Papuan New Guinean | Journalist | Blogger | Loves ReGGae Music | Believes in the positive influence of the martial arts


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Fiji lifts Ox & Palm ban, Trukai rice, Lae Biscuit | Press Release

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PRESS RELEASE: TRADE MINISTER HON. KOYA CLARIFIES AND STATES THAT FIJI IS READY TO FACILITATE COMMERCIAL IMPORTS OF OX AND PALM CORNED BEEF FROM PNG

24 MARCH 2017

Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism and Lands, Hon. Faiyaz Siddiq Koya today announced that the pathway for Ox and Palm Corned Beef, Trukai Rice and Lae Biscuit, is open, even for commercial consignments. This announcement came following discussions with Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF).

He further stressed that BAF is ready to facilitate commercial imports of Ox and Palm Corned Beef, Trukai Rice and Lae Biscuit into Fiji.

“We look forward to working with PNG Minister for Trade, Hon. Maru to deepen and strengthen trade ties between both the countries”, said the Hon. Minister.

Ends


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Development lessons from Maldives

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The roads are paved with bricks. There are no semi trailers or 10-seater land cruisers. Even if they were imported, it would not be impractical to drive the on the narrow streets.

But, as if to compensate for the lack of large vehicles, there are literally hundreds of motorcycles. In fact there are more boats and motorcycles in the republic of Maldives than there are cars.

In 2015, Maldives celebrated 50 years as an independent nation. But its history is thousands of years old. The islands were settled by various peoples and over centuries, the local culture was influenced by the Indians, Chinese and Arabs who introduced Islam.

mal1Everywhere you can see strong Arab and Indian influences evident in the fashion and their single Dhivehi language – a hybrid of Urdu, Arabic Chinese and other influences.   Even with the influences, the people promote a strong Maldivian identity and strong sense of nationalism.

“The red color on our flag represents the blood of those who died for this land,” says the tour guide. “Green means we are a peaceful people and the white moon means we are 100 percent Muslim.”

Upon first contact, the character of the local people, the food and generosity are strikingly similar to island peoples of the Pacific.

The capital, Male is located on one of the biggest Islands  of the Maldives. The city occupies the entire land area 2 kilometers long and 1.5 kilometers wide. It is one of more than 190 small inhabited and uninhabited atolls that make up this island nation just South of India and Sri Lanka.

The country has many lessons that Papua New Guinea can learn from. At the small local food market, local food brought from the islands are put on sale:  Bunches of ripe banana, small mangos native to the Maldives and chilies

The limited choices in vegetables and greens gives you a hint of how much food is imported.

There is very little land and much of the country’s food is imported. At a local restaurant in Male, I posed the question to a worker: “Where do you get your vegetables?”

“Sri Lanka,” she answered.

Yet Maldives has one of the fastest growing economies in the region with tourism being its main revenue earner. Maldives has very little land on which to grow its own food.

Seventy percent of the revenue coming into the Maldives is from tourism and associated industries.   In total, the Maldivian tourism is worth eight billion kina – that’s the equivalent of half the PNG budget.

Much of  the tourism revenue is being spent in the local economy

Everywhere in Male, you can see evidence of those  tourism dollars are being spent. New buildings are being constructed and about 89 percent of the local people are employed in various sectors.

But you will not really understand how the people are benefiting directing from tourism unless you visit the neighboring island of Hulumale – 10 minutes by boat from the capital.

At Hulumale, the new roads are wider. There are new buildings and government offices. This is the site of massive project is underway  with significant Chinese investment at play but driven by the Maldives government owned, Housing Development Corporation Limited. The government has invited both local and international investors and adjusted its policies to allow for small local guest houses to operate in Hulumale. On reclaimed land they are building a the second part of a two phase project that will include a tourism Free trade zone, resorts, gated communities.

But more importantly, the government is providing public housing for more than one third of its 450 thousand people. Eighty thousand Maldivians have already come to settle on Hulumale.

If there is anything that can be learned from the Maldives, It is  the positive impact of tourism, government spending for the people and in the local economy and the empowerment of a people by their government.

 


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Wagambie responds to death threats against Lae police (Media statement)

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Police have received information that criminal elements and supporters from West Taraka,of those who got arrested and charged or killed, have issued threats to shoot down police.

They have harassed some members of the public and those traveling in and out of West Taraka. These are only a few incidents. Generally West Taraka is now losing its bad reputation as the Wild West of Lae City.

