Lawyer Praises PNG Social Media Group ‘Sharp Talk’

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Prior to social media, country faced significant information gap

By Ben Yamai

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 31, 2013) – The creation of Papua New Guinea’s eminent Facebook group Sharp Talk (ST) was intended to fill a gap in information dissemination, or what initiator Douveri Henao termed "information constipation."

Mr. Henao, a prominent lawyer and development advocate, was speaking to a group of ST members who gathered at the National Parliament on Tuesday to discuss various issues of concern to the general public.

Mr. Henao said that there was a vacuum in society prior to the emergence of social media where information on issues of national importance did not filter down to the different levels of society.

This situation did not allow members of the general public the opportunity to express opinions and contribute to discussions on policy formulation, government decisions and other development issues.

He saw the group as an avenue through which development advocates such as himself, government departments, members of parliament, and donor agencies can collaborate with the public to raise awareness, discuss government initiatives, and express public concerns on issues affecting the country.

The group has now reached an online membership of 9,500 or just under 10 percent of the country’s total online population and has featured prominently in public discussions since its creation by Mr. Henao in October 2010.

Current membership includes several parliamentarians, senior bureaucrats, employees of the public and private sector, trade union advocates and students of the country’s tertiary institutions.

The gathering at Parliament Haus by some of the group’s members was intended to discuss a proposal to have the group formalized.

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