Sunday, May 31, 2009

World Environment Day 2009 (please click on images to enlarge)

Today at the farm

Captions: 1. Green Grevillea 2. Grevillea 3. Grevillea 4. Honey Gem Grevillea 5. Pink Grevillea 6. Lorikeet 7. Wobbly 8. Lorikeet 9. Lorikeet 10 Lorikeet


From Paul Oates in Queensland, Australia

We've just had a little rain and the Grevilleas are bursting into flower. AsI try to photograph the flowers, Rainbow Lorikeets screech at me for interrupting their evening meal and at their screeching, a furry head pops up from behind the rock wall to see what's going on.

Implement work place policy on smoking

By ELIZABETH MIAE in The National


THE PNG Medical Society (PNGMS) has called on Government and private institutions to implement the tobacco legislation into work place policies at their work places.

PNGMS president Dr Mathias Sapuri said the tobacco legislation was already in place but was not being enforced because many institutions were not taking it seriously.

He urged the Health Department to revive the legislation and tighten it up to give the department power to penalise people who smoke in smoke-free zones.

Dr Sapuri’s comments were timely as PNG observes the World No Tobacco Day today with the theme “Tobacco Health Warnings”.

“We need to have a penalty that is instituted by a legislation.

“It is our responsibility, as the medical society, to advise the public that smoking causes cancer.

“The more you smoke, the more you damage your lungs,” Dr Sapuri stressed.

He said all health facilities and public places (including work places) should be free from smoking and the chewing of betelnut.

Dr Sapuri added that places such as restaurants, pubs and night clubs could create a smoke room or corridor where smokers could go to smoke as being done in Asia, Europe and America.

“It is entirely up to pubs to impose a ban on smoking but some people may argue that it is discriminatory.

“But passive smoking is more dangerous because the non-smoker is inhaling more smoke than the smoker who is blowing it out,” he said.

Dr Sapuri also called on parents to be responsible and not send their children to buy cigarettes and betelnut for them because that was where they picked up the bad habits.

He highlighted that as one of the biggest problems in the country where children were being educated “indirectly” by parents on how to smoke and chew.

World No Tobacco Day is celebrated annually on May 31.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

World No Tobacco Day

On May 31 each year, the World Health Organisation celebrates World No Tobacco Day, highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce consumption.
Tobacco use is the second cause of death globally and is currently responsible for killing one in 10 adults worldwide.
The WHO has "Tobacco Health Warnings" as the theme for this year’s World No Tobacco Day.
Tobacco health warnings appear on packs of cigarettes and are among the strongest defences against the global epidemic of tobacco.
WHO particularly approves of tobacco health warnings that contain both pictures and words because they are the most effective at convincing people to quit. Such pictorial warnings appear in more than a dozen countries.
On World No Tobacco Day 2009, and throughout the following year, WHO will encourage governments to adopt tobacco health warnings that meet all the criteria for maximal effectiveness, including that they cover more than half of the pack, appear on both the front and back of the pack and contain pictures.
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control obligates its more than 160 countries parties to require "health warnings describing the harmful effects of tobacco use" on packs of tobacco and their outside packaging and recommends that the warnings contain pictures. WHO works through its Tobacco Free Initiative department to help the parties to meet their obligation, providing technical and other assistance.
As WHO Director General Margaret Chan says, "We hold in our hands the solution to the global tobacco epidemic that threatens the lives of one billion men, women and children during this century."

Kalibobo Spirit is the perfect way to see Papua New Guinea

The Kalibobo Spirit provides the perfect way to see the coastal ports, islands and Sepik River in Papua New Guinea. 
The 30m vessel was built in Picton, New Zealand,   and is owned and operated by Melanesian Tourist Services based in Madang. 
The ship is fully-stabilised, carries the latest navigation equipment including sonar and provide luxurious accommodation for up to 16 guests in four queen, three singles and a state room, all with ensuites, air conditioning, television and telephone. 
 There is a dining room, lounge, cocktail bar and three covered decks to observe and relax.
Facilities aboard the vessel include two zodiac tenders, a fast aluminium river boat that can carry 20 passengers at 50mph along the Sepik and tributaries and on selected cruises a helicopter. 
 The ship is equipped with a dive shop which enables guests to dive some of the most-pristine waters in the world.
Whilst the Kalibobo Spirit is primarily for charter, in August, several cruises to the Sepik are scheduled.
Since the Kalibobo Spirit arrived it has had cruises throughout the Bismarck Sea including Manus, New Ireland, Rabaul, West New Britain, Siassi, Madang, Port Moresby, Milne Bay and to the Sepik River.
For more information, call Wesley at MTS on 852 2766 or e-mail

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Winston Man dies of lung cancer... just one month before he was due to testify against big tobacco company

Captions: 1. Alan Landers in the Winston advert. 2. Malboro Man David McLean died of cancer that started in his lungs 3. Former professional rodeo rider Wayne McLaren posed for Malboro and died of lung cancer

As World No Tobacco Day falls on Sunday, May 31, we look back to March this year when the Winston Man died of lung cancer.

