Job Hunting Expense: A thousand Kina process for PNG graduates.

Gitty Images

Job hunting expense is the monetary cost looking for job. In PNG, where internet cost is one of the highest in the region, this can be very troublesome for young graduates and students in their final year of studies. Below is a story of how one young graduate, sJuritus Huriamboho, spent K1, 236. 00 job hunting.

“ How job hunting is financially stressful? If you do math on how much you spend looking for job it will surprise you.

On one of my single job Interview it cost me alot. Here’s my experience on how much I spent for the course. The financial expense includes:

I). K6 Rait Card – Job search via internet

II). K20 – Printing & Photocopying (thankfully it was Lae and cheap)

III). K20 – Scanning

IV). (Refer to I above) – sending applications

V). K20 Rait Card – Making follow-ups (by emailing & phone calls) VI). K20 Busfare expenses

VII). K1000 – ticket purchased for two way (Lae to Pom, Pom to Lae)

VIII). K150 – Living expenses in Pom.

So, for single job interview it cost me approx. K1236. Can you imagine if I calculate for hundreds of job applications I’ve applied for…it would be much more higher than this. Job hunting is financially stressful.

The more we apply for job, the more money spend. Receiving NO feedback on our applications it contribute ‘stress’ to our lives. Given the fact of corruptions, I think discipline and good attitude must be the center in recruitment. Too much focus is given on experience and good GPA.”

Powes Parkop is right: privatize PNG Power

City-wide blackout in Port Moresby: PNG Loop

For three consecutive weeks, electricity in Papua New Guinea’s capital went off in the evenings. But this is not unusual for Port Moresby, a city dubbed “one of the least livable cities in the world” by The Economist Unit’s Global Livability Report 2021 in this week.

Powes Parkop, the National Capital District Governor, where Port Moresby City is located, criticized the report as “harsh”. Parkop subsequently wrote a letter to the PNG Minister for State Owned Enterprises to sell PNG Power for the state to sell PNG Power, which provides electricity in most parts of PNG, including Port Moresby. Below is Powes Parkop’s letter.

“SELL PNG POWER – PNG Power is the problem! Not the solution.”

Dear Minister,


I write regarding the above to express, on behalf of the entire community in the City, our deepest concerns and frustration at the continuous power outage and inability of PNG Power to provide reliable and affordable electricity supply. This is a continuous problem, but far from getting better, it seems to be getting worse despite all the initiatives of PNG Power itself and the Government generally.

In the City now, corporate entities are forced to buy back-up generators and become electricians or engage electricians on a full time basis. This not only cuts into their cost and makes the cost of doing business in Port Moresby higher, but also diverts them away from their core business. Instead of focusing on wholesale and retail trading, for example, wholesale and retail companies in the City have to divert their attention to providing electricity to their corporate premises and also homes of their staffs, particularly their Executive Management.

Equally, the individual residents of the City have to not only suffer from unreliable electricity and continuous outage but also the cost passed on by business houses for having to provide their own electricity. Ordinary residents of the City are therefore being hit two or three times over as a result of this situation.

It is my understanding that as a result of the recent commission of new power suppliers, including NiuPower at the LNG Site, there is more than enough electricity for the City. The private power supply from Edevu near Brown River in Central Province, when it commenced operation, gives us absolutely more than enough electricity we need for the City and an economy our size. The problem, therefore, is not one of lack of adequate electricity supply but one of inability to deliver electricity reliably and at affordable level.

Past Governments and Ministers have done their part to help PNG Power to transform itself so it can deliver better, but all these efforts seems to be in vain. It is about time, therefore Minister, that we accept what is obvious and deal with the problem so we can have solutions. In my earnest view the problem is PNG Power Ltd itself. The way it is structured, managed and capitalised simply cannot enable PNG Power Ltd to be a solution. The sooner we, especially you Minister, recognise and deal with this fact, the better it will be. Even if it is an infrastructure problem, PNG Power Ltd is not made out to solve this problem. PNG Power itself is the problem.

I write, therefore, to propose to you and by you, to the Cabinet that we immediately do an inventory and valuation of all PNG Power asset in the City and Central Province and we strip or remove these assets from PNG Power Ltd and sell these assets to a corporate company that can change the dynamics better and completely. Be it a US, Japanese, German, Russian or Singaporean Company, the people of NCD, both corporate and individuals, deserve a better service provider of this critical essential services. Independent State of PNG can continue to have equity in such a Company but as minor shareholders. This has to be and seems to be the only way forward given that PNG Power Ltd does not have the financial capacity to upgrade its infrastructure. The way it is structured and managed too will not give confidence to Banks or financial institutions to offer credit to PNG Power Ltd to recapitalise and rebuild its dilapidating infrastructures. We need to bite the bullet so we change the dynamics completely now. You have the power and privilege to make a difference now and I encourage you to make such bold decisions.

I look forward to sitting with you to explore this and other options your team and KCHL might have but we cannot procrastinate or delay any further.

As this is a matter expressed strongly to me recently, by both corporates and individual residents of our City, I will release copy of this letter publicly to media so the public can follow and contribute to solutions.

Thank you


Good men still live at UPNG?

Students from UPNG protesting against sexual harassment

Drunkard students sexually assaulted a female student. On 7 June 2021 the female students protested against sexual harassment, which is an ongoing issue. They hosted a forum at the UPNG Forum Square to address it. The Media that were present to cover the story were attacked and chased by the male students who didn’t want them to cover the meeting, ironically stating that it would portray a bad image of the institution. Some said it was an “internal matter.” Journalists being attacked made the news in the evening, and next day newspapers had headlines like:

“Home of Intellectuals or Thugs.”

The male students then counter-protested arguing that not all male students harass female students. Their play cards had words like:

“There are Good Men at UPNG.”

There were many views following this incidents on social media. Here, two are re-produced. One by East Sepik Province Governor Alan Bird, and another by UPNG Political Science Lecturer Michael Kabuni.

By GOVERNOR Alan Bird via his Facebook account.

“If you are a good man then act like it

When I was in UPNG, we stood up for women, defended them and treated them with respect. Today these women call us brother still.

You are a good man when you stand up for those who are weaker then you. You are not a good man because you demand it.

What we have just witnessed this past week at UPNG shows very weak character and a lack of appreciation for what constitutes acceptable human behavior in our country.

During my time, girls could move around topless. Nobody groped them, ridiculed them or told them to cover up. There was nothing disrespectful about that. It was normal.

It seems some of our young men have adopted a Taliban mentality where women are supposed to cover from head to toe.

Need I remind you all that our ancestors wore only a loin cloth, shell kambang or mini grass skirt for the women and girls.

All right thinking citizens will criticize your behavior and rightly so. You have clearly demonstrated by your own behavior that you need a serious adjustment to your mental attitude. Your ability to articulate arguments also needs improvement because there is nothing intelligent about it.

If there are any good men left in UPNG then we need to see you first of all apologize to our women and girls, the University lecturers and the country for your silly, thoughtless and unacceptable behavior.

The first act of a Good Man is to acknowledge when he is wrong, ask for forgiveness and make amends. Right the wrong.

Then we need you all to behave like good men so we can see it in your attitude. Treat women with respect.

If you say you are the elite then act like it.

If you say you are the future leaders: act like it.

If you say you are a good man then act like it.

Otherwise, the future leaders of PNG will not be coming from UPNG. You cannot be elite, you cannot be a leader if first of all, you are not a Good Man.

A good man lives by a set of behavioral principles, it’s a way of life.

Respect is given because you earned it. You can’t demand respect by threats or intimidation because not everyone will be afraid of you.”

Alan Bird is Governor of East Sepik Province.

Michael Kabuni via UPNG Political Science Facebook Group

Students attending the forum at the UPNG Forum Square

“The implication of what transpired at UPNG is immense. One thing is for sure: if you are applying for a job in the next few years, and your competition is someone from PAU or DWU, you stand very slim chance. And the “good men” left at UPNG are right to be concerned.

But counter-protesting is the stupidest of alternatives available. If you only worked with the female victims, the security and administration to identify and bring those responsible to justice, you would have sent a very clear message that there are good men at UPNG.

The only evidence that you showed that good men do exist is a counter-protest.

I have friends from private and public sector. And what I hear is that you will have a very tough time trying to get employed in an already limited job market.

As of now, I’ve decided not to write any recommendation or reference for any male student who has taken a subject I taught. Unless I know the person to be good and respectful. I used to limit my recommendations to excellent academic performance (I’ve posted here before that I would only write references for those that scored CR – HD in my subject). Now, I’m not writing references even if you attained HD – not many get HDs anyways. If you’re a boom-box carrying, tribal fighting, women harassing coward, you have no place. It’s going to be the same with many lecturers who you approach for references/recommendations. So if you are one of my students, and took part in the counter protest, don’t request for a reference. I’m obliged to teach, not to pass you or write you a reference.

Character now counts.

Intelligence has failed us.”

Video of students attacking media personnel

Let us know what you think. Comment below.

Don’t Make History a Fairy Tale!

By Gregory Bablis| Plessingsing

[Republished with permission]

Cultures around the world have different concepts of history and of time. The historicity of a people or place crystallizes in many forms etched in the environment, landscape, language, stories, and material culture. Legends, myths, fairy tales, creation stories or origin stories are just some examples. They are historical “artifacts” that can be analyzed for non-fictive content or for universal truths and morals. In the title of this report the phrase “fairy tale” is used to draw a contrast between the word “history”, the former carrying a slightly negative connotation of being more fictive and of less use for present generations – apart from providing amusement and scaring young children into adherence. The articles’ title was in fact a sharp comment made by Mr Ephraim Kavon when I recently spoke with him about local development issues in the Pomio District of East New Britain Province. Kavon is a local leader in the Tol-Masarau Ward 15 area, Sinivit LLG. He serves as Chairman of the school board of the St Paul 2/22 Lark Force Battalion Tol High School (THS) which is run by the Catholic Education Agency. Kavon struggles with the fact that the high school and the Tol Station area in general provided the scene for some major events and atrocities of the Second World War (WWII) and yet there is not as much recognition given by the governments of Papua New Guinea, Japan and Australia as there is to places in Oro and Central provinces through which runs the well-known Kokoda Track.

