Sam Basil Academic Scholarships Award Program Announced

Posted on NBC News/PNG Education News

The Morobe Provincial Government has announced a K400,000.00 scholarship for tertiary students studying political sciences next year. 
This is in honour of the late Deputy Prime Minister and Member for Bulolo, Sam Basil. 
Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu made the announcement of the award to be called Sam Basil Academic Award during this morning’s Funeral Service of the late Sam Basil at the Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium in Lae, Morobe province.

Governor Sanou announced that the Provincial Government will also setup an education fund for the children of the late Basil. 
The Provincial Government has pledged K50.000.00.
Governor Sanou invited stakeholders, businesses and individuals to support this fund, which will be managed by the Provincial Education Division. 
Meanwhile, thousands of people dressed in black gathered gathered at the Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium for the funeral service.
Today is a Public Holiday in Morobe Province, in respect of the late Bulolo MP.

Because, I Am My Father’s Son

(courtesy of Ursula Wall)

By Tarali Tarlzen Hibuya posted on Huli Culture

Am not that offcut, halfcut or quartercut
I am proud Hela Product!
Because, I am my father’s son.

Am pure born and bred Hela!
In good, to celebrate with Hela!
In bad, to die with Hela!
Because, I am my father’s son!

You can mock and shame me.
You can stereotype and generalize me.
You can defame and demoralize me.
Because, I am my father’s son!

But you cannot remove Hela in me.
You cannot replace my blood with your water.
You cannot make me you.
I am I and You are You!
Because, I am my father’s son.

Hela is my homeland,
Where there is milk and honey!
I have my own house and my own garden!
I am from my clans, tribes and family.
I don’t hunt, gather or dwell in caves!
And I do defend with might.
Because I am my father’s son.

I am not your enemy but friend.
I have a human heart so I do love and grieve!
I have human hands so I share and care.
I have a soul so I am a human.
Because, I am my father’s son.

If you care me,
I care you as my friend.
But if you dare me,
I dare you as my enemy.
Because, I am my father’s son.

I don’t retreat and surrender,
I don’t give-up and give-in,
I don’t daunt and deter,
Neither do I seek mercy or reprimand
Because, I am my father’s son.

I do defend with anger and might.
Not with sorcery or witchcraft.
Not with demon or devil.
But with my own bows and arrows.
Because, I do believe there’s God!
I believe in father’s god Datagaliwabe
Because, I am my father’s son.

I am Hela not by choice,
But by divine birth,
And that’s my divine right
Because, I am my father’s son.

I am who I am.
I don’t dare!
I don’t care!
I am Hela!
Because, I am my father’s son!

The voice of Michael Dom: political, powerful, connected

Review by Martyn Namorong – PNG Attitude Blog

O Arise!: Poems on Papua New Guinea’s Politics & Society by Michael Dom, 54 pp. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, May 2015. ISBN-10: 1512039381. Available in hardcopy from Amazon, $5.40

WHAT is a Papua New Guinean writer but a warrior continuing the proud traditions of their ancestors, firing arrows that defend the land but also feed the tribe.

I believe that is what the modern Papua New Guinean writer does. We defend the land of our ancestors and we also enrich the lives of our people with entertainment, information and ideas.

In continuing that fine tradition, Michael Dom writes with a spirit that connects many of us as we sometimes reflect on the world around us.

What is that spirit? I think it’s the voice in our hearts that connects us with our land, our languages, our cultures and our sense of belonging to this ancient land of ours.

In its negative form it sometimes divides us, but there a moments of brilliance where it raises our consciousness to a higher level of awareness about what makes us one people under one flag and constitution.

I find such positive energy in Michael’s poem One day, in this place, we will have good things.

Sometimes those good things are hidden in the rugged landscape or the battle-worn faces of many a suffering Papua New Guinean.

But there are surprisingly good things about being from this increasingly predictable land of the unexpected. And you will find them articulated in this volume in A soliloquy of soil and In ‘Rainy Lae’ anything can grow.

One of the most refreshing sights for me is how many of today’s young Papua New Guineans express themselves through poetry.

In high school, I got the shock of my life when this rough timber kaksy-type girl fronted the school assembly and read some of the most beautiful Papua New Guinean love poems I have ever heard.

