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48 posts from February 2022

Who to blame when foreign crooks walk free

Crashed plane top
The pilot tried to take off from a rough strip of land. The empty plane got down OK, but with 500 kg of cocaine on board it was journey over  (Russell Saigomi)

| Academia Nomad

PORT MORESBY - There may be more, but going by media reports since 2020, three Australians have broken the laws of Papua New Guinea and walked free.

They have been helped by a combination of outdated laws and police negligence.

The first case involved an Australian pilot who, in July 2020, crashed an aeroplane on the outskirts of Port Moresby attempting to fly 500kg of cocaine out of the city.

Continue reading "Who to blame when foreign crooks walk free" »

Don't vote for politicians who deceive

Manila and Justin Kundalin
Manila and Justin Kundalin with Justin Jr


KANDEP, ENGA - One of the most deceptive acts for a member of parliament in Papua New Guinea is to use taxpayers or government money to win back their seats at an election.

But for any person to use money to bribe people to vote for a particular candidate is wrong and it is illegal.

Continue reading "Don't vote for politicians who deceive" »

Praise the Lord & pass the ammunition


NOOSA – The American offer to evacuate Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky from Kyiv was not one he wanted, like throwing a no-fly zone across Ukraine air space or blockading the Bosphorus to prevent Russian passage to the Black Sea.

But it did yield the best quote of the Ukraine War so far, Zelensky earning the admiration of most of the world outside the Kremlin with his spirited response, “The fight is here. I need ammunition, not a ride.”

Continue reading "Praise the Lord & pass the ammunition" »

US Coast Guard & PNG: Those who defend must also protect

Crew of coastguard cutter
Crew of Coast Guard Cutter 'Stratton' on patrol in Fiji's exclusive economic zone, February 2022


NOOSA - When the US Coast Guard sailed into Fairfax Harbour, Port Moresby, last Thursday morning to be welcomed by Papua New Guinea’s defence minister Win Daki, there was at least one person feeling disgruntled.

“We are getting ourselves into a serious blunder of a lifetime,” said business leader and national affairs commentator, Corney Alone.

Continue reading "US Coast Guard & PNG: Those who defend must also protect" »

Russia’s contempt a warning for us all

A Wilcox
'Nice place you've got here. Would be a shame if anything were to happen to it (Wilcox)


ADELAIDE - The unfolding disaster in Ukraine has been met by a blizzard of meaningless drivel from Western elites.

They are shocked, confused and afraid: all of their fine words unable to disguise the pathos of their collective response to Vladimir Putin's naked aggression.

Continue reading "Russia’s contempt a warning for us all" »

The opportunity of a good education

Sir John Kerr
Sir John Kerr - former governor-general, ASOPA lecturer and Old Fortian


BUDERIM, QLD - In earlier days, when secondary education was not a viable option for boys and girls from poor working class backgrounds, Fort Street Boys and Fort Street Girls in Sydney were selective high schools run by the New South Wales state government.

Fort Street Boys (later amalgamated with Fort Street Girls) was established in 1849 and is the oldest government high school in NSW and many famous Australians passed through its portals.

Continue reading "The opportunity of a good education" »

Aussie journalists condemn EMTV ‘assault’


NOOSA – Australia’s Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) has condemned the suspension of 24 Papua New Guinean journalists by EMTV, PNG’s largest television station.

The MEAA is Australia’s largest and most established union and industry advocate for creative professionals.

Continue reading "Aussie journalists condemn EMTV ‘assault’" »

What my inbox is saying about Ukraine

Ukraine - Putin-web-(New Statesman)
Putin-web (New Statesman)


NOOSA – I always have more reading around me than I’m able to accomplish in the course of one typical lifespan. But I’d rather have too much than have too little.

So today I thought I’d dip into a range of some publications I subscribe to, and get a feel for their first take on Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine.

Continue reading "What my inbox is saying about Ukraine" »

Measuring fragmentation in PNG’s parliament

PNG's parliament in session - it is one of the world's most fragmented parliaments

| DevPolicy Blog

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea has many parties in parliament, which makes for both a fragmented parliament and a fragmented government.

PNG has one of the most fragmented parliaments in the world. In a previous article, I calculated parliamentary fragmentation using an index known as the effective number of parties (ENP).

