The Lombrum Upgrade – What Manusians Need to Know

There has been a lot of talks recently about the possibility of upgrading the Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island by the Australians and United States (US) or possibly building an army base. However, the Manus Provincial Government (MPG) and the Governor, Charlie Benjamin, have put a blunt ‘No’ to the project – until the details are made clear.

Many Manusians, and Papua New Guineans (PNG), will not understand this decision and are even questioning if the Governor wants to change the island province.

As a Manusian myself, I can see the need to for a boost into the province’s economy. However, as a student of history I am fully aware of how this island is strategically located and the implication it would have if an army base is built there.

Firstly, people need to understand that building an army base outside of their country (Australia and the US) is a strategic maneuver to create a barrier for their countries. I think the best example would be Hawaii.

When the Japanese entered into the war, their first place of attack was the US military base on Hawaii. The powers in Washington decided to put a base their know the implications if Japan was to join the war.

From a military perspective, it was the ideal location – on the perimeters of the United States borders – and as far as possible from the capital. Unfortunately, it was not a very good position for the natives.

Now, they are taking this a step further by establishing bases overseas and as far away from their country as possible. Their bases in Okinawa is an example.

They are now talking about doing the same on Manus island. What happens in the event that the United States or Australia is attacked? Yes, Manus automatically becomes a target.

The implications go even further if you consider what kind of base they are proposing. If it is a nuclear base then the tiny island province faces the threat of a nuclear attack. Also, the US and Australia have to have a clear plan if such a scenario arises.

An attack on the province could mean displacement of thousands of people and environmental damage. What kind of evacuation plans are in place? How fast will relief arrive and how will they provide protection from any such attacks?

But they are our allies…

It’s true that the US and Australia are our allies and ‘big brothers’ but we cannot blindly say yes to what they ask without considering the risks it involves. Consider this:

Would the US or Australia allow our military to establish a base of operations on their soil?

I am sure the answer would be a resounding NO. Mainly, because it is an insult to their sovereignty and most importantly it makes them a target for our enemies (whoever that may be).

Okay, I am going to cut the ranting short but I hope I have shed some light on what it would mean to host an army base on Manus island.

Now, just some food for thought before I end this post. During World War II (WW2), Manus hosted the largest airfield in the Southern Hemisphere. Of course back then we were governed by Australia and did not have much of a choice in the matter.

And for some light reading

Please feel free to discuss and drop comments regarding this issue.

Where Was I During the Sandline Crisis?

On March 19, 1997, the Papua New Guinea Defense Force (PNGDF) led by Major General Jerry Singirok (ret.) executed ‘Operesen Rausim Kwik‘ to expel Sandline mercenaries from the country.

Sandline was brought in by then Prime Minister, Sir Julius Chan, and would be used in the civil war on Bougainville.

The operation sent a sense of fear and panic throughout the country – and it would have been especially frightening for people living in Port Moresby at the time.

At the time I was a Grade 7 student at Bundrahei High School (now Lokobou Adventist) and almost oblivious to the happens outside of my locality. However, when the news did reach us – through radio – it sent a sense of fear over me.

Although the civil war on Bougainville had raged on for years, it was contained, isolated to a certain part of the country. However, a military action in the nation’s capital could ripple down.

When news of the military action happened, I assumed a coop with a dictatorial leadership to follow. Fortunately, that never happened and it turned out that Singirok’s intentions were to save countless lives which would have been lost had Sandline participated in the Bougainville war.

Today, I have a much better appreciation of the military action taken and the implications it has on the country.

Also with the retired former Maj. General to release his book sometime this year I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the event.

Anyway, I am going to pen off but if you can recall where you were during this particular event or have an interesting story to share about it then please share with us in the comments below.

Congratulations Maggie!

The Minister for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology launched the 2018 online selection a few hours ago and we already know that my cousin Maggie has been slotted into Political Science at the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG).

Maggie in Manus bilas back in 2010.

I couldn’t be happier and prouder. 

Congratulations Maggie! 

Why I Don’t Like Christmas

I don’t like Christmas, not because it is a tradition that simply has not correspondence with the birth of Jesus, but because it has been taken of over by corporations and has become a selling point – instead of a giving point. 

Corporations encourage celebration of this day because it is the time of year that most of their sale are done. They sell Christmas lights, gifts, wrappings, cards and the list goes on – and we buy without giving any though about it. 

I mean, have you ever considered why we need lights when Jesus was born in a manger with a lamp for light (probably)? Or why you had to buy gifts? 

The Nativity Story makes no mention of the 3 wise men buying the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for Jesus. They gave their own and according to legend – they were rich. 

As legend goes, there was Casper, Melchior and Balthazar. 

Casper was supposedly the King of Sheba and presented Jesus with frankincense which symbolized worship.  Then there was Melchior. 

Melchior is said to be the King of Arabia and presented Jesus with gold. This was symbolic for his kingship. 

Balthazar was supposedly the King of Tarse and Egypt. He presented Jesus with  myrrh. This was perfume used to dress the dead which symbolized Jesus’ death. 

