The chronicles of politics in Papua New Guinea

December 16, 2011 at 6:21 am (Black Mischief, Commentary, Papua New Guinea)

It’s probably not politically correct to suggest it, but what wonders Evelyn Waugh would do with the present situation in Papua New Guinea if he were still alive – Black Mischief No 2. The drama and intrigue are all there.We have knights of the realm, Sir Michael Somare, Sir Michael Ogio and Sir Salamo Injia with many honourable members of parliament,  and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, or is he PM? Maybe Somare is.

Church leaders have called for calm and for O’Neill and Somare to form a grand coalition in a spirit of good will at Christmas. There seems to be little hope of this happening.

Evelyn Waugh’s characters  in Black Mischief would perhaps have their parallels in present-day PNG – the protagonists in real life maybe have a Basil Seal advising them, and there could be sinister persons in PNG planning a coup d’etat. I’ll leave it to the reader as to whom the senile uncle Achon might be in the events in today’s PNG. As far as I know, no one is planning a Birth Control Parade in Port Moresby as was the case in the novel. But if Sir Michael was to suddenly die, would the United Nations step in and make PNG a Trust Territory once again as the League of Nations did by declaring Azania a Mandate of the League in Waugh’s novel?

In a more serious tone, O’Neill moving additional police into Port Moresby to take over government buildings could be seen as rather dictatorial.

The Governor General, Sir Michael Ogio, or is he still GG? He is the meat in the sandwich as he does not have reserve powers like the GG has in Australia. He can’t directly remove either O’Neill or Somare. The other aspiring GG, Jeffrey Nape, is the Speaker of the House. Oh what a mess!

Please come back, Evelyn and write another novel!



  1. deberigny said,

    One reader pointed out to me how much George Orwell disliked the mindless use of hackneyed idioms like “the meat in the sandwich”. I’m trying to think of a better way to describe the position of the GG in the present political situation in PNG. Are there any suggestions from other readers?

  2. deberigny said,

  3. Alpal said,

    I dont know about “Eyelyn”, but I’m Starting to have my suspicions that Somare, “bless his cotton sox” (another hackneyed idiom), must have been understudying Robert Mugabe!
    Has anyone thought of letting the people have a say?

  4. Antony Ruhan said,

    Let’s deal with facts as we know them. A passe English novelist won’t bring any light to the problems of PNG. Ex-colonial bon-mots belong with the ex-colonials – in the waste paper basket or below the ground.

    Somare is like a lot of elderly leaders: he can’t let go. Not an unusual attitude. Maybe he will have the sense – if not the wisdom – to retire and enjoy what’s left of his life.

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