The THS lies about halfway along a six kilometers stretch of coastline between Tol and Masarau. The glistening white sandy beaches of Henry Reid Bay lie invitingly under the cool respite of shade-giving trees that were purposely left standing when bush and shrubs were being slashed to clear the way for development projects and human settlement.Henry Reid Bay

Henry Reid Bay is the present name given to the inner reaches of the much larger Wide Bay that forms the southern side of the “throat of New Britain Island” – Open Bay forming the upper part of this topographical “throat”. Before WWII and the First World War (WWI) Masarau was known as Waitavolo and this is the name still used on most maps. One interpretation is that Waitavolo is a localized form of the description of the sparkly white sandy beaches which English speakers exclaimed as “whiter flow” when one apparently grabbed a handful and saw the fine white grains pouring out through the gaps in his fingers. The original place name, Masarau, is of (Simbali) Baining origin, from Mẽsrau – mẽs meaning “food” or “to eat” and rau referring to small crabs that can be found along dry creek beds or by the sea. It is the name Bainings use to refer to a nearby creek where the small crabs can still be collected and eaten. The name Tol is a diminutive of the Baining name of the nearest mountain ridge, spelled Tholia. This ridgeline rises some 200-250 meters and forms the backdrop of the thin Tol-Masarau coastline with a larger cul-de-sac indent that accommodates the school grounds and two Sulka villages – Gumgum immediately behind the school and Koki which lies immediately west towards Masarau. The high school was established in 2017 and is fast expanding its building infrastructures. It now boasts two double-story duplex classrooms, a staffroom/administrative building, teacher’s houses, two girl’s dormitories, a boy’s dormitory and an assembly hall. A quadraplex to accommodate living quarters for more teachers, a library building, another duplex dormitory and a double story science lab are currently under construction. These have all been made possible through funding from the Government and the Catholic Church. The THS has grades 9 and 10 and will soon be upgrading to secondary status to include grades 11 and 12.St Paul 2/22 Lark Force Battalion Tol High School (THS) which is run by the Catholic Education Agency.

The first coconut plantations were set up in the area shortly before WWI; foreign logging companies came to the region in the 1980’s, and large scale operations began, with the consent of landowners, in the 1990’s. The first logging companies to arrive were Japanese but from the 1990’s most of the logging in the Wide Bay area has been conducted by Niu Gini Lumber, a subsidiary of the Malaysian logging company Rimbunan Hijau (Tammisto 2010: 44). Today Tol Station lies at the crossroads of a number of district and national government schemes. In 2005 it was selected by former Member for Pomio, Mr Paul Tiensten, to be a Growth Center under the Pomio Economic Development Strategy (2005-2012). With the national government’s Public Private Partnership program, resource developers were supposed to link up and maintain road networks in the Pomio District in exchange for logging concessions. Under the now-failed Special Agricultural Business License concept the Ili-Wawas Road Project was agreed upon and the Department of Environment and Conservation (now the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority) issued an agro-forestry permit to Tzen Niugini (another Malaysian company) to carry out logging followed immediately by oil palm plantations and smallholder estates. But there are many environmental and workers’ rights abuses being perpetrated by resource developers as government authorities lack the capacity or perhaps the will to do proper monitoring and evaluation. These issues will however be the subject of a separate report.

The Japanese landed at Waitavolo not long after taking over Rabaul in January of 1942. They soon set up a base, building military infrastructures that included tunnel networks similar to those found in many places in Rabaul and Kokopo. The largest Japanese tunnel in Masarau can be found not more than a kilometer from the sea at an elevation of 35 m above sea level. The entrance of the tunnel has a width of 7.2 m, a height of 3 m to 4 m in places and burrows into the mountain some 84 m. The tunnel then branches off for an estimated 30-40 meters but the actual depth cannot yet be determined because there is not enough crawl space to make it further in. Today the only occupants of this tunnel are bat colonies, snakes and other nocturnal critters since no sunlight reaches its inner depths. Less than 100 meters away from the tunnel is oil palm plantation belonging to Tzen Niugini.

Japanese soldiers also constructed other tunnels on the ridgeline behind Masarau and the school at 182 m, 185 m and 203 m altitudes. These tunnels are smaller and their entrances are all partly caved in but then open up to heights of 1 m to 2.5 m once one gets in. The largest of these tunnels lies at the highest altitude of the three and goes into the mountainside about 28.3 m at the end of which is a 7.8 m vertical drop and a further 30-40 meters branch into the mountain. There are a few more tunnels in the ridge yet to be found and mapped. Apart from storing things and providing safe shelter during WWII, these tunnels could have also been used to keep prisoners – both soldiers and locals.

The Australians took over Tol and Waitavolo later in 1944 and held these areas until the end of the war. Their graded roads and fighting positions can be found on the same ridgeline on the western saddle and eastern terminus. All these and other war surplus materials now lie under jungle and in the mountains overlooking Tol, Masarau, the high school in the middle and skirted by expanding oil palm and logging activities.

By popular consensus the THS was in 2017 bestowed the lengthy name it now bears. Kavon has been board chairman since March of 2020. The story of the ill-fated members of the 2/22 Lark Force Battalion is well known locally. A small regiment made up mainly of members of that battalion were left to guard Rabaul Town after it had been evacuated early in 1942. When Japanese soldiers of the South Seas Detachment invaded Rabaul on 23 January, soldiers and civilians alike fanned out escaping over the Baining Ranges. About 200 Australian soldiers trekked all the way to Tol to wait for a rescue that never took place. They were instead met by Japanese soldiers who had pursued them by boat. In the events that occurred from 3 February, 160 Australian soldiers were massacred between Tol and Waitavolo. And of these only nine of their remains have been found and reinterred at Bitapaka War Cemetery in Kokopo.
Kavon knows the importance of keeping local histories alive and building important national and international relationships through such histories and naming practices. Through recognition of the high schools name, Kavon has established a sister relationship with Tallarook Primary School in Victoria, Australia, which is near where the Lark Force Battalion had a training base in the war period. In 2018 Kavon proposed the name Daniel Ousley Memorial Early Childhood School for a startup that has a classroom not far from the wartime airstrip at Tol Station. Daniel Joseph Ousley was one of the youngest soldiers of the 2/22 Lark Force Battalion to be killed by the Japanese at Tol. A contingent of the Ousley Family visited Tol in 2018 to honour their ancestor and see the place where he was slain and where his body still remains undiscovered among 151 other of his comrades. The early childhood school is run by the Seventh-Day Adventist Education Agency.
Kavon has proposed to name the new high school oval – to be graded and constructed later this year – after His Royal Highness Prince Henry (William Frederick Albert 31/03/1900-10/06/1974) who served as Australia’s Governor-General from 1945 to 1947. In the photograph below, which is dated 02 July 1945, he can be seen inspecting a parade of local soldiers attached to the Allied Intelligence Bureau in Wide Bay. At the time he was visiting the headquarters of the 13 Infantry Brigade and Tol Plantation camps.(Photograph reference:

A locally-renowned war hero will also be honoured in the name of a proposed museum for Tol Station. The Hon. Sergeant-Major Paranis Kawatpur was a Sulka man who during WWII served in the Australian Military Force and the Allied Intelligence Bureau. He was later awarded the King George Medal, the King George Star and the Independence Medal in 1975.

In the photograph below Sergeant-Major Kawatpur can be seen walking with his wife at the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit District Services Tol Refugees Camp at Sipilangan Village, Wide Bay. The photograph is dated 29 July 1945.(Photograph reference:

Apart from the more recent military heritage, evidence of the areas ancient history can still be found. Some years ago a local man in Masarau found in his garden, not 100 meters from encroaching oil palm plantations, two club heads with holes drilled in the middle.

The club heads are believed to be of Baining origin. Locals say that papait (magical incantations) would have been used to make easier the task of drilling holes into the hard rock. They suggest that the club heads would not have been latched with rope as is done with stone adzes. Rather, a suitable sized stick would be fashioned and wedged into the hole in a tight fit and this would be sufficient to hold the club head in place. The longer end of the stick would then serve as the handle. Locals suggest that the clubs were used for close quarter combat. The local who found these stone artifacts has agreed to donate them to the National Museum & Art Gallery in Port Moresby for proper preservation.

Having a three dimensional concept of time is the hallmark of the successful metropolises and institutions of this world. Many traditional African religions for instance are said to have a two dimensional concept of time that consist of a long past and a present. According to Mbiti, for many African religions, time moves backwards from the present and so the future which lies beyond the horizon of the present is not thought about or considered “actual time” (Mbiti 1969: 17).

The more successful and so-called universal religions of the world on the other hand provide a third dimension in their theologies that take into account the future and which provide for the opportunity of spiritual redemption and resurrection after physical death. So too must our development pursuits be three dimensional allowing for the revitalization of our histories (the past) in the present. These histories must be given new life and significance for the present in the way that Kavon’s naming agenda or a museum exhibition allows for the rekindling of old connections for new relationships. Said differently, three dimensional development projects must be carried out sustainably so that future generations can continue to benefit from the same land and resources without losing something of the cultural and biodiversity values of the place and environment known to peoples of the past. Kavon’s striking comment, “Don’t make history a fairy tale!” is as much a caution to protect our local cultures and histories and the materiality of these left in the environment and on the landscape, as it is a critique of the destructive tendencies and one dimensional approaches of government and corporate developers.

Mbiti, J. S. 1969. African Religions & Philosophy. London: Heinemann.
Tammisto, T. 2010. Strengthening the State: Logging and Neoliberal Politics in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea. Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 1/2010, 44.

Disclaimer: The views in this report belong solely to the author.

Vaccines intended for PNG going to foreigners in PNG?

This photo by Joel Hamari from ‘The National’ newspaper confirms what I saw on 17 May 2021 at Rita Flyn:

That foreigners dominated Rita Flynn, where vaccines are administered, to get vaccinated!

The sad thing is, I wasn’t surprised when I saw many foreigners lining up for the vaccines at Rita Flynn – vaccines that were sent for Papua New Guineans. Viscous misinformation campaign has dominated WhatsApp groups and Facebook groups in PNG since vaccines were announced. I’ve witnessed unprecedented level of conspiracy in PNG against vaccines. Unprecedented in terms of number of people sharing content that discredits vaccines, as well as the number of educated professionals who are critical of vaccines.

ABC International Development and the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme reported that 62% of Facebook posts about Covid-19 vaccines in the Pacific region make unsubstantiated claims about vaccines, with popular falsehoods including that vaccines have been manufactured to track personal data, are counter to the foundations of the Christian faith, and impact fertility, circulated widely across the region.

