Pacific people struggle against oppression
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Foreign investment brings some problems

Vision-City-Mega-Mall PNG’s strong growth is pulling in investors from south-east Asia, with Malaysian companies leading the way. This month marks the opening of the Malaysian owned 'Vision City' megamall in Port Moresby. Radio Australia’s Jemima Garrett was at the new shopping centre, and says its is putting on a showy face...

THIS THREE-STOREY megamall wouldn't look out of place on Queensland's Gold Coast and it's the first stage of a much bigger site that will include an international hotel, apartments and office buildings, so this is I guess just the beginning.

You've got every kind of shop you can imagine; lots of phone shops, toy shops, clothes shops, a hypermart, stationery, the whole gamut.

I guess this reflects the company that put the money in and that's PNG's biggest Malaysian company Rimbunan Hijau. At the official opening dinner for the mall, which was attended by acting prime minister Sam Abal, the executive chairman said that the complex is expected to generate K200 million a year.

RH has been in PNG for a long time, a highly diversified company with interest in everything from newspapers to logging, which, of course, has been very controversial. RH has been severely criticised for its logging practices. But we are seeing quite a lot of new Malaysian investment.

Even some of the companies which you might think are British, such as WR Carpenter, are in fact Malaysian owned and they are putting in new plants.

PNG is also seeing a lot of interest in tuna. The Philippines and Thailand are investing in tuna cannery in Lae and, with the PNG-LNG plant ramping up into it most rough period with the construction phase reaching a peak early next year, we're really seeing a lot of action here.

The downside with the new investment is animosity to the Chinese, and it's clear that people don't distinguish between Malaysians and Chinese. There's a lot of ill feeling against Asians directed at the problem of illegal immigrants and also the problem of Asians being so good at business and making a lot of money,

There are also the environmental problems. There's a whole host of issues that come with these investments that really rely on the government to supervise the companies, and if government departments aren't up to the job, which in many cases they aren't, then there's a serious difficulty.

So there is a real issue here in PNG of capacity of government when it comes to enforcing its own laws and every politician is talking about it.  But it's going to be a very big job to pull together the necessary capacity to be able to deal with these issues.

Source: Radio Australia


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