Sunday, September 20, 2009

PNG & China: Old friends with new Cooperation

This article was published by Sunday Chronicle newspapers Sunday sept 20, 2009 under "Asia Pacfic Perspective: China +" column

By Mathew Yakai

TODAY, many people think that Chinese are new comers to PNG. That is not true.

Historical evidence with academic researches proves that Chinese have been in PNG even before colonization started.

Chinese traders have visited New Guinea (PNG and West Papua) and hunted Birds of Paradise for their trade. But these early Chinese arrivals did not stay for long and did not establish permanent settlement.

These happened before the Portuguese and Spanish navigators sailed the South Pacific and spotted New Guinea.

Spanish explorer Don Jorge de Meneses accidentally saw New Guinea and named it “Papua” in 1526-27 after the Chinese set foot.

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 indentured laborers, mostly from Singapore and Sumatra living under harsh working conditions.

In 1895, 28 percent of those laborers died and were buried in mainland New Guinea. Most of these Chinese laborers left for their homeland after the indentured period,

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

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 estimated at 200, and grew to 1,427 in 1913.

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

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

In 1898 when free migration was encouraged by Germans, second waves of Chinese came with the intention to settle.

Today they have third generation children living in PNG playing major roles in PNG’s development, both business and politics.

In the late 70s and early 80’s, another wave of Chinese arrived. These include Malay-Chinese, Indo-Chinese etc and not necessarily from the Mainland China. They were mostly driven by business motives.

This is an example of global trend whereby migration of skilled workers, capitals and goods invade sovereign states to cater for complementarity economies.

Under the international and regional norms and values, countries do accept the flow of skilled labors, allow foreign investments and trade with other countries in compliance with their domestic laws.

Given this inevitable geopolitical shift and economic dependency, the relevance of trade and commerce compels nations to cater for the flow of capitals, labor and investments. China and PNG are no exceptions in this complex to enable them survive in the global economic order. Thus, Chinese are old friends to PNG.

Today, new waves of highly skilled technical Chinese workers enter PNG, for specific Projects. Ramu NiCo Project is a good example. These Chinese engineers are working in Basamuk Refinery site and Kurumbukari Mine site.

This is an obvious trend of new cooperation between PNG and China on a win-win situation.

The first groups of Chinese are for the construction phase which is expected to be completed this year with the next group of engineers joining their colleagues for the commissioning of the Project.

Among other things, language is a challenge. To address that, the Company is engaging with the Divine Word University in Madang to provide language and culture training to the expatriate employees.

In Beijing, most engineers are now studying English language in preparation for their deployment. Luzheng Jie and Muxinying are two young engineers specialized in Metallurgy. Both speak good English.

“I am excited to go to PNG. If I love PNG and its people then I can make good friends with the country,” Muxinying said

Their work in the Ramu NiCo Project will help them depart to the local staff the knowledge that is new to PNG.

Wang Jingfeng and his colleague Meng Zhaosong who are also engineers with good command of English prepare to work with their PNG counterparts soon.

In his nation wide speech through NBC and Kundu Service TV June 1, Prime Minister Sir Somare who initiated this investment and invited Ramu NiCo Project appealed to the people that PNG can learn a lot of skills from the Chinese engineers.

National staff who now work with their Chinese counterparts have acquired the technical skills of various natures.

Sir Somare also said that foreign investment contributes huge revenue in tax to PNG government.

The Ramu NiCo world class Project will see 1.37 billion USD invested over a period of 20 years with 8 to 10 per cent GDP growth, K10 mil in spin-off business opportunities 1,300 jobs will be created and K8.3 mil will be spent on local community services which will create another 1,500 jobs for PNG nationals, according to the Ramu NiCo 2006-2008 Sustainability Report.

At the regional level, PNG remains the largest trading partner with China compared with other Pacific island countries, including Australia and New Zealand.

During his last visit to Beijing in April 2009, Sir Michael told his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao, “China is not only a big and growing consumer market for PNG products, it is also a genuine development partner.”

The total trade volume between PNG and China was around K700 million in 2007. PNG exports to China were around K470 million and imports were around K230 million.

PNG enjoys a trade surplus of around K240 million with China,” Sir Michael said

PNG’s exports to China constitutes mainly of crude oil, logs and timber products, agriculture products such as palm oil, rubber, vanilla and coffee, marine products, copper and gold.

PNG’s imports from China consist of rice, machinery, mechanical and electrical appliances, textiles, iron and steel products, pharmaceutical products, plastic products, footwear, fertilizers, tools and household goods.

The two economies are complementary. That is, PNG has what China does not have and China has what PNG does not have. This will encourage and strengthen the two countries economic relationships for a win-win- situation.

The two old friends, China and PNG do stand to benefit in the long run in this new cooperation given the interdependence world they live today.

Old friends do share many commonalities and the same passion and desire in life. China and PNG are no exception today as their old friendship bondage binds them for common goals through the current cooperation.

Note: This article was first published by “UPDATER” Ramu Nickel Projects newsletter. For comments contact or SMS 71489901


Independent but dependent: PNG 34 years on.

This commentary was published by Sunday Chronicle newspaper Sunday September 20, 2009 under 'Letter from China" column.

By Gelab Piak

WEDNESDAY September 16, 2009, marked the 34th year of independence. We, as Papua New Guineans are proud of our nation but on the other hand, are troubled by the torturing thought. What really did we celebrate about?

We maybe celebrating our freedom, or independence. Both are right. However, what is freedom. Freedom is the power to express one’s thoughts, action, words and rights without objection or intimidation. Freedom is having no objection to your rights, unless they violate the law of the land.

Last month, Metropolitan Superintendent Fed Yakasa, in stopping the “infamous” NGO political march said that the actions of the police were to protect the people’s Rights.

First, what Rights is the police protecting, when in fact, contradictorily, they are depriving the people’s Rights and Freedoms. The people have the Right, under the law to expression of Freedoms.

