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Zimbabwe could seize companies

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 南宁夜生活 - (Comments Off on Zimbabwe could seize companies)

President Robert Mugabe’s government says the bill is part of its drive to empower the country’s poor majority and eliminate traces of the colonial past.


Legislators of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) kicked off debate on the bill, saying it was designed to enrich a few powerful individuals and win votes for the ruling ZANU-PF party in parliamentary and presidential elections due next March.

At the UN General Assembly in New York, US President George W. Bush denounced Mr Mugabe’s government as “tyrannical” and demanded freedom for the Zimbabwean people.

But African nations, closing ranks behind Mr Mugabe, insist on his presence at an EU-Africa summit in Portugal in December, Zimbabwe’s information minister said in response to the British prime minister’s refusal to attend if Mr Mugabe was there.

Repression blamed for exodus

Critics accuse the Zimbabwean government of causing the economic crisis by seizing white-owned farms and handing them to inexperienced black farmers, leading to soaring inflation and unemployment and crippling shortages that have forced hundreds of thousands to seek work and food abroad.

Mr Mugabe has denied charges of economic mismanagement and blames the crisis on Western sabotage.

The European Union has imposed targeted sanctions on members of his leadership group it accuses of rights abuses and election fraud.

A survey released in Johannesburg today showed political repression was an even bigger cause of Zimbabwean flight to South Africa than the economy.

Between two and three million Zimbabweans are estimated to have fled to South Africa.

“The government has cracked down on peaceful calls for reform and forced millions to flee their homeland…The United Nations must insist on change in Harare and…on the freedom of the people of Zimbabwe,” Mr Bush told the UN General Assembly.

Foreign conspiracy theory

The MDC’s Edwin Mushoriwa, leading parliament’s debate on the bill, told lawmakers: “What we are seeing is an attempt obviously to use this as a campaign tool to woo voters for the elections and to give money to a few people.”

Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Paul Mangwana and ZANU-PF legislators defended the bill and accused its opponents of trying to perpetuate economic imbalances brought about by colonialism.

“If we do not dismantle the structure of colonialism that we inherited, then we have not given back all the country’s resources to its rightful owners, our people,” he said.

Mr Mugabe, 83 and in power since independence from Britain in 1980, has accused some foreign-owned firms of working with his Western opponents to topple his government by raising prices without reason.

He has threatened to seize foreign businesses.

Mr Mangwana tried to allay business fears by saying the government would work with industries to set timetables for foreign-owned firms to transfer majority ownership to locals.

“We are not going to indigenise in a day,” he said.

Fears for the economy

Mining and business officials said the law could accelerate the decline of an economy that has shrunk by at least 30 per cent since 1999.

“Zimbabwe is now seen as a high-risk destination because of uncertainty over security of tenure and lack of confidence in the rule of law,” Chamber of Mines leader Jack Murewa said.

Information Minister Sikhanhyiso Ndlovu told journalists Mr Mugabe had solid African backing to attend the December summit.

“If any pressure is put on Portugal not to invite President Mugabe, SADC will also not attend and the AU will not attend,” he said, referring to the Southern African Development Community and the African Union.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said last week he would not attend the summit if Mr Mugabe did because Mr Mugabe’s presence would divert attention from important agenda items.

The EU-Africa summit did not take place in 2003 after Britain and other EU states refused to attend if Mr Mugabe did.

Somalians on the brink of starvation flee

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 南宁夜生活 - (Comments Off on Somalians on the brink of starvation flee)

More than 170,000 people have fled fighting in Somalia's capital in the past two weeks, as up to a million people face starvation.


The humanitarian crisis already facing the country is worsening, according to the United Nations’ refugee agency.

With near-daily clashes between Ethiopia-Somali forces and Islamist rebels, the UNHCR said it was doling out its last stocks from Mogadishu to the displaced, but warned of tough conditions as host areas struggle with the influx.

Some 90,000 people have fled to Afgooye, 30 kilometres west of Mogadishu, which has already taken in some 150,000 displaced people since the beginning of the year.

