Sunday, October 19, 2008


One of Papua New Guinea’s top newspaper columnists, Susuve Laumaea, who writes for the weekly Sunday Chronicle, will now contribute regularly the same column to this blog, or at least until he gets his own blog up and running. Veteran journalist Susuve’s writing is absorbing and is essential reading for all Papua New Guineans with a concern for our beloved country, as well as as Papua New Guinea watchers from all around the world. Susuve’s contact details are below his column so that you can get in touch with him directly. Enjoy…MALUM

National affairs need more attention

THERE are a great many national affairs issues that aren’t getting the type of prominence from government as they deserve.

Responsible leaders are not keeping a thorough watch.

Too many crucial issues are hibernating on the back-burner.

First up politicians, unionists and commentators of all shapes and forms like to knock the public service for being a stumbling block to implementation and delivery of public goods, services and the nation’s annual development budgets.

Don’t just criticise the bureaucracy’s cumbersomeness.

Do something to improve it and make it responsive and efficient.

Do not retire experienced public servants at the mandatory retirement age of 60 years unless they are total no hopers.

Disband the various reform think tanks and create in-house training programs for all the departments and provincial administrations.

At least apply some practical hands-on approach to human resource rejuvenation, refocusing and service culture redevelopment – not the crappy untried academic tomes that are generated week in and week out or the seminars and workshops that are quickly becoming local tourism junkets.

Rejuvenating and refocusing the public service to develop a new culture of worth ethics is not a mean ask.

Some of the systems, conditions and terms of services and participation are archaic and need to be harmonised and modernised to provide for the times that have changed and are changing.

Public servants deployed in crucial economic and social sectors of the public sector workforce need to be properly remunerated.

These are the special interest groups within the public sector workforce – represented by public sector unions -- who feel they are badly done by and deserve pay rises. If that pay increment does not eventuate then they’d go on strike and stop work even if it meant sick patients would go without attention from nurses and doctors or school children miss out on classes.

Readers who have followed current affairs in the media will know that PNG teachers are a very frustrated bunch who needs to be looked after.

And why shouldn’t they be?

They are an impoverished and marginalised workforce.

Infact they and other frontline workers such as policemen and women, nurses, medical orderlies and doctors deserve to be awarded the most attractive pay and conditions package among all public servants.

Health, law enforcement and education workers are the most important group of workers in PNG.

They operate in the engine rooms that can make or break this nation.

Teachers and medical workers deal with the human resource of this country.

Politicians can sing and dance about political stability and windfall monetary gains but the real determining factor of the health of a nation’s economy is the poverty, wealth and health indicators of the population at large.

Our social indicators show PNG up as a very poor nation in terms of unacceptably high level of law and order problems, poor health and education facilities and services.

The recipe that we stare right in the face everyday is one of a nation that’s sitting on a time-bomb of lawlessness, chronic unemployment and a groundswell of uneducated or undereducated and sickly unhealthy population that will not take the nation to the next level of happiness, health and wealthy in 20 years time if not sooner.

What are we doing about these very real problems?

Huge chunks of money are now going to the districts or to infrastructure development projects that are contracted to the same old few contractors who keep making millions of kina and delivering poorly finished and substandard roads and other capital works.

Will the district expenditure programs prioritise law and order, health and education spending?

Down the pecking order highly irregular appointments are made to chief executive positions in the public sector or court judgments for reinstatement of illegally displaced or suspended senior officials with departments do not get actioned decisively.

That recent appointment of a total unknown person to act as administrator of troubled Gulf Province is a joke.

Where did Governor Havila Kavo and legal advisors Emmanuel Mai and Sarea Soi find this man?

Why did they not advertise publicly and get a suitably qualified, experienced and a respected Papua New Guinean to fill the vacancy while the tug of war between the Governor and the suspended administrator Miai Larelake exhausted its day in court? Come on, Gulf is not a cowboy country and Gulf people are not from Planet Mars.

