Posts Tagged ‘Occupy Waigani’

David Wissink, the spokesman for Morobe Mines Joint Venture, asked the question of yesterday’s historic protest: ‘So in reality what was gained?’

Most Papua New Guineans know the answer to this question. But for David’s benefit, let’s spell it out.

1) We showed the government that they are accountable to us.

Now the politicians realise we are not going to let them get away with blatant disregard for us and our rights.

2) We showed solidarity.

Good things start to happen when ordinary Papua New Guineans stand together and start talking about issues we share as a nation.

3) We showed that we are better than them.

They are violent – they let our people be murdered for LNG. They don’t respect our rights – they rushed through an unconstitutional Bill without asking us at all (and now they want us to stop talking about it). They try and divide us and cause conflict between us. WE are peaceful – we marched peacefully, as a nation, and started talking about a better way for all.

David, and mining companies like the one he works for, doesn’t like it when Papua New Guineans speak out. It makes him nervous that Papua New Guineans are thinking for themselves. He thinks: “Maybe they will realise they don’t want or need companies like Newcrest telling them what to think.

“Maybe they will realise they don’t need to support the corrupt government which makes so much money for the miners.

“Maybe they will realise they don’t need mining or foreign companies at all, because they have a better way of making a living (it’s called land).'”

So WE say congratulations to the protesters, who love their country and believe foreign corporations like MMJV and the government they corrupt are holding us back from a better way (our way). And don’t let them try and tell you that you are violent trouble-makers. They are the violent ones, stealing your land and your money. You are the peacemakers: and the future.

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We hit rockbottom in the Pacific last week.

Or at least James Cameron did. The Avatar director’s sub touched down about 11km below the surface at the ocean’s deepest known point, south-west of Guam (reminding us of how foolish it is to be contemplating mining something we know so little about).

There was also a sense that the O’Neill Government hit rockbottom last week.

It was not only the Judicial Conduct Bill 2012 itself, but PM O’Neill’s deeply patronising public response that caused outrage among many Papua New Guineans.

Resentment building after weeks of political scandal after political scandal – most linked to the incorrigible Belden Namah – boiled over when O’Neill used his televised address to pretend the judiciary bill was in the public’s interest, not his own.

People saw through the bullshit and, inspired by the example of the UPNG students, took to Facebook to vent their disgust. Discussion boards like Sharp Talk remain filled with condemnation of the bill and the MPs who passed it. UPNG protest leader Nou Vada has become an overnight hero.

We have taken ownership of this debate. By doing so, ordinary Papua New Guineans have shown O’Neill that he cannot make laws in our name, without our consent.

This is the sort of noble outrage that has been absent in PNG for too long. We have been far too patient with self-serving governments, lazily hoping we’ll get a better deal at the next election.

That apathy comes home to roost in places like Josephstaal, a Middle Ramu community in inland Madang I visited last week.

Josephstaal is wonderfully self-sufficient, but it has been neglected by government after government. Its road is in ruins – I know, because I trekked through it, up to my knees in tais, over the weekend. I had to, because the airstrip is also not fit for planes to fly in and out of.

Transporting supplies to and from Josephstaal is an impossible task. It doesn’t have to be that way, though – the road from nearby village Guam is in great condition. The only difference is its kiap is presumably less corrupt.

Josephstaal is the sort of place the government should be supporting, not neglecting. Give the Josephstaals of PNG better roads and our cities would be flooded with food. ‘Food insecurity’ is a lie the government tells to get more Australian aid money.

But last week, Papua New Guineans began questioning those lies. And O’Neill is listening.

This is an election year, remember. Convince O’Neill that we’ll rausim over this bill, and he WILL repeal it.

If this is the sort of outcome possible when Papua New Guineans express their anger, I say PNG can’t get to the bottom fast enough.

Hats off to the students of the University of Papua New Guinea who today showed their disagreement on the new Judicial Conduct Bill.

Today they marched down the street of Port Moresby to the parliament house and presented their petition to Secretary Manasupe Zurenuoc as Papua New Guineans expressed their support through mobile phone messages that flooded the students phones.

The new bill gives government the power to suspend judges.

The students said that the Judicial Conduct Bill is dangerous and abusive of established Constitutional and legislative processes and Offices already in operation and force.

They said, “we believe this Act of Parliament is wrong!”

Random calls around the country pledged full support of the student action saying, this Act is wrong and it must be repealed immediately.