Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stinky End Thwarted

In a past life in London I worked for some of the world's best/worst tabloids. But moving to the AAP foreign correspondent role in PNG does not necessarily mean serious journalism.
In fact it is very apparent the Australian media obsession with PNG is not serious at all. It's all a little too complicated and different so what they want, or the media wants, is a healthy dose of witches, raskols, 'ooga booga' weird that keeps every one at a safe distance, happy in their prejudices. Oh don't forget a healthy dose of plane crashes and high alert for ex-pat rape and murder.
But having said all that- there is no doubt an endless supply of cracking PNG yarns that would make any hackneyed tabloid editor moist with excitment.

So here is some more from the classic PNG vault - I've already been complimented for managing to work sorcery into a toilet suicide bid...


by popular demand here are some others-

Wife killed after testicle-jibe


Women bash serial bottom pincher


And here is a friends favourite - picked up by reuters..


PNG Boxing Death

Questions have been raised over the handling of a boxing bout that resulted in the death of Papua New Guinean boxer making his professional debut.
Joel Hayeu, 23, from Manus Province in PNG's north, died in Port Moresby General Hospital on Sunday morning after sustaining head injuries during a six-round welterweight loss in a PNG Pro Boxing Federation bout on June 21.


In questions regarding AFP -AFP can't comment...

Journalists dealIing with government agencies and governments know the run-run-run-around you get. The specifics you ask and the bland empty rhetoric you receive.
But in the ever quixotic task of trying to get to the bottom of the Climate Change debacle, in particular to a host of multimillion dollar Australian-led initatives, I have tried on several fronts to find out what's going on.
The Australian government responses add to the Grahame Green story line made comical on a daily basis by the Office of Climate Change PNG.
Here are some questions posed to the Australian Federal Police - tied to past media articles - and see the response below...

Dear Sir


To clarify - I am not making reference to PNG laws. (In PNG no laws have been broken as no laws exist). I did ask Penny wong's office about evolving climate change initiatives with AFP but got no response to that or the nine other questions.

I think its pretty clear what the questions are asking.

So hopefully that clarifies the issues you raise and I pose the original questions again-

Is the Australian Federal Police involved in monitoring carbon deals or will be involved in monitoring as part of transnational crimes?

Is there any "dialogue" between the AFP and say the Australian climate change office or the PNG climate change off or any other agencies on this issue?

A range of Australian companies are operating in PNG offering carbon trade deals or brokering - often facilitating some of these dubious deals that have been recently exposed by media - what responsibility does the Australian government or the AFP have in monitoring Australian companies in dubious carbon trade practice?


AFP response -

Hello Ilya

Thank you for the clarification and reference to the Herald Sun story.

Unfortunately the questions touch on policy matters that may or may not be referred to us from Ministerial level, or at such time as legislative initiatives come into being.

As such they are not questions that we can respond to at this stage and I would suggest that you keep trying Penny Wong's office.

I am sorry that we cannot be of more assistance in this instance.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Crime and Punishment in PNG

Port Moresby police have destroyed 5-mile settlement after three were killed in the area after the State-of-Origin rugby league clash last Wednesday night.
Chief Superintendent Fred Yakasa said hardline demolition and confiscation of beer from black-market shops was the only thing illegal settlers understood.
"My police will patrol these roads and they have been instructed to break legs and hands of people caught breaking that order.
"Enough is enough," he said.


PNG and China Strengthen Military Ties

China and PNG have committed to be better military friends - which no doubt has Aussie defence experts taking note.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Montevideo Maru

The sinking of the Montevideo Maru with the loss of 1,053 Australian prisoners of war and civilians on 1 July 1942 is Australia’s worst maritime tragedy. Sadly, it is also one of the lesser known.

This Wednesday 15 Australian families along with government officials will unveil a memorial in the Philippines to mark the 67th anniversary.


here are some previous AAP stories


Mark Day in the Australian newspaper:

Here is the John Huxley in Fairfax press:

For more information check Keith Jackson's PNG Attitude Blog..