Secondly, People have the right to services and the duly elected Government has the obligation to provide services to the people. When the Government doesn’t do what it is obliged to do, then the civil society stands up.

The vibrancy of any democracy depends on the freedoms and the liberation of its civil society to exercise its rights. When the civil society’s freedoms are suppressed, a nation’s democracy is under threat.

The opposition has on several occasions cried foul about Parliamentary democracy not being exercised. Are these tell-signs of suppression and oppression, and at the highest level?
Thirdly, what is Independence? Independence simply means being Independent. Independent and Independence are two big words. So what is it like to be independent?

Being independent is being able to fend, provide for oneself, and meet one’s own needs. Put it that way, it is very hard to see the PNG Government fending, providing or meet the needs of its people, now or in the future.

There is a great need for policy makers to draft effective medium term policies. Malaysia and Venezuela are good examples of countries that have been transformed through short, effective medium term policies.

Long term policies and plans such as 40 year plans, may not be effective, may not realize and maybe thrown out by future Government, that may not understand the need to make such policies.

Big Projects: An illusive idea.

Our future mustn’t depend on “big projects”. The idea of ‘big projects’ is an illusive one that is luring landowners to give away their land without proper consultations with other villagers and community members.

‘Big projects’ are creating a lot of problems in our Melanesian society of communality, brotherhood and peace and harmony. ‘Big projects’ are often rushed and no proper social mapping is done, no proper assessment for environmental damages is done, landowners form factions as self-interest eats away at the morals of society, corruption becomes rampant in the Government, and unwise decision are made.

It has also created a mentality in this contemporary society where villages wait for big projects such as oil, gas or mining and do not take initiatives to develop themselves with small projects that are community orientated like small holder plantation estates (coffee, cocoa, copra, etc) or sawmills. Overall, once the projects fail, we, as a nation, tend to lose millions or even billions of Kina.

We need to look at ways of becoming self-reliant, with a Government that is the main services and goods provider. Thus we can say that we are independent, because by then we have a government that fends, provides and meets its people’s needs.

A sad fact is that the Australian Government, through AusAid, is more popular in rural areas than the PNG Government. This paints a picture of a Government that is not able to provide and meet its people’s needs so other Governments have stepped in.

Does that mean we are dependent? Yes, it does, as we are dependent on overseas aid. We must, as our Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare always says, be an export orientated economy or nation. Not an exporter of raw materials and vast natural resources, but an exporter of finished products.

But that will only come about if there is Government leadership, and there must be Government leadership. A good example is Japan. Japan today is the floating factory of the world because by Government leadership and a bold move towards industrialization, only now known as the industrial revolution.

The Government must lead by investing in downstream processing. The government must build factories in partnerships with companies to produce locally that create more jobs, boost the economy, increase our GDP and greatly reduce our imports.

Exporting and producing locally maybe deemed as a far cry or something that happens in the future, but for it to eventuate in the future, we must start now. PNG should start producing small products such as peanut butter, coffee jam, copper wires, etc., and then we can look at bigger products and projects like partnering with auto giants Toyota or Nissan to produce cars and trucks locally.

We can then become a cheaper option for our close neighbors when they want to import cars as these cars will be genuine Toyota or Nissan made products.

The Government must also enact tariff laws for certain period of time to help local products gain popularity among consumers. This type of Government leadership is lacking in our country and that is demonstrated by the fact that many of our exports are raw materials and do have a higher value thus the returns are mere peanuts to what is made and earned by other countries out of our resources, that are later sold back to us as finished products. Until then are we really independent!

Infrastructure, Education and Heath: The Secrets to Prosperity.

The secret to a nation’s prosperity is its infrastructure, education and health. The Government of PNG needs to seriously consider the state of its infrastructure such as bridges, roads, airstrips, government hospitals, schools and communications infrastructure.
Bad state of infrastructure is a bottle neck to the economy. The PNG economy while enjoying growth over the years, is struggling and the tell-signs are evident.

Exports of products such as coffee, cocoa, copra, and rubber may drop if road conditions are not improved and more farmers can not have easy access to markets. This will have much greater impact on the smaller farmers who grow cabbages, tomatoes, ginger, and other crops for sale at local markets and also markets outside their province.

The state of the Okuk Highway is also costing trucking companies thousands of Kina. With the deteriorating road conditions pot holes form and becomes every Truck driver’s nightmare.
If they avoid them, they risk the chance of bumping into an oncoming vehicle, and, if they go through them, it wears out the truck’s tyres and other parts under the trucks. Thus is a call for the Government to invest in infrastructure.

Investing heavily in infrastructure will not only improve the economy but also provide jobs. Road condition must be fixed and maintained to acceptable standards where they are in a useable and working state. Roads must be built to villages far out in remote areas which are in isolation. Using these roads the people can then access markets to sell their produce or other services provided in the towns.

Bridges that have broken down due to lack of maintenance must be fixed, so that people can have access once more, and may revive agriculture and farming in the ‘cut off’ areas.
An educated nation is a healthy nation. Education must reach all the rural areas. Schools that have shut down must be reopened, and teachers must be sent there.

The Government has to invest in Education by building schools in both town and rural areas, and must pay teachers properly so they are happy to go to rural areas and teach, and they must have good houses so that it boosts their moral.

With an educated populace a nation will progress, as most of its citizens will be in a position to understand the problems facing their country or the economics of their country with a competitive work force.

Today, PNG’s workforce is not that effective, in the sense that there is no competition and workers are not competing for jobs. What happens, and is happening now, is that the current work force is aging and there isn’t a younger generation to fill the gap created.

The education of the youths must become a priority for the Government. It must focus on equipping its people with knowledge, as the present world is a world where technology rules and a young, striving nation like PNG must equip its people with knowledge so that they understand the technology and use it for the benefit of their nation.

A meaningful and effective start would be investing in Vocational training education. PNG must start training its next generation of welders, carpenters, plumbers, and mechanics. These people are equal contributors to the immediate building of the nation.