PNG is a country of about 8-9 million people, so the 132, 000 AstraZeneca donated to PNG via CONVAX will hardly put a dent in PNG’s response to COVID-19 in PNG. Every dose should be going to Papua New Guineans who, unlike the foreigners in PNG, have limited access to quality heath facilities except government run facilities which are mostly run down and struggling to keep up with demands from the populace.

When the vaccines arrived, preference was given to the front line workers, starting with health workers, and later on vaccines were offered to the public. I was part of the UPNG staff who were asked to get vaccinated. It was voluntary. Less than half of the staff went to Rita Flyn where the vaccines are administered. I’m not sure whether it was vaccine hesitancy or the email (toksave) was sent out late, which resulted in low turn out. Perhaps both.

At Rita Flyn, I saw Europeans, Indians, Asians and Papua New Guineans. I didn’t keep a tally, but for the two or three hours I was there, I saw many foreigners lining up. At one time, the chairs before me were dominate by foreigners.

It’s a concern that less PNGeans are showing up for the vaccines. It’s open for the public, after the front liners were vaccinated. But it’s sad to see many Papua New Guineans hesitating to get vaccinated.

Vaccines are scarce, especially in PNG. And the little we have seems to be benefiting the the foreigners in PNG. Because Papua New Guineans are reading and watching too many conspiracy content.

Since we are trying to make PNG a Christian country, let me quote a scripture from the Bible, Hosea 4:6:

“My people perish because of a lack of knowledge…”

If people die in PNG from COVID-19, the reasons will be twofold: first, there is a break down in health system; but second, a lack of correct information or rejection of science.

Our front liners and PM and ministers and departmental heads and teachers and lecturers have been vaccinated. So if vaccines do kill people, PNG should be in disaster mode by now. By now you should have lost most, if not all, of your medical doctors and nurses, your PM and politicians, and departmental heads and teachers.

I got vaccinated. And out of curiosity I placed a coin on my arm where I was injected but the coin fell! There are videos circulating on WhatsApp groups showing coins getting stuck on the arm after vaccination. A friend of mine then explained that coins get stuck on smooth surfaces, so the upper arm where there’s less hair, coins will get stuck, especially if the arms are a bit sweaty (in the 37 degrees POM city, you’re sure to be sweating).

The coin fell off my arm where I was injected

After vaccination I felt pains on the second day. The nurses explained that that would be the case. I was advised to drink panadol and get some rest so that’s what I did. It’s the third day and I’m feeling good.

So my people, got get vaccinated.

Video: Dame Carol Kidu Speaks to UPNG students

Carol Kidu. PC: Sydney Morning Herald

Earlier I posted a transcript of Dame Carol Kidu’s talk. Now I’m posting the video:

The full transcript was published earlier in this blog:

Haus Man, Let’s Talk About Violence Against Women

For those who don’t know, my name is Michael Kabuni, and ‘Academia Nomad’ is my personal blog. I’m writing this from my heart… appealing to my brothers, uncles, students, male colleagues and men of PNG to respect women, and value their lives.

I’m writing this piece after reading how a professional PNG man who has a PhD killed his wife, rapped her in a canvas, and was on his way to dump her remains when police conducting routine checks discovered her (might make news tomorrow). She is Imelda Tupi Tamanda. This comes after two women were tortured right here in the heart of PNG’s capital – Port Moresby.

Violence against women was supposed to be illegal, uncivilized, and sinful. But it’s obvious that starting from villages where men burn women in the name of sorcery, to tales in settlements and cities, to professional men, in every strata, men are guilty of perpetuating violence and murder against women.

I don’t personally know Imelda, but as a professional working class man, it really hurts to know we lost someone of that caliber. I feel like I lost someone I know.

This afternoon I felt that something within me died. I have a passion for research. I write articles on politics of PNG. But now I feel like I’ve been writing about things that don’t really matter. What good is all the analysis and debate, if women are raped, tortured and murdered each week? What good is education if PhD holders kill women? What good is development when women are tortured in the capital of our city? It all means nothing guys, if we continue to kill our own kind.

Where on God’s green earth can I find an justification for the violence perpetrated against our own kind? How can we, in an era where we send and receive message in an instant; conduct lectures and conferences online; have breakfast in Wewak and have dinner in Daru the same evening….. still perpetuate something as primitive as torturing women? How can we have 97% professed Christians in PNG and still take the life of our women in cold blood murder?

Can we all please stop, and have a serious conversation about the plight of women?


It’s not an UN Women issue. It’s not a women group’s issue. It’s not an NGO issue. It’s not a donor country’s issue. It’s a PNG issue. And when we have a serious issue in our villages and clans and tribes….men talk. PNG men, let’s talk about violence against our women. Let’s end this.

The plight of women must be discussed in the halls of Haus Man. It is a serious matter.

Pastors, preach it using the pulpit that wife bashing is wrong. It’s a SIN.

Lecturers and teachers, condemn it in class.

Young man tell your peers it’s wrong to raise your hands against women.

Chiefs, tell your tribe to respect woman. The conversation must enter the sacred halls of Haus Man.

We must all rise up. Seriously there is no justification to raise your hand against any woman. If you don’t want her, please let her go. Don’t kill her. She’s someone else’s daughter, grand daughter, sister, mother etc.

Make it personal. Say no to violence against women.

I pray to God that we will know and value human life. That we can live in peace. Yumi kilim yumi yet ya. Displa pasin mas stop.

Melanesian Man, Say No To Violence Against Women!

Difference between state lease, certificate of titles, and customary lad

A Chinese company recently started evicting settlers at the “First Block” at ATS Settlement. This follows those evicted from 9 Mile Settlement. Clifford Zaneng explains the difference between State Lease, Certificate of Titles, and Customary Land. Basically, state land lease lasts for 99 years, certificate of titles leases lasts 25 years but is still a customary land, and customary land cannot be leased.

By Clifford Zaneng


I am compelled to write this piece as I am increasingly finding to many of my friends and others making the mistake of entering into Land purchase transactions without appreciating the difference between a STATE LEASE and a CERTIFICATE OF TITLE.

Whilst others may say this is not the correct forum for this discussion, I will say it is, for the fact that the other places that such advice is available you will not have access to them without an entry fee. 😉

Let’s begin.

A STATE LEASE is the most secured Land acquisition mode in our country. Recent evictions at ATS and the BUSH WARA 9 Mile on behalf of the State Lease holders confirm this.


The main similarities with a STATE LEASE and a CERTIFICATE OF TITLE are:


The STATE LEASE and a CERTIFICATE OF TITLE will both have a REGISTERED SURVEY, which has been registered with the Surveyor General’s Office at the Lands Department and it would have been issued a CAT No.

If you are shown a Registered Survey go a step further and request to see a copy of the title.


Whilst both the STATE LEASE and a CERTIFICATE OF TITLE are registered with the Register of Titles at the Lands Department, the process of registration is different.

For now I’ll say the STATE LEASE is less controversial, however, the CERTIFICATE OF TITLE is issued after the Land Titles Commission (LTC) hearing is done and LTC has made a determination after receiving evidence and arguments from contending Landowner Groups.

The process also involves the Incorporated Land Groups (ILG) made up of the clans and not individuals, so if you are receiving the CERTIFICATE OF TITLE from an individual, request for the ILG Certification, his relation to the ILG and the LTC determination that led to his CERTIFICATE OF TITLE being registered.

DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE. This is a MUST that is strongly recommended.


The following are some of the main differences between an STATE LEASE and CERTIFICATE OF TITLE.


With a STATE LEASE you can lease the land for 99 years before applying for a State Lease renewal with the State, who owns the Land.

In a CERTIFICATE OF TITLE the lease is for 25 years (under the current arrangements) and the land reverts back to the ILG after the 25 years. It reverts to the ILG as Customary owner of the Land.


Commercial Banks and Financial Institutions will not give you a Mortgage or any other Loan against a CERTIFICATE OF TITLE.

Zero Kina from the Commercial Banks and Financial Institutions.

This is because the ownership of land under the CERTIFICATE OF TITLE is customary and customary ownership is not transferable.

Meaning the banks can’t recover the land in the case of a default and sell or transfer the Land because they can’t do that under the existing Land laws of PNG.



The difference it has to other Customary Land is that it’s registered and the others aren’t.

Even if it’s registered REMEMBER the law is that, CUSTOMARY LAND cannot be SOLD.

Thank you. Em tasol.

This should be enough for you to think about.

DISCLAIMER: Seek competent legal advise and do your due diligence when purchasing land. This advise is for your guidance and food for thought and should not be used as the basis of your decision making.

Carol Kidu: How did I win, win and win again?

Dame Carol Kidu. PC: Sydney Morning Herald

By Danny Eric Agon

This is a complete transcript of Dame Carol Kidu’s Talk to the students of the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG). On 23 April 2021, the UPNG Political Science Students Association invited Dame Carol Kidu to give a talk on her time in Parliament, as part of their Political Science Seminar Series. This is a transcript of her talk, including her responses to the questions from the audience. Insights from this talk that are very useful for women [and men] contemplating contesting for elections. It covers strategies on how to win, consolidate political power, win again, and again. Tips on how to deal with male counterparts, when to take on ministerial portfolios, and when not to and be strategic. She also talks about the efforts in previous years to increase women representation in parliament, which is useful for understanding the recent announcement on the proposal for five regional reserve seats for women in PNG before the 2022 national elections.

Kidu was in Australia at the time, so she spoke to the students via zoom. Kidu represented Port Moresby South electorate in the National Capital District from 1997 to 2012. She resigned at the end of 2012. Below is a transcript of her talk.

Transcript of Kidu’s talk

 I saw the questions you wanted to ask about my experience in politics. I think perhaps I’ll start taking about the situations for women in politics according to our [PNG] Constitution. Constitution is our Mama Law [Mother Law]. Not our Papa Law [Father Law]! It’s our Mama law. The most powerful law in the country. And the Constitution is very clear, we have the National Goals and Directive Principles, National Goal 2 is on Equality and Participation. National Goal 2, Directive Principle 5 is very clear about the fact that women should have equal opportunities to be involved in all parts of the life, political, social, economic and religious areas of the life.

Our Constitution is very clear, about equality for women to have participation. If you go to section 50 of our Constitution, it actually talks about equal opportunity. For women to take part in all forms of political life in Papua New Guinea, section 50 of the Constitution.  AndI always say to my colleagues in Parliament

“ Its ok to say that women have an equal opportunity to stand but do women have equal opportunity to win?”

