Sepik Ironman

May 3, 2011 at 2:52 am (PNG, Wewak) (, , , , , , )

There is a lot of speculation in Wewak about the identity of the Australian swimmer who has been invited by the Lapun Team to represent them in the Sepik Ironman swim on the Queen’s Birthday weekend this year.

Reuters news reports that two prominent Wewak residents: Messrs. Johnson and Rose were interviewed, but they were playing their cards pretty close to the chest.

All that can be ascertained is that the swimmer is a man in peak physical condition. And it’s said that in his approach to water, he is inspired by Mao Zedong’s swim across the Yangtze River in 1966 and Adrian Bird’s swim across the Sepik River in 1969.

It is also known that he is now in intensive training at a university aquatic centre under the tutelage of a protege of the late Professor Frank Cotton.

Who is this elusive swimmer? Even the date of his expected arrival in Wewak is shrouded in mystery.

All that can be said is that the Lapun Team members in Wewak give the impression that they have some sort of secret weapon in the person of this swimmer.

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Hon William Eichhorn MBE died, in Angoram Hospital.

May 1, 2011 at 1:56 am (Angoram, Wewak) (, , , , , , , )

Bill Eichhorn

Bill at Korogopa, on the banks of the Keram River, 2009

Email from Peter Johnson CBE:

“Whilst I was in Australia 15-28 April our former MHA, MP and Provincial Government Speaker, Hon William Eichhorn, MBE died in Angoram Hospital.   There was a service in Wewak and Bill was then taken to Korogopa for burial amongst his ancestors.   There will be many with memories of  Bill, and stories to tell. Please pass on to those of your
acquaintances to whom this sad news may be of interest.   Age?  Dunno, but I was
26 on arrival at Angoram in 1964, Bill had already broken with Fred and left his
position as teacher.   I guess he was about 75.   I was only told in passing

A tribute to Bill will be published later.

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“The Commonwealth and Queensland Governments have decided to shut down vital tuberculosis clinics in the Torres Strait. Experts now fear that the problem could spread to the mainland.”

April 20, 2011 at 11:18 am (Papua New Guinea) (, , , , )

Click onto the above site and try to think of ways to reverse any thoughts by our policy makers to shut down tuberculosis clinics, treating PNG citizens in the Torres Strait Islands.

Drug-resistant strains of TB in PNG are not only disastrous for our neighbour, but if Australia does not help PNG tackle them, eventually and inevitably we will have them in Australia. Of course, there are cases in Australia even now, but we don’t want the situation to get worse!

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Good-bye old Port Moresby!

April 18, 2011 at 5:37 am (Papua New Guinea) (, , , )

The article below reminds me of two other buildings of cultural and historic significance that have gone: the Papuan Hotel (Top Pub) and the Moresby Hotel (bottom Pub) with the famous snake pit bar. Old PNG hands would lament their passing. With the destruction of the first House of Assembly building goes also the so called European Hospital. I remember this well as I spent three weeks there in 1956.

If anyone knows of photos of these buildings I would appreciate it if I could get copies. Oh, yes, the old Burns Philp tower and building have gone.

Tarangu, olgeta ol i dai pinis.


House of Assembly sold

Posted: 17 Apr 2011 04:40 PM PDT

By JUNIOR UKAHATHE first House of Assembly in downtown Port Moresby is to be turned into a hotel, The National reports.
The state sold the site to the Lamana Development Group which plans to turn the historical building into a modern hotel.
The one-time seat-of-power is located in downtown Port Moresby, next to the AON Building on McGregor Street.
How the land was obtained and why this iconic building was sold to the developer is not known but contractors began demolition work last week.
David Western Constructions Ltd managing director David Kini said they were contracted by Lamana Development Group, the new owner of the area, to clear up the place.
He said his company had been hired to demolish the old House of Assembly and build a replica of the building that would serve as a hotel.
“We have been instructed by our client to demolish the old building and build a replica of it,” Kini said.
The National visited the site last Friday and saw workmen erecting a fence around the property to stop public access.
It is understood that the national government, through the National Museum and Arts Gallery (NMAG), was owner of the land before its acquisition by the Lamana Development Group.
Nine families who lived in the area were paid K200,000 by the developer and told to move out to make way for construction work to begin.
John Sine, from Chimbu, who has lived in the area for the past 35 years, thought it was a joke when he first saw the contractors.
“It looks like the government does not care about the cultural and historical significance of this place,” he said.
“I will not be surprised if the government and other selfish politicians and people in authority sell the country to foreigners in their greed to acquire more money and wealth.”
The state and concerned parties did attempt to restore the old parliament as a national heritage and former governor-general Sir Paulias Matane headed a committee which attempted to raise funds to restore the building.
Money was committed by government but it is uncertain where these funds might be.
The building was formerly a “whites only” hospital in the 1950s and was turned into a House of Assembly in 1961 when at the insistence of the UN and Australia decided to prepare the former territories of Papua and New Guinea for self-governing status.
Attempts to get comments from NMAG and the Lands Department were unsuccessful.