Continue reading "Measuring fragmentation in PNG’s parliament" »

Huge P’nyang gas deal 'good for PNG'

P’nyang gas deal with ExxonMobil   Santos and NOEX of Japan
James Marape (left) and Kerenga Kua (seated left) watch while ExxonMobil,   Santos and Noex Japan partners sign the near K40 billion P'nyang LNG agreement


NOOSA – Yesterday, as it closed its most beneficial deal yet, it looked like Papua New Guinea had come of age in negotiating agreements with global resource developers.

In what will be a huge boost to PNG’s struggling revenue flow, the P’nyang liquefied natural gas agreement was signed with ExxonMobil and its partners Santos and NOEX of Japan.

Continue reading "Huge P’nyang gas deal 'good for PNG'" »

EMTV suspends 19 journalists

EMTV newsroom  Port Moresby  before the dispute
An editorial conference in the EMTV newsroom in Port Moresby taken before the dispute occurred

| The Guardian
| The Pacific Project is supported by the Judith Nielson Institute

PORT MORESBY - Nineteen journalists from Papua New Guinea’s leading television media company, EMTV, have been suspended following a walk-off protest by staff.

The staff walked off the job last week in support of their head of news and current affairs, Sincha Dimara, who was suspended earlier in February for ‘insubordination’.

Continue reading "EMTV suspends 19 journalists" »

Some notes on the hauskrai

Hauskrai dwu
A hauskrai at Divine Word University in Madang

| Twitter @KumanSarah | Edited

PORT MORESBY - At customary events like a hauskrai [mourning] everyone knows their place.

There are the aunts who married and returned, and who lead the crying and the tokples [vernacular] funeral chanting.

They even chew buai [betel nut] and smoke while the pastor is praying. No one would dare challenge them.

Continue reading "Some notes on the hauskrai" »

China rejects Pacific ‘debt trap’ accusations

China Embassy in Kiribati (Rimon Rimon  Stuff)
The embassy of the People's Republic of China in Kiribati (Rimon Rimon,  Stuff)

| With Joanne Holden (Cook Islands), Dorothy Wickham (Solomon Islands), Lisa Monovo (Fiji) & Talaia Mika (Samoa)

WELLINGTON, NZ - Drive from the airport to Nuku'alofa, Tonga, and on the side of the road, you’ll see a ‘China Aid’ sign erected outside a school.

Take the road between Nadi and Suva, and you’ll spot a recently-built hospital made with Chinese money. There is a sign etched into the peach wall to remind passers-by: China funded it.

Continue reading "China rejects Pacific ‘debt trap’ accusations" »

Death of Joe Kaowai – man of courage & conviction

Schram - Joe in Venice during his studies in Europe
Joe in Venice during his studies in Europe (Albert Schram)

| Albert Schram Blogspot

VERONA, ITALY - On the night of Monday 14 February, a wonderful friend, servant-leader, educator, and colleague Joe Kaowai passed away in Angau Hospital, Lae, aged only 39.

Joe is survived by his wife Joy, son Alberto and daughter Paulina. As a sign of our special bond and true friendship, he kindly named his son and his daughter after me and my wife.

Continue reading "Death of Joe Kaowai – man of courage & conviction" »

Introducing the awesome MP database

The MP database and its companion Elections database are essential tools for anyone interested in Papua New Guinea. A laudable joint project of the Australian National University and the University of PNG

| Devpolicy Blog | Edited

CANBERRA - It’s not easy keeping track of Papua New Guinea’s members of parliament.

They might change from one party to another, or from government to the opposition. To help make it easier, we’ve created the PNG MP Database, which you can link to here.

A few years ago, we created the PNG Elections Database, which tells you who competed in every seat in almost every election back to independence, and how they fared.

Continue reading "Introducing the awesome MP database" »

Where the national game is rugby league

In 1966 a PNG schoolboys' team defeated a NSW team 13-5 in Sydney (link to this remarkable story at end of  article)


NOOSA – In 2020, Rob Corra took on the massive task of producing a podcast for fans of rugby league – the self-styled ‘greatest game of all’.

Rugby league is also, uniquely, the national sport of Papua New Guinea, the only nation that has awarded it such a high honour.

