Half a century of madness
Abused and shattered and torn
Half a century of chaos
Of living in the shadows
Half a century of sadness
And rivers of tears for precious lives lost
When will the morning star fly free?
Half a century of madness
Abused and shattered and torn
Half a century of chaos
Of living in the shadows
Half a century of sadness
And rivers of tears for precious lives lost
When will the morning star fly free?
SYDNEY - Violence has swept across Indonesian Papua in the last six weeks, starting with racist taunts against Papuan students in East Java, and moving back to Papua where protests against racism turned into larger pro-independence demonstrations.
On 28 August, police opened fire on demonstrators in Deiyai, a remote district in the central highlands, after an Indonesian soldier was killed by an arrow. Eight Papuans died from gunfire.
| The Guardian
SYDNEY - The Solomon Islands’ government has voted to sever its longstanding ties with Taiwan and take up diplomatic relations with Beijing.
The move is a huge blow to self-ruled Taiwan, which has lost six allies since 2016, and to Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, who is seeking re-election in January amid rising tension with China.
The Solomon Islands, with about 600,000 people, is the latest country to switch allegiance to China since Tsai came to office in 2016, following Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic, São Tomé and Príncipe, Panama and El Salvador.
GOVERNOR POWES PARKOP
PORT MORESBY - The right to self-determination is not just a universal declaration provided in Article 1 of the United Nation Charter, it’s also a right promulgated by God when he got Moses to tell Pharaoh, ‘Let my people go!’
Thank you Governor Gary Juffa for your continuous support for our people of West Papua. You have never withered and I salute you. You are a champion of our people.
I thank prime minister James Marape for the brave stand he has taken. We are a manifestation of that stand that we won’t stand by and allow our people to be killed and oppressed.
Hey, l bet you look to the West
Beyond that mountain crest
And see far beyond that ridge
Do you see across that valley?
Smoke and flames rising?
Raging upon the western skies?
Hey, I bet you stop by and think
About what lies far beyond
Our shared mountain ridges,
Reflect upon the bond we share
And you shall feel yet for sure
They pain they cannot bear
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”.
DAGUA - When I was doing my third year at teachers’ college, during a course in post-colonial literature our lecturer gave an assignment on the topic of nationalism.
The task was to select two nations in our immediate region that were once colonised. The assignment was to look into their history and literature in the forms of poems, stories or quotes expressing nationalist or anti-colonial sentiments.
I decided to read about Indonesia and East Timor (a new nation at the time). Indonesia a former Dutch colony and East Timor a former Portuguese colony.
I decided on Indonesia because of its occupation of East Timor (as it was before independence in 1999) and the ongoing Papua Merdeka [freedom] movement in West Papua.
So I set out on my quest to read and discover the post-colonial and nationalist literature of these countries.
I searched the bookshelves and catalogues in the library and found little existing literature that would provide the information I needed. At that time, there was no internet and the books were irrelevant to my assigned task.
MEAGHAN TOBIN | South China Morning Post | Extract
HONG KONG - Indonesia’s restive province of West Papua was gripped by violence last week as protesters clashed with police, leading Jakarta to cut internet access and send almost 1,000 additional officers to quell the unrest.
The latest demonstrations were against racist abuse suffered by West Papuan students, but a separatist movement in the region has also been simmering since 1969.
In recent years, Jakarta’s Pacific Island neighbours have become bolder in their disapproval of the [Indonesian] government’s handling of calls for independence, recently welcoming a United Nations investigation into human rights abuses in West Papua.
West Papua and the neighbouring Indonesian province of Papua share the same island as independent Papua New Guinea, which is one of 18 nations – including Australia and New Zealand – that make up the Pacific Islands Forum.
In their joint communique after the forum, the leaders called for the UN visit to be finalised and a report on the situation to be provided next year.
MICHAEL ANDREW | Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch
AUCKLAND - The Indonesian media is contributing to resentment and racism toward Papuans, according to a human rights researcher and former journalist.
Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch Jakarta told Pacific Media Watch many Indonesian journalists either view Papuans as enemy "separatists" or deviants and their reporting tends to convey these stereotypes.
Papuan anger has erupted in widespread riots and rallies across Indonesia over the last week, after a militia attacked West Papuan students in Surabaya, pelting them with stones and calling them “monkeys”.
Harsono, who is in New Zealand promoting his latest book ‘Race, Islam and Power’, says the manner in which the media reported the attacks has created further anti-Papuan resentment which in turn sparked a backlash from the West Papuans themselves.
“The attack was reported by the media, videoed by the media, but it raised anger back home, now almost 30 cities are having rallies protesting against the use of the word ‘monkey’ for this Papuan people."
CANBERRA - Escalating violence and attacks on Papuan students saw thousands of young people march on the streets and set fire to the parliament building in West Papua on Monday.
This was in response to Papuan students being attacked in a dormitory in Surabaya last week after they had allegedly bent a flagpole during Indonesian Independence Day celebrations last Saturday.
Surabaya police chief senior commissioner Sandi Nugroho said the attack on the dormitory was carried out by Indonesian nationalist community groups angered by the treatment of their national flag.
In an effort to restore calm, Papua Governor Lukas Enembe called on all Indonesian citizens to respect their national value of ‘unity in diversity’ (Bhineka Tunggal Ika) and asked security forces to act professionally and in accordance with Indonesian laws and to not let activist groups take the law in their own hands.
MUNGO MacCALLUM | John Menadue: Pearls and Irritations
BYRON BAY - The Great White Father has arrived in the far flung atolls of the Pacific. And, like the missionaries before him Scott Morrison is delivering the bringing of the light — a gospel of hope and salvation.
Well, up to a point. Boiled down, his message is that if they are worried about the rising waters, they should sandbag the foreshores and move to higher ground if there is any, because he is not going to do anything substantial to help.
He will, of course, offer money, which his host at the Pacific Islands Forum, Tuvalu prime minister Enele Sopoaga, said was not really the point:
“No matter how much money you put on the table it does not give you the excuse not to do the right thing, which is to cut down on your emissions, including not opening your coalmines. This is the thing we want to see.”
STEFAN ARMBRUSTER & TESS NEWTON CAIN | DevPolicy Blog
CANBERRA - “Save Tuvalu, save the world” sang school children as they greeted the Pacific’s leaders on arrival to what became a showdown pitting the region against Australia.
This was no ambush, but had been building for years.
At the capital Funafuti’s airport the school children sat in a moat of water surrounding a diorama of a climate change devastated island.
If it wasn’t obvious, the significance was explained to them by Tuvalu’s foreign minister. The symbolism was potent, and the ritual well established by the time Australian prime minister Scott Morrison was the last of the 18 Forum leaders to stride across the tarmac.
Well briefed on what to do, he crouched to chat, showing up for the ‘Step Up’, but one major detail escaped advisers that marked out the Australian delegation.
CORNEY KOROKAN ALONE
PORT MORESBY – They were very strong words from the Fijian prime minister, Frank Bainimarama: the sentiments of the rest of the Pacific Islands leaders captured in his views.
“China never insults the Pacific," Bainimarama said. "They don’t go down and tell the world that we’ve given this much money to the Pacific islands. They don’t do that.
"They’re good people, definitely better than Morrison, I can tell you that. The [Australian] prime minister was very insulting, very condescending, not good for the relationship….”
My own prime minister, James Marape, upon returning from Tuvalu acknowledged that "there is a climate change crisis in the region".
He further stated that he "will be vocal about it when he attends the United Nations General Assembly meeting in September this year".
Australia, or any other so-called leader of the free world, must know that Pacific Islands people value relationships.
EMAIL | The Australia Institute
CANBERRA - Last week the Pacific Island Forum made clear that new coal mines were a 'red line' issue.
Its final communique made clear to the world what the Pacific nations require of its neighbours, including Australia: the survival of Pacific Island nations requires no new coal mines.
