Ralf Stuttgen’s Views and Perceptions

July 12, 2009 at 3:47 am (Catholic Church, malaria control, Papua New Guinea, philosophy, theology) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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On my recent visit to Papua New Guinea I had some far-reaching discussions with my friend, Ralf Stuttgen. Ralf has many interesting and discerning points of view which are worth airing in the hope that they can be commented on and further discussed by others.

 Our conversations ranged over theological, philosophical, educational and environmental questions and were tackled uniquely and insightfully by Ralf.

 Here are his views:

 Who and what is God? Any definition of God cannot be divorced from our material existence and humanity’s system of values. Fundamentally God is love and with this concept in mind no one with values is essentially an atheistic according to Ralf. By a stretch of the imagination most, I guess, could accept a principal power and reality in the universe named God or something else. Theological definitions must continually be refined and explained in modern terms. Objective truth is not just a question of what is right and what is wrong.

Symbol and myth reveal and divulge theological and ethical truths. Virginity is a symbol of divine wisdom and life is like the rising dawn. There is no doubt in Ralf’s mind that the essence of the Christian message is fundamentally sound, but the interpretation of the message needs to be refined and updated.

 Ralf looks at sin and an appropriate definition; Sin is any act where the damage is greater than the advantages. I suppose in a sense the end justifies the means. All acts have good and bad potentials. Untruths and lies are always involved with sin and the suppression of information. An ill-informed conscience cannot be an arbitrator of good and evil.

 Science fiction can be a useful tool for awakening future generations to development possibilities for in this genre humankind looks at the desirable and the possible.

 On the broad question of the economy, education and development Ralf continually stresses the primary importance of quality education. Any country without an educated population is doomed to a state of undevelopment. Even a state without abundant natural resources but with an educated population has the capacity for significant economic development, look at the South Korean economic miracle and compare this with Papua New Guinea, a country with vast natural resources and a seemingly inability to lift the standard of living for its population. Over the past thirty years or so South Korea has put in place a vibrant education and training programme throughout the country, whereas in PNG the state of education at all levels: primary, secondary, tertiary and technical training is at best poor and only available to a small percent of the population. The result being that South Korea exports the products of a technically advanced economy with vast returns to its educated and well governed population, whereas PNG is increasingly becoming a land that is largely being exploited for its resources by others. The country is plagued with inappropriate and destructive resource exploitation with little return to its people in general. One need only look at the logging and mining industries and the environmental hazards they are creating. Corrupt officials and politicians and overseas companies get their rewards but the uneducated masses get comparatively nothing. One example of poor governance and supervision in PNG is that 60% of the gold extracted from the country is exported illegally. This means that the state gets nothing for this valuable resource.

 Ralf is emphatic in his assertion that education is the solution to all the world’s problems.

Doing it right – Success   Doing it wrong – No Success

Education will improve public health. The most common cause of death is stupidity.

Education will protect the environment, stupidity leads to the killing of wildlife and even over-population. Governments must improve their education systems before they improve their health services. In British India the health services were better than the education services; result over-population.

 Education, Research and the Future

 Our biological, genetic and evolutionary future is tied up with education and new ideas.Let us look at some problems with new insights: Is Western Agriculture appropriate in undeveloped countries? Not always as it requires deforestation; more research is needed into methods of growing food. Humankind should be able to live off trees. The whole world could be covered with trees. Trees are a great source of starch and more research is needed to fully utilize them as food. Sensible conservation will protect the jungles of the world. In the past in PNG when the kunai grasslands were protected from burning it was noticed that the jungle trees come back. It is true to say our scientists need a broader education. 

General reflections

 Who does the Development Bank develop? Answer: The Development Bank. Only take out a loan when land and labour are there with future prospects to guarantee success. Look at the bind the West New Britain oil palm small holders are in trying to repay the Development Bank.

Indigenous people at least should be guaranteed health, fresh air and natural conditions.The reality is that indigenous people must adapt or vanish.The laws of evolution are there. In North America some indigenous people were known as little heads because of their small brain size. Presumably the evolutionary process had past them by. We must face the fact that some genes become outdated Will we in the future condone and allow some form of genetic engineering?

