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54 posts from July 2020

Poetry at random

SomareFrom Sana: An Autobiography by Michael Somare

After the snake ceremony I was taught the timit songs. Only Saub lnew these songs, and he had to repeat them ten times so that I could learn them. When the time for the timit songs had come Saub rose to his feet. There was silence.

Now you have left your mother’s womb
You have come to this place to receive power.
With this power you must go out and lead -
lead in initiation, lead in fight, lead in peacemaking.
The strength now has been given to you.

Continue reading "Poetry at random" »

Hail Meri


I didn’t see my baby after the Caesarian. My sedated state made it impossible to do that.

After the procedure, the baby was taken from the operating theatre and brought to the nursery. I was told I would not see my miracle until I was able to sit up in bed.

I was afraid I might not recognise my baby.

Continue reading "Hail Meri" »

What do Papuans really want?

Not monkey
"The issue of racism in Papua is a serious failure and will end up costing Indonesia the very thing they are trying to hold on to"


CANBERRA - On Tuesday 14 July, Antara News in Jakarta published an article by Jaleswari Pramodhawardani of the Presidential Staff Office on President Joko Widodo’s approach in handling West Papua issues.

According to Pramodhawardani, lack of welfare is to blame for problems in West Papua. She concluded that Jokowi plans to resolve West Papua’s issues through various development programs.

Continue reading "What do Papuans really want?" »

Scammers are on the rise again

Nigerian scammers hard at work trying to steal your money


TUMBY BAY - I received an interesting email this morning. It came from Nigeria telling me I had won US$70 million in a lottery I had never entered.

It wasn’t so much that this was obviously a scam but that it came from Nigeria.

I haven’t had a scam email from the west African country in over two years. Once upon a time they were almost a daily event.

Continue reading "Scammers are on the rise again" »

Tanis urges optimism on Covid-19

James Tanis
James Tanis - "“My people of Bougainville will get through this pandemic. We are a resilient people who have faced adversity and prevailed time and time again...."


BUKA - Bougainvilleans are being urged to remain vigilant and to comply with state of emergency orders in light of the growing concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic which has already hit Port Moresby.

Former Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) president James Tanis has urged Bougainvilleans throughout PNG to adhere to restrictions to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Continue reading "Tanis urges optimism on Covid-19" »

Ethnicism - group survival; root of racism

Ethnic diversity strengthens and enriches societies but can also be a source of conflict


NORTHUMBRIA, UK – The continued aggressive suppression of black skinned former slaves in the United States has triggered fierce global outrage.

The wave of anger sparked by the murder of George Floyd implied that racism is directed exclusively against black skinned people and that the only perpetrators are white.

Continue reading "Ethnicism - group survival; root of racism" »

Covid-19 exposes gross failures

Phil Fitzpatrick: "The K70 million the World Bank gave PNG months ago to prepare for the pandemic has mysteriously disappeared"


TUMBY BAY - Covid-19 is having a remarkable impact all over the world as it exposes the ideological and structural shortcomings of government and corporate entities.

In the USA and Britain, the bumbling incompetence of their leaders is shown in the disastrous statistics related to rates of infection and deaths from the virus.

Continue reading "Covid-19 exposes gross failures" »

Mine waste debate divides Huon people

Huon dumpingSCOTT WAIDE
| My Land, My Country

LAE - Papua New Guinea’s environment minister has tried to ease tensions over the proposal to dump mine waste into Huon Gulf in Morobe Province.

Wera Mori says it has not been decided if tailings from the K17 billion Wafi-Golpu project will be disposed using deep sea tailing. But he also admitted that the construction of a tailings dam is not part of the plan.

Continue reading "Mine waste debate divides Huon people" »

PNG hospitals brace for Covid-19 surge

James Marape
James Marape says PNG's health system cannot deal with a widespread outbreak of coronavirus (AAP)

| Guardian Australia| Judith Nielson Institute

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea’s Covid-19 outbreak could overwhelm its health system within days, the country’s pandemic chief has warned, as masks have been made compulsory in the capital, and the government has called in the World Health OrganiSation and the military for help.

