Friday, May 29, 2009

Overseas Chinese: PNG and Pacific - Part 1

PAPUA New Guinean’s call them “Kong Kong’s”. Unfortunately, they do not understand that these “Kong Kong” brothers and sisters are not only from China but other Asian countries.

They came in different waves before 1975 for various reasons. But recently, there has been anti-Chinese momentum in PNG.

This commentary would like to provide basic facts about the Chinese or Asian’s in PNG in a series.

This will drive some sense and understanding into the minds of Papua New Guineans.

Tetsu Ichikawa, a research fellow at Tokyo University partly contributes. He studies the Chinese migrants in Papua New Guinea, especially those who have arrived since 1975.

The series of articles will give some insight as to how the Chinese came to PNG and Solomon Islands, when did they arrive, what have they done so far, where are they now and what are they doing today.

Most importantly is the new group of Chinese entering PNG and Pacific.

Many publications have discussed appropriate terms for addressing Chinese overseas. These include hua-qiao (overseas Chinese), huaren (ethnic Chinese), huayi (Chinese descendants), huashang (Chinese merchants), huagong (coolies), huazu (Chinese people), huamin (Chinese folks) and so on.

In particular, huaqiao and huaren are often used to describe the degree of localization of Chinese people outside China.

Huaqiao literally means Chinese (hua) sojourners (qiao). Usually this term is used to denote Chinese who hold Chinese citizenship while living abroad.

On the other hand, huaren means Chinese (hua) people (ren), and indicates Chinese who have acquired local citizenship and do not intend to return to China.

Many Chinese people, especially those in Southeast Asia, tend to avoid calling themselves huaqiao. Because the word qiao connotes temporary residence, calling themselves huaqiao would arouse the suspicion by others that they do not consider the host country as their own, and as such are still attached to China.

Therefore, most of the locally born generations who do not intend to return to China prefer to call themselves huaren because huaren is more neutral in the political sense than huaqiao.

This preference reflects a change in the status of the ethnic Chinese from sojourners to settlers.

Scholar Wang Ling-chi (1998) proposes two Chinese phrases to describe the changing nature of Chinese migrants from sojourners to settlers: from “luoye guigen” to “luodi shenggen”.

Literally “luoye guigen” means “falling leaves returning to their roots” and refers to Chinese immigrants abroad returning to China after making enough money.

On the other hand, “loudi shenggen” means putting down roots in the soil of countries other than China, or Chinese immigrants and their descendants looking upon their host country as a place of permanent residence, without thinking of repatriating to China.

This framework is based on a presupposition that the Chinese people outside China will localize gradually.

Used in a neutral sense, it can avoid the premise that Chinese society outside China is the same as the one in mainland China.

Rather, it suggests that ethnic Chinese societies can be understood in the context of the host countries.

Therefore, this framework is adopted by many scholars to avoid seeing ethnic Chinese societies abroad as extensions of mainland China, and instead to recognize the diversity within ethnic Chinese in the world.

However, there are other patterns of Chinese migration and settlement besides the “from sojourners to settlers” one. Some Chinese migrants are born outside China and migrate to other countries.

These Chinese do not follow the “from sojourners to settlers” pattern because their transnational activities and social spaces are not confined to their places of birth.

There is another type of Chinese who are born in mainland China, leave for a foreign country, and re-migrate to other countries. Such successive and frequent mobility illustrates some contemporary features of the international movement of the Chinese.

It has been noticed that Chinese society outside China becomes localized gradually, at the same time that the Chinese are migrating internationally.

Wang Gungwu has examined Chinese international migration from the 18th to 20th centuries and suggests four migration patterns.

First, there is the huashang (traders) pattern, referring to merchants and artisans. This was the dominant pattern from early times in various parts of Southeast Asia.

It was first established within China, extended abroad, and became dominant from the 18th century to the 1850s.

The second is the huagong (coolies) pattern which was not significant until the 1850s. The migrants of this pattern consisted of normally men of peasant origin, landless laborers, and the urban poor.

This pattern of migration gained tremendous impetus from the gold rush in North America and Australia; it was also significant, without the gold rush, in Southeast Asia.

The third one is the huaqiao (sojourners) pattern which included not only huashang and huagong but also teachers, journalists and other professionals who went abroad.

This pattern developed at the end of the 19th century and was dominant up to the 1950s.

It is not marked by the occupational character of the migrants but is indicative of the political, legal and ideological level of nationalist development in mainland China.

The fourth one is the huayi (descendants of re-migration) pattern. This is a relatively new phenomenon and includes foreign nationals of Chinese descent.

Those who are categorized in this pattern are born and naturalized in foreign countries. Often they re-migrate to another foreign country.

There are several reasons for the migration of ethnic Chinese. Chinese immigrants who have become localized in host societies and re-migrated after generations do so for different reasons arising from different situations in different host societies.

Sojourning is qiaoju in Chinese and the term usually means temporary residence in a foreign country, usually referring to longer visits and extended periods of stay which sometime lead to the decision not to return home, but to be naturalized in the country of residence.

In this situation Chinese migrants do not necessarily make a conscious decision on whether to settle down in the host country or return to their homeland.