Corra’s podcast ‘That’s The Way It Was made its internet debut in January 2021 looking back at the history and traditions of rugby league.

Continue reading "Where the national game is rugby league" »

EMTV in turmoil after news chief sidelined

The empty EMTV newsroom last night (APN)
The empty EMTV newsroom last night (APN)

| Pacific Media Watch | Edited extracts

AUCKLAND - The national news team of Papua New Guinea’s major television channel, EMTV, walked out last night in protest over a decision earlier this month to suspend the head of news, Sincha Dimara, for alleged insubordination.

The news team condemned the “endless intimidation” which has led to the suspension or sacking of three news managers in the past five years.

The team vowed not to return until the “wrongs have been righted” by EMTV management.

Continue reading "EMTV in turmoil after news chief sidelined" »

Solved: Mystery of the Ialibu pioneers

Ialibu 1972


NOOSA – In April 2019, Raymond Sigimet shared his father’s memories of being a policeman in the kiap system in the early years of Papua New Guinea’s independence.

The article, A Policeman Remembers, included two photographs, the first of four members of the disciplined forces (army, police and corrective services) posing in their uniforms for Paul Oates at his Morobe outpost.

The other, reprised here, of a group of expatriate men based in Ialibu, posing in the fashion of 19th century pioneers.

Continue reading "Solved: Mystery of the Ialibu pioneers" »

China alert: ABC wants to revive Pacific service

ABC chief David Anderson says Pacific countries are concerned about Chinese media content (Adriane Reardon)
ABC chief David Anderson says Pacific countries are concerned about Chinese media content (Adriane Reardon)

| Australian Broadcasting Corporation | Edited extracts

CANBERRA - The managing director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation says Pacific public broadcasters have raised concerns about Chinese government pressure to carry state-controlled news content.

As China increases its influence in the region, David Anderson told a Senate committee on Tuesday the ABC is planning to expand its operations in the Pacific and play a greater ‘soft diplomacy’ role.

Continue reading "China alert: ABC wants to revive Pacific service" »

Beware, this pandemic is nowhere near over


NOOSA – Most longstanding readers will remember December 2011 when Peter O’Neill was trying to wrest control of Papua New Guinea from prime minister Michael Somare.

It was a strange time. While the courts were trying to work things out, the country had two prime ministers, two police commissioners, two army commanders and two of a lot of other positions.

Continue reading "Beware, this pandemic is nowhere near over" »

Despite promises, foreign loggers run amok

Eddie Tanago - "The PNG Forest Authority should be abolished". A rogue institution that has orchestrated illegal logging for 30 years

| Campaign Manager | Act Now!

PORT MORESBY - The Marape government’s claims that it has stopped issuing new log export licences to foreign-owned logging companies are not borne out by the evidence.

Nor are its statements that it is moving to 100% downstream processing of logs before they are exported.

Continue reading "Despite promises, foreign loggers run amok" »

Did Duma's anger trigger suspension of news chief?

Sincha Dimara
Sincha Dimara - EMTV news boss suspended after minister 'displeased' over news team pursuing a story about a hotel owner caught up in a drugs bust

| Pacific Media Watch

AUCKLAND – The Paris-based global media freedom watchdog, Reporters Without Borders, has condemned the “unacceptable political meddling” at EMTV News, Papua New Guinea’s main public television news channel.

Sincha Dimara was suspended as head of news and current affairs at EMTV after three news stories annoyed a government minister.

Continue reading "Did Duma's anger trigger suspension of news chief?" »

Perhaps custom shuts our mouth

Crocodile Prize memorabilia (Michael Dom)MICHAEL DOM

| Ples Singsing - A Space for
   Papua Niuginian Creativity

Vernacular Traces in the Crocodile Prize:
Part 5 of an essay in five parts


LAE - Translation is a headache-inducing activity and it is likely that many writers don’t like, don’t want or don’t know how to translate their writing.

Unlike English, many of our indigenous languages don’t have the established grammars and associated rules of writing.

And we tend to speak and write Tok Pisin according to our own rules, habits and preferences.