What was the principal cause of the fall of the Roman Empire? The Roman State did not have a Department of Education as an institution preserving and passing on knowledge to future generations.

Global warming has been going on for years, markedly since AD 400. Development and education are historically intertwined with changes of climate.

We must all learn to manage our health. Sleep is the most important anti-malarial. In the future humankind must learn to eat different foods.

The attempt to commercialize the production of sago in the Sepik will be a disaster. The keeping of cattle and wet rice growing are inappropriate as agricultural ventures in PNG as tasks associated with these endeavours are foreign to the people.

Managing rubbish is a problem for PNG towns and cities.

What is a Jew? Ralf looks at this broadly: There are ethnic Jews and theological Jews. Ethic Jews are those with a racial connection to Israel and theological Jews are all people of good will. This is in accord with God’s promise to Abraham:

Your descendants shall be as numerous as the stars in heaven. Your descendants will be as numerous as the sand on the seashore.

The ideas of a better world are not exclusively Jewish but also come from other ancient people such as the Persians and Egyptians. The big question was and is just how to achieve a better world? The answer will come from the chosen people who are all people of good will.

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Visual Images of My East Sepik Visit (Descriptive captions will be added soon.)

June 19, 2009 at 6:39 am (Angoram, Wewak) (, , , , , , , )

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Dr A.D. Parkinson

May 2, 2009 at 1:37 am (malaria control, Papua New Guinea) (, , , , , , , , , , , )


Photos  from David Parkinson’s Collection

Arthur David Parkinson 1935-2009

Always known as David rather than Arthur, his untimely death ends a life of service and dedication. He first came to Papua New Guinea in 1956 as a Medical Assistant or in the terminology of the time an EMA – European Medical Assistant. These young men and some not so young were the frontline medical providers in much of PNG in those days.
   David did extensive medical patrols in the Sepik and the Highlands. He subsequently attended the University of Adelaide qualifying in Medicine and Surgery, and he returned to PNG working as a Medical Officer and eventually Assistant Director, Malaria Control.
   After leaving PNG in the late 1970s, he did post-graduate studies in the UK and afterwards worked for WHO in the Solomon Islands and Samoa. In Australia, he joined the army and worked in a Malaria Research Unit with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. For the last years of his life, he was in general practice in the Western Suburbs of Sydney.
   At his funeral service, Michael, his son, spoke of his father’s humanity in a varied career of service to others. Over the years, David’s contribution to the health of others has been immense. The people of PNG have particularly lost a true friend and benefactor.
   David’s first wife, Ruth, predeceased him and he is survived by their children, Michael, Fiona and Jamie. His wife, Vaiola and their children, Nathan, Ricky, Tanya, Corian and two grandchildren, Charley and Georgie survive him.

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Disaster in PNG

December 12, 2008 at 10:38 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )


IRIN  12/12/08 
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Tens of thousands displaced by coastal flooding

Photo: OCHA
Northern coastal areas of Papua New Guinea have been hit by tidal waves causing flooding and the displacement of tens of thousands of people

BANGOK, 12 December 2008 (IRIN) – Tens of thousands of people along the northern coast of Papua New Guinea (PNG) have been displaced by flooding caused by abnormally high tides in recent days. Houses have been flooded and vegetable gardens destroyed.

According to the National Weather Service, the high sea level around the Bismarck and Solomon Seas is caused by an area of low pressure off Guam and New Caledonia. No change in the weather is expected over the next few days.

Provinces on PNG’s northern shoreline are most affected.

According to the Disaster Management Centre (DMC), those worst-hit are New Ireland, where, according, to the Provincial Administration, 20,000-30,000 people have been affected; and East Sepik Province, particularly in the area around Wewak town, where 500-600 people are homeless, and one child died, according to Save the Children.

Tidal surges were continuing to wreak havoc in the area, according to provincial officials, destroying a wharf at Markham Point, portions of a hotel and two lodges, and putting shops and government installations at risk.