This is a province that’s going to be the host of over K15 billion worth of oil and gas-based development and it needs level-headed direction and leadership at the political and administrative levels – not politically opportunistic and personal avarice-driven agendas. Position the right people in the right places to move the province forward and onto a higher level of happiness, health and wealth than its present sorry state.

Doesn’t anyone care at all?

At the national public service level there is also important departmental leadership issues outstanding at that very crucial Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration. The passport scams issue has not been resolved.

There is no assertive leadership at the top level, it seems because the department head position is held by an acting appointee.

Senior management officers are either suspended, ignored or receiving no delegation to perform.

The case of reinstatement of a departmental deputy secretary, Ms Lucy Bogari, is one that has been frowned upon and treated with considerable contempt by the acting secretary despite directions to the contrary by the Public Services Commission, the Department of Personnel Management, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration and the National Court.

Is this person indispensably above the law or is he above the Minister, the PSC, the DPM and the National Court? Hey, come one, have this matter straightened out.

This cannot go on for ever, can it?

Someone higher up has to put his foot down. PNG needs a predictable Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration management leadership promptly.

There are too many international issues that are not getting enough attention.

The department’s timely intervention in issues such as the seasonal workers scheme in Australia is sadly lacking.

It is a topic that is abuzz among the Pacific media community. Seasonal workers program is a bilateral scheme that’s been dissected over and over following a Ms Lynda Ridgeway’s media appeal to regulate who gets into Australia from PNG under the seasonal worker scheme.

She’s gone through a traumatic experience and we can all understand where she’s coming from.

But she must have the grace – and it is only a small ask – to isolate the criminal and condemn the individual responsible for the crime.

Leave the rest of us along. That’s what this scribe would tell Lynda Ridgeway – the angry and traumatised Australian mother -- whose eight-year-old child was sexually abused by a “sickly ignoramus” who should have served the full five-year jail term under the toughest conditions possible.

There are two issues involved that Ms Ridgeway has drawn attention to for the authorities.

The first is the criminal act for which the Papua New Guinean involved as served 22 months of a five-year jail term and has been deported home to PNG.

Understandably and with all due sympathy Ms Ridgeway is angry and traumatised by this unwelcome intrusion into the sanctity of her family.

As a parent this scribe would not only feel the same but possibly resort to PNG-style “jungle law”.

The second issue is of how she has taken her experience and linked it to her advocacy for all Papua New Guineans entering Australia under the bilateral assistance scheme of “seasonal workers” under the auspices of Australia-PNG relation to be rigorously screened.

She does not want sex criminals, predators, paedophiles or potential sex criminals entering Australia and repeating sex offences similar to that which happened to her child. Ms Ridgeway is a traumatised parent for the experience she has faced but her argument needs to be put in a more focused and appropriate perspective.

Ms Ridgeway was the parent who befriended the Papua New Guinean in the first place. As a responsible parent she should have thoroughly checked the type of person she was befriending or entrusting the safety of her child.

Why begin screaming for security screens and criminal report checks after the event?

An isolated criminal conduct overseas -- as heinous or as intolerable as it is in the case attributed to in this article -- by a Papua New Guinean is no justification to taint all other God-fearing and law-abiding PNG citizens with the same paint-brush.

We are not all rapists and child abusers like that poor excuse of a human being so hold your peace, madam.

All decent human beings irrespective of race, creed or colour would condemn any crime – serious or otherwise – in the strongest terms possible.

Situations must be adjudged in a properly focused perspective. This scribe has no sympathy for child molesters and abusers, rapists, women bashers, paedophiles, racists and anyone else who has no respect for humankind or property that belongs to another person.

Sometimes it becomes a little too offensive when non-Papua New Guineans make generalised “below-the-belt” remarks about all PNG citizens with allusion to alleged criminally-induced “below-the-belt” conduct by one or two individuals.

We are not all criminals or potential criminals.

