Profile PNG is TVWAN’s flagship Current Affairs program, featuring reports on topics that affect the nation at large. Stories may focus on politics, the environment, technology, education, health or social issues – or simply share an insight into a particular Papua New Guinean’s way of life.
Host of Profile PNG, Antonnia Singut, shares what it’s like to work on such a fascinating and varied program.
The team at TVWAN are just amazing. Their professionalism; the expertise and creativity they all have in their respective fields; this brings great depth to the program. They’re also a fun bunch to work with, so when things get a little too tense, hectic or serious there’s always someone on hand, channeling their ‘inner comedian’ to brighten the mood.
I like that the show has so much breadth. We can feature hard-hitting, controversial stories and happy feel-good ones within the context of each show. We can give a voice to a humble subsistence farmer… a child whose life has changed through the practice of yoga… doctors, nurses, members of Parliament, prisoners – anyone with a story or significant news to share.
I recently interviewed Benny Wenda, West Papua’s Independence leader, and am really proud that Profile PNG was able to dedicate an entire show to his struggle to win recognition – and ultimately the right to self-determination – for his people.
The West Papua conflict – between the Indonesian Government and indigenous populations of West Papua – has been going on for over 50 years, and yet many Papua New Guineans (myself included) know little about the situation. Here we are in PNG, freely able to express – as a democratic right – our opinions about development and the Government. But right next door in West Papua, men, women and children are being killed for speaking their minds.
This issue really came to life for me – and for many in our audience – when we interviewed Benny Wenda. I was fighting back tears, listening to all the horrific things that happened to him and his family. He is such an extraordinary, exemplary leader; not at all aggressive or outspoken like most activists. He is quite the opposite in fact. He has an inner-peace that bellies all he has experienced. Surprisingly, I sensed no anger from him – just a deep longing to be able to live in the mountains freely, as his ancestors had done.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to bring this story to PNG’s attention. In Benny Wenda’s words “West Papua’s struggle is PNG’s struggle” and I believe that statement is true. From Sorong to Samarai we share the same land; the same ancestors. It is only an imaginary line placed by colonizers that divide us. The freedom I take for granted and enjoy, while our brothers and sisters in West Papua are deprived of their most basic rights, saddens me to the core.
The weekend after Benny Wenda’s interview aired, we got feedback from viewers all over the country who expressed feeling guilty and heartbroken, for they too, had little or no idea just how harrowing the plight has been — and still is — for West Papuans.
Since the interview, I think constantly about how we Papua New Guineans can help West Papua’s fight for self-determination. The fact that I was able to exclusively tell Benny Wenda’s story on television in PNG, is a start. But I can, and will, do more. We tried desperately to get Government officials at all levels to comment on Benny Wenda’s alleged deportation, but so far, not one has responded. Rest assured, Profile PNG will keep pursuing this.
Working on the Benny Wenda story really made me aware of how great a need there is for real investigative journalism in this country. Profile PNG is committed to setting a new standard in current affairs reporting – maintaining impartiality as it endeavours to answer questions many Papua New Guineans ponder. And I feel honoured to be a part of that process.