Continue reading "Perhaps custom shuts our mouth" »

Travel as it was before Covid cut a swathe

Paul Jan 22
Paul Oates - experiences interesting, educational and humorous


Around the World BC (Before Covid) by Paul Oates, Independently Published, 2022, paperback, lavishly illustrated, 427 pages, AU$50.47. ISBN 979-8413290927. Available here from Amazon Australia

TUMBY BAY - There is little doubt that the world has been irrevocably changed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The forlorn hope that we might return to some sort of pre-pandemic normalcy is at best overly optimistic.

Continue reading "Travel as it was before Covid cut a swathe" »

Sepik killings must trigger urgent logging reform

Logs cut from pristine forest  Sepik River (Global Witness)
Logs cut from pristine forest, Sepik River (Global Witness)


NOOSA - Prominent church, environmental and community organisations have demanded that the Papua New Guinea government take urgent action to establish an independent review of the country’s forestry sector following the killings of two landowners and a policeman at a logging site.

Johnson Wapunai, the member for Ambunti-Drekikir, told the PNG parliament that the incident arose from landowners’ anger at illegal logging and the logging company’s use of police against them.

Continue reading "Sepik killings must trigger urgent logging reform" »

Diving unclothed into a literary venevetaka

Baka Bina - author and thinker.
"I give credit to those who write
Tok Pisin for print. It is daunting"


PORT MORESBY - Reading Dr Michael Dom's essays, ‘Vernacular Traces in the Crocodile Prize’, published in Tok Pisin and English in PNG Attitude and Ples Singsing, made me wonder if Tok Pisin or even a Tok Ples can be used in literature.

For many years, Tok Pisin has been used in the print media with Wantok Niuspepa, although the last time I bought the paper to read an article in Tok Pisin was three years ago.

Continue reading "Diving unclothed into a literary venevetaka" »

US Solomons embassy aims to counter China

Antony Blinken
Antony Blinken in Suva at the weekend - new Solomons embassy required before China becomes “strongly embedded”


NOOSA – Cold on the heels of the Solomon Islands and China establishing diplomatic relations and, coincidentally, just a day after the disclosure of a broad-based cooperation plan between the two countries, the United States has announced its intention to open an embassy in Honiara.

The US had an embassy in the the country between 1988 and 1993, when it was closed.

Continue reading "US Solomons embassy aims to counter China" »

Health system melts - & not just in Australia

| With Philip Fitzpatrick, Chris Overland,
    Bernard Corden and Lindsay F Bond

“An emerging public health crisis has already hit our nation. A promising nation lost in paradise with bad politicians and a weak bureaucratic system and institutions that can’t turn the tide around after 46 years of independence” - Jerry Kuri Mandara (Twitter @KuriJMandara)

NOOSA – Yesterday the ABC’s Papua New Guinea correspondent Natalie Whiting, in conjunction with her colleague, producer and journalist Bethanie Harriman, published an evocative but brutal article.

It was based on the fact that PNG’s entire health system is collapsing - overstretched staff, no money, limited medical supplies, a population in desperate circumstances with out of control Covid and the constant, unforgiving burden of other disease.

Continue reading "Health system melts - & not just in Australia" »

How do they think infection will fix Covid?

Annastacia Palaszczuk & Gerrard
Annastacia Palaszczuk watches on as Queensland chief health officer Dr John Gerrard briefs journalists. Their handling of the pandemic has met with widespread condemnation in the community


“A pandemic is over when we stop widespread infection. It’s in the definition” - Dr Henry Madison

NOOSA – I’ve had a fair bit to say recently, rather more on Twitter than here, about the tragedy being played out in Australia as fools gain the upper hand in determining Covid policy.

It has been a struggle that pitted politics and commerce against science (see quote by the Queensland chief health officer quoted in the box below). And science lost.

Continue reading "How do they think infection will fix Covid?" »

Senior administrator Gabriel Buanam OBE dies at 79

Gabriel Buanam OBE - a “soft-spoken but down to earth” senior administrator


NOOSA – We old Papua New Guinea hands - who remember the country as a colony (though we never so called it at the time) and our service there mostly with deep affection - now share a melancholy time of life.

Even we younger officers (we were all called officers – patrol officers, education officers, health officers etc etc) are charging through our seventies and too often mourning the death of a former colleague or acquaintance.

