city and the two universities that held the licence were looking for a manager to get it going.

Continue reading "Radio Days: Hello Sydney!" »

Final agreement after 20 years

20 Years 1
Chairman of the Angore landowners Hari John Akipe (centre) with the team at Ambua Lodge before heading to Undupi village for the signing ceremony. The Tari valley is in the background


PORT MORESBY - It was a little past four o’clock that Sunday afternoon when we arrived at Ambua Lodge, nestled amongst the Doma Peaks near Tari town in Hela Province.

The light drizzle that seemed to have followed us from Mt Hagen had ceased and the gravel car park was wet and soft. Around it the trees were wreathed with thick leaves and green moss.

Continue reading "Final agreement after 20 years" »

Forest loss increases violence against women

Roadblock_westpomio_rimbunan hijau
Road block at West Pomio in New Britain mounted by villagers opposing logging by Rimbunan Hijau

| Mongabay | Extract

Link here to the complete article by John Cannon

POMIO - Change. That's what Monica Yongol has seen in her 54 years.

In that time, the loggers and then the oil palm companies have moved into the remote corner of Papua New Guinea where she raised her family, altering the contours of the society she knew.

Continue reading "Forest loss increases violence against women" »

Heroes of modern PNG literature

Phil Fitzpatrick - a pioneer of the 21st century revival in Papua New Guinea literature


TUMBY BAY - I’ve been ruminating about the successes and failures of Papua New Guinean literature since Keith Jackson and I kicked off the Crocodile Prize in 2010.

In the scheme of things, the Prize and what spun out of it was really the only game in town for quite a while. Things were happening elsewhere but not on the same scale.

Continue reading "Heroes of modern PNG literature" »

The chasm in cultural integrity

Keith Jackson - "The apparent demise of the Crocodile Prize reflects dismally on the government’s commitment to the cultural and social force of home-grown literature; a force that can be such a critical component of nation-building and social strengthening"


NOOSA - Successive national and foreign governments and organisations have directed development aid to a range of programs in Papua New Guinea – some successful, too many not.

But in doing so they have overlooked a huge cultural influence that not only represents the beating heart and animated spirit of the nation but is also a bearer of learning, personal understanding and social cohesion.

Continue reading "The chasm in cultural integrity" »

Radio Days: The cultural conundrum

The PNG Independence Medal sits beside my Order of Australia (AM) in a box at home. To me they're poignant reminders of a career now left behind but which was always exciting and sometimes terrifying


MALDIVE ISLANDS 1978-79 – In mid-1978 I was sitting at my desk in the downstairs office of my home, White Waves, the spray from the waves pounding on the nearby reef corroding the light fittings, when a large manila envelope arrived in the morning post.

It was addressed to ‘Mr K Jackson BA’ and was festooned with Papua New Guinea stamps. Like much of the mail we received in Malé it had a battered and soiled appearance that suggested it had travelled for many months in a dirty sack in the hold of a slow ship.

Continue reading "Radio Days: The cultural conundrum" »

A solution to the Porgera impasse

Porgera mine
Porgera gold and silver mine (Barrick)


KOKOPO – The Porgera mine is a large gold and silver mining operation in Enga province, Papua New Guinea located at the head of the Porgera Valley at an altitude of about 2,500 meters. The region is noted for its high rainfall, landslides and frequent earthquakes.

The mine is operated by the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) and began production in 1990. It is now owned by Barrick Gold Corporation of Canada and the Zijin Mining Group of China with local landowners having a small stake.

Continue reading "A solution to the Porgera impasse" »

Marape government fails to tackle corruption

Eddie Tanago - "There has not been one prosecution of a high profile leader for corruption or misappropriation and not one minister has been forced to resign or even step aside"


PORT MORESBY - A year after taking power, the government of James Marape has completely failed to deliver on its promises to tackle Papua New Guinea’s chronic corruption.

James Marape was elected as prime minister on the back of a growing wave of discontent about political corruption and the misuse of public funds - and the initial signs from the new government were promising.

Continue reading "Marape government fails to tackle corruption" »

The creation of a poet: Words in retrospect


PORT MORESBY - An important, and still continuing, experience for me was finding and participating in the PNG Attitude blog and the associated Crocodile Prize national literary contest.

It is not possible for me to overstate the profound influence of the blog and the Crocodile Prize on my own writing achievements and their influence on the literary output of Papua New Guinea’s writers and thinkers.

Continue reading "The creation of a poet: Words in retrospect" »

If you are a Papua New Guinean writer and want to enter the Montreal International Poetry Prize, send an email here and let me know.
PNG Attitude is in touch with the Prize organisers, and I will give you clear instructions about the way to enter the contest from Papua New Guinea - KJ

China eyeing Digicel network

| The Diplomat

WASHINGTON DC - The strategic competition between China and Australia in the South Pacific looks likely to intensify with a potential attempt by China to gain a major share of the region’s telecommunications market.

It was reported last week in the Australian Financial Review that China’s state-owned telecommunications company, China Mobile, is looking to purchase the local assets of the largest mobile carrier in the Pacific Islands, Digicel.

Continue reading "China eyeing Digicel network" »

Can you win this big poetry contest?


NOOSA - The Montreal International Poetry Prize has just one winner – but the award is a big one, about K50,000 to the writer of that single poem.

The Montreal Prize is organised by the department of English at Canada’s McGill University and this year’s judge is Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Yusef Komunyakaa.

Continue reading "Can you win this big poetry contest?" »

Are we at an historic turning point?


ADELAIDE - There are moments in history when its future course is altered by a single event.

