Monday, December 04, 2006

Come in like Errol Flynn!

Papua New Guinea's rich and colorful history is littered with the names of likewise gaudy characters that have carved a niche for themselves.

Few, however, have made more of an impact than the flamboyant and swashbuckling Errol Flynn.

With the discovery of very good paying gold in 1926 at Edie Creek above Wau - six days walk from Salamaua - a gold rush of massive proportions started, not only from Australia but from beyond.

With the major discovery of gold came the last two categories of what the White population of New Guinea was divided into: Missionaries, Moneymakers, and Misfits or Fools, Freaks, and Failures.

Not least among the Misfits was the one who became a Hollywood star - Errol Flynn.

And none, probably, has done more to promote PNG than this lovable rogue who went on to become the world's top sex symbol.

The superb scenery, glorious hills and harbours, white beaches, and shady copra plantations are still today as Flynn describes them in his famous autobiography, My Wicked, Wicked Ways.

Even though Flynn is long dead- through excessive drinking and womanising - he still lives on in PNG.

Places like Salamaua, Wau, Bulolo, Lae, Finschhafen, Port Moresby, Laloki, Rabaul, Kavieng, Madang, and the Sepik River have become famous because of My Wicked, Wicked Ways.

His book remains a bestseller to this day and, in places like Salamaua or Wau - just to name two - people still talk about him.

"Flynn used to drink here,"they'll tell you in Salamaua, or, "this is where he went mining for gold", they'll reminisce in Wau.

Legendary Australian patrol officer, JK McCarthy, recalls in his book, Patrol Into Yesterday, how Flynn stepped in once to protect a small man from a bully: "It was done in the most dramatic style and all of us should have foreseen that he had a movie career ahead of him. There was the noisy bar, the crowd of onlookers, the challenge and the hero knocking the loud-mouthed one cold, right on cue."

Flynn has been called many names: adventurer, thief, lover, liar, murderer, and Hollywood legend.

He probably didn't do much good while he was here, but nevertheless, he placed PNG on the world map as a place where a young man can find himself.

The true-life story of movie superstar Errol Flynn was more dramatic and incredible than even the wildest of his many Hollywood-starring roles.

He may have more swashes then anyone before or since, but Flynn was also a liar and a thief, an incurable seducer of women (and men), a fraudster, hustler, and even murderer... all before the age of 21!

Before the age of 21, Flynn was tried for murder.

He was a thief, a liar, a bad boy in every instance,he was a gigolo, a hustler, and was even accused of being a spy - then he conquered Hollywood.

Wildly promiscuous from an early age, his teenage years were a frantic roller coaster ride of sex, adventure, ill-gotten riches, drink, sex, fighting... and more sex.

Panoramic portrayals of his amazing past have brought the true legend of Flynn explosively to life, blowing the lid off his rabble-rousing time in the gutters of Sydney, and his death-defying escapades searching for gold in the jungles of New Guinea.

Flynn was simply the sexiest, most charismatic star of the Golden Era of Hollywood.

The epitome of a lusty, virile hero, Flynn turned the World into his stage as millions fell for his wicked, wicked ways.

Superstar and legend, Errol Flynn was Hollywood's symbol of male virility during the Golden Era of moviemaking.

He was adored by fans worldwide, admired by millions, despised by many.

Flynn was the quintessence of the swashbuckling hero, but his on-screen exploits were pale echoes of his real life adventures.

Flynn's prowess with women was so infamous that the expression "Come In like Flynn" became a common phrase used to describe the ease with which a man might conquer a woman.

In fact, after a life rocked by success and scandal, Errol Flynn died under dubious circumstances aged 50, supposedly while having sex with a woman.

As an actor, Flynn built the foundation for characters later elaborated by Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarznegger, Harrison Ford, and Kevin Costner.

He died at age 50 of a heart attack, having had a good run in Hollywood with 53 films - some for Jack Warner, others contracted out to MGM - across from great female players such as Olivia De Haviland, Maureen O'Hara, Bette Davis, Greer Garson and others.

Errol Flynn was born Errol Leslie Thompson Flynn on June 20, 1909 in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

His parents were Professor Theodore Thompson Flynn and Lily Mary Young.

Professor Flynn was a well-known marine biologist and zoologist who later went on to receive an MBE for his work at Queens University, Belfast.