Continue reading "Senior administrator Gabriel Buanam OBE dies at 79" »

Landowners & ABG agree to reopen Panguna

Bougainville Toroama
President Toroama - Decision of the five clans the "beginning of a new chapter to realise Bougainville’s independence"


BUKA –In a major development, landowners from the Panguna mine area and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) have agreed to re-open the Panguna mine, abandoned after a civil war broke out in 1989.

The mine is one of the world’s largest copper and gold deposits with an estimated remaining resource of copper, gold and silver valued at more than K200 billion.

Continue reading "Landowners & ABG agree to reopen Panguna" »

Solomons-China reveal huge cooperation program

John Fugui
John Fugui, Solomons first ambassador to China,  meets Director-General of Oceanic Affairs Lu Kang, Beijing,  July 2021


NOOSA – In September 2019, the Solomon Islands ditched diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favour of the People’s Republic of China.

In return the Chinese pledged support for the Solomons in moving “forward in the development path it has chosen for itself”.

Now, eight months after John Fugui was installed as the new ambassador to China, he has revealed what form that pledge will take.

Continue reading "Solomons-China reveal huge cooperation program" »

Still no solution to worsening settler crisis


PORT MORESBY - Over the last month or so, a number of settlements in Port Moresby had their residents evicted in quick succession.

The saga started late last year with the eviction of ATS Portion 695 and Garden Hill Settlement followed this year with the eviction of Erima Settlement.

Continue reading "Still no solution to worsening settler crisis" »

The Bal Kama story: Quite a journey so far

Bal kama top
Dr Bal Kama - "“If faith had not been part of the equation, I think things would have gone in a different direction"


NOOSA – In March 2020, Bal Kama – from a village near Gumine in Chimbu Province - was awarded a doctorate by the Australian National University for his thesis, ‘Reconceptualising the role of the judiciary in Papua New Guinea’s ‘home grown’ constitution’.

Covid being the great party wrecker of our time, it was only on Tuesday this week that there was a graduation ceremony at which Bal was presented with his testamur - the legal document verifying that a high qualification has been legally conferred.

Continue reading "The Bal Kama story: Quite a journey so far" »

On the trail of The Phantom's PNG exploits

Use of Tok Pisin established The Phantom as a PNG superstar (Mark Eby)
The production of as Tok Pisin comic book reinforced The Phantom as a PNG superstar (Mark Eby)


NOOSA - From time to time Slim Kaikai drops me a note from somewhere in Papua New Guinea and we have a brief email swap until the next couple of years pass.

In January Slim sent me his usual “just a quick wan”, asking would I know “where to get a hold of any phantom comics in pidgin”.

Continue reading "On the trail of The Phantom's PNG exploits" »

Investigating the New Guinea Singing Dog

New Guinea Singing Dog (Smithsonian)
The New Guinea Singing Dog (Smithsonian)

| Queensland Museum | Edited extract

What follows is a summary introduction to a new paper on the New Guinea Singing Dog that seeks to pin down whether it is a separate species of wild animal or a close relative of the domestic dog. Peter and Monica are hot on the trail of the answer. Link here to their complete and detailed paper, The provenance of diagnostic specimens of the New Guinea Singing Dog - KJ

BRISBANE - In 1957, the Australian Museum mammologist Ellis Troughton described two live dogs from ‘Papua’ as of a new species that he named Canis hallstromi “in honour of Sir Edward Hallstrom, President of the Taronga Park Trust”.

The dogs were held by Taronga Zoological Park (hereafter Taronga). According to Troughton they were a “pair of the mountain ‘dingo’” that had been obtained in 1956 by Assistant District Officer JP (Jim) Sinclair and Medical Assistant Albert Speer “in the remote Lavani Valley [of the] Southern Highlands District of Papua”.

Continue reading "Investigating the New Guinea Singing Dog" »

Down south on long leave, Sydney, 1964

"“I’ve got just the one for you,” Filshie said. “It’s a red XK120 Jaguar convertible. Goes like the clappers” (Rob Barclay)

| Memoir | Edited extract

ADELAIDE - After six years’ service in the Territory, I had six months long leave, which I decided to spend in Melbourne and Sydney.

In neither place were there receptive females on holiday, so securing companions would be an ongoing problem.