Port Moresby Cultural Day

The Caritas Girls Technical School in Port Moresby held a cultural day on the weekend where students and families from the many and vaired districts in PNG's 19 provinces came together to celebrate their diversity under the banner of 'Our Culture Our Life'.

Friday, June 26, 2009

3 Dead in PNG State of Origin footy fights

Rugby League is PNG's national sport and no bigger event on the calender is the Australian State of Origin series. In the capital Port Moresby three were killed after drunken fights across the city.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Unanswered Climate Change Questions

Australia has made all sorts of partnership agreements and multi-million dollar funding pledges to PNG surrounding Climate Change.
But when it comes to detail or even answering what the rhetoric means - don't expect an answer.
Here is a list of ten quesions I put to Australia's Climate Change minister Penny Wong - the predictable anodyne Australian Government response would be funny if it wasn't the bane of my existence.

1) Under the Papua New Guinea Australia Forest Carbon Partnership (PNGAFC) signed by PM Kevin Rudd and PNG PM Somare in March 2008 "Papua New Guinea and Australia will engage in a strategic policy dialogue on climate change" - can you explain what sort of "dialogue" has been occurring considering that the PNG government through their Office of Climate Change (OCC) has been offering carbon deals while no policy or legislation is in place - in particular with questionable REDD deals?

2) "Australia will work actively together to increase Papua New Guinea’s capacity in forest carbon monitoring and assessment" considering a raft of voluntary pilot schemes are already in full swing towards coming online - is this a signal that the Australian government has built enough "capacity in forest management" for these projects to be credible?

3) Is the Australian government concerned that there remains an apparent lack of monitoring, capacity and assessment in PNG's climate change institutions but pilot schemes are already being established ?

4) The PNGAFC says: "Building on Australia’s experience in national carbon accounting and measurement, Australia will provide scientific, technical and analytical support to inform Papua New Guinea’s development of its own national carbon accounting system " can you please explain where we are with that? or what technical et al support Australia is specifically providing?

5) "Australia’s $200 million International Forest Carbon Initiative is a key part of Australia’s international leadership on REDD. The Initiative supports international efforts on REDD through the UNFCCC. It is jointly administered by the Australian Department of Climate Change and AusAID.

"Australia has committed up to $3 million in initial funding which includes technical, scientific and analytical support for whole of government policy development and the design of Papua New Guinea's carbon monitoring and accounting systems" .

Can you tell me how much of the $200 million goes to PNG and how and when is the money is delivered, to what areas?

6) Is it a concern that millions of dollars in funding is going to PNG while serious issues of credibility, accountability, transparency and leadership remain?

(Dr Yasause OCC director is facing the sack after a series of leaked documents show significant "anomalies" - Dr Yasause refuted the leaked documents as merely “samples” stolen from his office drawer. When AAP asked why the head of one of PNG’s most lucrative resource industries would make “sample” documents, Dr Yasause said: "we want to see what it looked like".)

7) Who does Australia deal with in PNG's OCC - what specific individuals - as it appears there will be a regime change shortly and most PNG government officials are embarrassed by the OCC's current direction?

8) Would Australia's Climate Change Office support moves to get Australian Federal Police involved in monitoring carbon deals as part of transnational crimes? Is there any "dialogue" between the two agencies on this issue?

9) A range of Australian companies are operating in PNG offering carbon trade deals or brokering - often facilitating some of these dubious deals that have been recently exposed by media such as AAP- what responsibility does the Australian government or the Climate Change office have in monitoring Australian companies in dubious carbon trade practice?

10) How concerning is it that the director of the PNG office of climate change also wants to personally "produce and sell" carbon credits - essentially he becomes policy maker, legislator and trader- while the legality of this is questionable - does it jeopardises the integrity of the PNGAFC?