 And we all know the answer to that. Women do not have equal opportunity to win in politics in Papua New Guinea. And it’s not because men are better than women or women are better than men. It’s just that so many factors going against women trying to go into politics in Papua New Guinea.

We call ourselves a representative democracy but we are not a representative democracy in Papua New Guinea if half of the population has no representative in the parliament.  If we have 10% of the population are not represented in parliament, if disabled people, people with various forms of disability have no voice on the floor, I don’t think we are a representative Democracy when we wanted to be a representative democracy. 

So there is a big task ahead of us, and you [students] are extremely important. As young people, young men especially and young women to understand that it is extremely important to have women in decision making. You might know that the Chancellor of Germany, who would be our equivalent of our Prime Minister, just retired from her political career. She was really a leader. We have many Papua New Guinean women who can be real leaders, same as brilliant male leaders. And it’s just ridiculous to waste all that capabilities.  So that’s the first thing.

Second, our Constitution is very clear, and our Constitution allows for nominated seats. But we have never been able to get enough women on the floor of the parliament to be a critical mess. I was there most of my time, for the first 5 years [1997 – 2002] Josephine Abaijah and I were together in Parliament. For the last 10 years [2002 – 2012] I was there by myself. One person, one women on the floor of the Parliament is not enough. And after 2007 campaign, when I won, I truly thought there would be women on the floor with me, because we changed from First Past the Post to Limited Preferential Limited and I thought that would help women come onto the Floor but it didn’t because I was there by myself. And that’s why I decided to do very huge amount of lobbying to try to get women on the floor.

I always said when I won in 1997, I would do three (3) terms if the people of Moresby South would need me and I would retire. I didn’t want to stay in more than 15 years, I think we do what we can and should move on. When I found out that I am the only woman again in 2002. Being a naturalized citizen, I was not an indigenous woman of Papua New Guinea. We need indigenous women on the floor of the parliament. And so we lobbied, Not me, I didn’t do it, it was a coalition of women, the National Council for Women, Women in Politics, business and professional women, and many, many groups worked on the efforts we put in those 5 years. We tried to get women on the floor. 

The first thing we worked on, as you probably know, was the Reserved Seats. And there’s good things about Reserve Seats and there are also bad things about reserved seats. But as you know in Bougainville we do have reserve seats for three (3) women. And in the last election, we have three women elected for the reserve seats, plus Honorable Theolina [Theolina Roka Matbob] who won one of the Open Seats. She stood against man and she won so we have four (4) women in Bougainville [Bougainville House of Representatives]. We know that in our Motu Koita Assembly, I participated and passed legislation for the Motu Koita Assembly [when in parliament]. We have two women in our Motu Koitan assembly, elected through the two researve seats. 

In our Constitution, section 102 allows for elected people and nominated people. There is a provision for three nominated persons. It’s never been used yet in Papua New Guinea. Twice before me, two male MPs have tried to use that provision to nominate women to parliament but they did not succeed. 

We put a big process in place to try to put three women in parliament through section 102. We put expression of interest, like applying for a job, and we got in 78 applications to become nominated women of Parliament. A human resource company sorted them all. And then we had a penal of women from all sorts of organizations in Papua New Guinea who shortlisted 12 women [out of the 78 women applicants]. 

The panel was not just political organisations, we had Professor Betty Lovai from UPNG, she was on this penal and if you want, you could ask her about it. She was part of this panel. And this penal looked into the 78 applications, I never saw them because I never wanted any political interferences. And from there, 78 applications they trimmed it down to 12 for interview. One of the women was overseas so it ended with 11 women, who were interviewed. And they took that down to six (6) and out of the six, the Prime Minister and the leader for the opposition were meant to choose three (3) that they were both comfortable with to bring onto the floor of Parliament under of section 102 of the Constitution. 

Politics is a very funny game. I had actually heard from the Opposition leader at that time stating that they would support this. And just the night before the vote, they pulled plug on us. 

And so when we went to Parliament the next day and heard the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader went to look at the six (6) name, he informed us that they had decided that they would not support it. So that was very disappointing because we could have three (3) women there on the floor. It wasn’t that they were going there easily, they were qualified women but when it came tovote, the opposition didn’t put their numbers out. We didn’t have enough numbers because we need absolute majority to get it through. So that failed. 

And it’s [section 102] still there. Any Prime Minister could use that provision to bring some women on the floor of the parliament if they are really committed to have women on the floor of the Parliament. It’s there. The provision exists. 

At the same time, we were working on the reserved seats one; it was always going to be difficult. It had to be a by-election so we had to have an electoral boundary. We chose a provincial seat so there would be a governor, and a woman MP. It was the difficult one because to have an election, you have to have a boundary. It was very difficult and there are things against it but we did work really hard on it. Women did roadshows all across the country. There were lots and lots of awareness. Huge amount of awareness were done. 

We prepared folders for all members of the parliament and every member of the Parliament got a folder about what we were doing. We had supports from all sorts of women organizations from the churches, from overseas etc., so we had lots and lots of supports letters in the folders for the men. 

When it came to vote, the first section was to change the Constitution, to make a special provision in the Constitution for reserved seats to be added to section 101 of the Constitution. It had the provision number ‘d’  [section 101(d) of the Constitution] for special reserved seats.

 Now that got passed on the floor of the only required a simple majority. Women were rejoicing, they though it was finished. And that provision still exists in our Constitution since it was passed. Section 101 (d) of the Constitution says that there should be special reserved seats for women as define by an organic law. The organic law that was supposed to be passed would follow the provincial boundaries, creating 22 reserve seats. 

Then in 2011, as you know there was an overthrown of the government. The Late Sir Michael was in Singapore in hospital and Honorable Peter O’Neill took over the leadership of the government. And so Sir Michael started boycotting Parliament. I didn’t boycott because I was still running this legislation and I just sat in the middle benches till I became leader of the opposition of two people, which was a crazy situation. When it came to try to pass the organic we didn’t get the numbers. So again, that provision still exist in our constitution. Any committed prime minister could use that provision, section 101 (d), which allows for special seats for women as defined by an organic law. 

And that’s what they are working for, at present I believe, they are going to make 5 seats at regional level. Whether it get passed or not for 2022 I don’t know. But we don’t want another term of parliament which is zero number of women on the floor. So any of you who wants to do some lobbying, please do some lobbying for parliament to complete that work. I know they are working on it and to get it passed to allow for 5 women from regional level. And they would have a lot of help from parties because it’s very impossible for women to campaign over all regions. And so the partied would push forward the women.

So how did I end up in politics?

To be honest, I never voted [for any candidate] until I voted for myself. As you all would know, my late husband was a former Chief Justice of Papua New Guinea, and as a Chief Justice he made a conscious decision not to vote in election because he didn’t want to be all political so we never voted. Because he just never wanted to be political at all. Because he was very strong on the independence of the judiciary.  I actually never voted. I knew nothing about politics. Before my husband died in early 1994, after he had not being reappointed as Chief Justice, a lot of people were coming to him saying they wanted him to stand for politics . And he used to say to them “wait six months, come back to me and I’ll give you the answer.”

 He never answered people whether he would stand or not. After the day he died of a sudden heart attack, I guess I was extremely angry. I was angry because I felt it was very unfair because he would have been an exceptional politician. I stood because of that. I knew nothing about politics: I was a teacher by profession. 

I stood and if you think about it, I had a big advantage. I was a widow, a fairly recent widow of the late Chief Justice who had been very highly respected for his work. And so I had what you would call the ‘sympathy vote’. It was a sympathy vote that came in that helped me to win the first election in 1997. I worked very hard, I campaigned very hard, I had a superb campaign team but the sympathy vote was a big push for me to get into politics. And so there’s no doubt about that. 

Being Buri’s widow helped me stepped into politics, but then is it up to me to prove myself. My biggest interest in politics was to be parliamentarian and I tried to do as much as I could for the electorate in terms of social development like preschool works, Guinea Gada, upskills training for young people. 

I wasn’t a project type lady, and I never ever – and I’m very proud of this – had my name put on anything. Because it was not my money, it was the people’s money and each second year Moresby South would give vehicles to the police and they wanted to put my name on it – “donated by Dame carol Kidu, Member for Moresby South” –  and I would say:

 “No, if you do that I will not release the funds. It is not my money, if you put something on, ‘put donated by the people of Moresby South’”.

 Because I felt it is a very important thing that members should separate themselves from the money because it is not their money. So I focused more on policies, and parliamentary things. I focused not on projects so much but on programs like early childhood, skills training for youths, and women, HIV work and things on that.  I think it was the work with people at grass-root level like preschool that help me to win again and to win again two times. Perhaps the people heard about the policies work I was doing. I think some of them, particularly the urban people were aware that the real job of a politician is policies and legislations. And I did a lot of legislative reform, to do with violence against women, to do with rape, all of those areas of legislation were amended during my time. The Lukautim Pikinini Act was done during my time, the disabilities policies, the early childhood policy, and I focused a lot on policies. Some of them have never been implemented but at least they are there and some day they’ll get implemented. There’s nothing important about me going into parliament. I went it through ‘sympathetic votes.’ And I worked really hard to stay in. And I wanted all of you to be champions for women in politics. We need women in Parliament.

I will stop here and take questions.”

Questions from Students

 The first question from a student in the audience (Henry Murau):

As the female member of the parliament, what was the main challenge for you?”

Dame Carol Kidu’s Response

As a female, the only female there, you’re kind of isolated.  When you are in the NEC, in the cabinet and have a ministry, you are part of that, but if you are not, you are kind of isolated from some of the things that are going on. I preferred to be isolated but sometimes it means you not really clear of the “games behind the games.” Politics is played on many levels. And I was never involved in the inner circles, even though all the people thought I was. I kept myself out of the inner circles and focus on my work. I didn’t particularly want to be inside the inner circles because you will hear things you don’t want to hear: some of the thing that goes wrong in politics in every country of the world, not just Papua New Guinea. So I just focused on things on my ministry and work on that. 

