PNG Student wins Prime Minister’s Pacific Australia Award

Source: The Macquarie Globe

Alex has almost completed his Master of International Trade and Commerce Law degree at Macquarie and will start his practical work placement as part of the PMPA Award next yearMaster of International Trade and Commerce Law student, Alex Katalon Kerangpuna of Papua New Guinea, is among the inaugural recipients of the prestigious Prime Minister’s Pacific Australia (PMPA) Award.

Funded by the Australian Government aid agency, AusAID, the PMPA Awards offer practical work placements to high-achieving recipients of Australian Development Scholarships and Australian Leadership Awards.

Work placements give awardees experience and insight into the daily management of an Australian business organisation and complement their postgraduate academic experience with on-the-job training. 

Alex was delighted with the acknowledgment of his University performance.

“I received the Award because I did exceptionally well with my academic marks this year. The Award is relevant to my career because I work for the government in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the Department of Foreign Office and Trade, reaching trade agreements with the World Trade Organisation and other nations.”

Targeting leaders and future leaders in the Pacific, the PMPA Award program was launched this year to foster nation building by strengthening institutional capacity and leadership in the Pacific, East Timor and PNG, and creating enduring people-to-people links across the region.

As part of the PMPA Awards, Alex will spend three months working in an Australian organisation related to international trade. He will also attend a Pacific Leadership Workshop and have the opportunity to benefit from individualised leadership development.

“I hope to improve the way we implement policy and contribute to helping PNG benefit fully from international trade agreements. International trade agreements between PNG and Australia and New Zealand will be the key area in which I can help benefit my country. I also want to impart my knowledge to others and share the skills I’ve learned”, Alex said.  

Alex will complete his Masters degree at Macquarie this semester. “I’m grateful for the world-class education I’ve received here – all the knowledge I’ve gained here, I’ve gained from experts. I’m proud of that.”

Following the PMPA Awards, Alex will return to PNG to continue his work as a Trade Officer with the government.

Read more about the Prime Minister’s Pacific Australia Award.


13 thoughts on “PNG Student wins Prime Minister’s Pacific Australia Award

  1. Thanks for putting Alex on this blog to inspire Papua New Guineans. He is among 27 others from the Pacific Region and the majority are Papua New Guineans as shown in the list- males and females

    Congratulations to you all the PNG Awardees

    1. Alex KERANGPUNA;
    2. Andrew GUNUA;
    3. Bessie MARUIA;
    4. Etikeni SAMANI;
    5. Eva Amido DA COSTA;
    6. Gelinde NARKEINE;
    7. Jack MAEBUTA;
    8. Janet MUNAUP;
    9. Joel SILAS;
    10. John MASILI;
    11. John TUNIDAU;
    12. Julie GAROLEO;
    13. Julie Ihembe
    14. Kelly KAISA;
    15. Kilala CHEE;
    16. Letasi IULAI;
    17. Marii MARAE;
    18. Mike KAMA;
    19. Neol KERA;
    20. Parulu KWARARA;
    21. Railako BORO;
    22. Rejinal DUTT;
    23. Renagi MOLIYOLA;
    24. Rosemary HARALU;
    25. Stanley Trief;
    26. Steven Tumae
    28. Vinolia SALESI

  2. Thats great achievement from our scholars in Australia. Please use this opportunity to learn as much as possible and better still take this knowledge and experience back to our country and be change agents in PNG. Your country needs your input at whatever levels and capacity that you may contribute in. Dont go back and be sucked into the mire of hopelessness and lethargy that is inherent in the public service machinery and the slavery for our multinational masters but strive to make a difference. For once, please put to use whatever skills and knowledge you have attained in the Australian Universities and work experience under PMPA programme for the good of your organizations and country.

    Congratulations and all the best!

  3. Congratulations Alex! You’ve done PNG proud with all the other awardees.
    You have become ambassador’s for PNG.
    Best wishes and best of luck in your endeavours.