(This has been exposed in a signed letter to Jackson Yagi from Dr Yasuase dated September 20 2008 regarding the April Salome area East Sepik in relation to Australian company Earth Sky)

And here is the response from spokesperson for Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Wong:

Australia and PNG established the Forest Carbon Partnership to cooperate on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), and assist Papua New Guinea to participate in future international carbon markets.”

“Australia has committed up to $3 million in initial funding which includes technical, scientific and analytical support for whole of government policy development and the design of Papua New Guinea's carbon monitoring and accounting systems.”

“At the recent Australia – PNG Ministerial Forum (10 June), Australia and PNG signed a Work Plan under the PNG – Australia Forest Carbon Partnership. This recognises the key activities which need to occur for PNG to be able to participate in any international forest carbon market.”

I've followed up by asking why respond with answers that contained the same information as my questions. I tried to speak to the spokesperson because they have not addressed any of the questions but she has not responded to emails or calls. So there you go -

here are two stories I wrote this month about some of the problems in PNG:



Wednesday, June 24, 2009

PNG Road Trip

Plaque to Rupert Roelof Haviland on the way up to Goroka through the Eastern Highlands Province (EHP) along the Kassman Pass

Driving through the EHP on road to Goroka

Driving through the EHP
Henganofi District Office EHP

Leaving Markham Valley into Eastern Highlands
Markham Valley

Australia's classic Dunlop K26 sneakers are still hot property in PNG. Especially in Gusap in the Ramu Valley.

View from the drive into EHP - along the Kassman Pass.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Inquest into Kokoda Death

Close to 6000 Australians walk PNG's Kokoda Track every year as a pilgrimage to the World War II legacy but as the popularity increases so to have injuries and deaths. Since 2001 four Australians have died, two this year in the lead up to Anzac Day.

An inquest will be held into the death of 38-year-old mother of two. Doctors want to conduct research on the track so to work out how best combat health concerns.

What is behind the deaths and frequent hospitalisation of trekkers?


Here is a previous AAP story about insurance companies cutting costs on the Kokoda rescues and putting lives at risk according to some industry experts.


Russian explorer Maclay and Papua New Guinea

Scroll down the bottom of this link to learn about the fascinating Russian explorer and scientist Micklouho-Maclay- who lived on and off in Madang for three years from 1871 to 1883. His New Guinea Diaries are a cracking read.

Masked PNG Minister Fears Swine Flu

PNG's Health Minister Sasa Zibe fears he has swine flu after visiting Brisbane for the PNG Australia minister's meeting June 10. The masked minister awaits lab test results to confirm or deny the dreaded A(H1N1).


Monday, June 22, 2009

Manam Island Girl Beheaded

A three year-old girl abducted and then beheaded in Madang. Tensions remain high between local Bogia people and thousands of Manam Islanders who settled there after a series of volcanic eruptions in 2004 and forced them to flee.


Here is a bit of background behind the tensions by ABC PNG correspondent Liam Fox.



Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rift Oil

While everyone is talking about gas in PNG - others are talking oil. Rift Oil that is..


Friday, June 19, 2009

PNG Oink

PNG has a confirmed Swine Flu case - so after two months the germs have managed to migrate all the way from Mexico to Australia and now the Pacific's PNG. PNG is now part of the global pandemic.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Yes, no, I mean, er..goodbye...

Australian carbon company Carbon Planet paid $1.2 million to PNG for carbon deals but when AAP asked about it, Carbon Planet chairman Jim Johnson was not too pleased.
"I've got nothing to talk about," he said.
"I am really sick of you people casting aspersions on my company.
"No payment has been made to PNG, your information is incorrect."
AAP read out an Australian Securities and Investment Commission Carbon Planet financial statement which says: "Payments include $1.2 million of advanced funding on origination projects in PNG which the company expects to recoup in the 2009 financial year."

Johnson responded: "I am not explaining at all. I am not having this conversation," before hanging up.