Errol also was a direct descendant - on his mothers' side - of Midshipman Young from the infamous HMS Bounty Mutiny of 1789.

The 18-year-old Errol Flynn - with an already shady background - arrived in New Guinea in October 1927 to make his fortune on the newly discovered goldfields at Edie Creek, Wau.

From his arrival he tried unsuccessfully to bluff himself into money as a cadet patrol officer, gold prospector, slave recruiter, dynamiter of fish, trapper of birds, manager of coconut and tobacco plantations, air cargo clerk, copra trader, charter boat captain, pearl diver and diamond smuggler.
He was also a prolific writer and contributed regularly to Australian newspapers and magazines with absorbing tales about the untamed jungles of New Guinea.

Flynn soon discovered that the Australian government had a severe shortage of patrol officers, and he hoped to bluff his way through in Rabaul, but this colonial career was short-lived when his background was discovered.

He moved restlessly from one job to another, acquiring many different skills but no great competence.

Hoping to get rich fast, he lived by his wits and ran up many debts.
In Rabaul, although considered a likeable and capable young man, his reputation for roguery quickly spread and he ceased to be with the Administration.

His best memory of Rabaul was of "a wonderful saloon where you encountered everything the world could yield up - miners, recruiters, con men, thieves, beachcombers, prospectors - cubicles both downstairs and upstairs, several phonographs playing, cards".

Long after Flynn had left he was remembered around Rabaul, mostly for the unpaid bills he left behind.

Even after he became famous as a film star, he never paid any of those bills.

If people wrote asking him to pay, he would send them autographed photographs of himself, saying these were much more than what he owed them.

The story is told of the famous occasion when a film of Flynn's was showing in Rabaul, and at the end of the credits, a dentist to whom Flynn owned a large account jumped up and shouted: "And teeth by Eric Wein."

In 1928, with money from his work on a coconut plantation and a loan from a shipping company in Sydney, Flynn bought a schooner and took an American film company to make a documentary about headhunters on the Sepik River.

He recalls: "The last place in the world I wanted to go was the Sepik River, a human graveyard. I cruised to the north-east coast, where the red, muddy Sepik River flowed into the sea.

"We moved into the broad stream, running against a strong current.

"The Sepik is a monster waterway 600 miles long.

"No white man has been up the river more than 200 or 300 miles and the nature of the river or the land beyond that was practically unknown and remains little known to this very day.

"The waterway was heavily populated with mosquitoes, kanakas, and pukpuks (crocodiles).

"As we traveled the garamuts, tomtoms made of crocodile skins, kept up a steady communication: 'Outsiders, big magic on the water, beware'.

"When we came in close to shore and tried to get film of the natives, we got arrows instead, real ones, and poisoned."

In 1929, Flynn sailed from the offshore islands to Salamaua, to fulfill his original ambition.

He hired eight men, bought marching gear and gold-digging equipment, and set out for the goldfields at Edie Creek.

The tough march from Salamaua to Wau - through a region filled with blackwater fever and poisoned arrows - tested men's limitations.

The rigorous walk between Salamaua and Wau took up to a week, Flynn writing of how the gold fields had to be approached from Salamaua by 10 days'smarch through leech-infested jungle, in constant fear of ambush, and at night wondering 'whether that crawly sound you heard a few feet away might be a snake, a cassowary or maybe only a wild boar razorback.I have seen Central Africa, but it was never anything like the jungle of New Guinea'.

At Edie Creek, temperatures were high during the day and fell steeply at night.

There was an epidemic of dysentery and malaria, with no trained doctors to attend to the sick.

His men left, and Flynn quickly realised that, "I had neither the provisions, nor the money, nor the necessary men to work a claim properly. The competition with other prospectors who were better set up was too much".

He lost everything he owned and was forced to take a job as manager of a tobacco plantation in Laloki, near Port Moresby.

Six months later, Jack Hides, a flamboyant patrol officer and old Papua hand, turned up at Flynn's place and noted in his diary that Flynn was doing a creditable job.

Flynn had criticised the Australian administration in a letter to his father in Tasmania.

Writing to The Bulletin soon after his arrival, he protested against a government policy that affected his own plantation, the high import taxes imposed on tobacco: "Papua is one of the natural homes of the tobacco plant, and, as Papua is part of the Commonwealth and is in receipt of a yearly subsidy of £40,000 from the federal government, the obvious market for its tobacco is Australia. But the market is closed by a prohibitive tariff."