A male model who became the iconic face of Winston cigarettes has died of lung cancer, the Daily Mail ( reports.Alan Landers, who was known as the Winston Man, lost his battle with the disease just one month before he was due to testify in court against cigarette manufacturer RJ Reynolds.
The 68-year-old had led a multi-million dollar crusade against the tobacco industry, four decades after he first appeared on billboards and in magazine adverts across the U.S. to promote cigarettes as cool.
He was lined up as one of 9,000 tobacco victims in Florida suing cigarette manufacturers for failing to warn back in the 1960s and 1970s that smoking carried major health risks and could be deadly.
“Looking back on my career, I am ashamed that I helped promote such a lethal and addictive product to the children and adults of this country,” he explained before his death.
“Had I understood then what I now understand - that cigarettes are an addictive poison that kills almost 50% of their users - I would never have participated in their mass marketing.”
He added: “I was expected to portray smoking as stylish, pleasurable and no time was I ever told cigarettes could be dangerous to my health.
“I knew some people believed them to be unhealthy but the cigarette manufacturers denied that their product is harmful.”
In 2006, the Florida Supreme Court threw out an unprecedented $145billion class-action lawsuit against tobacco manufacturers - but handed Mr Landers and his fellow victims a fresh opportunity for justice by recommending that each should bring an individual case.
The court agreed that cigarette-makers had lied to cover up the harmful and addictive properties of tobacco and that all each plaintiff had to prove was that they had been individually harmed by an addiction to smoking.
A jury found in favour of the first of the 9,000 Florida cases - brought by the widow of a smoking victim - last month, and awarded her $8million compensation.
Landers' case against RJ Reynolds, the maker of Winston cigarettes, was due in court in April.
“I am unwilling to give the defendants their wish - to postpone the date of my trial - so much that I would die first. I want and intend to beat this latest challenge,” he insisted just two weeks ago.
Landers, who died at his home in Lauderhill, Florida, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1987 and received a new diagnosis of throat cancer earlier this year.
Up until his death he was on weekly chemotherapy, daily radiotherapy, also suffered with emphysema and struggled to breathe and talk.
He is not the first 'poster-boy' for the tobacco industry to lose his life to the very habit he promoted.
Two of the so-called 'Marlboro Men', actors Wayne McLaren, David McLean and Dick Hammer, all died of lung cancer, years after modelling for Marlboro cigarettes.
At the height of the smoking trend, when cigarettes were perceived as fashionable, Landers was in demand for his suave looks and James Bond-style features, posing for Winston advertisements in a variety of shots including one in a tuxedo and another pouring a bottle of bubbly for a glamorous blonde.
Posters bore slogans such as 'Winston's Down Home Taste! So real, so rich so good.'
“I was required to smoke on the set; constant smoking was required to achieve the correct appearance of the cigarette, ash and butt length,” he recalled.
Then a hard-core smoker, he later tried to kick the habit with nicotine patches and gum, but without success.
In 1992, doctors told the actor and model that the lung cancer diagnosed five years earlier had spread to a second lung, requiring radical surgery that involved severing a nerve to his vocal cords.
In 1996, he also underwent open heart surgery and a double bypass operation, necessitated - he says – “by the residual effects of smoking”.
He spent his final months living close to the poverty line and having to appeal for public donations to help pay his medical bills.
“I am extremely short-winded because sections of both lungs have been removed,” he explained two weeks ago.
“Scars from the surgery wrap around my back, permanently disfiguring me, but I feel lucky to be alive... I have fought too long and hard to give up now.”
He added: “The industry put profits over people, stonewalled criticism and concealed scientific evidence from the public and its customers.
“I call upon the lawmakers of this country to protect our children from this dangerous substance. Tobacco products should be regulated as the addictive products they are.
“I call upon the tobacco industry to compensate its victims, its former customers, who are suffering and dying from its products.'
His lawyer Tim Howard said: “He fought a good fight. Alan was an example of light, energy and courage.”

Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death

Papua New Guinea will join the rest of the world to mark the World No Tobacco Day on Sunday May 31.

The National Department of Health and the World Health Organisation and partner agencies observed the day today with various activities be staged at Tabari Place Boroko in Port Moresby.

The theme of World No Tobacco Day 2009 is ‘Tobacco Health Warnings’ with an emphasis on the picture warnings that have been shown to be particularly effective at making people aware of the health risks of tobacco use and convincing them to quit.

 More than five million people die from the effects of tobacco every year-more than from HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

It is the only legal consumer product that kills when used exactly as the manufacturer intends.

Up to half of all smokers will die from a tobacco-related disease.

Second hand smoke harms everyone who is exposed to it.

Tobacco companies spend tens of million of dollars every year turning new users into addicts and keeping current users from quitting.

Through advertising and promotional campaigns, including the use of carefully-crafted package designs, the tobacco industry continues to divert attention from the deadly effects of its products.

More and more countries are fighting back against the epidemic of tobacco by requiring that packages of tobacco show the dangers of the product’s use, as called for in guidelines to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

They use the MPOWER technical assistance package developed by WHO to help meet their commitments under this international treaty.

Effective health warnings, especially those that include pictures, have been proven to motivate users to quit and to reduce the appeal of tobacco for those who are not yet addicted.

 Despite the fact, nine out of 10 people live in countries that do not require warnings with pictures on tobacco packages.

