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Governor of PNG’s capital to keep pushing boundaries

The governor of Papua New Guinea’s capital has defended his promotion of healthy living programmes and city clean-ups.

Powes Parkop has faced a barrage of criticism over initiatives he has implemented in Port Moresby such as the Yoga Walk for Life programme and restrictions on betelnut.

But Mr Parkop says such initiatives, which generally fall under the Active City programme, are encouraging people to adopt a more healthy lifestyle.

As Moresby prepares to host the APEC leader summit in November, he spoke to Johnny Blades who asked if all the changes in the capital were actually benefiting grassroots communities.


Any change that is small or big should be welcome and we should look at it positively. But I think overall in terms of what is happening in Port Moresby, I think it’s absolutely good for Port Moresby, but also for Papua New Guinea. It gives us hope for the future because I think for a long time in PNG we came to a dead end, that people thought that this was the end of it. nothing was going right. So… undertaking those changes in Port Moresby is good for our psychology in that we start to have self-belief again, that we can achieve more, we can do more, that there is another standard we can reach That’s been my goal as governor of our capital city, that I want at least one part of Papua New Guinea to set the standard, to become an example, to inspire our people. And the right place to have that inspiration and set that standard is of course our capital city.

JOHNNY BLADES: Now you’ve tried some things which are maybe quite radical, such as the ban on public consumption and sale of betelnut. Has it been a success?

PP: Yeah I think if you look at Port Moresby before and now, you have to agree with me that it’s been a success. Although in terms of dealing with the problem (the health hazard of chewing betelnut) we have not been successful in that respect. But these are issues to do with  behaviour, attitude and culture of a people. It doesn’t happen overnight. We take people on a journey. And if you see other countries that had this practice before, mainly Asian countries – Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, go up to China, even India – it did not happen overnight. So I had no illusion that it would be an overnight success. I know it would take a long time. And the city’s much better now. We’re still chewing betelnut. People are still selling it – some in unauthorised places – but compared to where we were before, it’s much much better now, and we’re getting better. So a lot of our people, their attitudes have changed, they can see the benefit of what we’ve done, and gradually they will come along and everybody will pull up, because there’s no other option. But I have to keep pushing the boundary, I have to try new things. I can’t keep on using the old tools. We’ve been doing the same things over again and not getting the result we want. So we have to try new things.

JB: One of the new things that you’ve tried of of course is the Sunday fitness and yoga sessions. But you’ve had some criticism about that. How do you feel about that?

PP: Like with  natural things, everything new challenges people’s comfort zone. But I have to do my work as a leader to lead our people to push the boundary a bit to get our people to see things in a different way. But it’s getting better all the time. Our people have faced a lot of health problems. In terms of our longevity, people are not living very long lives. So these are challenges that are important for our country, our people: to live better lives, longer lives, healthier lives. We’ve been spending a lot on health, but mainly corrective healthcare. That type of spending may be helping our health in that respect, but not improving longevity, physical fitness, wellness and health. So going in this direction, it might taken a bit of time to get our people accustomed to it but I’ve been doing it since 2014 and it’s getting bigger all the time. There are more people coming to walk with me, thousands of people walking eight kilometres with me every Sunday. The yoga class for example, we now have about six hundred young men and women turning up three times a week. It’s in the communities. In the city we also have classes in acrobat and kick-boxing and other non-combatative sports. The thing is Johnny, this is the strength of our people: physical activity, walking, jumping, swimming, climbing trees. This is our people’s strength. And I need to use the strength of our people to secure a better future. I’ll give you an example: if I were to train average Papua New Guineans to become like Chinese to run shops tomorrow, absolutely we’re lining them up for failure. But if we get them to do sports or physical activity, you can be assured that they’ll become champions instantly. So that’s why this programme is critical, because it’s moving our people. when you move change takes place. It’s also combining their mind and body together. Because for a long time we did awareness: awareness on so many things, you know, financial literacy, environment, on health and wellness. The problem with that type of approach is it’s only addressing the mind. But the body’s left behind. You can get the mind to understand. But if the body’s not in synch with mind, you have a problem. That’s been our biggest problem in Papua New Guinea.

JB: I can see what you’re talking about with trying to help change mindsets. Things all begin with ourselves, don’t they. But you’ve got such a diverse country, which is a strength of Papua New Guinea, but also there are times when people from different parts of the country clash, like we saw at the weekend here in Moresby. Will that ever change in Moresby, where there won’t be some of these tensions, disputes?

PP: It’ll not be easy to change this type of behaviour and practice because it’s something that is in the psyche of our people. They are used to the predominant way in some sectors of our communities that problems or issues are solved. So resorting to violence has been a tendency in the past, so I’m not going to pretend to say it’ll change overnight. But I think the way to get on addressing this is just grow the economy, create more opportunity. Grow the middle class, people start to change their values, and then they start to have more self-respect for themselves, they have greater goals, and then they change their behaviour. So for me I think that’s what we are doing in the city. In terms of those types of challenges, like ethnic conflict, and so on. In the past, we used to have it regularly in Port Moresby, but now I think what happened in the city last week, and at the weekend, for me I see it more as the exception rather than the norm now.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz

From Dateline Pacific, 3:04 pm on 20 August 2018 

Parkop: Yoga A Positive Thing

May 2, 2018, https://postcourier.com.pg/

Despite mounting political and public criticism of the Yoga Walk for Life program, National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop has revealed that the health fitness program will improve the quality of education.

