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Foreign security companies pose threat to PNG

THE PNG GOVERNMENT has still not learned important lessons from the Bougainville crisis, according to former Defence Force commander Major Gen (ret) Jerry Singirok.

General Singirok masterminded the departure from PNG of the mercenaries who 13 years ago were recruited by the government to put down the Bougainville rebellion.

He said the Bougainville crisis provided lessons about the need to invest in and strengthen national security, yet nothing has been done.

Bougainville also had lessons about the need for the government to be extremely careful in engaging foreign security companies to work in PNG, especially in big resource projects.

“Now with the LNG project in the Southern Highlands, the government has allowed developers to bring in foreign-owned security companies who have no appreciation of the local customs, cultures and the people,” General Singirok said.

“These companies are dismantling the police and Defence Force by recruiting their best men to work on the project sites with promises of better pay and conditions.

“With lousy pay and service conditions, police and Defence Force personnel are living below the poverty line. That is why they are taking up offers to work as security personnel for foreign-owned security companies.

“Has anyone done due diligence checks on these companies?” he asked.

General Singirok claimed the foreign-owned security companies came to PNG with one purpose: to use maximum force against landowners or anyone who tried to frustrate project work.

“The presence of foreign-owned security companies in PNG poses a great threat to the country,” he said. “I want to know what their rules of engagement are, what types of firepower they have and who authorised them to have high-powered firearms.

“If they are not careful with what is happening in the LNG project area, the situation there can be much larger and far worse than Bougainville,” he warned.

“Conditions are ripe for a major crisis if the government is not careful. These are the concerns that all add up to what I call a very serious threat to our national security.

“My greatest fear right now is that we are now setting the stage for another Bougainville crisis in the Southern Highlands because all the right conditions are there.”

Source: ‘Ex-army chief recalls lesson from Sandline’ by Oseah Philemon, PNG Post-Courier, 17 March 2010


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Manasseh Maito

National security has been threatened by employing foreign security companies to protect foreign companies operating on the PNG LNG project.

Many of these people do not respect the landowners of the Southern Highlands.

If the government is not careful enough, the Southern Highlands will be another Bougainville.

And far worse than the Bougainville conflict because there are many guns in the Southern Highlands.

Kenneth Drinkwater

I wish to ask for a spot in your ongoing struggle with security in Papua New Guinea.

I am ex-Army (2/6 RAR) with deployment experience.

My lady wife to be is Papua New Guinean we are planning to move back to Port Moresby from Australia.

As we are having a baby soon and wish to send time with her family that life in Port Moresby so can anyone help me please.

Manasseh Maito

I support you and your officers on what you did 14 years ago when you ejected Sandline out of the country.

If we Papua New Guineans don't think seriously about security issues, our country will face serious problems.

Our government must be very carefull before engaging outside security or mercenaries into our country.

I'm also an ex-soldier and support you as I am a security conscious person.

Steve Gallagher Darong

Leonard - PNG dosen't need foreign security firms to do the job. We have have security firms in PNG who can do the job.

We are concerned about our national security and our national sovereignity. We don't want our sovereignty to be undermined.

There is a lot more money going out than coming in. Where do all the profits of foreign owned companies go?

Money coming into our country includes aid, exports revenue and corrupt payments to politicans by companies.

Money going out includes remittances from foreign employees, politicians investing abroad and the profits of foreign owned companies.

Most of the time we only know what is coming into our country but we don't know how much is going out. There must be some investigative reporting on this, otherwise it will continue to happen.

We love our country and we don't want our beautiful country to become another Zimbabwe as Gelab Piak stated. Forget about individual ideology and let us fight for the common good.

We need to sacrifice to make PNG a better nation for the betterment of our future generations. Our actions today determines the future of the next generation. Forget regionalism, be a nationalist, a true Papua New Guinean, love our country.

All politicans and people in high places must not misuse their status, or neglect their duty to truly serve the people. We appointed politicans not to represent Waigani to us, but to represent us to Waigani.