While Pacific Island leaders deserve congratulation for their vocal call for no new coal mines, it is a disappointment that Australia has bullied any language of a ban or limitation of new coal out of this week's 50th Pacific Islands Forum communique.
Australians cannot underestimate the importance of taking climate action, particularly in the Pacific. As the UN Secretary-General has said, “if you can save Tuvalu, you can save the world”.
KATE LYONS | Guardian Australia | Extract
FUNAFUTI - Scott Morrison has been accused of causing an extraordinary rift between Australia and Pacific countries by the prime minister of Fiji, who said the Australian prime minister’s insulting behaviour while at the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu would push nations closer to China.
In an exclusive interview with Guardian Australia after the conclusion of the forum, Frank Bainimarama, the prime minister of Fiji and a political heavyweight in the region, said Morrison’s approach during the leaders’ retreat on Thursday was “very insulting and condescending”.
“Yesterday was probably one of the most frustrating days I have ever had,” he said of the leaders’ retreat, which lasted for nearly 12 hours and almost broke down over Australia’s red lines on the climate crisis.
KATHARINE MURPHY | Guardian Australia | Extract
CANBERRA - Pacific leaders are fully aware that things are not under control when it comes to Australia’s climate change efforts.
You can understand their impatience. They are standing on the frontline of a climate crisis, and trying to prod laggards around the world.
The Pacific needs the big emitters, and countries that can influence them, like Australia, to stop obfuscating and start acting while we’ve got a chance of averting the worst scenarios.
So, this past week, entering the global arena, Morrison found himself wedged between the campaign calm down offensive at home, and Australia’s demonstrable absence of climate leadership.
TUMBY BAY - I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings but if the people of the Pacific believe that the Australian government will do anything meaningful about climate change they are sadly mistaken.
Australia currently has a conservative government with an undeclared core of climate change deniers in its ranks.
If that isn’t discouraging enough it is also led by a prime minister who is a committed Pentecostal Christian who believes in miracles and God’s will.
One of those miracles enacted by God was letting him win the last unwinnable federal election. He is now prime minister because God put him there.
Roughly translated this means that he believes that climate change has been imposed on the world by God for unexplained reasons that should not be questioned.
For Morrison and many of his cohorts empirical science is something they view with scepticism.
LISA MURRAY | Australian Financial Review | Extracts
SYDNEY - The Australian government has announced the next leg of its Pacific step-up ahead of Scott Morrison’s visit to Tuvalu this week, spending $19 million on establishing a new security college to train officials from the region.
The latest security initiative comes as Mr Morrison is set to face strong criticism at the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting this week over Australia’s climate change policies and its support for the Adani coal mine.
The college, being set up in partnership with the Australian National University, is aimed at boosting links between security and police officials across the Pacific amid concern about China’s expanding investment and influence.
Jonathan Pryke, director of the Pacific Islands program at the Lowy Institute, said Mr Morrison would be bracing himself ahead of this week's forum.
GOLD COAST, QLD - One part of the answer to the big problems of the Pacific – like climate change, Chinese expansionism or greater prosperity - would be better co-operation between residents of our region.
Anyone like Australia trying to be ‘Big Brother’ will only enhance feelings of subdued resentment.
A better approach is be to have the Pacific Islands Forum consider climate change as part of the whole Pacific picture. ‘Together we stand, divided we fall’ seems to have morphed into ‘divide and conquer’.
While ever climate change is hived off from the other important issues affecting the lives of Pacific peoples, it will always provide leverage against Australia, due to its reserves of energy and export revenues based on extracted resources.
ROY RATUMAKIN | Tabloid Jubi/Pacific Media Watch | Extract
JAYAPURA - The Indonesian government plans to bring foreign journalists to Papua for 2020 National Press Day, but an independent journalists group has warned against "politicising" the visit.
Lucky Ireeuw, chair of the Jayapura City branch of the Independent Journalist Alliance (AJI), said his group strongly supported the move of the Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Wiranto, to bring the foreign journalists to Papua.
"This is what AJI has been fighting for. We have urged the central government to open as much access as possible to foreign journalists to come and cover Papua without any pressure from various parties.
