An account of trust fund misuse in Gulf

Focus, Normal

Having followed your articles on the Public Accounts Committee expose on the Public Curator, I enclose the following account about my experience with the Public Curator when I was working at Baimuru.
In 1983, I managed the Steamships store at Baimuru.
During the handover on my first working day with my predecessor, I met two young children who were perhaps 12 and 13 years old. 
They were mixed-race children being cared for by an uncle and one of their grandmothers. Their mum and dad had both died and their dad was a former Australian soldier.
His estate was being run for their benefit by the Public Trustee.
For several years prior to my arrival, they had apparently come daily to the trade store to obtain food, etc.
When I managed the shop, they would arrive after school each day and I would supply anything they wanted using a triplicate invoice book to record their purchases. 
At the end of the month, I would send a total of all the month’s purchases reconciled with accompanying second copies to the curator’s office in Port Moresby.
Their old grandmother would give them information in tok ples on what to ask for.
They wanted basic food items but used to surprise me on some days asking for two or three Ox and Palm corned beef, then the most expensive tinned meat as well as perhaps two packets of sugar, 5kg rice or more.
Their shopping varied from day to day and they would sometimes ask for clothing and other non-food items, which I supplied.
Steamships was the PNG agent for Johnson outboard motors and, one day, the children asked me for a 25hp outboard motor! I was amazed and refused their request but told them I would pass their request onto the Public Curator.
Frustrated, their uncle took them to Port Moresby and they came back with a new outboard – “to travel to school” despite their living less than a mile away near the end of the airstrip. 
One day, they told me they had been scared as the “spirit” of their dead parents chased the dinghy down the river.
When I asked “why?”,  they replied: “Their dead Dad was angry with them for wasting his money.”
Anyway, I questioned the curator about the use of the money and was very surprised when he told me that they should only get about K20 per week. 
They had been getting at least that amount every working day for some years from previous STC managers, without any feedback from the curator on being way over the limit.
I informed them of this policy change, which I told them was necessary, otherwise, the money could finish before they were 18 years old. I tried to slow them down. 
My wife, Lynette had grown to love them both as she had met them when they played with my mixed-race daughters and eventually they frequently stayed a few nights with us. 
After a year or so, Lynette even asked the family if we could adopt them but their loving relatives were loath to be parted from the boy and girl and may even have thought that their meal tickets would one day disappear if I got transferred and they rather naturally refused.
I was told by the Australian high commissioner that as their dad had been an ex-soldier and they could demand a place at a boarding high school down south. 
I passed on this information to their guardians but the boy told me that his grandmother was afraid of never seeing them again and so the wonderful opportunity of an Australian education was missed.
I left Baimuru in late 1984 and am unaware of if their dad’s estate expired too soon or what happened to those two lovely children.
 
Arthur Williams
Cardiff, Wales