The governor of Papua New Guinea's capital has defended his promotion of yoga and a campaign to make Port Moresby a healthier city.
Powes Parkop has faced a barrage of criticism over the Yoga for Life programme, which hosts a large public yoga session following a five to eight-kilometre walk through Moresby each Sunday morning.
Some opposition MPs have decried the use of a foreign-owned company to run the sessions, amid other yoga training, as a waste of around $US900,000 in public money.
Madang MP Bryan Kramer recently lodged a formal complaint with PNG's National Fraud and Anti-Corruption directorate over the contract which the National Capital District Commission awarded to Fazilah Bazari, the Malaysian yoga instructor running the programme.
The directorate is investigating the matter but Mr Parkop has denied any fraud, saying City Hall followed all procedures to award the contract and that all funds had been used for the intended purpose and fully acquitted.
While arguments on the merits of the programme rage on in social media forums, Mr Parkop said it was drawing an increasing number of participants to the weekly public yoga sessions and training in the city's schools.
He argued that physical activity was a strength of Papua New Guineans which should be nurtured, and that yoga encouraged people to move towards a more healthy lifestyle.
"It's also combining their mind and body together. Because for a long time we did awareness: awareness on so many things, you know, financial literacy, environment, on health and wellness," Mr Parkop explained.
"The problem with that type of approach is it's only addressing the mind. But the body's left behind.
"You can get the mind to understand. But if the body's not in synch with mind, you have a problem. That's been our biggest problem in Papua New Guinea."
Yoga could help PNG people with the wide range of health problems they were prone to, according to the governor.
He also subscribed to the theory that practicing yoga would increase life span.
PNG citizens do not enjoy great longevity of life - in 2016, the World Health Organisation put the average life expectancy for PNG males and females at 64 and 68 years respectively.
The governor said he was confident that through the Yoga and WalK for Life components of the Active City development programme, deep-rooted problems such as domestic violence could gradually be addressed.
"Get our people to address their mindset and behaviour change, and then we will achieve greater security that way, greater health and fitness."
But he conceded that fostering change in cultural attitudes and mindsets in PNG would not happen overnight.
The governor of PNG's capital for over a decade, Mr Parkop has in the past few years introduced a range of often ambitious programmes aimed at improving the appearance and outlook of the city. Some of them, such as the city-wide litter clean-up efforts, have been widely endorsed.
Other initiatives have ruffled feathers, such as a controversial ban on public sale and consumption of PNG's favourite stimulant, betelnut. The ban was unpopular because it deprived thousands of people of an opportunity to make a living. It drove the beletnut sale underground and sent the price of betelnut rocketing until Mr Parkop eased the restrictions last year.
Admitting the initiative hadn't been totally successful in reducing what health experts consider a hazardous practice, Mr Parkop said the city's streets and footpaths were a lot cleaner than a few years ago, due to less red betelnut spit stains.
"The city's much better now. We're still chewing betelnut. People are still selling it - some in unauthorised places - but compared to where we were before, it's much much better now, and we're getting better," he said.
The governor intends to keep challenging people's comfort zone in his bid to get residents to see things in a different way and make Port Moresby a world class city.
"I have to keep pushing the boundary," Mr Parkop said.
"I can't keep on using the old tools. We've been doing the same things over again and not getting the result we want. So we have to try new things."