Issues Feed

The exploitation of racial & cultural difference

White genocide
White supremacists  empty-headedly claim ethnic diversity is equivalent to white genocide


TUMBY BAY - Just like Australia, the USA is a migrant nation. In both cases the racial and cultural diversity of both populations has contributed to both the wealth and vibrancy of their societies.

While Australia is home to the world's oldest continuous culture dating back at least 65,000 years it is now also home to a people who identify with more than 270 different ancestries.

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Just another convulsion in western civilisation


ADELAIDE - Those of us who went to Papua New Guinea, especially in the 30 years after World War II, were motivated by many things.

For me and many others who became kiaps or didimen or tisa or mastamak,* it was a sense of adventure combined with curiosity about what was then, and remains today, a culture quite unlike our own.

Continue reading "Just another convulsion in western civilisation" »

We must rebuild a Hela worthy of forebears

Tari student killed & grieving schoolmates
The murdered Tari student and his grieving schoolmates


ADELAIDE – We have joined in grief with students of Tari Secondary School to mourn the loss of a young man, inspired to be educated and become a leader, whose life was cut short - slaughtered in the name of tribal revenge.

Hela proudly became a separate province of Papua New Guinea in May 2012 and we hold in the highest respect the founding fathers for giving back to our generation the true Hela identity.

Continue reading "We must rebuild a Hela worthy of forebears" »

The shock of the new

Robert Hughes


ADELAIDE - Robert Hughes (1938-2012) was a famed Australian art critic and historian.

Perhaps his two greatest contributions to history were a book (and related television series) in 1991 on the history of art in the late 19th and 20th centuries (from which the title of this article is taken) and a history of Australia’s convict system, ‘The Fatal Shore’ (1987).

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Hostile laws challenge Melanesian media

| Pacific Media Watch

AUCKLAND - Hostile media environments in Fiji, Papua New Guinea and West Papua pose growing challenges to the Melanesian region’s democracies, says Pacific Journalism Review in its latest edition.

The New Zealand-based research journal warns that laws and cultural restrictions are providing barriers to open information and are silencing journalists.

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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.

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Oz gold industry goes on trial

GV sign (AFR)
A billboard advertising Justin Parker's company, Golden Valley (Australian Financial Review)

| National Affairs Correspondent | The Australian Financial Review

SYDNEY - The lockdown has been good to gold. Since early February it has rallied more than 10% as investors predictably sought shelter in the precious metal during these uncertain economic times.

But some of that sheen has come off this rally in recent days after The Australian Financial Review revealed industry standards around ethical sourcing, or ‘conflict gold’, were hollow at best.

Continue reading "Oz gold industry goes on trial" »

Racism diminished but not dead

B&w Overland hline
Chris Overland - "Entrenched ideas about the world die very hard"


ADELAIDE - Racism originates from one of the most deep seated aspects of all human cultures, which is an almost instinctive ‘fear of the other’.

I have written previously (see my comment on this article) about this phenomenon and why it made sense in the distant past and, in relation to Papua New Guinea, the not so recent past.

Continue reading "Racism diminished but not dead" »

Masters & slaves, 21st century style

Black Lives Matter protest in front of the White House in Washington DC
Black Lives Matter protest in front of the White House in Washington DC


TUMBY BAY - The United States of America was the largest and most successful economic nation in the world by the time World War II began.

There is compelling evidence to suggest that this success was built on the back of slavery.

During the middle of the 1800s, cotton became the world’s largest commodity. The cheapest and best cotton came from the southern United States.

Continue reading "Masters & slaves, 21st century style" »

African swine fever found in highlands

John Simon  Minister for Agriculture and Livestock
Agriculture Minister John Simon - swine fever was suspected in February when 336 pigs in died in Mendi

| PNG Today

PORT MORESBY - The multi-million pork industry in PNG is under threat with the African swine fever now in the country.

The swine fever is a virus which causes a hemorrhagic fever with high mortality rates in domestic pigs, killing pigs in large numbers as quickly as a week after infection.

Continue reading "African swine fever found in highlands" »

The 2019 Asia Pacific Corruption Index

| Transparency International

BERLIN - A regional average of 45, after many consecutive years of an average score of 44, illustrates general corruption performance stagnation across the Asia Pacific.