At Laloki, the man who was to become the world's top sex symbol, wrote about his affair with Tuperselai, a beautiful Papuan girl: "We let ourselves be carried down by the current of the stream and, on the shores, in a secluded nook of shade, at last we made love.

"I can only say that I don't know when again my heart pounded so.

"I was less alone and soft-aired Laloki River is one of my most precious, poetic memories."

In January 1933, in the bush near Finschhafen, Morobe District, Flynn began to "blackbird" local labourers.

His diary recorded that enslaving human beings also involved an element of trust - which was frequently betrayed - and described his conversation with a tribal chief who said he "had given me all their young men and I must look after them well. He enjoined me that I must not sell any of them and when their time had finished must bring them back myself".

Flynn later observed that, "If you spend more than five years in New Guinea you were done for, you'd never be able to get out, your energy would be gone, and you'd rot there like an aged palm".

In April 1933, he sold his property and suddenly left the island with some smuggled diamonds and a case of malaria that would plague him for the rest of his life.

During his years in New Guinea, from the age of 18 to 24, Flynn came to maturity and formed his adult personality.

New Guinea brought out the worst and the best in him.

He was willing to try anything, but wouldn't work at anything for very long.
He said, "There is no thrill like making a dishonest buck" and always expected others to support him when he had no money of his own.

He lived by his wits, bluffed his way through crises, and used his fists when he had to.

One of Errol Flynn's greatest loves was writing.

Apart from his autobiography My Wicked, Wicked Ways, he wrote two semi-autobiographical novels Beam Ends and Showdown and in addition wrote articles for the Sydney Bulletin whilst in PNG under the pen-name "Laloki"; for the magazine Photoplay during his first years in Hollywood and his "holiday" in Spain during the Civil War; and then in 1959 he wrote about the Cuban Revolution during which time he was present alongside Fidel Castro.

These writings are compiled in a book called "From a Life of Adventure: The Writings of Errol Flynn" ed. by Tony Thomas.

Errol Flynn loved many women, but he is said to have once confided to a close friend that two of his greatest loves were New Guinea, and writing.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

27 NOVEMBER 2006

Mr Speaker,
I commend the 2007 budged handed down by the Treasurer, Hon Sir Rabbie Namaliu.

What a farce it was for this government to create history by adjourning the budget debate for two weeks after it was presented. It is a reflection of a government losing control of managing Members interest.

Mr Speaker, I am pleased to note that the Treasurer continues to adhere to the fiscal framework established in 2002 when formulating the 2007 budget. These fiscal frameworks without question have now contributed greatly to the macro economic stability enjoyed by this government over the last four years, which have provided strong building blocks for 2007 budget and should continue to do so for any future budget.

If we added up all the billions of kina we have spent through each budget over the last 30 years, it is not hard to see that we have not got value for money spent. There are some leaders in this government that could argue that we have made some positive development since independence. That may be true but if we start to add up all the positive and all the negatives I am sure you will agree with me that the negatives at this stage of our development completely outweigh the positive gains.

Papua New Guinea is richly endowed. We have harvested the fruits of these non-renewable endowments. But we have not so far used the proceeds from these rich endowments to lay down strong building blocks for the sustainable future development for our children and our grand children. The 2007 budget will go down exactly the same track as all past budgets.

The Somare government is making exactly the same mistake that all past governments have made. It is throwing huge amount of money, willy nilly, into National Planning Departments and is mistakenly hoping, that money alone, will salvage our entire development problems. This, of course will not happen, as is the sad case, over the last 30 years. All the billions in this budget as was in all previous budgets will be squandered, leaving behind no tangible building blocks for the future development of our country but a huge liability behind for our children and grand children to carry on.

The Somare Government boast about having a Medium Term Development Strategy as a road map for the public investment programmes. It is a sad indictment of an incompetent government to see that this Medium Term Development Strategy after 5 years is still not completed. The Medium Term Development Strategy in its present form is only a wish list. It still remains, this government’s political rhetoric and political rhetoric it shall remain until such time when the Medium Term Development Strategy priority ranking sectors are fully costed with clear bench marks established for monthly, quarterly, half yearly and yearly monitoring and reviews to ensure that resources are diverted to the right areas and that the resultant outcome is achieved for each of the years within the medium term planned period.