PNG’s pandemic response controller David Manning said a dedicated isolation unit established in Port Moresby to treat Covid-19 could soon be overwhelmed if current infections trends continue.

Continue reading "PNG hospitals brace for Covid-19 surge" »

Covid emergency cannot fix years of neglect

Nurse sits at a screening station in East New Britain (Kalo Fainu  The Guardian)
Nurse sits at a screening station in East New Britain (Kalo Fainu/ The Guardian)

| Asia & Pacific Policy Society | Edited extracts

PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea has registered 39 positive Covid-19 cases, most of them in the last week, leading to the reinstatement of a range of measures to limit the spread of the disease as a second lockdown is imposed.

PNG’s reliance on a state of emergency and lockdowns to contain Covid-19 is proving difficult due to years of government negligence that have led to both poor health infrastructure and limited police and military capabilities, including the ability to adequately police unauthorised movements across PNG’s borders.

Continue reading "Covid emergency cannot fix years of neglect" »

Confusion surrounds Covid-19 fight in PNG

Covid gear
Smartly dressed aid officials from PNG, Australia and WHO pose with a box symbolising the energy behind the campaign to fight Covid-19 in PNG. But sometimes photos don't tell the real story


NOOSA – Late last week Papua New Guinea cried out for international emergency medical teams to assist its operations to fight Covid-19.

PNG police commissioner and emergency controller David Manning issued the alert after the number of Covid-19 cases in PNG more than doubled last week to an official figure of 39, with the bulk of those recorded at Port Moresby general hospital and centred on the infectious diseases unit.

Continue reading "Confusion surrounds Covid-19 fight in PNG" »

The warriors who had no name

Nameless Warrios headGREGORY BABLIS

The Ben Moide Story: Nameless Warriors by Lahui Ako, University of Papua New Guinea Press, 2012, 246 pages. ISBN      9980869577. Order online or purchase from the UPNG Press & Bookshop, Port Moresby

PORT MORESBY – Ben Moide was one of the youngest members of the Papuan Infantry Battalion (PIB), a unit of the Australian Army formed in 1940, the first 63 recruits being old or volunteer police officers, some with considerable experience patrolling with the kiaps.

However Moide’s picture of the PIB was not one of glorious comradeship, but of tribal enmities, tensions even amongst kinsmen, dissension, desertion and discrimination between mixed race and other troops. The PIB lost 60% of its members due to such issues.

Continue reading "The warriors who had no name" »

Kipilan’s moka exchange

Jeremiah Munini
Jeremiah Munini


PORT MORESBY - Kipilan, a leader of the Yanarian people near Wabag in Enga Province, was born in Tambori village, in the 1920s.

Three months before Papua New Guinea’s independence on 16 September 1975, he went to Port Moresby to record the story of his life in the Enga language and anthropologist Philip Nere translated it to English.

Continue reading "Kipilan’s moka exchange" »

Covid is real & we should be too


“No doc we ain’t got no COVID. Stop trying to squeeze water out of a stone. The models aren’t wrong, you are wrong. The clinical and epidemiological evidence isn’t there!” (Martyn Namorong replies to a newspaper article by asserting there’s no Covid-19 in Papua New Guinea)

ADELAIDE - I struggle to understand why Martyn Namorong, who seems a pretty smart guy, would be saying that Covid-19 is a hoax. I'll do him the courtesy of assuming he was being ironic.

The notion that Covid-19 is a hoax appears to originate, as do so many truly batshit crazy ideas, in the fermentation tank of genius and idiocy that is the United States.