PNG Border Action

The PNG police have arrested an Indonesian police officer for illegally crossing into PNG in West Sepik province. Recently I had my own brush with PNG border security but managed a better fate than this officer who tried ride across the border on a motorbike.


Waiting for Guffman, PNG style

Occasionally staying home on Saturday night, remaining sober and watching television has its benefits. One of those rare moments came last Saturday when I flicked from Iranian election riots on BBC, CNN and Sky news to then see what was offered on PNG’s EM TV (it's worth a look at EM TV's website).
It was a segment on this week’s Port Moresby Arts Theatre (MAT) production of” An Evening with Andrew Lloyd Webber.”
I only had time to grab my camera phone which nicely adds another layer of weirdness to the whole “spectacle”.
I’ve never seen any Andrew Lloyd Webber production and only one MAT production, so out of fairness I will not add any snide remarks, but there was something uniquely PNG about an expat in all seriousness describing the artistic merits and integrity of their amateur production while wearing what can only be described as several mops strung together.

The show opens tonight and runs till Saturday. All are encouraged to get along.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mi amamas tru stap wantaim blog bilong yu

In strange social oscillations a social cousin from the social Sydney inner west has come into Port Moresby orbit.

And what's more George is working for Transparency International.

He nicely muses on his own nicely named blog. I nicely recommend a visit.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Headhunter Visits Bomana Jail

On Tuesday PNG sporting hero Stanley "Headhunter" Nandex delivered an inspiring talk to Bomana prisoners.
One of the country's highest profile athletes, Nandex is a now retired two-time world champion kick boxer who remained in PNG despite lucrative offers to train overseas.
Nandex urged inmates away from a life of crime.
"Jail is time for reflection, how you can make something away from crime," he said.
He said he had dallied with crime but instead chose kick boxing.
"When I won my first international title fight in Australia I dedicated the win to the prisoners of PNG," he said.

Bomana prisoner eats lunch

Prisoners from the seperate female wing of Bomana jail are allowed their children until early age

Nadex (right) told Bomana prisoners to stop taking drugs but posed for a photo with Jo whose T-shirt suggests another message.

View of Bomana grounds

Bomana Commander Michael Bine (above) told AAP: "The police cells are full and they bring them here.
"We've got no room, either. For every two that go, 20 come.
"The courts are taking too long to see those on remand. Some have been here more than four years waiting for trial."

On Tuesday PNG's only world champion sporting hero Stanley "Headhunter" Nandex visited Bomana jail, 30 minutes drive outside Port Moresby. The kick boxing champ urged prisoners to a life away from crime. But sadly for many, and those who spoke with AAP, conditions in jail are better than living in Port Moresby.
Correctional service commissioner Richard Sikani said it was worrying that life for some in Port Moresby was better in jail.
"A lot of people are saying that. They do crime because they want to go back to jail," he said.
"They get three meals a day, soap, toothbrush, towel, water, blanket, free everything."
Sikani said long remand periods were a well known issue in the law and justice sector.
"I find it hard I can't tell the courts to hurry up. We've spoken to police, the judges. I can't be like a hotel, saying we are full.
"We've raised this so many times. It's one of reasons behind the escapes because they don't feel justice is being done.
Read the full story at the bottom of this page:

Dog Ate My Homework

Dr Theo Yasuase director of PNG's Climate Change told a room full of journalists in Port Moresby leaked documents exposing the illegal sale of carbon credits to up to 39 different international companies were "samples" and he had done nothing wrong.
See the story at


Monday, June 15, 2009

This is Papua New Guinea

PNG Customs/Immigration office West Sepik border. The wheel barrows are to help locals carry bought goods.

Would you like some turtle with the village tour?

Henry, a Papuan living in West Sepik Province, can cross into Indonesia without a visa or passport.