Mr Speaker, this is exactly what Finance & Treasury, under one Ministry have established right at the beginning of the term of this government in 2002. The medium term fiscal strategy and the medium term debt management strategy were developed within weeks soon after this government came into office. The result of this foresight over the last four years is unquestionable.

Mr Speaker, establishing these two medium term fiscal frameworks, has now become the corner stone of the highly successful macro economic stability, this country has ever enjoyed.

The medium term fiscal strategy ensures that the government spending was both affordable and sustainable. It also provides that both expenditure and revenues are managed annually within the 5 year medium term strategy to ensure that the government continually achieves its planned (deficit / surplus outcomes) fiscal outcome. The Medium Term Debt Management Strategy provided that over five years planned period the government lives within its means by ensuring that the debt to GDP ratio of the high unsustainable level of 72% is reduced to a more sustainable level as has now been achieved.

Mr Speaker, when this government took office on 5 August 2002, it had no choice, but to take drastic action and strong economic leadership to break the vicious cycle of reckless unproductive spending of previous successive governments and put in measures, to ensure that the government lives within its means, if we are to save Papua New Guinea from becoming the so called “Failed State”.

However, Mr Speaker, achieving and maintaining macro economic stability on its own, even over extended period of time, is likely to fail, if it is not backed up by strong, effective, micro economic development implementation reforms.

Mr Speaker, this is exactly the dilemma that the Somare Government is facing. It is entering into its twilight period, of its history making existence, as the first government in Papua New Guinea to serve its full term of five years in Parliament, yet it has squandered this golden opportunity of the political stability to really create firm building blocks or develop a spring board of long term sustainable micro economic development implementation reforms to propel Papua New Guinea into a prosperous future.

Mr Speaker, political stability, single handedly underpins social / economic stability and provides strong foundation for future prosperity of a nation. However without visionary leaders, as is the case with the Somare Government, blind leading blind, this opportunity is lost.

Mr Speaker, when this government took office in 2002 every sector within the economic or social areas was in extremely dire need of some degree of resuscitation. All these sectors were symbolically in intensive care unit. All hands were required on deck, so to speak, to bring all sectors out of intensive care unit and slowly nurse them back to health so that each can perform as normal and fully contribute to economic growth.

Mr Speaker, this means that each social and economic sectors within the Medium Term Development Strategy priority ranking or not must develop its own Medium Term Development Strategy, each are costed with clear well established bench marks so that monthly, quarterly, half yearly and yearly monitoring and reviews can be made to ensure that planned targets are achieved. This should provide the yardstick through which performance can be measured and that the resultant values can be determined if our limited resources are well spent.

Mr Speaker, this is exactly the process within which Medium Term Fiscal Strategy & Medium Term Debt Management Strategy operates to give this government the successful macro economic fiscal outcome, over the last few years.

However, sad to say, after four years, and now going into its fifth year this government has miserably failed to develop sectoral packages that specifically and clearly links macro and micro economic sectors. Until this happens, (time will not permit) the Medium Term Development Strategy, the government blue print, for public investment programmes, is just another political rhetoric which will provide no sustainable development benefits for the future development of our children and our grandchildren.

To date, the Somare government is riding high on the crest of one and the only one single wave and that is the wave created by the fiscal reforms, over the last four years. The government could have been riding on the crest of many other waves but that’s not to be as we are now approaching the end of the term of this government. The only wave that the Somare government is creating is the “tsunami” type wave, which destroys everything in its path.

The Planning & Monitoring Department lacks capacity. It is long over due for capacity boosting. On top of that it needs stability at the political level. In four years it had seven political heads (one every six moths). On top of this again, the department cannot be expected to achieve any degree of sustainable result, in its implementation, if it does not have the benefit of the sectoral road map, which maps out clearly on annual basis planned targets.

Mr Speaker, my concern is mainly our children and our grand children’s future. How do we achieve a prosperous future for them if we still have not learnt the lessons from our chequered past, in which billions of kina has been spent, and yet there is nothing much on the ground to show for the billions that has been spent except the huge liability left as a legacy for our future children.