The Government should provide scholarships to Vocational Training Schools. It is again these very people who will be involved in the infrastructure building and building of huge investments such as factories and hotels in this nation.

We need not bring other people from outside; that happens when a nation forgets about building its own workforce through investing in its peoples Education. Thus the nation is not healthy.

Healthy citizens contribute meaningfully to the building of a prosperous nation. When a nation has a healthy workforce, production is said to double its normal rate.

The recent outbreak of cholera shows clearly the concern our Government has for the health of its people. Little that is, and that’s demonstrated by its snail-paced response to the recent cholera outbreak. Not only had that, but the lack of health services also contributed to the deaths that have occurred in the affected areas; as some of the deceases are treatable.

Cholera was a time-bomb waiting to happen, as many rural areas do not have aid posts or the aid posts have been run-down and shut for many years now.

Even in towns, the standard of healthcare provided by the Government is no where near any standard at all. Port Moresby General Hospital is no exception with rotting wood, ill-equipped and lowly funded. The hospital cannot cater for Port Moresby residents.
Nurses and doctors must have good housing and transport must not be a problem to hospitals, which need to transport patients or staff.

Providing a better healthcare system will ensure a brighter future for Papua New Guineans and a more productive workforce, resulting in a growing, demanding economy, thus a prosperous nation looms in the making.

A challenge for everyone

Members of Parliament really need to stop their corrupt practices and have a true nationalist feeling that drives them towards nation building. Nation building is not an overnight job. It takes many people, in fact a whole nation, many years, and many hearts.

One pure heart can not turn the many unclean hearts. It has to take courage for everyone to change, and if the Politicians are not serious about building PNG, then who else?

No one may take the courage to build our nation, as you politicians are the top leaders, PNG is looking at you, and this Independence, PNG heard what you said.

Together, let’s build a nation in PNG, so that we can have something to celebrate about.

Note: Send comments to Mathew Yakai: or SMS 71489901

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Chinese have a history to be judged

This commentary was published on Sept 13, 2009 by Sunday Chronicle newspaper in PNG under "Asia Pacific Perspective: China +" column.

By Albert Tobby Kaupa

I MAY sound pro-Chinese and anti-western or whatever you want to call me, but the truth is I am neither of both.

What I am doing is basically turning every stones that need to be turned and help some of us, who have studied history, accounting, economics, politics and science from western published textbooks to think outside the traditional framework of thoughts.

We were not given the options to choose which schools of thought or ideas we wanted to choose. A good example is, Chinese don't have the history to be judged at the moment, which is grossly (WRONG!) western heresy.

China has more than 2000 years of civilization and one of the oldest in human civilization (U.S. and Australia less than 300 years).

We are the product of our history. Even the world as it is today is a product of the past. Without proper understanding of historical underpinnings that shape our present society, we cannot navigate the course of our future.

We need to really grasp the full knowledge of the past and present dynamics to make an informed decision for the future.

Please let me make myself clear. I am not saying we trade our national interest and sovereignty for China's aid. I believe this is the last thing all responsible citizens of PNG wanted to do.

I think I am giving some of you the opportunity to see development history under western hegemony that shape the world as it is today. I am not afraid to criticize any nations even China where I pay special respect.

However I don't want to make a baseless criticism, I rather criticize with substance and facts.

Ramu nickel contract was signed in the year when socio-political and economic climate in Papua New Guinea was very fragile.

Prof. Allan Patience and other Australian academics, businessmen and politicians openly proclaimed that PNG is at the brink of becoming a failed state. It was not a conducive environment for large investment at that period.

Somare-Polyo governments' attempt to secure western mining companies in Australia and other western nations failed ... PNG was in desperate need to secure a mining contract.

MCC despite the huge business and economic risk involved took up the challenge. China has faith in PNG when Australia and its allies prophesied doomsday on PNG.

Today when PNG political climate is steady and business environment is improving, Australia and its allies again are accusing Chinese of substandard mining practices and other illegal practices.

I have heard many rumors mainly from the print media about illegal miners and substandard mining practices in PNG.

However, I received a totally different story from Papua New Guinean engineers and project officers working on the mine site. This made me question the authencity of our print medium especially when one is owned by Australians.

It is clearly understood that our state institutions such as Department of Labor and Foreign Affairs & Immigration failure to hold the end of their deals resulted in all the fiasco.

Our government did not hold the end of their deals. Chinese are innocent genuine businessmen. I would really appreciate if someone has had first hand experience to educate me on this.

If there is any lessons that we (PNG) and many other developing nations have learnt from the past then it is nothing more than resisting western hegemony.

See, the development inequality and geopolitical divide between the west and east, north and south, developed and is both developing rich and poor nations.

Have we not learnt something yet? What lessons are we waiting to learn from the past?

The evidence is overwhelming and honestly I am surprised that we are still seeking for lessons to learn. I don't want PNG to keep on walking in this path of dependency syndrome which we've followed since independence.

It’s time for us to break free and stand on our own feet. Let’s stretch out our antennas into the radio-wave of development and opportunity and try as much as possible to maximize our benefits and minimize our loss.

If you have been listening carefully to the radio-wave of development today, China is the dominant frequency.

The World economies are tuning into Chinese frequency. Let’s not just beat the air with words and get down to the reality and substance.

The rise of China actually provides alternative development path not only to the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC (Kinsasha not Congo Brazaville) but to all the Least Developing Country (LCD), PNG included.

Western powers were in DRC since the 17th centuries but until today the 4th largest country in Africa and largest French speaking African country with a population of more than 66 million has been suffering from poverty, chronic diseases, civil war, instability and war lords ruling different parts of the country.

Without going into detailed history, all the instability, civil unrest and war that throw the country into poverty and underdevelopment was purely due to corrupt IMF and World Banks policies in the region.

Western Multinational Corporations (MLC) lead by US based Company are solely responsible for these entire ordeal because of their insatiable thirst for mineral resources.

Western Developers were in the continent of Africa for more than 100 years but why these African nations are not developing as the western countries.