Enough is enough!

Leonard Roka

Foreign security firms must come to PNG because PNG is not able to protect foreign investors and their employees.

Steve Gallagher Darong

People who talk against General Singirok really wanted Bougainvilleans to be killed. Imagine if Singirok did not stop Tim Spicer and his mob, there might have been a massacre in Bougainville!

The young generation of Papua New Guineans really supports Singirok. Remember he has some strength to move the nation. We will all get behind him to get rid to corruption.

He may have lost much credibility in the eyes of the current government but the next government will accept his advice. He will get into Parliament soon. Keep your eyes open to see him.

Bai Singirok is well respected by peace loving Papua New Guineans. He is highly respected in Bougainville. God Bless him for his conscience.

Gelab Piak

What we have here is a failure to communicate. What has happened to our system of government, where are the government's eyes and ears? Is the NIO (National Intelligence Organisation) dead?

Jerry Singirok, no matter what, is a true PNG patriot, because he stood up for what was right.

To those of you who criticise General Singirok, let me ask you: if Sandline had carried out the operation; would it be justice in the eyes of God to (kill) murder those Bougainvilleans? Yes, it is to you.

That goes back to all of us. Our country is being murdered right now as government systems fail and infrastructure deteriorates.

I challenge you to take a stand against authority for what is right. And if you can't, then can you see who you really are? Most PNGeans are working for bread and butter, not for the progress and development of this country.

I really think the issue of security is a big problem because, to be frank, there are 5,000 police and less that 3,000 soldiers to 7,000,000 citizens.

Let's take a moment to think seriously whetehr we will become like one of the African countries, say Zimbabwe?
Oh, PNG, my motherland, only time can tell.

Steve Gallagher Darong

General Singirok is right.

State security is important and it is the primary concern for all states in international relations. We should not allow foreign security firms to operate in our country. It undermines our national sovereingity.

Why not promote our local security firms? Can somebody tell us who owns that G4s security firm? Is it owned by a Papua New Guinean or a foreigner?

Who is Tim Spicer? Is he the man who was sacked by our great Major General Jerry Singirok?

We are concerned about our national security!

Nathan Matbob

Jerry Singirok has presented a very important point to consider in relation to stirring up another crisis like the Bougainvillie conflict.

It is not something the government should ignore because it represents the people and not foreign entities.

And if the government cannot address the grievances of the people it is very likely to cause such unrest to happen.

John Ukengu

It is difficult to believe that the LNG gas project should have got itself into such a mess. Who is to blame that the landowner money ended up in Vulupindi House with fake landowners trying to get their hands on the funding?

We hear that politicians are trying to get their hands on the cheques, probably to pass out to fake landowners.

We read there are foreign security services in the Southern Highlands.

The nation has been faced with Sandline. Now another group has come with rumoured links to Sandline. Are they armed? automatic weapons? mortars? rockets? Can security firms buy these?

Only two months ago we read in the media that landowner groups were threatening to destroy bridges to the project.

It is well known through the media that large quantities of automatic weapons in the highlands villages have been bought with marijuana money.

We read that no money has been passed to landowners and we also find that distribution has already started.

Today the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, Paul Bengo, advised groups to sign Memorandums of Understanding so that operations can start.

By what order did the money end up in Vulupindi House? Traditional distribution takes place at village level at a designated time for all to be there. Money is distributed for all to see.

We can expect that secret meetings in Port Moresby breed corruption. That is why the Papuans hang bride price money on long poles for all to see and count.

Kiwa Geseng

If the gasfield companies have paid the wrong people and not the rightful landowners, they have made a bad error.

They are trespassing on land, as the have not been given permission by the landowners. Are they going to make the error worse by staying there by force?

When the violence starts, this will be a world issue. It will not become right at the point of a gun.

Southern Highlanders want only peace, but we are told they are excellent snipers. Gas companies would not do this to Australian landowners. Why do it to PNG villagers?