Continue reading "Covid is real & we should be too" »

Where we lived

Knocked-down-coconut-treesMICHAEL DOM

There were coconut trees, I remember,
Four, which would have me at the door
With the sounds of their arrival
I creamed them for us
And we did not want more

There was the wind that night, a sign,
Tempestuous love affair of earth and sea
And we did not know that
That time would soon be at an end
We spoke of the barren grapevine
And listened in silence
To words left unsaid

Continue reading "Where we lived" »

Covid PNG: Unprepared & understated

Public controversialist Martyn Namorong is no stranger to masks. This pic dates from 2017 and, with nose fully exposed, would be useless in fighting off Covid-19


PORT MORESBY - For month after month this year, Papua New Guinea was said to have had eight cases of Covid-19, all of which had been resolved satisfactorily.

As a lifetime skeptic, I never believed the blithe certainty of that fixed in concrete statistic.

Yesterday, health authorities announced a new Covid-19 tally of 30 cases, most linked to an outbreak at Port Moresby hospital.

Continue reading "Covid PNG: Unprepared & understated" »

There’s no escape from our changing world


NORTHUMBRIA, UK - It does no good to pretend that late 19th and early 20th century Papua New Guinea with its stone based technology and scattered and perpetually warring tribes could have lain forever undisturbed by the relentless impetus of the world.

Any discussion of Australia’s presence in PNG should not begin with whether it had any right to be there, but with what might have happened if a potentially harsher Japanese or Indonesian administration had taken over the country before it became independent.

Continue reading "There’s no escape from our changing world" »

Sonnet to morality (for Lindsay F Bond)

Lindsay Bond - Oro style
Lindsay F Bond featuring an Oro style hairdo


My moral compass swings
On the freed finger tips
Of the monster I hide

The smiling fiend who haunts my dreams
Whose cold silhouette passes me
By the doorway in the mirror

It swings there just at arm’s length
One step away from horror
One move and I embrace it

I cannot subvert
This weird reflection
To love or hate it

Like a shadow that I cannot outrun
The compass on my own extended arm

Eaglewood – friendly PNG villagers ripped off again

Eaglewood Collectors
Eaglewood collectors. They do not know the true value of this highly sought after wood and are ripped off by unscrupulous traders


TUMBY BAY - In 2012 I was trekking through the hills north of Amau in the Central Province carrying out a social mapping study.

I overnighted in several small villages and hamlets staying in local houses and enjoying the hospitality of the owners. Sitting around a fire in the evening is a great way to collect social mapping data.

A popular topic of conversation at the time was garahu or eaglewood. This was something completely new to me and I pricked up my ears.

Continue reading "Eaglewood – friendly PNG villagers ripped off again" »

Tok-singsing: danis bilong yumi iet

Dom headlineMICHAEL DOM

Strangers teach you to sing songs and march to a drum that they own
To reject your garamut, your kundu and the stilled speech of wood
Their soporific chorus dulls your mind and cheats your Black soul.
--- Sijo on loss of culture (O Arise, 2015)

LAE - It is recognized that most indigenous, non-literate societies maintained a very strong oral tradition as a means of passing on knowledge and information, albeit much of it wreathed in mysticism, of myths and legends, but also as part of a natural creativity and entertainment.

These “hand-made stories” were sufficient for the needs of the time and became part of the foundations of our cultural expression, olsem tumbuna pasin.

Continue reading "Tok-singsing: danis bilong yumi iet" »

ICAC will not be politically independent

Eddie Tanago (2)
Eddie Tanago says the new ICAC law will bring the anti-corruption commission under the control of politicians

| Act Now!

PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea’s proposed Independent Commission Against Corruption will not be free from possible political interference under the terms of the draft bill to be debated in the next session of parliament.

The prime minister will chair and the leader of the opposition will be a member of the committee that appoints both ICAC commissioners and the members of the oversight committee that will constantly review the operations, functions and powers of the ICAC.