Despite the presence of high performers like New Zealand (87), Singapore (85), Australia (77), Hong Kong (76) and Japan (73), the Asia Pacific region hasn’t witnessed substantial progress in anti-corruption efforts or results.

Continue reading "The 2019 Asia Pacific Corruption Index" »

Australia leaves refugees to madness & death

Hamid Kehazaei
Iranian refugee Hamid Kehazaei died in 2014 after contracting a leg infection in Manus that eventually left him brain dead

| Washington Post

WASHINGTON DC - For the past 10 months, asylum seekers held in Australia’s controversial offshore processing centres in the Pacific islands have been able to seek transfers to Australia for urgent medical treatment.

Australian home affairs minister Peter Dutton claims the policy has helped people migrate into Australia “through the back door.” Physicians and refugee advocates say it has saved sick asylum seekers’ lives.

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PNG – we can’t go on like this

In the National Housing Corporation corruption is rife. The stench from those who feed off the misery of evicted  Papua New Guinean families is sickening 


LAE - All the systems we put in place must serve the people.

We can pull our people out from the quagmire of poor health and low literacy. We can educate more women, reduce violence, build great infrastructure, strengthen our internal and external security.

We can be a learning hub for our Pacific neighbours with world class university campuses that use the research and the skills to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Continue reading "PNG – we can’t go on like this" »

Is greed natural? Is O'Neill real?

Phil Fitzpatrick at mic
Phil Fitzpatrick - "In PNG rural communities still operate as consensus driven entities ruled by the common good"


TUMBY BAY - In the 1987 film, Wall Street, the central character, Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas, famously says: “… greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works.”

The 1980s was the era of the ‘yuppies’ (young, upwardly-mobile professionals) during Ronald Reagan’s conservative presidency and the reign of his British equivalent, the ‘Iron Lady’, Maggie Thatcher.

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Public information for public trust

In PNG there is no reliable system to provide official information to the public and this can result in turmoil, caused by citizens reacting to fake news

| Transparency International

BERLIN – ‘ORGAN HARVESTERS APPREHENDED.’ This horrifying headline reached citizens of Papua New Guinea as a viral WhatsApp alert one morning in 2019.

The alert pointed to social media posts and reported that police had detained several kidnappers.

It said the kidnappers had been abducting and murdering women and children in the capital city of Port Moresby in order to harvest and sell their organs.

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Capitalism: No morality outbreak any time soon

Adam Smith did not envisage a world dominated by huge, impersonal corporations but understood the economic and social dangers they posed


ADELAIDE - Like Phil Fitzpatrick (‘Is moral capitalism even possible?’), I have been thinking about whether capitalism can ever be conducted in a moral and ethical way.

And like him, I can remember another time and place where the absence of great corporations meant capitalism worked along the lines foreseen by Adam Smith when he wrote ‘Wealth of Nations’.

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Is moral capitalism even possible?

Moral capitalismPHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Leonard Fong Roka has suggested that rather than being exploited by domestic and international forces an independent Bougainville needs a form of moral capitalism to succeed and achieve its destiny.

Is such a thing as moral capitalism possible or is it too late in the day to create the conditions where such a thing might exist?

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Prominent newsman’s candid remarks to PM

Waide (standing) Marape (right) - "
Scott Waide (standing) addresses James Marape (far right) - "Issues that we have raised and continue to raise. Blockages that need to be addressed"

| My Land, My Country

On Friday morning, prime minister James Marape called members of the media and public relations practitioners to a breakfast meeting in Port Moresby. It was the first time the media was able to interact with the prime minister directly outside usual operations

PORT MORESBY - Prime minister, thank you for this opportunity to talk to you directly.

I want to raise a few issues that we have raised and continue to raise. I want to also points out blockages that need to be addressed.

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Australia must ‘lead through kindness’ on refugees & climate

Giorgio Licini
Fr Giorgio Licini - "“Arrogance and a refusal to listen will isolate the big south island, leaving the smaller ones in the vast ocean with no choice but to turn to Asia"


NOOSA – A prominent Catholic priest in Papua New Guinea says Australia, as the region’s richest and biggest nation, should “lead through kindness” in the south-west Pacific and show “solidarity and inclusiveness”.