During a recent trip to Alotau, I attended an open-microphone event where a shy young man, probably a few years younger than I am, read his poem talking about corruption and revolution.

Poetry is the spoken word and as such, if you do not know what to say, Michael gives you a reference point to start from. In O Arise! you can find the right words to say when talking to a pig farmer at the foot of Mount Giluwe or to a street vendor as in A candlelight market in Port Moresby.

In this collection of the spoken word I have found many colourful voices from Papua New Guinea. These works by Michael Dom represent a superb distillation of common Papua New Guinean concepts about the world we live in.

They give a meaningful and a soulful voice to what would otherwise be a hollow shell of a nation and its people.

Mi wanbel stret wantaim tok pisin blong Michael! I hope you do too. PNG yumi go samespeed!

Readers say….

Phil Fitzpatrick – It’s very difficult for a writer or poet not to be political in a developing nation. In this they are following a long tradition. In more regressive regimes they are mercilessly suppressed. In PNG this is fortunately not the case.

At its worst the government has only inadvertently hindered such discourse by failing to provide suitable avenues for its expression. The political class are doing themselves a disservice, not least because the writers and poets are finding their own platforms, most notably on social media.

If the politicians prefer not to listen the ordinary people will. A poem is a powerful weapon, especially in the hands of a master like Michael Dom. One day the politicians will rue their deafness.

Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin – Michael Dom has poetry all over him and is surely the most talented of Papua New Guinean poets. Though his array of poetry is diverse, his work on PNG politics is filled with the best piercing and most blistering political poetry ever.

His poems can drive a plebeian to madness, a bureaucrat searching for civic virtue and a politician hanging his or her head in shame for self-serving. The artistically worded prose makes us stand in awe and admiration and is definitely a work of a gifted mind.

I assure you that you will experience the anguish and mischief of PNG politics in your mind’s eye and equally a hope for a brighter future in this work.

Keith Jackson AM – I have read most, if not all, of these poems before, and revisiting them in print is like being reacquainted with old friends. Michael Dom is a world class poet and a world class poetic innovator. He writes – sometimes obliquely, sometimes directly – about politics, society, corruption, development and other crucial issues in the life of a nation and its people.

This nation happens to be Papua New Guinea but in reality it could be any nation, struggling to be fair to itself and its people; often not struggling nearly hard enough because the end result of struggle may be a real threat to privilege and entitlement.

Michael Dom uses poetry to reveal such truths without ever glossing over the difficulties of moving to a better state.

The late Sam Basil: distrusted at death; praised in ‘belsori’

Sam Basil. The ‘belsori’ vote following his death increases the prospects of ULP candidates winning seats.

PNG Attitude| Academia Nomad

WAIGANI – Many tributes have been written about the late deputy prime minister Sam Basil MP, who died last week after a motor vehicle accident.

In this article, I will write about the impact of Basil’s death on the political party he formed in 2020 – the United Labour Party (ULP) – and its situation leading into the 2022 elections before the tragic accident that took his life.

The national outpouring of mourning and sympathy for Basil is second only intensity the reaction to the deaths of Sir Mekere Morauta and Sir Michael Somare in 2020.

There is a major difference though. Both Somare and Morauta were former prime ministers well into old age.

Basil, on the other hand, was young and had ambitions to become prime minister.

His was a life full of potential and taken too young.

The profile of the ULP has shot up astronomically since Basil’s death last Wednesday and the outpouring of sympathy has had an immense impact on candidates endorsed by the party.

Orange, the ULP colour is today dominating PNG social media. Those who have not heard of ULP, or didn’t care about it, are now very much informed.

On Monday, a multitude of people was waiting at the Jackson’s International Airport waiting for Basil’s body to arrive from Morobe his home province.

They were draped in PNG and Morobe flags and sporting orange shirts and hats.

We are now amid a three-day national hauskrai (mourning period) at the John Guise Indoor Stadium where people from all walks of life are coming to pay their respects.

The stadium is draped in orange. The ULP candidate for Port Moresby organised one of the events at the hauskrai.

This earned national TV publicity whilst other candidates for the seat were waiting for 19 May when the nominations open to start their official campaigns.

