"There are many countries in the region which are facing high debt numbers. And some of these are in debt distress territory. So that’s something which we have to watch out for"
Downtown Port Moresby and dockland
RAVI BUDDHAVARAPU | CNBC | Edited
SINGAPORE - Rising debt levels driven by inflation and tightening financial conditions across Asia and in Papua New Guinea are cause for concern, according to the International Monetary Fund’s Krishna Srinivasan.
“If you look at debt for the region, if you look at Asia’s share of total debt, aggregate debt, that’s gone up quite sharply,” Srinivasan, director of the Asia and Pacific Department at the IMF, told CNBC on Wednesday.
Jacob Luke’s death ought to be a good lesson that the struggle for power, and the death and destruction of this year’s national elections, is not worth it if a man can die anytime, anywhere without saying goodbye
School mates, brothers-in-law and successful Enga businessmen Paul Kurai (left) and the late Jacob Luke at Kurai’s Ribito Hotel in Wabag recently
For years Australia has had a mute response to these problems, especially the extent of weaponry that has spread through the country that now threatens the viability of the state. Politicians arm their supporters - Michael Main (Twitter)
Vehicles burn and ballot papers cover the ground in just one of scores of attacks on voting in PNG
MIRANDA FORSYTH & GORDON PEAKE | Guardian Australia
CANBERRA - Elections in Papua New Guinea are notoriously volatile and dangerous.
But this year’s elections have involved violence, intimidation, corruption as well as administrative ineptitude on what looks like an exceptional scale.
Mike Herman, now in his eighties, was the late Jacob Luke's teacher at Pausa in Enga Province. Mike helped Jacob - who had been expelled from school - on the path that eventually led him to business success
Mike Herman in the United States earlier this month
BOISE, USA - I would like to share with you the Jacob Luke I knew.
I met Jacob when he enrolled at Pausa High School, Wapenamanda, in Enga Province.
As many people have said, Jacob came from humble beginnings.
Warrant Officer Ryan did not blame the Papua New Guineans for prevaricating about which side to choose when they sometimes preferred to help neither. Even when betrayed to the Japanese, Ryan understood that the same dynamic was at work
Peter Ryan - a young man, just 18, when he was called to war
Fear Drive My Feet by Peter Ryan, Text Publishing Company, new edition with introduction by Peter Pierce, 2015, 336 pages. ISBN: 9781925240054. Purchase from Booktopia: paperback $13.50 (ebook) $12.75
ADELAIDE - I have just finished reading Peter Ryan’s book ‘Fear drive my feet’, first published in 1959.
Ryan tells the story of his nearly two years patrolling in the mountainous country adjacent to the Markham Valley as an intelligence operative during World War II.
Elections need to proper planning and management. But this election has repeated previous experience, with 50 known deaths, arson, destruction of property and 3,000 people displaced from their homes
Houses burn in Enga Province
MAHOLOPA LAVEIL | The Interpreter | Lowy Institute
PORT MORESBY - Violence is a mainstay of Papua New Guinea’s elections.
As I write this article, tensions are high in the capital Port Moresby. Reports of machete wielding men slashing innocent bystanders along the city’s main roads and fears of retaliation fill my social media feed.
Pearls & Irritations is particularly noteworthy for gathering together a ‘stable’ of former senior public servants who bring great weight and understanding to their observations
NOOSA - John Menadue’s began publication of his daily newsletter, Pearls & Irritations, at about the same time as Ingrid and I made Noosa our retirement destination.
Now in its tenth year, Menadue started the blog as a platform for independent policy discussion in the face of the general failure of Australia’s mainstream to cover issues with calm and authoritative analysis.
Papua New Guinea shamed internationally as candidates’ supporters turned the streets of Port Moresby and some surrounding settlements into a battlefield. Eighteen men arrested as police investigations continue
Troop carriers approach Port Moresby's business district as they move to restore peace in the city (PNGDF)
NEWS DESK | Asia Pacific Report
AUCKLAND - Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) troops have been directed to patrol the streets of Port Moresby in support of police trying to restore peace in the city.
The deployment followed rioting and machete attacks on civilians across the city triggered by unrest at the general election counting centre in Waigani.
PORT MORESBY - The Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea has called on prime minister James Marape and his ministers (now in caretaker mode pending the outcome of the national election) to return to Port Moresby and address the current crisis of election-related violence.
Dozens of people have been killed in election-related violence and 3,000 people have been displaced by conflict. UN officials have also received many reports of sexual abuse, including abuse of children
Front page splash (PNG Post-Courier). Most people would describe the death and destruction of the 2022 election as being worse than chaotic
NOOSA – Port Moresby city manager Ravu Frank has condemned “in the strongest possible terms” a fight between supporters of election candidates that spilled out into the streets of Waigani yesterday afternoon.
