Thursday, May 27, 2004

Port Moresby Memories

Port Moresby in 1977 was a great place. I was working on secondment in their version of Telstra at the time. Hot days and nights. It was a time not long after independence and the country was hopeful for a prosperous future. The people in PNG are like everyone else in the world, there are brilliant clever types, normal people, crooks, hard workers and lazy sods and everything else you would get anywhere. The culture is different, there are hundreds of different clans all with their own way of doing things and seeing the world. Individually the people are like people everywhere. I worked and socialised with many of them and had a laugh and a beer quite often. The expatriate community was similar to expats everywhere, many were not suited to the role (me amongst them) again all for different reasons, immaturity, racism (though not common) money etc.

Port Moresby was a melting pot with mainly men from all over the country having gone there for money, excitement and escape etc. It was a good place to live there were some dangerous times and places but generally you could go where you wanted when you wanted. I remember snorkeling off Ella beach until it was dark, drinking and eating at the beachfront RSL (now gone), parties most weekends, scuba diving on basilisk reef, packing the ute with a mate and driving as far as we could for beach weekends sharing food and drink with the locals. The speedway. the drive in, the swimming pool, car rallies, fishing and exploring old ww2 sites.

What happened? My friends there now live in compounds and it is one of the most dangerous cities in the world. If these are the benefits of independence perhaps the place would have been better off becoming a state of Australia. Sure there would have been fewer opportunities for grandstanding politicians but who cares, the people would have been better off. I have no great affection for Indonesia, however I can understand some of the reasons for their occupation of Irian Jaya and East Timor after all who wants a failed state on their doorstep. It will only export fear and misery to neighboring countries and destroy its own citizens.

What can be done?

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