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The Journey to Paradise Photos of great cultural and natural beauties of Papua New Guinea

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Old 14-11-2002, 08:00 PM
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Papua New-Guinea : Australia's closest friend and Neighbour

Unrest caused by Indonesia's take-over of Irian Jaya in 1963 continues to have repercussions in Papua New Guinea with many thousands of refugees from the former Dutch colony living since 1984 on PNG's border with Indonesia.

The murder of two Americans and an Indonesian last August near the Freeport copper and gold mine, and the wounding of nine foreign nationals and three Indonesians, have been blamed on Papuan separatists. Yet separatists in this predominantly Christian country of 2 million people seldom resort to violence, and have never targeted foreigners. Nor would they have access to the M-16 A1 automatic and SP-1 semi-automatic rifles used in the ambush - standard issue for Indonesian soldiers and police. Attempts to divert suspicion from Indonesian militia or the military have been greeted with scepticism.

All the more so, in the wake of reports emerging from Indonesia's West Papuan province since April this year of the growing presence of Laskar Jihad mujahidun in Irian Jaya. Sightings of Pakistanis and Afghanis in Sorong have added fuel to the fears that Indonesian and foreign terrorists could be setting up bases in West Papua, and crossing the border into PNG.

Papua New Guinea has a population of 5 million of whom around 70% are Christian and the remainder belong to indigenous religions. Catholics [1.5 million] are the largest single group. Like its western neighbour separated from it by an imaginary line drawn by the Dutch East Indies Company in 1824, PNG is a beautiful, varied and complex country. Despite myriad problems not unlike our own, its people retain a sense of optimism and a joie de vivre that the plunging kina, rising prices and the threat posed by their own ever-present 'rascals,' and instability and violence in Western Papua can't dampen.

Recently I spent 10 days in Milne Bay, about 370 km from Port Moresby on the easternmost tip of PNG. Last week saw the unveiling of a monument at Alotau the capital of Milne Bay Province, commemorating the victory of mainly Australian soldiers over a Japanese invasion force that landed on August 25-26, 1942. One-hundred and sixty-one Australians died or were listed as missing in bloody battles that lasted 10 days, and ended with the evacuation of the surviving Japanese forces. The first land victory of the Pacific war had been won by Allied forces, mainly Australians.

Australians are remembered kindly in PNG. Not only because of their bravery, and the fact that so many of them died there during the war, but because, all things considered, and despite much politically correct writing to the contrary, they were benevolent and far-seeing in their exercise of power from 1920 to 1975. Understaffed they certainly were, and funds were scarce - especially during and after the Great Depression - yet still they managed to win the respect of most of the people, and to set up infra-structures and institutions that have lasted the distance. After Independence was granted in 1975 Australia has continued to pour hundreds of millions of dollars annually into development projects, with $351.4 million being allocated this year.

The first time I went to Milne Bay was in 1968. Anyone who doubts that PNG is coming of age, albeit slowly, should compare as I did, conditions then and now. Virtually non-existent facilities at the Gurney airstrip have given way to a fine terminal and a well-maintained runway. Former pot-holed roads through copra or palm-oil plantations have been replaced by tarred roads - some of them built with AusAid. The same goes for Port Moresby. Despite rampant corruption in high places, there are new domestic and international terminals, and education and health are steadily making modest gains.

Like all newly developed countries, and some developed ones, PNG has a problem with tribalism which weakens efforts to introduce democratic government and accounts for much of the endemic corruption. Status is still determined by one's ability to hand out largess, and no one seems to care too much where the largess [usually money] comes from. This misappropriation of funds, has contributed to the poverty of an estimated 1 million people, or one-fifth of the total population of PNG.

At election time clans will too often choose one of their own in preference to someone better able to serve the country. The larger urban areas like Moresby and Lae soak up most of the overseas aid and the wealth generated by PNG's abundant if contracting market in gold, copper, oil, coffee, tea, copra, fish, timber and gas, in order to maintain the larger populations. There is too little left for the majority of the population who are mainly subsistence farmers in the bush. This in turn causes resentment and mistrust.

PNG-watchers are agreed that if the country is to develop it will only be in the long-term and with leadership that has the political will to implement urgently needed social, financial, and political reforms.

The following article was written and given to us for publishing on our website by Paul Stenhouse who is a Catholic priest journalist who writes extensively on Middle Eastern politics.
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Old 07-02-2015, 06:08 PM
huezang huezang is offline
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Thanks for sharing
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Old 26-10-2016, 10:36 PM
djoe0635 djoe0635 is offline
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We can get to have ideas which are always working being a traveler and especially with the range that we get into.
For me following it to another level which is more helpful would be amazing for it
People who mostly prefer 2 days tour from new york should take a look and see how amazing it is!
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