These 3 rich men never once asked Jesus to buy the gifts. In fact, they gave willingly in celebration of his birth. This is a stark contrast to how society perceives celebrating the birth of Jesus. 

Now, the whole point is that today’s Christmas atmosphere has been designed to encourage us to buy, buy and buy. The sacredness (if any) of the day has been manipulated to make use believe that we have to buy to celebrate. It is not. 

This message is subconsciously forced on when we are just kids. Why do you think they designed Santa Clause (St Nicholas) to be a jolly fat man who gives out toys? 

Anyway, enough rambling for today and have a merry Christmas! 

Excuse me, you are at the wrong door

So one of my friends shared about her trying to open the door to a hotel room that was not hers. I guess we have all been through a similar experience and I thought I would share one I had in Kokopo a few years ago. 

There was some confusion at the place where I was staying and I was given a key to a room that someone was still inside.

I was tired after the flight from Port Moresby and wanted a nice shower and some rest so I rushed into the room only to find a man sleeping on the bed.

Thankfully, he had a towel on and sound asleep that he did not even notice that I was in the room. 

I quietly slipped back out and went straight to the reception. The reception was so confused she sent one of her male counterparts to check it out. 

So according to their records, the guest was supposed to have checked out and the bungalow should have been vacant. However, the guy’s flight was cancelled so he came back and arranged with to have his room for another day. 

Unfortunately, the officer (who by now was off duty) had not advice the next duty officer. To cut is short, it was embarrassing for them. 

They made it up by giving me an executive bungalow with LCD TV. 

It was a funny and potentially embarrassing situation – but it also a tale of caution.    

Why parent – child communication is essential

A couple of days go I saw a post on Facebook’s NCD Alert about a young girl gone missing. Fortunately, it turned out that she went for sleepover at her friend’s without notifying her mother – and she is back home safe and sound. 

The mother had actually taken to social media when her daughter did not come home. Its must have been scary for her considering the stories you hear about young girls being abused and worse. 

Her story reminded of when I was a student doing my practicum teaching at Koki Primary School. That was back in 2006 and mobile phones were not that common and affordable. 

There was a young girl – a student – who was the only one in the school with a mobile phone. She would hand it in to her room teacher when she came in and the get it back after classes. 

This was so she could communicate with her parents and vice versa. 

When I started my practicum, my supervisor Mrs Kilori briefed me about her and the staff kept a special eye on her just in case someone decided to steal it. 

I never heard of her phone being stolen but it is something that most parents should consider, or at least something to keep a constant line of communication between parent and child.   

The channel of communication between a parent and child can be a major factor in their development and choices in life.

I did a qualitative research for my Bachelors’ Degree on the peer pressure in secondary school students and found that communication between parents and students played an important role on their self-esteem which had an affect on how easily they could be swayed by peer pressure.   

Anyway, this is my rant for today and adios. 

The People are Frustrated

Yesterday, members of the Joint Security Task Force (JSTF) mainly comprising of Correctional and Police personnel stormed the parliament house in Waigani and caused damaged to the building. 

Damage caused by disgruntled members of the JSTF. Image via Post Courier.

Their actions were supposedly out of frustration for not being paid their allowances for the APEC Summit. They were even backed by their association leaders who went on air saying that they deserved to be treated on par with their international counterparts. 

They have the right to air their frustrations but they went beyond by destroying state property and attacking the symbol of the nation – the iconic parliament house. They also failed to realize that their actions also triggered opportunists to loot shops around the city.  

I could hear gunshots from my rental unit at Helai Avenue, Tokarara, coming from the market area and found out later on social media that opportunists had broken into Bismillah Trading storage area and looted their supply containers. 

Looting at Tokarara. Some of the looters are students. Image via Loop PNG.

The same thing happened all throughout the city where Asian operated stores were located. Gordon, Erima, Boroko and Gerehu had people trying to do the same. Thankfully, police were on hand to prevent more damage. However, it is clearly and indicator of the huge disparity between the haves and the have not. 

The frustration shown by the security personnel is also something shared by the general public. 

People are frustrated about the seemingly lack of concern that politicians are showing for the nation. The shortage in foreign exchange has pushed prices of imported good up, the influx of foreign workers coming in to do menial work and the lack of basic medical drugs in health centers is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Then you have a small group of people encouraging violence as a means to push their political agendas. Yesterday was a clear example with someone using a fake profile calling for the Maseratis to be destroyed by the grieving parties.

The public’s heightened frustration is also being fueled by social media – the electronic gospel of this generation – and a lot of educated people know this and are using it to control the population. 

Now, the main reason why public is easily swayed by social media is because of the lack of transparency the government has shown and the abuse and manipulation of the system by politicians. 

A number of serious allegations against politicians have gone unanswered. These include million kina deals that make no sense like the Manumanu acquisition for a naval base. That one has key ministers in the current government implicated. 

Unfortunately, there are more uncleared allegations against other politicians that goes back years. 

I am going to stop here but you can obviously see that there is a lot that the people are frustrated about and the government has to do something to restore public confidence. If they continue to brush aside these allegations then there could be something more violent than looting next time.