Nicotine is a highly-addictive substance.

Warning people about its true risk can go along way towards reducing tobacco addiction. Requiring warnings on tobacco packages is a simple, cheap and effective strategy that can vastly reduce tobacco use and save lives.


Papua New (s) Guinea Blog

Ilya Gridnef, the intrepid Australian Associated Press man in Port Moresby, has set up his blog called Papua News Guinea (

“I cover PNG and the Solomon Islands,” Ilya says.

“Hopefully this blog can help those interested in these areas.”

Have a look…


Your favourite daily is No 1 - by a long way

THE National has again surpassed the 30,000 copies mark in the first quarter of the year and, in doing so, distanced itself further from the other daily newspaper, Post-Courier.

According to the internationally-recognised Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), which audits both newspapers, the circulation of The National during the January-March period of this year averaged 30,439 copies, while the Post-Courier was about 30% less at 21,352 (9,087 fewer).

In the previous quarter, The National’s average circulation was 27,765, compared to the Post-Courier’s 20,636 (7,129 copies or 25.6% less).

The ABC report, released two weeks ago, confirms that The National not only remains the number one selling newspaper in PNG for the past year and a half, but is likely to grow further.

For the January-March period of 2008, The National averaged 26,450 copies.

In the second and third quarters, it increased to 28,167 and 30,053 respectively.

In the last quarter, circulation went down to 27,765 as expected due to the holiday season before increasing to more than 30,000 in the first three months of this year.

The Post-Courier fared differently.

From 25,799 copies for the first quarter of last year, Post-Courier dropped to 24,140 (second quarter), 23,139 (third quarter), 20,636 (fourth quarter) before finally picking up about 700 copies in the first quarter of this year.

Meanwhile, after some initial delays, work on a new building to house a bigger printing press at The National’s headquarters in Port Moresby is progressing smoothly.

The new press will provide for a bigger print run with more colour pages to meet the newspaper’s growing circulation and demand of advertisers.

A similar press will also be installed in the company’s second printing plant in Lae, which caters mainly for the northern region.

Both presses are expected to be in operation in a few months’ time.

The National will also be setting up at least two new offices this year and expanding others to improve coverage.

Recently, veteran journalist Oseah Philemon was recruited for the Lae regional office to head editorial operations in the northern region.

South Korean government invests in agro-tourism project in Morobe

NARI director-general Dr Raghunath Ghodake (left) and team leader of Korean investor and professor of Kangwon National University Dr Jeon Un-Seong signing the agreement at NARI Head Office in Lae last Friday. Picture by SENIORL ANZU

By SENIORL ANZU of National Agriculture Research Institute

The South Korean Government will invest a total of US$58, 900 in a new village movement concept, focusing on agricultural and eco-tourism development which will be trialed at Gabensis village in the Huon district of Morobe province.
The pilot project will include the production and processing of yam and construction of a yam-based tourism facility known as Saemaul Eco-Lodge.
Last Friday, a memorandum of agreement was signed between South Korea’s University-Industry Cooperation Foundation (UICF) of Kangwon National University and PNG’s National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) to pave way for this collaborative initiative.
UICF is a new research and cooperation organisation of the Kangwon National University, which has served to develop university-industry in the world.
With funds from central and local governments in South Korea, UICF’s objective is to contribute to the development of rural communities in domestic and foreign countries through various researches and professional consulting for improving agricultural technologies, residential environment and reforming social structure.
The university had proposed to NARI early this year to pilot the concept in PNG and Gabensis was chosen.
Last week, three Korean professors were in Morobe, inspecting NARI research facilities at Bubia and discussing with local scientists.
They also visited Gabensis, talking to farmers and identifying suitable sites where the one-year project will be conducted.
In signing the MOA on behalf of NARI, director general Dr Raghunath Ghodake told the South Koreans investors that yam was a traditional crop in PNG with huge potential for development.
“Yam is grown widely in PNG mostly for raw consumption,” he said.
“There is no processing, no exporting but there is big potential for development”.
He said that NARI had expertise in yam agronomy and economics and would be willing to collaborate and work together to assist farmers in adding value to the crop and getting it to markets.
He also suggested for the processing technology to be done on other crops such as taro, cassava and kaukau.
South Korean spokesperson Prof Cheol Ho Park expressed satisfaction on cooperation and willingness by both NARI and Gabensis villagers and hoped that the pilot project would be successful.
“This is a community-based cooperation,” he said.
“It is a pioneer concept in university-industry research and consulting with a view to contribute to the development of rural communities.”
Team leader Prof Jeon Un-Seong said PNG had big potential in eco-tourism and Gabensis was an ideal site.
He said the village, food gardens, lake and other natural features in the locality provided
a good natural setting for tourism development and UICF was keen to invest and capture that potential, particularly from an agro-tourism perspective.
Under the agreement, the South Korean government through UICF would provide financial and technical support for the project, which includes the establishment of machinery for yam processing, training of NARI staff on the same and construction of the yam-based eco-lodge.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

British collector rates Papua New Guinea stamps among world's best

A British stamp collector has rated Papua New Guinea postage stamps among the best in the world.

