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36 posts from March 2023

Do you know about Fr Alfonse Mayerhoffer


NOOSA - PNG Attitude contributor Greg Bablis is back in Scotland completing his PhD, and needs some assistance from readers.

He’s seeking information on Fr Alfonse Mayerhoffer, a German Catholic priest who was stationed on Lamengi Plateau in the Baining area of East New Britain before and during World War II.

If you know anything of Fr Mayerhoffer, you can contact Greg through the Comments link below or email him here.

Continue reading "Do you know about Fr Alfonse Mayerhoffer" »

As storm clouds gather, are we prepared?


ADELAIDE - I have spent many decades studying the wise, wonderful, astonishing, strange and all too often terrible and cruel behaviours of human beings as, collectively, we have created what we call history.

One thing is obvious. History does not follow a predictable and linear trajectory by which we collectively reach progressively higher levels of economic success and enlightened civilisation.

In fact, a feature of history is how good we are at engineering the collapse of elaborate, successful and productive civilisations.

Continue reading "As storm clouds gather, are we prepared?" »

AUKUS indicates Australia has opted for war


NOOSA – That unpleasant smell in the air is the residuum of the most recent attempt to incinerate Australian sovereignty.

Papua New Guinea’s generous but often misguided southern friend has effectively turned its back on the wiser foreign policies of states like Indonesia, New Zealand and Singapore.

Australia has succumbed to America’s nervous haste to ‘ring-fence’ China in the hope this will protect the USA’s position as the world’s only great power.

Continue reading "AUKUS indicates Australia has opted for war" »

Historical aid model has failed. Here’s why

Strong villager
'The Strength of the Clan' (Microsoft Bing image creator from instruction by KJ)


CAIRNS - I have not read Gordon Peake’s book, Unsung Land, Aspiring Nation, but find his observations as reported by Professor Stephen Howes in his article, Confessions of an Adviser, most instructive.

Peake’s comments about Bougainville resonate loud and clear. In my view, they could just as validly be applied to any province in Papua New Guinea or the Solomon Islands.

If that is a fair call, and I would argue that it is, what does it tell us about the stated aim of Australia’s new aid program?

Continue reading "Historical aid model has failed. Here’s why" »

Let’s address the future & not the past


ADELAIDE - The last 30 years or so have been dominated by the idea that the market is the infallible distributor of goods and services, with government's essentially reduced to the role of bystanders.

An entire generation of politicians has grown up with this idea firmly in their minds, especially amongst the conservatives.

Continue reading "Let’s address the future & not the past" »

Changing political culture is a complex task


ADELAIDE - The critical statement in Dr Bal Kama's excellent essay on the future of governance in Papua New Guinea is that “there must also be changes in political culture and behaviours of politicians and bureaucrats if any reform is to have meaningful impact”.

We have seen demonstrated in well-established democracies including the USA, UK and Australia that disrespect for cultural norms and political conventions translates rapidly into rancour, division, dysfunction and even malfeasance.

It turns out that democracies work as much by relying upon people acting in accordance with unwritten conventions (customs and traditions) as by formally defined constitutional 'rules of the game'.

Continue reading "Changing political culture is a complex task" »

The gloomy confessions of an aid adviser

Pro-independence t-shirts on sale at Bel Isi Park,  Buka,  Bougainville,  2019 (Gordon Peake)

| DevPolicy Blog

Unsung Land, Aspiring Nation: Journeys in Bougainville by Gordon Peake, ANU Press, December 2022, 158 pages. ISBN 9781760465438. Unsung Land, Aspiring Nation is not for sale but link here for a free download

CANBERRA - Gordon Peake’s marvellous new book Unsung Land, Aspiring Nation is based on the four years he spent in Bougainville as an Australian aid-funded adviser, from 2016 to 2019. It is both entertaining and insightful.

Peake is a brilliant writer. He writes movingly about Arawa, Bougainville’s once booming, now decaying mining town.

Continue reading "The gloomy confessions of an aid adviser" »

My experience investing with Golden Sun

| Academia Nomad

PORT MORESBY - The internet has brought about many benefits, including the ability to make money online.

However, it has also brought about an increase in scams that target people looking to make a quick buck.

Papua New Guinea has not been immune to these scams, with many people falling victim to fraudulent schemes that promise easy money.