The government must commit itself now to do nothing less than to ensure that proper development plans are in place so that every toea spend not will directly contribute to a brighter future for our children. That it spends K1.00 and that kina produces K2.00 tangible sustainable value for the future. At the moment the government is spending K1.00 but will not achieve any sustainable tangible values.

Mr Speaker, What I am saying is not just playing politics with the Somare government. I am not trying to talk down this government because I was sacked as Minister for Finance & Treasury by this Prime Minister. I have already been on record to express the same concern when I was a Minister in this government. I have rated the government’s performance whilst I was still a Minister, giving it a rating of four out of ten in its performance.

May I remind this Parliament, that recently during the life of this government that UNDP has re-classified Papua New Guinea’s development progress from the second lowest development category of “developing country” to that of the lowest category of “least developed country”. This is an indictment of the lack of the development achievement over the last 14 years in support of the argument I am making.

Mr Speaker, it is always difficult to build confidence in a country with a chequered history like Papua New Guinea. It is so easy to lose confidence. There are already signs of waning confidence with multi million kina contracts being delayed. It is discouraging to see the growing risk of un-prioritised, non-costed, unplanned free spending ahead of 2007 elections.

Given the challenging development needs, the windfall gains should have been spent strictly in the context of highest priority areas such as infrastructure, education, health and law and order. But there needs to be prioritised, properly costed and monitored spending based on clearly established bench-marks and planned oriented outcomes.

The government has completely failed to come up with its policy on state owned commercial entities such as PNG Power, Telikom, Air Niugini etc. It is continuing with 100% state ownership. Once again the government is not learning the lessons of the past. There will always be political interference one way or another. These State Owned Enterprises are seen as the milking cows for political party support; the employment potential as a return favour for political cronies and hence complete disregard to follow the proper appointment process of Fit and Proper persons test for the Board and Management appointments. How can we ever get out of this political quagmire to stop continually pumping good money after bad money into propping up non performing state owned commercial entities? There is no protection from political interference so the millions of kina that these entities are spending to re-capitalise as well as the millions of kina that the state is pumping into these entities will only end up leaving the entities worse off than if the government had pursued a policy of partial privatisation.

Instead of spending the money to resuscitate badly performing state owned commercial entities the government would have been better off using the balance of the windfall to reduce future liabilities, especially debt. Reducing these future liabilities has the best intergenerational impact. It ensures future source of sustainable revenue flows and it reduces the burden for our future children.

Mr Speaker, while there has been some improvements in spending controls and monitoring, there is still much room to improve. I am greatly concerned about the breaking of the link between Treasury and Finance budgets and the Development budget. This clearly, lessens controls, in a system not working well. We should all be concerned especially ahead of the 2007 elections given Papua New Guinea’s past record in this aspect.

Mr Speaker, there are still major difficulties in executing projects, which are delayed, and poorly designed. It is not a big secret, simply capacity is not there.

Mr Speaker, from the knowledge, with the department of national planning, the implementation of the development programmes is moving at a snail pace. That is with the exception of the K1.9m, and I say this with tongue and cheek, already released to Bogia electorate, from the K8.9m allocated under the District Education Improvement Programmes, in the last supplementary budget.
What about the rest of the 88 districts?

What about the K44.5m for District Transport Infrastructure Programme?

What about the K20m for Community Roads Improvement Programme?

What about the K22m Roads and Bridges Programme?

What about the K22m District Treasury Roll-out Programme?

This list goes on and on!

With a month to go before the Financial books are closed, the Finance and Planning Minister, Mr John Hickey, is still not in a position to inform this House on how the funds are expended.

The Minister continues to tell this House that compliance and acquittal process is paramount before funds are released. I totally agree with him on this, however, he fails to understand that district funds are transferred directly to the district treasuries and thereby, when ever there is disbursement, he should have accessibility to the records.

Now we have another two supplementary budgets of K650m for 2006 and K450m for 2007.

If the implementation of the August Supplementary Budget of K682m is any indication, then Mr Speaker, I ask what guarantee is there that the 2007 Development Budget will be executed accordingly with the fiscal frameworks.

Mr Speaker, this government will not admit it, but I firmly believe that it needs a major effort to improve capacity to go hand in hand with new increased spending, to meet urgent important needs. The government needs to understand a fine balance between spending to meet important development needs, and avoid wastage of finite resources this country has.