United Kingdom-based R.E.A Howard said recently in a letter to the PNG Philatelic Bureau that he began collecting PNG stamps in 1937.

“I have really enjoyed your issues from 1937 and I am only missing four stamps plus one stamp booklet. I must congratulate you on your new issue service, this compares with the very best, do keep it up,” he said.

The bureau’s February 2009 issue, which Mr Howard referred to, features the country’s different frog species and was a joint project between Post PNG and conservation organisation WWF.

The British High Commissioner to PNG, David Dunn, said Mr Howard’s attraction to PNG stamps is not surprising.

“PNG stamps are amongst the most collectable in the world and with their vibrant colors and scenes depicting PNG life and the vast array of indigenous flora and fauna remain as popular today as this were in 1937,” he said.

Post PNG Ltd managing director, Peter Maiden, said the Post PNG philatelic bureau was established in 1959 as part of the Australian colonial administration’s Posts and Telegraphs Department and has a long and colorful history.

“One of the bureau’s early pioneers wrote about an American woman travelling to PNG from California in 1966 because she liked our stamps. And the bureau’s first big order came from the United Kingdom after it received a cheque of over £1000 from a Harry Allan, who sent another cheque with the same value three months later for another stamp collection,” he added.

Mr Maiden said thanks to the hard work put in by the bureau’s pioneers which has continued to this day by current staff, PNG stamps continue to be sold globally through agents based in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany and the USA.

Mr Howard has decided to pull the curtain down on his hobby and indicated PNG was one of the few countries he restricted his collecting to.

“Now that I am in my 86th year I have decided with regret that I must now give up stamp collecting. Over recent years I have restricted my collecting to just a few countries, included those in PNG,” he said.

A guy is 72 years old and loves to fish!

A guy is 72 years old and loves to fish.

He was sitting in his boat the other day when he heard a voice say,

'Pick me up.'

He looked around and couldn't see any one.

He thought he was dreaming when he heard the voice say a gain,

'Pick me up.'

He looked in the water and there, floating on the top, was a frog.

The man said, 'Are you talking to me?'

The frog said, 'Yes, I'm talking to you.

Pick me up then, kiss me and I'll turn into the most beautiful woman you have ever seen.

I'll make sure that all your friends are envious and jealous because I will be your bride!'

The man looked at the frog for a short time, reached over, picked it up carefully, and placed it in his front pocket.

The frog said, 'What, are you nuts? Didn't you hear what I said?? I said kiss me and I will be your beautiful bride.'

He opened his pocket, looked at the frog and said,

'Nah, at my age I'd rather have a talking frog.'

With age comes wisdom.


PNG Eco-Forestry Forum targets 10, 000 trees planted by World Environment Day on June 5

PORT MORESBY: ENVIRONMENTAL and Conservation groups under the PNG Eco-Forestry Forum network are embarking on a massive tree planting drive with a target of 10,000  mangrove seedlings to be planted to commemorate World Environment Day on June 5.

The Motupore Islands Research Centre’s mangrove expert, marine biologist Thomas Manuawie, is heading the re-vegetation exercise to take place in three coastal villages of Gabagaba, Tubuseria and Tahira on June 5- 6.

“The theme for this year’s event 'Your Planet Needs You!-UNite to Combat Climate Change' reflects the urgency for nations to agree on a new deal at the crucial climate convention meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark in December and the links with overcoming poverty and improved management of forests,”  said Thomas Paka, EFF executive director

Mr Paka said the forum with various sponsors were taking the lead to promote this day amongst schools and local communities at various centres through the distribution of information kits on climate change issues to highlight the importance of environmental protection.

He said the theme called for community participation and action for local communities and citizens to take ownership of the fight against climate change.

He said climate change had become a primary concern with Papua New Guinea’s food, economic, cultural and biodiversity security at stake and coupled with the absence of/or slow progress of government policies to deal with these impacts, people need to be proactive.

 He called on the government to immediately put in place appropriate policies and strengthen the capacities of its relevant institutions both at the national and local levels to deal with the issue with urgency to avoid catastrophic impacts.

Growing trees is the simplest way to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store them in trees (carbon sequestration).

As many costal communities are at the risk of rising sea level and its related impacts, the mangroves planting exercise should raise awareness and promote practical as mitigation actions to deal with the issues of climate change.

These efforts are also in line with the stated aims of Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare for 50% reduction of PNG’s carbon emission by 2020.

He is urging corporate entities, business houses, groups, communities and individuals to be part of this campaign either by either purchasing or sponsoring a mangrove plant for K2 each or supporting the event.