I would say here that I am very grateful for late Sir Michael Somare. Because he gave me the opportunity to serve as a minister and in politics, especially to become a minister, your party should have like three members on the floor, to be given one ministry. Six members, you are given give two ministries. Nine members, your party gets three ministries.  That’s how it is done. It is not about who is the best person to do the job. It’s about the numbers game of politics. And what numbers the coalition would be. And in 2007, I was part of the Melanesian Alliance Party. I was not part of Sir Michael’s party. We had only 3 members, and so we should only get one ministry. Sir Moi Avei [member of Melanesian Allliance Party] was a senior politician than me, and he became deputy prime minister. He also had a senior ministry, but Michael also gave me a ministry. I can tell you there were many men objecting because they said: 

“They [Melanesian Alliance] don’t have enough numbers, she should not be given a ministry.” 

But Sir Michael stood completely firm, saying, “sorry gentlemen this is non-negotiable, she will be in my cabinet.”

 And if you think about it, Sir Michael appointed the first female minister of Papua New Guinea, the late Nahau Rooney. He was very quietly, supportive of women. And in 2002 and in 2007 it was the same, I was the only person in the Melanesian Alliance who won. I was a 1-person party but he still gave me a ministry even though we didn’t have the numbers. I was very grateful because sir Michael was very proactive and gave me the opportunity to do the work I did in the ministry that I had. And I always acknowledge him for that because if you are not in a ministry, there are not many opportunities to change policies and legislations.

Second question from a student in the audience: 

“From your experience as a long term female parliamentarian in Papua New Guinea, what would you say is the main blockage for the indigenous female Papua New Guinean women to become a parliamentarian?”

Dame Carol Kidu’s Response

It’s a huge question and there’s a lot of writing done about it. Number one, it has nothing to do with the capabilities of women, the indigenous women. They are capable of being very good politicians. But is more to do with the mindset of the communities, and things like that. The communities in general don’t see politics as something for women. They don’t see it as suitable place for women. They see politics as something for men. Because traditionally, it was mainly men who went out and did the speeches, did the public distribution as in a feast, and bride prices and things like that. But we all know that behind the scenes, women had a lot of influences. And we still haven’t got those communities mindset change. But its ok for women to be in the public spheres as leader as well. And it’s the community that votes and I believe our push forward to have women into politics… yeah we can try the reserved seats as well, but its really important that people like yourself go back to your communities and try to influence some mindsets of the community. You know very well that in your communities, many women are great leaders. It has to begin with change in the mindset of the people because it’s the people who vote. I really think the mindset is a really big problem. 

The other big problem is that politics has sadly got into money politics in Papua New Guinea. When I stood for politics in 1997, money politics wasn’t very strong. But by the time I did my last campaign in 2007, I had to fundraise a lot of money, but then it wasn’t enough to try to run the campaign.  That’s not money for bribery, or giving out money. And we all know there’s a lot of money politics being played in the political game in Papua New Guinea, It’s illegal but It happens and so that is a very hard thing for women too. Most women don’t have that type of financial backup to fund their campaign. Papua New Guinea is a very hard country to campaign in to try to get all around your electorate. 

Again I was very lucky, I was in Moresby South. I could drive around my all electorate in one day whereas women who are standing in rural remote areas, it’s very hard for them to get around to the communities.  And she needs to partner with the males, get other people on how she would get around to actually campaign. So the money factor is a very hard factor for women in politics, there’s big money played. 

Another factor is that parties don’t like to endorse women. Parties want to endorse winners because that’ll get them into chance of being Prime Minister. If they get enough people, they can become the Prime Minister as the party leader. So they often don’t want to endorse women because they feel the women are not winners. And so there’s legislative reform happening at present, you might know about it, again you can lobby for this. Dr. Alphonse Gelu [Registrar for Office of Integrity of Political Parties & Candidates Commission] who is very strong in his work with the political party integrity commission and they put through a legislation that all partied must at least endorse 20% females. It hasn’t been passed yet, hope it will be passed. So the political parties should also take responsibilities for trying to get women into politics. Because women can do a very good job, once they are there, they need the backup as well. It’s not an easy job. Actually it’s very hard. And you need to make sure that there are enough people there to help them and backed them up. 

When I was in politics, I wish I had a very big research team around me but I didn’t have that. I had to rely on doing a lot of research myself. So as woman going in, please other women and men help them with the knowledge and research that they need. Because in national politics, they need to understand policies, they need to understand laws and understand what they are going there for. And I’m sure most of them do know what they going in for. As for me, I knew what I wanted to influence before I went in and the other things which I focused on.  I didn’t do them all but I got some of them done. 

So number 1: please go out to your communities and convince your communities its ok to vote for women. Convince your women not to vote for money. It doesn’t give you the best person necessarily. Convince your people to look at the qualities of the person that is going in and look at whether they will really care about the people. And don’t become part of the money politics.

Third questions from a student: 

‘You said you were not able to win/lobby about equality of representation for women in the parliament – the reserved seats for women. Is it because the members did not understand the Constitution – about equality – is it because you were a dual national in the parliament, and that it was some kind of a racism in the parliament that you could not be able to convince the members. 

Dame Carol Kidu’s Response

I am a naturalised citizen; dual citizen cannot stand for parliament. And that was to my advantage in many ways. It wasn’t racism. In fact, some males used to say to me and I found this disgraceful. They said to me “we don’t mind you being here but we don’t want our own women in here.” And now you think about that, that’s a terrible statement. They didn’t mind me in there, but they wouldn’t want their own women in parliament. I will leave you to think about that. That statement said to me by several members. 

The actual vote fell in the end because the parliament had fallen apart because of the VONC against the late Sir Michael Somare by Peter O’Neill and there weren’t enough members on the floor of the parliament to pass the organic law. But even if there had been more members on the floor, it would have been a hard vote to get through because a lot of men were not comfortable with that. Particularly because it was 22 seats. The present work being done is 5 seats – 5 regional seats. 

I don’t see not passing that has as a failure. There was a huge amount of advocacy done, a huge amount of lobbying. And if you think about it, in 2012, three women actually won because of it. After all that efforts and the tidal waves, and there were videos on television saying, “tell your member to vote for the legislation.” And as a result of that, three women did win, because it was enormous; lobbying, advocacy, raising about awareness. And since then, the lobbying and awareness die away. In 2017 those three women lost their seats so we ended up with no women in the parliament now.  That’s a sad outcome and we got to make sure the same doesn’t happen in 2022. I believe they will be some women win in 2022 by the normal process. But I hope there would be some reserved seats to at least increase the number of women. Covid-19 has made it very difficult to make a lot of awareness, and lobbying but I do feel some of the women who stand in 2022 are going to make it. They’ll be excellent politicians. 

A fourth question sent to Dame Kidu through chat box in zoom: 

“The number of women who contested in 2017 was only 6% of the total candidates. Is it possible that the low or no demale MPs wining in elections has to do with very low number of female contestants?

Dame Carol Kidu’s Response

Actually the number of women contesting has increased. Every election it has increased but is far fewer than men which is true. And I’ve been saying to women:

 “if you’re interested, just go for it. Put your name on it. It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, just make a very clear statement that women want to be in there. Get people to help you pay the nomination fee, campaign the best as you can. Don’t worry about money just make that statement we want to be in there.” 

And I think I would like to see as many as possible contesting so that the numbers go up a lot more. It would probably increase the chances of winning.

Another question sent to Dame Kidu through chat box in zoom: 

“What would be your adivse to young women who may be interested in contesting in an election in the future?”

Dame Carol Kidu’s Response

You have to have determination. Enormous determination. You have to be willing to diplomatically argue your points, not confrontationally. In Papua New Guinea I wouldn’t do confrontational arguments with men because it’s uncomfortable for men and we know that. But you have to learn how you could diplomatically developing your arguments on why you are going there and it’s really important to know what you want to do. Why you going into politics? What are the things that you wanted to influence? If you are women, do you want to improve the maternal mortality rate? Five women would have died in Papua New Guinea today giving birth. And maternal Mortality rate is really high. Do you want to work on that issue and try to improve reproductive health system of women or do you want to work on economic empowerment of women? Or do you just want to work on women and man issues? And I would say we got to work on people issues, not just women issues. Because women issues are men issues and I think it’s important we don’t isolate the men, and make it a women issue. We got to work with men.

Sixth question from a student (Kuson Madelyn):

 “What would be your personal views on why the three female parliamentarians elected in 2012 did not come back in the next term of the parliament (2017)?

Dame Carol Kidu’s Response

I really can’t comment on that; I did not study the politics of their electorates. I think HON. Delilah Gore came very close to coming back and she only missed out on a very small number of votes. I think HON. Louzaya and HON. Julie were further down in the actual placings but HON. Delilah Gore was very close but it was very sad that she did not get back in. I can’t comment on why   people decided not to vote for them again. It’s very hard to maintain your support base and you got to focus on that as well. 

Seventh question (Russel Yangin):

 “What do you think how the women should behave inside parliament: should they be leaning towards the more masculine and the big men side of politics or should they be reserved to the roles of the Melanesian women, as a motherly figure? 

Dame Carol Kidu’s Response

I will say I think what help me to win and win and win in election again is that I was seen by the people as ‘moms’ [mum] to all. The young fellows and everyone they call me mums. “ Mama Bilong Moresby South [Mother of Moresby South].” It’s part of my personality but I deliberately cultivated that image.

 I think it’s very important that women portray an image that people expect of them as women. But that can be very demanding on the women because like they see you as a mother, they expect from you what they shouldn’t be expecting from you, like providing rice, providing daily needs and all of those things. 

One thing I was disappointed about when the three (3) women won of the 2012 is that they very quickly went into ministries.  When I won in 1997, even if I would have been offered a ministry, I would have said NO! My first aim was to consolidate my electorate and I think it is a very important thing for both men and women, but particularly women. First aim is consolidate in your electorate and worry about ministries when you get back in again because once you are a minister, you have to be in Moresby almost every week. You are never back in your electorate, hardly. Because as cabinet member, there’s always meetings and things. 

Now there again, if you look at me, it was a big advantage for me. My electorate was in the capital city and so I could be attending to my ministerial duties after 2002, as well as getting out into my electorate. I made deliberate decision in 1997, when a woman, who is a political activist who was running around trying to lobby for ministry [for me]. And I kept saying to her, “stop it, you wasting your time, I’m not interested.”

 I just wanted to get my electorate sorted first. And I think we got to be careful about that because I was actually worried when they become ministers and things like that because it takes you away from your electorates and it’s your electorate who’s going to vote you back or not vote you back. So what I’m saying here is that you have to be very strategic, you got to think about it all the time. It might sound brave to be a minister but it takes your away from your electorate.  Leave it until you consolidate it and you really establish yourself in your electorate. And I think that’s one of the problem they faced is that perhaps they did not consolidate in their electorates enough.