Getting a free national coverage during events like this is not unique. But in PNG, there’s an added layer because death and mourning is a very significant time.

It’s a time where arguments are resolved, mistakes forgiven and support comes from those you expect the least from.

How do these moments translate into political capital?

If you ever have the chance to speak to Dame Carol Kidu and ask about her election in 2002, she will tell you she won because of the belsori (sympathy) vote.

Out of compassion and sympathy for her loss, people supported Dame Carol and this included voting for her.

Her husband, Sir Buri Kidu, was the first home-grown chief justice of PNG. He was expecting to contest the Port Moresby South electorate, in which his Hanuabada village is located, when he suddenly died in 1994.

At the next election in 1997, Dame Carol contested the seat to fulfil her husband’s ambitions.

With a large sympathy or belsori vote, she was elected. Carol then built political support to be re-elected in 2002 and 2007.

In July 2012, she chose not to re-contest her seat and retired from politics at the end of her third term. (Link here to read more about Dame Carol’s political career)

With all due respect to the man and his family, Sam Basil had not been popular since 2017 when he switched from a leader of the opposition to Peter O’Neill’s government.

Since his election to parliament in 2012, Basil was a vocal critic of both the Somare and O’Neill governments.

He took a hard line against corruption, was applauded for it and was favoured to become the next prime minister.

This support was evident in the success of Pangu Pati in the 2017 election after he left his PNG Party. to lead the seatless Pangu into the election.

It emerged with 14 MPs, a respectable number in a parliament of 111 MPs and where no party had more than 30 seats.

Basil then tried to form government but failed, O’Neill’s People Congress Party with 28 MPs being able to muster enough MPs to form government.

But Basil later did the unthinkable. After briefly remaining in the opposition, towards the end of 2017 he took Pangu over to the O’Neill government.

It was at this point he lost much of his popularity among Papua New Guineans. Then, when James Marape won government after a vote of no confidence Basil switched again – and became deputy prime minister.

However his manoeuvring had not finished. In 2020 he attempted to remove Marape as prime minister. Again the manoeuvre failed and Basil went to the backbench.

It wasn’t for long though. He soon returned as deputy prime minister – brought back by the man he had sought to undermine, alongside James Marape.

Basil got the position he wanted but had lost the respect of many Papua New Guineans.

ULP itself was unpopular among Papua New Guineans for the same reasons.

Many people thought he lacked integrity for constantly switching alliances. This was the situation until six days ago when he lost his life in a car accident.

Now with much sympathy pouring in, Basil’s ULP candidates will enjoy similar success to that of Carol Kidu in 1997.

The belsori vote will increase the prospects of ULP candidates winning their seats.

And because of his untimely death, Basil is now being praised not condemned by voters.

Book Launching By Former Chief Justice On Philosophies Law in PNG

Philosophies of Law in Papua New Guinea by former Chief Sir Salamo Injia. Photo by SLM Books & Publications

By Frank Rai – posted on Post Courier

A new book, providing philosophical insights into the underlying reasons behind law-making and emerging issues and challenges facing PNG was launched at the University of PNG in Port Moresby over the weekend.

Former Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia’s new book titled Philosophies of Law in Papua New Guinea was officially launched by lawyer-cum politician and Minister for Petroleum Kerenga Kua at University of Papua New Guinea on Saturday.

The university Law students, academics, lawyers from both the public and private practice and judes of the Supreme and National Court attended to witness the launching of the new book.

“Today’s event marks my first book since leaving the bench in October 2018. The book was written during the tenth and final year of my term as Chief justice.

The book, when it was written between 2018 and 2019. It was intended to be a parting contribution to the Rule of Law and Order Summit held in Lae in August 2018”, Sir Salamo said.

He said the Book provides philosophical insights into the underlying reasons behind law-making and emerging issues and challenges facing the country in the way the law is made, understood and applied to serve its purpose.

Sir Salamo said the discussions on selected topics are far from being comprehensive and intended to provide a platform to stimulate discussions among readers about good living under the superintendence of the law.

“The Book is written in plain legal English for easy reading of Papua New Guineans of all walks of life who care about good living under the rule of Law.