Continue reading "My experience investing with Golden Sun" »

Hard lessons from the collapse of Golden Sun

| Academia Nomad

PORT MORESBY - Golden Sun has now collapsed, leaving behind tens of thousands of Papua New Guineans heartbroken and maybe a good number broke.

What should Papua New Guineans learn from this?

Lesson 1 - Nothing is free

Used and abused so much, the phrase ‘nothing is free’ has become a cliché. Unless your parents are giving you money, nothing in this Covid-19 stricken world is free.

Continue reading "Hard lessons from the collapse of Golden Sun" »

Can PNG's political culture be reformed?

| ConstitutionNet | IDEA International

Originally published as ‘The future of governance in Papua New Guinea: consultations begin on form and system of government

THE HAGUE - Papua New Guinea is currently undertaking consultations for potential constitutional reforms on a range of issues in relation to its form and system of government.

Key questions include the suitability of its current model of parliamentary governance and the relevance of a British monarch as the Head of State.

The role of the Head of State (currently Charles III, represented by a Governor-General) is limited to ceremonial duties, with a prime minister in charge of the affairs of the country.

Continue reading "Can PNG's political culture be reformed?" »

PNG is in need of a modern ‘philosopher king’

Emperor Marcus Aurelius
Emperor Marcus Aurelius


PORT MORESBY – The famous Greek’s political theorist, Plato, envisioned what he saw as the ideal political state.

In his tome on political philosophy, Republic, written around 375 BC, Plato said “the ideal state would be ruled over by a specially trained guardian class.”

Continue reading "PNG is in need of a modern ‘philosopher king’" »

Concerns about plans for old ASOPA / ITI site

Middle Head Café
Middle Head Café


NOOSA – Sydney’s Harbour Trust has just released its draft master plan for the Middle Head site in Mosman that was once home to the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) and the International Training Institute (ITI).

Both establishments played a significant role in the development of Papua New Guinea – ASOPA, best known for training patrol officers (kiaps) and education officers, and ITI for its short (three month) courses for middle managers from developing countries.

Continue reading "Concerns about plans for old ASOPA / ITI site" »

Goodbye, my little Jena, goodbye


SHORT STORY - I was 32 when my wife died. Little Jena was only four. My bookshop - in front of my house, separated by the yard - sustained our livelihood and paid the bills.

Each day, while my assistant and I worked in the shop fulfilling orders from clients, Jena played in the yard.

In the evening I would sometimes go out for a few drinks and Julie, the woman next door, would take care of Jena.

Continue reading "Goodbye, my little Jena, goodbye" »

The AUKUS mess & straight talk from Keating

Caricature portrait of Paul Keating c 1984 by John Spooner (National Library of Australia)


TUMBY BAY - Despite my increasing aversion to the 24 hour news cycle, and after the resultant negative pile-on by what passes for the media in Australia, I couldn’t help but be lured to view an interview with Paul Keating at the National Press Club on Wednesday.

Keating has an impressive intellect and an acerbic wit, which was fine-tuned even in his first days as a young Labor Party MP in the late 1960s and had become well-honed when he became Australia’s prime minister in 1991.

He also has always had his finger very firmly on the pulse of Australian and international politics.

Continue reading "The AUKUS mess & straight talk from Keating" »

Listen stupid! Golden Sun is a Ponzi scheme


PORT MORESBY – A set-up calling itself Golden Sun is operating a Ponzi scheme in Papua New Guinea.

The scheme claims to be affiliated with big name Hollywood film production companies and sells the scam for fast easy money through bogus movie reviews.

The fake outfit claims to be working closely with Bank South Pacific. However the financial regulator Bank of Papua New Guinea recently released a public notice warning of unregulated entities operating within PNG.

Continue reading "Listen stupid! Golden Sun is a Ponzi scheme" »

NZ pilot hostage drama remains an impasse

Philip Mehrtens
New Zealand pilot Philip Mehrtens flying for Susi Air held hostage by West Papua National Liberation Army on 7 February (Jubi TV screenshot)


BRISBANE - The West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), the armed wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM), released a video last Wednesday of the Susi Air pilot they have taken hostage.

The plane had landed in Paro village, Nduga Regency in Papua’s highlands men kidnapped Captain Philip Mehrtens, a New Zealander.