Eighth question (from Peggy] 

“How did you stay in parliament for three terms?”

Dame Carol Kidu’s Response

You have to keep very close to your electorate, and people.  In Papua New Guinea, that special relationship with your electorate is extremely important and that’s very demanding that I wouldn’t want to stand again. I always said three terms and that’s it. I was exhausted at the end of it because I think people expect more from women than from men in some ways, so my advice is, one:

 You have to get yourself establish. Spending your first term in your electorate getting yourself establish and then to get into ministry. There are other ways you can influence policies. Like in my first term, when there was a vote of no confidence and the late Sir Mekere Moratau became the Prime Minister, and I said there was this lady running around trying to lobby for me to be a minister, and I said I’m not interested. I have to get my electorate sorted out first. 

But I did go and asked,  “Could chair a parliamentary committee?” 

And I established a parliamentary committee; it was a special Parliamentary Committee on Urbanization and Social Development. It meant that under that parliamentary committee, and chairing that, I set the terms of reference, and Sir Mekere was very happy for me to just go off with doing things like that but it meant that I was doing a lot of consultations about urbanizations, and the issues of urbanizations, and then I actually put my documents to the floor and so I was being seen and heard in the newspapers without being a minister. 

You don’t always have to be a minister. You got to work out how you could use the processes of the parliament to be seen and heard and I think people don’t do that enough, they just get up in question time. Even men, men do that too. You don’t hear many people putting forward matters of public importance.   Which I tried to do in my first term and trying to really use the committee system. The committee system in Papua New Guinea in not really used enough and so I was getting noticed because I was doing committee work, and at the same time I was also in my electorate doing lots of work in my electorate. I wasn’t going to cabinet meetings. So it’s all about being strategic and working out how you could be noticed, how you could be noticed but in the right way. 

I started to do sometimes which I was not popular for and I left them all to my final term in politics because I knew they would be very contentious. Things like looking at old 1600s legislations from England that I think needs to go and it wasn’t popular but I left it to my final term because I knew it wouldn’t be popular. In other words, you got to use the processes of the parliament for your advantages. Being the widow of a highly respected man gave me the advantage.

Ninth Question

A lot of women have contested but not elected into parliament, only three (3) successful women in 2012. How do they manage to get elected three times?”

Dame Carol Kidu’s Response

A lot of really hard work. I want to point out there were three women straight after independence: the late Nahau Rooney, Dame Josephine Abaijah, and Waliyato Clowes. I think many of you wouldn’t know Waliyato Clowes. She was a very young woman, and she was the Member of the Parliament straight after parliament after independence. These were 3 women. Then it went back to one woman. And then it went to zero, zero, and then two and then one, one, three and now zero. And so there were three women at the beginning of our nationhood. The late Nahau Rooney who became the first female minister of Papua New Guinea which lot of people forget that. She was Minister for Justice, she was Minister for Civil Aviation, and Minister for Forestry at one stage.

Tenth question 

“Did you have a hand or play a part in the recent amendments to the Divorced Act, the 2020 amendments making women liable to pay 50% of all savings and assets after it divorced if the women involved in extra marital affairs?”

Dame Carol Kidu’s Response

No I’m not even aware of this legislation. And this is discriminatory. 

I don’t see any point to make polygamy illegal. To make a custom illegal, it wouldn’t work. But what we should do is to have legislation that will protect polygamy from the abuse. Because in a traditional polygamy, a man had to look after everyone and the children and I have no problems with that. But when a man dumps his first wife and gets another that is wrong, and we have to look at the abuse of polygamy. 

Eleventh question 

What was the feeling when you first entered the parliament that was dominated by men?

Dame Carol Kidu’s Response

When I first entered the Parliament in 1997, it was myself and Dame Josephine Abaijah. we were together in 1997 to 2002.  When Dame Josephine Abaijah and I won in 1997, there had been 10 years, two terms of Parliament with zero women, and so I think the men are little bit uncomfortable but very respectful for both of us because Dame Josephine was one of our icons in the early days. Long term politician. And the feeling I think once you win by elective process, is accepted by the men but the disadvantage that women have is because of only one or two women there they can’t form or force a strong lobby together on issues that are important to women, to families, to people of things of common interests. I would say that my colleague men have been very supportive for the work that I’ve been doing.


Danny Eric Agon is a final year Political Science Student at the University of Papua New Guinea. We thank Dan for his effort in transcribing and editing Dame Carol Kidu’s talk.


PNG Book Review Series Part 2: Political Biographies

This is Part 2 of PNG Book Review Series. Part one covered three books on racism in PNG during the colonial era. Part 2 reviews “Sana” by Michael Somare, “Playing the Game” by Sir JULIAS Chan, and “Farewell Whiteman” by Ken Fairweather. Obvious omissions are Dame Carol Kidu and Dame Josephine Abijah’s biographies. These two books will form Part 3 of the review series which covers women in politics.

These three autobiographies provide a great combination: a native Papua New Guinean; a mixed raced Papua New Guinea of Chinese and PNG heritage; and a fully blooded Australian who became a Papua New Guinean citizen. And these heritages comes clear in these books: Sana is written cautiously as a Chief wanting to maintain respect; Playing the Game is critical of others whilst almost providing self-justification for the author; whilst Fairwell Whiteman is raw, unapologetic, and frank. All three have this in common: they provide accounts of PNG’s political history, written from lived experiences and conversation. All three men were there at independence in 1975, and served PNG as political leaders.

“Sana” was reviewed by Diane Hirima and Minetta Kakarere. “Fairwell Whiteman” was reviewed by Russel Kitau. Diane, Minetta and Russel have just finished their honors programs with the Political Science Department of University of Papua New Guinea. The reviews were done as part of their assessments. “Playing the Game” was reviewed by Michael Kabuni.

Sana, An autobiography of Michael Somare: review by Diane Hirima and Minetta Kakarere

Sana is an autobiography of Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare, first published in 975, the year Papua New Guinea gained independence. It gives succinct details of Somare as a kid, up to the time he entered politics and led PNG to independence. The Title, Sana is a metaphor for a Life lived in upholding and fulfilling the traditional obligations of initiation and manhood and a transformation into modernity (peacemaker). Sana starts with a vivid description of the author’s early childhood, the cultural and traditional practises that are custom in the Muriklake District of East Sepik specifically karau village where he grew up as a child. The author’s life was lived in two societies, one that is of a traditional lifestyle and the other that is of a foreign lifestyle, a lifestyle that introduces learning of new foreign language.

Childhood, and learning about Sana:

Somare was born in Rabaul on the 09th April 1936 where his father served as police man in the Gazelle Peninsula. At the age of six Sir Michael and his father went back to Wewak as his father was preparing to take up his chieftaincy role. During that time Sir Michael was also chosen to be the next Sana after his father hence, he was given to one of his uncles to learn the chief’s role – that is how it’s done.

Sir Michael started his education during World War Two (WW2) when the Japanese were in Darapa (Sepik) for only nine months because the Japanese lost in WW2.

When Somare, Sir Michael’s father became Sana, he taught Somare the real meaning oF Sana: The most important one was what he called ‘Sana’s peace making magic’. That is when the opposing clan or tribe come to fight them, they would first call them (the warring party) to come and sit down and eat with them, later they will ask them (the warring party) “if you want to fight take your spear and go stand there” (Somare 1975:23). With this strategy, their enemies would have a change of heart and would not want to fight anymore. “Because Sana invites people, and by doing so you (Sir Michael) would win them over to your side” (Somare 1975:23).

The village people believed in reconciliation rather than retribution” (Somare, 1975:10).

Education and being a teacher:

Somare went through the three initiation processes. He went through the third initiation after he became the Chief Minister because he thought that it was important for him not to separate himself from his people. It was essential that he established his identity at home.

Sir Michael was sent to Boram Primary School in 1946, then in 1951 he moved to Dregerhafer Education Centre to do his post-primary course. In 1954 he won the South Pacific Commission’s Literature Bureau Competition and in 1956, he was sent to Sogeri to attend a teacher’s training course for ayear. After completing the training, he was sent to New Ireland to teach “general subjects” as his first job. In 1959 he was transferred to Brandi High School just outside Wewak. He was then transferred to Tusbab High School in Madang.

Somare explains in chapter four that he was fortunate to be sent to a government school, he also explains that he doesn’t regard himself as a teacher whenever he goes to the village; he regards himself as a village man. This shows a strong connection to traditional ties the author was exposed to in his early childhood and exposure to traditions. The author was closely drawn to his people when he realized how the missionaries were attacking the culture. He developed stronger connection with his people and a responsibility to protect his culture. The author developed a sense of nationalism over the course of his life working as a broadcaster in Moresby. The injustice that was caused by the colonial administration was what got him so interested in politics.

Political interest:

In 1961 he joined a group that received special political education for six weeks in Konedobu where they were askedto conduct elections for the new Legislative Council. In 1963 Sir Michael was sent to Madang to teach at Talidig Primary School. While teaching he had an interest in radio work, hence he was sent to Port Moresby to join the publication section. He later applied for the job of a radio announcer in Wewak and was successful.

Sir Michael’s interest in politics grew during his recent stay in Port Moresby. When he was a radio announcer in Wewak he became the vice-president of the Public Service Association and the Secretary of the Worker’s Association. In 1965, Sir Michael applied for a scholarship in administrative college, where he met like-minded men such as:

Albert Maori Kiki,

Joseph Nombri,

Sinaka Goava,

Gavera Rea,

Jack Karakuru,

Cromwell Burau,

Bill Warren,

Lucas Waka, and

Ebia Olewale.

Later they all formed the Bully Beef Club and the club became a political forum where they began to have meetings with politicians. This was the beginning of Sir Michael’s involvement in politics.

Some key events in Sir Michael’s life include the time when the minister for territories C.E Barnes announced the freezing of all local salaries. This act made the Public Service Association and Workers Association very active because the people became more aware of the injustice by colonialism. It was during that time Sir Michael began to speak out on behalf of the people affected. Sir Michael’s activities conflicted with traditional government policy, which stipulated that civil servants should not engage in politics and should not make public statements. This was probably the key event because this was the start of Sir Michael speaking on behalf of his people regarding issues that mattered to the people.

