“Angoram police station burnt down”

February 24, 2012 at 7:11 am (Angoram, Commentary, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, Sepik River)

By TODAGIA KELOLA

ANGORAM Police Station in the East Sepik Province was burnt to the ground early yesterday morning. Angoram Catholic Parish Priest Fr Bernard Burite said the fire started at around 5am yesterday and burnt the whole building down. He said the reasons behind the fire were not known at this stage but he stated that this was an indication that the lawlessness in Angoram town was slowly rising again. “Lawlessness is slowly rising in Angoram. Mothers are selling their produce at the market with fear, “ Fr Burite said. He said the churches were doing their part in trying to keep them away from lawless activities, however, lack of support from the Government agencies at the district level was not helping the situation. While police investigations were yet to commence, Fr Burite said “frustrations’ were building up over time and empty promises made to youths and the district would be one contributing factor to the burning down of the police station. Meanwhile, Member for Angoram Arthur Somare, who was appalled at the burning down of the station, said that Governor Wararu, his Provincial Administrator Samson Torovi and the Provincial Police Commander Vincent Pokas, had already been dispatched to Angoram to establish a team headed by the district administration to look into the cause of the fire. “It is too early to speculate on the cause of the fire, however, with the current political tensions in Waigani and the intention of political leaders to send bands of police into the province are possibile factors,” Mr Somare said. “This is a matter for Police and administration in East Sepik to deal with and should not be exploited for political gains by Waigani. “I call on people of Angoram and East Sepik as a whole not to be used by outsiders to cause trouble in the districts especially on the eve of the general elections. “Finally, I guarantee the people of Angoram District that a full investigation will be conducted so that if it is the work of arsonists, they will be brought before the courts to account for this destruction. It goes without saying that damage to public properties is a serious crime. “Government buildings and other public infrastructure are there for the benefit of the community not for the glory of members of Parliament. The community must take ownership of these public assets. “If the public has any information on the cause of the fire they must report to the Angoram Police Commander. “I assure you that a new Police Station will be reconstructed next few months.” said Mr Somare. This is not the first time for the police station to be targeted as a means of getting a message to relevant authorities.

Source: Post-Courier Online 24th February, 2012

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What’s a few expletives amongst friends?

February 19, 2012 at 9:01 am (Commentary, Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd)

One may well ask, but what are a few expletives amongst enemies? Kevin Rudd could well be asking this question with the release of the video showing him in a foul mood in his own office when he was PM.

All I can say is, big deal! Mark Twain tells us: when angry, count four; when very angry, swear. A few fs and bloodies from Kevin in the privacy of his own office shouldn’t be too offensive to red-blooded Australians. It makes the man almost human, not that I’m advocating that Julia do the same, even if this is rather sexist on my part.

Whoever put this video out is, in my opinion, a darn side lower than anything portrayed in it – by comparison Rudd is a clean skin.

I believe Julia Gillard when she said that she was not responsible.

How low can the political climate get in Australia? I can’t answer this question, but I wonder.

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Julia, tell Kevin to go to hell!

February 17, 2012 at 1:23 am (Commentary, Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, Michael Somare, Peter O'Neill)

Yesterday in Parliament Christopher Pyne quoted Oliver Cromwell in an outburst against Prime Minister Gillard: “In the name of God. go!”

This is what Julia Gillard should say to Kevin Rudd in so many words, challenge or shut up. If he does have the numbers he’ll become PM, if he doesn’t, he’ll lose, and if this happens remove him from the cabinet. As PM she can’t allow the present situation to continue.

If Rudd wants to continue to be a happy little vegemite as the Australian Foreign Minister, Gillard must demand that he publicly declare his loyality to her, if not, out he goes from the cabinet.

Under the Westminister system no one has a right to be Prime Minister. The holder of this office is there if she or he has the numbers in the House of Representatives, failing this forget about it.

Many may not have liked the way Rudd was removed and they had the chance to say so in the last election, but the fact is Gillard did manage to sustain her Prime Ministership and form government after the election.