Over 50,000 affected

Rapid assessments are being carried out by Provincial Disaster Centres and NGOs. The PNG government estimates 50,000-80,000 people have been affected. However, the assessment process is proceeding slowly owing to the remoteness of many areas, some of which lack roads, and have limited resources and personnel. No state of emergency has been declared, but The National Disaster Centre (NDC) has declared the situation a national disaster.

“The biggest gap at this point is real knowledge from the ground. We know lots of people are displaced but with the tidal surge still continuing and remote locations, it is difficult to undertake thorough assessments,” UN resident coordinator in the PNG Jacqui Badcock told IRIN.

On 11 December the National Executive Committee (NEC) approved PGK50 million (US$20 million) for relief assistance: “In today’s (11 December) emergency meeting, the NEC has approved up to K50 million, but immediately released to the NDES [National Disaster Emergency Services] K20 million to provide relief assistance to people in affected areas,” Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare said.

NDC chairman Manasupe Zurenuoc on 12 December appealed to donors for relief supplies, including tarpaulins, water containers, potable water, blankets, basic building tools and materials, and medicine. He also made a request for a UN Disaster and Coordination (UNDAC) team.

Aid efforts

The PNG Red Cross Society is currently conducting assessments and distributing relief in New Ireland Province and will extend its response to Sandaun Province and other affected provinces that have a Red Cross presence. Save the Children and Oxfam are already providing assistance in the Wewak area of East Sepik Province. Caritas is providing relief assistance in Manus and New Ireland provinces as well.

The Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) has committed to provide 500,000 Australian dollars through various international NGO partners, and the Australian government will dispatch a C-130 military plane with tarpaulins, water containers and purification tablets to New Ireland and Manus provinces. The New Zealand Agency for International Development, the Japanese embassy and the Japan International Cooperation Agency also pledged financial assistance.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is deploying additional staff: “We stand ready to add further support if requested and remain in close contact with the PNG National Disaster Centre and the UN resident coordinator in PNG,” said Terje Skadval, head of OCHA’s regional office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok.




UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

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How things change!

November 30, 2008 at 10:46 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

.How things change!

July 30, 1937

It would be interesting to see a cartoon by Low if drawn today. A completely reverse situation now exists in Palestine/Israel.

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Novel idea takes off

November 21, 2008 at 4:57 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Novel idea takes off

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Alternate and alternative

November 19, 2008 at 3:49 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

On and off labour

Sydney Morning Herald 19/11/08
The start of The Howard Years was gripping television. However, in describing the waterfront dispute, the key players in the events and the presenter, Fran Kelly, repeatedly referred to employing non-union labour as an “alternate” option. Surely what was wanted was an “alternative” choice, not something to occur by turns.David Wall Newtown

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Kapiak Tree by Anna Chu

November 19, 2008 at 2:03 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Kapiak Tree by Anna Chu MaskiMedia PO Box 757, Ravenshoe, QLD 4888 Phone:    07 40…   Email: publisher@maskimedia.com.au  Cost: AU$24.50 plus p&p AU$3.50 within Australia

Anna Chu’s little book: Kapiak tree: memories of Papua New Guinea is just that, a capably conjured up story of how life was actually lived in the towns and outstations in pre-independence and early post-independence Papua New Guinea, from the perspective of a mixed race woman. Her account impelled me to read the book from cover to cover without putting it down.

    At first I could not explain why I liked it so much. Objectively some might say it is not particularly well written with thoughts meandering in and out throughout and facts and events seasoning the storytelling unexceptionally. But this is the very essence that makes the book so charming: the respect Anna has for her father, Chu Leong, and her love for her mother are interspersed with honest accounts of relationships with men, and interesting descriptions about food and life in general in PNG.

    I know that Anna’s book is a true and honest account of PNG life as I also lived in some of the places she describes, and for anyone wanting to know how things really were in, say, the Sepik, this captivating little tale is highly recommended.

    Included in the book are a number of interesting and historical photographs.





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Wall Sounds the Alarm! Post-Courier, 1973

November 3, 2008 at 6:48 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Wall Sounds the Alarm!  Post-Courier, 1973

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Wally Lussick’s obituary, The Australian, 3/7/96

November 3, 2008 at 6:24 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )


Wally Lussick's obituary The Australian 3/7/96

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