Mr Speaker, the type of spending and how this government spends is absolutely important, particularly with this government, as in previous successive governments, where execution, monitoring and reporting remains weak, or in the case of this government, remains non-existence.

Mr Speaker, I have already alluded to the fact that this government must take the Medium Term Development Strategy a step further, and fully prioritise and cost sectoral plans over the medium term. This would guide the government, when it decides, how it uses any new windfalls. This will ensure that we use our finite resources to our best advantage. For this government, it is already too late. It has squandered its golden opportunities, and the election is now just around the corner.

Mr Speaker, if the future governments continue to ignore this, then we will continue to fall into the same pitfalls that the past governments have fallen into.

Mr Speaker, the Somare government had the advantage of having the pre-August 2002 period of economic crisis to learn from, and made sure that it manages spending so as to avoid repeating the same mistake as before. This government must understand that much higher spending in the economy that cannot handle it means one thing, and that thing is higher inflationary pressure. If the government is going to spend more, then it needs a more productive economy than we have at present to avoid inflationary pressure.

Mr Speaker, to avoid the foregoing, we must implement more reforms. In recent time the Morauta government has done more reforms in 2 yrs then the Somare government has done in 5 years and it calls for a more open private sector then what exists today.
Mr Speaker, in this respect, I am greatly disappointed that this government has failed to take up front in 2002, the Public Sector reform, in particular, the Right Sizing Programme. This is an important reform area, where this government could have started a process which would have re-allocated significantly from the K1.3billion, unproductive, personal emolument expenditure, to more priority areas.

Mr Speaker, once again, I commend the Treasurer for continuing to apply to the 2007 budget, the medium term fiscal frameworks put in place in 2002.

On the overall macro situation, indications are things continue to go well on the whole.

On the positive side, inflation remains low; exchange rate remains stable; reserves remain healthy; and employment is slowly picking up. The initial calculations on International Monetary Fund across country comparable basis, shows 4 percent surplus in 2005; and 2 percent in 2006.

Mr Speaker, on the negative side, our still high level of debts, and high liquidity levels, could translate easily into inflation, if the government is not careful.

On the growth side, while moderate, is still not high enough to make meaningful difference to the standard of living for the bulk of Papua New Guineans. This is in some ways, reflects the complete failure and incompetence of the Somare government to make full use of its term in government, to develop sectoral strategies to prioritised, and monitor spending based on the established bench-marks, and planned outcomes.

Mr Speaker, there is an increasing and alarming gap developing between other low-income countries and Papua New Guinea. These countries are actually making gains, while we, Papua New Guinea, continue to stagnate in a quagmire.

Sub-Saharan Africa, with much less natural endowment is growing twice as fast as Papua New Guinea, in the face of its reforms.

Other low income countries are following suit through their reforms, growing and moving further ahead of our beloved country, which is more richly endowed. Relative to these countries, Papua New Guinea is slipping further behind, like the proverbial tortoise.

Mr Speaker, Papua New Guinea is a member of the International Community. Within the globalization economic and liberalised free trade concept, we are more and more answerable to the International forums for our action and / or non-action. Domestically we are answerable to our own people. And as the saying goes, Mr Speaker, you can’t talk until you first clean up your own back yard.

Mr Speaker, our backyard has been clearly spelt out in the Millennium Development Goals progress report for Papua New Guinea, 2004. This report covers the areas of (i) Poverty (ii) Primary Education (iii) Gender Equality (iv) Infant and Child Mortality (v) Maternal Health (vi) HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other disease (vii) Environmental Sustainability (viii) Global Partnership for Development.

These are issues of the national development agenda established through our alignment with the incomplete Medium Term Development Strategy. These are the issues, common to every country on the face of this earth, based on fundamental values of freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, health, respect for nature and shared responsibility.

Mr Speaker, I leave these issues with today’s leaders and tomorrow’s leaders who may be interested in our children and grand children’s future with this reminder.

After 31 years of wondering in the wilderness, we still have not yet found the land of milk and honey. We have travelled through stormy weather, high waves and arrived at many cross roads. The immediate question we need to seriously ask ourselves is Which Way Papua New Guinea? Which cross Road?

Thank you and God Bless Papua New Guinea.