Kiwa Geseng

The security force/mercenary group on the gas fields have to take care. The deployment zone is a long way into the bush and a long way out. The pipeline has a long area to patrol.

They should remember the lessons to be learned by the French in 1954 at Dienbienphu in Vietnam and the Americans in Khe Sanh.

The gas companies must urge the PNG Government to see justice done to the landowners. And employ landowners. Then peace will prevail. A security/mercenary group can only fail out there in the lonely bush.

Kiwa Geseng

There is a fine line between a security service and a mercenary army. General Singirok had his fingers deeply burned with Sandline. But he was enough of a man to retrack to the start and oppose sending a mercenary army to kill Bougainvilleans.

He more than all other people should worry about foreign security services in the Southern Highlands. It will become bad very quickly if there is armed war in 2012 during the national elections. Sandline will not leave.

The police will not stop the fighting. It may be a battle between clans and foreign security services that will suddenly have all the weapons they need. The Chinese will want military support in Ramu. Southern Highlands will be a war zone.

We read there is a plan to divert Magi Highway down through Taurama Barracks and up to 2 Mile. The new grand hospital will be sited within a kilometer of the Chinese built hospital at Taurama Barracks. It will be in the centre of the LNG housing area.

Buka Toansi

George - You really do not know the full story of the Sandline crisis otherwise you would not be asking this question.

The full story has not being yet been told to the public. There were a lot of cover ups by many different people who were involved.

Jerry Singirok did not follow the standard procedures as a senior military officer and kept everyone in the dark except junior soldiers.

The general had some secrets you are not aware of and it's best not discussed here as we do not know who's reading this blog.

The general was wrong to take the law into his own hands and misuse the military like as it was his to do as he pleased.

Mariana Kingia

Jerry Singirok is a former army general who was sacked from his command job twice. He does not have any credibility to be advising the government about another private security firm when he also has a security company to run. So he has a conflict of interest here.

Kompri Mofraveh

Well Singirok is not wrong. Nor is the government that engaged the force. Comments are great!

What about the consequences the issue posed to the society and nation? How beneficial was it in the long run for this young nation?

Bruce Copeland

Jerry Singirok spearheaded the move against the planned Sandline killing of the Bougainville people. Walter Enuma gave

Mercenaries had been brought into the country to fight. He should be honoured for that. History will be kind to these men and the junior officers who ended up in gaol. We should not forget.

Maoro Koikoi

Jerry Singirok is not a real Major-General as no such rank exists in the PNG Defence Force. The man promoted himself.

He is a former Defence Force Brigadier-General who through government incompetence was not charged for serious dereliction of duty. On his watch as a general, there was a mutiny in 1997. He was removed from his commander's job.

So what he says now will not be taken seriously by the Somare government, which itself is not serious about the country's national security.

Reginald Renagi

PM Somare and his whole government are ignorant about PNG's national security. The 'pollies' are so incompetent that they have their heads buried in the sand like ostriches until the s--t hits the fan then all hell will break loose.

If they are smart they should be planning certain contingencies now by getting all relevant agencies working on this as part of the SWOT analysis of the full political, economic and social implications of LNG on PNG now and in future with possible 'risk-management' strategies as part of the government's long-term plan.

Patriotic Nationalist

Jerry Singirok raises a very serious question. Watering down national security for foreign economic interests is a sad state for the nation we proclaimed to be independent and proud.

This is a bad sign. Really.

Peter Paki

The concern may be right, but prime minister Somare may also finds it difficult to listen to a former disgraced general who created a mutiny within his own organisation to challenge the government, and hold the nation to ransom 13 years ago.

Jerry Singirok was sacked twice in his job as PNGDF commander for being a disloyal general. The man broke many domestic and international laws to evict a foreign security organisation out of the country.

The general was also a part of the government planning team to arrange this force to help the PNGDF on Bougainville, but had a last minute change of mind when he failed to keep his senior officers informed of his secret plans to turn the PNGDF on its head and throw the country into near total chaos.

Jerry Singirok has lost much credibility and the government finds it hard to take his advice now.

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