Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Pangu Pati leader, Sam Basil
One of the parties that led the country to independence   in 1975 is  undergoing  a revival.
            On the weekend, Pangu Pati held its first  meeting to appoint new executives   since Bulolo MP, Sam Basil took over the reins as party leader.
The Pangu  Pati leadership  wanted the revival to be symbolic. 
The gathering was held in  Muniau villge  in the Bunag area of the Morobe province.  It was where party founders including Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare   established   the party  in the 1970s.
Two weeks ago, Sam Basil announced his move to the Pangi  Pati.  While the general consensus amongst his people is that  he will become  prime minister  when the next government is formed,  Sam Basil,  says it would be unwise to discuss the PM’s post now.
“I don’t think I can announce  that I want to be prime minister,” He said. “If the people want  us to take government we will.  But first we have to show what we can do for them.”
Basil has   enjoyed strong public support  particularly  during the second term in office.  In the 2012 elections be won with an absolute majority using  the Limited preferential voting system.
Much of his  political success has been due to simple  programs aimed at benefiting  large  populations of villagers.   In the Buang, Bulolo and Watut areas of  the Bulolo electorate,   large  amounts of funding are being put to build communications and rural  electricity grids.
Those projects are in turn producing new business ventures  owned and operated by  the people.
Despite the slow release of district funds and ongoing disagreements between the Finance Minister, James Marape  and Sam Basil,  district programs have survived because of   good understanding between the  Bulolo district and contractors tasked to build  various infrastructure.
Next week,  Pangu  Pati offices in Lae and Port Moresby will be  hives of activity.   Basil will be making a personal appeal for Public  funding support.   He  aims to raise up to nine million and  he will be asking  for one kina contributions  from every  citizen of Papua New Guinea.  
He wants the party to be owned and funded  by ordinary  Papua New Guineans and for Pangu politicians to be held accountable by  the people.
It is an ambitious strategy  could turn out to be an embarrassing failure or  a smashing people driven success.

Friday, August 29, 2014


The ultimate thrill of  a journalist is to be  where the action is and to be the first to get the story and pictures.  I'd like to congratulate  Poreni Umau,  who was one of the first to supply pictures of the Tavurvur eruption to an eagerly waiting  PNG audience.  Poreni's updates demonstrated the thrill of being in the right place at the right time.

Tavurvur (Picture from Poreni Umau)
It is now  15 hours since the first  images of   the Tavurvur  volcanic eruption  appeared on social networks.
             Unlike  the  1994 eruption, the flow of information  from this emergency has been  relatively unprecedented. 
             Papua New Guineans all over the country and the world were able to get  near real time updates  as the  spectacular  event unfolded from  4am this morning.
 Some of the initial pictures  were  captured by  Kokopo based freelance  journalist, Poreni Umau,  who was  at the scene    hours after the eruption.
            In a matter of hours they  become some of the most shared pictures of facebook.   He provided  up to the minute reports that  showed  the hour by hour state of Rabaul town and surrounding areas.
             As conventional  media lagged behind, Papua New Guineans turned to social media – particularly facebook -  to   get up to the minute updates from Rabaul.
 Rabaul  residents were woken as early as 4am this morning to loud explosions from the volcano.     Businesses have been forced to close because of ash fall.
            More than 200 police officers from Kokopo and Tomaringa have been deployed   to Rabaul.
 Speaking to EMTV this afternoon, Provincial police commander,  Tony Wagambie  Jr. said  Rabaul has been sealed off but residents have not yet left their homes.
              No eviction order has yet been given and  while this is an emergency, there is no sense of panic amongst residents.  But the concerns  remain that if there is a major eruption, we could see a repeat of the 1994 eruption that buried  the town of Rabaul.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


In a sermon about Wisdom, Catholic Archbishop Steve Reichert draws from nature to inspire his Divine Word University Audience.

During the past year I’ve travelled by plane from Madang to Wewak and back many times.  It is an enjoyable trip.  What a beautiful country we live in.

Following the coastline one sees the high mountains inland, the vast forests, the rivers and the small villages here and there in the bush. 

Then suddenly the mighty Sepik River appears, confidently strolling out of the hills onto the plain, meandering toward the sea.  But just before it accomplishes its mission of depositing its contents into the ocean, it turns back on itself, as if it has lost courage at the last minute.   It twists and turns in indecision before finally making its way through the sandy beach to the sea.  And I said to myself, I’m like that sometimes.  Many of us are like that sometimes and often our fear and indecision is a cause for doing wrong and hurting others.

Ramu River – It is bold, dirty and undisciplined.  It is selfish and greedy. It eats away at the banks and the foundations of the village houses.  It builds up sand and silt like so many excuses until its only escape is to slink off in another unplanned direction.  We all know people like that.  But sometimes we also see him or her when we look in the mirror. How many of us fail to meet the challenges of life with honesty?  It’s easier to run away from responsibility and accountability.  We need wisdom and strength.

Manam Volcano – white smoke and black smoke – arrogant, moody, sometimes angry and dangerous.  It is not reliable.