For more Information, contact the Forum on phone (675) 323 9050 or email: For media enquiries: Lydia Kaia, WWF ph: (675) 3200 149 email:



Mass looting - a new pastime in Papua New Guinea

Letters from Port Moresby

Written by By Alfredo P. Hernandez   


HERE IN MY second home Papua New Guinea, organized mass looting has become a national pastime among the “raskols” (criminals), the jobless and the marginalized.
It comes second only to betel nut chewing, a longtime enshrined national pastime, which unfortunately, has become a national disgrace in its own right.
Already a perceived livelihood just like hunting, looting first evolved from the occasional plunder arising from broken-down vehicles – usually cargo trucks -- along the highways in the Highlands, something never heard of in this part of the world until the late 1980s when the living was still easy.
My late father, a first-rate gasoline-and-diesel engine mechanic, had often told me proudly that he could stay three days and two nights along the highlands highway fixing a disabled hauler trucks with precious goods. But he came home, as always, in one piece, and with his truck and its contents intact.
But this scenario of peace and security in this part of this world of green wilderness had been turned upside down with the collapse of the Bougainville gold mines during the late 1980s, sending to the streets thousands of Papua New Guineans jobless while their families were going foodless.
From then on until some seven years ago, the government had been in great financial crisis, unable to attend to the most basic economic demand which was job. So, the people had to fend for themselves, while waiting for some promised economic reprieve from their government. It never came.
So in this part of the highlands along these highways, the villagers in their desperation struck a new source of livelihood, just like striking gold and oil.
At first, only the village thieves plucked the goods from the stalled haulers and sold them at the village or in town. But as the time went by, the virus of “easy money” had contaminated the entire village populace.
When they sneezed, they expelled this virus, and this was caught by the next village sitting on either side of the highway. And the nasty chain reaction moved on, until the disease had become pandemic, crossing borders far and wide, rivaling the now-dreaded swine flu.
Soon enough, every looting incident that would take place along the highways saw the entire village ganging up on the helpless trucking crew, helping themselves to the goods found inside the containers.
And it did not happen just once. It happened for as many times as there were vehicles breaking down along the highway, and these included private vehicles and public buses called PMVs.
There was an incident just two or three years ago when a cargo truck laden with the local beer products conked out along the dreaded highlands highway.
In matters of few minutes, the entire village population was upon the disabled container truck, fighting over for the possession of more than a thousand cartons of beer after prying open the padlocked steel doors.
Then, there was drinking frenzy the whole day as the entire village reeked of liquor. When the police arrived shortly after noon, they scrambled to arrest the culprits. They failed.
The reason: They could not find any evidence of looting against the blind drunk thieves who actually made up the entire village population. The hauling company’s executives and the beer owners could not believe what they heard.
HAVING LIVED in this country for more than 15 years, I am almost convinced that most, if not all, of villages along the highland highways cutting through the Southern Highlands Province, the Eastern Highlands Province and neighboring highlands provinces are a sleeping giant of a looter just waiting for their DLS to get activated, just like in a computer program, such as the “spell-check”. When you had misspelled a word, the default “spell-check” program pops to correct the spelling.
By the way, DLS means “default looters syndrome”, a variation of what I called in this column three years ago – DRS -- or “default raskol syndrome”.
And the one thing that could kick this syndrome into action is an unfortunate vehicle with goods getting disabled along the highway. It’s an opportunity enough to wake up a sleepy village population and throw them into hooliganism and thievery.
That looting could take place as a matter of course in highlands’ notorious spots is no longer surprising. Here in Port Moresby, it has become an ordinary scene, taking place even in places were it is witnessed by many.
Sometime ago, two of the country’s prominent media persons – the first a former music broadcaster and the other a former newspaper editor – were victims of separate looting incidents after they had a car crash off the road.
While they were pinned down inside their vehicles with serious injuries, a group of men hurriedly came, searched their pockets and the inside of the car for valuables and took off with the loot, satisfied that they had their keep for the day. Clearly, the DLS/DRS embedded in them worked perfectly.
OF LATE, HOWEVER, the people’ disease has been elevated to a much higher plane. Now, they have concocted something political in nature to justify looting to the bewilderment and chagrin of the entire nation, and to the disgust and amusement of the expatriates’ community.
Getting themselves assembled into a big mass at the public square, whether it’s in Port Moresby or in the highlands, they call out the battle cry “Down with the Asians … send them home …” (Asians are supposed to mean “Chinese traders”). But under their breath, they whisper among themselves: “Have rally, we’ll loot …”
And so the fun begins.
Denouncing what they claimed as non-English speaking Chinese traders for “taking over” small business activities supposedly “reserved” for Papua New Guineans, the would-be looters would then move in for the kill with impunity.
Chinese stores that had the mistake of ignoring such mass agitation to take precautions were the biggest losers: the thousands or so of people bulldozed into the stores and helped themselves to whatever there was for the taking – cash in the tills, “ukay-ukay RTWs”, canned tuna, sardines and meat, kitchen wares, foodstuff, toilet paper and more -- fleeing the premises only after they had been emptied and in ruins.
Over the last several weeks, this had been the spectacle that became a staple of PNG newspapers. This economic carnage triggered strong condemnation from the civilized society, especially in Port Moresby, while the police tried their best to contain the lawlessness and arrest the so-called looting agitators, who were believed to be from anti-Asians NGOs (no-good organizations).
Government officials could only shake their heads not knowing what lip-servicing statement to issue out to appease the beleaguered public.
And so, the wholesale looting went on and had gone overboard in Port Moresby and in major urban centers like Lae city and Madang province in the northern coast of PNG, in Kainantu and Goroka in Eastern Highlands, and in neighboring provinces of Western Highlands and East Sepik.
ALL THIS BOILS down to one thing: The economics of the stomach.