Sojourning is a prelude to eventual migration. Investigating the concept of sojourning provides us with a useful premise in studying the history of Chinese migration in Southeast Asia before the 1940s and global migration today, because it is important to look into an ambiguous status of Chinese migrants, instead of assuming that they are either moving or settling.

Researching on the Chinese immigration in and emigration from PNG will enable us to understand the nature of Chinese migration and settlement.

Some scholars researching on ethnic Chinese society in PNG have pointed out its sojourning and diasporic character.

David Wu who has studied the PNG Chinese community before independence reports that the Chinese in PNG had not assimilated into native New Guinean society but maintained their Chinese identity despite having resided there for generations.

He observes that in spite of acculturation and intermarriage with the local people, the Chinese in PNG did not loose their ethnic identity.

He also notices their emigration to Australia: “In short, the Chinese of PNG have remained sojourners - or eternal diaspora - despite 100 years of presence”.

Although his main concern is with the Chinese old comers who have resided in New Guinea since the colonial period, his view throws light on the peculiarity of the Chinese new comers in contemporary PNG.

Christine Inglis who also researches on the PNG Chinese takes note of both the locally born Chinese and the new arrivals.

She advocates the need to re-examine the nature of Chinese identities, and suggests that the Chinese population of PNG is transforming from settlers to sojourners.

We first look at the early Chinese migrants to PNG. The early history of the Chinese migrants in the South Pacific is not well known.

Chinese pioneers in this part of the world could be engaged in the trading of sandalwood and collection of marine products; they were primarily traders.

But they tended not to settle in the South Pacific. The beginning of Chinese settlement in the South Pacific coincided with the Western colonization of the area when Chinese were engaged in various occupations such as plantation workers, traders and artisans.

The Chinese migrants in New Guinea also started in the colonial era.

Before the Europeans colonized New Guinea, Chinese traders might have visited New Guinea Island and hunted birds of paradise for their trade.

But these early Chinese arrivals did not stay for long and did not establish permanent settlement.

Like in the other countries in Oceania, Chinese settlement in New Guinea started during the colonial period.

After Germany colonized the northeastern part of New Guinea Island in 1884, it entrusted Neuguinea Kompagnie with the administration and economic development of the New Guinea area.

The company started plantations for tobacco and copra in mainland New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago by recruiting Chinese laborers.

Those Chinese who came during this period were indentured laborers mostly from Singapore and Sumatra . Working conditions on the plantations were harsh.

In 1895, 28 percent of those laborers died and were buried in Mainland New Guinea. After the indentured period, most of the laborers left New Guinea Island to return home.

Beginning in 1898 when the German colonial government took over the administration from Neuguinea Kompagnie, Chinese free immigration, instead of indentured labor, was promoted.

Chinese workers were engaged as carpenters, ship builders, engineers, tailors, shopkeepers and managers of plantations.

Some of them began to settle and establish communities in towns, such as Rabaul, Kokopo,
Kavieng, Lae and Madang.

Rabaul, which became the capital of German New Guinea in 1910, received an especially large number of Chinese settlers.

The number of Chinese in the New Guinea area in 1890 was estimated at around 200, and the Chinese population grew to 1,427 in 1913.

In Rabaul and Lae, where the residence of Chinese was restricted to certain areas, Chinese immigrants established Chinatowns.

During this period, Chinese immigrated not only from Singapore and Sumatra, but also from
Hong Kong and mainland China.

These Chinese came from particular areas in Guangdong province, such as Siyi and Huiyang . Siyi literally means four counties.

The Siyi area consists of the four counties of Kaiping , Taishan, Enping and Xinhui. These counties have sent Chinese emigrants to various foreign countries since the 19th century.

Besides these Cantonese, there are some Hakka people in the Chinese community of PNG, most of them mainly from the Huiyang area in Guangdong. They used to speak Cantonese or Hakka as their common languages.

This period of German New Guinea colonization was the time when the Chinese community changed its character from a society of temporary immigrants to one of permanent residents.

In 1914, when World War I began, Australia acquired the New Guinea region after a battle with Germany.

Beginning in 1920, New Guinea fell under the control of Australia as a Mandated Territory of the League of Nations.

Australia adopted the “White Australian Policy” and restricted Chinese immigration into
New Guinea.

New immigrants had to take a dictation test conducted in European languages which was actually impossible for Asians to pass.

Those Chinese who stayed in New Guinea, therefore, could not easily invite their relatives in China to join them freely.

All Chinese who had settled in New Guinea before 1922 were acknowledged as permanent alien residents, and those who came after that date were considered temporary residents and were allowed to stay only for certain periods.

Travel within the New Guinea area and abroad to the Papuan area was restricted. As a result, Chinese communities developed only in the New Guinea area, and not in the Papuan area.

Even though Chinese immigration was restricted in New Guinea under Australian control, the Chinese kept contact with relatives in their home villages in China.

Most of the early Chinese immigrants were unmarried men, and some of them married local women. The children of mixed blood Chinese were brought up in the Chinese community and educated as Chinese.

Later on the Chinese in New Guinea tried to bring their relatives from China who were allowed to enter New Guinea temporarily.

Before the Pacific War began, the Chinese population in New Guinea was over 2,000.

Business with the Australians in this area was mainly conducted by Chinese tailors and owners of a variety of trade stores.