Friday, December 01, 2006

PNG arts and craft go online

Papua New Guinea is participating in an international online exposition in Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) to promote its arts and crafts.

The "APEC Local Culture Virtual Exposition (ALCIVE)" opened in August 2006 and closes in July 2007.

It features all 21 APEC member economies with potential visitors to theexposition being consumers from throughout the world.

The invitation to PNG to participate was through the Small Business Development Corporation, as part of the recent small and medium Enterprises (SME) working group meeting in Chinese Taipei.

The SBDC spearheaded PNG's participation at the online exposition, with the country having its own "Exhibition Hall" at this exposition via the Internet.

The website address is , from where one can enter PNG's "Exhibition Hall".

Since the launching, more than 75,000 visitors from throughout the world have visited the site.

The SBDC has been supported by network partners such as the Tourism Promotion Authority, the National Museum & Art Gallery, the National Cultural Commission, Tourism Industry Association, and Tour Operators' Association.

Local cultural industries exist in most APEC member economies, and are also industries that are deemed mostly needy of relevant government assistance.

Though the products of the local cultural industries, which are often embedded with rich local culture and art, have been an attractive element to foreign buyers, but, considering that most producers in the local cultural industries are micro-enterprises, most have encountered difficulties in selling their products successfully in the overseas market.

In 2006, APEC Chinese Taipei thus initiated a project, which includes the APEC Local Cultural Industry Market Development Forum and the APEC Local Cultural Industry Virtual Exposition.

The objectives of the initiative are as follows:

* Enhancing the capacity of SMEs and micro-enterprises in the local cultural industries in order that their markets can be expanded;
* Building a platform for local cultural industries in demonstration of their products to all APEC economies in order that business opportunities in the international markets can be increased; and
* Strengthening cross-border cooperation in the APEC region in promotion of the development of overseas markets for the local cultural industry and in seeking the best practices of market development.

"This is a very good opportunity and potential for PNG, particularly its artsand crafts, to be promoted globally and secure overseas markets," says SBDCManaging Director Mr Brian Komun.

He added that the exposition would also be an ideal place for the country to promote itself as a tourism destination to the world.

APEC's Director General of SME enterprise administration, Mr Sun-Quae Lai,noted PNG's unique arts and crafts which would be showcasedto the world at the exposition.

"As we know," he says, "the products in local cultural industries are an expressionof local culture and art, which are attractive to foreign buyers and therefore have high potential to export.

"Nevertheless, most producers in local cultural industries are micro-enterprisesand have difficulties to sell their products overseas.

"The purpose of the exposition is thus to create a platform for displaying theproducts of APEC member economies' local cultural industries, thereby helpingthese industries to develop new business opportunities in overseas markets.

"We know that Papua New Guinea has a myriad of excellent local cultural goodsthat can be showcased to the world.

"Participating APEC member economies each have their own online"Exhibition Hall" at the online exposition.

Participating member economies are able to use photographs, pictures, text, animation, video footage and others to showcase their economy's local cultural products within their "Exhibition Hall".

The exposition will provide transaction opportunities for all participating products.

Each product showcased in the exposition displays contact details, so that consumers can purchase the product.

However, the exposition will not provide a direct on-line purchasing service.

Consumers wishing to purchase a product will need to contact the exhibitionthemselves using the contact details provided on the exposition website.

During the exposition, the exposition organizers will place advertisementson leading portal sites and other major international websites, and will organise promotional activities to ensure that as many people as possible visit the exposition.
Surf's up in PNG

SURFING in PNG is entering an exciting period next year as the sport celebrates 20 years in the country.

Apart from the gala celebrations, the national titles – which will be used to select the national team for the Pacific Games in Samoa – will be staged at Lido Beach in Vanimo, West Sepik province, next January.

Coinciding with the 20th anniversary and the national titles will be the launch of an innovative three-year strategic plan for the Surfing Association of PNG, which was drawn up by a World Bank consultant.

This plan – which will serve as a roadmap for implementing strategies and achieving goals – is indeed a landmark for sport in PNG.

TheWorld Bank came into the picture after noticing the internationally- unique “bottoms up” approach developed by founder Andrew Abel.

“The national titles will be held at Lido village in Vanimo from Jan 10 to 15,” PNGSA president Abel said.

“We estimate between 100 and 200 surfers competing in all divisions.