Machete-wielding men rampaged from the counting centre at Sir John Guise Stadium towards the Vision City shopping centre and the luxurious Stanley Hotel, randomly slashing passers-by, some seriously.
Ten countries should be considered for quotas: PNG, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste & Vanuatu (currently very limited access to Australia); Kiribati, Tuvalu & Nauru (climate-affected atolls); Fiji, Samoa & Tonga (good access to Australia via New Zealand)
STEPHEN HOWES | DevPolicy Blog | Edited extracts
CANBERRA - Australian foreign minister Penny Wong was putting it mildly when she noted “a positive response” to the new Labor government’s confirmation it would introduce a new permanent residency visa category for the Pacific.
Under the Pacific Engagement Visa scheme commencing in July 2023, each year 3,000 visas will be issued annually via a lottery with country-specific quotas.
Jackson Kiakari's father, Pastor Thomas Bob, and Jacob Luke were ace tractor drivers and mechanics at Pausa Lutheran High School in Enga Province. As sons of the Sakalin people, they bonded and remained very close friends to the end of Jacob's life
Chief Sir Jacob Lengepombet Sole Luke: A testament to the belief that a person could rise to the top from just about anywhere and remain humble
JACKSON YALO KIAKARI | A Personal Tribute
PORT MORESBY - Only a few rise to the very top - to the highest echelons of business and life.
And from this small group, there are fewer still who choose to remain humane, humble and simple.
Sachs appears to be one of the New Appeasers whose starting premise is that Putin is a rational actor, not an unrepentant neo-imperialist whose territorial aspirations cannot be satisfied through negotiation or by conceding land for peace
Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron - the table perhaps symbolic of the distance between Putin's goals of empire and the New Appeasers desire for peaceful resolution
Professor Sachs evidently believes that the underlying cause of the Russia-Ukraine War was the constant expansion of NATO – a military alliance of 28 European, Canada and the USA, which strongly supports NATO’s expansion.
Sir John Pundari says known election candidates are responsible for the unprovoked criminal violence in Kompiam Ambum which has resulted in deaths and the destruction of vital government properties worth millions of kina
Burning buildings in Kompiam, Enga Province (Teddy Piagari)
SIR JOHN PUNDARI | Papua New Guinea Today
ENGA - We cannot blame the Electoral Commission and security personnel for criminal activities carried out by candidates or supporters.
We need to come out clear and condemn these acts in the strongest possible terms.
My district has lost government properties worth hundreds of millions of kina and I am shattered for my people and the public servants who have fled to seek refuge.
Jeffrey Sachs highlights the damaging US mindset that the world should revolve around it, which is undermining the need for regional cooperation to get on top of the huge problems facing the planet
KEITH JACKSON | Drawn from John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations and other sources
NOOSA - In this speech made by Jeffrey Sachs ahead of late June’s NATO Summit in Madrid, he offers a view of a world in a great mess and which needs to renew diplomacy, negotiation, cooperation and collaboration to solve the immense problems humanity is facing.
Sachs, a professor of sustainable development and professor of health policy at Columbia University in USA, has served as an adviser to three United Nations secretaries-general and is an economist who advised on economic reforms in Russia and several Eastern European nations in the 1990s.
An Open Letter, focused on freedom of speech for doctors, has been sent to all Australian health ministers after being signed by 18 scientists and doctors and 1,400 citizens. The letter seeks an independent audit of the practices of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority
The ultimate responsibility for botching Australia's response to Covid rests with this body - the so-called national cabinet that is failing to stem a rapidly escalating death toll
NOOSA – Earlier this month in The silencing of Covid truth teller, Dr Berger, I wrote of a doctor who has been forced to submit to an unAustralian Communist style re-education program and was publicly humiliated by a government body.
"University of South Pacific is only one of two regional universities in the world, and arguably one of the few tangible outcomes of Pacific regional integration” - Professor Albert Schram
Solomon Islands student Dale Pala wants regional governments to sort out the USP mess - 'When they come here students say we are one people, one ocean’
NOOSA – It’s been a while since this blog touched upon happenings at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji.
The deportation of vice-chancellor Professor Sal Ahluwalia and his wife Sandra Price in February last year, and the subsequent withdrawal of Fiji’s funding from the regional university, have kept the issue alive.
“We will embark on a new chapter in our partnership, a chapter with increased American presence, where we commit to work with you in the short and long term to take on the most pressing issues that you face"
US vice-president Kamala Harris addresses Pacific Forum leaders yesterday (Sam Sachdeva, Newsroom RNZ)
NEWS DESK | Radio New Zealand Pacific | Edited
AUCKLAND - United States vice-president Kamala Harris has assured Pacific Islands Forum leaders who are meeting in Suva that the US will “significantly deepen” its engagement in the region.