Note: Part two of this series will continue next Sunday. E-mail on for queries. This column acknowledges Tetsu Ichikawa for his contribution.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Shift in Global Geopolitical Power and China's Role

By Albert Tobby in Beijing, China

IT seems that almost all of us share the same view about what is happening in Papua New Guinea, regarding the anti-Asian/Chinese campaign.

I even receive face book messages condoning the acts of the looters and adamantly accusing the Asians.

I think we PNG are missing something here. We probably are missing out some information here about how the global businesses are functioning and change in the geopolitical powers.

With the unfolding of the 2008 Financial Crisis, which is still going on throughout the world and analysist and practitioners still cannot predict how adverse it’s going to get and when it’s going to end.

Anyway the financial crisis marked the end of the Brettonwood system and the Washington Consensus which are the pillars of the Liberal Market economy.

Brettonwood institutions such as World Bank and IMF are taking major institutional amendments to their ways of doing business.

China is now given more voting right. In fact after the October G20 meeting in London, China contribution to IMF and World Bank has increased.

President Obama, Nicholas Sarkozy (French President), Dimitrive Medvedev and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown all agreed that China should be considered as a partner in global development and not a rival.

Chairman of Rio-Tinto when selling its shares to China, said, "The world is turning towards China and forming a strategic alliance with China is very important.

Nobel Laureate Economist Joseph Stiglitz and Jeffery Saccs analyzed that the Washington consensus has come to an end and the world today will see the Beijing Consensus dominating business rules and operation throughout the globe.

By the way, Washington consensus was a mean to exhibit USA’s hegemony but it has declined since the end of Cold War.

And USA was further defeated when Washington gave in to Cuba recently.
China is now regarded as a factory of the world. Simply, factory of world economy next door to PNG.

The impact of China’s manufacturing industries and business is felt everywhere in the world well beyond the confines of corporate boardrooms.

China’s rapid integrations into the global economy adding more than 1.3 billion consumers and labor force of 800 million to the worlds total can't help but change the global economic equilibrium broadly.

America and Europe are market hubs of Chinese products. More than 50% of Chinese manufactured consumer goods are bought by Europeans and Americans.

With the Chinese magic of cost-innovation, Chinese manufacturers are offering customers dramatically more for less.

Chinese companies are offering customers high technology goods at low cost, the Chinese companies are presenting the customers with unmatched choice of products in what used to be considered standardized, mass-market segments and thirdly Chinese companies are using low costs to offer specialty products at a dramatically lower prices.

These strategies are destabilizing the global business circles and the Chinese competitors are moving aggressively into the global market core pushing the traditional players mainly from the West to the market periphery.

While that said, some of our MP's are collaborating with the conspirators of this looting and protests to push out the Asians because of the current governments alliances with the Chinese government and business.

I get this one from the media report yesterday but cannot verify the facts. However the whole thing looks fishy to me though.

The truth is PNG need China to eradicate poverty and bring employment. PNG can be the manufacturing hub of the Pacific if we align ourselves properly with the growing Chinese market.

If we continue to mess around like this, we will see Fiji and Vanuatu flying over our heads in development status because they are aligning with China now.

They are already way ahead of us right now and given few more years, the gap will be much bigger than imagined.

I agree that at the micro level, there is much needed to be done. Things such as government bureaucracy and institutional profiteers, rent-seekers, irregular regulatory system and wantokism that cause continuous systematic institutional failure that made PNG lack of control over business practices and activities.

This situation has provided favorable environment for unscrupulous activities and it is not only the Chinese who are doing it.

We have the Indians (City Pharmacy) selling cheap anti-viral snake bite medicine, at a remarkably high price, which cannot be used to treat popular snake bites from snakes like Papuan black.

These drugs are brought in illegally. The Malaysians and Japanese engaged in massive logging without proper socio-demographic survey and even collaborating with state institutions like Police to form illegal security forces to intimidate and threaten the traditional land owners.

These have been going on for the last 30 years and no one talked about it. The Indonesians are walking across the border illegally with low quality products to be sold at the high prices to Papua New Guineans in Vanimo and Wewak.

The Filipinos are exploiting our marine resources with over fishing without any marine surveillance from any authority.

Walk to Vidar and you'll see hundreds of Tuna lying outside the fishing baskets which are not supposed to be part of the catch that will be canned.

Yet no one talks about it. Even the waste from the factory is dumped just near the villages next to the factory, which increases flies population and stinky stacks that is harmful for the villager’s health.

No one is talking about it, even though research by IMR proved it to be detrimental to the local community's health.

We haven't seen big Chinese investment of those magnitudes apart from small enterprises and supermarkets.

Ramu Nickel is the first, even though they haven't got into operation, they've already faced discriminations by Papua New Guineans.

Chinese are not alone in this. There is a gross institutional regulatory failure in PNG and us genuine Papua New Guineans need to step up.

I believe Papua New Guineans are not born discriminators, we single out the Chinese in the sins committed by all Asian community.

Is it because we have been doctrinated by the Western Medias and school of thoughts.
Westerners always have a suspicious view of the Chinese and feel threaten to the rise of Chinese.

Simply because it is the only existing biggest communist state after the cold war. Its advancement and rise means a failure to the Western Liberal Democratic underpinnings.