In the Afgooye area, “people can no longer find space for shelter around the town itself,” UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said in Geneva.

“Many families are simply living under trees.

Although several NGOs are trucking water to the sites, it's not enough to meet demand,” he added.

Traders stayed away from the volatile Bakara market, where forces have been searching for weapons.

Government troops patrolled strategic positions in the city, but insurgents have stayed out of sight.

President calls on residents

Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed urged Mogadishu residents to join the fight against rebels or risk getting caught in the ensuing crossfire.

“People in neighbourhoods must also fight the Shabab and chase them away.

“Otherwise they are the ones who suffer in crackdowns,” he said, referring to the radical armed wing of the main Somali Islamist movement.

Dozens of people, mainly civilians, have been killed and at least 170,000 displaced in some of the worst fighting since April, when Ethiopian troops swept aside the Islamists who had briefly governed much of the country, including Mogadishu.

Witnesses said Ethiopian forces indiscriminately shot civilians in a bid to clamp down on insurgents.

“When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers,” said Mr Yusuf, but the UN special envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, said such impunity was “unacceptable”.

Mr Ould-Abdallah raised the prospect of retribution for alleged war crimes that have long been ignored.

“People perpetuating crimes and violence are not being challenged before the International Criminal Court,” he said.

“I think the time has come to see what international justice can do to help Somalis,” he said in Nairobi, where he became the first top UN envoy to make such a call for trials before the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal.

The recent clashes have worsened the humanitarian crisis that has dogged the nation for 16 years, with areas just outside the city struggling to cope with the latest influx of displaced people.

One million faced with starvation

The Shabelle region – Somalia's breadbasket – has suffered its worst crop in 13 years, putting the lives of nearly a million on the edge of starvation.

Aid workers have also said that the few who remained in the worst-affected areas of Mogadishu are beyond the reach of the relief net and face dire conditions.

Dampening peace prospects, Mr Yusuf said future peace talks, if any, would exclude Islamists, some of whose elements have been accused of terrorism.

“I will hold dialogue and consultations and reach peace deals with any group that will denounce violence.”

In Mogadishu, government forces yanked two more radio stations off the air, a day after shutting Radio Shabelle, one of the largest broadcasters in the capital.

The government said stations that “exaggerate the (security) situation” will be shut.

Mr Ould-Abdallah condemned the closure, saying: “This is the kind of thing that should be avoided.”

The International Federation of Journalists said the move was “appalling” and demanded the channels be reopened “immediately and unconditionally.”

Bloody clan bickering and power struggles that intensified after the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre have scuppered many bids to stabilise Somalia.

ETA vows more attacks on Spain

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 南宁夜生活 - (Comments Off on ETA vows more attacks on Spain)

In its first communique since the end of a 14-month ceasefire in June, ETA said the peace process launched by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero offered no political solutions and only sought the group’s surrender.


“ETA will continue hitting the structure of the Spanish state on all fronts until achieving democratic conditions that allow the defence of all political projects,” the group said in the statement published in Basque newspaper Gara.

ETA, which stands for Basque Homeland and Freedom, said Spain’s Socialist government wanted to dismantle efforts to seek an independent Basque state.

“All of ETA’s efforts to reach an agreement and represent the rights of the Basque country have failed,” the group said.

ETA claims explosions

ETA used the statement to claim responsibility for July explosions on the Tour de France cycle course, an August car bombing of a Basque police station, the explosion of a motor home in August and an attack last week in the La Rioja region.

ETA has killed more than 800 people in four decades of armed struggle to create an independent Basque state in areas of northern Spain and southwestern France.

When ETA called off the ceasefire in June it also blamed the Socialist government for the breakdown in talks and vowed to attack Spanish police and other targets.

Spain’s ruling Socialist party today said ETA’s political proposals for a Basque state were unacceptable.

ETA has only minority support among Basques, polls show.

“They broke the ceasefire because the government rejected their political proposals and I want to tell the terrorist group ETA that we’ve said no and we’ll keep on telling them no,” said Jose Blanco, Socialist party secretary.

