Bits & pieces Feed

Kiaps, national service, Vietnam & military adventurism

PHIL FITZPATRICK

Biami_people
An Australian patrol officer with Biami people in the vicinity of Nomad patrol post, 1964

TUMBY BAY - In late 1964 Australia passed the National Service Act. The Act required selected 20-year old men to serve in the army for two years, followed by three years in the Army Reserve.

The Act was amended in 1965 to allow conscripts to serve overseas. The following year the prime minister announced that national servicemen would be sent to Vietnam, where a ferocious war was being fought, to serve with regular Australian army units.

Those eight years when conscription was in force were stressful and confusing for many young men of eligible age, including those in the Territory of Papua New Guinea who weren’t really sure whether they had to register or not.

Young Australian men who were living overseas didn’t have to register. Papua was an Australian territory so young men working there were technically not overseas while New Guinea was a United Nations trust territory and young men there were technically overseas.

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'All dressed up like a pox doctor's clerk' - a personal quest

Dressed upALLYN HICKS

SYDNEY - One of my favourite Australian novels is David Ireland’s ‘The Glass Canoe’. It is set in a mythical suburban West Sydney pub, The Mead, during the 1960s.

It featured the usual cast of misfits, characters and odd balls that seemed to frequent suburban hotels in that era.

The term ‘glass canoe’ referred to a schooner of beer. The regulars would escape the dismal reality of the outside world for the warmth and companionship of the public bar and, once inside, they would slip into a glass canoe and drift off into oblivion.

Naturally the novel contains a lot of swearing and frequent use of Australian slang. Most of the latter I could understand but there was one phrase that completely baffled me.

My quest to find its meaning puzzled me for a long time until the mystery ended in the convivial surroundings of the Boroko Sports Club in Port Moresby many years later.

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A little known breed - those patrol officers of the Australian bush

Fitz - Desert camp
An Australian patrol officer's desert camp

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY – It’s often thought that the patrol officer system was unique to Papua New Guinea but similar systems existed in different parts of the world, especially in African colonies administered by the British.

There was also a patrol officer system in Dutch New Guinea before the Indonesians took over.

And patrol officers also worked in remote parts of Australia amongst our indigenous people.

The patrol officers in Australia were mostly employed by the Commonwealth Government in the Northern Territory but a few states also had their own patrol officers.

Quite a few of them trained alongside kiaps going to Papua New Guinea at the Australian School of Pacific Administration in Sydney and some of them switched between the Australian and Papua New Guinean services.

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PNGns welcome to Oz.... We'll just put another snag on the barbie

Sangas and barbiesCHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - I do not think that the current concern about the expansion of Chinese influence in the Pacific arises because of fears of a possible invasion of Australia or anywhere else for that matter.

They stem from the fact that China is ruled by an authoritarian government that has no democratic legitimacy. The Communist Party of China achieved power through the barrel of a gun and remains in power because of that fact to this day.

While the Chinese government apparently is not bent upon world conquest or the pursuit of lebensraum, at least at the moment, its true ambitions in the Pacific remain opaque.

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Information wanted about Beverley (Withers) Barlow. ASOPA Student. Early 1960s

Beverley Barlow (her maiden name was Withers) trained at the Australian School of Pacific Administration at Middle Head in Sydney around 1960-1961 and later taught in Papua New Guinea. Bev died last year and now the Barlow Foundation – which she established - wants to honour her by disseminating the history of her charity work. Bev began the Foundation to focus on education and provide grants to charitable organisations seeking to foster self-reliance and self-empowerment in women and children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

If you can provide any information or photographs about Bev (Withers) Barlow, her history as a teacher and particularly her time teaching in Papua New Guinea, you can contact the Foundation’s Martine Gow here.


Hard going for the Tkatchenkos in developing their Brisbane estate

Architect's drawing of the main building
Architect's drawing of the ornate main building with its feature cupula planned for the Tkatchenko estate

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – Papua New Guinea's sports and APEC minister Justin Tkatchenko and his wife Catherine are being frustrated by 178 pesky neighbours and the powerful city council in creating their dream estate in the Brisbane suburb of Brookfield.

The Tkatchenkos intend to build an ornate main dwelling, a three bedroom second dwelling, two pavilions, a large greenhouse, a big gym, an ornamental lake with two fountains, a 25 metre swimming pool, animal stables and a 30 aviary complex for 600 finches.