Writing in the PNG Catholic Reporter, Fr Giorgio Licini said the PNG government and civil society also have a responsibility because of their “central position among the family of nations in the Pacific [to] raise their voice regarding the current most pressing issues”.

Fr Giorgio enumerated these as Australia’s attitudes to offshore detention, refusing to acknowledge the negative environmental impact of coal burning and making “access and work difficult for other members of the Pacific family”.

Continue reading "Australia must ‘lead through kindness’ on refugees & climate" »

The crisis in Australia’s offshore detention centres

No Way
President Trump tweeted, alongside pictures distributed by the Australian government, “These flyers depict Australia’s policy on illegal immigration. Much can be learned!”

ASHLEY PARK | Organisation for World Peace | Edited extracts

HOUSTON, USA - On 26 June, US president Donald Trump tweeted, along with pictures distributed by the Australian government, “These flyers depict Australia’s policy on illegal immigration. Much can be learned!”

The flyers had foreboding statements such as, “You will not make Australia home”, “You won’t be settled in Australia”, or simply, “No way.”

Australia’s immigration policy is just as, if not more, controversial than Trump’s hard-line immigration policy for the United States.

Despair and hopelessness run high on Australia’s offshore detention centres on the islands of Manus and Nauru, and many people on these islands have little hope of leaving.

Recently, Australia deliberately increased the hardship experienced by detainees, resulting in increased rates of suicide and self-harm.

Continue reading "The crisis in Australia’s offshore detention centres" »

Deadly ‘crystal road’ maritime drug route straddles the Pacific

Crystal Road
Maritime drug trafficking poses huge policing challenges for South Pacific countries, monitoring ocean making up one-third of the world’s surface.

KATE LYONS | Guardian Australia

SYDNEY - It’s been dubbed the ‘crystal road’: cocaine and methamphetamines are packed into the hulls of sailing boats in the US and Latin America and transported, in increasing amounts and with increasing frequency, to Australia via Pacific countries.

As part of Guardian Australia’s international reporting team, I investigated what was causing this explosion in the use of this maritime drug highway and what impact the trade was having on the local communities the drugs passed through, for the Guardian's High Seas series.

What I found was that the trade is being driven by Australia and New Zealand's growing and very lucrative appetite for drugs - people in the two countries were consuming more cocaine per capita and paying more per gram for the drug than anywhere in the world.

The use of this drug route has led to some wild stories.

Continue reading "Deadly ‘crystal road’ maritime drug route straddles the Pacific" »

Why we must never legislate for prostitution in PNG

Pawa - ProstitutesPAWA KENNY AMBAISI

PORT MORESBY – During his time in office now ousted prime minister Peter O’Neill sign off on some controversial issues like the $1.2 billion UBS loan and dismantling Task Force Sweep but he wouldn’t sign the Prostitution Act, which was a blessing for the people of Papua New Guinea.

“I commend the O’Neill government’s decision not to legalise prostitution in Papua New Guinea,” Deborah Kai of Mt Hagen wrote a letter published in The National newspaper The government, in its power and wisdom, has saved Papua New Guinea from definite destruction.

“Through not allowing prostitution, the daughters of this country have been saved from degradation. PNG has been saved from turning to prostitution and the floodgate of wickedness has been prevented from being opened.”

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Australian journalists’ union joins bid for press freedom

MEAA cardMEDIA STATEMENT | MEAA | Pacific Media Watch

SYDNEY - MEAA, the union for Australia’s journalists, today joined with other media organisations in calling for urgent legal changes to protect press freedom and the public’s right to know.

As a member of Australia’s Right to Know Coalition, MEAA said in a statement it welcomed the united stance taken by media organisations following the Australian Federal Police raids on the ABC and the home of a News Corporation journalist earlier this month.

MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy said the raids had solidified concerns about the impact of national security laws by seeking to stifle public interest journalism.

“The raids by the AFP earlier this month have highlighted just how vulnerable press freedom is in Australia,” Murphy said.

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In a crazy world, can PNG have its own Age of Enlightenment?

Could James Marape be the harbinger of PNG’s age of enlightenment, with a genuine belief in truth, justice and fairness for all


ADELAIDE - When I first arrived in Papua New Guinea in 1969 I was in search of excitement and adventure which, as it turned out, was not hard to find.