Pangu Pati

Another key event was the formation of Pangu Pati. Once the party was formed Sir Michael gave up his career as a civil servant as he become more devoted to politics and the struggle for independence. It was a key event because this was the start of his political career as well as he was planning to take part in the upcoming elections. He encountered many challenges. There was not enough or no support at all from his director and department (Department of Information and Extension Services) because they were so annoyed with all his activities that were anti-colonialism.

Sir Michael then became the leader for Pangu Pati as well as the leader for opposition. This was also another significant event because it allowed Sir Michael to be very vocal about the injustice the colonial government was doing, the racial discrimination to be exact. Being in the opposition Sir Michael and his team were able to pass some laws they thought were good for the people for instance; requesting a commission of enquiry into the electoral system, which was passed without debate the second time (Somare 1975:60). Being the leader of the opposition Sir Michael was able to clearly see how the government was running the country. Later when he formed the coalition government he was able to make necessary changes for the betterment of the people. As stated in Somare (1975:95) “I also indicated the general direction of our investment policy by saying that whilst we recognised the importance of foreign investment we needed to take measures to prevent foreign control of our economy”.

Another key event was when Sir Michael was given the title ‘Sana’. He was already the Chief Minister at that time and chose to complete his initiation process to be traditionally recognised as a bigman, a leader for his people. Sir Michael was now expected to lead his people in the way of Sana. 

Sir Michael achieved a lot during his political career. One of his first achievement was when he earned the trust of the Sepik people and won the 1968 elections defeating the other two candidates though it was his first time to contest. Another achievement was the formation of Pangu Pati and it being the only major party during the first three years of the House. Though there were a lot of criticisms thrown at him regarding party politics that did not stop him. Pangu Pati was able to win some minor cases in the House for instance; Pita Lus introduced the Motor Traffic (Signs) Bill, which was subsequently passed (Somare 1975:61).

He travelled to Africa, Japan and the United States. He saw foreign travel as an important part of the process of growing into nationhood. His trip to Africa was an eye opener for him. He was inspired to see how the black people managed their own affairs and was convinced that Papua New Guineans would run their own affairs equally well. Sir Michael also travelled to Japan on the request of some modest Japanese businessman and retired old people who wanted to form a Japanese-Papua New Guinea friendship society. They were interested in PNG because some of their people had died in PNG during the war as well as they wanted to promote Japanese interest in PNG. Sir Michael then went to United States where he was taken around to see various places and people’s way of life for instance; he went and visited many black homes, were they talked about their living conditions and the difficulties they faced. When Sir Michael saw this, he thought of his people back home and hoped to get rid of the slums and help his people live better.

When Somare and his team led the nation into self-government on 01 December1973. There were a lot of challenges and criticisms on the notion of self-government and actual independence. Some members were telling him that, majority of the people do not want to be independent. As a result, the House of Assembly took a really long time to pass the date of self-government, however the Pangu Pati never gave up. Additionally, another key achievement was the Kina Day when PNG’s own currency was introduced to the people on 19 April 1975. The greatest achievement was when Sir Michael and his team led the country into full independence on 16 September 1975. These were few of Sir Michael’s political achievements.

Dealing with Separatism & Succession threats

Sir Michael faced regional pressure. First was the Gezelle issue where most villages and families were bitterly divided and each faction wanted to rule their own area causing problems for the Local Government Council. After that there was the issue with the people of Bougainville regarding royalty payments. They wanted a fair share of the revenue from the copper that was extracted as well as called for renegotiation of the Bougainville Copper Agreement. The issue with the people of Bougainville intensified when two highly educated Bougainville men were killed in Goroko. This made some Bougainville people to push for secession. As they kept saying that there was a general neglect of Bougainville by the central government.Then there was a movement in the Trobriand Island called the Kabisawali Movement led by John Kasaipwalova. John Kasaipwalova and his supporters refused to pay tax and acknowledge the authority of the Kiriwina Local Government Council which had been operating many years in the Trobiands. This almost led to a civil war. Following that another regional movement exerting pressure on the central government was the Papua Besena. The movement was led by Dame Josephine Abaijah and came about because the people in the Papuan District felt that the central government overlooked them and concentrated only on the New Guinea Islands side in terms of development hence Papua wanted to be a separate from New Guinea. With this movement riots occurred and things literally got out of hand as punches were exchanged between the Papuans and the New Guineans, cars smashed and so on. However, Sir Michael never used force to disperse the crowd. In fact he never used force as a means to solve all these regional conflicts. All these regional issueswere solved through peaceful means.


Somare’s life was shaped entirely by his cultural and traditional principles, his early childhood in the village, and his exposure to the traditional and cultural lifestyles. It’s more like the three initiations he went through was preparing him for a bigger task and responsibility, one that involved bringing independence to nineteen provinces including the two newly declared provinces at present. His successful win in the second House of Assembly election was because of the strategies he used, he followed the advice that was passed down by his grandfather Sana.

Somare emphasizes on the “Sana peacemaking magic” as a basis of how he lived his life in his career in politics. The advice he got from his grandfather Sana and his father Somare are advices that he lived with and followed. There is a connection between his up-bringing and his political life. As a matter of fact, the foreign policy, Universalism ‘friends to all and enemies to none’ that was adopted by Sir Michael Somare in 1975, was partly guided by his traditional up-bringing because in his father Somare’s words; “as a Sana you do not fight people, first you invite them, eat with them, you make friend first then you can challenge them”. Throughout the book he acknowledges Sana’s peacemaking magic and his father’s advice. He acknowledges the wisdom and strength that Sana has passed down to him that had strengthened him to bring Papua New Guinea to independence. Even to the end of the book he acknowledges and gives credit for Sana’s wisdom that he relied on for nation building.

The strengths of the book is that the author was able to outlined important events, such as early childhood, his career that continues into politics and the objectives that the author had achieved, however, the books weakness is that, the important organic laws that were supposed to be mentioned after the 1973 self-government was not mentioned. 

This book is a box-office and I would recommend this book for every young generation to read it because it provides good basis on what traditional and cultural system of values has contributed, shaped and mould Sir Michael Somare’s life. Sana provides a guideline of how traditional principles can shape moral characteristic of someone who once was a great leader and the founder of a nation.

Full Reference

Somare. M. (1975). Sana: an autobiography of Michael Somare. Sterling Publishers Private Limited, New Delhi.

Sana is sold for K50 at UPNG Book Shop

Fairwell Whiteman, An Autobiography of Ken Fairweather: Review by Russel Kitau

“Farewell White Man” is an autobiography of the life of Ken Fairweather in Papua New Guinea since he arrived in the country in the late 1960’s. Mr. Fairweather writes about his life since he moved here at the age of twenty-three from Australia but at the same time; tells his story about the history of PNG from the end of the colonial period to self-government andIndependence, and the period after that. The author was involved in different activities such as business, agriculture and politics so his experiences in those activities are reflected to tell his story. The book was written by the author toward the end of his political career and published in 2019.

Mr. Fairweather was probably more widely known for being politician in the PNG Government for two five year terms which spread from 2007 to 2017. Before this, he had been a businessman taking part in many different business ventures and projects. He had been involved in trucking and freight businessthat operated up in the highlands region and during this time, he met and associated with many ‘big men’, both national and expatriate who were involved in politics and business. He then later changed the focus to agriculture where he had been cultivating a hydoponic farm and later, working in cocoa plantation business on Kar kar Island in Madang province; which by author did not turn out very well. Through all these business ventures and activities, it shows how instrumental the author was to the economy of PNG at that time. All this happened at the post-colonial period and PNG was a new country that did not have many Papua New Guineans educated enough to take part in such economic activities at management levels. Even though the new indigenous leaders were emerging, these white men in PNG contributed to the development of the country significantly in their individual ways and business activities.

As the book is titled “Farewell White Man”, from my opinion, this entails a symbolic meaning to the experiences of the author in the transition of the country through colonial administration and then Independence. After Independence, many white people left with the colonial administration and others stayed back. Mr. Fairweather was one of those and among many others, though ‘half colonials’ as the author describes, genuinely cared about the development of Papua New Guinea and were willing to work in their capacities to contribute to it. Also, his perspective of things is influenced by his integration into PNG cultural society, particularly his strong connections with the Chimbu people and this allows him to be part of both cultures. Farewell white man could also be the author bidding farewell to the part of him that identified as ‘full white’ and now being part of PNG’s growth and society for so long, he is also just as Papua New Guinean as a lot of indigenous PNG citizens.

In the writing style, the author is very fun and conversational yet real and straight-to-the-point. He is rooted in the art of storytelling and for a reader; it can seem as if he were telling you the story for the first time in person. He also writes as he speaks and the ‘aussie way’ of speaking spears through his choice of words and the unapologetic use of inappropriate cuss words. His style of writing also attributes to his characters as a person and can allow the reader to know what kind of a person he is, or at least he was at the time. He uses images in the book which also contributes to the view of the kind of person he was and what kind of life he lived. The imagery was also used to support the stories he told in his book – of business, agriculture, politics and all the people that he met as a result of those engagements. 

Rowan Callick, an award winning journalist, captures the essence of this book through his praise as shown in the book’s first page. He states that “Papua New Guinea’s intriguing story has been inadequately told. But that is beginning to be remedied by a small but steadily growing corpus of memoirs – from Papua New Guinean politicians and others, and from expatriates who have given most of their lives to the country. Ken Fairweather’s new, bright, breezy and characteristically no-bullshit book is a most welcome addition to these instructive and entertaining stories from folk who made their mark on this wonderful nation”(Fairweather, 2019).

There are several points that stands out in the book. Firstly, Mr. Fairweather lived through a new and growing economy and put forward many insights, experiences and lessons. He and many others contributed to the development of the country after Independence. His association with so many other people, many of whom I have never heard of however, showed that his social life benefited him in his business life. He was part of several business ventures and even though he did things differently, sometimes ‘winged it’ and few times failed, he proved to be very successful. He adds how events such as the stock market crash and devaluation affected his business. He also points out few times how the Chinese were instrumental in this period as they were in PNG longer and were involved in trade and sale which also contributed to PNG’s economy and development. The author’s experiences can help aspiring business people in PNG understand some of the dynamics of making business in the country and how they can deal with it even though times have changed.

Secondly, the author eventually gets into politics and this experience presents many interesting and great accounts and lessons in PNG politics. The author talks of his accounts with some of the earliest PNG politicians and their personal lives through his experience. He accounts of some of the reasons why certain decisions were made under their leadership and what events influenced politics. The author highlights in many areas his relationships with these people and their families, inside and outside of politics. His success in politics with these individuals attests to the importance of ‘alliances’ in politics and how it strengthens the argument that it does matter who you know to get to some places you want to be. The author does point out that his entry to politics may not have been intentional but the people he knew and associated with had a driving effect on his entry and life in politics.

