West Papua Is Resource Rich: Esther Pan

Ms. Marohasy,

I am writing from the Council on Foreign Relations, in New York. We wanted to alert you to a piece we recently published which might be of interest to your readership.

It is on the recent protests over natural resources in Papua — a topic of reasonable significance to Australians. You can find the piece at:


Thank you for your time.

Lee Hudson Teslik
Council on Foreign Relations


One Response to West Papua Is Resource Rich: Esther Pan

  1. rog April 22, 2006 at 9:46 am #

    Bougainville Island provides a similar case of Papuan politics, claims of environmental degradation and human rights abuses formed the basis for a claim for compensation of $billions.
    When the funds were not forthcoming war was made and the mine closed.

    At heart is the battle of ideology as tribalism meets individualism;

    “…Melanesia’s equivalent of our Crofters’ Wars may, in the light of national interest, be a less clear-cut case of oppression than was evident in Scotland 100 – 150 years ago with the Highland Clearances. Yet, in a subtle way, similar forces are at work which as Basil Peutalo suggests, disrupt the values of human centred societies and replaces them with a system where economic performance becomes the main yardstick of ontological worth. Promoting human fulfilment through the psychological displacement pursuit of unbridled resource consumption carries a cost against culture, nature and relationships which leads to the spiritual impoverishment of all humanity. As Gary Trompf, expert in Melanesian world views at the University of Sydney, told me recently, “I think we are seeing in this last grab for mining, logging and fishing resources the start of the Malthusian flashpoint; the period Thomas Malthus predicted when our growth and greed would outstrip the Earth’s carrying capacity. Here, in the remotest corner of the world, the full forces of Mammon are ripping through the few cultures left which could teach us something about sustainable living.

    Melanesian thinker, Utula Samana, sees hopeful signs of our learning from one another already happening. He writes, “We must impart the knowledge of total life. The Melanesian person’s whole livelihood is part of nature. I think the citizens in the West who are fighting for the quality of the environment – the Greenies (sic) – and those of us who are defining and practising a Melanesian model of development can come to terms in finding a path that can help humankind’s survival. We need to emphasize the science of human ecology in the curricula of our educational institutions, rather than the science of economics”

    As premier of Morobe Province, Samana successfully put this into practice by encouraging organic farming, appropriate technology and conscientisation workshops leading towards the PNG constitutional objective of integrated human development…


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