To the extent that I understood my primary role as a brand new liklik kiap [junior patrol officer], it was to help bring to the people of PNG peace, good government and what I unquestioningly believed to be the benefits of western civilisation.

As a single man with no money, I carried very little physical baggage with me. With the benefit of hindsight, I was carrying more than a little intellectual and philosophical baggage, which I had mostly unknowingly acquired during both my formal and informal education.

In the late 1950s and 1960s I was taught by mostly young teachers who, predominantly, were born either during or immediately after World War II.

They were the first of the so-called ‘baby boomers’ and collectively were heavily influenced by ideas about the world that had first arisen during the Enlightenment, which is usually said to have commenced around the year 1500.

The ideas they impressed upon me and my fellow students included a belief in the primacy of science as a means of acquiring real knowledge and, just as importantly, of eradicating the superstitions, fears and ignorance that had for so long afflicted humankind.

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Becoming a rich black nation: Are we not rich already?

Children (Unicef)ROSA KOIAN

PORT MORESBY - We all want change and we want that change to happen quickly.

Many of us feel deprived of certain opportunities and privileges and therefore miss or forget that we are rich already.

As a country we didn’t have to struggle to become an independent democratic nation.

Beyond that we are rich with our good Papua New Guinean ways, cultures and traditions.

Our people have in them skills and talents that often are given freely.

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What life is really like in (very expensive) Port Moresby

Port Moresby (Scott Waide)
In Port Moresby what appears to be a big salary is ripped to shreds by the reality of big city life

SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country | Edited

LAE - Anyone living in Port Moresby without institutional housing, or support from relatives or parents, knows it’s an absolute nightmare.

Port Moresby is the most expensive city in the Pacific.

The rental price structure is like that in Australia and yet the wages employers’ pay don’t match the cost of living and housing is skewed towards the high end market.

Real estate companies charge a minimum K1,000 - K5,000 a week in rental. The vast majority of Papua New Guineans don’t see that kind of money in a fortnight or even six months. 

A salary of between K35,000 and K50,000 is next to impossible to live on if you have a family.

Continue reading "What life is really like in (very expensive) Port Moresby" »

Some advice on getting married young – don’t do it


PORT MORESBY - Family relationships is a hot topic. It bothers me. In the workplace and at home, I frequently think and talk about marriage and family life.

Even at public bus stops and shopping centres or while travelling, I’m always bothered. Honestly, I’m suppressed by thinking too hard on this issue.

This dilemma started after I got married in 2008. In my young life, I did not experience this phenomenon.

All I thought about, talked about and did was dream, wishing I could find out what best the world could offer me.

Sometimes I’d dream I was in a graduation hall receiving double degrees. At other times that I was a mechanical engineer or aircraft engineer. Or maybe in the hangar fixing aircraft engines.

Continue reading "Some advice on getting married young – don’t do it" »

‘Our women in blue face unspeakable difficulties’: Kramer

Kramer and RPNGC
Women police and Bryan Kramer: "I'll make it my business to stamp out gender bias and sexual harassment in the RPNGC"

BRYAN KRAMER MP | Kramer Report | Edited

MADANG – On Thursday I had the privilege to accompany prime minister James Marape and fellow ministers to inspect progress on the Australian government-funded Angau Hospital redevelopment project in Lae.

During the event, members of the Royal PNG Constabulary asked me if it was OK to take to a picture with them.

Under the leadership of Marape-Steven government, and in my capacity as police minister, our women will play a greater role in policing throughout the country.

While all members of the force face challenges in serving our country, our women in blue face unspeakable difficulties, not because of their lack of ability or performance but because of discrimination for being a woman.

Continue reading "‘Our women in blue face unspeakable difficulties’: Kramer" »

See who I met at Grand Papua Hotel - & some thoughts I had

Daniel and Keith
Daniel and Keith with copy of Survivor and traditional Enga caps


PORT MORESBY – We had quite a lunch at the Grand Papua on Friday.

By ‘we’ I mean Keith Jackson AM, who wrote the Foreword to my latest book ‘Survivor’, his lovely wife Cr Ingrid Jackson, a councillor in the shire of Noosa on Australia’s Sunshine Coast, and their son Ben, a communications specialist working with the Australian aid program in Papua New Guinea.

After we finished, the Jackson family met Hon Wera Mori, commerce minister and member for Chuave in Simbu, where Keith had come as an 18-year old to teach - and has remained a friend of PNG ever since.