"However, the arrival of foreign journalists should not be politicised," he told Tabloid Jubi this week.
NEWS DESK | Agence France-Presse
WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Pacific island leaders insist climate change, not China, will top the agenda when they meet in Tuvalu this month as western-aligned nations push to curb Beijing's growing influence in the region.
Once regarded as a sleepy backwater of the diplomatic world, the islands are now a hotbed of aid projects and charm offensives as anxiety over China's presence grows.
Australia has labelled its campaign the Pacific Step-Up, New Zealand has the Pacific Reset, and Britain the Pacific Uplift, while the United States, Japan, and France have also intensified their efforts to court the region.
But local leaders attending the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Tuvalu from August 13 to 16 are wary their concerns will be sidelined if they become pawns in a wider power struggle.
JUNIOR OIOFA | Wansolwara / Pacific Media Watch
SUVA - Climate change is real and many Pacific Island countries are experiencing this “destructive reality”, says climate researcher Dr Jale Samuwai.
Dr Samuwai became the first graduate to be awarded a PhD in climate change at the University of the South Pacific this year and his analysis of an “equitable Green Climate Fund allocation policy” has been published in the latest Pacific Journalism Review.
Speaking at the recent USP graduation ceremony, he said Pacific Island countries were at the frontline of the impact of climate change.
“Many low-lying atolls in the Pacific region like Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu among others are experiencing the same threat of global warming and sea level rise, which is very destructive to their lives,” he said.
PERTH - Indonesia, in collaboration with New Zealand and Australia, recently hosted the 2019 Pacific Exposition in Auckland.
The event was aimed at boosting Indonesia’s engagement with the South Pacific region in trade, investment and diplomacy. It was attended by delegations from 19 Pacific countries and territories.
On the opening day of the event, Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi said her country will seek to establish diplomatic relations with Niue and the Cook Islands and pursue trade deals with Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
Following the expo, Indonesia’s potential for new exports to the South Pacific reached approximately US$70 million.
While that figure is relatively small, among the smaller Pacific countries it could be seen as a significant step towards opening Indonesian trade with the region.
Indonesian exports to Pacific countries, other than Australia and New Zealand, have grown marginally from US$261 million in 2013, to US$299 million in 2018.
The vast majority of those exports were to PNG, which received approximately 71% of Indonesian exports to the region.
PORT MORESBY - The Pacific Islands region has long been highly regarded for its hospitality and spectacular scenery.
The friendly smiles and the necklaces of majestic islands and atolls spread across a mighty ocean have long fascinated visitors since the arrival of the first explorers.
While the world has gone through dramatic shifts and turns over many centuries, the Pacific seemed to retain its beauty and its values.
From the big island of New Guinea across to Hawaii, the people of this region have shared history, culture and traditions.
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.
NEWS DESK | Pacific Mornings | Radio Australia
MELBOURNE - Ben Bohane has been announced as the winner of the Sean Dorney Grant for Pacific Journalism.
The $10,000 grant was available to an Australian journalist wanting to do a project on a story that was under-reported in the Pacific.
Mr Bohane is an Australian photojournalist, author and TV producer who has been covering the Pacific for decades.
When accepting the grant Mr Bohane said that under-reporting in the Pacific with Australian media is a real issue.
"Honestly, our news editors are failing the Australian people by not prioritising more reporting from the Pacific," Mr Bohane said.
JACK BANISTER | The Citizen
MELBOURNE - Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister, Ms Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, has urged Australia and her own country to “become adults” in their relations, which she said have been marred by “petulance” in the past.
“I think we need to have a more mature relationship. Because quite frankly, it’s been one of patronage, in a way,” said Ms Mata’afa, delivering a keynote address last week to a development conference hosted by La Trobe University in Melbourne.
She illustrated her concerns in the context of increasing diplomatic competition between China and Australia within the Pacific region.
Ms Mata’afa, who is the daughter of Samoa’s first prime minister and has served as the country’s deputy prime minister since 2016, said “people keep on telling us, including Australia and New Zealand, that we’re not old enough, we’re not capable enough, to run our own relationships with China.