Personally, I don’t think either Julia or Kevin are necessarily the Almightly’s gifts to the Australian nation, but this is hardly the point. On a scale of one to ten I’d be inclined to give them both a poor pass, perhaps 5 1/2 each. The political reality is that one of them has the numbers in the House.

Reading over this piece I notice that God and the Almighty feature a bit. We know Julia doesn’t go along with Him or Her, while Kevin seems very involved as a church goer – a lapsed Catholic now of Anglican persuasion, or as he describes himself, a non-denominational Christian, though then again, it was reported that he took communion at the Catholic Mary Mackillop Chapel in Sydney. I wouldn’t vote for either solely on theological grounds, but in some ways, I find Julia’s upfront Atheism more attractive than Kevin’s wishy-washy Christianity.

In Papua New Guinea there are two claimants to the position of Prime Minister, Michael Somare and Peter O’Neill. One has a court decision in his favour and the other one one has a majority in the House of Assembly. This means that reasonable arguments can be mounted in suppost of both claimants.

What’s the situation in Australia today? There are two claimants, one has the numbers and the position while the other appears to have nothing but a strong desire to be PM and a sense that he’s been robbed of it previously.

Well, my advice to Kevin is, move or be damned.

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Angoram visitors

February 11, 2012 at 5:58 am (Adolf Hitler, Angoram, Kim Jong-il, Mao Zedong, Sepik River)

Adolf Hitler, Kim Jong-il, Mao Zedong

See: https://deberigny.wordpress.com/2009/10/01/did-chairman-mao-visit-angoram-in-1966/#comments

https://deberigny.wordpress.com/2011/12/22/the-dear-leader-visited-the-sepik/#comments

https://deberigny.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/did-the-fuhrer-visit-angoram/

There’s no doubt in my mind that Kim Jong-il and Mao Zedong were certainly in the Sepik, and I’m fairly certain that Adolf Hitler was there also.

A novelist, the Commander, as he is known to his acquaintances, has researched this matter quite extensively, and he believes that a visit by the Führer could well have been possible. Many Germans maintain that Hitler survived the war and got out of Germany, if he did, he would have joined like-minded people abroad.

You might asked , where would he find them? We all know that South America attracted many Nazis – the boys from Brazil and the like, but what is not generally known is that a number went to the former German colony of New Guinea.

The Commander has established that a discreet Nazi cell existed upriver beyond Ambunti for a number of years, and such a community, for that’s what it was, could well have hidden Adolf.

Why would have Hitler chosen New Guinea? In the 1930s one of his most pressing demands was the return of the German colonies that were taken after the First World War. He perhaps may have thought that he could work for this in a former colony.

There is further evidence that Hitler did come to New Guinea. There lived in Maprik an ex-German submarine commander who went by the first name of Fred. I knew him because for a number of years he worked for Malaria Service. Well, to make a long story short, he more or less told me one night when we were both pissed  that he escaped Germany by submarine, and brought the Führer up the Sepik River where he was met by a number of compatriots. The submarine was scuttled just near the Chambri Lakes.

Masta Bob, a recruiter and Sepik identity, told me about this rather strange character he met in Angoram in the late 1940s. In fact, he said, he looked just like Hitler. He acted like him – non-drinker, speaking mainly German but with a marked tendency to wave his hands and make speeches. He offered to take him to Kambaramba to as it were to get his end in, but he wasn’t interested. He talked a lot about May River and Green River. Bob, took it that he lived somewhere in these uncontrolled areas.

Until the Commander or someone else can elaborate, and come up with further evidence about the supposed Hitler visit, I guess the matter will just have to rest.

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Did the Führer visit Angoram?