    Mari Ellingson
    Office of Tourism, Arts and Culture
    Port Moresby

  4. Congratulations Alex na olgeta narapla.

    My only wish is for our politicians to recognise the talents of our people in the public service and to respect their intelligence and not to interfere too much with operational decision making and execution of government policy.

    Our politicians must learn to stick to their roles as policy makers and to set broad policy objectives based on a set of principles and philosophies. And leave the nitty-gritty of the execution to trained professionals like Alex to handle.

    How often do we see our people pass out of educational institutions, whether at home or abroad, with flying colours and itching to make a difference only to have their spirits killed by our very bad brand of politics and governance?

  5. Congradulations to you all Alex, John, Janet and not forgeting the other vibrant country men and women for your hard worked achievement in your diferent programs of studies. Do your best and bring the most to our country……once again I’m proud of your achievement.

  6. \
    Congratulations Alex and all the successful PNGeans who are recipients of of PMPA. My wan, the first and the last time I met you was at a seminar at Lae inter in 2007? on international trade, facilitated by the wonderful ladies from DTI and yourself. We came to learn at that time that we are both from Pomio – one of the least developed districts in PNG. I was grateful to stumble upon this blog and hence your excerpt. Your achievement and that of other fellow Papua New Guineans is an inspiration to those of us who just came into do our studies at the various universities in Australia. I have just arrived and have enrolled to do my Masters in Development Economics (Adv) at the University of Queensland. Your achievement has inspired me to persevere to succesfully complete my studies by end of semeser 1, 2014.

    Ita kia.

    Robert Lutulele.

  7. I was one of the awardee of PMPA…I learnt alot from the three months that I worked at the Tafe curriculum and admission services. I learnt about their organisational culture and their work attitudes.
    Also, it taught me to be open minded and work in a diverse environment to people who are hardworking and committed to what thry do best..


