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Where has foreign policy gone wrong? The Asianisation of Madang


TO ALL those who have never visited Madang, here are some facts to add onto your knowledge about people and places….

The biggest Chinese investment in PNG, Ramu Nickel Mining, is found in this province.

All the stores in Madang are owned by Asians except for two: Christian Books Melanesia (owner unknown ) and Yoko Trading (a very small store owned by a Chimbu fellow). The most (seemingly) expensive building in Madang, they call it "glass house", is owned by the Chinese state-owned MCC (China Metallurgical Group Corporation).

The biggest fishing cannery and the largest number of fishing vessels in Papua New Guinea are owned by Asians.

The vast Trans-Gogol Valley and Ramu Valley, home to virgin rainforest and tropical hardwood, is logged by Asians started by Japan New Guinea Timber (JANT) decades ago and now continued by other logging giants.

I have no intention of being racist but the list (and I could go on) is phenomenal. One wonders if there are any politicians in Madang who realise these facts and might be responsive to the plight of the vulnerable.

Foreign policy pursuits these days do not necessarily reward but offer costs that are detrimental.

Only in Madang have I seen headlines about politicians winning elections while in prison, driving on to runways to stop moving planes, driving bulldozers into settlements, and  arriving in prison for failing to control violent supporters.

In a few months’ time, Madang’s long-awaited and much-anticipated Pacific Marine Industrial Zone will commence - built by Chinese using Chinese loans for Filipino companies and their PNG cohorts to excel whatever they do best in. What’s left of Madang? And what’s left for it?

Ironically, for the first time in history, the flying foxes have deserted the tourist town for destinies and reasons known only to Mother Nature.

With good manners, they have paved way for new migrants to conquer the town under the watchful eyes of all the Matus and Kukurais, the so-called chiefs.

Only God will save Madang from Asianization but in the meantime, let us ponder on where exactly has our foreign policy gone wrong.

Samuel Roth is a Lecturer of International Relations & Politics at Divine Word University in Madang


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Samuel Roth

Hon Gary Juffa, great point there. You said, "Sometimes I wonder if it is a case of people getting the leaders they deserve".

For a current MP to ask such a question speaks volumes in itself. The answer is simple; not every MP gets elected the honest way.

Obviously, a bulk of the MPs are voted in through improper means. That is why we prolong our time to progress. That is sad!

Unless, a person like you (and maybe with your party) could initiate/advocate legislating stringent requirements for candidates and an effective voting system, we will continue to be sad like this.

That is my simple opinion. The task is immense in itself. But if we don't, who will?

Gary Juffa

Sometimes I wonder if it is a case of people getting the leaders they deserve...often we elect people who -

1) Do not have the intelligence and management skills to drive positive change

2) Do not have the heart and compassion to care for the people enough to bring about change

3) Do not have the ethics and morals to prevent them from lying to, stealing, scamming from the people

The result? Poor leadership thus resulting in marginalisation.

Then we must understand that we have a political system that makes it virtually impossible for good leaders to really be able to do anything because the machinery they are trying to use (public service) is often saturated with idiots and corrupt civil servants busy scamming and scheming and avoiding any real work. Sacking them is a near impossibility!

To progress, we must have Ministers who have the will and can do it rather then "take the holistic approach" (in other words "it will never happen") as one particular Minister is often saying every time the issue of reform or change for the Public Service is proposed or debated.

Anyway, we should understand this: who lets them in? The majority of the guardians of the gates to this economy (elected leaders) have always immediately forsaken their post and people and resorted to packaging and selling of pieces of their country as fast as possible oblivious to PNG interests current or future.

At the end of the day, it is our responsibility to develop the parameters (laws) and define them (enforce). This is not happening.

PNG is thus wide open for exploitation by transnational criminals of all shapes and sizes from simple bandits to sinister and ruthless multinational organisations.

They connect with our local criminals and scam maestros and off they go hand in hand with some NEC submission to find a willing Minister...we all know the Borneo Pacific....

Terry Shelley

Just a note - I would suggest the card would be a requirement for every transaction transferring funds, i.e., prime ministers, politicians, public servants etc.

Samuel Roth

Terry, good point there. We can be able to harness that plus others. The point raised in this article is about being too ignorant of the very fact that our national interest are at stake when we keep a blind eye on those things that you have explained.

We want investment and we want a multi-racial society just like any other advancing society - no doubt!

However, we got to get it right, starting with addressing our macro-economic needs through reforms and political decisions as well as foreign policy objectives that serve our development needs well. In this case, the wholesale and retail outlets in major towns and cities imply a 'decay' in our harmonizing of domestic needs with our foreign policy pursuits. This has gone on for years as more new lands are acquired and buildings erected in every busy spot, even in villages. Is that the kind of society that we wanna create? Definitely not.

Mico-economic needs, that is, and a reform is necessary.

Michael Dom

I'm with you Terry.

Turn the tables on sneakers.

Terry Shelley

We have to get smart and get the Asian invasion to work for the future of PNG.

