Julie Bishop to seek clarification on PNG arrival visa ban
I am innocent but responsible

Buai ban is political suicide for Governor Powes Parkop


An entry in The Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism

Parkop & buai itambuALTHOUGH BUAI (BETEL NUT) IS a health hazard and a source of filth, it can be a potent force of political influence.

Economically, buai has become a commercial crop like coffee, cocoa or copra and is of significant market benefit.

In the domestic economy, buai creates a chain of employment for many people. Buai farmers employ people who harvest and bag the nut. Wholesalers employ truck and boat owners to transport the product to market.

Retailers employ other truck and taxi owners to transport the nut from wholesalers to sellers who are many and scattered in various locations. The nuts are then sold to consumers.

In buai trade, one can hardly go wrong. Everybody knows the markup. At the end of the day, everybody profits.

This cash flow along the trading chain benefits many people: whether business houses or street vendors.

In the highlands, people buy buses and built houses with buai money. A number of highlanders have lost their lives in search of buai.

This small nut an economically powerful.

That’s why, politically, Governor Parkop has dug his own grave as a result of his total ban on buai.

The governor seemed to forget that bulk of the population that gave him the mandate to govern them are ordinary grassroots people: farmers, taxi or PMV owners, low income earners and street vendors, who in one way or the other rely on buai money to take care of their daily needs.

The good governor and his advisors have come to their senses lately and are already talking about relaxing the ban sometime, but it is too late. The damage has been done. Many people have already been driven into hardship and suffering.

Even if he relaxes the ban in future, perhaps a few months before the 2017 national election, how can people trust him that he will not revisit the policy?

I won’t be surprise if the buai issue becomes a political platform for candidates challenging Parkop in the 2017 national elections.

And I will bet my last toea in favour of the candidate that promise to liberate the buai – one of them will succeed Parkop.

Mark my words, buai has the potential to swing political power come 2017.


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Tim Ashton

One of the few politicians PNG can afford to lose.

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