And now the saga of the property at 15 Upper Brookfield Road that they purchased for $1.77 million in 2015 has made it all the way to the courts.

The Tkatchenkos have lawyered up to fight for their rights as they struggle with Brisbane City Council over what to the naked eye is a lavish multi-million dollar transformation of the mini-estate.

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Creativity: Scaling the loftiest peaks of the mind

Power-of-the-mindSIMON DAVIDSON

KOKOPO - The mind is the most complex organ in the cosmos. It is one of God’s masterpieces. Neuroscientists call it the two pound universe.

Yes, weighing only two pounds it contains billions of neurons and trillions interconnections. It is the mechanism that controls human life.

The brain is also the source of creativity and innovation. Elegant prose, scintillating art, breathtaking melody, the loftiest religious abstractions, the digital marvels of the 21st century – everything. All engineered by the brain.

How does one access this creative citadel? Many of the most creative minds that have graced our planet have revealed that they take time to be alone, to meditate, to imagine and to create.

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Shush! If you keep talking I won’t be able to hear the TV

Conversation-pit
An American 'conversation pit'

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - In the late 1960s while attending a course at the Administrative College in Waigani, I was invited to the home of a young American woman who was working at the University of Papua New Guinea.

I’d become fascinated by the burgeoning literary scene at the university and had met the woman through a mutual friend who taught there.

She must have had independent means because she had bought a house in Boroko and was busily renovating it. Among the modifications she commissioned was something called a ‘conversation pit’.

I first observed it while it was being built. A couple of bemused Papuan carpenters worked on it. They didn’t understand its function but nevertheless lent their considerable skills to the task.

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Staying alive…. Unsolicited advice from an old fart

Metau
Inspector Hari Metau (aka Phil Fitzpatrick)

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Our esteemed master of ceremonies at PNG Attitude turned 73 two days ago. That’s his allotted three score years and ten plus three and he’s still racing.

No, really, it’s amazing isn’t it? He doesn’t look a day over, umm…. Well, let’s forget that and just say he is as old as he feels.

Anyway, I thought it might be an opportune time to not only wish him well but to reflect on this business of getting old and maybe offer a bit of unsolicited advice to those yet to experience it.

This is all advice I studiously ignored when I was young, so it’s not mandatory.

First up. May I suggest it’s a good idea to look after your health, right from the get go. Everything else depends on this simple fact. By this I mean both your physical and mental health.

Don’t ingest, inhale or inject stuff that’s not good for you. Junk food, booze, cigarettes, buai and drugs may sound like fun at the time but believe me they will eventually catch up with you with a vengeance.

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Inside commercial television – a grumpy old man tells

PHIL FITZPATRICK

Ugly Head
Television Viewer

TUMBY BAY - I’ve hit a bit of a log jam with the current book I’m writing and I thought it best to leave it alone for a week while it sorts itself out in the backwaters of my mind.

Unfortunately it’s been hot outside so I haven’t been able to work in my vegie garden or go for a long walk. Anyway, the beach here is currently lousy with out-of-towners frolicking around in the water and making a terrible noise.

Not much I wanted to read either, so I thought I’d have a squizz at daytime television and see what’s currently occupying the synapses of the great unwashed out there in television land.

Understand, this is not something I ordinarily do. Though my wife has a few favourite programs, so there must be some sort of attraction.

She gave me a queer look when I sat down beside her. Normally I just shuffle past making snide comments about inanity.

Anyway, I stuck it out for about 2½ hours. After that, heat or no heat, I headed for the beach.

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Kiaps: ‘Ol narapela kain man’ who built a nation

Patrol officers course  Port Moresby  1971 (John Hocknull)
Patrol officers course, Port Moresby, 1971

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Given the huge nation-building task at hand, there weren’t many kiaps at any one time in Papua New Guinea prior to independence - maybe 650 at peak strength.

They were an odd mix of characters and very difficult to describe even after all these years. On some matters they had conservative views but on others they showed enlightenment and liberal ideals.

One of their important defining characteristics was a willingness to experiment, improvise and innovate. They were not only a strange breed but a rare one.

And that is what was required, given Australia’s stinginess in administering its colonial obligations. The emerging nation required men capable of thinking outside the box.

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Of bush knives, AK47s and atomic bombs….

Tindi Apa with M16
Yu husat? Tindi Apa and M16

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - For a while I was the kiap in charge of the patrol post at Olsobip in the Star Mountains at the time the copper and gold discovery at nearby Ok Tedi was being developed.