Can we at least take few minutes to think outside the box? According to whose standards are Chinese products considered low quality?

Unlike, China has met its MDG of alleviating 50% of its population out of poverty. China did it within 3 years after the MDG was established in 2000.

It is the only country in the whole world to meet its MDG requirement. They have a proven track record of alleviating poverty.

For the last 30 years we have aligned ourselves to the Western Economies but see what happen.

The current development indicators speak for itself. HDI is very low compared to small countries like Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Fiji, who do not have the resources like PNG do.

Even though PNG is so rich yet we are developing an increasingly poor society. The micro economic and political issues determine a nations participating at the macro level. It also reflects our alliances at the macro level.

I'll close with comparative analysis from an African Country. Angola which is affected by the continuous civil war and unrest that deteriorated the whole economy for more than 30 years have refused to seek aid from IMF and World Bank but instead turned to China for financial assistance and business cooperation.

Angola is now progressing steadily to meet its MDG development requirements.
Angola, like PNG is rich with natural resources, however, haven't developed with western dominance.

With the rise of China, she provides an alternative development path that is workable in least developed economies.

So China is in PNG to help. Let’s embrace her or regret eternally.

Note: This article is contributed by Albert Tobby, a PNG student in China. For inquiry, email: or phone: +86-13174486296 or visit and leave comments

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ramu NiCo Project is vital for PNG’s economy

By Mathew Yakai in China

Ramu NiCo Project is vital for PNG’s economy

THE multi billion dollars Ramu Nickel-Cobalt Project in Ramu, Papua New Guinea (PNG) is just as vital as the most publicized PNG liquefied natural gas (LNG) project and other mining investments.

But what transpired on Friday May 8 resulting in three Chinese nationals sustaining injuries and currently hospitalized due to critical condition attracts the attention of this commentary.

There are several reasons why this commentary is concerned.

First, the Project in Madang province, PNG aims to make its first sales next year as the construction phase is expected to be completed, according to the Ramu NiCo 2006 – 2008 Sustainability Report released recently.

The Report states that the project is expected to treat 3.2 million tones of ore per year and produce in metal equivalent terms 31, 000 tones of nickel and 3, 200 tones of cobalt annually.

Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd (RNML), the company managing the Project said, “Sustainability and business success are mutually reinforcing and we are committed to ensuring sustainability issues continue to be well managed during project construction and when the project becomes operational.”

Construction of infrastructure is expected to be completed this year, including equipment at the mine and refinery sites; the slurry pipeline; Madang support facilities; commissioning on all plants and equipment before the mine operation starts.

The Madang project is composed of three parts – the Kurumbukari mine site where the minerals are extracted, initially treated and transformed into slurry; the Basamuk processing plant where the minerals are processed and exported; and a 135km slurry pipeline that transports slurry from the mine to the processing plant.

What concerns this commentary is that the May 8 incident which was caused by few minorities that resulted in three Chinese nationals seriously injured, with other 30 Chinese national sustaining minor injuries, expensive damage done to properties, including accommodation blocks and plant equipment and at least 30 vehicles damaged can hinder the Project.

When the project is delayed, it then brings in the second concern – it could hamper the economic impact, an expected increase in 8 to 10 percent of PNG’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The Project is expected to create more than K10 million in spin-off business opportunities and nearly 1,300 jobs created for PNG citizens during this construction phase of the project.

The third concern is that the delay in the Project will stop the estimated amount of more than K8.3 million to be spent on improving services in the local area during the operation phase and further stop 1, 500 jobs that would be created for the nationals.

PNG must realize that US$1.37 billion had been invested into the project, deemed as the biggest for China in the South Pacific and the mine has a mine life of 20 years.

The National Government and Madang Provincial Government with the cooperation of the land owners must see this investment as an opportunity and help to ensure no further problems.

RNML took over this project from the previous developers, namely Highlands Pacific Limited (HPL) and since 2006, the project phase has progressed smoothly.

Despite the global financial crunch and last years testing time which caused the global mining companies around the world to shut down projects and deferred new operations, RNML is committed to PNG and Ramu Project.

President Madam Luo Shu gave this assurance in the first Sustainability Report.

This is a good sign from the investor and problems like the May 8 should be solved in an amicable manner and future problems be avoided.

RNML is also mindful towards the landowners and staff obligations as stated in its Report and aims at meeting its business targets alongside its sustainability goals.

In terms of environment, the company is committed to environmental sustainability at the project site, and also striving for a safe work environment for its staff, contractors and the community.

The Project is also committed to extensive engagement with the local community through understanding their needs that will help the company to ensure that they meet their needs and responsibly contribute to the sustainable growth of the local community.

The company is also committed to building a culture of mutual respect and trust with its employees, and creates a working environment that puts people first.

Above all, the company is committed towards transparency and believes in a regular report on the project to all stakeholders, including PNG citizens.

This commentary believes that what transpired on May 8 was an unfortunate situation.

News reports reveal that landowners regret on what had happened and assured RNML to continue with the project construction and eventual project operation.

Meanwhile, RNML promised to carry on with the project, but asks the National Government to fulfill its commitments as per the MoA towards the landowners.

The very minor outstanding issues should not affect the already multi million dollar investment on the ground now.

Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare recently toured the region and the world, including China, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, and the Philippines with an attempt to attract more investments.