The current work permit and three-year training program is a total disgrace and abject failure. I have never been able to comprehend the technology transfer involved in making "lamb flap stew" or "flour bombs".

Most of the new Asians avoid paying their fair share of tax as they have a massive "black" cash economy. Most purchases are in cold hard cash - "no evidence".

You will see them daily at the banks transferring cash offshore. An exit tax on transfers offshore should be brought in. This could be by way issuing an electronic card which must be used to transfer funds out of PNG.

There should be an annual fee of K2-3,000 to obtain one of these cards plus a K500 annual administrative fee. Each transaction should attract an exit tax of 15%.

This fee would be partially refunded when and if annual tax returns are submitted. If there are 50,000 illegals in PNG this would reap some K175 million just for the exit card.

The amount earned from an exit tax would run into hundreds of millions of kina. This money could then put into education and creating skilled workers.

The major problem would be how to keep sticky fingers out of it. We have to harness the Asian invasion.

Bernard Yegiora

Very true Michael. I just wanted to make the point that it is not only Chinese but the Sri Lankans and others from the great continent are also staking their claim to a piece of the pie.

Many times when we talk Asians we think about the Chinese. In Madang,those from South Asia (Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan) are flooding in.

Samuel Roth

Thanks, folks.

When the SME conference was hosted in Madang recently, Maru, O'Neill, Kua and others sounded very promising; pledging to ensure that the rules of the game will be changed, among others, to give small business such as retail stores back to our citizens.

Capacity will be built and micro-finance schemes will be created increasingly through the National Development Bank to help thousands of PNGuineans do business in SME sector.

We all await.

In the absence of this, business is normal in beautiful Madang as presented in my article.

Michael Dom

True Bernard, multiculturalism has its place. I think the real argument is about Pngians being disadvantaged by foreign business interests. This should not get mixed up with being racist. Otherwise throw sovereignty out the window, along with protecting indigenous rights, supporting local business and creating gainful employment for the descendents of people who walked all the way here from Africa and decided this (wherever you are) was about as good a place as any to stop.

Bernard Yegiora

You have a representative from each country in the Asian region living in PNG. From Sri Lankans, to Nepalese, Filipinos and off course the Chinese.

PNG is becoming multicultural like Australia.

Michael Dom

Will God save Madang, or for that matter Papua New Guinea?

Asianisation is everywhere.

I think the real problem lies at the negotiating table, and that's why Leonard is happy to scoot off to new Bougainville, where his people are getting control of the discussion (hopefully) taking place to negotiate their future.

So, will God save Madang or PNG, well I think He already gave us the chance when we elected our new leaders, and maybe we were too deaf to listen to his advice about picking the good ones.

We're on our own on this one. The second coming ain't about salvation.

Samuel Roth

Kela, the political leaders and administrator failed to attend a very important talks show on Radio and Kundu 2 regarding failing health services in the province.

I don't think they would ever agree to go in-front of a camera. Let alone journalists who sometimes get the blunt end of the authorities here for "poor reporting".

Mrs Barbara Short

Maybe you just need to look at this Asian phenomenon another way.

I've just been down to my old primary school, Eastwood Public School - in a northern suburb of Sydney. I attended there 1944-1950 with lots of other grand-sons and grand-daughters of English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh immigrants from the 1800s. Can't remember an aboriginal students in those days.

Today the headmaster showed me over the school. It is a real showcase, with over 800 students - 90% Asian, with the highest number from China and the next highest number from South Korea.

The children are model students, very well behaved, who work diligently and to their best ability. The school is spotless, has recently been painted, and every room was beautifully decorated with the student's work. I saw the new Assembly hall where they were preparing some musical item. You can watch the dances they perform on the web.

Irian Jaya and PNG were not part of the great Spice Trade, that brought the European colonisers to the East Indies, modern Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

But you are now part of the great Chinese migrations of the 21st century. With the Chinese looking for minerals and other raw materials for their great period of Take-off into the Modern World.

Asianisation can have its good and bad points. Surely the people of PNG can gain something from what is happening in places like Madang. We now have Asians helping to run Australia. Maybe one day the Asians can help to run PNG.

The Europeans who came with the Gold Rush and took over the Bush, didn't do much to help the aborigines in those days. Now they get a better deal.

I hope that some Asians will show that they care about the people of PNG and help you. The old Chinese did. But it is up to the new Chinese to show some spirit of co-operation.

Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin

Sam, get someone to arrange the media especially EM TV, Kundu 2 and maybe Post Courier to interview all the politicians of Madang and lets hear what they think of Asianization in their Province.

Leonard Roka

Yeah. The Madang people are real losing their rights to their land and power over their land.

Just driving out of town shows how powerless they are; they are already bystanders on their land without any say on what is theirs.

Watching the construction of the DWU dorms last year I was just feeling sorry for the Madang people.

Asians building the dorms and giving sub-contracts to Asians again, especially the cement mixers trucks. Sad but not my problem since everywhere PNG is in deep shit.

Not your humanistic politics will sort this out. Give a short period of pain to attain a lasting peace.

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