Wera and Keith exchanged contact details and spoke for many minutes.

(As it happened Wera had been a student at a school at which Keith’s close friend Murray Bladwell had been principal and Keith was able to put them in touch after 50 years.)

Continue reading "See who I met at Grand Papua Hotel - & some thoughts I had" »

History tells how civilisations can fall suddenly & catastrophically

Collapse-of-civilizationCHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - I think that the article, ‘UBS loan to PNG government may have breached 15 laws’ attracted no comment from PNG Attitude readers, speaks volumes for the state of mind of ordinary Papua New Guineans.

They are now so used to hearing about the skulduggery, corruption and malfeasance of their political leaders that they no longer react to evidence of even the most egregious bad faith, self-interest or outright criminality.

I have recently read Nigel Tranter's lively book, ‘The Story of Scotland’, in which he relates in a non-academic and accessible way the centuries of chicanery, deviousness, vengeance seeking, theft and murder that are a feature of that country's historic heritage.

Continue reading "History tells how civilisations can fall suddenly & catastrophically" »

Banning Facebook for 12 months, or any ban at all, is a bad move

Ban fbSCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

LAE - The reason why politicians are afraid of Facebook is because it has done more in the last 10 years to hold them to account than mainstream media outlets.

Facebook has become the most important tool that provides the verification for so called infrastructure projects that MPs claim have been completed but have not.

Facebook has been used to hold the former Health Minister Puka Temu to account for the medicine shortages in the country.

Continue reading "Banning Facebook for 12 months, or any ban at all, is a bad move" »

UBS loan: Conduct of O’Neill, Marape, others ‘wrong & improper’


PORT MORESBY – The final report of the PNG Ombudsman Commission into allegations of improper borrowing of a $1.239 billion loan from the Union Bank of Switzerland to purchase nearly 150 million shares in Oil Search Limited has been provided to PNG Attitude.

In its principal findings the Commission strongly criticises the conduct of prime minister Peter O’Neill, his main rival for leadership James Marape and other prominent leaders and concludes that they be investigated under the Leadership Code of the PNG constitution.

The Ombudsman Commission states the conduct of O’Neill was wrong and improper in a number of serious respects, including that he committed the government to purchase shares without the prior approval of the National Executive Council, he failed to present the loan to parliament for debate and approval and he misled the National Executive Council.

Continue reading "UBS loan: Conduct of O’Neill, Marape, others ‘wrong & improper’" »

'Rise up': female police inspector’s battle cry to women

Julie Palakai - Blazing a trail for change (AFP)
Julie Palakai - "Dressed in crisp police blues and wielding a large silver sword, she proudly marches judges, superior officers and other dignitaries - almost always male - up and down guard of honour lines"

NEWS DESK – France 24 / AFP

KOKOPO - In a nation where sexual violence is endemic, women are still targeted and attacked for witchcraft, and female representation in parliament is non-existent, police chief Julie Palakai is blazing a trail for change

The 43-year-old inspector, a domestic abuse survivor and 18-year veteran of the force, is one of the most senior female police officers in Papua New Guinea -- and is calling on the nation's women to take a stand against sexism with her.

"Women must strive and rise up against any discrimination, abuse and sexual harassment in the workplace," she tells AFP.

"For young girls who are still struggling: Do not give up but strive for the best to achieve your goals and to find a better and happy life. Nothing is impossible," she insists.

Human Rights Watch named Papua New Guinea "one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman" in a report which estimated 70% of women would be raped or assaulted in their lifetime.

Continue reading "'Rise up': female police inspector’s battle cry to women" »

Digicel’s overdue tower debts impoverish & anger landowners

Digicel tower  Barikas  Madang Province (Amanda Watson)
Digicel tower at Barikas,  Madang Province (Amanda Watson)


PORT MORESBY – This is my seventh month of complaining about the failure of the Digicel PNG Ltd telecommunications company to pay the rent money it owes to the landowners of its digital tower locations.

Some Digicel employees feel sorry for us and have said the people in charge of payments will ignore us and never try to help.

The clauses of the agreement we made with Digicel are clear. No such thing should happen to any of us landowners. But because landowners are simple people and can easily be tricked, they continue to ignore us and cheat us.