During the launching of the life fitness program at the Juha College TVET Secondary School at 9-Mile, Port Moresby, Mr Parkop said the program is vital in changing mindsets.

He said the program is an optimistic avenue that will instill behaviour change among the young for a better Papua New Guinea.

“Yoga is all about building self-esteem in everyday living that contributes to being positive thinkers in life.

“For too long Papua New Guinea has lacked human development.

“Development starts with you. Through the program, it builds your mindset to respect yourself, your health and your body.

“When you do that, you will want to start respecting infrastructure before your eyes, the community you live in and so forth.

“It’s all about behaviour change,” Mr Parkop said while addressing the students, parents and members of the Nine-Mile community who were present.

He said despite people commenting on the negativity of the yoga saga recently in the media, these are people who have shallow-thinking to discredit the program.

Mr Parkop said development was not only about building infrastructure. “We fail to build human lives. So I have come up with the initiative to have the program to build self-esteem in every individual,” he said.

“Papua New Guinea won’t achieve its full potential unless we address bad habits and that is changing bad habits.” Mr Parkop said he would improve on building more secondary schools and Juha College was one of them to create more space.

Mr Parkop presented K1500 for the program while businessman Andy Kenamo contributed K1000.

The school’s director John Sekewa said the program would go a long way in instilling good behaviour attitudes among students.

Parkop defends yoga deal

NATIONAL Capital District Governor Powes Parkop has defended the awarding of a contract to a company to provide yoga training to Port Moresby residents.

He said due process and proper procedures were followed by the National Capital District Commission in the securing of the K3 million-a-year contract.

He was replying to questions raised in Parliament this week by Madang MP Bryan Kramer regarding the engagement of a foreign-owned company to provide yoga training to Port Moresby residents.
Kramer claimed that there were “irregularities” in the awarding of the contract.

Parkop however accused Kramer of abusing parliamentary privilege to make false allegations against him.

He challenged his critics to lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman Commission or the police fraud unit so that the matter could be investigated if they still think that rules had been breached.

“If they have a problem, they can go to the Ombudsman Commission and the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption squad and we will give all the files (on the contract) to them,” he told Parliament yesterday.

“And if any political opponents want to challenge me, then they can wait for 2022.”

Parkop had been behind the Walk for Life programme in 2014 to promote healthy living among city residents. It involved organised walks in the city on weekends. The National Capital District Commission later contracted the company in question to provide yoga training as part of the programme.

He said if Kramer had cared to, “he will find out that we went through a due process to award the contract”.

“I was a co-founder of this Walk For Life programme in 2014. I paid for the cost out of my pocket money, paying all the volunteers, drivers, and the programme got too big. The cost went too high.

“That’s when I went to the National Capital District Commission to use funds from my Provincial Service Improvement Programme. And we started humbly with K300,000. So I have declared my interest.”
He said the contract with the company was approved by the NCDC board and managed by the NCDC.

“Everything is on file. There is acquittal, monthly acquittal both in terms of how the money is spent and also the outcomes of the programme,” he said.

He said the company had paid for its own certification with the Investment Promotion Authority. He urged Commerce and Industry Minister Wera Mori to verify that with the authority.

“If you go to IPA, you will find that we (NCDC) did not pay for that certification. How can we pay for that certification? We would be stupid to use public funds to pay for a private (company) certification,” he said.

He also defended the healthy living programme he started.

“I have nothing to hide, I’m ready to answer questions. This programme is sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee and is shared with seven other cities in the world.

“It’s based on a model that was devised in Liverpool city in England. Liverpool used this model to address problems of crime and violence. And we are using this programme to change the negative mindset of the city’s residents.”

Source: The National PNG

Walk for Life Benefits Communities

Says NCD Governor Powes Parkop

March 19, 2018

NCD Governor Powes Parkop has done a remarkable job in spreading the popularity of the health-conscious concept of the communal Walk For Life in Kimbe West New Britain.

The once a week early morning walk held in Port Moresby under his guidance sees hundreds of people including mothers, children, women, girls, fathers, and many others of all ages come together an interact while taking the Freeway from the Jack Pidik Park to Konedobu.
This is in recognition of the all too important reason of ensuring there is a reasonable level of fitness in everyone so that they can manage themselves better.

For too long people have been dictated to by the lifestyle they adopt when they come to the city and literally forget that they have a very important obligation to themselves to keep fit.

Because with keeping fit, it allows the individual to also maintain a healthy lifestyle and improved mentality.

The Port Moresby experience also has other side benefits in that it increases the level of interaction between city residents and creates new friendships and better, it consolidates current connections.