Police will not be moved, and we are not shaken by these threats from a very small minority. I am issuing my warning to these individuals, you better not try it, because I assure you, you try it and you will get it. My personnel are alert and we will investigate where these threats came from, and I will make sure those individuals will be dealt with. We will come to where you are staying or living. We won’t wait for you, we will come for you. So stop it now whilst you have the chance.

I also have information that there are some big people in the community, assisting suspects who were injured in the shoot out at West Taraka on the mountain tops. From me to these people, we will also find you as well. You will be arrested and charged. Let us be leaders and not entertain crime and criminals.

The whole week up until Sunday has been very quiet through out the City.

 -Anthony Wagambie, Metropolitan Superintendent, Lae


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How Obura-Wonenara District will be affected by high inflation in 2017

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Gema women dressed up to welcome the district medivac program

For the people of Gema village in the Obura-Wonenara district of the Eastern Highlands, The 2016-2017 period will be remembered as a period of mixed results.

This year has been a good year for them despite their many challenges.   The government services have trickled down to the village level. However, much of the funding that caused tangible results has come from the 2013-2014 period when the government allocated K500,000 per local level government.

In the 2016-2017 period, things are expected to improve on some fronts as it worsens on others.

For the first time in more than 30 years, the people  saw an elementary classroom and an aid post built with government funding. At a small gathering, the people told government officers including the district administrator to use local expertise instead of contractors to save on costs.

Compared to many other districts and urban areas, the statistics of maternal and infant mortality in Gema are appalling. There is at least one birth complication or death in every 20 deliveries.   While the village has an aid post, the health worker does not reside in the village because of a lack of housing. Many   before him left because of the difficult conditions and the isolation.

Since the 1990s when Papua New Guinea saw a gradual decline in service delivery, many school aged children have grown up to be adults without having the opportunity to go to school.

“We heard that a primary school was built in the neighboring village. But we were left out,” said the local level government councilor. “There is no shortage of school students. Children want to go to school. We don’t have teachers.”

Gema is a small village spread out over several ridges and for many years, the people had come to accept maternal and infant deaths as a way of life.

Their isolation and the high cost of transportation also discouraged teachers from other provinces from working in the village school.

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Gema airstrip, Obura-Wonenara Ditrict

“This district has the most number of airstrips in Papua New Guinea. There are 22 in all,” says the District Administrator, Eric Nukasong. “This is because there are pockets of inaccessible villages that have important needs.”

As part of improvements to services, the Obura-Wonenara district administration has entered into an agreement with Lae based helicopter company, Manalos Aviation to provide medical evacuation services.   It is an important link between the village health worker and a referral hospital.

“In this district,  a  lot of men and women get sick and small aid posts can’t deal with the cases.  Many of them get seriously ill and die,” explains the Obura Wonenara MP, Mera Kipefa.   “It is a district initiative but we want the provincial government to support us as well.”

For Papua New Guinea, delivery of services hinges on the good working relationship between the administration and the politician. Kipefa is among the new breed of younger politicians who are finding their way through a maze of political expectations and dependency created over 40 years. On many occasions, he has politely turned down requests for media interviews but has turned to Facebook to post updates of service delivery initiatives in his electorate.

Just days after the Government handed down the 2017 budget, the reality of the future is setting in just as small achievements are made. The budget has predicted tough times ahead despite some projected recovery.

For the district, what will affect them the most is the predicted 6.6 percent inflation and the expected downward slump of the Kina against the US and Australian dollars.

“We will be hard hit by the inflation. The price of fuel will go up. companies will increase airfares.

“We will have a hard time. If the government looks at places accessible only by air,  and if government can subsidize freight costs,  we will be able to complete our projects. ”

According to his estimates, the district spends about half its budget on freight costs alone. That is why local materials and labor are crucial for cost cutting.

“In a plane, we can put only four or five sheets of roofing iron,” Kipefa says. “We can’t load timber. It’s too heavy and too expensive.”

In 2015 and 2016, funding to local level governments were slashed   from K500,000 to K100,000 each.

The inflation predicted in 2017 will not only drive up the cost of goods and services. It will also eat into service delivery funds as more money is spent on transportation and higher payments to suppliers.


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Underground guitarist announces ‘HYER’ – a new collaboration project

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Guitarist, Adrian Gedisa

An underground guitarist who until recently remained quite outside of the musical limelight has finally announced   to his friends that he is planning to release an important collaboration between him and others like him.

Morobean, Adrian Gedisa, told friends on Facebook, that the upcoming project would be a fusion of rock metal but with a definite appeal to fans of other genre.

