Bryan Kramer: 2019 vs 2020

PNG Minister for Police and MP for Madang Open, Bryan Kramer

In August 2019, the Guardian Online News paper ran a story about the Police Commissioner of PNG and MP for Madang Bryan Kramer. The title read:

“…Meet Bryan Kramer, Papua New Guinea’s anti-corruption tsar…”

The subtitle called Kramer a “a rising star in Pacific islands politics…”

Such praise was not uncommon for Kramer. Kramer was a star, if a star is means having the largest followers on social media – Facebook. Tsars were the monarchs of Eastern Europe. It is not clear why the Guardian equated Kramer to the supreme rulers of Eastern Europe. The last Russian Tsar was from the House of Ramanovs, and he was killed: but not for fighting corruption. He was killed during the Russian Revolution of 1917, which ushered in the Communist party Bolsheviks, led by Lenin.

Perhaps the Guardian intended to say he was this epitome of anti-corruption. If there was an emperor of anti-corruption, it would be this no nonsense corruption fighter, who was willing to die fighting corruption.

They were correct to call Kramer a rising star though. Bryan Kramer is rockstar of online political movement in the Pacific. He arguably has more followers on his Facebook page the ‘Kramer Report’ than any other Papua New Guinean from any walk of life. That includes musicians, sports personalities, and wannabe celebrities in PNG. By 2019, his posts were reaching hundreds of shares, and thousands of reactions (likes, hearts, etc.) in less than 24 hours. Facebook care reaction was introduced later on, had it been introduced earlier, there would be thousands expressing their concern/care.

Also by his own admission, people from Solomon Islands follow him. So he is a Pacific star. But his stardom began at home: PNG.

Much of his popularity has to do with his opposition against the O’Neil Government between 2012 and 2019. His anti-corruption fight began before he entered parliament in 2017. The high point was probably when he was jailed at the Boroko Police Station in Port Moresby, following complaints laid by former Madang Open MP Nixon Duban’s father against Kramer. Duban was in Peter O’Neill’s government, and he also defeated Kramer in the 2012 elections for Madang Open.

That’s the past. Kramer has been in government for more than a year now. Is Kramer still popular after one year in the government? Below are two sets of 5 screenshots. First set of screen shots shows Bryan Kramer’s article about lawyer Greg Shepard, who filed a complaint against Bryan Kramer regarding social media publication by Kramer, who Shepard argued was amounted to defamation under the Cyber law of PNG. The first picture is a screen shot of the original article (showing only the first part of the article). The other 5 screen shots show replies/comments to the article. This is followed by another article posted this evening (December 2020), which is accompanied by 5 screenshots containing replies/comments on a short article by Kramer concerning the Supreme Court ruling against the Marape Government, of which Kramer is an integral member, and Minister. The ruling declared Government MPs’ parliament sitting on 17 November 2020 without opposition MPs as invalid, nullifying all decisions taken that day. Including the K19. 6 billion budget. Interestingly, the lawyer representing the case was Greg Shepard.

Both sets of screenshots (2019 article and 2020 article) are related to Kramer & Shepard. But they are one year apart.

Back to the question: Is Kramer still the anti-corruption Tsar? Or is the tide changing against the political star? How do Papua New Guinean view him today? Let’s see their comments.

Firs set of screenshots: This is a screenshot of the first article posted on 20 November 2019….


A snapshot of Comments from PNG Facebook community:

These comments gives you an idea of what the Gurdian was referring to. Kramer was a star, not only of the work he did, but also a star among Papua New Guineans. They loved him.

Now let’s see the second set of comments responding to his most recent post. The first screenshot is his original post on 10 December 2020:


A snapshot of Comments from Papua New Guinea Facebook community:

There you go. Five screenshots of comments from each post, one year apart. You will find this consistency:

An overwhelming majority in support of almost every single article Kramer wrote up till the pandemic (COVID-19) entered PNG in March 2019. After COVID-19, and especially after the November 2020 debacles on both sides on PNG parliament, you will find comments similar to the second set of screenshots.