“When it comes to us, they say, ‘you really need to be, you should remember that we are your older brothers, or sisters, here in the Pacific, and you have to be careful of those Chinese people’ ”.
WESLEY MORGAN | Twitter
SUVA - News has broken that the controversial Adani coal mine in Australia has been given the green light for work to start.
So how will this news be greeted by other countries in Australia's Pacific neighbourhood?
Coal is the single greatest driver of climate change. In 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) explained that coal-fired power must be phased out to avoid dangerous climate change.
To avoid catastrophic impacts, the world cannot expand coal production. Last year, 12 Pacific island countries issued a joint statement at United Nations climate talks explaining "there must be no expansion of existing coal mines or the creation of new mines."
At last year's annual Pacific Islands Forum meeting, 16 countries (including Australia) issued a regional security declaration explaining climate change is the "single greatest threat" facing the region.
JAMIE TARABAY | New York Times
SYDNEY — For years, the graduating classes of Australia’s military training programs studied Dari and Pashto, the languages of distant war-torn lands, eschewing the Bahasa and the Pidgin of Asia-Pacific nations close to home.
But as Australian forces wind down their presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, where they have served alongside American troops since the early 2000s, they are renewing their focus on Australia’s island neighbours, which have become a different kind of battleground as China seeks to expand its influence in the region.
Australia has always tried to maintain military forces near home strong enough to deter any potentially hostile power from moving into the South Pacific.
But in recent decades, it has not faced such a challenge in the region, and instead has sent its troops again and again to support the United States in faraway conflicts.
PORT MORESBY - The Australian step-up in the Pacific Islands is premised on the argument that the sovereignty of Pacific states needs safeguarding, from Chinese strategic designs.
But how should sovereignty be conceived? In State Failure, Sovereignty and Effectiveness, Gerard Kreijen traces the historical usage of the concept, concluding that “external sovereignty or independence rests on internal sovereignty – the latter being a condition sine qua non for the former”.
Internal definitions of sovereignty matter in the Pacific Islands. They aid the process of identifying threats worth prioritising and practical measures in addressing such threats.
Pacific states are concerned with the internal aspects of sovereignty, that is, “the supreme power of the state to formulate and uphold the laws in respect of its population”.
TESS NEWTON CAIN | Vanuatu Daily Post
BRISBANE - Not content with watching Vanuatu’s elections and those of our Pacific island neighbours, I also kept a fairly close eye on the Australian federal elections that took place last weekend.
Given that Pacific policy was one area where there were some key differences between the two major parties, there was good reason to take an interest in what transpired.
So now that we know that the Morrison government has been returned, what do leaders and commentators in the region and the Australian diaspora think this result means for the Pacific?
What are they hoping to see from the Morrison government when it comes to sustaining the ‘Pacific step up’?
Climate change is essentially where these conversations start and end. On Facebook, Fiji’s prime minister Bainimarama was quite effusive in his congratulations referring to Scott Morrison as his ‘friend’.
TUMBY BAY - The appalling decision by the politically correct pedants at Rugby Australia to terminate Israel Folau’s contract for the apparently heinous offence of posting a comment on his religious beliefs has set a very dangerous precedent.
I’m not particularly inclined to get excited about grown men chasing a leather ball around a paddock nor am I inclined to believe in supreme beings but I am inclined to believe that people like Israel Folau have a perfect right to say what they believe without fear of persecution.
What he said is what he believes. He was born in New South Wales of Tongan parents. As a Pacific Islander his profound religious beliefs come as no surprise.
That he felt the need to warn people who are different to him of the imputed biblical consequences of those differences, irrelevant as that may be, is also not particularly unusual.
PORT MORESBY - The commentary in PNG Attitude by Martyn Namorong, ‘PNG is not Pasifika – we are not so much of the ocean’, needs rebuttal.
Namorong’s critique is not new. Solomon Islands scholar Tarcisius Kabutaulaka made similar observations in relation to Epeli Hau’ofa..