In those days Kennecott geologists carrying out stream sampling from helicopters were encountering groups of people who had never seen Europeans before.

This didn’t stop many of the local Faiwol flocking to Tabubil for work, however, and soon the patrol area was aflood with cash.

One of the most popular items on the workers’ shopping list was a shotgun. In those days usually a single barrel 12 gauge Winchester. The mission and cooperative stores were selling them as fast as they could be shipped in from Moresby.

On most Monday mornings at the patrol post, there was a queue of returned workers waiting to get a permit to buy a gun.

There were certain conditions to be met before I could issue a permit but there was nothing I could legally do to limit the number dispensed.

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Revisited: Some of the best of PNG Attitude’s past new years

Lloyd Hurrell hugged by a Kukukuku friend
Lloyd Hurrell and Kukukuku man

COMPILED & EDITED BY KEITH JACKSON

Recollections of a Patrol Officer (January 2007)

LLOYD HURRELL

The Cadet Patrol Officer - who is usually aged between 18 and 25 when he enters the Australian School of Pacific Administration for grounding in such subjects as colonial administration, law, anthropology - gets experience soon enough. And if he goes into the field with a bright-eyed idealism, it is a good gleam for him to carry. Authority can so easily turn into arrogance - and even the Cadet is at once in a position of considerable authority over natives.

The School represents Australian realisation that well-administered and well-assisted colonial peoples do not revolt and side with the governing nation in war. ASOPA added modern training to a pre-war tradition. About this tradition there is nothing pukkah or military or old-school-tie.

It was ‘Made-In-New Guinea’, and with it goes a spirit of belonging to something that belongs to New Guinea; and that means going through with a job when there would be reason enough to give up or turn back by ordinary standards - but not by New Guinea standards, of what men can do, or forbear to do, if they have enough of staunch wisdom and courage.

It is a tremendously respectable thing in the eyes of the native people, this tradition. So it should be in Australian eyes and, indeed, in the eyes of a world which will have difficulty in pointing to anything quite like it anywhere else.

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Papua New Guinea and the end of mankind

Phil (crop)PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY – The current rhetoric has it that if we don’t do something about climate change we will destroy the planet.

That isn’t quite right.

If we don’t do something about climate change we will destroy ourselves and a lot of other species but not the planet itself.

We will make the Earth very sick for a while and we will make it uninhabitable but it will survive, just as it has since it was formed.

When we are gone the Earth will still exist. Papua New Guinea and Australia will still exist, albeit in a geographically modified way. The only difference will be that we humans won’t be here to enjoy it.

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Why do archive files on Britain’s colonial past keep going missing?

British colonial police and Kenyan suspects
British colonial police and Kenyan suspects - an all-too common scene of imperial rule

SIOBHAN FENTON | The Guardian | Extracts

Read the full story here

LONDON - The (United Kingdom) National Archives are home to more than 11m documents, many of them covering the most disturbing periods of Britain’s colonial past.

The uncomfortable truths revealed in previously classified government files have proved invaluable to those seeking to understand this country’s history or to expose past injustices.

It is deeply concerning, therefore, to discover that about 1,000 files have gone missing after being removed by civil servants. Officially, the archives describe them as “misplaced while on loan to a government department”.

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The ‘tru’ meaning of Christmas could have been so different

Santa Claus  1881PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - With Christmas nearly upon us, I have a couple of questions.

But let’s start off with some suppositions.

If you are a believer the true meaning of Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ. Sent here by God to save mankind from itself no less.

If you are a non-believer the meaning of Christmas is mostly to do with the end of seasons and celebrations of goodwill through acts of giving and eating too much.

This is personified by a character variously referred to as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas or Kris Kringle in the USA.

I wonder who sent us Santa Claus. Maybe Mammon or was it an American spin doctor? We do know that in 1881 this illustration by Thomas Nast in the US magazine Harper’s Weekly, helped create Santa’s modern image.

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10 years in the morgue: ‘Masta Kis o husat?’

Keith JacksonKEITH JACKSON
A tale of mistaken identity from the PNG Attitude archives of 1 December 2007

SYDNEY - Each year the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust, through its chairman Rodney Cavalier AO, former NSW Education Minister, hosts a gathering of friends in the Members’ Pavilion overlooking the ‘sacred turf’, as Rodney calls it. Yesterday I was privileged to attend this event.