February 9, 2012 at 11:54 pm (Adolf Hitler, Angoram, Commentary, Papua New Guinea, Sepik River)

Adolf Hitler

‘Hitler forbade any publication of this picture, of him looking faintly ridiculous in lederhosen & long socks, which he thought was “beneath his dignity”. Photo: Picture Media
Source: Supplied’     The Australian

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The changing face of Michael Somare – idealist to pragmatist(?)

February 4, 2012 at 3:42 am (Angoram, Commentary, Corruption in PNG, East Sepik District, East Sepik Province, Michael Somare, Papua New Guinea, Peter O'Neill, Sepik River, Wewak)

Michael Somare

The years are rarely kind to any of us both physically and spiritually and friends and admirers are usually like rats on a sinking ship who can’t get away quickly enough  from the declining fortunes of their fellow beings. (Excuse the rather poor figurative language, but I hope you get my meaning.)

With the present state of Sir Michael Somare’s health and his recent political manoeuvrings, he himself, and people at large are forced to face his mortality and assess his undoubted influence on the fortunes of Papua New Guinea now and over more than the past forty years.

The photographs of Michael Somare above: the first taken in 1973 at the Angoram Hotel and the next one taken at the Wewak Yacht Club in 2009 – radiating from the first snap is the face of a young, dynamic, enthusiastic, smiling, and likeable man, while in the second snap the young man is no longer there, but one can still see a man smiling, perhaps less enthusiatically, but still, I think, likeable, with the old Somare charm intact. I also see something of sadness and disillusionment in the older Somare’s face.

There are those who revere him as the father of the nation and others who say: “perhaps originally he came into political life to do good, and he’s certainly done well for himself and his family.” Between these two extremes maybe, lies the man.

Somare has always had that rather intangible quality of personal charm, an immense asset for a politician. So many people I’ve talked to over the years I know have not been impressed with his performance in power and after talking to him often describe him as such a nice man. Charm, of course, can be such a beguiling characteristic and in the words of Evelyn Waugh’s character, Anthony Blanche, in Brideshead Revisited, “it spots and kills anything it touches.” An “English blight” in Anthony’s terms, but perhaps more universally applicable. Of course, in its positive aspect the charm of an idealist is an embellishment to the human condition.

I well remember meeting and speaking to Michael Somare in the town of Angoram on the Sepik River in the early 1970s, and being most impressed with his personality, and in Konedobu, Port Moresby, with the concern he had in approving the proposed Ok Tedi Mine (BHP) in the then Western District.

Sir Michael was, and I’m sure still is, an extremely sensitive man. In 1972, I was on my way to the Philippines to marry my future wife, and as a help to me he gave me a letter of introduction to the Australian Ambassador in Manila. Subsequently, Deborah, my wife, returned with me to PNG and got a job as press secretary to Matthias Toliman and then with Tei Abal of the United Party, a  political rival of Somare’s Pangu Party. I felt that Somare considered that this in some way was an act of disloyalty to him on my part. Years after in 2009 in Wewak I mentioned this to him and in his usual charming way he brushed it off as of no consequence.

Some consider that Somare has always had a sense of his own importance as PNG’s Prime Minister, and online references maintain that in 1975 he wasn’t impressed with Australia’s gift of an official residence, and he asked for and got a much grander building, but in point of fact, what actually happened was that Somare refused to live in the residence on offer because he wanted to continue to live humbly where he had been living. This is an example of the young idealistic Somare who is well remembered by many old PNG hands.

However, by 2005 his sense of his own importance was greatly enhanced, and his sense of dignity was, he considered, directly violated by security officers at Brisbane Airport when he was asked to remove his shoes and go through a routine security check.

What and when was it that muddied the Somare political waters – please forgive the mixed metaphor? Somare was a man who embraced his Murik Lakes Sepik identity with his appointment to the position of Sana or peacemaker in the village of his forebears. But the big man of the Murik Lakes seemed only too ready to grant questionable logging rights to Malaysian interests in and around his own village backyard in the Kaup area. There are a lot of environmental issues surrounding deforestation in this logging concession. The Thomas Barnett Commission in 1989 exposed the practice of Rimbunan Hijau, the Malaysian logging company in bribing PNG politicians. Prime Minister Somare was implicated in this. Questions about tax evasion have surfaced throughout the career of Sir Michael. Questions did emerge but I still like to maintain that a man is innocent until proven guilty.