Continue reading "ICAC will not be politically independent" »

Guise & Kerr – the Whitlam connection

Ind Day
Prince Charles speaks at PNG's independence day. Sir John Guise (left) and Sir John Kerr (centre) themselves had an interesting private talk the night before


TUMBY BAY - There’s an interesting conversation currently taking place in the Australian media following the release of letters exchanged between Queen Elizabeth II and Sir John Kerr, the former Australian governor general who dismissed the Whitlam government in 1975.

The release of the 211 ‘palace letters’ from the Australian Archives follows a protracted effort by historian Jenny Hocking who wanted to know what role the queen might have played in the dismissal of an Australian prime minister.

Continue reading "Guise & Kerr – the Whitlam connection" »

How PNG escaped colonialism’s worst

The Australian colonial Administration's basic position was that PNG people should be brought under the rule of law as humanely and non-violently as possible


ADELAIDE - Phil Fitzpatrick is right to equate racism with economic oppression, as they clearly go hand in hand.

You do not need to be a Marxist to understand that neo-liberal capitalism relies upon the ability to exploit labour in order to flourish.

The basic theory underpinning capitalism as outlined by Adam Smith is that if each person is free to pursue his or her own economic best interests so the total economy must inevitably grow.

Continue reading "How PNG escaped colonialism’s worst" »

Black lives & stupid white supremacists


TUMBY BAY - As an old white man who has worked with and enjoyed long standing friendships with people of colour I’ve been following the development of the Black Lives Matter phenomenon for a while now and wondering what has brought it to what appears to be a crucial point in history.

It cannot be avoided acknowledging that the issue of race is incredibly complicated. Or at least appears to be so.

Continue reading "Black lives & stupid white supremacists" »

Bernard Narokobi – leader, legislator, poet

Leadership_in_MelanesiaGREGORY BABLIS

PORT MORESBY - In 1995 when Bernard Narokobi was Papua New Guinea’s minister for agriculture, he, Bart Philemon and Jerry Nalau voted against prime minister Julius Chan’s proposed bill for an organic law on provincial and local level governments.

Given the ongoing conflict in Bougainville in its violent bid for secession, the three ministers feared the bill’s proposed centralisation of power pulling it away from local level government gave more motivation for other regions in PNG to push for autonomy.

Following the vote, prime minister Chan sacked all three ministers from his cabinet.

Continue reading "Bernard Narokobi – leader, legislator, poet" »

Jennelyn: Will justice prevail?


PORT MORESBY - The whole nation has been shocked by the death of Jennelyn Kennedy.

It’s not so much her death that shook the nation but how she died.

This 19 year old with two children had been killed by her husband Bosip Kaiwi, literally tortured and skinned alive and dying a cruel death that no person who heard her story will ever forget.

Continue reading "Jennelyn: Will justice prevail?" »

Turangu Morie

Greg bablis
Gregory Bablis


You asked me why, why don’t I leave you?
But in the same breath, you walked over and locked the door
My head spun, as blow after blow
You performed me a special number
My own tune that night after night I fell asleep to.

Neim blo yu em bikpla lo PNG
You told me you had many other names too
Elvis Presley, Mr Universe, Mr PNG
Mr Money Bags, Fast and Furious
The ‘Dark Prince’ himself
Bruce Lee.

Continue reading "Turangu Morie" »

The story of a highlands politician

Paul Kurai
Paul Kurai (left) with Daniel Ezikiel at Loniu Evagelical Church in Manus. Daniel served in Enga in the 1970s as a teacher and Paul presented him with K5,000 as a sign of his gratitude


WABAG - Paul Kiap Kurai was only 24 when in 1982 he nominated to contest the Wabag Open seat against Sir Tei Abal, a distinguished leader and one of Papua New Guinea’s founding fathers.

He knew he was no match for the experience and status of Sir Tei, who had served four consecutive terms in parliament.