In the Basque city of San Sebastian police today broke up a rally in support of ETA prisoners and arrested the leader of an amnesty movement along with five others.

Spain’s central government had outlawed the demonstration and two people were injured as police and demonstrators clashed.

Trade dominates Day Two talks

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 南宁夜生活 - (Comments Off on Trade dominates Day Two talks)

Prime Minister John Howard says the leaders, who represent major trading nations such as the United States, Japan, China and Russia, will issue a statement later in the day on trade talks now under way in Geneva.


The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum is expected to pledge to ensure that the moribund Doha round of global trade talks enter their final phase this year.

Free trade talks

Asia-Pacific foreign and trade ministers meeting in Sydney have already agreed to accelerate global free trade talks.

US President George W Bush has called at APEC for more flexibility in world trade talks, saying the Doha round of talks in Geneva was a "once-in-a-generation opportunity".

APEC's 21-member economies account for half of global trade and nearly 60 per cent of the world's gross domestic product.

‘Close to deal’

Trade negotiators may be edging closer to a deal on the most divisive issues in the Doha talks, WTO director-general Pascal Lamy says.

"There is a strong sense that it's make-or-break moment.

“It may take a few weeks, but my sense is that there is a lot of focus and energy," Mr Lamy told CNBC in a taped interview.

Urgent negotiations

US Trade Representative Susan Schwab, who is attending APEC, says she also sees a sense of urgency and motivation among negotiators.

The Doha Round, named after the Qatari capital where negotiations were launched in November 2001, was first meant to wrap up by the end of 2004.

The talks have struggled to overcome many countries' resistance to open their farm and manufacturing sectors to more competition.

‘Aspirational’ climate goals

The APEC leaders agreed yesterday to a "long-term aspirational goal" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but no binding targets.

They also said all nations, developing and developed, should contribute according to their own capacities and circumstances to reducing greenhouse gases.

Green groups say the "Sydney Declaration" was a failure without binding targets to cut greenhouse emissions.

Tight security

The leaders met behind a tight security cordon at the Sydney Opera House, after police say they feared violent street protests against the Iraq war and global warming.

But yesterday's anti-APEC protest march was peaceful, with only a few arrests.

The final day of the conference will proceed without President Bush, who flew out of Australia late on Saturday.

Mr Bush returned home early to prepare for a major report on the progress of the Iraq war.

Billionaire Richard Pratt gravely ill

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 南宁夜生活 - (Comments Off on Billionaire Richard Pratt gravely ill)

Billionaire packaging tycoon Richard Pratt, one of Australia\’s richest men, is reported to be gravely ill, suffering from what is believed to be prostate cancer.


Federal Victorian Labor MP Bill Shorten, a family friend, said he had met with the Pratt family on Monday night.

He said Mr Pratt was in a serious condition.”I can explain, but I\’m going to leave that for the family out of respect,” Mr Shorten told the ABC.

Under further questioning about the nature of Mr Pratt\’s illness, Mr Shorten said “gravely ill” was the only way he would describe it.

The controversies surrounding Mr Pratt in recent years had been tough, Mr Shorten said, but he is a strong man.

Philanthropy hailed

“I can\’t claim to see into his mind and his morale at the moment and he is ill, and he has and is a big contributor to public life.

“I think it\’s fair to say that Richard Pratt is currently held in very high respect by many many people in Victoria and Australia, he employed thousands of people in good jobs.

“And his family do great social work, not only in Australia but overseas.”

Mr Pratt was an actor, businessman, involved heavily in the community and is worthy of the nation\’s respect, Mr Shorten said.

As one of Australia\’s richest men and biggest philanthropist, Mr Pratt is worth more than $5 billion.

Price-fixing allegations

He built up the Visy packaging company into an international empire, but came into strife over alleged price fixing.

The Federal Court is currently deciding whether the evidence Mr Pratt gave in a 2007 civil case can be used in a criminal trial against him.

He faces four charges of giving false or misleading evidence to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) at a hearing in 2005.

At the time, he denied a conversation he allegedly had about price fixing with Amcor chief executive Russell Jones at a hotel in Melbourne in 2001.