Only a few landowners who have help from their families and clansmen are now seeking legal advice while the one hope of the rest of us is to continue to complain at the Digicel office. But we cannot break through by complaining and therefore are losing hope.

So what we think best is to use the media to expose what is going on. Not all the people in the Digicel office are bad. Perhaps some good people there will see this and try to find out what is going on.

When everyone in Digicel knows about the problems we face, perhaps they can talk for us. When that happens, we feel our problem can be solved and the corruption and cheating will be stopped.

Continue reading "Digicel’s overdue tower debts impoverish & anger landowners" »

Govt must introduce ICAC law; failure to do so is 'devastating'

Eddie Tanago
Eddie Tanago

EDDIE TANAGO | Act Now! campaign manager

PORT MORESBY – Our community advocacy group Act Now! is again calling on the Papua New Guinea government to publicly release the draft ICAC law it has promised will shortly be debated by Parliament.

There have been so many delays over the establishment of an Independent Commission Against Corruption that the government cannot be trusted not to have watered down its powers meaning that it may end up as just another toothless tiger.

The government has totally failed to live up to its promises in both the 2012 and 2017 Alotau Accords that it would establish an ICAC.

We have also seen this government starve the ombudsman commission, the fraud squad, the auditor general and the financial analysis and supervision unit of vital funds so their capacity to tackle corruption has been undermined.

Continue reading "Govt must introduce ICAC law; failure to do so is 'devastating'" »

Political meddling & poor training spur corruption in PNG

CorruptionLUCY PAPACHRISTOU | Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project

SARAJEVO - A newly-published discussion paper on corruption in Papua New Guinea’s public sector has found that low-level officials are often poorly informed about laws and regulations.

They are also under intense pressure to grant favours to businesses, politicians and clan affiliates, contributing to existing patterns of corrupt behaviour in the developing country.

The paper, ‘Governance and Corruption in PNG’s Public Service: Insights From Four Subnational Administrations’, was published this month by the Development Policy Centre, an aid and development policy think tank based out of the Australian National University in Canberra.

Its author, Dr Grant Walton, drew on interviews with 136 public servants across four provinces in PNG in an effort to fill the empirical data gap on why public officials may support or resist corruption and poor governance.

PNG tends to take a “top-down, one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to corruption,” Walton told OCCRP by phone.

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Something to ponder: How boys are brought up in PNG



PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea, when are we going to start raising our boys right?

The truth is, incidents involving PNG males abroad happen way more often than what ends up making it into news reports and it has been happening for years and years.

Many perpetrators are dumbfounded when called in by authorities, not thinking that what they did was wrong or a big deal. “I was drunk”, “I didn’t do anything, I only touched her”, “I was only taking pictures”….

The disproportionately high number of these type of incidents abroad makes me wonder just what our males are getting away with back here in PNG.

Continue reading "Something to ponder: How boys are brought up in PNG" »

Tribal conflicts threaten PNG’s peace builders – the women

VAWANGGIA ANGGRAINI BURCHILL | Development and Cooperation

PORT MORESBY - In Papua New Guinea, women and girls face high security risks. Particularly in tribal wars, they are subject to violence and displacement.

On the other hand, women play an important role in resolving conflicts and in peace-building.

PNG is a vast archipelago burdened by poverty although very rich in natural resources. In the highlands, tribal conflicts occur frequently. Women and children are particularly threatened by violence.

Traditionally, fights between tribes erupt over land disputes, the bride price of women or the possession of pigs.

Continue reading "Tribal conflicts threaten PNG’s peace builders – the women" »

In the case of land, the colonial administrators mostly got it right

Bill Brown on patrol in PNG
Respecters of the people's land - a young Bill Brown on patrol in Papua New Guinea in the 1950s


ADELAIDE – The Australian colonial administration in Papua New Guinea understood right from the outset of its rule that the concept of individual ownership of land didn't apply.

In part, this was based upon the British colonial experience elsewhere in the Pacific, like Fiji, where land was also a communally held and managed asset.

The Administration, as it was known, therefore pursued a policy of tightly controlling how land issues were managed and, in particular, demonstrated a strong general bias against acquiring land.

Given that a feature of the late European colonial era was the rapacious and violent seizure by colonists of traditional lands, it puzzled me that the Pacific colonies tended to be treated differently.