Gedisa’s   style has dwelled on speed of execution. His rapid picking and hammer-ons that come with years of practice have become a trade mark of Adrian Gedisa.

Earlier on, Gedisa drew inspiration from guitar guru, John Warbat, who has remained one of the best rock and metal guitarists in Papua New Guinea.

He was also influenced by underground guitarist, Jeffrey Vagalia, who he refers to as his mentor.

“Jeff lived a few streets from where we lived and I learned a lot from him.”

Vagalia, is one of few serious technical guitarists in Papua New Guinea who remain unrecorded.   Both Vagalia and Gedisa, are like many talented Papua New Guinean musicians   who remain outside the music limelight largely because their artistry and expression is not fully appreciated by many outside the circle.

“Music has gone stale,” Gedisa says. “There is no art.”

Gedisa has also been experimenting with symphonic metal popular in Europe and Scandinavian countries. When asked about his dabbling with symphonic metal, he brushes it aside.

“There’s no market for it. Not many people like that kind of music.”

He has played as a session musician for popular artists like Anslom, Justine Wellington and New Caledonian, Kaneka artist, Edou.

Gedisa, began playing as a teenager. But his interest in the guitar stemmed from his primary school days when he performed in school bands.

Those who bought tickets to the Pacific Games in Port Moresby last year will remember, him as the guitarist who performed as a centerpiece during the opening ceremony of the games at the Sir John Guise Stadium.

“Heaven!” he says, as he remembers the moment. “For me it was big. It wasn’t a local gig, the world was watching.”

There is a lot that people don’t know about the underground music scene. Gedisa says, there’s a lot of activity.   “Hyer,” the project he is working on with other like-minded artists is a labor of love and is expected to be released soon.


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10 things university students should know before graduation

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1. Do not expect nor ask for a big salary when you get your first job. Instead, learn as much as you can with whatever opportunity you are given.

2. Be willing to learn skills outside your field  of academic study.  It is education you will not   get in a classroom.

3. A university is an incubation space designed to learn.  Spend 90 percent of your time learning as much as you can.

4. Development of character and spirit  is as important as study.  Time should be invested in  it as well.

5. Add value to your degree by engaging with your future employers  and the community.  It is another aspect of education you will not get in a classroom.

6. Your academic certificate is NOT a passport to a job. It is an opportunity.

7. Your academic certificate is simply proof that you have done what the system demanded and achieved standards set by the powers that be.

8. Your talents and your academic attainments are two different things.  An academic certificate is not a representation of your talents and abilities.

9. Have a mission you want to achieve. If not,  your journey will be without a purpose.

10. Potential employers will check your Facebook account.  Traces of your character not found on your character reference will be found on Facebook.


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Unleashing the power of community journalism in Papua New Guinea

pic-1Community Journalism sounds like a new concept but its not. Since the arrival of mobile phones and social media, communities have become more actively involved in generating and disseminating information to wider audiences.

With better mobile phone technology,   coverage and faster internet speeds, communities who previously sent our text messages moved up the technological scale to disseminating images on Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media sites.

While people in other countries call it citizen journalism, I would like to call it “community journalism” because much of the information and images from Papua New Guinea communities are released publicly after some consultation with members of the community.

It is a collective decision based largely on the intention to expose and highlight issues that affect them and to seek assistance from those who can provide that much needed assistance. Some analysis of existing information and experiences from other sources comes into play during discussions before the text and images and sometimes videos are released.

Mainstream media in the 21st century, has dropped back a few paces in terms of getting out the information. There are valid and serious concerns about verification, credibility and balance which many news organizations are still having to contend with.

However, what must be realized is that    members of rural communities who pass on the information are, in fact, authorities on the ground with first hand information. Verification for many in the mainstream, means verification from an “official source” detached from the reality on the ground. In many instances,   verification is delayed as an ongoing stream of important content floods social media sites from various sources on the ground.

Community journalism is important for a disaster prone country like Papua New Guinea. It provides an important link between communities affected by natural disasters and government authorities in administrative centers.

What we have in Papua New Guinea is a hybrid system of the kind of crowd sourcing that happens in larger developed economies of the world.   There are clusters of urban communities connected to their families in village communities.

Crowd sourcing news and information works   with urban and semi-urban communities online or urban based residents who are mobile.   For rural communities, crowd sourcing is several years behind what we see in larger economies.

The challenge is to develop community journalist  clusters that include teachers, local level government officers and tech savvy secondary school students to make then understand the power of community journalism and its impact on society.