It is believed Mr Pratt has prostate cancer and is resting in his home in the wealthy Melbourne suburb of Kew.

Rising Hewitt secures US Open seeding

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 南宁夜生活 - (Comments Off on Rising Hewitt secures US Open seeding)

Hewitt soared 10 positions on Monday following his march to the quarter-finals of last week’s Cincinnati Masters, where world No.


1 Roger Federer underlined his Open title favouritism with a straight-sets final victory over the fourth-ranked Novak Djokovic.

Hewitt is now ranked 32nd, having dropped to as low as 108 in February after missing the last four months of the 2008 season following career-saving hip surgery last August.

The 28-year-old former world No.1 will be seeded even higher than his ranking at Flushing Meadows due to injuries to several players above him in the ATP standings, including long-time Argentine foe David Nalbandian.

Hewitt’s Open seeding guarantees the 2001 champion a far smoother passage to the third round in New York as he is certain not to draw any higher-ranked opponents for his first two matches.

Top 20 ranking likely

He has no chance of striking the likes of Federer, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal or Djokovic in the opening round at Friday’s draw in New York.

Regardless how he fares at the Open, Hewitt will continue to climb the rankings because he has no points to defend between now and the Sydney International in January.

Cincinnati was Hewitt’s sixth quarter-final of the season and, on current form, he remains on track to end the season inside the top 20, which would also significantly boost his chances of a decent run at the 2010 Australian Open.

Fellow Australian Samantha Stosur will be seeded in the top 16 at a grand slam for the first time next week following confirmation on Monday of her rise from 17th to 15th in the women’s rankings.

Stosur has qualified for the quarter-finals or better of five WTA events in 2009, not to mention her charge to the last four at the French Open two months ago, and will arrive in the Big Apple as one of the hottest players on tour when the hardcourt slam starts next Monday.

Obama, McCain lock horns on energy

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 南宁夜生活 - (Comments Off on Obama, McCain lock horns on energy)

In their third and final televised debate before the November 4 election, Obama — the frontrunner in the race to succeed President George W.


Bush — said getting the auto industry to create “highly fuel efficient cars” would be a top priority.

“Transportation accounts for about 30 percent of total energy consumption,” he said. “If we can get that right, then we can move in a direction not only of energy independence, but (also) we can create five million new jobs all across


Many of those jobs, he said, would be in the US industrial heartland where auto plants can be retooled to manufacture not only fuel efficient vehicles, but also wind turbines and solar panels.

Such forms of clean energy, he said, “should be the driver of our economy for the next century”.

McCain reiterated his support for stepping up offshore drilling, as well as the construction “right away” of 45 nuclear power stations.

“We have sailed navy ships around the world for 60 years with nuclear power plants on them,” said the Republican candidate, a US Navy aviator during the Vietnam War, arguing for the safety of nuclear power.

McCain favored harnessing the wind, the tides and the sun as new energy sources, then went on to endorse the development of “clean coal technology” in the US heartland “that is hurting rather badly.”

“In 10 years we can reduce our dependence (on foreign energy) so that we no longer have to import oil from the Middle East or Venezuela,” he said.

While favoring more offshore drilling, and compelling oil companies to drill on American land on which they hold leases, McCain joined Obama in calling for a new kind of fuel efficient automobile.

“We only have three to four percent of the world's oil reserves and we use 25 percent of the world's oil, which means we can't drill our way out of the problem,” he said.

“It is critical we develop a high fuel-efficient car that's built not in Japan or South Korea, but here in the United States of America. We invented the auto industry and the fact that we have fallen so far behind is something we have to work on.”

'Better days ahead' promises Obama

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Barack Obama has promised Americans there are 'better days ahead' despite plummeting global stock markets, rising job losses and dark clouds of economic gloom.


The Democratic nominee struck an inspirational note on the day after his latest debate clash with John McCain, but intensified his relentless drive to saddle his Republican foe with President George W. Bush's unpopular legacy.

Obama's call for national steadfastness in the hours of crisis came as he stretched his lead to 11 points in the latest daily Gallup tracking poll over McCain – less than four weeks before the November 4 election.