History has proven that we cannot trust the western countries and their so called development package.

China’s presence in the African Continent started only about 50 years ago. Today China has formal diplomatic relations with 44 countries of the African Nations.

Starting in 2002 when Angola turned away from IMF loan for Chinese Aid, it has turned a new wave of diplomacy and trade relations between Sino-African nations.

Angola finally rests from continuous Civil War and instability and it’s progressing on a new development path. It is no surprise the country who shares the same land border with Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has finally saw the way forward.

At the dawn of 2009, people in the Congo are still dying at a rate of an estimated 45,000 per month and already 2,700,000 people have died since 2004.

This death toll is due to widespread disease and famine. Reports indicate that almost half of the individuals killed are children under the age of 5.

The aftermath of the war has truly gutted the country. This death rate has been prevalent since efforts at rebuilding the nation began in 2004.

The prevalence of Western dominance just loath their natural resources and leave them to die alone in desolation.

They have at last had a little bit of hope with the aid from China.

Historical and geographical context might be different but the socio-political and economic dynamics are the same in PNG.

Even though Chinese were the first foreigners to set foot on the coast of the island of New Guinea (16th Century, Chinese Merchant ships anchored at the coast of New Guinea in search of Bird of Paradise plumes), they have no intention of extending their territorial boundary or hegemony.

They were business men doing business with New Guineans who were later classified by the Westerners as primitive and back-warded.

Our Ancestors are expert traders (Kula trade, Hiri, Tee, etc.) and have knowledge of commerce. However some white man decided to call us cannibals, primitive culture and back-warded that is ingrained into every Papua New Guineans psychic.

Since the first mines in Wau Bulolo by Australian miners to Rio Tinto (British) Copper mine in Bougainville and Chevron Niugini (American) what have we achieved in real developments?

Not to mentioned the recent influx of Western miners and drillers (Exxon Mobil - America), Harmony Gold (Australia), Oil Search (Australian) and others you named it.

These are the very same companies that inflict dependency syndrome ditch disease and resource curse upon our African brothers and are now turning towards us.

Speak to any African and they will tell you themselves about their experience with Western Hegemony.

I tell you, westerners are much more shroud in dealing with blacks than the Chinese. I am not trying to be discriminating here but just being more realism.

Honestly, Chinese have more confidence and trust in us managing our own resources than the westerners do.

I should educate us all a little bit more about Chinese strategic thoughts and philosophies here.

When achieving membership at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 1971, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) declared that like many Asian, African and Latin American countries, China belongs to these Third World Countries.

By saying this China meant that she is economically backward and is a developing country.

However at the same time China also promised to help the struggling people and nations to achieve freedom, oppose foreign invasion and decide their own future.

China voiced opposition to the imperialist and colonist theory that “big nations are superior to the small nations” and “small nations are subordinate to the big nations” and to the power politics and hegemony of “big nations bullying small ones” or “strong nations bullying weak ones”.

The China Communist Party (CCP), firmly hold this view and continue to do so today by aggressively pursuing economic development.

However, opinion varies today especially in the west whether China really fulfill its promise to support the Third World, small and poor nations.

Some observers charged that China has failed to translate its words into deeds, while others maintained that china has honored it’s pledged unequivocally.

With this strategic thought, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) the largest single communist organization in the world, tirelessly skippered China from a Developing Third World nation to an Economic Superpower.

However, misconception of the Communist Government in China continues to exist, despite the fact that China’s government and economic structures have changed greatly since the reform and opening up in 1978.

Show me only one country that China has colonized which is struggling in poverty and underdevelopment and I'll show you ten countries struggling with poverty and underdevelopment under western hegemony. I'll stop here for now.

Note: This commentary acknowledges Albert Tobby Kaupa for his contribution.

“Heaven Pool” in the hearth of China

This article was published by Sunday Chronicle on Sunday 13 Sept, 2009 under "letter from China" column.

By Song Yan in Shenyang, China

WITH Mathew Yakai’s encouragement, I boldly present this article to you, the genuine readers of this column.

Many Chinese do not speak and write good English and I am one of those. But I hope that this article about my visit to “heaven pool’ will be clearer and interesting for you.

Before my summer holiday I, planned to travel but not sure where to go. I had several places in mind. The first is Inner Mongolia, where the vast grassland is appealing to me and tourists can ride horse and spend the night in a tent.

The second is Changbai Mountain in Jilin Province in the northeast China. There is a lake on the top of the mountain called Tian Chi in Chinese meaning “heaven pool”. Those who have been there say that the “heaven pool” is very spectacular. That is my dream place.

You know as a female, it is good to have a partner to go with so that they can take care of each other when emergency occurs. Of course if she has a boy friend or a husband, to go with will be better.

It is pity I don’t have husband and my boy friend is far away so I have to find someone else to travel with.

Jane is the one. She is my best friend and we work as English teachers at Shenyang University of Technology. She likes traveling too. Furthermore, neither of us likes to go alone. Maybe Chinese women are relatively dependable than the western ones. So Jane and I hit it off right away.

We chose to visit Changbai Mountain first because it is nearer than Inner Mongolia. While we were in Shenyang, Jane bought many newspapers, hoping to find a good travel agency with excellent service and low price in the travel column. But after some research we gave up this dream-like wild wish because that kind of agency doesn’t exist in the world.

We finally found one. We were charged 528 RMB (K213.82) each covering transport, board and lodging. This travel would take us three days with one day to visit the “heaven pool”. Most time of the other two days were spent on the road (it is about 7 to 8 hours by bus).

Besides that, some at-one’s-own-expense experienced scenery spots like drift in the river. The next day, August 7, we set out at 6am. The bus was completely full.

I was very excited all the way because I would see the dreamy Tianchi soon. Every now and then I ate the stuff I bought the last evening while appreciating the scenery vividly from of my window.

Both sides of the highway were vast green farms and sometimes big trees and flowers growing. There is always a sweet reception in my heart every time I see greens and flowers.

