Ron May

Ron May is an Emeritus Professorial Fellow in the State, Society & Governance in Melanesia Program; and a Convenor for the Centre for Conflict & Post-conflict Studies at The Australian National University.

Dr May retired from the Department of Political & Social Change – of which he was a foundation member – in December 2004 and took up the position of Emeritus Professorial Fellow in the State, Society & Governance Project.

His research interests include comparative politics, particularly ethnicity and ethnic conflict, decentralisation, parties and elections, and civil-military relations, with a country focus on Papua New Guinea and the Philippines (especially Muslim Mindanao).

Policy Making and Implementation »

Studies from Papua New Guinea

Edited by: Ron May
There is a vast literature on the principles of public administration and good governance, and no shortage of theoreticians, practitioners and donors eager to push for public sector reform, especially in less-developed countries. Papua New Guinea has had its share of public sector reforms, frequently under the influence of multinational agencies and aid donors. Yet there seems to be a general consensus, both within and outside Papua New Guinea, that policy making and implementation have fallen short of expectations, that there has been a failure to achieve ‘good governance’. This volume, which brings together a number of Papua New Guinean and Australian-based scholars and practitioners with deep familiarity of policy making in Papua New Guinea, examines the record of policy making and implementation in Papua New Guinea since independence. It reviews the history of public sector reform in Papua New Guinea, and provides case studies of policy making and implementation in a number of areas, including the economy, agriculture, mineral development, health, education, lands, environment, forestry, decentralization, law and order, defence, women and foreign affairs, privatization, and AIDS. Policy is continuously evolving, but this study documents the processes of policy making and implementation over a number of years, with the hope that a better understanding of past successes and failures will contribute to improved governance in the future.

Conflict and Resource Development »

In The Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea

Edited by: Nicole Haley, Ron May
The Southern Highlands is one of Papua New Guinea’s most resource-rich provinces, but for a number of years the province has been riven by conflict. Longstanding inter-group rivalries, briefly set aside during the colonial period, have been compounded by competition for the benefits provided by the modern state and by fighting over the distribution of returns from the several big mining and petroleum projects located within the province or impinging upon it. Deaths from the various conflicts over the past decade number in the hundreds. As a result of inter-group fighting, criminal activity and vandalism, a number of businesses have withdrawn from the province. Roadblocks and ambushes have made travel dangerous in many parts and expatriate missionaries and aid workers have left. Many public servants have abandoned their posts with the result that state services are not provided. Corruption is rife. Police are often reluctant to act because they are outnumbered and outgunned. This volume brings together a number of authors with deep experience of the Southern Highlands to examine the underlying dynamics of resource development and conflict in the province. Its primary purpose is to provide some background to recent events, but the authors also explore possible approaches to limiting the human and economic costs of the ongoing conflict and breakdown of governance.

State and Society in Papua New Guinea »

The First Twenty-Five Years

Authored by: Ron May
On the eve of Papua New Guinea’s independence in 1975 there were many – both within the country and outside – who predicted political anarchy, with the possibility of an army coup or authoritarian single-party dominance, and economic collapse. Such fears appeared to have been justified when in 1975 both the North Solomons (Bougainville) and Papua unilaterally declared their independence. In fact, however, PNG achieved a smooth transition, and in its first decade as a new state enjoyed a high degree of political and economic progress. It remains one of the few post-colonial states that has maintained an unbroken record of democratic government. Nevertheless, from around the mid-1980s a number of problems have become apparent, including: a decline in government capability; increasing problems of urban and rural lawlessness; poor economic management, with growing evidence of nepotism and corruption; environmental degradation associated with mining and logging, and increasing pressure on land; and, from 1988, a rebellion on Bougainville. This volume brings together a number of papers written by the author between 1971 and 2001 which address issues of political and economic development and social change in Papua New Guinea. Dr R.J. May is a senior fellow in the Department of Political and Social Change, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at The Australian National University. He was formerly a senior economist with the Reserve Bank of Australia and later foundation director of IASER in PNG (now the National Research Institute). In 1976 he was awarded the Independence Medal for his services to banking and research in PNG.

The Military and Democracy in Asia and the Pacific »

Edited by: Ron May, Viberto Selochan
In The Military and Democracy in Asia and the Pacific, a number of prominent regional specialists take a fresh look at the military’s changing role in selected countries of Asia and the Pacific, particularly with regard to the countries’ performance against criteria of democratic government. Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Burma, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Korea, Fiji and Papua New Guinea all fall under the spotlight as the authors examine the role which the military has played in bringing about changes of political regime, and in resisting pressures for change. Under the auspices of The Australian National University’s Department of Political and Social Change, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, and within the context of the Regime Change and Regime Maintenance in Asia and the Pacific project, the following contributors compiled The Military and Democracy in Asia and the Pacific: Emajuddin Ahamed, Suchit Bunbongkarn, Stephanie Lawson, R. J. May, Hasan-Askari Rizvi, Viberto Selochan, Josef Silverstein, Michael Vatikiotis and Yung Myung Kim. The Military and Democracy in Asia and the Pacific provides a sequel to Viberto Selochan’s earlier collection, The Military, the State, and Development in Asia and the Pacific (1991).