Somare’s family own houses in Queensland, and it is rumoured that Sir Michael owns a rural property in New Zealand. There is a mansion being built for him in Wewak by overseas interests. Be he nameless, but a very prominent late PNG judicial officer is reputed to have said: “I know I shouldn’t say it, but I wish someone would kill Somare, he’s so greedy.” Here again there is much rumoured about what Sir Michael owns and how he got it. Lots of things he owns were actually given to him by various people. In the seventies Reg Ansett gave him quite a bit of property around Wewak. This said, it’s not surprising that there are those, and among them many PNG villagers, who wonder how many of their past and present politicians can sleep straight in their beds, when they have presided over the demise of much of government services and structures in the country after Independence: a breakdown of law and order and the delivery of education and health, corruption in the public service, with a subtle conniving request being made for additional payment if you want something like a passport, a visa or a work permit. It is generally believed that the government has no idea who is exactly in the country. The corruption of politicians is an open scandal, but what is surprising how few of them are successfully prosecuted.

Of course, if you’ve got the cash you don’t have to worry too much. Send your children to Australia for education in expensive private schools, and should you have an aspiring daughter La Sorbonne University in Paris even beckons. If you have any major health problems, the elite classes know exactly how to handle them – get off to Australia or Singapore.  Sir Michael Somare’s recent heart treatment in Singapore cost the country millions of kina and huge reimbursements were claimed by minders, family, and visitors to Sir Michael. A reliable PNG source has disputed much of this, telling me that a big part of Sir Michael’s medical expenses were paid for from his  own superannuation fund.  Not that I blame Sir Michael for not putting himself in the hands of the local health service. As a little aside, I found on my recent visit to Wewak the local hospital didn’t even have a working X-ray. Here is a legitimate question that could have been asked of Somare, why have health services deteriorated so much in the country?

According to a recent report made by Sir Mekere Morauta as Minister for Public Enterprises, there are millions of kina unaccounted for in PNG under the stewardship of Somare. Perhaps this is true, and I wonder how many other PNG prime ministers would have a lot to answer for  under their stewardships.

I have some faith but little hope that Prime Minister Peter O’Neill will deliver on his promise, “of a full-out war against corruption.”

If half of what is said about Somare is true, I still don’t like to see a man like him kicked while he’s down. Sir Michael’s health is failing, members of his family are in trouble. He may be a great disappointment to many people and the recent political impasse in Papua New Guinea has been badly handled by him – his actions of calling out the army to support him are highly questionable to say the least, but the way his parliamentary seat was taken from him can’t be defended.

I often think of the young idealist charming man I met many years ago in Angoram, and I ask myself, if he is still embodied in the old Somare today? I believe there’s a lot still there. The nation needs to remember the sense of unity and direction Somare gave to it in the early post-independence years

No man is perfect, and I firmly believe that Sir Michael has done much to be proud of, but of course, like all us, politicans and others, we all have some character flaws. I suspect in Sir Michael’s case it’s that he’s far too precious in his opinion of himself, and local and international sycophants have played up to this, and the temptation to enrich oneself can become an entitlement in the mind of a precious person.

During a visit he made to Angoram some years ago when he was in the business of promoting a scheme for the commercialization of the production of sago, the area’s food staple, he was questioned by the locals, and his response was to call them bushkanaka. (An abusive term meaning wild and uncivilized native) Hardly an appropriate term to use when addressing his constituents, but like all politicians they can get out of touch, and in the words of Lord Acton: Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

All this being said, I must confess that it saddens me to see the Grand Chief treated the way he’s now treated in PNG.

See: http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2012/02/the-michael-somare-enigma-beyond-idealism-to-what.html#comments

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