On that same note, the National Executive Council (NEC) forever accuses the opposition by boasting of PNG’s current economic boom.

The NEC and the good Prime Minister must sit down and try to overcome the problem faced in this important Ramu Project if they want to boast more on PNG’s economic growth.

This is because, PNG’s economic boom is partly contributed by Ramu Project

We have learnt from the Bougainville Crises that eventually crippled PNG’s economy. Today, we read and hear lots of land owner issues pertaining from the existing mining investments.

The people of Ramu and particularly those who have willingly given their land for this project did it because the National Government has ignored them since independence to provide basic goods and services.

Today, just being through the construction phase, the landowner’s lives have improved. The National government should be proud of Ramu NiCo Project for what’s been done.

This commentary is not fully aware of the May 8 incident. But what is important here is that the same is not repeated when current problem is solved for once and all in a friendly and amicable manner.

As such, the following are suggested: First, PNG government authorities and Madang provincial government authorities must actively take part in solving this problem.

Full force of law can be used, but better still is the “Melanesian Way”. Our Chinese brothers do have the same culture of out of court settlement.

Second, Land owners must take ownership in solving this problem. The Ramu Nickel Project must be seen as one of their projects and they should be engaged and take pride.

Third, PNG authority and Ramu NiCo Project Community Relations must carry out regular awareness on the pros and cons of the project so that people are aware of the necessity of Ramu Project.

Fourth, PNG government must meet its obligation towards the project. I am not sure what has been stated in the MoA’s but if the PNG government has any obligation then it must consider the dateline. The failure can frustrate the landowners.

There are more suggestions but given the sensitivity of this problem, I will reserve until such time.

But let me say this. I have lived in China for almost two years now. And during these times, I live, eat, play, chat and do any thing with the Chinese people.

The Chinese are so proud of their nationality. They are so proud of Great China. They can do anything to help develop their country.

My home stay with most Chinese families reminds me of my parents. They treat me as their children. They provide me the best bed, and prepare me the best meals.

When I have difficulty during my shopping or travel, the next person is willing to help with the little English he/she knows.

The daily papers and TV stations in China today report that established Chinese people abroad like in United States, Britain, Australia, and France are returning to help develop their mother land.

Even the Chinese Government is providing better job opportunities with good salary to attract overseas Chinese researchers, scientists and entrepreneurs.

During the 30’s. 40’s and up to 60’s Chinese were poor. They traveled as far as United States to work in gold mines. They worked so hard to build railways and develop United States, yet the United States government during those times did not provide them better opportunities.

Some traveled to PNG and worked as slaves on the cocoa and copra plantations. They were mistreated by the Australian and British plantation owners.

Those days, they were slaves. Today, China is in PNG as a genuine investor. If they have any message to tell the world, I am convinced that China wants to prove to those former Western powers that they can not treat the developing countries in this century like what they did before.

China is doing the same in Africa, in South America, in Asia and wants to do the same – to show that Beijing can invest in another developing country to give back to the local economy, as opposed to those traditional great power ambition of extracting the entire resources and leaving the locals bare.

PNG-Sino bilateral relationship has been very good since 1976. Prime Minister Somare confirmed that during his last trip to Beijing this year.

While in Beijing, Sir Somare acknowledged the importance to Ramu Project.

Sir Michael must play an important part NOW in solving this problem by directly involved through engaging the relevant government institutions.

RNML Project is a genuine investment changing the lives of people who deserve a better living standard. Let’s help this Project fulfill its ambition.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Why Tears during this Mothers Day?

Mothers' Day is Sunday May 10. I once had a mother and now no longer. She has gone to the land I will one day visit.
When thinking of mothers and sisters, I was trying to imagine the pains and burdens they carry every moment. They are numerious. They cry silently every night when you and I are taking deep and comfortable sleep.
This prompted me to write a short poem to be published by The National newspaper. It is now available on this link for you to read.
Further down this site is the story reflecting my love for Mom and the importance of Mothers Day. You can also enjoy reading it.
Happy Mothers Day to Mothers and Sisters.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Happy Mothers’ Day but my moms’ chair is empty!

Caption: The writer in the shadow of cherry blossoms during this spring season in Changchun, China. He wishes PNG mothers a blessed Mothers Day. Picture by Darasa Mohamad from Ethiopia.

By Mathew Yakai in Changchun, China

TODAY May 10 is a special day in our lives as human being but many people take it for granted.

I felt the importance when writing this article.

It is an important day because it’s “Mothers Day” that is celebrated throughout the world, including Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Before I proceed, I would like to wish all PNG mothers a Happy Mothers Day from China.

You bore PNG, raised PNG, supported PNG, taught PNG, and loved PNG because of those men and women whom you call them sons and daughters now working tirelessly to make PNG successful.

Without you, PNG would not be where she is today.

I wish you good health and everlasting smile with your family from today onwards. God shall bless you and continue to make you a proud and happy mother.

I arrived in China for studies in September 2, 2007 and should leave China by July 30, 2009 according to my student visa.

But my study ends in mid June and I plan to return home in mid July, 2009.

Like any other students in PNG and abroad, it is time to dish-out application for a better job with attractive conditions.