Over the last 20 years at various times I have been mistaken for various public figures who, like me, have wild hair, thick glasses, generous girth and roguish features.

After the 1983 election, where I had waged a vigorous but ultimately unsuccessful campaign in the Labor interest, I had reason to visit Orange – some four hours’ drive west of Sydney - and was enjoying a pre-prandial beer when I engaged the attention of a group of women on the other side of the horseshoe-shaped bar.

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What’s in a name? Probably quite a bit more than you expect

GARRY ROCHE What's in a Name

DUBLIN – Papua New Guinean writers may find it useful and educational to research the meaning of the names in the language of their own locality.

In most languages, personal names and family names have meanings. For example the original meaning of “Peter” is “Rock” and the name Stella means “Star”.

It may be that parents nowadays choose a name for a child more because of sound rather than meaning, but it is still interesting to ponder the meaning of PNG names.

I look at the names of some of the writers who contribute to PNG Attitude and wonder what they mean. I look at politicians names and wonder if they have meaning.

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So you think there were never elephants in Mt Hagen?

Elephant at Mt Hagen Show  1973GARRY ROCHE

DUBLIN – Mt Hagen was a long way from the African savannah in 1973, in fact it still is, but for a brief glorious moment it was able to boast that it had elephants. Or, to be precise, an elephant.

I happened to attend the Mt Hagen Show in that year, I had my camera on standby and I took the money shot (right).

This elephant was transported to the highlands especially for the show by South Pacific Brewery.

In the photo, the elephant is preceded by the band of the Pacific Islands Regiment and flanked by students from Fatima High School.

I can’t remember whether it was the PIR pipe band or brass band but, despite its big ears, the elephant didn’t seem to mind either way.

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Sorcery - spiritualism that has crossed over to the dark side

Phil Fitzpatrick at micPHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - My father came from County Waterford in the south of Ireland and my mother came from Suffolk in the south of England.

At one time or another both places were bastions of Celtic culture.

In Suffolk, where I lived as a child, they still spoke about the Celtic queen Boadicea who took on the Romans, as if she was a relative who had only recently died.

With such antecedents I was unavoidably exposed to supernatural, spiritual and superstitious worlds that were as old as time.

My Irish aunts and uncles told me about the little people, the leprechauns, and the frightening witch-like banshees and how to deal with them.

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Oh, Port Moresby – all you want from me is lots of money

Port Moresby CBD
Port Moresby CBD - the national capital is a horrendously expensive place to live

JORDAN DEAN

PORT MORESBY - The price of everything is inflated in Port Moresby. Talk about skyscraper rentals, overvalued properties and a cunning mobile service provider that rips off customers.

Even the PMV buses shorten their routes or charge double fares at peak hour.

Suffice to say, Port Moresby is amongst the most expensive cities in the world in which to live.

The cost of living will be a surprise to a lot of people in Papua New Guinea because Moresby prices are not the same as in the rest of the nation.

Goods and services are slightly cheaper in provincial towns and rural areas. The markets in Kokopo, Goroka, Mt Hagen, Alotau, Vanimo and other towns have prices that are a fraction of what we pay for vegetables here in Port Moresby. I’ve seen it for myself.

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In praise of anarchy – Papua New Guinea take notice

PHIL FITZPATRICK Phil 2015

TUMBY BAY - In the ongoing debate about the best form of government for a country like Papua New Guinea and some of the other Melanesian nations in the South Pacific, I’d like to offer another possibility - anarchy.

Anarchy has always had a bad rap. For most people it means disorder and lawlessness.

This is not its true meaning. It simply means the absence of government. The bad rap comes from people and organisations that are scared of it.

Its meaning in political terms is also simple. It refers to the organisation of a society from the bottom up, as opposed to from the top down. It is communism upside down minus the oppression and dictators.

For some of our past and present free thinkers anarchy offers a viable alternative to both western democracy and communism.

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Want to be an original thinker? You need to read deeply

Simon
Simon Davidson

SIMON DAVIDSON

KOKOPO - Here is a mechanism for becoming an original thinker and not be an echoer of other people’s thoughts.

This mechanism is reading. But more specifically, deep reading.

Today there is a legion of surface skimmers who love superficial knowledge but never do in-depth reading.

Many have lost the ability to think for themselves. By being addicted to shining distractions, many in the Facebook generation have squandered their God-given ability to think abstractly, or from cause to effect.