The book, as much as it discusses underlying philosophical truths about various law topics, identifies socio-political, economic and legal issues or challenges facing the nation, and suggests ways to address those issues,” he said.

Sir Salamo said in the course of offering suggestions, practical tips are offered to overcome these challenges if one were to become successful in managing their professional pursuits in life, be it legal or otherwise.

“Many of these tips are sourced from real life experiences that I have faced my professional and to some extent personal life including those as a student at law, a lawyer and a judge,” the former Chief Justice added.

Read more on this link:

Recalling the day I met Daniel Kumbon, one of PNG’s prominent writers

Richard Napam

As he entered the Ribito Restaurant in Waigani, I could recognize him instantly. He had his bilum hat and his long beard which I saw on the cover of his books and in pictures.

Daniel Kumbon (right) with me, second from right, inside the Ribito Restaurant in Waigani, Port Moresby.

Daniel and his friend placed their lunch orders and chatted away two tables from me.

I purchased a copy each of all his books from the restaurant some time ago and the restaurant staff had informed me that Daniel regularly visited the restaurant. I enjoyed his books so much that I frequently visited the restaurant thereafter in the hopes that I would get a chance to meet the famous author.  

I finally caught him last Saturday as he entered the restaurant. I could hardly contain the excitement of meeting Daniel Kumbon, the famous Papua New Guinean author and journalist.

However, I did not have the courage to approach him for a chat. I waited for them to finish their meal. Even after the staff cleared their table, I didn’t know how to approach the man who wrote seven books.

Then I had an idea. I called the beautiful female staff over and asked for a help.

After she talked to Daniel, he turned to me and the prominent writer’s eyes met mine. I walked over to him and introduced myself briefly.

Before we realized, our conversation shot to the tops of Mt Giluwe. We talked like old friends. He was like a father to me.

We talked for a long time. Kumbon was generous enough to share not only his time but two of his best writing advice with me.

“Son write clearly and be brief,” he advised me.

I later confirmed this with an internet source. Great writers like Shakespeare wrote very simple sentences and wrote clearly and concisely.

“Write in the mornings,” he added. “Your mind is fresh in the mornings and undisturbed.”

When I said I was writing a novel, he was pleased.

“I’d like to read the first chapter of it,” he said.

But my greatest surprise came when he said he was giving me a copy of his latest book.

“I have been keeping the book for a friend but I will give it to you now,” he said.

He immediately left the restaurant to get the book for me.

When he was gone, I was thinking, ‘How could this senior writer do such a huge favor to me, a stranger?’

Daniel, that was a beautiful thing you have done to me. I won’t forget that moment.

He returned later with the book titled, “Legend Of The Miok Egg’. He signed his autograph on the back of the front cover and added a short phrase below his signature: ‘Memories are forever’.

What a beautiful phrase, Daniel? I am still thinking of that phrase. A whole story could be written about it.

Kumbon encouraged me to keep on writing. He said, “Write for those who are not able to write for themselves. Be their voice. Leave something behind for the next generation.”

Before we left, I asked if I could take a selfie with him. I checked my smartphone and was disappointed to learn the battery was off. Daniel took out a small canon camera from his basket and clicked several selfies.

In the afternoon he emailed me the photos.

“The photo quality is not good,” he said in the email, “but don’t worry. It’s still us.”

I emailed him the first chapter of my novel the next day. He read it and came back with a very constructive feedback. His suggestions to improve the manuscript were invaluable.

Daniel is an amazing writer. If you would like to buy a Daniel Kumbon book, you can check the Ribito Restaurant at Waigani Central, Port Moresby. Several copies of Daniel’s books are available there.

Daniel, thank you for the chat. You made my day. I went away with beautiful memories.

‘Memories are forever’.

About the author: I graduated from the University Of Papua New Guinea with a Bachelor of Economics in 2016. Currently, I am working as an economist with the Bank of Papua New Guinea. I am revising my first novel. I am also working on another two novels at the moment. I aim to publish my debut novel early next year.

Richards very encouraging email to Ples Singsing

Dear Mastermind Team,

Thank you for creating this wonderful platform for Papua New Guinean writers. This is a great initiative! PNG writers now have Ples Singsing to share our stories and thoughts with readers. 