These turning points, while seemingly innocuous or unremarkable at the time, may have profound consequences.

For example, the arrival of a handful of Spanish adventurers in Mexico in 1519 was, in itself, not especially remarkable. It initially attracted no great interest in Spain or anywhere else for that matter.

Continue reading "Are we at an historic turning point?" »

The Man in the Mirror


One day when I opened my mouth to speak
I heard a language I did not understand
I went to the bathroom to take a peek
At my reflection in the sky-roofed mirror and
To my relief the face was my very own
So I said, "Oh it's you,
I thought for a moment you were gone"
And mirror-me smirked back through
The thin looking-glass veneer
"Yes, it's me, you know I'm no voice in your head"
So I replied with a sardonic sneer
"That's ok, come on out, I won't tell till I'm dead"
Then mirror-me smiled and looked back eye-to-eye
When he said, "Back to work boy", his lips moved, not mine.

Radio Days: Journeys by sea

Busy Male harbour with Malship freighter in background
The busy boat harbour at Malé, with a Malships freighter anchored in the lagoon.  The hub for small boats from more than 200 populated islands


MALDIVE ISLANDS 1978 – I grew up in the NSW coastal town of Nowra on the banks of the Shoalhaven River where, from a young age, I became familiar with sailing and the sea, sometimes accompanying fishermen on stomach churning early morning exploits beyond sight of land.

But nothing prepared me for the Maldives archipelago where, even for a picnic lunch, you had to travel by dhoni and the completion of any serious work around the country necessitated a sea voyage.

Continue reading "Radio Days: Journeys by sea" »

James Marape - a year in review

James Marape speaking
James Marape - over the last 12 months Papua New Guineans have witnessed the depth of his vision


WEWAK - Twelve months ago who would have predicted  the rise of a much under-rated James Marape as the eighth prime minister of Papua New Guinea putting an end to eight tumultuous years by Peter O’Neill and his Peoples National Congress Party.

Marape continues to intrigue and surprise us with the array of tools he is deploying from the Pandora’s box of politics.

Continue reading "James Marape - a year in review" »

Adventures with bows & arrows

Menyama man
A Menyama man and his bow and arrows - deadly at short distances

| My Land, My Country

LAE - The primary weapon of choice for the tribes spread out over the Upper Watut to Aseki, Menyamya, Kaintiba in the Gulf Province and Marawaka in the Eastern Highlands has been the bow and arrow.

Theirs was the culture into which I was immersed at an early age.

Continue reading "Adventures with bows & arrows" »

If in doubt, shoot it


TUMBY BAY - If you watch any imported American police program on commercial television you’d be forgiven for assuming that the solution to any problem is a gun.

These programs, with their officious acronyms like NCIS, SVU and CSI, feature a never ending barrage of good guys ending the nefarious deeds of bad guys in a blaze of gunfire. Every situation seems to end in gun play.

Continue reading "If in doubt, shoot it" »

Call for apology from Barrick

Hela Governor Philip Undialu - "The international community will soon know who is telling the truth"

| Governor of Hela Province | Edited

TARI – There was no need for the Papua New Guinea government to have any advance negotiations with Barrick before the decision not to renew the Porgera Joint Venture lease.

Any negotiation held prior to the decision would have seen as preemptive of the decision and would have been in breach of the Mining Act, which would have attracted legal implications.

Continue reading "Call for apology from Barrick" »

The white man's ghost

Laurie Meintjes and family  1988
Laurie Meintjes and family, 1988


Laurie died on 15 July 2019 at his home in Cooranbong NSW. He was a kiap, teacher, writer and poet. This article, taken from his memoir ‘Pretzel Legs’, was published in PNG Attitude on 25 January 2011. There are copies of ‘Pretzel Legs’ available on e-bay, for example here

COORANBONG – He said he had never seen a White man's ghost and I told him he was lucky; that a White man's ghost is very bad business. His eyes widened.

It all began earlier that morning when I emerged from the hauskiap and saw the clay figurine glaring up at me through cowrie-shell eyes from the bottom step. Someone was meddling with my karma.

Continue reading "The white man's ghost" »

The real lords of the flies

Lords of the flies
The Tongan youths who remained united after being stranded for over a year on a desert island in 1966


NORTHUMBRIA UK - William Golding’s deeply pessimistic book ‘Lord of the Flies’ was thrust upon me in 1966 during a course in English Literature.

It was compulsory reading but I almost immediately rejected it.

After scanning reviews and flicking through its contents, I pushed it away unfinished because its bleakness about our human condition was too much to accept.

Continue reading "The real lords of the flies" »

A soldier’ story

Bren gun carrier fitted with Bren light machine gun and Vickers .303 sub-machine gun (Digger History)
Bren gun carrier fitted with Bren light machine gun and Vickers .303 sub-machine gun (Digger History)


MELBOURNE - Recently I have been involved in a project with a Papua New Guinean colleague to investigate the service history of some ex-servicemen buried at Port Moresby’s 9 Mile Cemetery.

During the course of this project, the history of one of the names evoked memories of my own father’s service in World War II.

Continue reading "A soldier’ story" »

Could China take over Digicel PNG?

| Australian Financial Review | Extract

Link to the complete article here

SYDNEY - Mother nature seems to have designed Papua New Guinea for mobile phones.

A land of spectacular mountains, deep valleys and a sparse inland road system, PNG is dotted with 1500 mobile phone base stations, now used by sons and daughters in cities such as Port Moresby or Lae to check on whether parents living in remote highland villages are safe from the ravages of COVID-19.

Continue reading " Could China take over Digicel PNG?" »