When the stomach grumbles for food, the brain cannot function properly especially when it has to process ideas that require the owner to decide between what is good and what is not, or between   a difficult task and one offering an easy way out.
Oftentimes, an undernourished brain tends to fall into a trap of taking the path of least resistance since it is most easy to comprehend, easy to understand, but at the same time remains clueless whether or not it is the right thing to do.
Hunger has been with the marginalized sector of the PNG society for most of their lives seven days a week, characterized by two barest meals a day – one in the morning and one at nightfall.
Or sometimes, just supper would make do. In between – lunch – is another story for most of the families, knowing that skipping lunch cooking for their favorite betel nuts (buai), or catnapping from noon till 4pm, would help make food last longer for another day or two.
When the people amassed at public squares and were agitated -- yes, agitated -- to denounce Asians doing business they were made to believe had been stolen from them, they actually had a very little understanding, or none at all, of the whole affair.
Or the true agenda of the rally leader-agitators.
What they can comprehend at that very moment was that inside those stores are cash boxes and shelves loaded with food and other goodies that could solve their hunger – and all these are for the taking.
The marginalized sector have been poisoned with the absurd idea that the hardworking Chinese traders have been stealing from them right under their nose – that is by running businesses like variety stores, fast-foods shops, repair shops and a lot more of small-and-medium size enterprises.
Their leaders, or the instigators, have convinced the poor, unschooled villagers, that such economic activities are restricted to Papua New Guineans alone.
Which means no foreigners could venture into these areas, let alone Chinese, without violating the law. Under this law, economic activities exclusive to the locals have been listed and defined.
But such legislation was repelled a few years ago because there were no takers. The supposed beneficiaries never took advantage of it.
It was replaced with a new one in which Papua New Guineans could invest into what has been called as the “informal sector”, the counterpart of the Philippines’ underground economy in which the players could do anything that would generate income legally without having to pay government taxes.
But despite this opportunity, they never took advantage of it fully, settling only to selling cooked food, vegetables and fruits, used (or stolen) clothing and betel nuts (buai) along roadsides and in certain designated areas.
And now they begin to hate Asian traders. They see them raked in good money from their efforts while catering to the needs of communities from Port Moresby to urban centers in the highlands region, down to the coastal areas like the industrial center of Lae and the tuna canning town of Madang.
“That money could have been ours,” as the locals would claim, envious over the success of the Chinese in running their retail trade.
But Papua New Guineans never tried to understand why these present-day traders, who could be third generation, fluent pidgin-speaking Chinese whose ancestors first came to this country just after WWII, persisted and succeeded in their enterprises.
One simple answer is that the locals, even before, never ventured into where the Chinese have been successful – retail trading. Just think about this: If the Chinese did not invest, did not create and develop the market and did not pursue their trade, would there be such businesses flourishing in those areas where the looting became pervasive?
I doubt it.
Question: How come these looters are still in their hand-to-mouth existence until now? How come they are not engaged in such trade for which they have become envious of when they had been given the chance to do so long, long time ago?
The answer is simple: They have no capital with which to start a trade store (variety store). One reason is that lending institutions remained uncomfortable in giving them capital.
And even if they got bank loans, they don’t have the so-called business acumen – for which Chinese across the globe have been known – to stay in business for long and make money.
In my home country the Philippines, a Chinese store could be found even in the remotest part of the province, flourishing as it conducted its business in peace.
The Chinese retailers have been a part of the national landscape even before the first Spaniards came to the Philippines towards the middle of the 1500s, and even before the Americans invaded the country at the break of the 1900.
And the Filipino community respected them for what they did and what they still do these days, and for being industrious and contented despite the little profit made from every item they sold.
It is the same industry that made PNG Chinese successful. And the locals want to grab their exploits by asking the PNG government to drive them out of the country and deliver the business to them in a silver platter.
What? How stupid could they get!
How about investing in the same line of business and compete head-on with the Chinese? I can already predict the result: Locals doing this won’t survive.
Here’s a story: Many years ago, a Filipino entrepreneur was running a successful trade business here in Port Moresby, which was a partnership with a Papua New Guinean. The “Pinoy” had worked hard over the years to make the business make money.
Now, this PNG partner saw that there was a lot of moolah flowing into the business and the cash flow was first rate. So, he decided to buy out the Filipino, as he wanted to run the business himself, and wanted the money all to himself.
In six months’ time, the business folded up and the PNG guy asked his ex-partner back. No way, said the Pinoy, who went on to put up another business that later flourished through sheer industry and business acumen.
NOW, THE SPATE of organized mass looting in strategic parts of the country finally shook up the government hierarchy who wanted to know exactly what was going on with their citizens.
Now, a so-called bipartisan parliamentary committee wants to probe the recent anti-Asian protest and massive looting that hit parts of PNG. And maybe to do something about this before it further gets out of hand.
Well, the lawmakers are doing this “in aid of legislation”, a worn-out phrase in the Philippine Congress that usually ended up to nothing. Maybe they would move to legislate something to discourage looting, an offspring of hunger.
But can they outlaw looting and hunger?
They don’t have to look far for the cause of such opportunists’ unrest. It is right here staring at them. It is called poverty. It’s been here since PNG became a nation in September 1975. And today, year 2009, it’s more evident, pervasive and in living color.
When people are hungry although there’s food, which however, remains beyond their reach, what could be the best option but to take an already accepted option in PNG -- that social norm to survive: looting.
How the PNG government would legislate against this anomaly is yet again another perceived grandiose parliamentary debacle in the making.
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Agro-tourism has huge potential for Papua New Guinea