“I'm here today to tell you that there are better days ahead,” Obama told a large, ethnically diverse crowd which was soaked by a rainstorm before the Democrat arrived in Indiana, a once solid Republican state which is now a battleground.

“I know that many of you are anxious about the future. But this isn't a time for fear or panic. This is a time for resolve and leadership,” Obama said, vowing the United States would steer its way out of the crisis.

'New leadership'

As global stock markets reeled from heavy losses, Obama warned America could not afford another four years of Republican economic strategy.

“I can take four more weeks of John McCain's attacks, but the American people can't take four more years of John McCain's George Bush policies,” Obama told a large crowd at the muddy Indiana State Fairgrounds.

“We've seen enough of where that leaves us and we are not going back.”

The McCain campaign has in recent days slammed Obama over his past association with 1960s radical William Ayers, questioned his patriotism and whether he shares basic heartland values.

Despite warning that the United States faced a moment of “great uncertainty”, Obama vowed to lead the country out of its economic convulsions if he is elected president.

“It will take new leadership in Washington. It will take a real change in the policies and politics of the last eight years,” Obama said.

Upbeat message

His tone appeared to be an attempt to frame an upbeat message to contrast with McCain, whom the Obama campaign is portraying as erratic and cranky after the latest debate clash.

The Democratic nominee's Indiana trip was a bid to stretch McCain's campaign, which polls show is struggling to cling onto states won by Bush in the 2004 election.

Latest polls give McCain an edge of a few points in a surprisingly tight race in the midwestern state, which has not voted Democrat in a presidential election since 1964.

Obama's vice presidential running mate Joe Biden meanwhile campaigned in another once-staunch Republican state which appears to be wavering as the economic crisis bites.

The Delaware senator said Obama had now got two debate wins and he had racked up one over his opposite number, Republican vice presidential pick Sarah Palin.

“I realize I'm slightly prejudiced about our ticket, but if this was a best of five series, it would be over, it would be done,” Biden said.

Poll lead increasing

McCain meanwhile flew to Pennsylvania to meet his combative running mate Sarah Palin, as the dust settled after the presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee on Tuesday.

Several snap post-debate polls said Obama won the clash, following his perceived victory in the first debate showdown two weeks ago, leaving McCain scrambling for a comeback with time running out before election day.

The latest Gallup Daily tracking poll on Wednesday had Obama stretching his lead nationally over McCain to 11 points.

His 52 per cent to 41 per cent edge represented his highest point of the campaign and the biggest gap so far between the candidates in the general election.

The poll was largely taken before the debate, and does not reflect audience perceptions of the clash.

A Rasmussen daily tracking poll however had the race much closer, but Obama still ahead, giving the Illinois senator a 51-45 per cent lead.

CIA admits to 'water-boarding'

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 南宁夜生活 - (Comments Off on CIA admits to 'water-boarding')

Michael Hayden told the US Senate intelligence panel today that waterboarding was used to glean information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri at a “critical time” because of worries more attacks were planned against the

United States.


“We used it against these three high-value detainees because of the circumstances of the time,” Mr Hayden said.

“Very critical to those circumstances was the belief that additional catastrophic attacks against the homeland were imminent.”

Mr Hayden's comments marked the first time a US official has identified detainees who were subjected to the technique that simulates drowning.

He said the three men were the only ones who were waterboarded, and that the CIA had not used the practice in five years.

“Waterboarding has been used on only three detainees,” Mr Hayden said.

“It was used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It was used on Abu Zubaydah. And it was used on Nashiri.”

Mohammed was captured in Pakistan in March 2003 and held in a secret CIA prison for years before being transferred last year to the US detention facility at Guantanamo, Bay, Cuba where he faces a military trial.

According to the Pentagon, Mohammed admitted to his role in planning the September 11 attacks and in the brutal 2002 slaying of Wall Street Journal reporter and US citizen Daniel Pearl in Pakistan.

Zubaydah was one of Osama bin Laden's closest deputies until his capture in Pakistan in 2002.