I was born in countryside and have been used to the trees and plants so I have a very close association with them. I thought that even if I was unable to see the “heaven pool”, the scenery along the road side is sufficient to satisfy by quest which is worth watching by everyone.

I had my breakfast and lunch on the bus. In fact I didn’t tell which breakfast was and which lunch was. I just ate the food whenever I felt hungry or ate something because I wanted to do so to keep occupied.

We passed many rivers, lakes and forests. Sometimes we drove on the winding road meandering along the river. The air was so fresh and it seemed very quiet outside.

We didn’t see many people walking, only some one-storey houses, some farm with cattle’s eating grass near the roadside. I like those places with rivers. In my opinion a place will have more spirituality if it has a river nearby or to run through.

How I wish I had a house in such place. There was no noise and disturbance. What it has there is fresh air, crystal river, big green trees and wild flowers. Living in such place will increase people’s longevity.

The group we traveled together soon got to know each other and talked to each other friendly. The atmosphere in the bus was very harmonious. I thought it must be that we were happy inside so we try influencing each other.

At about 6:30 pm, we arrived at a town named Er Dao Bai He at the foot of the Changbai Mountain and ate in a restaurant. Nine people shared one table and eight dishes and one soup on each table.

We altogether have 45 tourists so there were 5 tables for us. As to the tour guide and driver, they ate at a different table.

The rice was very good and one was allowed to eat as much he/she wanted. In fact, nobody can eat that much.

Nowadays, Chinese people’s living level has increased a lot and most don’t need to worry about food. They can buy and eat almost anything they want anywhere. So here the food on each table was enough for each tourist.

At last, there were a lot of left-over after the tourists finished the supper. We didn’t eat too much because we were not very hungry. Each of us had bought much food to eat on the bus.

At about 7:30pm we settled down in a hotel outside the downtown. Because of the busy travel season, the hotel was full and had inadequate beds for us so 5 people had to share one room instead of the original four. For some young or old couples, they stayed in double-bed room after applying and paid extra money (about 60 RMB per person) before they arrived at the hotel.

It was too late to ask for a standard room now because there is no room left. To my comfort, the room was nice, the sheet and quilt cover were white and clean. Undoubtly Jane and I were in the same room. Two were a mother and daughter.

The daughter is a sophomore in a university. Another one is a wife who came here with her husband and son. There is no room for the whole family so she (there were also several other women like her) had to share the room with us.

The people in town were very kind. Maybe they know that they depend on tourists to make a living so they are hospitable. The town is beautiful but not big, yet you can buy nearly anything you need.

Many tall buildings stand in the town. It’s rare to have tall buildings. The infrastructure is better than many other towns I have seen before.

To be honest, I didn’t prepare well for this travel so after arranging my bed I went to downtown with Jane to buy something for tomorrow’s mountain climb. Besides, we also wanted to know the small town.

That mother and daughter also went out with us but we parted after we arrived at the downtown. It was a little dark when we set out for town. I bought a cheap raincoat with 5 RMB (K2.) along the street and then a pair of shoe in a shoe store with 40 RMB (K16.13).

Jane and I each bought a bottle of water for the next day. Of course one bottle was not enough but we had a big bottle on the bus.

Next day, we could take it and fill it with pure mineral water because we would go to a place where water was cold and clear from the underground. It was much better than the water we drink at home everyday. Jane put the two bottles of water into a plastic bag and carried them.

When we walked back we had to pass a road with very thick forest on its’ sides. There were no road-lights so it was completely dark, so dark that you even could not see your own fingers.

We were not walking back, actually we were feeling back. When we were on the bus, our tour guide once said that there were also some bad guys in town so we were warned to be careful, esp. walking in the dark.

I consumed his words seriously at once as I was too scared that I started to drag Jane to run. She was not good at running. Compared with her, I was better so I had to pull her hard in order to run fast.

You can say I am chickenhearted. As long as not letting me come across a robber, I don’t care what you say. Finally we saw the lights coming from the hotel and we were so relieved. But just at that time when Jane stepped on the high part of the road and suddenly twisted her left ankle.

The two bottles dropped off from her bag and fell on the road. Her sudden scream really scared me. I hurried to help her and picked up the bottles. She limped back to hotel.

Before visiting the “heaven pool”, we were taken to visit “Volley Float Stone Forest”. It is the introduction of the valley. It says the Valley Float Stone Forest is a well-known scenic spot in the Changbai Mountain.

It is located on a rift created by volcanic eruption and diastrophism. It is about 5,000 meters long. Natural air slakes and rain wash have created about 30 sites with float stone varying in size. Some shape like snakes, some like eagles.

There are also a lot of clear small rivers, big trees and the forest are as vast as the ocean. They are the characteristics of the Changbai Mountain.

Here smoking is forbidden. The protection of the Changbai Mountain derived from Emperor Kangxi in Qing Dynasty. It was said that Emperor Kangxi found it too beautiful and the mountain was the birthplace of their ancestors so he ordered that fishing, farming, hunting and lumbering were all forbidden. The Chinese government has also taken a lot of actions to protect Changbai Mountain.

After visiting this valley we were taken to Baiyong Spring, where we could fill our bottle with the drinkable water. The water was so cold that I had to take my hand out from the water now and then while filling the bottle.

I lived on this bottle of cold water whole day, believe it or not.

The water from here is colorless, odorless, free from visible alien matter, crystal-clear, with no sedimentation or seston, nice and cool to drink, with unique sense to the mouth.

The spring has water temperature of 6.5-7 degree celsius. The mineral water contains cilicic acid of 48.5-49.97 mg/L.

By the way, the two scenic spots are not free or included in the 528 RMB (K213.82). We visited them voluntarily and paid 50 RMB (K20.14) to enter.

Going out from the Baiyong Spring, we were taken to the gate of Changbai Mountain and were going to visit the “heaven pool”.

We were not sure whether we could see vividly as the weather is unpredictable on the top of the mountain.

