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AUDIO: PNG Facebook page 'explodes' with posts on asylum seeker issue

This satirical image of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (left) and Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Peter O'Neill was posted on Sharp Talk. Image: Facebook/Sharp Talk

Monday, August 5, 2013

Item: 8375

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch / ABC Radio Australia): A Facebook page has gone viral as a platform for Papua New Guineans wanting to let off steam over the controversial asylum seeker agreement with Australia.

The page Sharp Talk has attracted more than 13,000 members, and has several highly active participants, Radio Australia reports. 

Link to Sharp TalkThe site, which is set up by people in Papua New Guinea, aims to be “an avenue for intellectual, stimulating debate on issues affecting PNG”.

In an interview with Radio Australia, creator Douveri Henao said he was surprised by the success of the page.

“I am [surprised]. First of all this started as an experiment of sorts, just to find an avenue to fill up the gap between print media and academic journals in universities. There seemed to be a conversation pipeline missing,” Henao said in the interview with Phil Kafcaloudes.

'Facebook ideal'
The creator of the popular debating page said Facebook was the ideal forum for discussing political issues in his native Papua New Guinea.

“Facebook seemed the appropriate platform largely because many folks were plugging into that, and it just took on from there. There was a lot of people that had a lot of views, and as the membership grew the diversity of the issues grew as well.”

Henao credited the successful Facebook page to “a healthy infrastructure on ICTs”, which meant that the page has a good level of penetration.

He also said that Papua New Guineans were “very opinionative in their views” and that the current generation was expressing their thoughts “more openly” than before.

All this provided excellent conditions for a lively debating forum on Papua New Guinean matters on Facebook, he said. 

The current asylum seeker issue has provided several posts on the page. Henao said:

“The most topical issue now is of course asylum seekers and the deal that’s been struck, but even so, there is a very healthy debate – it’s going up to 92 comments – on whether the Australian flag should be burned or not during the protests.

“And you’re having feedback from people around the world, and those who are on the march right now as we speak on why they should burn it and why they shouldn’t burn it. And that’s just a demonstration on how Sharp Talk has become interactive."

Listen to the full interview

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About the authors

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Daniel Drageset

PMW contributing editor 2013

Daniel Drageset is a Norwegian radio journalist who graduated with a Master in Communication Studies degree at AUT University.

PMC profile photograph

Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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