Karkar Island – Elderly, quiet, stable, settled and generous.  It’s like everyone’s grandmother. 

And then comes the broken coastline of Madang – the little islands and lagoons, the coral reefs – inviting, peaceful and compassionate.

We humans are created in the image and likeness of God, but sin makes us less beautiful than we are meant to be.  But there is hope for us.  Wisdom that comes from loving God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, will restore God beauty in us.  And loving our neighbour as ourselves no matter what, strengthens the gift of wisdom within us.

As you circle to land on the sea side of the airport you might catch a glimpse of Long Island in the distance to the Southeast – across an angry sea to this volcanic island which erupted 300 years ago and made its mark on the world, causing a time of darkness.  It is too far away to see it in detail.  But with the help of modern technology, Google Earth, one can see the great beauty of this volcanic island. 

Long Island features a beautiful blue lake in its spent crater -  and as you scroll closer and closer to it, the name of the lake pops up on your computer - Lake Wisdom.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could drink thewater of that lake and gain wisdom?  (DWU Foundation Day Mass – 22 August 2014)


Smuggled weapon confiscated by police in one of many cases
Ten years ago, sources close to  Chinese criminal  elements operating in Papua New Guinea alerted then  Commissioner  of  Internal Revenue Commission,   David Sode, of threats to  assassinate him.  Sode and  other government agencies were at the time investigating and clamping down on  a  string of  illegal activities  including the proliferation of  cheap gambling machines, lottery tickets and guns.
Weak gun laws offer no protection for ordinary Papua New Guineans
        Those who issued the threats were  arrested and deported  and within  months,  the illegal gaming machines were banned in Port Moresby and  the premises of operators raided.
 Government agencies responded quickly.
              While much of the focus was on illegal gaming machines  and lottery tickets, authorizes still had difficulty clamping down of the owners of illegal weapons.
                In a conversation  with  a senior government official, who cannot be named for security reasons,  he said one  of the men  who allegedly  issued  threats to the former IRC commissioner had “six licenses to kill. ”    All six gun licenses were seemingly legitimate  and were all signed by appropriate authorities.
                Back then, my  ignorance on  the  Firearms act  of 1978 prevented me from understanding that the  main reason  preventing severe action against importers of illegal weapons were  Papua New Guinea’s weak gun laws.
              Ten years on, the gun problem has surfaced yet again. This time with the appearance in a Lae  court  of a foreign   national who  allegedly smuggled in  M4 assault rifles and handguns.   
Police and customs officers dealing  with the case found  that Papua new Guinea’s  Firearms act  of 1978 has not proven to be a strong deterrent against  well financed gun importers who can easily pay the specified fine of K1500.  
               The head  of the  Police  Criminal  Investigation Directorate,   Donald Yamasombi,   has been trying to convince  key government agencies  and legislators  to amend gun laws to reflect  the changing  PNG  landscape. He  maintains the old gun laws do  little to help police deal with security issues in Papua New Guinea. 
               Earlier this year,  in Bogia,  Madang province, police intercepted  a small shipment of guns including M4 carbines commonly used by the US Navy Seals.   What  is worrying for police is the larger network of buyers in the highlands provinces   who are willing to pay up to K20,000 for  a weapon.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Bugandi student shot by police
For years, we’ve heard the rhetoric about the need for  good parenting  and how a good  families  are  the building blocks to  a  good society.    
        This morning,  it hit me  how  we,  as nation,  have allowed our country  to  slip towards  - what I would call -  a crisis point  in our history.
       This morning, I saw  students at the Lae Secondary School having their bags  searched for weapons and other contraband.           While much of the blame have been leveled at the bad influences from student groups,  an equal portion of blame – perhaps more-  should be shared by parents.   Every parent should also ask  themselves several important questions;
           “How much of a positive influence do I have in my child’s life?” 
 “Do I know his friends and where he hangs out after school?” 
“Why is my son or daughter  arriving home at 6.30pm?”
“Why is he spending a lot of time alone with his mobile phone and who is he conversing with?”
Why  have we reached a point in our country’s history  where  secondary school kids  have to undergo bag searches  by security guards?   From 2012 to 2014,  I’ve   covered numerous school fights, one stabbing death, two police shootings of students involved in school fights.
           I’ve witnessed  how  teachers,  including  senior members of the schools,  have become so afraid  of their own students because of the potential physical harm that their  students may cause to them and their families.  Why have  people in positions of authority  become so afraid of exerting  authority?
I hear this a lot: “Let the authorities  deal with the problem.”   But me break  this down into its most simplest  form. 
1.                   The first authority that the child is supposed to recognize  and submit to is the authority of a mother,  a father,  uncles and aunts.   If that authority isn’t respected,  how can we expect that  the rules of this great nation of ours to be followed?

2.    A child is, first and foremost,  the responsibility of  a father and mother.  If left unguided and uncared for,  he or she evolves into a problem  for the government of Papua New Guinea.
Unfortunately,  Papua New Guinea’s justice system  sees things in black and white and has no patience, flexibility nor tolerance for  rogues  who were once children.