Continue reading "In the case of land, the colonial administrators mostly got it right" »

Land, culture & the limitations of western interpretation

Angry locals  gold mine (Jethro Tulin)
In 2013, angry people massed in their thousands at Porgera, forcing the gold and silver mine to curtail operations. One man was killed (Jethro Tulin)


TUMBY BAY - One of the inherent problems of western-based disciplines like anthropology, sociology, politics and history is that they tend to interpret concepts and practises in terms of their own societies and experiences.

Further than this, they have become the dominant arbiter when it comes to such interpretations.  Even non-western practitioners seem to default to western concepts as a matter of course.

And when a serious attempt is made to interpret something in a neutral way, western ideas interfere and inevitably colour the result.

If you add the western proclivity to render as much as possible into black and white rather than hues of grey the result gets even worse.

There is an argument that, because of the academic strength and reach of its canon, a western interpretation is the best way outsiders can understand what happens in non-western societies.

Continue reading "Land, culture & the limitations of western interpretation" »

A family conversation about Bougainville independence

Londari  Peter Mision Yaki and Besini at Gordons
Blending of culture: Londari and Besini when small children, in the arms of their dad Peter Mision at Gordons Estate in Port Moresby


WABAG – A message about Bougainville posted by me on my timeline and responses from my dear relatives, Gayle Tatsi and Peter Mision.

Daniel’ message

It is my personal wish that, in their referendum, the people of Bougainville do not vote to break away from the rest of Papua New Guinea.

It is better for us to remain united, especially from a family point of view.

This thought came to my mind when Londari Mision Yaki whose mother, Galye Tatsi is from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB), celebrated his 22nd birthday a few days ago.

His dad, Peter Mision Yaki, is my Aimbarep tribesman from Kondo village in Kandep, Enga Province.

All of us uncles, cousins, bubus and wantoks on both sides celebrated the occasion.

But how will this be if the majority of the Bougainville people vote for independence?

It is hard for me to imagine Londari and his sister Besini getting a passport to visit their maternal relatives.

Continue reading "A family conversation about Bougainville independence" »

It’s time to do something about squatter settlements

Port Moresby squatter settlement
Port Moresby squatter settlement


TUMBY BAY - I saw my first squatter settlement in 1967 in Mount Hagen.

The settlements around Mount Hagen in those days were nothing like the ones that came later.

Unlike their counterparts in the big towns like Port Moresby and Lae, where squatters came from other districts, they were mainly occupied by local landowners. The town was not yet big enough to have created an underclass of dispossessed landowners.

The settlers around Mount Hagen were generally made up of people who had moved in closer to the town to take advantage of its attractions and to sell the vegetables they produced in their nearby gardens.

They were, nevertheless, a hodgepodge of ramshackle buildings constructed with no thought of order.

Continue reading "It’s time to do something about squatter settlements" »

From shocking tribal violence to strawberries for Singapore

Kumbon - Wabag provincial headquarters
Enga provincial headquarters in Wabag


WABAG - Nobody believed the people of Enga Province would one day export premium strawberries. To outsiders, it seemed their main achievement was to involve themselves in tribal warfare.

That perception will hopefully be erased now that a market has been established in Singapore for Enga strawberries and possibly other agricultural products.

This is the result of hard work put in by Governor Sir Peter Ipatas who encouraged Israeli company Innovative Agro Industries to partner with the Enga Provincial Government to establish a K23 million vegetable project at Taluma in the Sirunki area of Laiagam.

Many people felt the project would fail because the local Makol tribe was involved in tribal fighting. But now strawberries are produced there for export as well as potatoes for Port Moresby.

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'Feelings of fear': Kiaps, police & the PNG people


TUMBY BAY - Joe Herman, in PNG Attitude, has joined a growing list of Papua New Guineans who have alluded to the feeling of fear induced by many Australian kiaps in the days before independence.

At the same time, some of those kiaps have expressed surprise that they or their cohorts created that perception or were ever regarded in this way.

Like me, I think that a lot of kiaps went out of their way not to convey any overt authoritarian or oppressive power imbalance in their day-to-day dealings with the people they administered.

As a group of administrators that were very thin on the ground and deeply embedded in often remote societies under their care, such arrogance was never an effective tool. Cooperation, more than anything else, was the key to their success.