Living in China for almost two years, inevitably I would first visit my home and spend ample time with my mum and dad, including my siblings, cousins, aunties, uncles, friends and those down the family tree.

As time for returning approaches, one thing kept hurting me.

I thought to myself, “When I go to my Yapalgu village in Western Highlands Province (WHP), my dearest Mom will not be around to see a son returning from abroad with a degree.”

So whom will I rightly celebrate with when my mother who deserves such a celebration is not around?

Like any other sons and daughters, I would love to receive my Mom in my hand after two years away from her.

Mothers have soft heart and want to wipe Moms’ tears when she cuddles me with emotions and joyful tears upon my return.

I would love to bring with me a gift to show her that above all, she is special to me.

Sadly, with God’s grace, I will instead see an empty chair. My supposed to be proud Mom will not be around to cure the pains she bore for me.

And I will not have the opportunity to cuddle her and feel the warmth of her caring heart she had for me ever since.

My lovely Mom untimely passed away on Nov 20th last year in her Kudjip hospital bed, WHP.

I was still in China, and it was sad that I could not see her for the last time before she passed away.

But I talked with her on the phone and she cried, telling me that she loves me, as mothers always do to their children

There are different kinds of mothers in this world. There are professional or home makers in broad terms of fashionable, pious, simple strict, soft, conservative, modern and cool Moms’ at all personal level.

Whatever they are, Moms go famously amongst their kids. My late Mom was my hero.

Mom was the centre of attraction. Everything she said or did hold lot of importance in my eyes today. Mom was a celebrity in her own rights.

My Mom was unique, just like other PNG mothers. She lived for more then 50 years and was involved in building my country (PNG), which I am proud of today.

Late Mom was a house maker. She only completed primary schools. She married my dad who was a primary school teacher during those days before PNG gained independence.

Those who had parents who were aid post workers, teachers, and district officers would know how influential and important they were during those days and commanded good respect from the communities they worked and lived with.

Up to the time when I was able to remember, we climbed the terrains, crossed the rivers, stood the mosquito deadly bites and walked the distance of Tabibuka, Kol, Koinambe when dad was teaching at the remote Gobo Community School in Jimi, WHP.

Mom supported dad in everything. Those days, transport was limited. Roads were bad. Most times, Mom piggy-backed me while carrying our monthly food ration.

We walked those challenging geography for dad to educate men and women to contribute towards PNGs’ development today.

For dad, it was a noble responsibility. For Mom, it was an unconditional support, love and care.

Dad also established Gihamu Community School, few distance outside Mt Hagen city. It was a new school with no name.

People were searching for an ideal name when dad, P. Yakai named it, “GIHAMU”, today stands tall.

GIHAMU is not an ordinary name. It brings together three districts in WHP, Giluwe (GI), Hagen (HA) and Mul (MU). GIHAMU is the melting point.

Many notable lawyers, doctors, geologists, primary school teachers and other professionals went through Gihamu and they are building PNG today.

I enjoyed sweet potatoe “tiki” and red berries at Tiria Lutheran church. I do have fond memories of frequenting Neblyer River with late Tame’s daughter Kuku, Kaka and son Robert, not forgetting Sakias Poning.

Just like another child, I would leave at dawn, and return at dusk. Dad would wait at the door with his belt to give me a good lesson.

But it was always Mom who wipe my tears, treat my wounds took me for a bath, and made sure I had enough food before going to bed.

Papen Community School in WHP also brings back fond memories. Mom helped dad in educating men and women to move on with life and help develop PNG.

We traveled the vastness of PNG in those days. Some times on the back of Toyota’s, but mostly tractors. You would imagine how bumpy it was with the noise that dampened our ear drums.

When I think of those days, I see how important Mom was in not only caring for me, but helping my dad in nation building.

Mum accompanied dad to many remote schools in PNG, and all those followed thereafter are history today.

Personally, Mom was everything to me when I was small…my live revolved around her.

For everything that I need, I called Mom. To protect me from perceivable dangers, I wanted her around me. To take me out I held her arms.

To kiss away my wounds I ran to her. And for a warm hug and love I searched for her.

She was the focal point of my live, the greatest human being in the world or should I say divinity in my heart. Mom was my greatest blessing from God.

There is simply no way I can ever really thank my mom for all she has done for me because she has gone already.

She was the one who would be awake all night when I was sick, praying to God to make me well and be ever ready to bear the pain that I may be experiencing.

She was the one to wake up early in the morning to make my breakfast and endure all my tantrums.

Mom was the one who would forever complain that I was not eating enough or not eating right.

She would cook all sorts of things so that I am strong and healthy.

Mom was the one on whom I put all the blame for my failures. I would not hesitate once to point her fingers though she would not miss even a slightest opportunity to praise me.

Isn’t it tough to imagine how she must have borne my temper tantrums when I was teenagers?

And how hard I must have made her life by behaving so rude and difficult, yet she was so astonishingly cool. That was the beauty of my Mom.

It is spring and warmer in Changchun, China. The cherry blossoms are brightening the parks and gardens.

I see old people, men and women of various ages walking under the shadows of the perfume petals where the bees of the skies are sucking the nectars.

As I walk under the shadow of the cherry blossoms, I am still reminded that time is nearing for me to go home.

But what saddens me is that the chair of my Mom is empty and she is now resting peacefully in Yapalgu Village.