They regard their peer’s opinion as absolute truth, than take the time to think more independently. As a result many people have wrecked their lives on dangerous precipices of sensual pleasure.

But to become a thinker and be a thought leader, one needs to read deeply.

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Beware get-rich-quick schemes, they'll get you poor fast

Get rich quick mugJORDAN DEAN

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guineans have been exposed to numerous ‘get rich quick’ schemes over the years – so-called plans which claim to deliver high rates of return for a small investment.

These schemes range from U-Vistract to the miraculous and magical products Forever Living, Pro-Ma Systems, 4Life, Ardyss, BHIP International, JM Ocean Avenue, Hop Rocket and now the latest craze, AIM Global.

There are so many scam artists with misleading information.

Unsuspecting people are told they will obtain great riches quick by signing up to money making schemes with all sorts of niche products that promise lots of money for little work.

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Revealed to the world: The grumpy old men of PNG Attitude

Ugly Head
Phil - has survived long-term exposure to grumps reasonably intact

PHIL FITZGRUMPY

GRUMPY BAY - One of the hidden delights of PNG Attitude over the years has been the contributions of articles and comments by a venerable coterie of grumpy old men.

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned grumpy old women. I’m sure they exist but I’m not sure I really want to go there. Call me sexist or cowardly but there are some possums not worth poking with a stick. So back to the men.

They are, of course, a fairly elite group. You don’t become a grumpy old man unless you’ve earned it. You have to be able to exhibit the scars of battle to gain membership. Not even bribery will get you there.

So what makes this band of brothers so unique?

I think Chris Overland, himself a fine example of the genre, defined it quite well when he said: “Sixty or more years of experience can confer a degree of wisdom and, unless you are truly delusional, you mostly see the world as it is, not as you might wish it to be.

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Beware the wisdom of the elders – age may have wearied us

Lapun (Pinterest)PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY – Last week I received a telephone call from a Butchulla acquaintance in Hervey Bay, Queensland - one of a number of people I worked with while researching indigenous heritage on Fraser Island.

He insists on calling me ‘uncle’, which is a term of respect in modern Aboriginal communities. It sits somewhere between acknowledging my advanced age and acknowledging my alleged knowledge and wisdom.

Over here in South Australia, many Western desert people I meet address me as ‘tjilpi’, which is the equivalent of ‘lapun igat save’ in Tok Pisin.

It acknowledges my grey hair and understanding of their country and culture, which I acquired while traipsing around the desert with their grandparents in the 1970s and 1980s.

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And the winner is…. strong response to Blues Brothers contest

Blues Brothers - Turnbull & O'NeillKEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – Our first caption competition saw more than 50 enthusiastic readers produce some hilarious entries to represent what Malcolm Turnbull and Peter O’Neill might have been saying when this photo was taken at the recent Pacific island leaders’ meeting.

So let me take you through what I considered to be some of the cleverer and more humorous entries before coming to the grand champion (and a note about the next contest).

Lisa Kune was right up to date with this imagined exchange:

Turnbull: “How's your government stability these days?”
O’Neill: “At least my opposition can be bought.”

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B'ville bureaucracy: Where the Peace directorate fights over chairs

Leonard RokaLEONARD ROKA

PANGUNA - I was rather shaken by Gorethy Kenneth’s article, ‘Do away with PNG habits at workplace’, that appeared in the Post-Courier not so long ago.

Behaviour and performance in the workplace is an issue affecting Bougainville as well as Papua New Guinea and I believe some words about the Autonomous Bougainville Government bureaucracy may be usefully written.

When people are recruited by the ABG, they have a mission to dedicate much of their life to keep the government functioning and delivering for the people.

I’m one of these people. And I say ‘give away much of their life’ because, in Bougainville, we leave behind our families and travel north to Buka, deserting them in the villages and entering urban Bougainville. Some people have proper accommodation for their families but not most.

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Not Africa. The sleeping giant of the Pacific awakes

Jordan Dean - selfie at KLCC Twin TowersJORDAN DEAN

PORT MORESBY - “Papua New Guinea, mmm, is that somewhere in Africa?” said my new friend from Gambia after I introduced myself over dinner.

At the same table were colleagues from Thailand, Iraq, Pakistan and Nigeria; all of us attending a three-week technical program on green energy and technology in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

I wondered if my Gambian friend had difficulties with geography during his schooldays, since I was quite good with the atlas and could name the capital cities of a hundred countries before I finished primary school.

