Thursday, May 21, 2009

A sense of deja vu

FROM Pacific Islands Monthly  of JULY 1985-   PIM OPINION was the monthly editorial/op-ed piece featured in this once-popular periodical.


PIM OPINION…………………………JULY 1985




    Assailed on all sides by cries of rage and fear, Mr Michael Somare has acted firmly against Port Moresby's horrendous law and order problem by declaring a state of emergency and slapping a war-time-style curfew on the city, enforced by troops. His action followed yet another vicious pack rape in which a gang of "rascals" as PNG calls its murderous villains, cut through a security fence and attacked a woman and her daughter in their own home. More or less concurrently several other girls were pack-raped at knife-point in suburbs of the sprawling capital of 160,000 people.

    In addition to the 10 pm to 5 pm curfew the Government has given the police much wider powers of search and arrest and has put the national capital district under a special controller with almost the powers of a military governor.


    Violent crime " presents a real threat to the survival of our young country," Mr Somare said in parliament as he announced his measures. " Public order has deteriorated to the point where the lives and safety of all law-abiding citizens is at risk."


    "The threat these criminals represent has spread rapidly," he said. "The police can no longer control it using their normal powers. Robbery, murder and rape have become almost commonplace events. The crime wave.....attacks the security of all."


    Earlier Mr. Somare startled the world by saying he would seek to introduce castration and public floggings and hangings for violent rapists and murderers. Even as he spoke, nobody believed he was likely to push such measures through, although in various demonstrations large numbers of people of all races have demanded such punishments. The last hanging in PNG occurred in 1958, and it was not public. Capital punishment was struck off the books in 1971.

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