Gone are those motherly cares and loves. What remains is the cemetery of my dearest Mom….she came from earth, lived on earth and gone back to earth… yet her legacy lives today.

I am thinking of my Mom, and looking forward to visit her cemetery and place a rose in those days only God knows.

Many mothers in PNG have done similarly. They are the mothers of our nation. We all came from mothers, so as PNG.

God loved us and gave us lovely mothers. I cry today that we shall love our mothers and allow them to live in fullness.

We must give them the protection, love and care, not because it is inscribed in our Constitution, though it is, but the simple fact that they are our Mothers.

Let’s allow them to walk freely without fear in our cities and neighbors. Let us allow them to smile today before we regret to see their chairs are empty.

Mothers in PNG, if you can not make to Parliament to change PNG, you have done PNG proud by contributing enormously, like my Mom.

I fervently cry and pray for you for being such a Mother. You are my hero!

I wish you a Happy Mothers Day (mu qin jie kuai le - 母亲节快乐) and good health.

God bless my mothers in PNG.

Friday, May 01, 2009

“One Ramu NiCo, One Community” aims for prosperity

Caption: Directors of MCC-JJJ inspected Ramu NiCo Project Dec 7 - 14. MCC - JJJ is the ultimate Chinese shareholder company of the Ramu Project. Picture and caption by Ramu NiCo.

By Mathew Yakai in Changchun, China

THE catch phrase, “One Ramu NiCo, One Community” is new to me and hope you too.

I first came across this phrase on April 9, 2009 when I was visiting the Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd office in Beijing, the capital of China.

Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd is the company managing the multi million dollar Ramu Nickel Project in Madang, Papua New Guinea (PNG) on behalf of the Ramu Nickel Joint Venture (RNJV).

“One Ramu NiCo, One Community” was printed boldly on the bottom of the Ramu NiCo Management newsletter, Ramu Nickel UPDATER, currently published once every two months and circulated widely in PNG.

“One Ramu NiCo, One Community” got my attention for an obvious reason. I am still recovering from the media hype of the recent 2008 Beijing Olympic theme, “One World-One Dream” and now the coming Shanghai World Trade Expo 2010 with its theme, “Better City, Better Life”.

What really astonishes me and humbles my bones is that all these are aiming at enhancing human life in a society of human civilization, whether it be a village in Ramu, a city in Shanghai, a country like Iraq or the global family.

According to the Beijing 2008 Olympic website, “One World One Dream” fully reflects the essence and the universal values of the Olympic spirit – Unity, Friendship, Progress, Harmony, Participation and Dreams.

It expresses the common wishes of the people across the world to strive for a common future of mankind in spite of the differences of colors, language and races, to enjoy the spirit of the great game and seek through sports the ideal for peace.

It was the core concept of Beijing Olympic Games reflecting the value of harmony connoted in the concept of “people’s Olympic”, with the core concepts on “Green Olympic, High-tech Olympic and People’s Olympic”.

“One World, One Dream” is simple in expression, but profound in meaning. It is of China and the world.

It conveys a lofty ideal from the people of China, hand in hand with the people of this global community to create a bright future.

When China came up with the theme, she believes that the great nation with 5,000 years history on its way to modernization is committed to peaceful development, harmonious society and people’s happiness.

China today stands tall and being responsible in solving many regional and global problems of common interest, including the ongoing global financial crises and the recent swine flue.

No international and regional problem can be solved without China’s involvement. Thanks to 2008 Beijing Olympic Game, “One World, One Dream” is reflected.

Another major upcoming event in China is the Shanghai Expo 2010 with the theme “Better City, Better Life,” representing the common wish of whole humankind for a better living in the future urban environment, according to the Expo website.

This theme represents a central concern of the international community for future policy making, urban strategies and sustainable development.

The Expo will promote the blending of diverse cultures, economic prosperity, innovations of science and technology, remodeling of communities and interactions between urban and rural areas.

The 2008 Beijing catch phrase and the forthcoming Shanghai Expo theme have the explicit message of enhancing human life in the fast changing modern world of technological age to live harmoniously.

With that perception which was driven in my mind and also experiencing and seeing what China is doing today, I was equally caught by the Ramu NiCo’s ideal, “One Ramu NiCo, One Community”.

Frankly, the ideal is fundamentally having the desire to enhancing the local community and PNG’s economy while in the process of developing the resources.

The philosophy is similar to 2008 Beijing Olympic and Shanghai Expo 2010.

People living at the project site would express well the changes and benefits they obtain from the Ramu Project construction phase.

But the Ramu NiCo 2006-2008 Sustainability Report published on its website clearly spells out the benefit and its impacts on the local community in the two years construction periods.

UPDATER, the Ramu NiCo newsletter copies obtained from Beijing office and accessed on the website also reflects some of the tangible developments so far.

The PNG government failed to provide these since independence.

According to the Sustainability Report, the two years into construction has seen some major infrastructure programs completed.

They include heavy duty Ramu NiCo bridge at Banu, Usino-Bundi; the road from the Kurumbukari mine to the Madang-Lae Highway; and the road linking the limestone quarry with the processing plant.

Though the infrastructures intended for Project usage, these developments make travel easier for local residents and provide a much needed stimulus to the local economy.