He was also secretly held before being transferred to Guantanamo.

Al-Nashiri, a senior level al-Qaeda operations planner captured in the United Arab Emirates in 2002, is also being held at Guantanamo.

Torture laws

The Bush administration refuses to say whether waterboarding is a violation of US torture laws.

President George W Bush has insisted the United States does not torture but has acknowledged the use of tough interrogation techniques in the war on terrorism.

The top US law enforcement official, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, told the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that because the CIA was not currently using the practice, there was no need for him to specify whether it was legal.

“Given that waterboarding is not part of the current program and may never be added to the current program, I don't think it would be appropriate for me to pass definitive judgment on the technique's legality,” Attorney-General Mukasey said.

He said there are some circumstances under US law that would “clearly” ban the use of waterboarding during interrogations, but in other cases it would “present a far closer question.”

“If this were an easy question, I would not be reluctant to offer my views on this subject,” Mr Mukasey said.

PNG-Moving Haus

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 南宁夜生活 - (Comments Off on PNG-Moving Haus)

REPORTER: David O’Shea

Melbourne art gallery owner Neil McLeod is so excited about what he’s about to see, he’s talked himself hoarse.


Neil is on a mission to preserve a part of Papua New Guinea’s cultural heritage.

NEIL MCLEOD, ART COLLECTOR: They’re putting the head dresses on at the moment. There’s meticulous detail in the face painting.

This is what Neil wants to preserve – a men’s spirit house, or haus tambaran, in the east Sepik region. Today we’re witnessing the last initiation ceremony to be held at this haus tambaran. Inside are the wood carvings which symbolise the spirit ancestors of the clan. Dressed up, these men represent those spirits.

It’s pretty scary stuff for the young and uninitiated, who’ve been taught to fear what is now emerging from the building. 30 years ago, there were scores of haus tambaran in this area, but as PNG develops, these important buildings are disappearing. Some have been burned or torn down at the encouragement of Christian missionaries. Others are just left to decay.

This is now the last remaining haus tambaran still in use in the east Sepik. Neil McLeod came up with the idea of buying it and taking it to his Melbourne gallery.

NEIL MCLEOD: My gallery in Melbourne houses already a beautiful Oceanic collection. At least in the museum situation it’s being preserved. It wouldn’t have been preserved out in the bush. And a lot of these pieces were meant to decay in the bush too. They’d finish with them – they’d burn them or whatever. A lot of people have modern boats, they’ve got outboard motors and they need fuel for them, so they’re selling some of the carvings now and I’m helping preserve those carvings, in my modest way.

Sebastian Haraha is from the National Museum in Port Moresby. He helped arrange the sale of the haus tambaran after Neil promised to preserve it in Melbourne.

SEBASTIAN HARAHA, NATIONAL MUSEUM PORT MORESBY: They are dying out. Some people may take it as a joke, but in reality, men’s houses are dying out. Which means the ceremonies associated with these men’s houses are also dying out. You see there with the piece of white cloths on their head? They go into the men’s house.

NEIL MCLEOD: Some of the little boys don’t know what they’re in for. They’ve got curious looks on their faces. They’re really scared, thinking, “What’s inside this big building?” They’ve never seen it. This is their first big day.

An initiation ceremony like this is held once every generation, a major milestone in a boy’s passage into manhood. The last such ceremony was held 15 years ago. Today the men who went through the last ceremony will take their sons inside for the first time.

Once they’ve passed through the haus tambaran and seen the spirit world, the boys are forbidden to talk about what they’ve seen. Their ancestral secrets are taken very seriously, and are not to be shared with women or the uninitiated.

SEBASTIAN HARAHA: If uninitiated sees it, he has to compensate – he has to pay – kill a pig for it. If he does not – he’s normally given a month or so – if he does not do it, he’ll be killed, because he might tell other people about what happens inside, what is inside.

But some of those passing through are not taking things as seriously as they should. And some of these children are much too young to be initiated. These indiscretions are too much for Kawi, a practitioner of black magic and the gatekeeper of the haus tambaran.

REPORTER: What was all that about?