I had discussed this difficulty with two fellow patrol officers due to attend the long course at ASOPA [Australian School of Pacific Administration] after their own leave.

Continue reading "Down south on long leave, Sydney, 1964" »

Motu, a language still in hiding

Michael Dom 3
Michael Dom - "It will be so much better if we can see more poetry in Motu, Tok Pisin and our other 850 or so Indigenous languages"

| Ples Singsing - A Space for
   Papua Niuginian Creativity

Vernacular Traces in the Crocodile Prize:
Part 4 of an essay in five parts


LAE - In the 2016 Crocodile Prize national literary competition there were three poems submitted in Tok Pisin and one in Motu.

The three Tok Pisin entries were Paul Waugla Wii’s ‘Tingim ol lain lo ples’ (‘Thinking about my people’), Raymond Sigimet’s ‘Dispela nait ino gutpela tumas’ (‘This isn’t such a good night’) and ‘Wara kalap’ (‘Water rising’).

Continue reading "Motu, a language still in hiding" »

Covid: The Pacific response - January 2022

Covid snapshot 2 February
Covid in the Pacific - January headlines

| Australia Pacific Security College (PSC)

CANBERRA -The rapid spread of the Omicron variant within the Pacific has seen community transmission in the previously Covid-19-free countries of Palau, Kiribati, Tonga, and Solomon Islands.

The Omicron variant has led to a significant increase in the number of cases throughout the Pacific region to start 2022, with the majority of countries now seeing community transmission of Covid or having cases in quarantine.

Continue reading "Covid: The Pacific response - January 2022" »

Light turning to shadow, & the turning away


“Don’t accept that what’s happening
Is just a case of others’ suffering
Or you’ll find that you’re joining in
The turning away”
Pink Floyd, On the Turning Away, 2015

BRISBANE - Ten years have passed since the traumatic MV Rabaul Queen disaster on 2 February 2012.

The dilapidated rust bucket capsized at daybreak in treacherous waters as it crossed the Vitiaz Strait off the northern coast of Papua New Guinea with the likely loss of about 500 people.

Continue reading "Light turning to shadow, & the turning away" »

A policy to energise the PNG jobs market

Prime Minister James Marape addresses the Pacific Adventist University’s 35th graduation ceremony (PMNEC)
Prime Minister James Marape addresses the Pacific Adventist University’s 35th graduation ceremony (PMNEC)

| PNG Career Development Inc

PORT MORESBY -In the first issue of The Organizational Doctor, published last August, I wrote on the important outcomes of a short survey I conducted on the issue of connecting graduates to jobs.

In Papua New Guinea we are producing many fine graduates who cannot find appropriate employment: this is a quite appalling situation for them and their families and a terrible waste to the nation.

Continue reading "A policy to energise the PNG jobs market" »

Old original kiap Bill Aaron dies at 82

Bill Aaron's Oro
Bill Aaron's Oro - a province of mountains fjords, fast-flowing rivers and home to the Kokoda Track


TUMBY BAY - Bill Aaron (aka Aaron William Panige), one of the original Papua New Guinean kiaps recruited in the 1960s, has died in Oro Province.

Aaron, 82, died on 17 January in his home village of Dombada. He had been the second patrol officer recruited from Oro following Basil Koe of Buna.

Continue reading "Old original kiap Bill Aaron dies at 82" »

Language, slamming & life…. a conversation


PHIL FITZPATRICK | Tuesday 11.18 am

The thing about Motu, as with other Papuan languages, is that it’s musical. Someone can shout at you in anger in Motu and it still sounds pleasant to the ear.

The sound of a language, its tone and cadence, can tell you a lot about its speakers.

Continue reading "Language, slamming & life…. a conversation" »

James Marape: I will help our writers to write

James Marape with a collection of Daniel Kumbon's many books. Seen here with  fisheries minister Dr Lino Tom while Peter Mis looks on


PORT MORESBY – Yesterday afternoon I sat with prime minister James Marape and we talked about Papua New Guinea literature and culture.

At last I was able to tell the prime minister what a number of us writers have been trying to do for some time.

And that is to convey to the Marape government the important role of literature in developing and preserving the diverse cultural heritage of the country of 1,000 tribes.

Continue reading "James Marape: I will help our writers to write" »