Monday, 13 January 2020
Happy memories of Papua New Guinea
Our recent visit to the Solomon Islands brought back memories of the time I spent in Papua New Guinea with my father. He was head of the UNDP there for seven years, and it was the highlight of his UN career. He loved dressing in his ‘colonial whites’ with knee-length socks and being in charge! He was particularly challenged and rewarded by the West Papuan refugee crisis that erupted in 1977. As I write in the book, he said in a self-congratulatory letter to me
‘I may save the lives of many people who might otherwise be pushed back into a very uncertain fate...I’m just doing my job and not for myself either.’
He gave a long account of his adventures in Bensbach and Suki, hundreds of miles west of Port Moresby, the capital, and right on the border with Irian Jaya, where his landing was denied despite the assurances of co-operation...After his visit, he gave a press conference and numerous radio interviews, with his voice being ‘beamed over the world’. He felt ‘glad to have stuck my neck out. It may have saved some people some unpleasantness and it has greatly enhanced the reputation of the UN in PNG.’
The gorgeous kids we saw in the Solomons, and the unchanged way of life in the islands, reminded me of the times I used to visit him while I was at university and the adventures we both had there.
In other news, I have done my bit: the cover is in final stages, the queries are answered and the lawyers have been through it all with a fine tooth comb...now it should be ready to go into production. Thank you for your patience!
Here is a signed photo of Dad receiving his farewell gift from the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Julius Chan. Note the colonial dress and the monocle in his top pocket!