NEIL MCLEOD: Some of the people haven’t done it according to the tradition. He’s the boss and he knows the way it should be done and he’s upset because people didn’t perform quite as he expected them to do. So he’s telling them, “This is our tradition. “You’ve got to do it right way.”

This chant is a lament that the young people are losing the secrets of the ‘myra’ or spirit world. For these elders it must be very hard to come to terms with the loss of traditions that they grew up with. It’s a source of tension within the clan. The man with the coconut is a Christian and he, like many here, has been taught to reject the sorcery and black magic of Kawi, the gatekeeper.

MAN, (Translation): Go away. Shut your mouth.

KAWI, (Translation): Don’t interrupt me. I’m trying to give an example. You shut up! I’m not scared of you. You go away. I can have power over you with magic.

ELDER, (Translation): I have something to say. Listen!

Some of the elders here are more pragmatic. They know that their world has changed forever and the time for black magic has passed.

ELDER, (Translation): Let’s look at traditional medicine for the sicknesses that are coming from the town. Men are dying, women and children are dying. The doctor has to look into that. Black magic is now finished. If you want to keep practising the custom, come and pick this up and go.

But it seems nobody is prepared to take on the challenge. There are various reasons for the rapid demise of traditional belief systems throughout Papua New Guinea, but a key factor is the spread of Christianity.

PASTOR: Well, I’m telling you there’s a revival taking place right now. There’s a transformation taking place right now. Amen.

A few kilometres away from the haus tambaran is an Assembly of God church.

PASTOR: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

The pastor here says the traditional ways are the wrong way.

PASTOR: You don’t want to have somebody come up and cause murder, take somebody else’s wife, you know, do all this other stuff. That in itself is paganism in the sense that it’s really not causing a good status of our lives.

Many churches in PNG would be happy to see the end of traditional culture. Another pastor told Sebastian Haraha from the museum that he wanted to get rid of his village’s haus tambaran.

SEBASTIAN HARAHA: The first thing he said was “Burn the men’s house down, the spirit house down, and build a church over it, because that’s an evil place, it’s an evil house.” Our traditional men’s houses, our spirit houses, are just simply like churches. When there were no missionaries here, our people survived from the nature, the environment. They believed in it. Men’s houses were spirit houses, were places where they communicate with the spirits.

Sebastian accuses the pentecostal churches of hypocrisy. He says that they tell villagers to destroy their idols, but collect them themselves. One mission, known as New Tribes, has recently been applying for export licences to take traditional artefacts out of PNG. Sebastian is the government officer in charge of granting those export licences.

REORTER: You’ve seen those applications?

SEBASTIAN HARAHA: Well, yes, and they provide photographs to me.

REPORTER: Of the artefacts?

SEBASTIAN HARAHA: Yes, they send them through emails. I don’t know if they are going to make money out of it or they’re going to look at it, or just decorate their houses.

Here in the east Sepik, it’s money, not religion, that’s bringing the house down. It seems ironic that the process Neil McLeod has begun to preserve these people’s culture involves what appears to be a speeding up of its demise.

NEIL MCLEOD: The people are quite happy for it to go, though. They’re finished with it.

REPORTER: But don’t you see the irony?

NEIL MCLEOD: Absolutely, I see the irony. And I’ve often – I’ve questioned it a lot myself, I really have. It’s all going to go to ruin there. It’s just going to fall down. There’ll be nothing left.

REPORTER: But isn’t that the whole point – that what comes from the earth returns to the earth?

NEIL MCLEOD: I know, and I completely agree that not every house should be preserved. Many places I’ve gone where I haven’t photographed it. The people didn’t wish to be photographed. But the people here are just a little bit different. I think it’s the monetary aspect that they like too. They like receiving the money for it. They’re glad to sell it.

But as the building is dismantled for Neil to take away, one elder questions the deal that’s been struck with the Melbourne gallery owner.

ELDER, (Translation): Mr Neil was promised the contents inside, not outside. If he wants both, we have to come up with a price. Inside, the money is mine. If not, I won’t sell what’s inside and Mr Neil can only have what’s outside.