I am very happy that you will publish my story. Thank you very much.

Thank you also for wishing me well in my writing career. Truly appreciated. 

I have started writing three years ago. As you have said, I realize writing demands a lot of hard work, sacrifice and mental and imaginative labor. I realized that writing is hard but the only way to get out of that difficulty is to write my way out. 

It is just intimidating to have the blank page staring at you when you start out to write. Many people have great ideas in their heads but only a few (those who have the courage to beat the blank page) have their stories written down in a book. This is pure creativity.

I believe we can write and move nations. PNG has beautiful stories to tell the world. Our stories can float across oceans and inspire millions across the globe.

I am working on the sixth draft of my first novel. I see the challenges of writing, revising, writing and rewriting are there, but I don't have a choice. I have decided to write so I am taking up the pen, again, every time I am challenged to put it down. We, as writers are in the same boat. But if we do not write, then who is going to write? 

Thanks a lot,
Richard Napam

‘Our designs are stolen’: the fight to keep sacred tapa in the hands of PNG’s Oro people

Dorah Misirit, from Tufi, in Oro province, Papua New Guinea, shows the tapa face tattoos she got when she was nine years old. Photograph: Godfree Kaptigau

By Leanne Jorari in Oro ProvinceThe Guardian

Tapa, a tattooed fabric, has been worn in Papua New Guinea for centuries but there are concerns it has been commercialised.

When Papua New Guinean fashion designer Yaku Ninich wanted to use tapa designs inspired by those of her grandmother, in her work, she first had to ask her mother for permission.

Ninich, who is based in the US, but has roots in both Oro and Morobe provinces says that not everyone respects the connection between these ancient designs and the Oro people.

“Tapa designs in the last three years have been commercialised uncontrollably,” said Ninich. “I feel like it should be appreciated and used ethically hence I only make small batches in each of my designs so it’s desirable by many.”

Tapa, a traditional tattooed fabric, is one of PNG’s most distinctive artefacts and is particularly important to Oro people with each local tribe having its own unique designs.

The cloth has been worn by men and women for centuries, used as traditional attire for dancing, for rituals, as valuable gifts for exchange in ceremonies and for everyday use, wrapped around themselves like skirts.

But Indigenous people are concerned that the fabrics have been increasingly appropriated by non-Oro designers.

Examples of tapa, a traditional tattooed fabric, made by people in the south-east province of Oro in Papua New Guinea. Photograph: Godfree Kaptigau

“Our tapa and tattoo designs are now used everywhere,” said Frank Ginari, a chief from the village of Jebo in Tufi.

“People use money to come and buy here and go to other provinces or sell it to the world when tourists come. This should be restricted to the Northern Province. Just like Sepiks have their crocodile tattoos and the Eastern Highlands have their mud-men and these are restricted to these places. We from Oro cannot participate in those and so our tapa and tattoo should be the same. It should be illegal to take from us and use for financial gain.”

To make the cloth, the bark of the mulberry tree is extracted, beaten and soaked until soft and malleable. The beaten tapa is then dried and smoothed out. At this stage the material almost resembles parchment paper and this is when the tattooing process begins.

A paint-like substance is taken from the bark of a particular tree and is beaten until it is broken down to a chalk-like consistency. The colour depends on the age of the tree but typically varies from crimson red to earthy brown.

The bark of the mulberry tree is extracted, beaten and soaked to make the cloth on which the tapa designs are tattooed. Photograph: Godfree Kaptigau

Each design represents the rich history of each tribe; each symbol and curve is significant and allows the history to be preserved for generations to come.

Over the years however, the designs have taken on newer variations to adapt to the modern world. “Traditionally, the corners of tapa designs are usually slanted or curved and or have round edges. Newer variations have sharper edges. These are popular with our customers so we make what they like,” says one stall owner at the craft market in Popondetta, the capital of Oro.

The popularity of the tapa and tattoo designs have led to all kinds of adaptations, printed on to modern shirts, bags and dresses; with the arrival of the pandemic they can even be found on face masks.

While there is no law that protects the traditional designs, it has long been a cause for concern for Oro’s governor, Gary Juffa.

