Jock McIntyre, more a Nineteenth Century Scottish Adventurer than a Contemporary Figure

November 26, 2011 at 3:49 am (Commentary, expatriates, Papua New Guinea, Peter Johnson)

I first met Jock McIntyre in 1963 when he was the patrol officer in-charge at Dreikikir Patrol Post in the East Sepik District of Papua New Guinea – a tall good-looking Scotsman from Glasgow or nearabouts with a wealth of experience at Glasgow University, Canada, New Zealand, and the Western District of PNG.

His soft Scottish brogue and impregnable good manners, combined with a forceful individual nature in the company of men gave colour and attractiveness to his personality – men respected him and women liked the look of him. There was perhaps nothing that Jock liked more than to be surrounded with friends in long- drinking sessions.

John, to use his baptismal name, was a good healthy Presbyterian with the usual sectarian attitudes of the time, but the orange and the green didn’t influence who he would drink with. One of his best friends was Fr John O’Toole, the resident priest at Dreikikir. A Fenian or  even an American as O’Toole was, who liked a drink was good enough for Jock, even if at times both were more than forthright with each other.

At the University of Glasgow, where Jock studied veterinary medicine for a couple of years, he was a little put out with the fact that a Fenian beat him in the last round of a boxing match for the championship of the university. He did, however, concede that the Fenian was a better boxer than he was.

In the logging camps of Canada and in various jobs in New Zealand he worked hard but also played hard. He liked and respected the women he met, as I’m sure they liked and respected him. A fine figure would measure up to a good malt, but perhaps the fine malt would have at times beaten the fine figure.

He was a gentle giant in his work and dealings with the Papuan New Guineans – always fair and good humoured with them.

Jock was one of Kennecott’s early field officers, and I remember him arriving in Angoram from the Star Mountains laden with rock samples indicating the presence of vast amounts of copper and other metals in the Mount Fubilan area.

Perhaps a man for all seasons, but more a character out of the 19th century who lived in the 20th century.

He often said to me that his ideal was to live a full life overseas, but eventually return to mother Scotland, marry a Scottish lass, live as a respectable family man and keep holy the Sabbath Day.

Over the years I lost track of Jock, and I often wondered if he had achieved his ambition of returning to Scotland. Then someone said to me that he had died. It appears that he did marry a lass, I don’t know if she was Scottish, but apparently she owned a pub on Thursday Island. If this is true, in a way, it would put Jock in a second heaven, and I’m sure if he had died he’ve gone out with a good malt in his hand.

I often picture McIntye and O’Toole in the afterlife, for I know Fr O’Toole SVD has moved on, having a convivial drink together in the best Presbyterian and Catholic style.

Peter Johnson, an old friend of Jock’s, has in his possession Jock’s Oxford Dictionary, a small memento that continues to remind us of his life.

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Wewak Hospital needs X-ray equipment

November 22, 2011 at 8:13 am (Aid, AusAID, Commentary, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, PNG Health, Wewak)

David Wall MC11-649

No X-ray machine at the Wewak Hospital
From: David Wall (
Date: Tuesday, 22 November 2011 4:36 PM
Attention: His Excellency, Mr Ian Kemish, AM, Australia’s High Commissioner to PNG
My dear High Commissioner,
I’m sure you are unaware that for months the Wewak Hospital in the East Sepik has been without an X-ray. I recently visited Wewak. I was most concerned to see that the lack of suitable X-ray equipment severely restricted diagnostic procedures in the hospital.
The East Sepik is an area that is dear to my heart. I lived there and worked for the Health Department in the days of Australian Administration, and I’m concerned that the people lack this essential piece of equipment in their hospital.
As an immediate measure, a portable X-ray machine could be purchased for about $7000.00 and flown to Wewak.
Perhaps AusAid could be contacted requesting some action in supplying this equipment to the Wewak Hospital.
I realize that in the context of your wide and involved scale of duties as High Commissioner, this request could perhaps be considered of little importance, but anything you can do would be of great help to the Sepik people.
With all good wishes and kind regards,
David Wall

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More photos from my recent visit to PNG

November 4, 2011 at 1:53 am (Photos, PNG, Wewak)

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The reflections and thoughts of Ralf Stüttgen

November 3, 2011 at 10:06 am (Aid, Civil War in PNG, Commentary, Education, Mining, Panguna Mine on Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, philosophy, theology)

I’ve just returned from a fortnight stay in Wewak. While there it was a pleasure to meet up with my old friend, Ralf Stüttgen. Ralf’s views on philosophy, theology, science, politics and the state of PNG are always informative. A subject of great concern to him is the quality of education in PNG. Education is the key to a country’s enlightenment and without it true development is impossible.