Harris virtually joined the regional leaders to announce half a dozen new commitments including establishing embassies in Kiribati and Tonga, tripling funding for economic development and ocean resilience and the appointing the first-ever US envoy to the Forum.
All of this may seem a world away from Papua New Guinea but it provides some useful context for China’s efforts to extend its influence. People in the Pacific need to understand that nothing the Chinese do is just a gesture of goodwill or good neighbourliness
ADELAIDE – It’s important that we understand what the hell is going on in much of the world right now.
Martin Beni died last November while officiating at boxing championships in Port Moresby. It's been left to middleweight Junior Kauko Raka to carry forward Beni’s vision. He feels the old champion’s spirit at his back whenever he fights
Junior Raka - a world class boxer walking in the footsteps of the great Martin Beni
NOOSA – The best Papua New Guinean boxer to emerge since Martin Beni 50 years ago departs PNG at the end of this month for bouts in the Philippines and Vietnam.
Beni had decided to return from retirement in 2018 to train lightweight boxer Junior Kauko Raka from the Bali-Vitu Islands in West New Britain Province.
David Berger has been forced to submit to a Communist style re-education program and humiliation where he has to explain how he has behaved discourteously, unprofessionally and offended the community. If he does not comply, this skilled, ethical and courageous doctor will face deregistration because he told the truth
Dr David Berger - Covid truth teller who the Australian authorities are trying to silence as they seek to cover up accountability for over 10,000 deaths and hundreds of thousands of seriously ill victims
NOOSA - There has been an outpouring of support for Australian doctor David Berger, whose social media activity has been censored and registration as a doctor threatened because he tells the truth about the incompetence of the Australian government’s handling of Covid.
Dr Berger has been an acute reporter, knowledgeable analyst and severe critic of how Australian governments have failed the public in their handling of Covid.
Lying, obfuscation and diversion are all part of well-established Chinese strategy to confuse or misdirect putative enemies and gullible others as to its real intentions. What Chinese diplomats are saying about the development at Ihu clearly fits this category
Speaking before 3,000 representatives to the National People’s Congress in Beijing in March 2021, president Xi Jinping proclaimed his country had been the first to tame Covid, the result of “self-confidence in our path, self-confidence in our theories, self-confidence in our system, self-confidence in our culture”
ADELAIDE - I worked as a kiap in the Gulf Province (or District as it then was) for two years from mid-1969 to mid-1971.
It was a very impoverished region then as it is now.
For this reason, any major development project is likely to be welcomed by the local people.
All the indications are that there is much more push and shove to come before we know whether China will have a tangible presence on the Torres Strait – and whose military and navy will occupy two proposed bases at Ihu
Ihu Special Economic Zone groundbreaking ceremony by cheerful Chinese ambassador Zeng Fanhua and PNG foreign minister Soroi Eoe. The project is of vast importance to the impoverished Gulf Province but poses strategic problems for Australia as China seeks to consolidate its interests in the Torres Strait region
NOOSA - Reports in the Australian media that China is readying to build a military base at Ihu Papua New Guinea’s Gulf Province have been dismissed as “baseless and hype” by the Chinese embassy in Port Moresby.
China has reacted with anger to media reports that the developing Ihu Special Economic Zone at Kikori in Gulf Province will be a platform for a Chinese military base.
The elections in Papua New Guinea have barely begun and they’re already in big trouble. But when that trouble reaches into the national capital itself, the venerable PNG Post-Courier newspaper goes ballistic
Tari officials check two ballot boxes arriving in Tari from Komo-Hulia District (Miriam Zarriga, PNG Post-Courier)
EDITORIAL | PNG Post-Courier
PORT MORESBY - The headline of this editorial, ‘Disgrace!’, we believe, expresses what every eligible voter, business house and candidate in the nation’s capital feels towards the Electoral Commission of PNG.
To make a decision like this, the deferral of polling, at the very last minute on the day when this important event is to take place is absurd.
John Lohberger OBE wrote many of Papua New Guinea's taxation laws in his 18 years serving as taxation commissioner in the Internal Revenue Commission
NOOSA – Papua New Guinea’s former long-serving taxation commissioner, and spare time rally car enthusiast, John Lohberger, died in February aged 84 after a short illness.
John Wolfgang Lohberger OBE (1937-2022) spent his youth in Hobart before beginning his career with the Australian Tax Office in Victoria, where he became the youngest person to be appointed as a full taxation assessor.
History is the product of the often imperfect actions of imperfect people, some more so than others. Genuine evil is present too
Genghis Khan - the ruthless and feared 13th century Mongol warrior-ruler was feared because of his ruthlessness and passion for massacre, rapine, destruction and revenge. Genghis Khan statue in Mongolia (G Adventures Inc)
ADELAIDE - I am sure that the Australian takeover of German New Guinea during and in the years following World War I was a far from perfect venture.