    Toward end of last year I took two friends from Australia home to Madang for a holiday. We were booked into Coastwatchers Hotel. My experiences of hospitality and what I found out about the Coral Seas Hotel Group thru this experience convinced me these people should not be involved in Hospitality or in Promotion of Tourism in PNG. By the way Coral Sea Hotel Group owns the Coastwatchers Hotel.
    We were supposed to be picked up at the airport when we arrived. We waited for an hour and the Coastwatchers bus never came. We hitched a ride from a local friend who came to our rescue. On our way into town we saw the Hotel bus parked on the side of the road at a Buai Market with the driver chewing buai and chatting to locals.
    When we got to the Hotel, the Check in was laborious for the three of us. They couldn’t find our bookings, even though I had rung up and made bookings two weeks earlier and reconfirmed it two days before the flight. Hence, we didn’t get the rooms we requested and we were put in three separate rooms which ended up costing us more, but to add insult to injury, the rooms were substandard for the cost per room.
    There was buai spit everywhere in the hotel, including on footpaths and back walls. The room rubbish bins had buai stains on them even though they were inlaid over with plastic bags. Cockroaches made quick getaways under the refrigerator.
    The restaurant was no better, even though we didn’t expect anything fabulous in Madang. We expected a decent experience and were expecting to pay reasonable fares. What we got was the opposite and more. The food orders were jumbled. We got the steaks well-done instead of medium rare, and chips cooked with old oil by an unkempt looking chef with buai in corner of his mouth donning a crimson smile, and his uniform very dirty. To add to this the grease trap and the toilets downstairs were leaking and the stinking odour in the restaurant was unbearable. It was very embarrassing for me.
    At first I wanted to apologize to my friends for choosing the Coastwatchers Hotel for our Madang holiday experience, but increasingly I became angry and disturbed. I was disturbed by the way the Hotel was run. So I started to take note of small things, like for instance the restaurant toilets and the kitchen and staff toilets. I wondered if the Health authorities were aware that food was being prepared in putrid circumstances and the staff toilets, in the vicinity of the main kitchen, were not cleaned for weeks, it seemed.
    That night I had the runs from the food and I couldn’t sleep. I wasn’t alone; my two friends also had the runs. We found out before we departed that the hotel water supply was from untreated bore water, supplied in the restaurant as safe drinking water! This would never be allowed to happen anywhere else in the world.
    The following night, having had some relief from medication we thought we would get some decent sleep. That was not to be as there was a public dance held at the Hotel. The music was very loud, and there were a lot of drunken people yelling and screaming right outside our doors facing the car park from 7 pm to 4 am. Motor Vehicle radios were blaring, doors slamming, wheels screeching and we just couldn’t sleep a wink. We each had rung the reception, and we were told there was a dance on, and this is the usual thing on Fridays and Saturdays.
    What really took the cake for me was to see firsthand how the Coastwatchers Hotel Laundry functioned. They did not send their laundry out to a commercial Laundromat. They did it in-house with one washing machine. I found-out this because my personal laundry did not come back on time. I went to the laundry which consisted of one frail looking old man from Raikos. He was hand washing all the sheets and everything, and with dangerous chemicals without even a pair of gloves on! I learnt the only washing machine of the Hotel had broken down three weeks earlier and he reported it to the “Big Boss” but nothing was done about it, and meanwhile he was told to hand wash everything and sun-dry it. He didn’t have any help. He constituted the whole hotel’s 30 plus rooms’ laundry staff! Can you imagine that!
    I took my (still) dirty laundry off the old man and excused myself. I felt sorry for the old man because he felt guilty on my account. I told him not to be because I understood. I walked away shaking my head in disbelief.
    Having spent several unpleasant nights at this dirty substandard hotel, we were not going to have our holiday spoilt. We shifted out to another more pleasant hotel which made for a happier ending of our short stay in the tourism capital of PNG. However, the impressions I gained from the Coastwatchers Hotel were simply that:
    1. The Hotel was only after our money and they don’t have the heart for hospitality.
    2. Madang is a tourism destination of PNG and Coral Sea Hotels is not about encouraging tourism in Madang.
    3. They don’t train their staff properly, or at all.
    4. They don’t have proper booking system.
    5. They don’t have proper kitchen hygiene standards.
    6. They don’t respect and care about their guests.
    7. They don’t care about their business and their property.
    8. That poor local Laundry man was being abused, with his health in danger.
    9. The bore-water is a health risk to the unsuspecting public.
    10. Hotel management is substandard.
    11. Coastwatchers don’t practise Health & Safety.
    I am not usually a negative person, but in this case I don’t have anything positive to say about this hotel experience, and I put it down to the owners of the Hotel. Coral Sea Hotels is not in the business of hospitality or tourism. They are into making money. They are no different to logging companies or Mining companies. In all reality they should stick to real estate only and leave hospitality and tourism to people who are serious about it and who have a heart and feeling for this country, its people, their culture and the environment.
    As I began to look around, I realized that, unlike the Madang Lodge, Madang Resort, Airways group of Hotels and Kumul Hotels, Coral Sea Hotels don’t train their people anymore, they don’t look after their people (top echelon aside) and they don’t have an eye for detail or a goal for guest satisfaction in all their Hotels in PNG. They poach good people from other hotels for Hotels like Grand Papua, but don’t know how to manage them. The Gateway Port Moresby restaurant is a prime example, and I could go on about their other Hotels and facilities, but I shall leave it here for now as I really have nothing against their business model or the owners.
    I wonder where that man Warren Daniels is now, who knew something about how to run Coral Sea Hotels? Perhaps he can be brought back to rescue me from my lamentations?

    By Paul Yabob

  9. I totally agree with that becuae I was once there too when my parents came to dropped me at Madang for schooling and we had to spent a night there.That night was a really terrible one as I have not seen the type of respect from the staff,the hospitality,their hygiene is not to an expected standard and public nuisance is another contributing factor that results from the night club dance.Paying for more than K600 for a night in an executive room is so expensive but yet I do not feel the right treatment which should be given and seriously I regretted that I we should go for another hotels than this Coast Watches.

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