Monday, July 22, 2013

Land of the Unexpected ... and here is why!

PNG prides itself as the Land of the Unexpected. The people behind the slogan must have thought of it as something cool to attract visitors to the country. However, expats living and working here are using that slogan to explain to their new foreign friends the culture shocks they experienced. Here are some typical "shocks".

The article that got me started with the collection of news that seems to happen only in PNG was my in-laws get upset when I beat my wife. Well, what do you expect from the Land of the Unexpected?

It must be tough to be a wife in PNG. Click to enlarge the article
It is also a land where you find a priest beating up his security guard, in an assault that lands three in court. This must be his way of teaching forgiveness and love. I suppose that this happens only in this Land of the Unexpected. Now you know!.

A priest teaching hands-on violence! Click to enlarge the article
PNG is a country known as one of the most dangerous place to live in. So far, I have kept silent on negative reports about PNG because I did not want to add more bad news to what is already out there on the world-wide web. It brings no benefit to anyone. However, I guess it is now time for me to give a more balance view of PNG.

The lawlessness in PNG can be attributed to pure criminal acts, tribal fights and century-old tradition of payback killings and witch-hunting.

In payback killing, it is alright to kill an innocent person from a rival clan or village. Click to enlarge the article
Criminal acts occur in all countries and in PNG, most incidents are not reported in the public media. It is extremely common in Port Moresby. Tribal fights and the ensuing payback killings and compensations payments are frequent occurrences too, almost always involving tribes from the highland regions and occasionally with the coastal peoples.

Coastal peoples always mention that highlanders like Tari, Engans, Chimbu, Wabag and Central people like Goilala are lawless people. They fear and dislike them. I don't think such generalisation is fair to them but that is the common perception among the coastal peoples. Go back home to your land, said one peace-loving highland reader to his fellow highlanders.

Tribal fights among highlanders are common. Click to enlarge the article
People would not expect the son of a PM to commit crimes. A five million Kina compensation demand on Somare was made when his son attempted to shoot the governor of East Sepik Province. We don't expect this to happen elsewhere but what is new in the Land of the Unexpected. For readers who do not know, Somare was the serving Prime Minister at that time.

Paying compensation to solve disputes. Click to enlarge the article
What do you expect from the cops or disciplinary branches of the government of a lawless country? You can expect police to be lawless too, such as the time when they put up a police blockade. Police beating up police is quite common here.

Police vs police happens regularly in PNG. Click to enlarge the article
On the prison front, you can expect correctional services officers to lock out their boss over unpaid allowance. This would never happen elsewhere.

Insubordination is accepted in the disciplinary forces. Click to enlarge the article
There is enough lawlessness in PNG. Corruption is another major problem. Ask anyone who has been stopped by the traffic police or who deals with government departments. If given half a chance to siphon off public money, the bureaucrats would do it without hesitation. Who to blame for the 10% cut game?

Almost every bureaucrat is a Mr. 10 percent. Click to enlarge the article
When corruption is of epidemic proportion, what is there left for the ordinary people of PNG? Nothing! They have to endure poor infrastructure and poor medical facilities.  Even the capital city of Port Moresby needs ambulances. Can you believe that? The government did not even have money for an ambulance! In fact, there are only two ambulances in Port Moresby, one provided by St. John's Ambulance and the other by Pacific International Hospital. Tough luck for people in emergencies finding both ambulances unavailable!

Port Moresby is probably the only city in this world without a public ambulance service. Click to enlarge the article
The corrupted are so bold. They even dared to cheat an elected MP by giving him a worthless cheque and fleecing him of K10,000. Talking about boldness! Nobody can measure up to the Papuan New Guineans in term of boldness.
Fooling an MP! Click to enlarge the article
The ordinary folks have somehow learnt from their corrupted bureaucrats on how to make easy money. Just be creative. For example, make a demand for K12,000 compensation for a dead cat if someone caused its death, say when it was hit on a highway.

A dead cat was worth a lot of money in PNG. Click to enlarge the article
Anyway, let's forget about all this negative news for a while. In this Land of the Unexpected, it is better to be seasonal fruit pickers in Australia. When farm workers return, they will be treated with great honour. They would be garlanded and welcomed home by none other than the Minister of Labour and Industrial Relations himself and feted to a dinner. I am not sure whether the Minister is encouraging more graduates to be seasonal farm workers or not.

It's better to be fruit pickers than doctors. Click to enlarge the article
If you are still thinking of visiting PNG, we would like to welcome you to the Land of the Unexpected. Just expect the unexpected.

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