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Just between us!

April 14, 2011 at 10:24 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

I don’t want to be seen as a grammarian, which I’m not, and a previous post of mine makes this clear:

Aussies do make some terrible blunders, even those of us who should know better. Take the good old preposition between and its clumsy use by many who are prominent in the media.

For the general instruction of all of us, I can do no better than to quote from The World Book Dictionary:

“Between you and me. Prepositions regularly take the objective case of pronouns. When only one pronoun is used, this case is invariably employed: of him, for me, to her. But when two pronouns follow, less educated speakers often use the nominative case of the second, and sometimes of both: between you and I, to her (she) and I. Standard English requires between you and me, to her and me.

And from the Prayer Book: “Incline our hearts to keep this law.”  My readers, please don’t put my blog to the grammatical microscope!

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PNG not a place to be sick in!

April 13, 2011 at 7:29 am (Michael Somare) (, , )

It’s interesting to reflect on Sir Michael Somare being in Singapore for a medical check-up. Not that I blame him for that, but I do blame his government and a succession of others since independence for allowing the health service in the country to be appallingly rundown.

Most government hospitals in PNG are in a state of disrepair, and the delivery of health services in rural area, where it exists, is mainly provided by NGOs.

The likes of Sir Michael are fortunate to have the means to go overseas for medical treatment.

At independence Australia left PNG with a Department of Health that provided, at least, basic health care to the whole population, and a system of sub-district, district, and regional hospitals that could be accessed by most of the population. This medical infrastructure was by no means perfect, but it was a practicable and functioning deliverer of health services in the country that has been allowed to deteriorate.

I hope Sir Michael gets first class care in Singpore but I would much rather he was able to get first class care in PNG.

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The recent Australian Defence Force Academy sex scandal

April 12, 2011 at 1:32 am (Commentary) (, , )

If the facts are what we are presented with in the media the community at large  is entitled to ask what should be done about the cadets involved?

At the Defence Force Academy there are a number of privileged young men and women who have arrived there through a selection process that has eliminated a number of unsuccessful applicants. Presumably, the successful ones who are accepted are considered the best. The ‘best’ go onto a taxpayers’ funded university education and a career in the armed forces. If they don’t measure up, the Australian taxpayers are not getting value for their money, and they should be expelled from the Academy, to make their way outside at their own expense like most other Australians. The point I’m making is that it is a privilege to attend the Academy, not a right.

All involved in this unsavory affair are from any objective judgement in the wrong: the male cadet who arranged the Skype presentation of his sexual encounter with the female cadet without her knowledge; his fellow cadets who watched; and the female cadet who chose to disregard the rules about fraternisation in the Academy.

Just remember that these cadets are the chosen ones who are destined to be our future officers in the army, navy and air force. They’ve not measured up and they are taking up places at the Academy that may well have gone to more deserving unsuccessful candidates.

Of course, I’m not privy to all that might be said in their defence, but on the face of it, I’d be inclined to give them all their marching orders, and offer their places to others.

What do you think?

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An appeal for contributors

April 10, 2011 at 5:50 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Don’t be afraid, I’m not asking for money, but only for articles and little bits and pieces of writing on any subjects. J.P. Priestly is a contributor to this blog, and he stirs up a lot of interest with his outspoken comments. Would you like to be a stirrer like J.P.P.? Anything is pretty well accepted as long as it doesn’t land you and me in court. So journalists, reporters,  citizens, and non-citizens, go ahead, and put pen to paper. Forward your piece to:

I await your stimulating contributions with baited breath.

Be part of a citizen journalist movement, and blog yourself to notoriety!

David Wall

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pièce de résistance

April 8, 2011 at 12:41 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

(By request, another instalment by J.P. Priestly – long awaited for by many of this blog’s readers.)