“We will have junior boys and girls, open men and women, and ‘lapun’ senior masters division for those over 35.

“The national titles and selection will consist of members, men and women of all six affiliated clubs: Sunset, Vanimo (Sandaun province); Sero, Taurama (NCD); Kavieng (New Ireland province); and Dolf (East Sepik province).“There’ll be short and long board.

“We’ll be expecting anywhere between four feet to eight feet-plus waves.

“Following the titles will be the selection on an elite PNG surfing team, which will be made up of one open woman short board, one open man short board, and one open man long board.

“The team, plus management and coach, will be sent to the Surfing Australia High Performance Training Centre on the Gold Coast.

“The reason for this is to expose our elite surfers to the rigours and demands of physically and mentally preparing for high-performance competition surfing under the guidance and training of Glen Elliot, head surfing judge, and Sasha Stocker, head surfing coach of Surfing Australia.

“It is further planned to have our elite surfers billeted by Australian surfing families and to compete on the weekend surfing circuit, and work part-time in established surfboard manufacturing factories to learn the art of shaping and glassing a surfboard, and how the shape and measurements of a board affect the performance of a surfboard in the water.

“The surfers will then return to PNG and then do another one-month round of training prior to departing for Samoa in August.”

The whole event will be covered by a surf documentary filmmaker Adam Pesce, who was here in 2003 to document the history and evolution of modern surfing in PNG.

“It is the plan of the Surfing Association and Pesce and his film crew, to also document the young elite surfers during the national titles through to their training in Australia, to Samoa Pacific Games, and back again to their respective home towns,” Abel said.

“The documentary will be the culmination of 20 years of promoting and developing surfing as a sport; and surf tourism as a growing niche tourism industry with our young elite surfers as ambassadors of PNG.”

PNG found the perfect wave in 1987 when young Abel, third-generation of the famous Abel dynasty of Kwato Island, set up a club in Vanimo with an enthusiastic bunch of novices.

From those humble ripples, the PNG Surfing Association is now a growing wave.

“The surfing association was essentially set up by a bunch of young surfers, primarily local surfers, 20 years ago,” Abel recalled.

“We became affiliated to the PNG Sports Federation as a sporting body and then the International Surfing Association, which is based out of California, United States.”

From those humble beginnings, with an office situated out of the late Sir Cecil Abel’s residence at Waigani, the fledgling PNG Surfing Association worked to promote surfing – first and foremost – at the grassroots level.

“Our pioneering surf club was the Vanimo Surf Club, based out of West Sepik province, in Lido village, in 1988,” Abel said.

“From those humble beginnings in Vanimo, I spent a lot of time flying to and fro with my girlfriend at that time, Francesca, who is now my wife.

“She is instrumental with me in sitting down with the young Vanimo surfers to introduce surfing.

“At that time, they were only surfing with bellyboards, and through their enthusiasm, I started to donate my own boards and then the senior surfers started to pick up the sport, started surfing the real fibreglass boards.”

Abel approached the village councillors as well as John Tekwie, at that time Sandaun governor, who later became the patron of the association.

“Basically, my approach is unique in the surfing world, and it’s been confirmed by people who come into the country,” Abel added.

“The approach was based on what I called the ‘bottom up’ approach, whereby the surfing association works in collaboration with the respective village communities and we set up an affiliated surf club, in this case being Vanimo Surf Club.

“Vanimo Surf Club are owned and operated by the local surfing community.”

"They are affiliated to the Surfing Association.

"The Surfing Association are affiliated to organisations like PNG Sports Federation, which have everything to do with sports; now more so with the PNG Tourism Industry Association, which is to do with tourism; and the International Surfing Association.

“And through this ‘bottom up’ approach, the local village community can access tourism through our affiliations with our surf tour operators in Japan and Australia – which are our primary markets – and our close working ties with Air Niugini and the Tourism Promotion Authority.

“And this is the unique thing about this ‘bottom up’ approach where Surfing Association are working within our constitutional framework, which is also listed in our goals and objectives posted on our website”

To cut a long story short, such has been the interest in the way PNG Surfing Association are going about that a student at Plymouth University, England, recently did his PhD thesis on sustainable surf tourism in PNG.

Surfing in PNG have indeed found that elusive ‘perfect wave’ that all surfers dream about.For more information about surfing in PNG, log on to .