“It is a question that many cultures and identities face. It is the cost of doing business. What we as a province need to do and what I am exploring, is how do we patent our unique Oro tapa and designs, so that it is specific to our province and those who wish to use that image or that design must fulfil a certain criteria.

Jewellery featuring a tapa design for sale at the craft market in Popondetta town.
Jewellery featuring a tapa design for sale at the craft market in Popondetta town. Photograph: Godfree Kaptigau

“Even when you go back to the province, tribes and clans have their own specific designs which is never shared and if someone were to use another clan’s design without their permission, that is a big offence.”

Appreciating or being inspired by tapa cloth and designs is welcome and often encouraged, but it becomes an issue when the designs are taken and used by a person not originally from the tribe or clan for commercial purposes.

This is when appreciation turns into appropriation.

“The more our tapa and the designs are borrowed or stolen, the more its value is lost. Everyone will have it and it won’t be sacred or special to us,” Ginari said.

He fears that the tapa could go the same way as the facial tattoos that are traditionally given to women when they reach marriageable age but which are now rare. “It is a rite of passage. The tattoo is taken from her clan or tribe’s distinctive design. So what you will see on their tapa, is what she will have on her face. Once she does the tattoo, when she comes out, she is ready to leave the home and go to her husband’s home, or she simply just has that freedom to get married,” Ginari said.

Dorah Misirit was initiated and had her face tattooed when she was just nine.

“I can remember the pain very well. When my mother used the siporo thorn [from a lemon tree] to tattoo my face.”

But though it had profound significance at the time, as she has moved away from Oro, she has found herself neglecting the tattoo and it has begun to fade.

“Our tradition is to apply coconut oil every day to keep the design clear so it doesn’t fade, but I moved to the town and I have done away with that so it is gradually fading,” she said.

Read more on this link:

BSP and Broncos launch 2022 Financial Literacy Program in NCD schools

By Bank of South Pacific

“Saving a little bit of money can go a long way if you want to buy things in the future such as stationary, books, even a computer,” said Brisbane Broncos Ambassador and retired player Darius Boyd when launching the BSP Financial Literacy School Program today (Tuesday 3rd May, 2022).

Popular Australian NRL Club, the Brisbane Broncos as a ‘Community Partner’ of BSP was part of the launch of the 2022 BSP Financial Literacy Program at the Kopkop College in Port Moresby.

Boyd who joined the launch via Zoom from Brisbane, Australia, encouraged the grade four (4) and ten (10) students to save and said: “set a goal for yourselves and start saving today.”

“The Brisbane Broncos would like to thank you for your participation  and hope you will enjoy the BSP Financial Literacy program in Term two (2) and three (3)”.

LEFT: Kopkop College Principal Mrs Roddy Abady speaking at the launch of BSP Financial Literacy Program. RIGHT: 4. Grade 4 students of Kopkop College wave to Brisbane Broncos Ambassador Darius Boyd who joined the 2022 BSP Financial Literacy Program launch via Zoom.

The banking education program will see students in selected schools in NCD take part in BSP’s 2022 Financial Literacy Program, that is aimed at helping school children understand the life skill of saving money, basic understanding of simple budgeting and practice making decision on the use of their money.

BSP Banking Education Officer Naomi Sion emphasised the need for financial literacy to be taught in schools, as it not only equips children with banking knowledge but also teaches them to develop a saving culture from a young age.

“We are pleased to partner once again with the Brisbane Broncos this year to assist 2,000 children develop wise spending habits to achieve saving goals. So far we have 9 schools in NCD confirmed to be part of this program, and we would like to thank them for the commitment to the school children,” said Mrs Sion.

Kopkop College Principal Roddy Abady thanked BSP for giving the Grade 4 and 10 students a beginning of what is a formal understanding of what a saving culture is all about, especially from a very tender age.

“We trust that with the support of our committed parents, these students will see the value of saving and what it means to use a commercial bank as a port for fostering a saving culture.”

Parents of Grade 4 students assist their children open their BSP Sumatin Accounts at Kopkop College today.