Kabutaulaka states: “We need to recognise that focusing on the ocean as the element that connects us immediately marginalises the millions of people who live inland, in places like the highlands of Papua New Guinea, for whom the ocean has little significance”.
Kabutaulaka concedes however, that Hau’ofa “challenges us to think in ways that empower us, rather than marginalise and weaken us.”
This terrestrial orientation of Papua New Guineans is natural.
Insulated as we are from others by the perceived vastness of our land expanse, Papua New Guinean exceptionalism can restrict a more holistic, and wholesome, knowledge of our Pacific neighbourhood.
NEWS EDITOR | Xinhua
BEIJING - Chinese president Xi Jinping has met with Papua New Guinea prime minister Peter O'Neill at the second belt and road forum for international cooperation.
Recalling his state visit to PNG in November 2018, Xi said the relationship between China and PNG is at the best period in history.
He said China highly appreciates PNG for prioritising relations with China in its diplomacy and giving solid support to China on issues concerning China's core interests.
“China supports PNG in choosing a development path on its own that is in line with its national conditions.
“China is willing to work with PNG to strengthen coordination and cooperation under the multilateral framework, so as to enhance the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.”
TESS NEWTON CAIN
BRISBANE - Last year, when I interviewed Sean Dorney for the Pacific Conversations series, I asked him what the elements were that contributed to whether or not Pacific issues got adequate coverage in the Australian mainstream media.
He told me that there were two deciding factors: the journalists and editors had to care, and there has to be some money. Covering the Pacific is expensive and budgets are tight.
I’ve been working for a long time on getting the Australian media to care about the Pacific, and I think that will be a work in progress for some time to come.
There have been some small wins and some notable losses on that front. But I hadn’t really thought about the money side of things.
At least not until late last year when I managed to pin Sean down and suggest that I should speak to the Walkley Foundation about setting up something that would promote the value of Pacific journalism by the Australian media and that it should be established in his name.
PORT MORESBY - Last year in Goroka I attended a party at a hotel. Although hundreds of kilometres from the sea and high in the clouds of the Papua New Guinea highlands, it was a Pasifika themed party.
Luckily I had taken along my sulu on that work trip and so, wearing my sulu and a bula shirt, I was pretty much 100% Pasifika for the night.
(It also turned out I was the only Pasifika-dressed party goer, so by default won the prize that was on offer.)
My Goroka experience provided a glimpse into how PNG wants to be Pasifika but doesn’t behave as such. Not just in fashion, of course, but in terms of common values and more importantly the customs (kastom) that define this region and its people.
My first observation of why I think PNG is not a Pasifika nation is that of how we perceive our physical environment.
One really gets a sense of Pasifika as the ‘liquid continent’ when taking off from Honiara, Nadi or Nuku'alofa and noting how tiny are the islands and how vast the ocean. From Port Moresby, you can look to the horizon and see land stretching to the peaks of the highlands.
GOLD COAST - On Thursday 21 March, The Jakarta Post published an opinion article by Indonesian foreign Retno LP Marsudi that highlighted a plan for diplomatic engagement with Pacific island countries.
According to the article, Indonesians and the people of the Pacific belong to “one family” and call the Pacific Ocean “our home.”
Marsudi emphasised the importance of developing physical connections and enhancing the connectivity of “hearts and minds” and said cooperation is needed to develop the South Pacific and define the future for the next generation.
‘Family’ and ‘home’ are powerful words that represent a place where human dignity and quality are nurtured and valued: this should be a priority for the future generations of the Pacific families. Strong communities are built upon such intrinsic human values.
SHAILENDRA SINGH | Pacific Media Centre | University of the South Pacific | Edited
SUVA - The University of the South Pacific’s recent 50th anniversary also marked 30 years of existence for its regional journalism program.
In an eventful journey, the program has weathered military coups, overcome financial hardships and shrugged off academic snobbery.
Funded by the Commonwealth, the program started in Suva in 1988 with a handful of students. Since then it has produced more than 200 graduates serving the Pacific and beyond in various media and communication roles.