Note: The writer is Chinese who teaches English at Shenyang University of Technology. She loves PNG so much and believes her experience will give some idea on the importance of tourism products in PNG. For comments, e-mail or SMS 71489901.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Madang Hopes for the Big Show Sept 16 - 19

This article was published Sunday Sep 6, 2009 by Sunday Chronicle under "Asia Pacific Perspective: China + column".

By Mathew Yakai

IF ANY provinces currently values and prepares for a big celebration to coincide with Papua New Guineas’ 34th Independent Anniversary then Madang Province is one.

Madang Show will coincide with PNG’s 34th birthday. What an extravaganza and double feast for the people of Madang and the visitors who will join in this celebration, valuing the birth of our motherland and showcasing the cultural diversity of Madang and PNG.

With the theme, “Kainkain Pasin Tumbuna, Em Yumi Madang” is to show-off the Mountain, River, Valley and Sea people of Beautiful Madang to see if they can scare-off the flying foxes with their kundu beats. Come and see if that happens! Otherwise, the flying foxes would be an additional showcase for the visitors.

Not only that! The registered 45 singsing groups include groups from Morobe, Eastern Highlands, East Sepik and people from other provinces residing in Madang.

Chairman of Madang Festival Show Stotick Kamya told this scribe that last years’ show theme was, “Kainkain Pasin Em Yumi Madang” but the theme did not specify what kind of pasin (events). So this year his Committee decided to include “Tumbuna” to depict the absolute diversity of cultures Madang boasts today.

This is in line with the Committee’s ambition to fervently display to the children of beautiful Madang the fact of their cultural diversity. And visitors will join in this Show too.

The highlight of the show will be the traditional singsing dances to show the real “pasin tumbuna”. Another attraction will be the involvement of Madang International Community to showcase their traditional uniqueness.

If you are unable to go overseas to see and experience foreign cultures then this is your golden chance. Groups from India, China, Nepal, Australia, United States and others will be in their traditional costumes and show-off their pride with the message that not only PNG and Madang but the globe is truly diverse with cultures, traditions, languages, religion, ethnicity but yet we can live harmoniously with one peace. Thanks God for this!

Talking of international community, a former chef at Madang Resort, Dereck Frizel now resides in Australia will be in town with his five men band adding to PNG music the gospel, country, Western and classical flavors. He loves Madang and funds his own travel to the show to be part of the Event.

Bamboo band is synonymous with Madang. But in North Solomons they also use bamboo without guitar to make an absolutely unique sound. And across to our Melanesian brothers, the Solomon Islanders use bamboo pipes and they are referred to as “pipers”.

This scribe is compelled that Solomon Pipers and North Solomons bamboos have some commonalities in their proud music. In this Madang Show, Gate Way Band and New Age Band from North Solomons will mesmerize the show-goers. This is all about music out from an object called “bamboo”. Come and discover yourself.

Oh yes! During my childhood days, radio Western Highlands used to play a lot of Madang Bamboo band music’s recorded by Kalang Studio. Some of the Western Highlands string bands like Highway Rumors tried to copy the Madang bamboo band style but they could not because there was no Madang blood in them.

Chairman Mr. Kamya said, “We want to encourage bamboo band in the show. That’s the identity for Madang.”

Other events of the show will include greasy pole, marathon, tug of war, local brass band, gospel concert, string band, theatre group, bicycle race, marine games, floats, arts and crafts sales and many more.

Greasy pole will be different this time due to an experience last year. Prices will not be hanged up in the pole where the successful climber will get. Instead, they will be kept at the grand stand and the successful climber will present himself/herself to get the price.

Last year, the successful climber dropped the bicycle from the pole and somebody on the ground happened to get away with the price.

And for the first time, two poles will be erected where one will be for the young and one for the old. So at last, the old can see fit to climb the greasy pole. This will be a fun filled game.

Probably next time, we might erect another pole for the females. This is something for the committee to think about. But females are at liberty to challenge with their male counterparts to climb one of the two poles in this Show.

Another interesting event will be the fishing game under marine sports. In this game, the first person who catches first five fish will walk away with first price. But the second price will depend on the weight and sizes of the fish.

Canoe racing will be fascinating as well. People of all ages will be in different categories to paddle away fighting the waves to be the best. It would be exciting to see some highlanders who have never been to sea to paddle.

Mr. Kamya said his Committee planned to bring in the PNG Defence Force and the original Paramana Strangers to add color to the Show but due to financial problem, they will not be in town. But he said this will not hinder the excitement of the Show because what is currently in place is sufficient and full of events.

For the power band lovers, Madang show will not give prominence as the Show Committee is encouraging more traditional events like string bands, singsing groups and others that relate to real Madang culture for the youths to be proud of their province.

Mr. Kamya said more singing groups have turned up to register but they were refused because the current show ground is unable to accommodate.

He said last year, about 100,000 people passed through the gate and this year he is expecting even more.

“My problem is how to cater for them. We have produced more tickets compared to last year,” he said.

He is also expecting more international tourists this year even though the traditional Madang Show date has been changed to Sept, affecting their travel.

This scribe asked Mr. Kamya on the law and order problem currently seem to be prevailing given the regular media publicity. But the adamant Chairman is on focus and reiterated that there is no crime statistics in Madang Province.

“What is reported in the media is not alarming. Crime statistics by police is not alarming like in Port Moresby, Lae, Mt Hagen and other major centers.”

“Madang is a peaceful town and now that small crimes like bag snatching, attempted robberies etc are reported, they think it’s serious. It is not that serious.” Mr. kamya said.

He further said that Madang is experiencing rapid economic boom and petty problems are likely to happen.

“It’s part of life but we will manage this. No where in the world is a peaceful place as long as there is human being. Madang is no exception but ours is very minor compared with rest of PNG,” Mr. Kamya said.

He said his committee is arranging for Lae police to provide security with the help of Madang Police.

Mr. Kamya said the Ward Councilors in Madang and youths have also taken ownership of the Show to ensure a peaceful and enjoyable Show.