How would Ms Ridgeway and her wantoks or fellow Aussies feel and react if discarded and destitute PNG mother in the streets of Australia referred to father or fathers of her children as a criminal and then insisted that all Australian males were the same?

Nobody in Australia would take too kindly to that kind of paint job, wouldn’t they?

It’s a bit like an equation in Pythagoras’s Theorem -- in trigonometry -- where what you do to one side, you do on the other to arrive at a win-win solution.

So, Ms Ridgeway, why don’t you just chill?

We are a proud people too.

Papua New Guineans generally live our lives communally. Papua New Guineans fend for their aged family members and do not isolate or incarcerate them in senior citizens’ homes.

We look after the unfortunate in our tribes, clans and extended families by adoptions, sharing, caring and loving each other.

Offences of the type referred to by Ms Ridgeway are swiftly dealt with and punished appropriately in our tribal culture.

The culture we have is not uncommon.

It is very much alive and happens elsewhere too in the developing world in Asia, Africa, Pacific and the Caribbean.

These are life-styles based on and built upon a living and widespread ethnic culture of loving, caring and sharing tribal, clan and family wealth and fortunes going back to dreamtime as native Australians would say.

Do we need these seasonal fruit picker jobs in Australia?

The answer should be a resounding nay.

Why is this scheme necessary?

That’s the poser by The National daily newspaper on Friday in its editorial.

The editorial went on to say: “Papua New Guineans have every right to point to it with embarrassment and irritation. “As a South Pacific nation of more than six million people and 33 years of independence, questions are increasingly asked about the slow rate of our development.

“Those who support this proposal point to attaining skills in another country, the opportunity to earn reasonable money for a hard day’s work and the chance to broaden the experience of those who take part.

“Little is heard of successive PNG government failure to bring development to our rural people, to set up a wide range of projects on their behalf and thereby generate employment.

“This seasonal assistance project may take a small bite out of our huge unemployment figures and it could help repair the fraught relationship between PNG and Australia, frayed by differing agendas and conflicting personalities.

“PNG must make sure that our workers are not let into Australia on sufferance, but in a genuine effort to bring benefits to both countries.

Any lesser goals would be indefensible.”

This scribe could not agree more.


  1. Hi Susuve.

    It's lovely to read your article, originally published by Sunday Chronicle on Malum Nalu's blog. Looking forward to to reading more.

    Mathew Yakai

  2. Anonymous11:05 PM

    Well its easy to see my friend that your child has never been raped. I opened my heart and home to a PNG Student who betrayed me and repayed me with his Demon acts, do I hate PNG people or the country because of that act NO I DONT, I have a grandchild who's father is from Popondetta, I dont hate anyone or any country, and I sure as hell dont speak out to stop anyone who wants to come here and follow the rules and laws of this Country, if you read the article properly it said they need to be checked thoroughly before coming here.....its too late for my family, we have been burnt but lets perhaps stop it happening again. The trouble I see in PNG is that there are no records kept, and therefore any tom dick or harry can apply to come work here .............and worse still live in our family homes around our children, pardon me for wanting to spare another family from the pain that we went through, to the person who wrote this article DONT YOU EVER TRY TO MAKE OUT THAT IM AN ANGRY PARENT OR WHATEVER CRAP YOU WERE SAYING ABOUT HOW I FEEL, YOU HAVE NEVER EVEN SPOKEN TO ME SO HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY KNOW HOW I FEEL......Dont turn this into a Racist issue, I say check any person out carefuly before putting them in your family home, a lesson that I learnt the hard way, mate who ever you are blow it out your arse you KNOW NOTHING about me and how I feel about my 5 year old daughter being make me sick your just like all the rest .......BY THE WAY I DONT SUBSCRIBE TO THIS JUNK MAIL SITE SO IM SIGNING IN ANONYMOUS BUT WORK IT OUT MATE IM LYNDA RIDGEWAY