Readers of this blog would be aware of other articles that Ralf has written and I refer to a small biographical sketch of him:

Ralf Stüttgen was born in Berlin in 1939. He was educated at a Jesuit High School and in a Divine Word Seminary. In 1967 he was ordained a priest. In 1968 he came to the East Sepik District of Papua New Guinea and worked as a missionary until the early seventies; subsequently leaving the priesthood and working in agriculture in PNG. He now lives in Wewak and owns a guest house and deals in Sepik art. For many years his abiding interest has been about education and development in the Third World. It is his firm belief that without the delivery of quality education en masse countries will forever be stuck in a quagmire of underdevelopment and poverty. Good education and training are not only economic imperatives but are also the rights of all people. With these thoughts in mind, Ralf wants to awaken policy makers and politicians to positive action to facilitate the delivery of quality education to their people.

In conversation we covered the subject of the importance of adequate sleep that all people need to function properly. According to Ralf overworked medical doctors in Germany have the highest rate of suicide in the country. Teachers are more inclined to suffer a condition of mental ‘burn out’ than those of other professions. The political correct commentators mistakenly talk about indigenous people living a natural life. This is highly questionable in the modern world where many native people have poor diets and live in polluted areas. On theological questions and the place of an Almighty, Ralf put forward the following views: God is existence. God is logic. God is reason. God is good with all the virtues. He posed the question: if one had a video camera at the time of Christ’s Resurrection would one have been able to film it? A clerical colleague of his from Germany said, no.

These snippets are food for thought and are engaging topics.

Ralf gave me three written pieces which I’ll reproduce here. The first was written on the 28/12/ 1997.  Surprisingly his statistics don’t need much updating and certainly his conclusions are still valid.

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA  by Ralf Stüttgen, Wewak, 28th December, 1997

Education is a human right, and successive governments of PNG have been violating that right.

After twenty-seven years of independence:

– 48% of the people are illiterate

– 30% of children never enter a school

– Drop-out rate grade one to grade six is 75%

– Drop-out rate grade one to grade twelve is 99%

– Every year the government produces 50,000 drop-outs, for whom there is no high school, no training, no jobs.

– By now PNG has one million school drop-outs, over one quarter of the population.

– The East Sepik Province alone is short of twenty high schools. For the country as a whole the figure is four hundred.

– The government’s neglect of education is criminal. It is to be blamed for the ever increasing crime rate. It produces criminals.

– Not more police, but more teachers we need.

– The workforce in PNG is not being developed. We have a workforce of grass cutters. As a result nobody wants to invest here.

What could be done?

As a first step to increase and improve education, the government should start financing private schools. The existing private schools provide better-quality education.

PNG’s budget for education is between three and four percent of the total national budget. By comparison, some countries invest up to 25% in education annually.

If PNG wanted to educate all its school-age children, the education budget would have to be five billion. As this is not possible, foreign aid has to be sought. We should approach better developed countries to provide schools, complete with teachers and buildings, and get long-term committments from them. The World Bank could do something.

Unless we do a lot more for education, and soon, Papua New Guinea’s future consists of two alternatives: be exploited slaves of other nations, or – just die out.

EQUALITY IN EDUCATION  by   Ralf Stüttgen, Wewak  (Written over ten years ago for somebody in the Dept of Education)

Most Papua New Guineans have their children in Community Schools, Provincial High Schools and National High Schools, most, but not all. Many nationals, well paid public servants, politicians, businessmen, company employees – all those who have money, send their children to the International Schools. And all expatriates who can afford it, do the same. Australians, New Zealanders, Americans, English, Filipinos, Chinese – nobody of these would even think of putting his child into a community school.

Why do these people do this?  What are their motives?

The Community Schools are there for the children of this country, to prepare them for life in the community. – Do they? – Is that really so? Or, are these schools a way to nowhere? Just to prepare these kids for a life of frustration and joblessness. (Even if they had a bit of Agriculture and Nutrition in school.)

What do those parents think who spent ten thousand kina in school fees per child per year? They make this big sacrifice because they want to give their children the best education available. And why do all the other parents in Papua New Guinea not send their children to International Schools? Do they think the Community Schools are better? No. They just cannot afford it. The International Schools are only for the rich. And anyway, there are not enough International Schools to go around for everybody.

What would happen if all PNG parents had the choice, a real choice, to send their children to International Schools? Or to a Community School, whichever they prefer? Let us say the Government or somebody else would pay all the school fees?

Now Papua New Guineans do not have a free choice, because they do not have enough money. They are forced to put their children in Community Schools, for economic reasons. But these Community Schools are for blacks only. Like ghetto schools in some cities in America, where nobody else wants to send their children, only the blacks who cannot afford a better school.