“We are confident that this Show will go well. We are confident with the police, CIS, communities in and around Madang.”

“We want to ensure the people enjoy their culture. There were minor problems last year but we managed it. This time we will manage it with the help of Madang peace loving people,” he said.

Meanwhile, business houses in Madang and Madang Provincial Government have sponsored the Show in cash and kind.

“Business houses have been generally good with their usual support,” he said.

Mr. Kamya personally thanked Ramu NiCo, though being new in Madang has been the major sponsor this year with K20,000 donated on Wednesday 2. Last year Ramu NiCo donated K10,000.

“I hope that Ramu NiCo will be our long term partner in this Show and other events in Madang. I thank the management of Ramu NiCo and Chinese Government as the Chairman of Madang Festival Show and Chairman of the Madang Chamber of Commerce.

Chief Technical Director of Ramu NiCo Dr. James Wang presented the cheque on behalf of Ramu NiCo at the Ramu NiCo Madang Office Complex.

“We are very pleased to be part of the Madang Festival Show,” Dr. Wang said.

Governor of Madang Province Hon. Sir Arnold Amet and Mr. Gu Yuxiang, Executive Vice President of Ramu NiCo were present to witness the ceremony. Others included officials from governor’s office, board members of the Madang Provincial Event Council and officials from Ramu NiCo.

Mr. Gu emphasized that Ramu NiCo is proud to be part of Madang community to create a harmonious society for all people to live in a friendly and safer environment despite their cultural differences.

“We are happy to support the Madang Show and be part of the Madang community,” Mr. Gu said.

Governor Sir Amet while thanking Ramu NiCo for the sponsorship said that his administration is fostering for a long term working relationship with Ramu NiCo for the benefit of the people of Madang.

“Ramu NiCo is here for longer and we have to create a social and economic partnership,” Sir Amet said.

Other business houses in Madang have also supported the Madang Show in cash and kind that will be used to ensure that activities of various kinds are staged so that the show-goers enjoy.

Madang Provincial Government under the administration of Governor Sir Arnold Amet sees that Madang Show is no ordinary Show because it will coincide with the 34th PNG Independence Anniversary.

Come and enjoy Madang Festival Show with the peace loving people of Madang.

Note: This commentary is in line with Sunday Chronicle’s mission to promote positive journalism in PNG. This is Sunday Chronicles contribution to encourage tourism in Madang. For comments, e-mail the writer at: or SMS 71489901

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Over-matter on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in PNG

This article is published on Sunday Sep 6, 2009 by Sunday Chronicle newspaper in Papua New Guinea under "letter from China" column.

By Manson O’iki in Hubei, China

THERE’S a small but growing community of people who are trying to bring some clarity to the debate about forest protection in the run-up to Copenhagen, specifically the REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) process.

A 'project based' approach for REDD would allow bits of forest to be 'bought up' by organizations, who'd pay to protect the forest in return for securing rights to the future carbon credits from it.

There are real problems with the project-based approach. Without a wider plan for making emissions cuts, it’s difficult to know how long the project will last, whether it represents additional carbon savings compared to 'business as usual', whether the forest being protected leads to other forest being cleared, a problem known as 'leakage', and increased vulnerability to corruption.

We'd actually argue that project based offsets operate as a distraction, discouraging real solutions to climate change and biodiversity protection.

PNG has been leading the way in international negotiations over avoided deforestation in the hope of curbing greenhouse gas emissions, an objective known as REDD.

However, a recent scandal has led to the suspension of the head of Office of Climate Change. This has happened at a difficult time when PNG should be working on a national legislation for REDD, and prepare for Copenhagen, instead of wasting time and resources on investigating our own Office of Climate Change (OCC).

Meanwhile, the OCC needs to get on with developing an Interim Low Carbon Development Strategy, which emphasizes the REDD policy agenda. Part of this involves looking at securing land for REDD and for benefit sharing.

Another part of this strategy involves looking at the drivers of deforestation and degradation in the country. Again, much needed work. You can't just buy up a few blocks of forest in the country, slap a REDD sticker on them and hope that deforestation will go away. Finally, an economic analysis of REDD costs is also needed in the country.

So much work, so little time. So how are we going to do it? The government is probably going to call in highly expensive foreign consultants to assist prepare for Copenhagen to develop the national REDD and climate change plan.

Now I can guess what some of you are probably wondering, shouldn't PNG be doing this all for itself rather than calling in expensive foreign consultants?

Well in an ideal world, which this isn't, perhaps and only if we had all the expertise we need. Remember that there are stacks of people fretting about whether PNG (and many other countries) are going to manage to get this all right.

How will leakage be avoided? How can REDD truly address the drivers of deforestation? How can we manage forest conservation at the same time as promoting a sustainable low-carbon development path? How can we increase agricultural productivity as a way of reducing pressure on forestry? Well, guess what? This is exactly the sort of thing that these highly expensive consultants know all about. Of course they don't come cheap, and they are not without their problems.

But PNG is a different country with a different set of problems, and a low baseline of deforestation is not one of them. So it will certainly be interesting to see what these consultants will come up with.

Where to find the money? Well UN-REDD is likely to be asked, and all the usual government donors. The Australians, in particular, might be a good source to tap. Our entire carbon strategy seems to be to buy carbon offsets abroad, whether or not these are produced by the rules and regulations of a mandatory market.

In recent months, a number of fascinating discussions have been held across several media avenues that have helped to further unravel the story of forest carbon deals in PNG.

This has helped to throw some light onto a process that had formerly been going on behind the scenes, and at least allow some level of public scrutiny. What is so informative about these discussions is that involves a discussion between some of the main players in private forest carbon projects in PNG.

Carbon Planet, one of the representatives of the landowners involved in a carbon deal in Kamula Doso.

Most of those involved in negotiating over REDD say that rules and regulations should be properly set before a market for these forest carbon credits is introduced and traded. But holding back the private sector from doing deals in advance of Copenhagen is impossible.