Continue reading "The story of a highlands politician" »

Conspiracy theories are in bloom

An-old-conspiracy-theory-known-as-agenda-21PHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Did you know that Donald Trump was created in a top-secret biotech laboratory by the enemies of the USA with the goal of wreaking havoc on the nation?

Theorist Harland Dorrinson has conclusive evidence gleaned through an exhaustive search of secret government documents and is 100% certain that Trump was grown in a recombinant-DNA laboratory.

Continue reading "Conspiracy theories are in bloom" »

The finding of Ok Tedi

"Young came to have more profound impact on the Wopkaimin than any previous colonial administrative or army patrol. He made ethnographic observations but more importantly recorded that the streams seemed to contain copper deposits"


EX KIAP WEBSITE - I have often meant to write of my 24 day patrol to the Star Mountains (Wopkaimin) in August and September of 1966 and the finding of copper sulphate presence in that remote north western corner of the then Western District.

There has been some confusion as to who first discovered evidence of copper leading to the Ok Tedi venture, hence this article.

Continue reading "The finding of Ok Tedi" »

The end of the world – Part 2


ADELAIDE - As regular readers will know, our esteemed guide and editor has until very recently been in a world of pain, having undergone unpleasant surgery in a hopefully successful attempt to treat a debilitating back condition.

Anyone who has undergone major surgery can tell you that the easy bit is the time spent unconscious on the operating room table. What follows is almost invariably unpleasant. It is merely a question of degree really.

Continue reading "The end of the world – Part 2" »

We’ve all got a book in us – or two

Better-Rich-than-FamousNICHOLAS C BROWN

VICTORIA - I had gone to Papua New Guinea in 1971 as a 25-year old seeking adventure.

I’d found life in Britain a little less exciting than I had originally hoped and wanted to do something useful.

But, in those days, I had really no idea as to what that might entail.

I was born in London and left the UK in 1972 and, determined to travel and see the world, lived and worked in Papua New Guinea, after which I took up a similar post with the Commonwealth Secretariat in the British Virgin Islands before eventually continuing my career in Australia in the early 1980’s.

Continue reading "We’ve all got a book in us – or two" »

New mining act poses economic threat


PORT MORESBY – A month ago, on Wednesday 17 June, the Papua New Guinea parliament passed a mining amendment bill suppressing the participation of landowners in the development of PNG mineral resources projects and promoting the participation of the State.

The bill provides a legal basis for the government and foreign investors to take their cut of the pie but the position of landowners’ equity is not very clear.

Continue reading "New mining act poses economic threat" »

Operation Covid-19: ‘Resilient & Agile’

Inside the PNGDF Covid coordination centre
Inside PNGDF joint task force Covid-19 headquarters (JTFHQ) in Port Moresby


PORT MORESBY – The Covid-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on Papua New Guinea’s national security as the government heightens measures across land, air and sea borders.

There is a new focus on continuous enhancement of PNG Defence Force capabilities especially along the 720 kilometres land border.

Continue reading "Operation Covid-19: ‘Resilient & Agile’" »

Philistines have entered the gate

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison came naturally to philistinism. It was easier than dealing with real world complexity and reason


TUMBY BAY - A philistine is a person of narrow mind, populist morality, materialistic views and lack of interest in art and literature.

The term was coined by the 19th Century British poet, Matthew Arnold, adapting the word from the term ‘philister’ used by German university students to describe people who were unenlightened, uncultured and anti-intellectual.

Continue reading "Philistines have entered the gate" »

Colourful field for Bougainville presidency

Joseph Nobetau (2)
Joseph Nobetau - a large, mixed and colourful field of candidates are offering themselves for election as president of Bougainville -


BUKA - With 25 candidates set to contest the upcoming election for president of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, the opportunity for renewed leadership in the fledgling autonomous region is greater than ever before.

Coming off the internationally applauded independence referendum at the end of last year, Bougainville is now at a crossroads.

Continue reading "Colourful field for Bougainville presidency" »