Furthermore, the author confirms the politics culture and norms in PNG and provides his take on several issues. He talks about the ‘money play’ in PNG politics and the weight it has on “moving things” and influencing people and their decisions. The stories he told mentions some of the highlanders such as Peter O’Neill and this shows it is beneficial to be a businessman and step into politics. He also gave a brief insight into the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project in PNG and why it was not as successful as planned. He attributes the ‘possible successes’ of the LNG project to other politicians and their leadership as he sees it and has his own opinions on what should have been done. He also mentions an achievement of his in being instrumental in raising politician’s pay in PNG. Even though the story of how he got there is an amusing one, many ask today whether the current extremely high salary packages for politicians is necessary and this is now a debated issue. The author also talks about his experience working in Bougainville during the time of Bougainville Copper Limited’s (BCL) entry and their work at the Panguna Mine. He does not fail to highlight why he thought it was a failure and what could be done to improve it. The author also mentions the ethnic differences between bougainvilleansand the rest of PNG, a testament to why we have the whole Bougainville issue today.    

In addition, Fairweather (2019) stated briefly on his involvement in the ‘woman’s vote’ and starting women meetings and women rallies where no men were allowed (pg. 191). The important aspect is that this was the first in PNG according to the author and may have been one of the instrumental initiatives of Mr. Fairweather to increase the involvement of women in business and their acknowledgment of the percentage of the vote they make up. It is heartwarming to know that he did care about people that worked under him or people in a defined area that he was a leader of. He also shows this quality as he talks about his experience working in cargo-carrying and trucking business up in the Highlands region. This is one of his greatest qualities as a leader and I believe all leaders should work to achieve objectives that will ultimately address the needs of the people. 

In looking at modern day politics, the author mentions several barriers to the country’s progression and highlights good things as well. He talks about the relationship between Australia, his home country and Papua New Guinea, his adopted country. It is evident PNG still looks up to Australia which has recently been more publicly rolling out its ‘Pacific Step Up’ Program in the Pacific and most definitely PNG, and the author puts forward strategies he thinks will benefit Australia in that concern. He also states that the increasing presence and dominance of China in the Pacific region is challenging Australia but “China is likely to win the economic game in the medium term” (Fairweather, 2019, pg. 294). To combat this threat, it is also interesting that the author puts forward the strategy that Australia should give half of its aid to PNG as direct budgetary support and let them deal with it. This was stopped many years ago and it is questionable whether the Australian Federal Government would ever do that again. Mr. Fairweather has served fruitful terms in the PNG Government and many can learn a lot from him and his experiences. 

Thirdly, the final point of interest is the author’s experiences in the transition period. This was a transition period for both the country from colonial administration to being independent, and the author’s personal transition from a ‘white man’ to a ‘PNG white man’. It also showed to be a difficult and challenging time in different ways. The author talks about the challenges of trying to build up the indigenous public service and the barrier of a white man teaching a Papua New Guinean how to be ‘white’. This was difficult both for the Australians who were not happy about that and also for Papua New Guineans, who found it difficult to learn quickly and efficiently. As the author put it, many of the whites who stayed back were ‘half-colonials’ but genuinely wanted PNG to develop in all aspects. 

Also, the author describes his ‘adoption’ by the Chimbu’s into PNG and his experiences being part of that group. This tie has benefited him in many ways, socially, business wise and politically and not many white men and women may have the privilege of being accepted into PNG society that way. Even though, through his stories, he describes himself as a man that loves beer, gambling and horse racing, he adheres to PNG customs and culture very well and found his gap to fit in. In a sense, the habits he brought from Australia are still with him yet he found his place in PNG society – he can say he is part of two worlds, two cultures and two societies. The transition of the country and the author’s personal transition offer very delicate pieces of PNG’s history and the infusion of an expatriate into PNG society respectively – such accounts make one appreciate the value of how far we have come as a country. 

In a nutshell, the main point of the author was to tell his story of his life in PNG, the history he has seen and the people he has crossed paths with. In a way, he aimed to give an account of PNG’s history through his experiences, some challenges the country faced and how different people and events contributed to bringing PNG to where it is now. The author has reached the main point of this book as an objective but I doubt he has talked about every piece of PNG’s history because one can only talk about so many things in a book.  

This book is a great read for many audiences; political science students, history students because it is beneficial to what they have studied but I recommend it for any student because social related issues affect everyone and the author’s experiences are mind opening. But ultimately, I recommend the book for every Papua New Guinean, and expatriates who have been in PNG or are interested in PNG’s history and its politics.


Fairweather, K., 2019, Farewell White Man, FC Productions, Australia

The book is sold for K45 at UPNG Bookshop..

Playing the Game, an Autobiography of Sir JULIAS Chan: book review by Michael Kabuni

Playing the Game is an autobiography of Sir JULIAS Chan. Chan is one of the founding fathers of Papua New Guinea, and twice served as prime minster (1980 – 1982, 1994 – 1997). He was the MP for Namatani, and since 2007, has been the Governor for New Ireland Province.

Unlike ‘Sana’, ‘Playing the Game’ tells you from the outset that this is a book about politics. True to it’s title, the book tells of the rise and fall of JULIAS Chan as prime minister and controversial political figure; it tells of the alliances and betrayal of PNG politics; and and attempt at explaining decisions that the author made.

The only non-political aspects of the book are the initial chapters on Chan’s early upbringing. Chan was born as the fifth child out of seven children on the Tanga Islands in what is now New Ireland Province. He is the the son of Chin Pak, a trader from Taisan Province, China, and Miriam Tinkoris, a native New Irelander. He was educated at Marist College in Ashgrive, in Brisbane, Australia.

Chan started his career in the family business in New Ireland. His interest in politics began around the 1960s. He was elected to represent the Namatanai district of New Ireland province in the pre-independence House of Assembly in 1968 and was re-elected in 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987 and 1992. He was Deputy Prime Minister four times (1976, 1985, 1986, 1992-1994), and Minister of Finance three times (1972–1977, 1985-1986 and 1992–1994). He also held the portfolios of Primary Industry (1977–78) and External Affairs and Trade (1994). Chan became leader of the People’s Progress Party 1970.

As is common in autobiographies, and more so for political ones, the book is critical of others except Chan himself. This is not uncommon for political biographies, so Chan should be forgiven for that. Autobiographies are personal accounts, and here, we finally get some answers on why he (Chan) made some of the decisions he made.

In this book, Sir J provides explanations and context to almost all decisions he made. Sir J’s name is synonymous with Sandline Crisis, and devaluation of PNG currency – Kina. And whilst there were some economists and businessmen who defended Chan’s decision to devalue the Kina, almost no one defended, or defends his decision in bringing Sandline mercenaries to PNG. So when I got the book, my main interest was to understand his explanation for bringing in Sandline mercenaries.

It’s best at this juncture to state the assumptions that I had before reading the book.

First, the view that ‘Sandline was brought in to kill Bougainvilleans’. This is the prevailing narrative and one I took subscribed to before reading the book. However, according to Sir J, Sandline was brought in to be dropped into rebel ring leader Francis Ona’s hideout to take him, either dead or alive. He argues in the book that the Bougainville crisis had gone on for so long, and there seemed to be no end to it. He thought that eliminating the ring leader would be the beginning of reasonable negotiations.

Even if you’re critical of this logic, it does make sense to some degree. Sandline was a very small group of mercenaries. Which means they wouldn’t have taken on Bougainville on their own. Sandline didn’t have the manpower and resources to fight an entire Bougainville Revolutionary Army. It would make sense if Sandline was brought in for a very specific and limited purpose: in Sir J’s own words, they were brought in to take out Francis Ona.

Second, because of Sandline Crisis, I had the view that Sir J was responsible for Bougainville Crisis. Whilst Sir J served in several cabinets, disagreements between Francis Ona, and Rio Tinto and the PNG government, started during the time Rabbie Namilu’s prime ministership. The demand for fair compensation and environmental concerns were raised before to Namilu Government. Instead of renegotiating the Panguna deal, Namilu sent the Riot Squad and then PNGDF. Pias Wingti, who replaced Namilu, sustained the intensity, and eventually escalated it into a fully blooded war. Sir J then inherited a conflict that predated him. And conflict where several peace talks collapsed, and people continued to die.

Sir J reveals the negotiations and deals that went on, sometimes behind his back to bring in the Sandline mercenaries. This includes Jerry Singirok. A quick google search would show international media reports that Singirok was bribed earlier, by a group competing with Sandline to do the job. But since Sir J opted for Sandline, Singirok stood up against Sir J, and is now know for leading the fight to deport Sandline. The books account is consistent with these reports. I hope Jerry Singirok writes a book one day, so we get his side of the story.

One thing that I still don’t get about Sir J, and hope to ask Sir J one day if I have the chance is why he has been, and still is, against the set up of the Ombudsman Commission. When the idea was first discussed by the Constitutional Planning Committee, Sir J was against it. He has been consistently critical of the Ombudsman Commission till now. In the book, he says the idea of Ombudsman Commission shows that we do not trust our leaders. And that we have a watch dog to keep the leadership accountable. He argues that OC hinders leaders from freely performing their roles as mandated leaders of the people.

After massive scale of corruption experiences in this country, I would have thought that Sir J would eventually come around, and instead argued for increased funding and staffing for the OC to hold corrupt leaders accountable. He has, however, never wavered in his criticism of the OC despite the systemic corruption experienced in PNG.

I’m glad Sir J wrote this book. It gives answers to some of decisions he made, though one might not be convinced of his explanations, at least we get to hear from him. I would have loved to read about Sir Mekere Morauta, in his own words. I hope Pias Wingti, Namilu, and others write about their time. When I met Nahu Rooney for the first time in early 2020, a family member of hers said they were hoping to write a book about her life. I would have loved to read her book. Autobiographies give first hand insight into the authors’ journeys, and Playing the Game does that for Sir J.

Playing the Game is a book any student of Politics, or anyone interested in PNG, should read.


Chan, J. (2016). Playing the Game: Life and Politics on Papua New Guinea. University of Queensland Press, Queensland. Australia.

Playing the Game is sold for K45 at the UPNG Bookshop.

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