Continue reading "NZ pilot hostage drama remains an impasse" »

Close call for Oscar after death adder bite

Chris Cooke and Oscar
Chris Cooke (Samaritan Aviation medical director) and Oscar recount the story of his rescue following Oscar’s recovery

| Samaritan Aviation

MT HAGEN - It was early morning, and Oscar was getting ready for his day as a high school teacher in Pagwi.

As he walked to the well for his morning shower, he was bitten by a death adder.

Continue reading "Close call for Oscar after death adder bite" »

Researching PNG war legacies: Can you help?


LONDON - Greetings from England. I am a PhD student at King's College, London, and currently researching a project on the legacies of World War II across Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands.

I came across PNG Attitude a while ago when I wrote my MA thesis (‘Bougainville During the War’).

Keith Jackson's testimony about Sergeant Yauwiga (here and here) provided an invaluable source for me, for which I'm extremely grateful.

Continue reading "Researching PNG war legacies: Can you help?" »

People tuning out from bad news is a threat


TUMBY BAY - A lot of my friends, most of whom are elderly, tell me they’ve given up watching, listening to or reading the news.

So too have some of my younger acquaintances, including my son and daughter in their early forties.

The general consensus is that it’s all too depressing.

Continue reading "People tuning out from bad news is a threat" »

Death of a giant: A tribute to James Arba MBE

James Arba MBE - authentic, wise and down to earth


KUNDIAWA - It was on the last day of January that Philip Kai got the news that his brother and tribesman, retired public servant James Arba (pictured), had just passed away at Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial Hospital in Kundiawa.

“I wasn’t prepared for that and was shocked. It was the saddest day of my life,” said Philip, “as I looked upon James as an elder brother who I turned to for prudent advice. Now he is gone forever.

Continue reading "Death of a giant: A tribute to James Arba MBE" »

 Despite a downturn in Keith's health, further limiting his capacity to work, and technical problems earlier this year that resulted in the loss of pictorial content and external links, PNG Attitude will continue to remain online, but is likely to publish new material less frequently. 

PNG desperately needs a leader of vision


PORT MORESBY  - Great leaders have vision. They dream of a better future.

An Engan leader who had a great vision was the later Malipu Balakau. He has a grand vision to change Enga Province.

His vision of change was embedded in his captivating  political speeches. He is said to have uttered his spellbinding speeches during his numerous campaigns.

Poh mende ailyah lo epesamo ongo, namabame poh lo ono lo pena laro.” The wind that is blowing upwards, I will make the wind blow backwards.

Continue reading "PNG desperately needs a leader of vision" »

The Old Justice Is Dead

| Ples Singsing - A PNG Writers' Blog

The old justice is dead, and lost to time
Where once in the hausman it chanted at night
Amidst broken betel nut and waft of lime
Spoken in a chanted glow of embers’ light

Burnt and buried, the old justice of the past
Where balance and order were societal norm
Calling upon ancestors and act not in haste
To pass judgement from man’s earthly worm

Continue reading "The Old Justice Is Dead" »

Under This Cement Slab

| Ples Singsing - A PNG Writers' Blog

Under this decorated slab
A person with unused treasures lies
Treasures so huge for an entire country
Because our years are numbered
And life can be very short
Under the slab are untold treasures

Under this slab lies a wealthy man
Silent, closed eyes, a mind no more
A dead body in a small single room
With its wealth worth many millions
Sadly unused before his time was up
Under this slab also a person of worth

Continue reading "Under This Cement Slab" »

Hostage pilot appears in new rebel video

New Zealand pilot Philip Mehrtens  flying for Susi Air  held hostage by West Papua National Liberation Army on 7 February (Jubi TV screenshot)
New Zealand pilot Philip Mehrtens flying for Susi Air held hostage by West Papua National Liberation Army on 7 February (Jubi TV screenshot)

| Sources: RNZ Pacific and Jubi TV

AUCKLAND - The West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) has released a new video about New Zealand hostage pilot Philip Mehrtens and a Papuan news organisation, Jubi TV, has featured it on its website.

The Susi Air pilot was taken hostage on 7 February after landing in a remote region near Nduga in the Central Papuan highlands.