It’s left to Neil’s art collector friend Harold Gallash to calm things down.

HAROLD GALLASH, (Translation): Before, when we sat down, I heard you all and Neil said he would buy the whole spirit house. He’s not buying half, not just the inside. He’s buying the whole house. Now you’re changing it, saying the outside and inside are different prices. That’s not fair.

ELDER, (Translation): I was at the first meeting and I was there for the second one. There was a lot of talk but I didn’t know what price had been agreed. But you will take it away and you’re going to take away a part of me. You will take me away.

NEIL MCLEOD: Finished? Finished. We’re all happy.

In the end, the original deal prevails – 20,000 kina, around $10,000, buys both the facade and the carvings inside the haus tambaran and it will be left to the elders to decide how the money is divided.

NEIL MCLEOD: We’re all finished now till the next time.

REPORTER: You mean the next time you undergo…

NEIL MCLEOD: The next time I undergo one of these projects, oh, boy, I’ll have some serious thinking to do. This is really – you know – not really. It’s not hard to solve. It’s just wading through it all. Protocol. I respect protocol. This has cost me dearly, this project, it really has. I’ve had to beg and borrow from friends all around Melbourne, you know, selling off beautiful paintings that I had just to acquire the money to come and acquire this place. And, who knows, I’ve got it sitting in a container now and I’m thinking, “Where’s it going? Is it going to go to Melbourne? Is it going to go to America?” I’ve had interest from an organisation in America,

REPORTER: Interest from America? Isn’t that sort of a breach of the agreement?

NEIL MCLEOD: Well, not really. I think the people are interested just that the house is preserved. Where it goes is probably irrelevant. It’s what I can actually afford, too. I’m not a wealthy person, as I said.

REPORTER: But this organisation in America, are they a non-profit organisation too?

NEIL MCLEOD: Well, there are a few organisations that have expressed interest and I don’t know whether they’re profit or non-profit organisations. I think if it was set up and it was a profit-making thing, some more funds might be sent back to the village, royalties or something, as an ongoing thing. That’s the way I worked with –

REPORTER: So it’s not as clear-cut as I believed, that it was definitely not to be sold?

NEIL MCLEOD: My dream is for it to go to my gallery. That’s what I want. And I achieve a lot of my dreams.

ELDERS, (Translation): Is that correct? Is the other deposit done? With this amount, that 17,000 plus the deposit … is that correct? Everybody happy? Anything more to say? Is the money side all OK? All the talk has finished.

Despite the sale of their haus tambaran, many here refuse to believe their culture is dying.

ELDER, (Translation): I will hold on to this custom. I will not let it go. If I do, I will worry. I must hold on to it. If I die, my children will hold on to it. If they die, their children will hold on to it. It will continue. From generation to generation, it will continue. It will stay like that.

NEIL MCLEOD: Go inside and we’ll start wrapping up the stuff.

In addition to purchasing the spirit house, Neil is collecting many other carvings to sell back in Melbourne. But after earlier indicating that he might be forced to sell the haus tambaran and its contents as well, he assures me at the end of our interview he will not.

NEIL MCLEOD: They will all be kept, they won’t be sold, definitely not. The other pieces that I’m buying, some of them may be sold to fund the project. I respect that, absolutely.

REPORTER: So you’re guaranteeing that you…

NEIL MCLEOD: I am guaranteeing that.

REPORTER: What would you feel if you heard that one of the pieces had been sold?

SEBASTIAN HARAHA: I’d be really hurt. I’d be hurt. Because if he want to maintain – help our people, help Papua New Guinea maintain such important cultural building then he needs to keep his word. But if he sells one of the pieces, I will personally be really hurt.

REPORTER: What are you going to do with all this stuff?

NEIL MCLEOD: This will be left to future generations. I’ll gift it to the trust foundation of the gallery where I am so it’s for generations in the future to see this beautiful art. It’s not going to be sold, this. It’s beautiful. Every one. Come and have a look. I appreciate all this beautiful work you do. Some pieces will go to my house, just a few pieces, so I can remember.