USP journalism graduates have won awards, started their own media companies and taken over positions once reserved for expatriates in regional organisations.
SYDNEY - Australia has admitted it had not focused enough attention on its Pacific backyard but vows to make "long overdue" amends amid growing Chinese influence in the region.
"I think we would have to accept some criticism," Australia's minister for international development and the Pacific, Anne Ruston, told AFP on Friday.
"We have perhaps not put as much attention and effort into our own region as we should of."
In recent months, Ruston has been at the sharp end of trying to fix that - jetting to-and-fro between Australia and far-flung Pacific Islands, as part of prime minister Scott Morrison's "step-up" in the region.
CANBERRA - In the days leading up to Christmas, 16 Indonesian construction workers were killed in Nduga by the West Papuan National Liberation Army.
Then Lukas Enembe, Governor of Papua, told local media: "I am asking President Jokowi to withdraw all the troops in Nduga.”
In response, Colonel Muhammad Aidi, the military spokesman in Papua, said: “If the governor Lukas Enembe supports the Free Papua Movement struggle and rejects the national strategic program policy, he has violated state law and should be prosecuted.”
December is a sacred month for Papuans. The first day of the month is when Papuans throughout Indonesia commemorate their national day – the day when the banned independence flag was freely flown alongside the Dutch flag. And on 25 December, the majority Christian Papuans celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Unfortunately, December is also full of tragedy.
PORT MORESBY - Recently, in Vanuatu’s lobbying efforts at the United Nations, foreign affairs minister Ralph Regenvanu reaffirmed his country’s support for West Papua. So what is the basis of Vanuatu’s position?
Vanuatu’s staunch support for West Papuan independence is based on core principles of self-determination and non-alignment. These have been consistent values guiding Vanuatu’s conduct of its foreign relations since independence.
Its commitment to self-determination is not limited to West Papua. Since independence, Vanuatu leaders have affirmed support for an independent New Caledonia, advocated the creation of a Palestinian state and were influential in the creation of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) as a vehicle to support decolonisation in Melanesia and denuclearisation in the Pacific.
The country has a strong and consistent record in supporting decolonisation efforts around the world through multilateral forums such as the UN and it was the first Pacific Island state to join the non-aligned movement, signalling its independence from global power struggles.
EDITOR | Pacific Media Centre Editor | RNZ Pacific
AUCKLAND - The Asia-Pacific tag is a misnomer and should not be used to lump in Pacific Island countries, says Papua New Guinean opposition MP and governor of Oro province Gary Juffa.
The Pacific Islands should be considered as a region on its own because its ethnic make-up is distinct from Asia, he said.
Juffa also said the islands region’s surface area was huge and important enough to be a global region in itself.
“When we are lumped together with Asia Pacific, we are dwarfed. They are more vocal, they have their more complicated issues that they present, and we become just like a tag-along.
“I prefer that the Pacific, which is one-fifth of the world’s surface area, be recognised as a region on its own.”
Juffa said he wanted PNG, which is the biggest country in the Pacific islands, to take a lead in demanding the Pacific be recognised as its own region.
DAN McGARRY | Vanuatu Daily Post | Edited extracts
PORT VILA - Last year, the Pacific Islands Forum defined security as everything that’s necessary for us to live in a peaceful, prosperous and safe environment.
They agreed that the single greatest threat to this aspiration is climate change. This declaration was signed by every Forum member, including Australia and New Zealand.
Back in Canberra, security is ships and guns and 1941.
A significant part of the strategic security crowd in Australia fears that China plans to create their own version of what Imperial Japan once called the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.
They want to pre-empt Chinese militarisation of the Pacific islands by militarising it first.
Calmer voices remind us that the Western Pacific is seen as a ‘strategic backwater’ by the Chinese. Senior US analysts have told the Daily Post that the East and South China Seas are their primary focus.
ALAN BOYD | Asia Times | Extracts
SYDNEY - Australia’s efforts to woo Pacific states away from China’s embrace kicked into a higher gear with a rare visit by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to Fiji and Vanuatu.
