Friday, July 17, 2009

Papua New Guinea in the news, for all the wrong reasons

By SINCLAIRE SOLOMON in The National, Papua New Guinea’s No. 1 daily newspaper


PAPUA New Guinea made headline news this week in neighbouring South Pacific local media – but for all the wrong reasons.

Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare started the media controversy after returning from Vanuatu to announce PNG’s support for the military dictatorship in Fiji.

The Opposition reacted immediately, saying Sir Michael had sent the wrong message to people in the region in supporting an illegal regime which was destroying parliamentary democracy in Fiji.

Then the Government used its superior numbers in Parliament to gag debate and questions being raised by the Opposition over an Australian property purchase by Public Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare.

The house is located at Trinity Beach, Cairns. Mr Somare explained he had to sell a property in Boroko to buy the house, and was servicing both mortgages.

PNG’s relations with its neighbours took another nosedive when The Solomon Star newspaper in Honiara reported that outgoing high commissioner Parai Tamei had women problems – one died in a vehicle he was in and another had smashed a back glass window of the high commission vehicle.

The newspaper reported that although police investigated, no one was arrested or charged.

Yesterday, Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Sam Abal said “appropriation action” would be taken against Mr Tamei if he was found to have breached public service laws.

If that was not enough, Indonesian patience was tested with continued claims by Sandaun officials that a PNG youth who was shot dead by Indonesian soldiers near the northern border in June was a Papua New Guinea citizen.

Jakarta maintained, for the second time yesterday, that the youth, Isac Psakor, was a native of Bewan in Keerom district and was recovering from gunshot wounds in a Jakarta hospital.

And the latest adverse publicity on high-profile PNG figures came out of Apia, Samoa, with the Samoa Observer newspaper claiming that Forest Minister Belden Namah had gone on a property buying spree.

Mr Namah’s lawyers have denied that the properties are his.


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