Local waiting for PNG customs official at Vanimo border

"You sure it's okay to jump over the border," I asked, already mid-leap.
"What else we going to do?" my friend said, now standing in Papua New Guinea, to the cheers of entertained locals.
With the fearless can-do attitude of foreign correspondents worldwide and the grace of a circus clown, I made the leap, crossing back from Indonesia into PNG.
PNG must be one of the few countries in the world where at times you have to climb a fence to cross its international border.
It's an entry method probably not discussed at recent PNG-Australia ministers' meetings where Australian Customs committed to further helping PNG Customs modernise their border management.
The biggest problem I had leaving the Indonesian side was young officials questioning why I wanted a wall poster displaying their past political leaders.
The moustached military men on my 1980s illustrated souvenir was quickly confiscated. Another guard unpacked a toiletries bag and out spilled the collection of soaps and balms lifted from various hotels.
He demanded to know, what was inside one thin small cardboard box.
"Toothbrush," my friend obediently said.
They flipped through books, rummaged through dirty laundry, then told us to leave.
Things were a little different back in PNG.
After our leap of faith back to PNG, locals insisted we wait for Customs to arrive.
We explained that when we left several days before we simply crossed the border with a horde of traditional Papua New Guineans, who can come and go without any passport or visa.
We'd left PNG without any official customs or immigration stamp, so didn't see the need for a re-entry stamp.
But the locals called Customs and eventually someone arrived.
Upon hearing our story the official was somewhat flummoxed.
"This is illegal exit," he told us.
"Isn't it illegal entry?" I quipped and received a sharp nudge from my friend.
We retold our story that no one was here to sign us out.
"When no one is here you must wait," he said.
The perplexed official then flipped through our passports staring long and hard into each page, as though it was a magic-eye puzzle and the 3-D images would tell him what to do next.
"Work permits! Come," he said.
A long silence followed.
Then in a self-affirming statement, he finally said: "This is Papua New Guinea."
Another long pause followed.
Indeed, this was Papua New Guinea par excellence, so we humbly nodded.
"You must respect the laws of Papua New Guinea."
And so began a long rambling speech about the integrity of PNG's constitution, sovereign laws and institutions. We'd heard it all before. It's the talk police give you before requesting a "donation".
He then opened his official ledger, where our names would have been, if he had been there the previous time to write them down.
After another long search of the book, he closed it confidently.
"You have not cleared customs," he said.
We humbly nodded.
He returned to the passports with another vacant bureaucratic look, best described as "syntax error".
He then decided to call his manager, the Vanimo police commander and maybe the PNG Defence Force who have a checkpoint down the road.
But he realised he didn't have any mobile phone credit.
Trying to be helpful, I tried my phone but it needed charging. I went to plug the charger into the wall's power point but saw it was mere affectation, just a casing glued to the wall.
In a flash of inspiration the official decided to inspect our bags.
He opened them and rummaged through. He picked up the pile of DVDs that according to a sign behind him were illegal in PNG.
He put them back. He admired our Cobra stronger, longer-lasting erection spray we bought at the border. He smiled, then zipped up the bag.
The Vanimo bus driver was now tired of waiting so he told the official to hurry up - and so ended our interrogation.
We were taken to the police chief and on leaving we apologised profusely, telling him we'd learnt our lesson.
I had to speak to the police chief anyway about a recent incident where the Forest Minister and local MP set up a vigilante style "border ranger" protection unit supposed to protect locals but ended up terrorising villagers. The climax was a police shoot-out with them in front of Vanimo market.
Our ordeal was not yet over. On the way to town the driver took us on a tour of his village.
I thought maybe this was where we would be fleeced but instead he offered us chunks of cold turtle meat.
Conversation shifted from our immigration woes to where we would be staying and where we could get beer.
The driver pocketed an extra 50 kina ($A20) for the ride and a six pack bought from the PNG Defence Force military mess hall, as other liquor outlets were respecting the Queen's Birthday public holiday.
We smiled big smiles, waved goodbye then relaxed into our one-star hotel.
All was forgotten until I spent the next three days languishing bedridden with some fever akin to Tropical Madness.
This is Papua New Guinea.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