Despite the symbolism of a head of state visit, Morrison’s tour was a sobering reminder of how little control he has over the counter-balancing agenda.
To be sure, there were plenty of sweeteners on the table, including allowances for Fijians to work in Australian rural regions, new teacher training programs and funding to broadcast Australian TV programs in the island nation.
But Morrison’s counterpart, Frank Bainimarama, had a different issue in mind: climate change.
ADELAIDE - West Papua and its future has recently been a hot topic of debate on PNG Attitude.
At least one correspondent has trenchantly defended the record of Indonesia in West Papua, maintaining that its occupation of part of the island of New Guinea is legitimate in terms of international law and recognised as such by the international community.
There also have been claims and counter claims about allegations that huge numbers of Papuans have been killed or displaced as the Indonesian government has sought to gain secure control over the entire province. The veracity or otherwise of these claims is clearly a hotly contested and very partisan debate.
The history of how Indonesia ended up taking over the governance of West Papua does not provide much solid evidence for claimed legitimacy.
There is the indisputable fact that the outgoing Dutch colonial power reluctantly handed control to Indonesia after its allies (notably the USA, Britain and Australia) proved unwilling to back belated efforts to prepare the province for independence.
“…half a million? Most close observers of the conflict can see through that one” (Martin Auld)
NOOSA – I do not know Martin Auld except as a commentator on PNG Attitude where his expertise seems to be largely in Indonesian affairs.
Most recently, he has mounted a vigorous defence of Indonesia in the context of its brutal colonisation of West Papua.
This included the quoted skepticism (above), rather cavalierly expressed, of the figure of up to 500,000 West Papuan Melanesians killed since Indonesia took over the territory
The internet yields a number of Martin Aulds but none who would seem to be our man, so I know nothing of his background or credentials.
TESS NEWTON CAIN
BRISBANE - 2019 is going to be a busy year for the Pacific. A number of Pacific island countries will hold national elections this year as the peoples of Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Tuvalu, and Marshall Islands go to the polls.
In Tuvalu, prime minister Enele Sesene Sopoaga will be hoping that his increased presence and activity in the realm of global climate diplomacy will not prove an impediment to success at home.
Similarly, president Hilda Heine in Marshall Islands will be looking to secure something more substantial than the very narrow margin by which she defeated a motion of no confidence last year.
Solomon Islands’ first general elections since the end of RAMSI will test the capacity of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force.
ADELAIDE - Of course, Daniel Kumbon is entirely correct that his forefathers did not invite the division of the island of New Guinea.
Imperialism and colonialism have been recurring features of human societies across at least the last three millennia, where the strong have dominated the weak and exerted their power to achieve their strategic aims.
History is, in many respects at least, just a series of such events.
One of the great misunderstandings of our era is that imperialism is an exclusively European activity.
This is an entirely wrong idea, carefully nurtured by those whose political and other interests lay in perpetuating the mythology that colonialism is a recent phenomenon.
WABAG - Just log into any Free West Papua website and you can view graphic videos, pictures and articles on the genocidal military operations against the Melanesian people who inhabit the western half of the island of New Guinea.
The images and stories are intimidating, cruel and chilling. You almost want to scream.
Our Melanesian forefathers did not invite foreign powers to come here to divide the large island into portions to claim for their king or queen.
Ultimate world domination and greed were their motives.
They lusted after New Guinea’s rich natural resources - like a man viewing a young woman bathing alone in a stream.
They saw our weakness – isolated communities, poorly armed, illiterate. A people who had been living in isolation for millennia.
MELBOURNE - The killing of construction workers in Nduga, and the Indonesian security force’s subsequent military operations, impact quite differently on the politics of the Papua–Indonesia conflict.
It is contested whether the 16 construction workers were unarmed civilians or members of the security forces but the event on 2 December 2018 marked a departure from the predominantly peaceful, political struggle for independence developed since 2000.
In terms of numbers of those killed, it was the largest attack in recent years.