Taro garden in Iruupi, Western province, could be an attraction for visitors
Rubber plantation outside Port Moresby would be an experience for the agro-tourist

Ripe coffee cherries...tourists would pay to pluck a cherry
Coffee being sun dried in the agro-tourism attraction

Cane harvesting at Ramu can pull in lots of visitors

While it may be a new concept for Papua New Guinea, agro (or agri, whichever way you want to call it)-tourism is big business in many countries in the world, giving visitors the opportunity to work in the fields alongside real farmers and wade knee-deep in the sea with fishermen hauling in their nets.
Agro-tourism has a number of attractions, both to the visitor and the host.
While it provides for interesting visits and discovery, many of these centres also serve as research and development hubs for the perpetuation and improvement of the agricultural industry in the country.
Taiwan, a country which I visited twice in 2007, lacks the landmass and natural resources of PNG, but makes up for this with a lucrative agro-tourism industry which sees visitors pick, grind and drink coffee (their coffee industry is nothing compared to PNG’s), mill rice, and eat farm-fresh peaches and guavas from the tree, among others.
Malaysia, a country quite like PNG, began its post-independence economy with an agrarian base, which has prepared it well to develop agricultural and commodities-based tourism, the hottest niche in eco-tourism today.
“Recognising that agro-tourism holds a fascination for both Malaysians and visitors alike, organisers of excursions these days include tours to rubber and oil palm estates, as well as pepper farms, fish farms, flower nurseries and fruit orchards,” according to the About Malaysia website (
“Fruit orchards have proven especially popular with visitors, not least because they get to enjoy the delicious exotic fruits they are there to learn about!
“Visits are structured around a tour offering insight into the cultivation, care, processing and manufacturing of these commodities for sale or export.
“The industry includes crops such as maize, cocoa, rubber, rice, fruits, oil palm and a variety of other products from which many Malaysians still earn a living.”
The concept of agrotourism, according to the Eco Tour Directory (, is a direct expansion of ecotourism, which encourages visitors to experience agricultural life at first hand.
“Agrotourism is gathering strong support from small communities as rural people have realised the benefits of sustainable development brought about by similar forms of nature travel.
“Visitors have the opportunity to work in the fields alongside real farmers and wade knee-deep in the sea with fishermen hauling in their nets.”
Agro (agri) tourism, according to Wikepedia, is a style of vacation that normally takes place on a farm or ranch.
This may include the chance to help with farming and ranching tasks during the visit.
Agrotourism is considered to be a niche or uniquely adapted form of tourism and is often practised in wine-growing regions such as Australia, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and North America.
In America, agrotourism is wide-spread and includes any farm open to the public at least part of the year.
Tourists can pick fruits and vegetables, ride horses, taste honey, learn about wine, shop in farm gift shops and farm stands for local and regional produce or hand-crafted gifts.
Countries the world over are using agrotourism to develop their local economy, craft trades, and educate visitors to current agriculture practices.
“People are more interested in how their food is produced and want to meet the producers and talk with them about what goes into food production,” Wikepedia says.
“Children who visit the farms often have not seen a live duck, or pig, and have not picked an apple right off the tree.
“This form of expanded agro-tourism has given birth to what are often called ‘entertainment farm’.
“These farms cater to the pick-your-own crowd, offering not only regular farm products, but also food, mazes, open-pen animals, train rides, picnic facilities and pick-your-own produce.”
In PNG, visitors to the highlands can pay a visit to the coffee and tea estates which grace their slopes.
A number of these have been established since the colonial days, and harvesting and processing methods have changed little since.
Waghi Valley of Western Highlands, surrounded by loftier hills, is especially noted for its long-established estates.
On rubber estates, such as Doa Plantation along the Hiritano Highway outside Port Moresby, visitors have the opportunity to experience first-hand how to tap a rubber tree and witness how latex is processed - from coagulation to pressing and smoking.
Another of the country's largest export commodities is palm oil.
Today, PNG is a world leader in the research and development of this multi-purpose fruit.
The clusters of orange-red fruits produce refined cooking oil and other palm-olein products for use in the cosmetic and chemical industries.
A visit to PNG by the agro-tourist would not be complete without some time in the palm oil plantations of West New Britain.
How about the coconut and cocoa plantations of East New Britain?
Witness sago processing in Gulf or East Sepik provinces?
Harvest and eat freshly-boiled taro in Lae?
The yam festival of Milne Bay or the banana festival of the Markham Valley of Morobe province?
Take a drive outside Port Moresby to the Pacific Adventist University farms and hydroponics at Sogeri.
Along the Madang-Lae Highway, sugar dots the countryside at Ramu Sugar, another place with huge agro-tourism potential.
Not forgetting Aiyura Valley outside Kainantu, Eastern Highlands province, and the agro-tourism list for PNG goes on and on.