BSP Head of Marketing & PR Gorethy Semi, said BSP collaborates with such reputable club as the Brisbane Broncos “as we share similar core values and community commitments. The Broncos as ‘Community Partner’ of the bank will work with BSP in schools through financial literacy programs, and also through business and leadership programs.”

BSP also donated sports balls to the Kopkop College in appreciation for their support towards this program and launch.

BSP Corporate Sponsorship Manager Amelia Minnopu present sporting equipment (balls) to Kopkop College Principal Roddy Abady and her students today.

Read more on this link:

Ples Singsing mourns the death of Hon. Sam Basil May he rest in eternal peace

Hon. Sam Basil, November 16, 1969 – May 11, 2022 (Photo by Johnny Blades of RNZ Pacific, Wellington February 2020)

Our sincere condolences to his immediate family and friends, and to the people of his electorate in Bulolo Open, and colleagues in the United Labour Party.

Mipela itok sori tru long famili na poro, na long ol pipol bilong elektoret long Bulolo Open, na tu long ol wanwok bilong em long United Labour Pati.

Ex-kiap author shortlisted for UK award

nthony (Tony) English – ex-kiap is “erudite in his exploration of unusually difficult issues and ideas”

By KEITH JACKSON – posted on PNG Attitude blog

Death of a Coast Watcher by Anthony English, Monsoon Books, Burrough on the Hill Leics UK, 2020, 479 pages. Kindle $9.56, paperback $22.75 from Amazon Books

NOOSA – A psychological thriller with a strong connection to wartime events in Papua New Guinea has been shortlisted by the London-based Society of Authors for an award for a first novel by a writer aged over 60.

Death of a Coast Watcher, by Australian author Anthony English, reviewed early last year in PNG Attitude, has made it to the top niche of entries for this year’s Paul Torday Memorial Prize which will be announced on 1 June.

The prize is named for British writer Paul Torday, who published his first novel, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, at the age of 60.

The judging panel praised the broad selection of works this year, with Donald Murray commenting that “judging was like embarking on an exploration of the world, both in its past and present shapes and forms.

“I felt both enriched and honoured by many of my encounters during the experience.”

Philip Tatham, the publisher of Monsoon Books, expressed pride that one of the firm’s authors was shortlisted for the award.

“We publish books by authors in their twenties to their nineties – our oldest author is about to release his seventh novel for us aged 96,” Tatham said.

“Anthony English’s psychological thriller is set in parts of the world that very few people will have the chance to visit.

“We were immediately drawn to its unusual setting as well as to its finely crafted prose and thought-provoking story about the horrors of war and the abuses and atrocities committed in war.”

Author Robert Forster, who reviewed Death of a Coast Watcher for PNG Attitude, called the book, “erudite in its exploration of unusually difficult issues and ideas.

“He is merciless in the dissection of his characters, and often employs the hatchet precision of a butcher’s block when doing so,” Forster observed of his erstwhile fellow kiap English, who went on similar work on what are now Kiribati and Tuvalu and then development projects in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Along with other pre-independence kiaps, English was awarded the Police Overseas Service Medal by the Australian government in 2013.

“His greatest achievement in the book,” writes Forster,” is to have sat convincingly inside the heads of his principal characters, including the Tolai women, and relayed their most sensitive innermost feeling and thoughts.”

The novel starts in 1943 Bougainville and takes the reader between World War II and 1970s Bougainville and 1970s Kiribati before moving to 1980s Kyoto in Japan.

The book “plays with the misunderstandings that form part of all human relationships,” writes author Nigel Barley. “It lays them bare as key to the human condition itself.’

The theme of war was picked up by Susan Blumberg-Kason in a review for Asian Review of Books: “English tackles tough questions about war [and] the question of whether those who survived will ever cease to be haunted, is left open.”

Australian academic Dr Jenny Murray-Jones commented that “I found myself totally immersed in this account of the horrors of war, where innocent indigenous women are caught up in its atrocities, demonstrating their strength and resilience.

“Memories of past events plague the minds of those who have a connection to it, to the point of obsession, as if they are possessed by the ghosts of these characters.

“An amazing read which delivers a complex tale of the injustices of war and a fight for survival, very close to home.”

Award winners will be announced on Wednesday 1 June at a ceremony in Southwark Cathedral, London, which will be live streamed.