They did, however, hold responsibility for administering, among other things, the rule of law, which had certain sanctions attached to it that had to be applied without fear or favour.

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Reject the ban on street food. It is not a real solution

Cooked Food
A lazy solution to what? Port Moresby residents warned not to sell cooked food in public places


PORT MORESBY - The informal economy in Port Moresby is once again under siege. The National Capital District Commission (NCDC) is about to introduce another ban.

This time the ban will target street sellers of cooked food and betel nut (buai) and will come into force on 22 or 23 March.

The last time NCDC introduced a ban was the controversial buai ban that caused great disruption and even deaths and was eventually replaced by a partial prohibition after the ban turned into a game of cat and mouse as buai smuggling became a new phenomenon.

The stories of abuse, harassment and death that unfolded at the height of the ban remain fresh in the minds of city residents.

Defiant betel nut vendors buoyed by the prospect of huge gains colluded with law enforcers to smuggle large quantities of buai into the city.

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Governance, ethics & leadership in PNG – a personal perspective

Ila Geno
Ila Geno

ILA GENO | DevPolicy Blog

PORT MORESBY - I want to establish from the outset the foundation of experiences from which I am speaking on the important subjects of governance, ethics and leadership in Papua New Guinea.

This paper revolves around personal and practical experiences acquired over the years in my various capacities: firstly as a public servant and secondly as a private citizen, and it is a privilege to share them with you.

I would like to tell you a story from my childhood, growing up in a village from the late ‘40s to the ‘50s.

I can recall one of many lessons in compliance I received from my father.

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Thuggish city rangers trusted as wardens of our women

City-rangers (EMTV)
City rangers in Port Moresby - ill-equipped to deal with people honestly and ethically, especially women (EMTV)


PORT MORESBY - There is a band of men scavenging in Port Moresby from outlying areas that the National Capital District Commission (NCDC) has seen fit to mobilise, giving them the mandate to sieve betel nut vendors and chewers.

This week the NCDC announced 200 bus stop wardens or city rangers will help keep law and order and protect our womenfolk who transit at the bus stops.

City residents received the announcement with sadness since they know these men to be thugs and brutes.

Although the idea is noble, these thugs will carry screwdrivers, machetes, clubs and iron rods to bruise and chop anybody stalking women or selling or spitting betel juice on footpaths, bus stops, and walls.

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Summit offers new hope for traditional landowners

National Land Summit (Kinjap)
Section of the audience at last week's National Land Summit workshop (Peter Kinjap)


PORT MORESBY - In gearing up for a national land summit in May, the Lands and Physical Planning Department in association with National Research Institute is hosting two-day workshop in each of Papua New Guinea’s four regions.

The southern region workshop was held late last week at the International convention Centre in Port Moresby.

At the meeting, landowners from Oro, Central, Western and Milne Bay had the opportunity to contribute views and shared their experiences on customary land issues.

Opening the workshop, Lands Minister Justin Tkatchenko announced that the government has taken steps to produce secure land titles. He said a consultant from Australia had been engaged to work on this.

The watermarked, ‘bullet proof’ land titles will be accepted by banks as legitimate evidence of title. As part of this project, all documents in the Lands Department are being scanned and will be digitised.

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Australia must quickly resolve Manus refugee crisis: Pruaitch

Patrick Pruaitch
Patrick Pruaitch -  “Australia’s role in this refugee crisis is deplorable from almost any angle one could take"

MEDIA STATEMENT | Office of the PNG Opposition Leader

PORT MORESBY – Opposition leader Patrick Pruaitch has called on the Australian government to quickly resolve the problem of refugees stranded in Papua New Guinea and Nauru for the past six years.

Mr Pruaitch said details of the billion kina security contract awarded to the Paladin Group highlight the callous way offshore refugees are being treated.

The Paladin contract was awarded in 2017, a year after the PNG supreme court declared it was unconstitutional and illegal for refugees to be held in a PNG detention centre and after the virtual prison was shut down.

“These refugees came to Manus after perilous boat trips that have taken many lives and 600 of them have been left to languish on the island for the past six years,” Mr Pruaitch said.

“Following a visit there, the Catholic Bishops of PNG have said the mental health of most refugees has deteriorated severely and many are suicidal.”

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