 Well! Along with “The Wicked Witch from the West” (Gillard) we have “The Humbug from Ohio” (Keneally) – both equally disingenuous, both full of talk and not much action or productive effort for the country, Australia. Certainly, both conniving as the ‘WWW’, stabbed Rudd in the back to gain office, the ‘Ohio Humbug’ gained office dubiously, and ‘jumped ship’ as the leader of the Labor Party, displaying herself as a sore loser and gutless – a bit of acting that would have won her the Academy Award.

Instead of staying on, as the best available leader to do the hard work by making Labor a worthwhile opposition, she quits. Why? The answer is: there is not much glitz and glamour (which is what she is all about) in being Opposition leader. Keneally, by doing what she has done by resigning as Labor leader, has proved she is just a “female show pony” posing like a female glamorous model – long on rhetoric and short on results. The real reason the ‘Ohio Humbug’ has gone to the back bench is, so she’s available to try her hand in Canberra when ‘WWW’ destroys herself in self-mutilation.

She clearly is all show, no substance. The pièce de résistance’, this good Catholic (allegedly) is, she left a ‘black hole’ of $4.5 billion in the budget that is unaccounted. I suppose the ‘Ohio Humbug’ will claim ignorance, but ignorance is no excuse before the law. And then, she will go to confession and absolve herself. Disgraceful! She ought to be charged for fraudulent misrepresentation.

The big difference between ‘WWW’ and the ‘Ohio Humbug’ is one is as ugly as sin; and the other is glamorous and garrulous, but both are inept and insincere.

Finally, I ask: is there any honesty in politics? Or is it the accepted credo of politicians, ‘not how honest you are, but how clever you are at being dishonest’. This is not the ethos of Australians of – honesty, integrity and fairness for all. Let them both go back from where whence they came.

 Signed: JPP

The views expressed in this article are those of the author, J.P. Priestley, and don’t necessarily reflect those of this blog.

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Sorcery in PNG

March 7, 2011 at 4:00 am (Papua New Guinea, Wewak) (, , , , , , , , )

"Post-Courier" 4 March 2011

Peter Johnson sent me this cutting from the Post-Courier, and the question of sorcery and supposed witchcraft in PNG reminded me of something Fr John O’Toole told me about many years ago in Dreikikir. One of his parishioners from his mission station at Dagua just outside of Wewak, where he was stationed in the early 1950s, complained of intense pain in the general area of his lower stomach and liver, saying only that “sanguma man kisim mi”. Most white men at the time would have taken this with a grain of salt and put it in the same category as the Australian Aborigines talking about pointing the bone. John was sufficiently concerned to take his parishioner to Wewak to consult Dr John McInernery, the then District Medical Officer. Dr John gave the patient a physical examination and could find nothing obviously wrong, and he was inclined to think he was dealing with a malingerer, but he just wondered, and he was not a man who liked to be left with any lingering doubts about any final diagnosis he might make, so he ordered an x-ray. And just as well he did as the x-ray revealed a foreign object very close to vital organs that would have eventually caused death if not removed.

The interesting thing was that there were no surface signs of how this object had got into the man. The skin was unbroken and intact. The foreign object was a piece of wire which Dr John removed.

In this incident sorcery was used but not in a supernatural sense. The sorcerers had ordered that sanguma be employed to end this man’s life.

Fr F. Mihalic explains this: “sanguma, (sang-guma) (Mel) secret murder committed by orders from sorcerers. The victim is waylaid, short poisoned thorns are inserted into the base of his tongue, causing swelling and loss of speech. Then other thorns (usually from the wild sago plant) are pushed into vital organs, where they cause infection and eventual death.”

The Jacaranda Dictionary and Grammar of Melanesian Pidgin

The actual method employed may not be exactly as described by Fr Mihalic, in the case under discussion, but anyone who has lived in the Sepik would have some awareness of the existence of sanguma.

There are many factors associated with magic, black and otherwise, which are both physical and psychological, and even criminal, to say nothing about any spiritual dimension, if it exists or not. The question of what people actually believe is also important.

I’ll leave the last word with the Bard, in what I hope is a respectful tone, and of course there is some sanction of magic, if indeed it be, of the good variety:

“O, she’s warm!
If this be magic, let it be an art
Lawful as eating.”
William Shakespeare (The Winter’s Tale)

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