Anyway, he had a master’s degree in public policy and I didn’t, so he wasn’t academically deficient.

Perhaps his ignorance was because PNG isn’t a rich and powerful country and not big in the mass media.

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An act of kindness is a celebration of our humanity – treasure it

BRYAN KRAMER
New MP, Bryan Kramer

JORDAN DEAN

THE other day I went to the shop near my office to buy lunch.

There’s a man there who is always at the entrance asking everyone who passes by for a kina. I see him almost every working day.

It was lus wik [off-pay week] for government employees and I had only K20 left in my pocket to tide me over Enough to buy rice, lamb stew and a can of coke with some change for buai and cigarettes.

As usual, the man put out his hand and asked for a kina. I’ve donated to his cause many times before but this time was annoyed and told him harshly, ‘Oi, mi no wok moni blo yu!’ before giving him a kina.

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Why does PNG brag about being a Christian country?

Phil 2015PHIL FITZPATRICK

THE hold that religion has on Papua New Guinea has always puzzled me, especially since nearby Australia is rapidly becoming a majority secular society.

Unlike Australia, Papua New Guinea mentions Christianity in its constitution and its politicians frequently remind us that it is a ‘Christian’ country.

Anecdotal and some empirical evidence suggests the churches in Papua New Guinea have a large influence on the government.

This begs the question that if the churches are so influential why is there still widespread corruption? The inference, of course, is that the churches are complicit. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this could be true.

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Religion may be a bugger, but a mother’s love transcends

Peter KranzPETER KRANZ

STEPHEN Fry was threatened with prosecution for blasphemy over comments he made about God being evil for allowing bone cancer in children.

In Jakarta Governor Ahok has been sent to gaol for suggesting the Koran doesn't forbid Muslims for voting for a Christian.

And in Papua New Guinea and Australia we have paedophiles hiding under the skirts of the church.

This is all disturbing, but one memory particularly haunts me.

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Could you become an Aussie? Take our test, oi, oi, oi….

Peter DuttonPETER KRANZ

AUSTRALIAN immigration minister Peter Dutton (pictured, bless him) has just announced tighter controls over people seeking Australian citizenship.

My wife Rose applied for citizenship three months ago (and hasn't heard anything yet thanks to the efficiency and alacrity of the Department of Foreign Affairs).

So I thought I’d try my hand at the citizenship test that all applicants have to answer. It's a bit like a cultural driving test.

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The ancient philosophers & the need to know yourself

Morre_Philip KaiPHILIP KAI MORRE

AN ancient Greek philosopher, Diogenes of Sinope, was seen on the streets of Athens with a lighted lantern in his hand in broad daylight.

When out of curiosity people asked Diogenes what he was looking for, he replied, “I am looking for a man?”

Diogenes acted so strangely to stir up his fellow citizens. His contention was that, even though it seemed so obvious that the world was full of human beings, it was not easy to find a person he was looking for.

The philosopher was trying to find a man in the true sense of the word, which he visualised as follows:

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Pragmatism: Only sweat the big stuff & get things done

My screwed right footKEITH JACKSON

I keep the screws in my foot where they do some good, not in my head where, if they were loose, they'd just cause problems.

I mean, we're all entitled to our opinions. You readers who know me understand I have strong views. You know I give voice to them.

We say in journalism that opinions are free but facts are sacred. I believe in that too.

But, beyond those beliefs, I’m a pragmatist. I believe in doing what it takes to achieve outcomes that are productive and beneficial. (Big caveat - so long as it’s ethical.)

Hence PNG Attitude, the Crocodile Prize, my broad and continuing commitment to PNG literature and my affection and efforts for the people of Papua New Guinea.

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Using imagination, seizing opportunity, creating something better

Simon DavidsonSIMON DAVIDSON

WINSTON Churchill’s aphorism “the empires of the future are the empires of the mind” brings into view possibilities yet to be realised.

He uttered those words when space exploration was a dim possibility, the digital revolution an impossible dream and the scope of advances in modern technology unknown.

But through sheer power of the imagination, people were able to dream of possibilities and create things that had previously not existed.

Humans were bold thinkers who could imagine new horizons with unlimited opportunities.

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Dual PNG citizenship kicks in next month: Australians can apply

PNG passportIMMIGRATION & CITIZENSHIP SERVICE AUTHORITY

PAPUA New Guinea’s foreign affairs and immigration minister Rimbink Pato has announced administrative arrangements are being finalised for dual citizenship to become a reality in March.