“The 'family' construct is inappropriate in a context where Australia should be seeking to forge mature, meaningful and equivalent relationships with Pacific Island nations. The whole theme is patronising, inane and quite weird” – Keith Jackson
“The provision of timely, accurate and accessible information during the polling period will be critical to ensuring a democratically credible election” - Transparency International PNG chair, Peter Aitsi
NOOSA - Transparency International in Papua New Guinea (TIPNG) has deployed 300 volunteers throughout the country to observe and report on the conduct of the national elections which began yesterday.
The organisation said the delivery of the election had already faced multiple administrative, legal and logistical challenges.
Weeks was well settled as an educator when in 1974 he was appointed research professor and director of the educational research unit at the University of Papua New Guinea. And in PNG he was to marry for a third time
Dr Sheldon Griswald Weeks (1931-2022) - educator, traveller, writer and Quaker
EDITED BY KEITH JACKSON FROM DR WEEKS' OWN MEMOIR
NOOSA - Sheldon Griswold Weeks who spent 17 years as a university professor and educator in Papua New Guinea has died in Vermont, USA, aged 90.
Weeks was born on 18 November 1931 in New York, graduating from Brooklyn Friends High School in 1949 where he had been active in art, writing and sports as well as academic pursuits.
"Perhaps there was a lack of faith in Indigenous authority, a deficit arising from their own Australian attitudes towards native people both at home and in their territories"
The Australian fleet, headed by the flagship HMAS Australia, enters Simpson Harbour, Rabaul, 12 September 1914 (AWM)
MARTIN MADEN | Tok Piksa | Edited extracts from an article
BIELEFELD, GERMANY - At the time of the Australian takeover, the capital of German New Guinea, Rabaul, was described by AL Epstein in his book Matupit as "not so much a town as a tropical garden, dotted about with government offices, business premises, and bungalows.
“The avenues were carefully laid out and planted with Poinciana and Casuarina trees, the latter creating the feeling, as one visitor many years later was to describe it, of looking down the nave of a cathedral half a mile long."
"Who’s going to be the first to say, 'Oh, I’m going to give up that slot that I got through this little consideration'. People want an end to corruption. Getting there is hard and changing that whole philosophy is a lot harder. It’s the work of generations"
Marie Yovanovitch former United States ambassador to Ukraine prepares to address Congress (Erin Schaff New York Times)
NOOSA – The New York Times provides a first rate briefing each day on the Russia-Ukraine War.
The other morning Marie Yovanovitch, who served as US ambassador to Ukraine from 2016 to 2019, spoke to Times journalist, Yana Dlugy.
NOOSA - As Covid spreads its tentacles to embrace half the Australian population and 50 people die each day, Keith joins the plague-riddled crowd with a series of amazing tweets including this one that has accumulated 13,000 impressions so far: "I dedicate my maiden bout of Covid to the diabolical duo of Queensland premier Palaszczuk & Chief Health Officer Gerrard. Now I get to find out how it blends with my ME/CFS. Ah, what a time to be alive, however temporarily."
This blog will have an even more intermittent quality over coming days. But Keith will fire the odd shot on Twitter (which we also run in the right hand column). Like these three, written before Keith knew he was ill: "This truculent silence by the authorities is like something we have never seen. It's a form of denial; a group neurosis. The stunned silence rendered by a Covid crisis which should turn into shocked action but in this case has spawned a protracted cowardly muteness."
Or this: "The PNG government has given up on Covid. This is not understood by Australians yet, but so has their government given up. Many more people will die or succumb to chronic illness unless this insane denialism changes. Vaccinations were never enough."
And a demand for scalps: "Queensland Chief Health Officer should be fired & Premier Palaszczuk should step down. They have not only failed in their duty to keep the community safe, their policies have enabled the continuing unchecked spread of Covid leading to 1,200 deaths and uncountable lifelong chronic illnesses so far in Queensland alone."
MELBOURNE - As Papua New Guinea’s prime minister James Marape was working the tables at a hotel gathering of his Pangu Party in Goroka, a heavily drunk man was making a nuisance of himself.
Burly police bodyguards moved in for a rough eviction. But then Marape saw the man, walked closer, embraced him, and got him to sit quietly in a corner. The prime minister had recognised an old high school classmate.
“But when they came they hid you in the Book / And said you weren’t from around this place / We searched 'til we had nowhere else to look…”
A young Mengen woman, Matanakaka, bringing food back from the garden to the village (Françoise Panoff)
ORO - I wrote this sonnet as I thought about some of the ideas arising from my interviews and other observations while conducting fieldwork amongst the Mengen (or Maenge) people of Jacquinot Bay in East New Britain.
The concept of God was a principle theme of most of my interlocutors. Nutu is one of the central characters in Maenge mythology.