This is like it was in South Africa, where they had Apartheid, the good schools for whites, the cheap schools for blacks.

In South Africa the Apartheid policy was forced upon the black people. Out here in PNG the black people are free. Out of their own free choice they have accepted Apartheid in education, though forced upon them by their government.

This is discrimination! Racial discrimination. We are discriminating against the black people of this country. Parents are not given the chance to choose for their children the education they would like.

The people of Papua New Guinea want equality with the people of other countries and races! And real equality between nationalities is only possible if there is equality in education.

People must be able to get schooling, equal to that of the people in other countries. Otherwise they will never achieve the same income and standard of living.

With a second-rate education Papua New Guineans will forever remain the exploited slaves of other nations!

If the answer to this is only money; I think the money can be found.

Should the Panguna Mine on Bougainville be reopened?  by Ralf Stüttgen, Wewak, 2011

The mine should be reopened only under one condition, namely, that all Bougainville children go to International Schools. From grade 1 to grade 12, compulsory. And the mining company organises and finances this.

Only if this is done will the people of Bougainville have hope of enjoying a better standard of living, comparable to that in other countries.

If this is not done, forget about reopening the mine. The people will not benefit from the mine; they will remain the exploited fools of outside interests.

One alternative remains: killing all landowners. It has been tried before.

Leaving education, in Bougainville, or about anywhere else in PNG, to the Department of Education, is not possible. They have proved already they cannot do it – 36 years after Independence half the population are illiterate. The money for education has been around, but due to corruption and mismanagement, it does not reach the people.

Therefore, at least in Bougainville, the mining company should be put in charge of providing education. They have access to man power and they are able to control the funds.

For this reason, it is in the interests of the mining company, that Bougainville gets complete independence. Otherwise, the proceeds from the mine will go to Port Moresby first, and from there very little will come back, not enough to provide international education.

If mining on Bougainville is to avoid causing another civil war, we better learn from the mistakes of the past, and let fairness, justice, and equality prevail.

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Photos from my recent visit to PNG

November 1, 2011 at 10:26 am (Photos, PNG, Wewak)

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Mi tingting planti long Sepik.

November 1, 2011 at 1:04 am (Commentary, Papua New Guinea, Wewak)


Bel bilong mi i tok.

On the 16th September,2010,  at the official opening of the Wewak Sports Stadium, the then Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare  informed the assembled crowd at Prince Charles Oval that in his 42 years in politics he had always been fair in sharing government finances with the whole country and not just  exclusively supporting his own East Sepik Electorate – “Olsem lida bilong kantri, mi mas lukautim olgeta.” As leader of the country I must look after everyone. His even handedness, he implied, had had costs for his own electorate, but as well as the support for the stadium his government was supporting many other developments in the East Sepik: Wewak market and jetty projects, a new hospital, cultural centre and museum with other infrastructure developments in the pipeline.

Since 2006 I’ve made regular visits to the East Sepik and I must admit I’ve been increasingly less and less impressed with what I see. The Wewak Sports Stadium, largely financed by the Chinese Government, is in the general opinion of most people a white elephant. “Em i wanem samting? Nau olgeta rot,skul na ples nogut – helpim mi long dispel.” What is this (stadium)? Our roads, schools and place are no good – help us by improving these.

There has been a lot of talk about the relocation of the Boram General Hospital particularly since some damage by tidal flooding caused by the earthquake in Japan in January of this year. Suggestions have been made to move the hospital inland, a move that many find highly questionable, not just on the logistics and suitability levels, but because of more sinister suspicions that there are those who are anxious to get their hands on the vacated prime real estate. Whatever, the present state of the hospital is appalling – pot holes in the road entrance, filthy contaminated drains, the refuse of betelnut chewing here and there, buildings in a total state of disrepair, no x-ray machine in working order. One could go on and on.

In this sorry story I must say I was impressed with the new market and associated facilities, a new police station and ice-making equipment jointly financed by the Japanese and PNG governments. But if one was to take a short walk beyond the market and police station in the direction of the mangroves one comes to what could be euphemistically called the municipal rubbish disposal dump – an accumulation of rubbish, houses, chickens, dogs, people and rats, mosquitoes and other vermin. Right on the edge of all this there is a little primary school – Mongiol school. All of this would be no more than 10-minutes walk from the centre of town and the former Prime Minister’s house.

The simple provision of rubbish collection and disposal would do much to improve the general health and wellbeing of the people of Wewak.

On my recent visit I didn’t go to Angoram, but the reports that I had from my many friends there don’t speak well of the state of affairs in this town.

The Sepik people deserve must better.

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