Continue reading "Hostage pilot appears in new rebel video" »

Challenging the West’s view of its Pacific role

Pacific Islands nations are determined not to  concede sovereignty in the arm wrestle for regional control between China and the US (Gzero, Paige Fusco)

| DevPolicy Blog

CANBERRA - In ‘Sea of many flags’, Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at the Australian National University, argues why Pacific Island states should regard the deep regional involvement of a Western coalition (“quietly” led by Australia) as an effective and attractive “Pacific way to dilute China’s influence”.

Although presented as a new proposal, the increased regional engagement of this Western coalition is already well advanced, in the form of proposed new military bases and joint-use facilities, new security treaties, increased aid programs, new embassies, as well as a new regional institution, Partners in the Blue Pacific.

Continue reading "Challenging the West’s view of its Pacific role" »

Entertainment as we knew it in olden times

Cricket in Mt Hagen in the 1960s (Cliff Melvin Rok)
Cricket in Mt Hagen in the 1960s (Cliff Melvin Rok)


TUMBY BAY - Entertainment is a huge industry, especially in affluent countries like Australia.

In Australia, up-to-the-minute movies are streamed onto gigantic, ultra-high-definition television screens.

And music is downloaded from the web instantaneously, to be played on sound systems with a quality almost beyond reality.

Continue reading "Entertainment as we knew it in olden times" »

Croc victim had skipped church service

Victor is gently unloaded from the Samaritan Aviation aircraft
Victor is gently unloaded from the
Samaritan Aviation floatplane

| Samaritan Aviation

MT HAGEN - The skies were clear on a Sunday when we received a call requesting lifesaving transport after a crocodile attack on a young man.

Victor was one of two teenagers who had been fishing. While helping his friend retrieve a fish from the water, a crocodile clamped down on Victor’s leg.

Continue reading "Croc victim had skipped church service" »

Chained in the abyss

Once proud
Pharaoh Ramses of Egypt.
His pride led to his downfall


Provide him with stale bread, I’ll give the crumbs.
Let us feed him from our banquet of emptiness,
Let him scavenge for the barest morsels;
For vanity, he forsook eternity for time.

Let him dwell in small dens, long vacated by mortals,
Or under the sediment left by crumbling ruins,
Of a once proud monarch now long obsolete. 
In dark days, when misery gathers like dung,

Continue reading "Chained in the abyss" »

The rules that guide us were created by us

Religion-ethics-morality-lPHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Michael Dom and Paul Oates took issue with a comment I made about ethics and religion following an article by Chris Overland about the inexorable rise of stupidity in the 21st century, ‘The inexorable rise of the 21st century stupid.

In my comment I wrote that you don’t “necessarily need religions to decide on what is right and what is wrong. All you need is a functioning brain."

Continue reading "The rules that guide us were created by us" »

Finance guru appointed to board of BCL

Maryanne Hasola (PNG Report)

| Bougainville Copper Limited | Edited

PORT MORESBY - Bougainville Copper Limited has confirmed the appointment of Maryanne Hasola to the company’s board as an independent non-executive director.

Ms Hasola, from Bana District in Bougainville, is a well-regarded women’s leader who brings to the role more than 23 years’ experience in accounting and auditing in the Internal Revenue Commission of Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "Finance guru appointed to board of BCL" »

Foreign loggers said to be defying court bans

New Timber Barons coverMEDIA RELEASES
| Act Now PNG | Edited Extracts

PORT MORESBY - More than 30 large-scale logging projects in Papua New Guinea appear to be operating in defiance of a court ban issued by the deputy chief justice in June 2021.

Together the logging operations accounted for 40% of PNG’s total log exports in the 12 months to June 2022.

Continue reading "Foreign loggers said to be defying court bans" »

Marketing required to bring fame to PNG art

Bas (Winston Kauage Jr)
Contemporary PNG artists have developed a distinctive style. 'Bas Bilong MTS Discoverer.  Em i save stap na raun long Madang provins' (Winston Kauage Jnr, PNG, 2006)


ADELAIDE – As Hazel Kutkue contended in PNG Attitude yesterday (‘Our art is glorious but not taken seriously’), Indigenous art is frequently undervalued, be it in Papua New Guinea or elsewhere.

Until the 1970s, Australia’s Indigenous artists were valued only if they could paint in the style of European art.

Continue reading "Marketing required to bring fame to PNG art" »