PNG Transparency International Walk Against Corruption

The march was led by PNG's Governor-General Paulias Matane, (above shown feverishly warming up). Only three politicians attended, all from the opposition.
Tranparencey International PNG chairman Peter Aitsi (above) also got into the swing of things.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ten Thousand Years in a Lifetime

"To this day talking to a river or to a tree is far more important to me than sitting down and listening to somebody else talking about God. Neither my father nor my mother ever became Christians. I was supposed to bring them to the big evening service on Sunday, and I tried very hard indeed because I was beaten if they didn't come. Occassionally my father went for my sake, but my mother did not go once. I used to receive 15 lashes when neither of them attended, and seven and a half when only one did not attend."

Sir Albert Moari Kiki Ten Thousand Years in a Lifetime. A New Guinea Autobiography. Melbourne, Cheshire, 1968

Friday, June 12, 2009

PNG sky money and more carbon hot air

"Some have asked WWF, 'Who pays for the transport costs?' when they cut their tree, burn the logs and bring the carbon to Port Moresby.
"A lot of people think you sell the gas over the forest canopy and they're not quite sure how to capture it. There is real confusion."

Dave Melick, of the PNG arm of the conservation group WWF.

Here is some more on PNG's embattled Office of Climate Change (OCC), villagers being ripped off and the OCC apparently selling credits despite no legislation or policy. PNG wonders whether the good doctor leading the OCC will still be there for December's Copenhagen meeting?


Swine Flu

Looks like Swine flu has hit PNG....

looks like the flu has hit SMH.com.au with the first paragraph of the story missing , so here it is.

Swine flu is suspected to have reached Papua New Guinea where seven nationals have been quarantined by authorities after returning from Australia with flu-like symptoms.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Climate Change PNG Time

PNG's Office of Climate Change (OCC) director Dr Theo Yasause was to hold a press conference at 2pm today. Journalists diligently turned up on time but were told on arrival the media call was re-scheduled to 3pm.

This is normal PNG mechanics. Uually we get a few free sandwiches, chicken wing and coke. But none of the usual trappings were available and the man of the moment was no where to be seen.

At 3.15pm after more questioning and impatient body language AAP was told Dr Theo's flight from Brisbane had not actually landed in PNG. The press would be informed when the good doctor cleared customs and what time the postponed media conference would be held.

It is now after 4pm. Despite our doubts we have all been assured Dr Theo is very keen to assauge those egregious assertions about all sorts of "apparent irregularities" in the OCC.

The press conference, we've been assured, will happen today, some time. Soon. Any minute now...

nb: text message received 7.44pm "OCC press conf deferred. My apologies. Will advise when."

Papua Don't Preach

I am back in Port Moresby with a bit of catching up to do. I crossed the border into Indonesia for several days in Jayapura then returned to Vanimo where I was struck down with a malarial fever for three days, something akin to Tropical Madness considering the hotel I was languishing in.

In between all this there has been more developments about the strange dealings of PNG's Office of Climate Change -


there has been a report from Sydney on the Porgera mine in Enga Province in PNG's Highlands. It's usually best to visit a place before writing about it and perhaps to learn burning down 'houses' and shooting people are how things get done in PNG - especially the Highlands. Oh and that there's no such thing as innocent villagers. You should be careful who tells you what's what as there are more than three sides to a PNG coin - especially as those suffering "human rights abuse" are not at all interested in seeing the gold mine shut down....


And there was the 19th meeting of PNG and Australian ministers. Seems the two countries can only discuss two perennial topics that forever remains at the forefront of the bilateral relationship- Kokoda and Climate Change.

From a quick glance the meetings didn't even rate a mention in the Aussie press. But from what I understand Australian government will help PNG develop their carbon market - will be interesting to see what happens to all those who've already made a deal with PNG....