Time will tell whether the rise of Kramer to stardom, driven by love form PNG Facebook community, will become the same means by which he will loose popularity.

Just one question to readers: why do you think Kramer (The Scientist) seems to be getting more negative reactions now than before?

Comment below and let us know. We may probably write part two of the article based on what you think the reasons are…

Published by Academia Nomad

Blogs on politics, economics and social issues in simple language.

3 thoughts on “Bryan Kramer: 2019 vs 2020

  1. It is one time of the year where Kramer’s analysis or views are put into question not because his wrong or right but because of different people’s different opinions especially the ones who follow him on Facebook.

    From the day he made his name, he is being watched by almost everyone on social media for him to make a judgement or analysis on a sensitive issue that does not go along with the present followers of Kramer.

    Kramer is a total different politician PNG has have had in the politics history. No wonder he is called the “Scientist”.

    Like

    1. Thanks Vanua. Interesting insight.

      People have developed an expectation that Kramer write about important issues affecting PNG, but they are not prepared to accept his views as readily as they used to before?

      Like

  2. Timely comparison Michael, thanks.

    Brian Kramer’s popularity is derived primarily from Facebook. He is riding the new wave of social media activism in PNG and he knows how better to do it than all MPs before him. Opinions are swayed or cemented by his posts. He knows the audience well. Without Facebook, Kramer will lose traction.

    The problem with anonymous accounts posting on FB is you cannot ascertain if they are factual or fake sources because there is no accountability. Kramer is striving to be accountable to every post and is being faithful to his fan base.

    The only thing I don’t see him doing is admitting to mistakes or apologising. He poses as a know-it-all, a smartarse politician and claims he can predict all coming moves. Maybe that is part of his strategy as a “corruption fighter”. He’s got a lot of energy for a keyboard warrior, that I can say. Perhaps owing to the euphoria of notifications.

    If there’s one thing you can credit him with, it’s changing the style of PNG politics through social media. O’Neil did not do that, or any MP before that. He read scripted speeches on TV and issued press statements. Marape realized the power of social media and started using his page to deliver personal updates from the PM to the nation. This style introduced by Kramer is un-Melanesian, where issues discussed in the haus man are now broadcast to public. He’s given more inside info than any PNG investigative news reporter has done.

    Also, notice that Kramer’s posts may be selective. If the govt wants to point public focus away from an issue, a Kramer post on a totally different topic can keep the public occupied.

    Kramer is playing to the gallery to maintain popularity.
    The Kramer in opposition was a corruption fighter.
    The Kramer in government now is mostly a propagandist.

    If you delete his Facebook page and account does he have anything else to do as an MP, apart from researching details of the law? What is his mandate as an open electorate member of parliament? And as Police Minister?

    What is the distinction between virtual politics and real politics on the ground? Yes, Donald Trump uses Twitter a lot but what does he do when he is not on Twitter?

    Does online public opinion matter in PNG? What about the opinions of those who are not on social media? With a population of 8.5 million only 740,000 PNGans are netizens on Facebook. What about the other 7.76 million? Do opinions of the 8% speak for the other 92%?

    Can Bryan Kramer survive PNG Politics on the ground without Facebook?

    How long will the people of Madang tolerate their MP, “Kalibobo lighthouse”, as a keyboard warrior, Facebook blogger, news reporter, educator of the public, meme artist, national corruption fighter?
    Madang needs a dedicated leader on the ground to see it regain its former glory. Kramer is also Police Minister and reforming the force is another mammoth task.

    If the people are not willing to sacrifice tangible electorate development on the ground for this then they will decide in 2022 elections.

    But Kramer is smart. He knows how to please his audience and gain support. He will hear what’s most needed in his electorate on the eve of elections and deliver. We can expect him back in 2022.

    Like

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