Obesity for many is a problem in the city and those that find themselves heading in that direction have actually benefitted by taking part in the weekly Sunday Walk For Life in Port Moresby.

What it has done for many is given them a new direction in being conscious about their health, improvement in their diets raised their level of physical fitness.

The benefits of physical fitness are numerous and include better health, greater strength, more flexibility, increased energy, improved appearance, and a more positive attitude and mood.

Regular exercise can lead to both immediate and long-term benefits.
Regular physical activity has been shown to reduce the morbidity and mortality from many chronic diseases.

The benefits of fitness far outweigh the inconveniences of regular exercise and are health related including cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, muscular endurance and muscle strength.

Physical fitness is considered a measure of the body’s ability to function efficiently and effectively in work and leisure activities, to be healthy, to resist hypo kinetic diseases, and to meet emergency situations.

And since Kimbe has adopted the Walk For Life concept, it is not a bad idea for leaders in other main centres to do likewise.

It is a chance to rally mostly workers that live in towns to help improve their health and physical conditions in order to improve lifestyles.

The benefit of the physical fitness is endless and as such this communal activity is a good start.

Source: https://postcourier.com.pg

Papua New Guinea embraces the tranquillity of yoga

There may not be the lycra leggings or mats, but those behind a growing grassroots yoga campaign in Papua New Guinea say its practice is changing lives, including those of hardened criminals.

Inmates in Port Moresby’s Bomana prison do yoga.

A lot of times the wardens say: ‘On the days you guys come, it’s so more quieter, there’s no fights during meals. And you know, people sleep better’.

Bomana prison inmate Gordon

Inmates in Port Moresby's Bomana prison do yoga. (Facebook)
When I came in I was ag
Inmates in Port Moresby’s Bomana prison do yoga.(Facebook)
When I came in I was ag

Port Moresby is ranked as one of the world’s most dangerous cities, where high levels of unemployment can often push youth living in the city’s settlements to a life of crime.

But some of these youth, behind bars in the city’s Bomana prison, are propelling PNG’s yoga revolution.

Nineteen-year-old convicted murderer Gordon arrived at Bomana prison when he was about 17 years of age.

He is now learning to be a yoga instructor and said that of the 70 juveniles in the prison, 20 do yoga regularly.

When I came in I was aggressive. When I came to practise yoga I realised that I found the real me, the real potential that I have.

Bomana prison inmate Gordon

The Yoga Unites PNG group, established and run by Fazilah Bazari (pictured), holds classes in Bomana for its young inmates in one of the nation’s harshest prisons.

“I want to lead the change in the prison,” said Gordon of his appreciation of yoga.

“When I get out, I’ll be leading the change and setting an example. I’ll become a changemaker of this nation.”

Yoga Unites PNG has also taken its classes to those living in the often dangerous 8 Mile squatters’ settlement on the outskirts of the capital.

Before I took up yoga, everyone in my community saw me as a dropout. But now I’m inspiring others, and my relatives and friends see me as an agent of change.

Yoga instructor Jackson Manuai Kiap, 25, from 8 Mile

Yoga sun salutations on PNG’s highest point, Mt Wilhelm in Chimbu Province.(Facebook)

It’s common in PNG for young people to witness violence. Young people especially can come and improve their health and fitness, but they can also release the bad vibes.

Governor Powes Parkop

Yoga has reached Morobe towns, Porgora mine workers, and brought sun salutations on the country’s highest point, Mt Wilhelm in Chimbu Province.

The National Capital District’s often outspoken Governor, Powes Parkop, became a yoga enthusiast in the past year.

Governor Parkop has been self-funding his Walk For Life campaign and assisting the Yoga Unites PNG team.

But with PNG facing a non-communicable disease epidemic, he’s calling on the national government to provide financial support.

Children in the town of Wau in Morobe province practising yoga.(Facebook)

Our people are dying. Young lives are shorter. We are failing the next generation and we can’t build the nation to be prosperous and well if we are sick, unfit and unhealthy.

Governor Powes Parkop

Mine workers in Porgora doing yoga.(Facebook)

It deals with the mindset, it deals with anger, it deals with the type of negative mindsets that people have. It builds mental wellness.

Governor Powes Parkop

Walkers in Powes Parkop’s Walk for Life group in Port Moresby warm up each weekend with some yoga.(Facebook)

The doctor gave me an option: to get all these pills, or lose weight and become fit and well. For me, I can’t believe that I — one year ago, one and a half years ago — would be doing yoga.

Governor Powes Parkop

A frightening prognosis by his doctor first drove Governor Parkop to turn to walking, and then yoga, where he has experienced the benefits first hand.

His Walk For Life now has hundreds of people joining him each weekend for a walk, which begins with the obligatory group yoga stretch.

Photos: YOUth Own Great Awakening; Jackson Manuai Kiap; Walk For Life PNG; Fazilah Bazaric

First posted 23 Jan 2016, 5:30am , https://www.abc.net.au/