"Dual citizenship is a new concept for PNG and creates great opportunities for our people at home and around the world,” Mr Pato said.

"Through dual citizenship our best and brightest can retain their connection with their homeland and not be hampered by bureaucracy.

"With dual citizenship we are better able to attract skilled workers who will be able to stay and build a home in PNG but still be able to return with ease to their place of birth to see family.

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Dear friends, colleagues, countrymen and women….

Busa Jeremiah WenogoBUSA JEREMIAH WENOGO

ON BEHALF of my family I would like to take this time to extend our seasons’ greetings to you all. We earnestly pray for a wonderful and safe festive seasons.

Regardless of creed, colour, ethnicity, religious affiliation, socio-economic status or nationality, we have all witnessed another history-making year.

For some people 2016 was memorable while for others it was a year to forget.

Whatever your feelings towards the year we should all be thankful that, by the grace of God and our heavenly parents, we have journeyed towards the end and are now preparing to enter another new year.

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When in PNG do as the Papua New Guineans

PNG sunset strollPHIL FITZPATRICK

ONE OF the pleasures of living in a tropical climate is to walk in the evening when the sun has gone down and the moon is out. It is doubly pleasant if there is a cool breeze coming off the sea or down the mountains.

In most of the places I’ve lived and worked in Papua New Guinea it is a sort of ritual for the locals and many expatriates.

On those walks you occasionally stop to chat to friends and even complete strangers. Otherwise you just exchange greetings with fellow strollers.

In Papua New Guinea that evening greeting is usually ‘goodnight’. Or perhaps I should say, ‘gutnait’.

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The public service - the silly, the sinister & the plain bizarre

4.06PHIL FITZPATRICK

THE public service in any country is a strange place. Its denizens live in an environment that is at best unreal and at worst bizarre.

Public service behaviour and rules remain a mystery to many mere mortals. But such matters still haunt the dreams of those of us who finally managed to escape its clutches.

It also has many traditions, most of them inexplicable.

I was reminded of this when I saw a recent tweet about the working hours of many government offices and the 4.06 pm knock off time.

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Me and Bobby McGee – farewell to an old friend

McGeePHIL FITZPATRICK

ON THE remote patrol posts where I worked as a kiap before Papua New Guinean independence there was always an established pecking order.

First was the officer in charge, usually an assistant district officer or a patrol officer.

Next – in order - came the station clerk, police corporal, police constables, interpreter, station dog and, last of all, the cadet patrol officer.

Somewhere between the station clerk and the police corporal there might have been an aid post orderly, a teacher or two and occasionally an agricultural officer.

I have fond memories of all the occupants of these various offices from the patrol posts where I served. Except perhaps for a couple of errant cadets who tried everyone’s patience.

But I guess we were all cadets once and it wasn’t really their fault if they occasionally rubbed the boss kiap up the wrong way.

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Crafting a life: Playing with the headhunters in the jungle

Careers with a challengePHIL FITZPATRICK

MY FIRST job after leaving school was with the National Bank. I don’t know why I took it, there were plenty of other jobs around in those days. Perhaps, in my exuberant youth, I harboured some sort of misconception about what mattered in life.

In any event, this introduction to the financial world and the small-minded people involved in it in those days was a salutary shock and I immediately started looking around for something a bit more fulfilling.

I already had a long nurtured but vague idea about applying for the next intake of Cadet Patrol Officers in the Territory of Papua New Guinea.

I endured eighteen months of excruciating boredom at the bank before I escaped. My escape included being berated by my boss for throwing away the opportunity of a good career to go gallivanting among headhunters in the jungle.

Years later I came across him running a fish and chip shop in a small country town. He had been made redundant in some sort of efficiency drive.

I spent the rest of my working life basically helping people and advocating their sometimes hopeless causes. I include my years as a kiap here, after all, they were all about helping a new nation on its journey to independence.

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Colourful political rhetoric emerges as election nears

Jeff HS frontJEFFREY MANE FEBI | Nokondi Talk

THE heat of the forthcoming 2017 national elections has caught on early.

Many supporters of intending candidates, in their desperate attempts to win favour for their candidates, have begun character assassination in earnest.

Their talk uses colourful adjectives to describe or demean other prospective candidates.

Here are some I’ve collected; you can add to the list.

