JEFFRY FEEGER DOES IT AGAIN… THIS TIME IN NEW YORK!

For the past several weeks PNG artist Jeffry Feeger has been in New York for NYMF (the New York Musical Theatre Festive) performing his Art on stage in the play ‘Feather’, where he paints a different portrait each performance. Jeffry met with old school friends from POM International High who happened to be in NYC at the same time. He was able to share with them one of his live painting performances in the middle of iconic Times Square. To honour an inspirational person he chose to paint Nelson Mandela. An easel was set up in the middle of Times Square for all to view his work in progress, the painting was completed in a two hour period. The gathered crowd was wowed. Similar sentiments were expressed from those attending the play. The Festival concluded last Sunday and Jeffry has now embarked on a serious gallery exploration, viewing at Museums and a little sight seeing to share the memories with those back home. “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nelson Mandela

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LAE’S FIRST AIRMAILED ENVELOPE RETURNS AFTER 79 YEARS

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The first one out of Lae

An  envelope from  the first airmail  sent from Lae to Australia nearly 80  years ago  has finally been framed and mounted on  a wall inside the Lae Post office.

The envelope was initially brought to Lae two months ago by  75-year-old Australian,   Cliff Harvey, who  just wanted to find out if the Post Office would be interested in a tiny piece of history.
“It belonged to an uncle of my partner.   He died 15 years ago and this was left to us.”
A frame containing   the envelope and a picture of  the Australian postmaster, Hugh Macmillan Lyon,   who sent  it to his mother was unveiled  yesterday on  its 79thanniversary.
Lyon   was serving as a postmaster in Lae in the 1930s.   He was in those days one  of a small group  Australians living in there.  In 1934, he made history. He sent the first airmail from Lae to Australia.  
Maj. Hugh Macmillan Lyon

The letter addressed to  the most important woman in his life:   His mother  who lived in Sydney.   After 79 years,  the envelope found its way back to its point of origin. The envelope  bears the original stamps  and is signed by the crew  that flew the   letter to  Australia.   The envelope  has been framed and mounted on  the wall inside the Lae post office.   When the second world war began,  Hugh Lyon, joined the Australian Army. As a major,  he was also in command of a  rifle battalion and fought  the Japanese in Lae and surrounding areas.

Guinea Gold End of War edition

Along with the envelope, Cliff Harvey  has also sent  other important pieces of history including   a  page  of  one  of the earliest newspapers  produced   here in Lae.   It doesn’t just contain any news. It announces the  end of the second world war  after  US  dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 

While each piece is of significant  historical importance, the item that stands out the most is the envelope  containing  a  letter  sent from a young man to his mother  79 years ago.

PICKING UP THE PIECES AFTER THE RABAUL QUEEN DISASTER

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Reverend Arua Oala, stands in front   of  sparsely populated   church pews at  the Cassowary road  United Church in  Lae. His eyes slowly scan the faces of  those present and he fights back tears  as he  talks about his son, Arua Baru, who died in the Rabaul Queen  disaster in February 2012.
Rev. Arua Oala

           “How am I going to explain in a few long years to my two grandchildren what their father  has perished,”  he says.

            Arua Baru, was the  Rabaul Queen’s chief engineer  he died  when the ferry,  sank in stormy weather off the Morobe  coast.   According to witness statements,  the ferry was overloaded when it  left Kimbe for Lae.   Onboard were over 300 passengers  – many of them  were students  returning to intuitions   in the  Momase and  the Highlands   for the start of the new school year.  
Reverend Arua is one of   hundreds of relatives and survivors who are still coming to terms with  the loss of their loved ones   more than a year after the worst  maritime disaster in Papua New Guinea’s history.   
In a society where the spiritual and the physical  are seen as one and the same,  many of the families cannot accept that  their family members  have died because  179 people remain missing to this day.  
Rabaul Queen survivor minutes after the rescue

            “When I asked my daughter-in-law to share her experiences at the first anniversary service,  she said: ‘I can’t  because I might harm  the relationship I have with my husband.  To me he is still at work.”