“Whereas prior to the bridge and road being built, villagers spent two and a half days traveling from Kurumbukari to Madang, now it only takes half a day,” the Report states.

Although Ramu Nico Project is in the construction stage, it had already built its permanent corporate office in Madang, a new landmark in the town and just one of a number of measures it is taking that demonstrates its long-term commitment to PNG.

“Furthermore, in 2009 we will spend K8 million (USD 2.85 million) on building the South Link Road, an expenditure outside of our original MoA, made specifically for the Kurumbukari mine site community.”

“Now we are in discussion with the Madang Provincial Government and local landowner representatives on the implementation program,” states the Report.

Bank of PNG Governor Wilsom Kamit acknowledged that the increase in the construction sector and its spill over effects to the other sectors is attributed to Ramu NiCo Project and others in his Monetary Policy Statement.

In its project economic impact snapshot, the Ramu NiCo Sustainability Report states that the project will lead to an increase of 8-10 percent of PNG’s GDP.

Over K10 million in spin-off business opportunities and nearly 1,300 jobs have been created for PNG nationals during the construction phase.

“During the operation phase over K8.3 mil will be spent on improving local community service and 1, 500 job will be created for PNG nationals,” the report states.

Ramu NiCo is also establishing and supporting land owner companies, women’s group for self sustaining, local police and hospitals and aid posts, youth groups, churches, schools and other activities, bringing direct benefit to the people.

This is inline with Ramu NiCo’s target to “optimize progress through lean operation, reach production target as planned, build a harmonious relationship with the local communities and provide good returns to shareholders and stakeholders.”

The company is vary of the environmental impacts including sea, land and air and taking necessary measures with the engagement of overseas organizations and experts.

All is targeted towards its mission, “to build the Ramu Nickel Project into one of the world’s most successful nickel laterite mining and processing facilities.”

Ramu NiCo’s targets and missions with achievements achieved so far during its construction phase depicts its moto, “One Ramu NiCo, One Community”, depicting that Ramu NiCo is part of the community where the project is located and together with the community and the country, progress can be achieved on a win-win situation.

President of Ramu Nickel Mining Ltd, Madam Luo Shu said in her introduction of the newly published Sustainability Report that though 2009 will be tough given the world financial crises, Ramu NiCo is committed to its investment in PNG.

“Despite the yet-to-recovered global financial situation and the sluggish metal market, this year (2009), the management team and staff are committed to complete the site construction and start commissioning,” Madam Luo said.

This is good news for PNG’s economy and local project site land owners who will benefit directly from Ramu NiCo Project.

This is the motto of Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd to create opportunity for the people of PNG to enhance their livelihoods today and into the future.

Ramu NiCo recently published its RAMU NICO 2006-2008 Sustainability Report and is currently available on its website

The Report covers its most critical sustainability and business issues during the construction phase between 2006 and 2008 as one way of communicating with the stake holders and hopes to report on regular bases in the future.

Rich data and other information on the company and the project are detailed and can be useful to anybody who is interested in this multi billion dollar investment.

Also on the website are Ramu Nickel UPDATERs, the company newsletters and published news clippings from the daily newspapers. Other news and company profiles are detailed as well.

In the last two years during the construction phase, the benefits have been overwhelming to the project impacted people and the economy of PNG.

Given the projects life span of 20 years, one would imagine how the Ramu plain and the local communities’ will look like in the years ahead. This includes the economy of PNG.

Time will tell but what good that has been put in the area already is the harbinger of more benefits in the next 20 years as the Project gains maturity.

To see a successful project that will benefit both the people, the country and Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd and the stake holders, this scribe asks no more then total transparency and cooperation amongst all who contribute in various aspects.

From the Midddle Kingdom, the land of 5,000 years history to the virgin land of Paradise, language and culture can be of hindrance.

But the Chinese people are family oriented and have closeness with their family members, which is similar to PNG’s culture of family relationships.

Factors behind family relationship are mainly love and caring. People of China and PNG have the same heart.

“One Ramu NiCo, One Community” is a suitable motto to love and care for others while enhancing the livelihood.

Jia you!!! peng you men (加油!!! 朋友们)!

It's Spring time in Changchun, China!

This picture was taken on my way to see my thesis supervisor. In my bag is the final thesis draft to be handed over to my professor at Jilin University in China, and then I am done. Will only wait for the thesis defence on the 29th May, 2009. This picture was taken by Darasa, a course mate in the same International Relations Masters program at Jilin University. I am walking along the popular courting park with cherry blossoms at the background. Picture taken on Thursday 30th April, 2009.
Me, Leba (middle) from Fiji Island and Darasa from Ethopia. We are all in the same program at Jilin University. Leba and I are the only two Pacific Islanders (including Australia and New Zealand) attending Jilin University
That's me again. I stopped walking when realising that Darasa was taking this picture.
I am up in this flowery plant to smell the petals. They are supurb and smell like the palm of that little baby. Can you imagine that?
I am done with the thesis and decided to throw away my bag, a sign of relief from those tireless sleep.
Up goes my bag into the future unknown!
Me, Moris (middle) from Nigeria and Leba from Fiji Island in one of the office complex. Picture taken after we all submitted our thesis.
It's us again!
Me, I and myself.
Me alone and lonely