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Dilemmas

Peter KranzPETER KRANZ

Dilemma - "To have to choose one of two alternatives, both unfavourable; to be forced to choose between equal evils."

IN THE 1960s British philosopher Gilbert Ryle wrote an influential book entitled Dilemmas and this has become a foundation text for many Ethics classes to this day.

My late father once told me of a heart-wrenching dilemma in Papua New Guinea faced by his best friend from student days, Ernie Lemke.

After graduating in the late 1940s, Lemke ended up as a young missionary in Papua New Guinea with his lovely wife and first-born son.

They were travelling up the Fly river in the wet season on a mission boat when there was a fire in the engine room and the boat exploded throwing them into the river.  

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Building a career; making a life – the New Guinea connection

Di Siune & Keith, Goroka, January 1964KEITH JACKSON

In this address I gave yesterday to the graduating year of Central Queensland University’s Noosa Campus, I decided to reflect on the lessons I’d learned as a result of my 55-year association with Papua New Guinea….

Around this time 41 years ago, and at about the same time of day, I received my arts degree - politics and economics - from the University of Papua New Guinea.

PNG’s independence from Australia was just three months away and a mood of joy and excitement infused the occasion. I recall that typically sweltering Port Moresby day so well; even that the royal blue Arts gown sat crooked on my shoulders.

In my mind, I am still that young man, mysteriously inhabiting a 71 year old body. A reverse Dorian Gray where the portrait remains young but the person gazing at it is inexorably falling apart.

Twelve years before then, at first light on a Friday in November 1963, the DC6 carrying 40 new teachers landed in Port Moresby after the overnight flight from Sydney. I was 18, I’d never before flown and, along with my colleagues, I’d recently passed my final exams to become a primary school teacher.

If you stick a pin into the middle of Papua New Guinea it will poke through my first school – a one teacher operation at an outpost called Kundiawa in the central highlands.

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Trying not to make Port Moresby any uglier

Port MoresbyPHIL FITZPATRICK

WHEN I first saw the Sydney Opera House in early 1974 I thought: what a hideous building!

To my mind it looked completely out of character with beautiful Sydney Harbour; it was lumpy and looked unfinished. Another horrible example of 1960s post-modern architecture.

I haven’t changed my mind. Maybe if they painted it another colour, blue or brown maybe?

Of course, Sydney is not the only place in the world to build hideous monstrosities completely out of whack with its surroundings. And they are still at it thanks to casino mogul James Packer.

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Essential junk: things that I haven’t thrown away

Essential junkPHIL FITZPATRICK

WHEN I left England with my family in early 1956 there were deep snowdrifts along the roads. We travelled in a small, overloaded Morris Minor that sometimes doubled as the village taxi. My Uncle Peter, who had been living with us, followed on his motorbike.

On the station at Ipswich while waiting for the train to London and then Southampton where the SS New Australia waited to take us to Australia my uncle gave us a parting gift each. For my sister there was a doll and for me there was a beautiful Joseph Rodgers penknife.

We never saw Peter again and it was fifty years before I reclaimed the penknife, which had somehow slipped into my father’s pocket. My sister came across it when she was sorting through my parent’s stuff after they had died. Remarkably she remembered it and gave it back to me.

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The cemetery at Bomana: A very grave subject indeed

Bomana CemeteryPETER KRANZ

‘TAPHOPHILE’ is the name given to someone who takes an interest in cemeteries, tombstones or past lives. If that sounds too fancy, ‘tombstone tourist’ will do.

I must confess I am something of a closet taphophile. Not that I seek tombstones in closets, I just like to fossick around old cemeteries.

What I am trying to say is that there is a great deal of interesting history to be found in the dead and their memorials.

I used to live in England (Crowthorne, Berks, also home to Broadmoor) and our local cemetery had some interesting graves, including a cousin of Jane Austin and some unidentified French sailors from the Napoleonic wars interred with due ceremony but sadly unnamed.

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At Holmes for the last Christmas

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas GoosePETER KRANZ

"MISTER 'olmes, I'm all tits over arse with this Christmas dinner!"

"Missus Okuk, please modify your depraved tok ples. Now what is the problem?"

"Well, I got me chestnuts, garlic and parsley for the stuffing, and the vegies with sago and taro liked you arsed for the accomplishments.

“And a great Christmas pud from Missus Beeton, but for the life o’ mi, I can’t find a suitable goose! I've tried everywhere!"

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