            Tommy Yep,  chairman of the  Rabaul Queen Action Committee,  the group formed to take legal action against the shipping company and its owner, Peter Sharp,   it has been extremely difficult to bring some sense of comfort and closure  to the relatives and survivors.
            “For Papua New Guineans it is difficult to get on with life  because we  don’t have a body bury.  For  us it is unnatural,” he says.
            “We  need to have a body to bury and grieve over  in order to end one chapter and move on to the next.”
            Yep’s son  was a passenger on board the Queen. He was fortunate to have survived. But the psychological trauma of the disaster has  affected him  so much that he has been unable to  live a normal life.
            “My son just  left his job in  and he has gone back home to take care of  his family and try to pick up the pieces.”

Government support to the families of victims  and  the survivors has been very limited.  Counseling sessions  stopped two weeks after the disaster and  those affected by the tragedy have had to fall back on traditional family structures  to draw support.  But it has not been easy  when multiple family members  have died.

            Catherine Maniot from Bougainville  lost three of her sons.  Two were studying at the National Polytechnic Institute in Lae. Her eldest was on his to becoming a mechanical engineer.  For  almost a year, she has been trying to close  their bank  accounts.  For many, it seems a trivial matter. But for Catherine,  closing   her sons’  bank account  will mean  a step forward.   But it has not  been easy  to close  the account. The bank  has asked for   death certificates  which have not been provided  by  government coroner’s office.
            “I am lost. I don’t know what to do,” she says.  “It’s like a dream. I wake up one day and three of my  boys are gone. How am I supposed to get on with my life?”
The start of investigations into  the disaster   was announced one day after  the first anniversary of the  of the Rabaul Queen disaster.  The government reacted following  mounting public pressure. 
            But the  investigators faced ongoing funding problems.  Police teams  in Lae and  Kokopo  were  not allowed to  reside in hotels  and hired vehicles were taken back by the owners after  the initial   lot of funding  was used up.
            Months short of end of investigations,  teams were  called back to  the Police headquarters in Port Moresby.   The official  explanation  has been that the money required to complete the investigation had not been released. 
As the delay drags into fourth month,  the action committee  has called on the Police commissioner, Tom Kulunga,  to explain  why the investigation has not been completed and why there have not been any arrests made since the disaster  over a year ago.

IF NOT MARU (AND A FEW OTHERS) WHO ELSE WILL STAND UP FOR THE PEOPLE?


An undiplomatic  speech, by Commerce Minister, Richard Maru,    announcing the protection of Papua New Guinean businesses  has received overwhelming  applause  by more than 400 participants at an  SME summit in Madang.

Richard Maru – Commerce and Trade Minister
Minister Maru  didn’t mince his words when he  told  foreign advisers   that they were wasting their time if they   were going to push for unfettered access to  PNG’s economy.
He said the SME sector will be staunchly defended  by the government   through protection policies and the  creation  of jobs for  Papua New Guineans.
One of the first things   the revival of a reserved list specifying  the kinds of businesses that foreigners will be barred from operating.

that will happen before the end of the year is

Maru is no  stranger to  hard hitting undiplomatic  statements  at public forums.
            Yesterday,  he took that to a new level.  He told foreign advisers,   some of whom were present, that they  were  be wasting their time if they were thinking of pushing for  free access into the lower levels of the PNG economy.
“We are going to bring back the reserve list legislation,”  he said.  “This summit will decide what will be for Papua New Guineans, what will be 51-49 and what will be only for foreigners.
            “The NEC has already decided to bring back the reserved list. So any of you advisors who thinking there will be no reserve list, you’re wasting your time. This government has already decided.”
Unlike in the past there is a general  acknowledgment, that the  current economic boom is temporary and unless steps are taken to use that new found wealth,  the country’s future will be in jeopardy.
This summit will chart a new future. In mind will be an  economy based on renewable resources.  An economy that is sustainable  and able to support  Papua New Guiena’s young population.