Ampo Today, the Newsletter of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea (please click on each image to enlarge and read)


A concert for the poor, sick and suffering in Lae

An 11-year-old malnourished and visually impaired child at Busu Compound in Lae

While the entire focus of the society is currently on combating HIV/AIDS in terms of finance and resources, little or nothing is done in defeating the ignorance of people with disabilities (PWDs).
It is like ‘promoting ignorance’ and ‘ignoring truth’.
To us who call ourselves Christians, what a great ‘apparent injustice’ to concentrate on the able ones and despise those with disability.
Poverty and disability is now thriving in many villages, settlements and homes.
What are we doing and what have we done?
With this thought, a major gospel music concert is currently being organised by the Morobe Special Education Resource Centre (MSERC) to raise the much- needed funds to purchase a vehicle for the centre.
The centre needs a vehicle for community-based rehabilitation and outreach programmes, school visits and screening and other community-based programme in addressing this community need.
Founded by a former German lecturer at Luther Seminary in Lae, MSERC works with children and people with special needs (CPWSN) such as physically-impaired or disabled in educating, rehabilitating and training them.
Themed: ‘Fighting Ignorance of Disability through Giving’ – the concert will feature prominent gospel artist Loujaya Tony and the Eloim Revelation Singers as well as other invited groups and ministries within Lae.
It will be held on June 25 from 5pm to 11pm at the MSERC.
The call is extended to everyone to come and support this positive move.
An 11year old malnourished and visually-impaired child at Busu Compound in Lae.Pre-sold gate tickets are now on sale at K2 for adult and K1 for children.
For tickets and more information, call (675) 720 52949 or (675) 472 2089.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Innovation and technology to sustain SMEs amid global crisis

Issued by the APEC Secretariat


Singapore, 26 May 2009 – The little guys always get hit the hardest, or so says conventional wisdom.  But, according to some experts: It doesn’t have to be that way anymore.

An APEC seminar featuring speakers from Microsoft, Dell Global, Intel Asia, eBay/Paypal and other corporate legends will explore ways for SMEs to actually take advantage of the precarious times that have brought many of the world’s most established players to their knees. 

“The time is ideal for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to take advantage of both advances in information technology and the drastic reduction in costs,” insists Michael Mudd, Comp TIA Director of Public Policy, Asia-Pacific.

Mudd explains that: “Ten years ago, Google moved out of a garage to a small office and had just eight employees; eBay was a domestic US classified ad service; five years ago Facebook and Myspace did not exist; two years ago Software as a service (SaaS) was virtually unknown. All of these advances hold out a promise for the SMEs that are creative enough to use them.  We need to listen to what is happening globally and design a relevant program with inputs from Government, Academia and Industry.”

The APEC SME Technology Entrepreneur Seminar, held on the cusp of APEC SME Working Group meetings, will take place in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, 3 – 5 June, at the KLCC Hotel and Spa.

The global economic crisis is an important factor.  Discussions will address the central theme, Innovation and Technology – The Sustaining Power of SMES in the Global Economic Crisis, and much debate is anticipated.


To learn more about the SME Working Group, go to:


Media wishing to register for the seminar should contact:

Amril Norman at with copy to


For other inquiries, contact:

Carolyn Williams at or at (65) 9617 7316

Anita Douglas at or at (65) 9172 6427




LNG agreement heralds the start of building boom in PNG

Signboard at GordonSignboard at Four-Mile
Passersby at the fenced-in building site at Four-Mile
HG Construction crane reaches for the sky at Gordon
Fenced-in buiding area at Four-Mile with Garden City in the background
Datec, part of the Steamships Group, will have its new Super Store at Gordon
A rear view of Steamships' commercial development at Gordon

The signing of the benefits sharing agreement (BSA) for the PNG liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Kokopo at the weekend basically paves the way for the unprecedented building boom in the country to continue at a high level.
Building commentator George Tipping predicts that a much-larger building and property boom is the likely scenario if the Exxon Mobil LNG project is confirmed.
“Despite the internal impediments of higher interest rates, inflation, hesitation by some PNG investors due to the global economic conditions (GEC), slow NCDC and utility service providers approvals, it is my prediction that the current building and property boom will continue at a high level of activity, particularly for large projects,” he wrote in The National recently.
“How long will this boom last? That is the hard question to answer.
“My crystal ball suggests we have another three to four years before the boom slows to more-manageable levels.
“However, if the Exxon Mobil LNG project is confirmed, then we will have a scenario of a much larger building and property boom making the current boom seem small by comparison.”
One of the major players in the current building and property boom, especially in Port Moresby, is Steamships.
On the rear of the old Papuan Hotel site downtown, we can see the major high rise project for Steamships Properties (Fletcher Morobe) and we have seen the activities on the former Hornibrook site at Gordons also for Steamships (HG Constructions).
At Four-Mile, opposite Stargazers, Steamships has finished clearing up a piece of land and has started work on a major commercial development.
Steamships Property is renowned as one of the largest and most-dynamic property developers in PNG.
The company specialises in providing residential, commercial and industrial property, across the country.
From high covenant apartment accommodation in the heart of Port Moresby to commercial and industrial blocks near the Lae Port, Steamships Property has a substantial and diverse property portfolio.
This is certainly growing.