While REDD policy allows debate about whether it should work at a project level or a national level, the private sector is busy answering this question buying up projects all over the place.

Instead of a national baseline for deforestation that the government is trying to minimize, bits of forest here-and-there are being tied up in deals. And you can't simply blame 'carbon cowboys', charities and environmental NGOs are all doing project level deals as well.

How will these project level forests avoid 'leakage' and the movement of forest destruction to other areas of the country? They probably won't, which makes it a concern and which is why people arguing about whether REDD should work at a project or national level.

One question that crops up again and again in forums discussing carbon trading in PNG is the question of how such trading is possible and what laws allow it? The answer appears to be quite deceptively simple.

The laws that allow forest carbon trading are as simple as those that allow me to sell you any piece of property that I own. Indeed, I could sell you the spirits in the trees, if you were convinced I had the ownership rights to them and could transfer this ownership to you.

And this is in essence what is going on in PNG right now. For all the talk of REDD and carbon markets in the future between nations, the deals done right now and carbon being traded, seems to involve just a voluntary market between individuals and corporations. The market that offers you ways of offsetting your airplane flights, or car journeys.

Where does REDD come in? Well the idea is that when Copenhagen arrives, a deal over REDD would create a large and valuable mandatory market.

A highly regulated market where governments would be obliged to buy forest carbon credits in order to offset their pollution, mostly from power generation.

It seems there is an expectation that these voluntary agreements being done right now could somehow be turned into some kind of REDD credits and traded on that market.

And even if official trading doesn't begin for years, just the creation of REDD at Copenhagen would stimulate the market to produce options to deliver REDD credits.

So the point about these deals is that entrepreneurs are betting that the voluntary credits they are developing today will be transferable to forest carbon credits that can be upgraded and traded on the grown-up markets for more money later down the line.

And while that speculation might be unhelpful at this stage, far bigger risks have been taken in business for far less potential reward. So it isn't unexpected. Furthermore there is the attraction of potentially huge profits.

In some parts of the world, the cost of conserving an acre of rainforest is ludicrously low compared with even low estimates of the vale of the carbon per acre. That is sort of the point of a market, is that the private sector finds the cheapest ways to conserve carbon.

The trouble is that this is never going to be a normal market, its a highly regulated market created by national and international legislation in order to achieve a public good.

The public will simply not be comfortable with massive windfall profits for a few entrepreneurs, or even the landowners themselves. There is already an idea floating around that such profits need to be taxed, and put into other carbon avoiding projects.

Although it is hard to know exactly what is going on, I think it might be valuable to conduct a thought experiment.

Let’s imagine that I've got a couple of thousand dollars I want to invest in PNG forestry in a credit project. How might I go about doing this? Well for a start, I don't actually want to buy anything physical like a forest. I want to buy the rights to trade. And I want to part with as little money as possible initially, because I want to buy as many rights as possible.

I start a whirlwind tour of the provinces, the further the better. I make friends with the landowners and sweeten them up with cash and gifts.

I explain that the world needs to conserve forests because of something that has been put in the atmosphere, and that I'll act as a broker for them to make sure they get the best deal. I'll take a percentage, and maybe a fee.

I sign deals with the landowners that gives me the sole rights to negotiate and sell carbon on their behalf.

All I have to do now is hire a few consultants to buff out a few reports about how big the trees are and how happy all the locals are, and I'd be very nicely set up to do a massive post-Copenhagen deal.

What is more, if the consultant's reports look particularly convincing, I might even be able to recoup my initial investment at a very early stage by getting further infusions of investment by selling off a portion of my rights to someone else, perhaps in the form of some kind of option for REDD credits. With more cash in hand, I go off again in search of more rights to buy.

What makes all this even more fabulous a proposal is that if anyone complains about what I am doing, or questions its transparency or processes, I can cite commercial confidentiality and then complain to all and sundry about how all I am trying to do is save the world and give local people some kind of way of surviving without cutting down their trees.

I'm a good person and all these horrid people just want to make me out to look like I'm doing something wrong.

Some of these deals may be absolutely fine, we just don't know. What we need in PNG, is some way of publicly notifying these deals.

A simple way of doing this would be government-backed project deal webpages. Proposed forest carbon deals should be published on them, so that if any landowners feel there is something awry, or there are competing claims, this should be immediately apparent, and these claims should be published.

Kamula Doso is a legal nightmare. We don't want more of these cases. This is not simply private business. All these companies want to sell credits on the mandatory markets.

It’s going to be our money that is buying these credits. We have a right to more information. If companies want privacy over their deals, they have to guarantee that these credits will not be traded on mandatory markets.

It’s a small price to pay for access to a billion dollar public market that is ultimately paid for by higher taxes and fuel prices in developed nations.

Finally, given that there is a legitimate public interest, we really do need to know what the landowners understand by these deals and what they've been told.

In medical research a concept that has developed is "informed consent", it isn't just enough for a subject to say yes to an experiment or procedure, you have to be able to provide proof that the people who have agreed have sufficient understanding of what they have agreed to.

I wonder if this might be a useful concept for these environmental deals with local landowners. Here is a standard definition:

"Informed consent is a legal procedure to ensure that a patient or client knows all of the risks and costs involved in a treatment. The elements of informed consents include informing the client of the nature of the treatment, possible alternative treatments, and the potential risks and benefits of the treatment. In order for informed consent to be considered valid, the client must be competent and the consent should be given voluntarily"

In conclusion: More transparency over deals. Where they are being done, what financial arrangements and promises have been made, and what the landowners really understand and have been told.

I'm all in favor of markets for environmental services. But let’s recall that this is a special market, created entirely by legislation, for a policy outcome which is less carbon in the atmosphere for the least cost.

While the private sector must be given the incentives the world needs to invest money, this market will never sit comfortably with massive windfall profits, whomever they fall to. That is just one of the current unresolved debates underway over REDD.

Note: Manson studies Masters of Science in Petroleum Engineering at China University of Geosciences in Wuhan City, Hubei Province.